Articles

Here are also some examples of my work, which has been published in newspapers, magazines, and online outlets in the US, the UK, Germany, and Switzerland.

The categories are: technology; medicine, biology, and environment; business; education, social trends, archaeology, anthropology

Technology

Space exploration – Business
Newsweek/The Daily Beast, April 24, 2012
James Cameron and Investors Seek to Lasso and Mine an Asteroid
Lassoing an asteroid could be big business, it might just be a wild ride into space.

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Culture – Computing
The New York Times, August 3, 2003
Technology: In DSpace, Ideas Are Forever
The libraries at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are earnestly bookish (2.6 million volumes and 17,000 journals) but increasingly digital (275 databases and 3,800 electronic journals). And just as e-mail dealt a blow to snail mail, digital archives are retooling scholarly exchange. A number of universities, from the California Institute of Technology to M.I.T., are creating ”institutional repositories” designed to harness their own intellectual output. M.I.T.’s archive, perhaps the most ambitious, is called DSpace (www.dspace.org).

Scholarly Storage: Traditionally, journals make research public after peer review, which can take months, sometimes years. Archives like DSpace, however, collect unpublished work — documents of any length, lecture notes, photos, videos, computer simulations, blueprints, software — in all disciplines and make most of it available to anyone as soon as it’s received.
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Energy – Transportation
New Scientist, 3 October 2008
Steam power takes to the road again
To the engineers and steam buffs gathered in the auditorium, most of the images in Roger Waller’s video were familiar enough – the gleaming bulk of a black locomotive standing in Waller’s workshop, a small loco climbing a precipitous mountain railway, an elegant paddle steamer crossing the blue waters of a Swiss lake. What caused a ripple of surprise, though, was a short sequence near the end. It showed a small green car with a round silver tank zipping along a Swiss road, its twin exhausts puffing out clouds of white vapour.

Waller is a modern steam pioneer. Along with a team at his engineering company DLM in Schaffhausen, northern Switzerland, he has spent the last decade redesigning and modernising steam locomotives to make them far cleaner, and more profitable, than “old steam”.

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Imaging
The Boston Globe, July 22, 2003
Body Image: Innovative Technologies Provide an Intimate Look at Our Anatomy

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Imaging
Nature, Oct. 11, 2012
High-throughput neuroanatomy: Charting the brain’s networks
Neuroscientists are going from studying single neurons and brain regions anatomically to tracing how vast neuronal networks connect and interact.
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Imaging – Neurobiology
Nature Methods, October 2012
Rendering the brain-behavior link visible
How to monitor the activity of neurons in the brains of awake, active animals.
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Cancer – Physics
Nature, April 3, 2014
Cancer treatment: Sharp shooters
Radiation treatment helps to control cancer. With types of beams unlike traditional X-rays, the hope is to reach tumors more precisely with more lethal force and to have less effect on healthy tissue that is next to a tumor. Charged particles such as carbon ions might be the answer. Facilities around the world have treated around 12,000 people with carbon ions. The particles need to be accelerated to around 70% of the speed of light and shot with great precision at a person’s tumor.
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Imaging – Data-sharing
Science Magazine, 5 July 2002
News Focus Imaging Technology:
Beautiful Bioimages for the Eyes of Many Beholders
A handful of image-sharing databases and software systems is becoming available, and these images might change the way biologists look at their own and other researchers’ data–if several obstacles can be overcome. Aside from the technical difficulties of creating user-friendly databases and interconnected networks of images in the scientific literature, there are pesky legal and ethical questions, such as ownership and credit.
Full text.
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Office technology  - Security
New Scientist
Will glossy watermarks conquer fraud?
(Excerpt)
Ordinary office printers could create documents with a “watermark” that cannot be photocopied. Its inventors say the technique will make counterfeiting more difficult, but others argue that its very simplicity makes it of little use in fighting forgery.
Researchers at Xerox laboratories in Webster, New York, made the discovery while studying why images made by laser printers sometimes show glossy patches. …
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Publishing
Science Magazine
Max Planck Takes an E-Publishing Plunge
Germany’s Max Planck Society, which runs the country’s flagship network of 80 research institutes, is about to launch a publicly accessible electronic publishing center that will enable its scientists to post published papers–and findings before they are peer-reviewed. The center will also develop new tools for information dissemination and electronic management, and negotiate on behalf of all the institutes to cut deals for cheaper access to electronic journals.

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MIT’s Technology Review, January 1998
Telecommunications seeks its guiding light
“Pipe it in!” That’s the battle cry in telecommunications these days. The more information that can travel down an optical fiber-whether as phone calls, video games, movies, or symphonies-the better. Now MIT researchers in materials science, physics, and electrical engineering and computer science have collaborated to create a device that could dramatically increase the carrying capacity of optical fibers. The device, a “photonic bandgap microcavity resonator,” uses a microcavity, or defect, in a material called photonic crystal to guide the behavior of photons in much the same way that defects in a semiconductor can be used to control electrical properties.

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Medicine, biology, and environment

Nature, Sept 13, 2013
Next generation sequencing: The genome jigsaw
High-throughput gene sequencing is fast. But re-assembling the genomes into their original sequence is like shredding 1,000 copies of Charles Dickens’ novel A Tale of Two Cities in a woodchipper and then trying to put the text back to gether in a single book.
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Nature June 18, 2015
Tissue engineering: Organs from the lab
Organs, and physiology in general is difficult to model. Scientists exploring new ways to get that complexity onto their lab bench, to better understand the body’s dynamics, for drug development and to propel regenerative medicine.
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Global health
The Lancet, April 27, 2012
NIH global health fellowship reinvents itself
Training in developing countries gives medical students a feel for low-resource environments and usually focuses on infectious diseases. But change is underfoot.
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Science Now, Feb 23, 2012
The Secret of Schreckstoff
When a fish is injured, it secretes a compound that makes other fish dart away. Call it the fish version of instant messaging. Now scientists know its key ingredient.
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Nature Methods, April 2014
Cancer genomes: discerning drivers from passengers
A tumor is not born as a diseased tissue with many mutations; rather, these mutations accumulate over time. Driver mutations give a tumor a tiny growth advantage, which may be as low as an estimated 0.4%. Finding which drivers play a role in cancer might get easier now that there are data mountains from large-scale cancer genome sequencing projects. But it is still a ways to a comprehensive cancer gene variant catalog.
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Nature Methods, February 2015
Stem cells: disease models that show and tell
Stem cells are powerful in many ways. Gene-editing is powerful. Scientists are combining these two powerful techniques to obtain better models of disease. But stem cells are finicky in the lab and without the right experimental design, no disease-in-a-dish will result.
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Nature April 11, 2013
Cell Culture: A better brew
Cells are finicky. Even slight differences in media can have a large impact on them. They may be unhappy and die for unknown reasons. Scientists are exploring more rigorously what exactly their precious cells thrive on and what makes them happy. It’s science mixed with doses of superstition and alchemy.
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Nature Feb. 7, 2013
Tracking metastasis and tricking cancer
Engineering approaches are letting scientists observe tumour cells to see how they detach from one spot and attach at another, and how they creep through tissue that should be too dense to let them pass. Other approaches involve scooping migrating tumour cells out of the blood and locking them in highly engineered cages to discover how they seed secondary tumours.
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Science Magazine, Random Samples,February 2003, V. 299, no.5610
I’ll Trade You a Virus for Two Parasites
Mark Peppler admits that the idea for MicrobeCards came from watching his son swap hockey cards with his friends. “It reminded me of how much fun I had with baseball cards and how much information was on them,” says Peppler, an associate professor of medical microbiology and immunology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. So he decided to create his own edition.
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Nature January 16, 2014
High-security labs: Life in the danger zone
Some microbes are deadly. Working with them in a research environment takes many precautions. And scientists have to find a way to maintain instruments that cannot be removed from the lab, once they are placed under bio-containment. A new high-security lab is opening up in Frederick, Maryland, a stone’s throw from the storied US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). The proximity is intentional.
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Nature Biotechnology, July 2008
Poised to branch out
Although dendrimers have not yet taken the drug industry by storm, biomedical research and industrial applications of these tiny, highly branched molecules continue to grow. …
As with any other groundbreaking experimental treatment, progress of the first dendrimer drug, VivaGel (SPL7013), through the clinic has not been entirely smooth sailing.
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The Boston Globe, March 4, 2003
Saliva offers a mouthful of promise
Here’s a monk’s bit of advice: When the urge to spit is unrelenting, it is best to aim downward and not behind oneself to avoid accidentally besmirching one’s guardian angel. That seems quite reasonable. Looking beyond the realm of good manners, biomedical researchers are finding that this bodily secretion offers a mouthful of promising science. Last month, some of these scientists presented their newest work at the Gordon Research Conference and Symposium on Salivary Glands and Saliva in Ventura, Calif.
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New Scientist, 16 July 2008
Circumcision: To cut or not to cut?
Imagine a quick and simple surgical procedure that trials have shown could give your newborn child lifelong protection against HIV and may ward off sexually transmitted diseases and cancer too. It involves a little pain and bleeding, and occasionally goes wrong, but the risk of serious adverse effects is tiny. Would you have it done? Chances are you would. But what if you found out that other trials have called the procedure’s benefits into question, and that it involves cutting off part of your child’s penis. Now how do you feel about it?

This, in a nutshell, is the dilemma facing the parents of newborn baby boys. According to the increasingly vocal advocates of male circumcision, slicing off the foreskin is one of the most effective public-health measures ever invented and should be done routinely, like vaccination. Not so fast, say opponents. They insist that circumcision has no medical benefits.
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Marine biology – Geoengineering – Business
Scientific American.com, Oct. 7, 2002
The little plankton that could? Maybe.
No one knows whether fertilizing single-celled marine organisms is a sound way to pull more heat-trapping carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. But that hasn’t stopped companies from developing plans to do so. Slowing global warming is a big job. But some researchers and companies say that job could be done by enlisting the help of small but fantastically numerous–and collectively mighty–marine unicellular organisms called phytoplankton.

Phytoplankton make up the chlorophyll-bearing canopy at the base of the marine food web. As part of the natural biogeophysical cycle, phytoplankton absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping gas implicated in global climate change. Some of the carbon is buried when phytoplankton die and settle to the sea bottom.

In theory–one strengthened by some experiments, including one early in 2002–fertilizing phytoplankton could accelerate this natural process, sinking carbon in gigaton quantities. Companies see opportunities. The scientific jury is out on whether such a grand-scale experiment with complex atmospheric processes would work to pull out additional carbon–and if it did, whether the cascade of subsequent effects would ultimately wreak more environmental havoc than the excess carbon would in the first place.

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Die Zeit, 2/2000
Von Fischen und Frauen
Ein Abgeordneter des amerikanischen Kongresses wollte es ganz genau wissen: “Wenn diese Fische so viele Gene haben, wieso sind sie nicht klüger als wir?”, hatte er bei einer Anhörung gefragt. Die lakonische Antwort von Bob Baker, Physiologe an der New-York-Universität: “Manche von ihnen können es durchaus mit manchen von uns aufnehmen.”

“Wunderschön ist er”, schwärmt Mary Mullens an der Medical School der Universität Pennsylvania von einem Fisch, der in den führenden Labors als begehrter Modellorganismus und neuer Forschungsliebling gastiert. Der ursprünglich im indischen Ganges beheimatete Zebrafisch schwamm sogar in das Wall Street Journal, da Pharmafirmen nunmehr in ihn investieren. Denn er ist für genetische Studien ebenso geeignet wie für entwicklungsphysiologische Experimente. “Beim Zebrafisch”, so die Wissenschaftshistorikerin Evelyn Fox Keller, “passen die verfügbaren Techniken zu den aktuellen Fragen, und die Fragen passen zum Organismus: eine Konvergenz vieler Interessen und Möglichkeiten.”

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The Economist, January 16, 1999
A doggie bag of drugs
In days gone by, a badly behaved pet dog would probably have been sent to obedience classes for retraining. If it continued to misbehave, a one-way trip to the vet beckoned. But a society that believes that there is (or ought to be) a pill for every ill was unlikely to put up with this state of affairs for ever.

So it is probably not surprising that America’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the organisation charged with making sure that drugs destined for American people are safe and effective, has just given its first formal approval for two drugs to be used to treat the behavioral problems of American dogs.

Business

Business – Training
The Wall Street Journal Europe March 7, 2000
E-Mail Mentoring Gets Test in German Rust Belt
Unemployed Youth, Volunteer Mentors Sign Up on Web; Program Sets Up Matches
(Excerpt)
He is 18, untrained and unemployed. But Daniel Jepass has a career goal: network administrator. “That’s what my telementor is,” he says.

In a special Internet café set up by the local employment agency in the hard-hit German rust-belt town of Bottrop, disadvantaged youths from the ages of 17 to 25 are placed in targeted one-year job training program, receive advice from on-site guidance counselors—and cyber-advice from so-called telementors.

Less than a third of Bottrop students find a prized apprenticeship position when they leave school—at 14, 15 or 17, depending on the type of school. Subsidized programs for those between the ages of 20 and 25 have brought unemployment down to 8.5% for that group, but general unemployment is at an unwavering 16.9%, and the rate for those under 20 is 14.2%.

These are typical figures for this densely populated area of western Germany stressed by Strukturwandel, the economic transition to post-industrial society. This is no Silicon Valley—years after the mines closed and the steel industry left, new employers arrive only haltingly.

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Space exploration – Business
Newsweek/The Daily Beast, April 24, 2012
James Cameron and Investors Seek to Lasso and Mine an Asteroid
Lassoing an asteroid could be big business, it might just be a wild ride into space.

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Business – Technology
New Scientist, 9 November 2002
Everything must go
TV viewers are keen on skipping ads and watching shows without them. It’s a problem for advertisers. They react with digital insertion of logos and virtual advertising. The commercial break is being transformed into something more subtle.

(The New America Foundation’s Margaret Talbot kindly referred to this piece in her fine essay in The New York Times Magazine, Turned on, Tuned out.

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Pharma – business
Quarterly financial results
Drug earnings rise, albeit unevenly
Chemical & Engineering News, August 23, 2004
Weak dollar helps U.S. companies; European earnings increase in the single digits
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Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Das Internet als soziales Erlebnis 4.6.2007
Google-Chef Eric Schmidt: Das gesamte Leben wird zu einer historischen Akte / Online-Gemeinschaften verändern Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft
(Auszug)

Als Eric Schmidt zum Einstellungsgespräch bei Google eintraf, hatten die Firmengründer Larry Page und Sergey Brin sein Foto und seinen Lebenslauf auf ihren Computerbildschirmen und an die Wand projiziert. Diese soziale Umgangsform habe Schmidt ein wenig überrascht, sie sei aber nunmehr an der Tagesordnung, sagte der promovierte Informatiker, der im März 2001 den Zuschlag als Google-Vorstandschef erhalten habe.

Soziale Netze, etwa Youtube mit seiner Videothek für alle, oder Online-Gemeinschaften wie Myspace und Facebook verändern nicht nur Umgangsformen, sondern viele Facetten von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, sagte Schmidt während des Personal Democracy Forums in New York.

Im “Social Networking” trifft man sich online, um Blogs, also Onlinetagebücher, zu betreiben, Informationen und Fotos herumzuzeigen, Youtube-Videos auszutauschen oder um sich politisch, kulturell, sozial und wirtschaftlich zu organisieren. Klarer Marktführer ist dabei Myspace. Laut Hitwise, einem amerikanischen Marktforschungsunternehmen, erreicht Myspace derzeit einen Social-Networking-Marktanteil in den Vereinigten Staaten von 79,7 Prozent, gefolgt von Facebook mit 11,47 Prozent. Danach folgen kleinere Seiten, darunter Bebo, Imeem und Blackplanet.com.

In dem Markt herrscht viel Bewegung. So kaufte Cisco Systems kürzlich die Sozialseite Tribe.net. Yahoo, mit einer eigenen, nicht ganz erfolgreichen Sozialseite names Yahoo 360 Grad im Markt aktiv, erwägt den Kauf von Bebo mit der Absicht, die Angebote in diesem Bereich, etwa das Online-Fotoalbum Flickr, und die Sozialseite del.icio.us. zu bündeln.

Education, Social trends, Archaeology, Anthropology

Newsweek/The Daily Beast, May 10, 2012
New Mayan Discovery: The World Isn’t Ending!

The Mayans predicted that the world would end in 2012, right? Not according to the fascinating findings from a recent dig.

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Süddeutsche Zeitung
GRE: Im Testfieber
Wer in Amerika promovieren will, muss meist den Zulassungstest GRE machen – und der ist heftig umstritten. Ein Erfahrungsbericht.

GRE, ich liebe dich wirklich nicht! Doch wen es – wie mich – zum Master-Abschluss oder zur Promotion in die USA zieht, braucht einen Zulassungstest, in der Regel den ,,Graduate Record Examinations”, kurz GRE. Jedes Jahr absolvieren ihn mehr als 350000 Kandidaten. Ich lerne also für den GRE, bin bereits im Endspurt. Mein Sechs-Wochen-Intensivkurs, ein 1000-Dollar-Spaß mit Seminar, Hausaufgaben und Online-Hilfe geht bald zu Ende. Der Tutor predigt: Mit Lernkärtchen sollen wir Vokabeln büffeln, Geometrie lernen, Mathe-Formeln pauken. Wurzel aus 3? Ist 1,73. Wie merken? Der 17. 3. ist Sankt Patrick’s Day. ….

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Süddeutsche Zeitung, 29.01.2002
Cooling out
Wissenschaftliche Karrieren sind männlich/ Europaweit sind Frauen an Hochschulen unterrepräsentiert.
Lediglich ein subjektiver Eindruck” und “nur ein Gefühl”. Solche Reaktionen ernten Wissenschaftlerinnen bisher, sagt Brigitte Degen von der Europäischen Kommission, wenn sie darauf hinweisen, dass Frauen in der akademischen Welt benachteiligt werden. Mit einer neuen Studie erhalten nun die Gefühle eine solide Grundlage.
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I have also written for these publications:
BioInform
Chemical & Engineering News
Der Spiegel
Drug Discovery and Development
Facts
Genomics & Proteomics
Popular Science
Red Herring
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Utah CEO

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