This week’s guest is K.C. Cole. For the past ten years, K.C. Cole has been a science writer and columnist for the Los Angeles Times; she has also written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Smithsonian, Discover, Newsweek, Newsday, Esquire, Ms., People and many other publications. Her articles were featured in The Best American Science Writing 2004 and 2005 and The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2002. She has also been an editor at Discover and Newsday.
Cole is the author of seven nonfiction books, including Mind Over Matter: Conversations with the Cosmos; The Hole in the Universe: How Scientists Peered Over the Edge of Emptiness and Found Everything; and The Universe and the Teacup, the Mathematics of Truth and Beauty. She is also a regular commentator on science issues for KPCC-FM (Visit Cole’s KPCC archive). She has developed and taught courses in science, culture and society as a Fellow at Yale and Wesleyan Universities and as adjunct professor of Science, Society and Communication at UCLA.
Cole particularly likes to show how science is integral to the arts and politics (and vice versa), and firmly believes, in the words of an artist friend that, “the worst disease afflicting human kind is ‘hardening of the categories’.” To that end, she runs a monthly series of informal events on science/art/politics known as Categorically Not! She’s made a point of writing about science in unlikely venues (such as women’s magazines) and unlikely forms (at the LA Times, she wrote about the mathematics of voting, the science of affirmative action and why the OJ Simpson trial had everything to do with the discovery of the top quark).
She has been honored with the American Institute of Physics Science Writing prize; the Los Angeles Times award for deadline reporting; the Skeptics’ Society Edward R. Murrow Award for Thoughtful Coverage of Scientific Controversies; Los Angeles Times award for best explanatory journalism, and the Elizabeth A. Wood Science Writing Award from the American Crystallographic Association.
Cole has been associated with San Francisco’s “museum of human awareness,” the Exploratorium, since 1972, and is currently working on a philosophical biography of its founder (and her mentor), the late physicist Frank Oppenheimer. Before getting into science writing, she wrote about international politics, travel, women’s issues, education and humor. She is an active member of JAWS (Journalism and Women Symposium).
To learn more about K.C. Cole visit her official website here.
For additional reference we’ve included links to some of the people, places and things discussed in this episode:
Port Washington, Long Island
Rio de Janeiro
Gulf of Tonkin Incident
Sweet Briar College
Columbia University – 1968
Radio Free Europe
The Fireman’s Ball
Citizen Exchange Corps
Prague, Two Years After by K.C. Cole
Alan J. Friedman
The Exploratorium: A Participatory Museum
Robert R. Wilson
The Oppenheimer Case: Security on Trial by Philip M. Stern
Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
J. Edgar Hoover
Official Noticers of Society
The Feynman Lectures on Physics
The Practical and Sentimental Fruits of Science
Stephen Jay Gould
A Tough Act to Follow
Something Incredibly Wonderful Happens by K.C. Cole
The Hole in the Universe by KC Cole
Cornelia Street Cafe
Santa Monica Art Studios
Categorically Not – Bubbles
Autism The Musical
The Constant Fire by Adam Frank
First You Build A Cloud by K.C. Cole
The Universe and the Teacup by K.C. Cole
Mind over Matter by K.C. Cole
Scientists and Bush Administration at Odds
Moon to Mars
National Academy of Sciences
One on One with Nancy Pelosi
Stem Cell Research
Drop City by TC Boyle