It is often said that mathematics is too abstract; too remote from "real life" to be of interest to the general public. It is a commonplace that mathematicians are "too far up in the clouds" to be able to explain their science to the layman. Yet, mathematics underlies almost all of real life as we know it today (computers, satellites, finance), and successful attempts to explain mathematics are popular with the general public (i.e., K. C. Cole's The Universe and the Teacup, R. Osserman's The Poetry of the Universe). Mathematics CAN be presented intelligibly to the public and there is genuine interest when that happens.
From 1998 to 2004, MSRI hosted a series of journalists for a semester each to help make contacts between mathematical scientists and journalists who can spread more and better information to the public.
The Journalist in Residence Program was supported by grants from the Gabriella and Paul Rosenbaum and William Randolph Hearst Foundations, and managed by a board of distinguished advisors, chaired by William R. Hearst III.
Biographies were current at original time of publication.
K. C. Cole, Science Writer for the LA Times
Allyn Jackson, Senior Writer and Deputy Editor for the Notices of the AMS
Brian Hayes, Computing Science Writer for American Scientist
Ivars Peterson, Mathematics/Computer Writer and Online Editor at Science News
Ivars Peterson is the mathematics/computer writer and online editor at Science News. He is the author of The Mathematical Tourist, Islands of Truth, Newton's Clock, Fatal Defect, and The Jungles of Randomness. He and his wife, Nancy Henderson, have just completed Math Trek: Adventures in the MathZone, a fun math book for children of middle-school age, published by Wiley.
Ivars Peterson's MathTrek was a weekly online math column. Ivars Peterson was Journalist in Residence at MSRI during the summer of 1999. The columns that he wrote while he was at MSRI are named below.
- September 4 - MSRI Reflections
- August 21 - Lunar Shadows
- August 14 - Matrices, Circles, and Eigenthings
- August 11 - Eclipse Party
- August 7 - Averting Instant Insanity
- August 4 - The Jungles of Randomness
- July 31 - Juggling by Design
- July 24 - The Honeycomb Conjecture
- July 24 - Mersenne Megaprime
- July 17 - Row Your Boat
- July 10 - A Song About Pi
- July 3 - Solitaire-y Sequences
- June 26 - The Return of Zeta
- June 24 - Computing at the Edge
- June 19 - The Mark of Zeta
- June 12 - Fibonacci at Random
June 12 - MSRI Journal
Beverly Wachtel, Producer/Writer for Earth and Sky Radio Series
Radio scripts by Beverly Wachtel:
- All Numbers Great and Small
- Bees Know Best
- Can't Square the Circle
- Cones and Comets
- Constant Growth
- Count on Number One
- Distorted Maps
- Fermat's Last Theorem
- The Fourth Dimension
- Go Figure
- The Idea of Number
- Infinity and So On
- Measuring the Coast
- Not From Here to Eternity
- Prime and Rare
- The Retroverse
- Safety in Numbers
Larry Gonick, Cartoonist
- View many of Larry's mathematical cartoons from Discover magazine.
Jim Holt, Author, columnist and frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, Prospect (U.K.), and Slate.
- Diary for Slate: Tuesday, November 28, 2000
Sara Robinson, Writer and contributor to the New York Times.
Erica Klarreich, science writer
Ed Alcock, Photojournalist and frequent contributor to The New York Times and The Guardian
Steve Olson, Author of Countdown: Six Kids Vie for Glory at the World's Toughest Math Competition.
While associated with MSRI he worked on "Nurturing Mathematical Talent: Views from Top Finishers in the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition." His work was based on a large number of interviews, which are interesting to read in themselves.
Note: Applications for the JIR position are no longer being accepted.