In nearly three decades as a journalist I've written about everything from natural disasters to presidential elections, professional sports to scientific breakthroughs. I also enjoy writing about little-known history, the history of science, stories of adventure and exploration, health and medical science, and hopeful stories about science and technology.
BREAKTHROUGH AT CALTECH
At Caltech this week, people are a lot more interested in gravitational waves than doing the wave. On a campus where science trumps sports for nearly everyone almost every day, the recipe for a winning basketball program seemed like the only problem Caltech couldn't solve.
And winning games in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference seemed about as likely as figuring out whether neutrinos have mass. Actually, a Caltech scientist did figure out the neutrino thing - but the Caltech basketball team couldn't crack the code to winning a SCIAC game.
The Beavers went 61-459 from 1989 to 2011 with no wins in league play, before beating Occidental by one to snap a 310-game conference losing streak and finish 1-13 in the SCIAC. The celebration was short - the Beavers finished 0-14 in the conference the next year, then 0-16 twice.
Which makes what's happening now on the court at Caltech almost as remarkable as discovering that chromosomes are responsible for heredity (which a Caltech professor did).
The Beavers are 6-7 in SCIAC play, two games out of a tie for second place in the league. That's more wins this year in the conference than in the previous 45 years combined.
To the list of geniuses at Caltech, add the name Dr. Oliver Eslinger. He took over a program at which losing was not only accepted, but expected. But Eslinger did what giants of science have done - worked to prove conventional wisdom wrong.
Lee Kiefer’s bid for her first fencing world cup title earlier this month in Algeria wasn’t off to a good start. The 20-year-old foil fencer came into the Algers Foil World Cup mourning the recent death of a childhood fencing friend, so focusing was hard. Then, a tube of the gel that athletes suck down for quick energy spilled in her bag and got all over her foils. Her preferred weapon — virtually an extension of her body — was unusable, and she had to use an unfamiliar foil.