Catherine N. Steffel

Catherine N. Steffel is a freelance science writer and former science writing intern in the Fermilab Office of Communication.

An experiment that will contribute vital knowledge about something deceptively simple – a proton’s spin – will soon come online at Fermilab. The experiment may either begin to validate the “potato salad” model of proton spin or force scientists to develop a new model entirely.

Science Storytellers brings together two groups of innately curious individuals: scientists and children. In the Science Storytellers program, kids act as science journalists interviewing real-life scientists. Afterward, they share what they learned. Research shows that transmitting scientific knowledge to the public is important, but actually shifting someone’s opinions requires engaging with them in a two-way dialogue and treating them as a whole, complicated person with knowledge, experiences and influences of their own.

For the first time, a team of scientists has used the orientation of light left over from the early universe to detect gravitational lensing from galaxy clusters – the bending of light around these massive objects. Using gravitational lensing data taken by the South Pole Telescope and the Dark Energy Camera, Fermilab scientist Brad Benson and colleagues have demonstrated a new way to “weigh” galaxy clusters and ultimately shed light on dark matter, dark energy and other mysteries of the cosmos.

In November, the Chicago Quantum Exchange held a workshop about ethics and societal impacts of artificial intelligence and quantum computing technologies. Participants from a wide variety of academic backgrounds, from physicists to sociologists, discussed the implications of technology on society and vice versa and identified critical steps scientists need to take so technology is developed and implemented ethically and responsibly.