This week we chat with science writer (and former laser physicist) Kate Greene, whose writing explores everything from Big Data to boredom to brain scans, and whose fascinating and eclectic life is brightly punctuated by the four months she spent living inside a Mars base simulation on Hawaii.

We Discuss:

How she became a scientist, and then a science writer.

The importance of good teachers and mentorship and encouragement along a person’s developmental journey.

“Everything that I’ve done is the result of network effects.”

Her time as a guinea pig in a simulated Mars colony on Hawaii…

Why astronauts love hot sauce.

Knowing your purpose – feeling the intuitive hit that lets you know you’re on the right path.

Princeton Engineering Anomalies Lab and the scientific evidence for the influence of intention on the outcome of random events.

Kate’s fascination with brain scans.

“I often wonder, what the hell is my brain doing right now?”

Terence McKenna’s vision of posthuman, cephalopod skin telepathy…and Twitter as a form of that same ambient telepathy.

“Never in the history of humanity have we had such extensive communication prosthetics.”

How do science journalists and scientists alike keep up with the “info quake” of modern life?

Big data and AI – can we preserve and evolve critical thought and rigorous investigation when our research is done in collaboration with machine intelligences using logical processes we ourselves don’t understand?

“Science is so HUMAN. It’s performed by humans that have all of these biases and blind spots…the fact that there’s so much information points to the fact that there needs to be new ways to sift through it.”

“A lot of people think that AI is just going to replace people in a lot of ways, but I feel like it is going to be one of the most intimate symbiotic relationships that we have in the future. I mean, this technology will become as close to human as anything humanity’s ever created, and it’s not going to be able to do it on its own. It will be a symbiosis. We will be learning from each other and training each other.”

The problem science journalism has with reporting real science, not just sensationalist headlines based on science…and how social media has made it worse.

What you would miss about Earth if you moved to Mars.

“Earth is SO wonderful. And I don’t think I knew it – I kinda knew it, but I didn’t ACTUALLY know it – until I couldn’t be a part of it for four months.”

Cooking “on Mars” in a simulated colony on Mauna Loa.

Aromatherapy in space!

What Kate learned from teaching creative writing in a women’s prison.

“This is modern day slavery: there are more people incarcerated in the United States than in any other Western country, and it’s because it’s profitable. Something needs to change…one thing that you can do is realize that people in prisons are still part of your community, and that you still have a responsibility to them. To give what you can, to make sure that their lives are better, that all of our lives are better.”

Cory Doctorow’s short story “The Man Who Sold The Moon” in ASU’s Project Hieroglyph compilation.

The crossover between the Burning Man crowd and the space exploration crowd.

Other mentioned science journalists to follow:

Ed Yong

Kenneth Chang

Natalie Wolchover

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