Friday, December 03, 2004

Courtesy of Nancy Crampton

At a recent gathering of scientists cohosted by Discover and the Aspen Institute, E. L. DOCTOROW reflected on the creative mind of Albert Einstein. “He was intellectually dauntless and personally very brave,” says Doctorow, who adapted his speech for “Seeing the Unseen,” page 40. “Creativity occurs as a liberation from the self. Which is why, afterward, you may look on what you’ve created with detachment.” Doctorow is a two-time winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for his novels Ragtime and Billy Bathgate. His latest book is Sweet Land Stories.

Sometimes Discover goes to unusual lengths to illustrate an article. For “The Hidden History of Men,” page 32, we commissioned tattoo artist LETICIA VALLE to adorn a model with a detailed map of historic migration patterns revealed by analysis of Y chromosome samples. “It was curious to see all the work that went into creating one good photograph,” she says. In this case the picture is more permanent than the tattoo itself, which Valle created using removable inks.

Courtesy of Andrea Brizzi

MICHIO KAKU, who wrote “How to Survive the End of the Universe,” page 46, has been studying cosmology since he was a child. At the age of 8, he was so inspired by TV coverage of Einstein’s death that he set out to find a unified field theory. Kaku went on to become a cofounder of string field theory. He is also working to fulfill a promise he made at the outset of his career “to write books that I would have liked to have read when I was a high school kid.” His latest, Parallel Worlds, is coming out this month.

Courtesy of John Pallister

JAMES BALOG has photographed thousands of living things for more than 25 years—from frogs to polar bears. In “Trees,” page 54, he offers a selective portfolio of some of the oldest and most majestic organisms in the United States. An ardent conservationist, Balog is constantly amazed by his story subjects. “I have seen so many places,” he says. “It is an extraordinary world we live in.” Balog also shoots for Outside, National Geographic Adventure, Vanity Fair, and Smithsonian.

Comment on this article