Earth and Space

[See also the Books page for The Big Splat, or How Our Moon Came to Be, published by John Wiley & Sons in 2003, a historical account of theories of the moon’s origin and history.]

[See also the Books page for Visualizing Geology, published by John Wiley & Sons, an introductory geology textbook that I co-authored with Brian Skinner and Barbara Murck.]

It’s curious that my second-most-frequent topic as a science writer has been earth and space — even though I never took a single course in high school or college on geology, astronomy, or planetary science! But I believe that one of the hallmarks of a professional journalist is the ability to be a quick study on any subject. If mathematics were the only subject I could write about, I would feel like a pretty limited journalist.

In fact, I enjoy writing about other subjects just as much as I enjoy writing about math. It’s a different sort of challenge. Because I am not an expert, I can ask the same questions that any reader would ask, and sense the things that might be confusing to them. My job is to penetrate what the experts are telling me so that I can explain it both clearly and accurately.

Finally, one reason that I have ended up writing so much about planetary science — the moon especially — is that I like the moon. Of all the things that scientists study, the moon is one of the most accessible and most familiar. It’s something everybody can see, with no special equipment required (although a small telescope helps). I also grew up in the era of the Apollo missions, and truly believed that it was our destiny to travel to and live on the moon. In fact, I still believe that! However, I am now coming to believe that this destiny will not be fulfilled in my lifetime.

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