Science for Everyone

For over 30 years I taught biology to college students at Washington University. For the last decade of these years, I taught a freshman course that introduced nonscience majors to current issues where science plays a key role, issues such as AIDS, the environment, cloning, genetic engineering, and evolution. The course was intended to give them the tools to think about these issues as citizens and voters. I write these articles as a way of teaching the general public about these same issues.

Most people are very interested in science, but put off by the terminology. When you don’t know what the words mean, its easy to slip into thinking that the matter is difficult, when actually the ideas are simple, easy to grasp, and fun to consider. Its the terms that get in the way, that stand as a wall between citizens and science. It is the intent of my column to turn those walls into windows, so that readers can peer in and join the fun. Anologies are my tool. In each article I look for simple analogies that relate the matter at hand to things we all know. As science, analogies are not exact, but I do not count myself compromised. Analogies trade precision for clarity. If I do my job right, the key idea is not compromised by the analogy I use to explain it, but rather revealed.

Click a category to view a list of titles under that category.

Cancer and Smoking
Dieting and Exercise
Genetic Engineering
Mad Cow Disease
Natural History
New Approaches to Curing Cancer
Nobel Prize
Science in the New Millenium
Science Meets Fantasy
Scientific Investigation
Teaching Darwin in Public Schools
The Human Genome Project