The Quest for the Garbage Patch

In late 2009, I sat in my dorm room listening to an old Science Friday episode where Ira Flatow talks with a doctoral student about the garbage patch in the middle of the ocean. (click to listen)

As the piece rolled along, this is what ran through my mind:

“Wow. I’ve always wanted to know more about the garbage patch. I’m glad they’re doing this.”
“And, y’know, people can visit it!”
“Your point?”
“Maybe, someday, I could visit it!”
“Okay…well…how do you plan on getting there?”
“I don’t know. This person is a grad student. Maybe I should stop studying natural resource management and pay more attention to the seas.”
“You know, you can’t just keep switching your interests. Science requires sticking to a passion for a long time.”
“Well … there is one other type of person who can go there.”
“A journalist.”

In January 2010, I wrote my first piece for the student newspaper, The Sun Star. I wouldn’t have considered journalism if I weren’t already an avid fan of engaging shows like Radiolab. Radiolab feels less like your father’s newspaper and more like a fireside chat with your parents’ wanderlust friends who want nothing more than to explain their travels in terms you can understand. The Atlantic wrote more about the  magic of Radiolab yesterday.

My new Other Works page highlights the stories I’ve written since that Science Friday episode. I find myself going back to my passions again and again, which are under their own headings: muskoxen (more on that here), plants, zombies, and – yes – the oceans. More on that Friday.

A little challenge: Radiolab’s planning out locations across the U.S for its new live show, “In the Dark.” I believe that “probably the farthest north you’ll go and still fill a theater” is a good reason on its own for them to come to Fairbanks, but that lonely goat next to the Golden Heart of Alaska might not be too appealing. Invite them here, Alaskans! (okay. Anchorage might work too, but then we can’t all ramble about scientific discovery at Chena Hot Springs afterward.)


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