Victor Hess first discovered cosmic rays using a Geiger counter and a hot air balloon in 1911. Today physicists are using hundreds of giant water tanks scattered across the Argentine pampas to try to figure out where the mysterious particles come from, I learned in an interview for this week’s Nature’s podcast. Here’s the podcast [mp3], or see a transcript [html].
I also wrote a news story this week about an experiment in which writing short essays about their personal values helped low-performing African-Americans to improve their performance and attitudes towards school for the next two years. And I blogged about claims that genetically-modified crops do not actually improve yields, the first images taken by the planet-hunting space telescope Kepler, and new satellite imagery of the effects of the L’Aquila earthquake in Italy earlier this month.
In my second week at Nature I’ve gotten to feel more like a member of the team, if being asked to write more and more is any measure. I’ve contributed more to news meetings, talked with my colleagues about their backgrounds and journalism plans over lunch, and begun working on an unusual feature slated to appear soon…but which will have to remain a mystery for now.
I wrote a news story about how clouds actually make the air around them brighter, a story that made made me feel better about living in Britain. I also wrote about a study in which economists were surprised to find that hormone treatment did not have an effect on how the women made economic decisions–something that recent reports hinted did happen in men.
The countries that run Antarctica are having their annual meeting in Baltimore, so I blogged about how US delegates are pushing for mandatory tourism limits. Finally, I summarized a report from entomologists who used a butterfly family tree to bolster a theory that butterflies use eyespot patterns on some parts of their wings to attract mates and patterns on other parts of their wings as camouflage from predators: [pdf].
I’m doing a reporting internship at Nature’s London office for the next few months. Because the frequency of individual stories will be higher than usual for me, I’ll be rounding up each week’s stories into one handy update.
In my first week, I’ve blogged about the EU emissions trading scheme, Earth Hour, 100 Hours of Astronomy, a Swedish house on the moon, a giant laser, written news items about the Abel prize for math, researchers who think they can cut down on the number of animal tests, and summarized a report of a newly discovered halo of stars in our galaxy [pdf].
Working in an office full-time has been as illuminating as I hoped it would be, so far. I’m soaking up all kinds of newsroom wisdom culture and have even learned how to operate a cafetière, which one of my editors assures me is the path to winning friends and influencing people.