Articles & Writings

I’m Ramin Skibba, a journalist, science writer, communicator, and astrophysicist. Find out more about me here, and check out my articles and news stories below (longer pieces and feature stories are in bold).

Magazine stories:
Undark: “The Pros and Cons of ‘BPA-Free’” (6 September 2017)
New Scientist: “Solving how fish swim so well may help design underwater robots” (21 August 2017)
Hakai magazine: “Did Climate Change Bring Down Late Bronze Age Civilizations?” (10 August 2017)
Nature: “Astrobiology: Hunting aliens” (28 June 2017, book review)
San Diego Home & Garden: “The Force of Fields: The disciplines of art and science come together in local exhibitions” (15 June 2017)
Undark: “Bite Marks and Bullet Holes: Outdated Forensic Science in the Courtroom” (2 June 2017)
New Scientist: “Nowcasting may help forecast big earthquakes in 53 major cities” (26 May 2017)
Hakai magazine: “California’s surf spots are heading for a wipeout” (20 April 2017)
Newsweek: “Solitary Confinement Screws up the Brains of Prisoners” (18 April 2017)
New Scientist: “Synchronised swimming seems to make dolphins more optimistic” (9 February 2017)
Nature: “Immigrant and minority scientists shaken by Trump win” (22 November 2016, with Heidi Ledford and Sara Reardon)
Nature: “Pollsters struggle to explain failures of US presidential forecasts” (9 November 2016)
Nature: “The polling crisis: How to tell what people really think” (19 October 2016, reprinted in Scientific American)
Nature: “OSIRIS-REx spacecraft blazes trail for asteroid miners” (2 September 2016, reprinted in Scientific American)
Science Notes: “Fire Mountains” (24 August 2016)
Nature: “Scholarly Olympics: How the games have shaped research” (3 August 2016, reprinted in Scientific American)
New Scientist: “Ageing Milky Way stopped making stars before it ran out of gas” (2 March 2016)
Bay Nature: “Trees Capture Fog — So Why Can’t We?” (30 December 2015)
Eos: “Assessing U.S. Fire Risks Using Soil Moisture Satellite Data” (17 December 2015)
Science: “The most likely spots for life in the Milky Way” (9 December 2015)
Sky & Telescope: “Hubble’s Long Look at Distant Galaxies” (19 January 2015)

Op-eds, opinion pieces, and essays:
San Francisco Chronicle: “Let’s not risk a Cold War in space” (27 October 2017)
Aeon magazine: “To find aliens, we must think of life as we don’t know it” (19 September 2017)
Wired magazine: “Trump’s ‘America First’ Policies Won’t Work in Space” (23 August 2017)
Last Word on Nothing: “How March for Science activists could become a force to be reckoned with” (2 May 2017)
Nautilus: “Mining in Space Could Lead to Conflicts on Earth” (19 April 2016)
San Jose Mercury News: “Tech moguls increasingly deciding what scientific research will be funded” (11 December 2015)
Last Word on Nothing: “The Return of Persian Science” (16 November 2015)
San Francisco Chronicle: “President Obama—take nukes off hair-trigger alert” (16 October 2015)
Status newsletter, Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy: “Struggling Against Gender Bias in STEM Fields” (published in August 2015)
Journal of Science Policy and Governance: “Implications of the Midterm Election for Science” (12 February 2015)
Women in Astronomy blog: “One Man’s Perspective on Diversity and Inequality in Science” (13 October 2014)
Union of Concerned Scientists blog: “Will Climate Change Embolden the Environmental Justice Movement?” (9 July 2014)

Articles for online news outlets:
Slate: “The Ultimate Escapism: Sci-fi has been warning us about virtual reality addiction since the 1990s” (2 November 2017)
Slate: “Why Are FEMA’s Flood Maps So Horribly Flawed?” (6 September 2017, reprinted in High Country News and Grist)
Inside Science: “Bringing the Plight of Coral Reefs to Our Screens” (19 July 2017)
FiveThirtyEight: “The Next Step In The Search For Aliens Is A Huge Telescope And A Ton Of Math” (21 July 2017)
Quanta: “Researchers Check Space-Time to See if It’s Made of Quantum Bits” (21 June 2017)
Nature: “Fleeting phase of planet formation discovered” (24 May 2017) “New Study Shows How Even Small Asteroids Can Make a Big Impact” (10 May 2017)
Inside Science: “Extraterrestrial life might be hiding in plain sight” (27 April 2017, reprinted on NBC news)
Slate: “Trump Thinks the ‘Best Available’ Data on Climate Change Is From 2003” (29 March 2017) “Maybe Dark Matter Didn’t Kill the Dinosaurs after All” (14 March 2017)
New Scientist: “Family tree of stars helps reconstruct Milky Way’s formation” (20 February 2017)
Nature: “The hunt for rogue planets just got tougher” (8 February 2017)
Slate: “Here’s One Way Trump’s Team Could Manipulate Government Data” (26 January 2017)
Inside Science: “Computer Science Technique Helps Astronomers Explore the Universe” (13 January 2017)
New Scientist: “Binary stars shred up and shove off their newborn planets” (13 January 2017)
Nature: “Bat banter is surprisingly nuanced” (22 December 2016)
Nature: “Swiss survey highlights potential flaws in animal studies” (20 December 2016)
Nature: “Stopgap spending bill leaves US scientists in limbo” (7 December 2016)
Nature: “Geneticists hope to unlock secrets of bats’ complex sounds” (18 November 2016)
Nature: “Psychologists argue about whether smiling makes cartoons funnier” (3 November 2016, reprinted in Scientific American)
Nature: “Climate change could flip Mediterranean lands to desert” (27 October 2016, reprinted in Scientific American)
Nature: “Record-breaking common swifts fly for 10 months without landing” (27 October 2016)
Nature: “Kepler finds scores of planets around cool dwarf stars” (21 October 2016, reprinted in Scientific American)
Nature: “Women postdocs less likely than men to get a glowing reference” (3 October 2016)
Nature: “Psychologists fail to replicate well-known behaviour linked to learning” (26 September 2016)
Nature: “Giant ice volcano spotted on dwarf planet Ceres” (1 September 2016)
Nature: “Tiny pterosaur claims new perch on reptile family tree” (31 August 2016, reprinted in Scientific American)
Nature: “Why the US decision to expand marijuana supply for research matters” (12 August 2016, reprinted in Scientific American)
Nature: “Women in physics face big hurdles—still” (1 August 2016)
Nature: “Atom wranglers create rewritable memory” (18 July 2016, reprinted in Scientific American)
Nature: “Poor musical taste? Blame your upbringing” (13 July 2016, reprinted in Scientific American)
Inside Science: “Mars’ Atmosphere Blew Away Billions Of Years Ago” (1 July 2016)
Inside Science: “Sean Carroll’s ‘Big Picture’ Tours Physics And Philosophy” (19 May 2016)
Inside Science: “Interacting Dwarf Galaxies Shed Light On Milky Way Neighbors” (6 May 2016)
Inside Science: “Mathematicians And ‘The Man Who Knew Infinity'” (29 April 2016)
Inside Science: “Physicists Look Beyond WIMPs For Dark Matter” (28 April 2016)
Scientific American: “Saving Iran’s Precious Lake Urmia” (26 April 2016, reprinted in Tehran Times)
Inside Science: “Astrophysicists Probe Expansion Of The Universe” (25 April 2016)
Inside Science: “Our planet might not have always been the biggest rock in the inner solar system” (8 April 2016)
GeoSpace: “Parts of Sierra Nevada Mountains more susceptible to drought than previously thought, study finds” (28 December 2015)
GeoSpace: “Climate change and bark beetles spell doom for Rocky Mountain spruce forests” (21 December 2015)
GeoSpace: “Scientists Map Titan’s Lakes, Revealing Clues to their Origins” (17 December 2015)
Mongabay: “Air pollution causes millions of preventable deaths in East Asia, say scientists” (17 November 2015)
Universe Today: “What’s Coming After Hubble and James Webb? The High-Definition Space Telescope” (12 August 2015)
International Year of Light blog: “How Do Astronomers Use Light to Probe Dark Matter?” (24 July 2015)
Universe Today: “Scientists Map the Dark Matter Around Millions of Galaxies” (17 April 2015)
Universe Today: “How do Gas and Stars Build a Galaxy?” (18 February 2015)
Universe Today: “It Turns Out Primordial Gravitational Waves Weren’t Found” (2 February 2015)
Universe Today: “Like a BOSS: How Astronomers are Getting Precise Measurements of the Universe’s Expansion Rate” (15 January 2015)

Newspaper stories:
San Jose Mercury News: “California’s struggle over the chemical BPA continues” (2 July 2016)
Monterey Herald: “Helping otter pups survive El Niño” (5 March 2016)
Monterey Herald: “Middlebury report: Challenging times ahead for coastal communities” (22 February 2016)
Monterey Herald: “Mapping fog: Charting the comings and goings of the coast’s frequent visitor” (18 February 2016)
Monterey Herald: “Fracking: Environmental group startled by pro-oil production radio/TV campaign” (3 February 2016; reprinted in San Jose Mercury News)
Monterey Herald: “Water levels on the rise, but slowly in Monterey County” (26 January 2016)
Monterey Herald: “Monterey conference: Coming together for the bluefin” (18 January 2016)
Monterey Herald: “Rainstorms, tides and Niño are reshaping Monterey Bay beaches” (11 January 2016; reprinted in San Jose Mercury News)
Monterey Herald: “Concerns rise about mudslides in Monterey County” (10 January 2016)
San Jose Mercury News: “Scientists transform space research, technology with fleets of tiny satellites” (6 December 2015; also printed in Santa Cruz Sentinel)
La Jolla Light: “Todd Gloria touts San Diego Climate Action Plan before students at UCSD” (9 June 2015)
La Jolla Light: “Fun In The Deep Blue Sea: Scripps hosts evening with cartoonist/conservationist Jim Toomey” (29 January 2015)

Podcasts, videos and other multimedia:
NASA Visualization Explorer: “Glowing Galactic Clouds” (29 March 2016)
Voice of San Diego podcast: “El Niño Explained” (25 September 2015, participant)
Loh Down on Science podcast: “Comet Update” (5 January 2015, wrote script)
Weekly Space Hangout videos and podcasts published by Fraser Cain at Universe Today (September 2014-December 2015, participant)

Articles for institutional news outlets:
Stanford Engineering: “Stanford-led skyscraper-style chip design boosts electronic performance by factor of a thousand” (9 December 2015)
Stanford Engineering: “Stanford engineers invent process to accelerate protein evolution” (7 December 2015)
Stanford Engineering: “Plasma experiments bring astrophysics down to Earth” (1 December 2015)
Stanford Engineering: “Stanford designs underwater solar cells that turn captured greenhouse gases into fuel” (18 November 2015)
Stanford Engineering: “Graphene key to high-density, energy-efficient memory chips, Stanford engineers say” (23 October 2015)
Calit2 (California Institute for Telecommunications & Information Technology): “New Frontiers of Cognitive Networking” (21 September 2015)
Calit2: “PDEL: Qualcomm Institute’s ‘Gateway to the Social Sciences'” (15 January 2015)
Calit2: “Dr. Irwin Jacobs: Engineer, Innovator, Qualcomm Founder” (6 January 2015)

Guest blog posts:
Out of the Fog blog: “Peter Gleick: top water scientist doggedly pursues conservation” (14 April 2016)
Sustainability Committee blog for American Astronomical Society: “Taking the train to the AAS meeting” (2 January 2015)
Galaxy Zoo blog: “AAAS Symposium in Feb. 2015: Cutting-Edge Research with 1 Million Citizen Scientists” (18 July 2014, cross-posted on the Zooniverse blog)
Public Policy blog for American Astronomical Society: “My Experience with the Congressional Visit Day” (1 April 2014)

For a more complete list or for PDFs, please contact me.

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