Digging in Mayan ruins back in 2007

Digging in Mayan ruins back in 2007

Welcome, one and all, to Assignment: Impossible. My name is Charles Q. Choi, and I'm a frequent contributor to Scientific American whose stories have also appeared in The New York Times, Science, Nature, Wired, LiveScience and others.

My goal as a journalist is to help readers explore the world in ways they might never get to otherwise. I've gone to the badlands to unearth dinosaur skin, investigated mummies in Russia, faced gunmen in Guatemala, interviewed Isabella Rossellini about animal sex, hunted for mammoth DNA in the Klondike and ventured into the sarcophagus of Chernobyl.

To advance this mission of mine, Assignment: Impossible will serve as my new laboratory of the imagination, wherein I aim to experiment with novel types of stories. Here at this outpost Scientific American has so graciously provided me, I'm continuing and launching series aimed at exploring what I can do in journalism.

  • In Visions, science fiction about the very latest scientific research just as it gets made public will be paired with news stories explaining the details behind the fiction. The goal is to create "ripped from the headlines" science fiction to explore the possibilities hinted at in the latest news.
  • In my ongoing series, Too Hard For Science?, I interview scientists about ideas they would love to explore that they don't think could be investigated. For instance, they might involve machines beyond the realm of possibility, such as particle accelerators as big as the sun, or they might be completely unethical, such as lethal experiments involving people. This feature aims to look at the impossible dreams, the seemingly intractable problems in science. However, the question mark at the end of Too Hard for Science? suggests that nothing might be impossible.
  • In counterpoint, with A Modest Proposal, my colleagues and I will propose inventions and projects I think are eminently doable that I would love made real.
  • In Buried Treasure, I will explore an idea raised by past Scientific American editor-in-chief John Rennie to write about scientific findings six months after their initial publication to provide a broadened perspective on this research.
  • Finally, with From The Writer's Desk, I'll describe what I do for a living as a freelance science writer, how I do it and ideas I have for doing it better.

I'm also always welcome to ideas for new series!

You can email me at toohardforscience@gmail.com and follow me on Twitter at @cqchoi.