One Part Fiction, One Part Physics


I was out with some friends this past Thanksgiving, trying to explain what I do for a living, when one of the turned to me and said

"Have you heard about that collider in Europe? It's going to blow up the Earth."

He was talking about the Large Hadron Collider, a new particle accelerator constructed by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). It stands to teach us a great deal about our universe once it resumes operation later this year. But, after seeing some of the headlines about it in the media, I could understand how one might think it's going to destroy our planet.

So, I was extremely excited that someone brought it up. I had just finished editing an article about it for Science in Society, and was armed with enough knowledge to debunk any outrageous theory. Blow up the Earth? Not likely. But what about a giant black hole? I could handle that too.

My excitement didn't stem from a desire to be a complete know-it-all. Instead, it was exactly the opposite. You see, despite having worked in the sciences at Northwestern for the past four years, I am not a scientist. Not even close. I have a bachelor's degree in English literature, and will (hopefully) soon have a master's in creative writing. Lots of fiction, not so many facts.

But, I spend every day immersed in science, catching up on the basics while learning about the extraordinary research taking place at Northwestern and around the world. So, my excitement was because I could share this knowledge with someone, one on one, the way that so many faculty, students and staff at NU have shared their knowledge with me. And then that someone could pass it along to someone else.

That's why I'm all the more excited to be a part of the Science in Society blog. I can share with you what I'm constantly learning, and you can share your thoughts with me. My hope is that I can illustrate just how infinitely interesting science can be - and how we're not going to blow the whole place up.


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