August 2021 update: I’m the new space writer at WIRED magazine!
I’m Ramin Skibba (@raminskibba on Twitter), an astrophysicist turned science writer and freelance journalist based in San Diego. I write for a whole bunch of magazines, newspapers, and online news outlets, including The Atlantic, Washington Post, National Geographic, Newsweek, Slate, Nature, Wired, Undark, Scientific American, Science, Smithsonian, Aeon, New Scientist, Quanta, FiveThirtyEight, The Hill, San Jose Mercury News, and San Francisco Chronicle.
I’m also on the board of the San Diego Science Writers Association (SANDSWA), and I was the president in 2018-2020.
Lots of my writing revolves around astronomy, physics and space exploration, and I’ve been writing about many other things too, including environmental, social, and earth sciences as well as intersections between science, politics, and society. If you’re interested in those kinds of things, you should sign up for my new newsletter, Ramin’s Space! (And you can read earlier 2018-2020 archives of the newsletter here.)
If you’d like to see the articles and stories I’ve been publishing lately, go to the Articles & Writings page and check them out. I’ll be adding some sample pieces on this site as well.
I often provide advice for freelancers and newbies wanting to start freelance writing. Starting in 2020, I’ll likely charge a $50-per-hour consulting fee, which is a pretty standard rate. After all, an important lesson for new freelancers is that time really is money.
I launched my own fledgling freelance writing career in January 2017. Through the summer and fall of 2016, I had a great time completing a six-month full-time internship with Nature magazine. Before that, I enjoyed the challenging science communication program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. While I was there, I also worked on part-time internships with Stanford news, the Monterey Herald newspaper, and Inside Science.
For fun, I’m into many kinds of music, playing the violin, swing dancing, downhill skiing, reading fiction and nonfiction, traveling, hiking, biking, and drinking tea and beer (though not at the same time). But now I really spend most of my time playing with my kid.
For those of you wondering about my back story, I used to be an astrophysicist. Up until summer 2015, I worked as a research scientist and lecturer at University of California, San Diego. Before I moved to San Diego, I worked at the University of Arizona in Tucson and before that I worked at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany (which is where I also picked up the swing dancing). I earned my Ph.D. in Physics & Astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh in 2006, and I earned a B.S. in Physics and B.A. in Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. I’m half-Iranian and I grew up in Denver, Colorado (where I learned to ski).
I’m at a time where I’m up for trying new things. If you’ve got a science writing, communication, public speaking, or outreach-related project you’re working on and you think I might be able to help or play a role, let me know—maybe I can.
A famous economist and sociologist once said, “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.” In my own small ways, I will try to do both.
Feel free to contact me via email (raminskibba[at]gmail.com) or telephone (+1-520-306-8158).
7 thoughts on “About Me”
I live in Denver area and once every month I have the pleasure to meet your mother in our poetry nights. I like reading about modern physics and when I learned you are a physicist I decided to ask you a question that I have been asking myself for a long time and that is if the speed of light has been the same from the begining of our universe or it would be possible that the big bang started as a tiny ding which radiated at zero speed and at such a small acceleration rate that after many trillion years has reached to the present speed?
Maytee, thanks, that’s a good question. As far as we know, the speed of light has been the same since the beginning of the universe. That speed limit hasn’t been increasing with time. But the speed of light can be slower when light’s traveling through different media.
Dear Mr. Skibba,
I am enjoying reading your articles (most recently in Scientific American: Planet Nine Could Be a Mirage. Your coverage of Dr. Madigan’s research was clear and easy to follow. When I looked into more of your articles, I was pleasantly surprised to see that your subject matter is diverse. I was a bit disappointed, however, to note that you use the word “theory” where instead you should use “hypothesis”. This is a common mistake, but your writing is for scientific subjects and should not make use of informal errors.
I look forward to reading more of your work.
Shirley, thank you for your message. I’m glad you’ve been enjoying reading my work. I appreciate that. And I agree with you: “hypothesis” might be a more accurate term, but I think it’s fair to say that they’re developing it into a full-fledged theory.
Hi, im glad to know young people doing science, congratulations, how can I contact you by email? I have some interesting material about dark matter and quantum mechanics.
RE: Space radiation limits for astronauts – Scientific American.
First, I must disclose that I find the prospect of sending people to Mars is at best silly and at worst could result in explorers’ deaths. The old “because it’s there” mentality should not apply. Robot spacecraft are doing an excellent job of science on the dusty, frigid plant.
Now, to the point of my note. It seems to me to better understand the radiation hazards of interplanetary space flight more data is needed. Hiroshima is hardly a good model for space travel (or for anything else for that matter) In the pre-manned orbital flight days both NASA and the Soviets sent primates and dogs into orbit as trail blazers. It seems to me that much could be learned by sending chimpanzees into Martian orbit, for some period, before returning them to earth. It would be an arduous trip for the test subjects. Planning, funding and preparing for such a mission would be challenging. But to boldly go to where no man has gone before without thorough understanding of the hazards is irresponsible.
I just read your article in Scientific American entitled “New Space Radiation Limits Needed for NASA Astronauts, Report Says”. You did a great job of conveying the relevance of otherwise esoteric data with your comparison to bananas and to nearby residents of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. I appreciated that very much and just wanted to say thanks!