Kalmbach Publishing Co.,
which puts out The Writer, has recently added another magazine to its stable,
Discover, and I’ve been enjoying my initial looks at the copies circulating
around the building. Discover offers a well-written, well-assembled approach to
popular science, and even a non-science geek like me is finding a lot of
interesting stuff there.
One article that really
popped out at me is the lead feature on black holes in the upcoming June issue (which should be out any day now).
The topic, and the article, is enough to make your brain explode. “What kind of
crazy universe do we live in?” my wife asked after reading the article, which
focuses on the quest of astrophysicist Andrew Hamilton to attain “a complete
understanding of the interior of black holes.”
It’s a fine writing job by
Steve Nadis, a Cambridge, Mass.-based science writer (that's him at left) who is also a contributing
editor to another Kalmbach publication, Astronomy Magazine.
Check out Steve’s
compelling third paragraph:
Black holes are massive
objects that have collapsed in on themselves, creating a gravitational suction
so intense that their insides become cut off from the rest of the universe. A
black hole’s outer boundary, known as the event horizon, is a point of no
return. Once trapped inside, nothing--not even light--can escape. At the center
is a core, known as a singularity, that is infinitely small and dense, an
affront to all known laws of physics. Since no energy, and hence no
information, can lever leave that dark place, it seems quixotic to try peering
inside. As with Las Vegas, what happens in a black hole stays in a black hole.
How can you not keep
reading the article after that graf?
The editor of Astronomy,
Dave Eicher, reports that Steve is an unusually talented popularizer and
explainer of complex subjects. That’s a real skill. There’s a reason why the
Pulitzers added a category for great explanatory journalism.
Before I go, I can’t leave
the phrase “event horizon” without mentioning the 1997 movie of the same name.
Here’s the capsule film summary at imdb.com: “A rescue crew investigates a spaceship
that disappeared into a black hole and has now returned ... with someone or
something new on-board.”
I was warned that this movie was very creepy, very scary.
Unfazed, I gave it a try. Unfortunately, I got too freaked out to make it past
the opening scenes. That’s right—during a week in which a Navy Seal team
took down the top terrorist in the world in a truly frightening, real-life
mission, your intrepid editor is admitting he couldn’t get past the opening of
a scary science fiction movie. I am able, however, to squash small spiders in
the comfort of my home.
-- Ron Kovach, senior editor, The Writer