I’ve written hundreds of articles for newspapers, magazines, and online news outlets over a span of more than 20 years – these are a few highlights.


The Einstein Camera

A century ago, a U of T astronomer led a small group of Canadians on a daring expedition to Australia to test Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. Read my feature for U of T Magazine, co-authored with Victoria Fisher.

Oct. 11, 2023

Is Consciousness Part of the Fabric of the Universe?

Scientists and philosophers recently gathered to debate a provocative idea called “panpsychism.” Read my report for Scientific American.

Sept. 25, 2023

NASA’s Nazi Past

The German scientists and engineers brought to the U.S. via Operation Paperclip, including Wernher von Braun, lived the American dream. Most were never held accountable for their actions during World War II. My feature for Slate Future Tense.

Aug. 1, 2023

JWST’s First Year

The James Webb Space Telescope has had a fabulous first year, yielding spectacular images and surprising science. My feature for Smithsonian.

July 5, 2023

Everything you need to know about the April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse

With one year to go, my feature for Smithsonian has all the information you need to get ready.

April 7, 2023

What does the universe sound like?

The universe is not silent! In this feature for Smithsonian, I speak with the astronomers and musicians who are creating space “sonifications.”

March 1, 2023

The Mystery of the Multiverse

Could the universe we see around us be just one of many? The multiverse has been called the most provocative idea in all of physics. My cover story for Discover.

Feb. 10, 2023

When will the next supernova occur in our galaxy?

The next time a star explodes in the Milky Way galaxy, scientists will be ready with an array of new tools. My feature for Smithsonian. 

Aug. 2, 2022

A suprising side of Carl Sagan 

The movie Contact, based on Carl Sagan’s novel, continues to resonate with audiences 25 years later. My feature for Nautilus.

July 6, 2022

The Philosopher’s Zombie

The zombie problem, flawed as it may be, brings the puzzle of consciousness into sharp relief. My feature for Aeon magazine.

Feb. 4, 2022

The simulated world according to David Chalmers

Is it possible that everything we see is an illusion — that we live in a simulation? I spoke with philosopher David Chalmers, author of Reality+, for Nautilus.

Jan. 26, 2022

H.A. Rey and the stars

H.A. Rey — co-creator of Curious George — helped make amateur astronomy more accessible. My feature for Nautilus.

Jan. 5, 2022

The very real effort to track killer asteroids and comets

The Hollywood film Don’t Look Up focuses on a killer comet bound for Earth. The plot is fiction, but real astronomerts are indeed keeping an eye out for potentially dangerous space rocks. My feature for Smithsonian.

Dec. 13, 2021

A cosmic ray event pinpoints the Vikings’ activity in America 

An innovative radiocarbon dating technique proves the Vikings were active at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland exactly 1,000 years ago. My news-feature for WIRED. 

Oct. 25, 2021

Anil Seth finds consciousness in life’s push against entropy

How does consciousness arise in mere flesh and blood? For neuroscientist Anil Seth, our bodies are the key. My Q&A for Quanta.

Sept. 30, 2021

Sara Seager and the search for another Earth

Astronomer Sara Seager is convinced that other Earth-like planets are out there. Finding them — and finding out if some of them may support life — has been her life-long quest. My profile for University of Toronto Magazine. 

Sept. 23, 2021

Is your brain like a computer?

For decades, scientists have argued bout the nature of the brain. To this day, the question of how it functions so as to enable a mind — is it an information-processor, like a computer? — remains a subject of fierce debate. My feature for MIT Tech Review. 

Aug. 25, 2021

Mapping the Universe in 3D

Stevn Weinberg famously declared the universe to be “pointless.” Four decades later, physicists and popular science writers continue to grapple with the problem of finding meaning in a material universe governed by uncaring laws. My essay for Scientific American. 

July 27, 2021

Steven Weinberg’s pointless universe

A new project aims to map the universe in 3D in more detail than ever before. My feature for Smithsonian.

July 26, 2021

Could weirdly-straight lightning be a sign of dark matter?

A team of physicists has poposed a new way of searching for dark matter — by hunting for werdly-straight bolts of lightning, during lightning storms. My feature for Smithsonian.

May 13, 2021

Skywatchers await rare sunrise solar eclipse on June 10

Observers in the U.S. Northeast and in eastern Canada are in for a rare treat on the morning of June 10, 2021, as the sun will be partially covered by the moon as it rises. My story for Gizmodo. 

May 11, 2021

“Unicorn” black hole is nearest to the Earth found so far

A newly-discovered black hole, dubbed the “unicorn,” is unusually small and may be the closest to Earth found so far. It may also shed new light on how stars eveolve, and how they die. My story for National Geographic. 

April 29, 2021

The forgotten director who inspired Kubrick, gave us the Force, and changed film forever

You may not know the name Roman Kroitor — but this Canadian filmmaker made his mark with a string of tremendously influential documentaries and inspired a generaion of movie-makers, including Stanley Kubrick and George Lucas. My feature for ArsTechnica.

April 2, 2021

Einstein and America’s Jews 

One hundred years ago, Albert Einstein arrived on American shores for the first time. He was greeted as a hero — espeically by the nation’s Jews, for whom he was a “beacon of hope.” My feature for Smithsonian.

April 1, 2021

The Descent of Man at 150 

Darwin’s The Descent of Man is 150 years old. Parts of it have held up well — but questions still swirl around the idea of sexual selection, and the evolution of minds and morals. My feature for Smithsonian.

Feb. 24, 2021 

Why do so many astronomy and physics stories fail to live up to the hype?

“Breakthroughs” come along regularly, but often don’t hold up under scrutiny — potentially undermining trust in science. My feature for Undark.

Jan. 18, 2021

The Science of Time Travel

From H.G. Wells’ groundbreaking novel The Time Machine to the campy 1980s Back to the Future movie trilogy, time travel has long been a staple for science fiction wtiters. But what do scientists say about the idea of travelling through time? My feature for National Geographic. 

Dec. 28, 2020

Jupiter and Saturn meet for a rare close encounter

Jupiter and Saturn will appear closer in our sky on Dec. 21 than at any time in 400 years. My report for National Geographic.

Dec. 14, 2020

Lonely Universe

SETI researchers hope to detect signs of intelligent life in the cosmos — but other scientists suspect we might be in for a rather long wait. My feature for New Scientist.

Sept. 30, 2020

What is Math?

What, exactly, is math? The question is tougher than it sounds, and has provoked debate among mathematicians and philosophers for hundreds of years. My feature for Smithsonian.

Sept. 23, 2020

The last explosions before the universe goes dark

Long after the last stars burn out, long after the last black holes evaporate, white dwarfs can still explode in supernova-like blasts. These will be the last explosions — the last anything, really — in the universe’s history. My report for National Geographic.

Aug. 17, 2020

Get ready for Comet NEOWISE

Comet NEOWISE may be the brightest comet for northern hemisphere skywatchers since Hale-Bopp back in 1997. My report for National Geographic.

July 9, 2020

Fraught Frontier

Satellite “constellations” are crowding the skies, causing conflict between astronomers, governments, and businesses. My feature story for SkyNews magazine.

July 8, 2020

Is dark matter made of axions?

New experimental results suggest these long-sought subatomic particles could explain the universe’s missing mass. My report for Scientific American.

June 23, 2020

The complicated legacy of Herbert Spencer

Herbert Spencer, born 200 years ago, was every bit as enamoured with evolution as Darwin was. But Spencer applied evolutionary thinking far beyond biology, leading to some problematic conclusions. My feature for Smithsonian magazine.

April 29, 2020

Darwin and his publisher

The famed naturalist and his conservatove publisher formed an unlikely alliance. My feature for Smithsonian magazine.

Feb. 12, 2019

Pinning down the size of the proton

Painstaking work by researchers at York University has helped to solve a long-standing problem in physics. My news report for Scientific American.

Dec. 1, 2019

Einstein, superstar

In November 1919 – one hundred years ago – Einstein skyrocketed to fame, and the press and the public were enthralled. My feature story for Smithsonian maagzine.

Nov. 9, 2019

Seeing Vilnius through my grandfather’s lens

My mother’s father, Moshe Raviv-Vorobeichic, captured images of the city’s Jewish community before it was destroyed. My essay for Tablet magazine.

Sept. 3, 2019

How Copernicus moved the Earth

A feature story for Astronomy magazine in which I look at the life and times of a revolutionary thinker, informed by my recent visit to Poland.

July 18, 2019

How an Australian telescope let the world watch the moon landing

Without the Parkes telescope, we might not have seen Neil and Buzz in action. My feature for Smithsonian magazine.

July 9, 2019

Cosmos, quantum, and consciousness

Does science have a blind spot?  I report from an intriguing conference at Dartmouth College, for Scientific American.

May 1, 2019

What’s behind the rise in flat-earthism?

Mar. 22, 2019

The earth is round, but “alternative” theories have always been with us. What can we learn from Victorian flat-earthers? And why is distrust of science and scientists – and of authority in general – on the rise? My feature story for ArsTechnica.

The enigma of the quantum

Mar. 22, 2019

I review five new books that explore the enigma of quantum mechanics – and the question of what may lurk beyond – for the Literary Review of Canada.

How AI is changing science

Mar. 11, 2019

The latest artificial intelligence algorithms  are probing the evolution of galaxies, calculating quantum wave functions, discovering new chemical compounds, and more. Is there anything that scientists do that can’t be automated? My feature story for Quanta magazine.

Revamping the kilogram for the quantum age

Jan. 14, 2019

This spring, the kilogram will officially be re-defined. I met with kilogram-keepers in three different countries and spoke with them about this “weighty” change. My feature story for Undark.

Before “One Small Step”

Dec. 17, 2018

Before Neil and Buzz walked on the lunar surface, the crew of Apollo 8 sailed around the moon, leaving our planet for the first time. My story for NBCnews.com, on the 50th anniversary of the historic mission.

When Voyager 2 phones home

Wired UK, Dec. 15, 2018

When Voyager 2 “phones home” from across 19 billion kilometres of space, Australia takes the call. My story for Wired UK, following a visit to the Parkes Observatory and the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex.

The Quandary at the Heart of Quantum Mechanics

Inside the Perimeter, Dec. 11, 2018

Quantum mechanics has been incredibly successful – but what is it actually telling us about the universe?  My report on a recent conference held at the Perimeter Institute.

Enrico Fermi and the Chain Reaction that Changed Everything

Undark, July 6, 2018

Enrico Fermi lived and breathed physics. My review of David Schwartz’s new biography of Fermi, “The Last Man Who Knew Everything,” for Undark magazine.

Has Theoretical Physics Gone off the Rails?

NBCnews.com, June 2, 2018

Theoretical physics has made little progress in the last 30 years, some physicists argue. Where did the field go astray? My report for NBCnews.com.

Ten Books to Read if A Brief Hstory of Time was too Brief for You

Undark, April 6, 2018

Following the death of Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time is once again on the bestseller lists. But what if you want more? In this article for Undark, Amanda Gefter (my BookLab co-host) and I suggest these additional books about space and time.

Remembering Stephen Hawking

Undark, March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking’s ideas were famously inpenetrable, at least for the non-specialist — but his goal, in fact, was simple. My feature for Undark magazine.

What Set A Brief History of Time apart?

Slate, March 14, 2018

Against all odds, Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time became a runaway bestseller. In this feature for Slate, I examine why.

The Slippery Science of Creativity

The Los Angeles Review of Books, Feb. 27, 2018

I review two new books on “creativity” for the LARB.

The science behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Mental Floss, Feb. 8, 2018

I explore the real-life science that inspired Shelley’s masterpiece, in this feature for Mental Floss.

A first look at NASA’s Deep Space Gateway

NBCnews.com, Jan. 17, 2018

An ambitious space station could pave the way for future missions to the lunar surface — or Mars. My report for NBCnews.com.

Armchair Science
Aeon, Dec. 20, 2017
Galileo and Einstein were masters of the “thought experiment.” But what can these exercises of the imagination tell us about the real world? My feature for Aeon.
The rise of smart machines puts the spotlight on “robot rights”

NBCnews.com, May 31, 2017

As our machines get smarter and smarter, the problem of “robot rights” looms on the horizon. My report for NBCnews.com.

Are self-flying planes on the horizon?

NBCnews.com, October 12, 2017

Self-driving cars are moving ever-closer to becoming a reality. Will self-flying planes be next? My feature for NBCNews.com.

For Jay Pasachoff, there’s science to be done during a solar eclipse

Quanta, Aug. 10, 2017

My interview with the astronomer and veteran eclipse chaser, for Quanta.

Can hacking the planet stop runaway climate change?

NBCnews.com, April 28, 2017

Geoengineering–intentionally manipulating the planet’s climate–has always sounded like science fiction. But, as the effects of climate change become ever more apparent, more people are taking the idea seriously. My report for NBC News.

Homo Sapiens, meet Homo Deus

NBCnews.com, May 31, 2017

What happens when the twin worlds of biotechnology and artificial intelligence merge, allowing us to re-design our species to meet our whims and desires? I speak with author Yuval Noah Harari and other experts about our human (and post-human) future, in this feature story for NBCnews.com.

A closer look at Multiple Universes
Nautilus, January 24, 2017
In a feature story for Nautilus, I look at the possibility that some of our seemingly-different Multiverse ideas may be one and the same.

The philosopher who helped create the Information Age
Slate Future Tense, November 14, 2016
Philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Leibniz, who died 300 years ago, foresaw the “Information Age.” I report on Leibniz’s legacy for Slate Future Tense.

A debate over the physics of time
Quanta, July 19, 2016
In the summer of 2016, physicists and philosophers gathered at the Perimeter Institute to debate the nature of time. My report for Quanta magazine.

The delicate business of scientific humour
Slate, May 19, 2016
It’s no secret that scientists can be funny — but sneaking puns and jokes into peer-reviewed journal articles is no easy task. I look at the long tradition of science-publishing shenanigans in this report for Slate.

A new view of the quantum world
Quanta, May 17, 2016
In the traditional view of quantum mechanics, everything is fuzzy and unpredictable — but as I report in a feature story for Quanta Magazine, a new experiment may lend support to an alternative view, one that’s more concrete, but still extremely weird.

Einstein’s elusive waves found at last
Mental Floss, February 11, 2016
Elusive ripples in the fabric of space, known as gravitational waves, have been found at last, using the twin LIGO detectors. I report on the discovery for Mental Floss.

Shape Dynamics: a radical new spin on spacetime
NOVA NEXT, January 6, 2016
Shape Dynamics a radical new spin on Einstein’s theory of gravity. It offers a bold new take on black holes — and it might yield new insight into what’s “real” in the universe.

Read the article at PBS’s “NOVA NEXT”.

The Top 10 Science Stories of 2015
Mental Floss, December 31, 2015
2015 was a banner year for science, from medical breakthroughs to newly-discovered human ancestors; from genes and neurons to Mars and Pluto. A look back at the year’s top science stories.

Read the list at Mental Floss.

100 Years of General Relativity
Cosmos, November 5, 2015
Einstein’s masterpiece, 100 years old this year, continues to provoke. My cover story on general relativity’s first century — and where it may still take us.

Read the article at Cosmos magazine.

Last Hominin Standing
Aeon magazine, June 29, 2015
How likely – or not – was the evolution of Homo sapiens? Was the appearance of an upright, intelligent ape predictable, or a mind-boggling stroke of luck?

Read the article at aeon.co.

Pixels to Sentences
Scientific American, June 22, 2015
Canadian computer scientists have developed a neural-network-based program that can tell you what it’s looking at (and gets it right, most of the time).

Read the article at scientificamerican.com.

A New Era of Machine Intelligence
University of Toronto Magazine, June 17, 2015
Neural-network based artificial intelligence is about to change everything – and machine learning pioneer Geoffrey Hinton is leading the way.

Read the article at magazine.utoronto.ca.

The Quantum Revolution
CPA Magazine, June 1, 2015
Quantum computing could be a game-changer – and Canadian researchers in Waterloo’s “quantum valley” are leading the way.

Read the article at cpacanada.ca.

Reaching out to E.T.
Slate Future Tense, March 30, 2015
The search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) is a half-century-old quest, but today there’s a new, and often heated, debate: Should we reach out to “E.T.”?

Read the article at slate.com.

Pulling Back the Curtain on the Universe
Cosmos magazine, March 23, 2015
Bigger and better than the Hubble, the James Webb Space Telescope, set for launch in 2018, will reveal the universe is a new light.

Read the article at cosmosmagazine.com.

Using gravity to explain the origin of time’s arrow
Cosmos magazine, December 22, 2014
Time appears to flow, and it does so in just one direction — but why? A bold new model which suggests that gravity plays a crucial role.

Read the article at cosmosmagazine.com.

Should Chimpanzees be Considered “Persons”?
Discover magazine website, December 5, 2014
A court in New York has ruled that Tommy, a chimpanzee, doesn’t qualify as a legal “person” – but the legal wrangling, and the larger philosophical questions that swirl around human-animal relations, are sure to continue.

Read the article at discovermagazine.com.

“Spider” Probes the Early Universe
Scientific American website, November 12, 2014
This winter, a balloon-borne probe called “Spider” will study the early universe. It may even find evidence for gravitational waves that eluded BICEP2 earlier this year.

Read the article at scientificamerican.com.

What Does the Turing Test Measure?
Smithsonian.com, June 10, 2014
A computer program recently mimicked human conversation so well that it was mistaken for a real live human — but machine intelligence still has a long way to go.

Read the article at Smithsonian.com.

Shakespeare and the Stars
New Scientist, April 19, 2014 (cover story)
How much did Shakespeare know about the structure of the cosmos? Dan Falk explores a range of possibilities, from the mundane (Shakespeare knew his way around the night sky) to the extravagant (Hamlet as an allegory about competing visions of the cosmos).

This article is available to New Scientist subscribers via the magazine’s website.

How Does the Brain Tell Time?
Smithsonian magazine, January 2013
Do human beings have a “biological stopwatch” — and if so, how does it function within the brain?

Read the article via at the magazine’s website.

What if the Internet Wakes Up?
Slate.com, September 20, 2012
Neuroscientist Christof Koch argues that the complexity of the Web may have already surpassed that of the human brain. What happens next?

Read the article at slate.com.

The Dawn of the Thinking Machine
The Telegraph, August 21, 2012
This summer, a computer almost passed the Turing intelligence test. Dan Falk examines the narrowing gap between humans and machines.

Read the article via the Telegraph’s website.

Dark Side of the Sun
Cosmos Magazine, July 20, 2011
In 2012, for the first time since it was settled, the majestic spectacle of a total solar eclipse swept over enigmatic Easter Island. Dan Falk reports for Cosmos magazine.

Read the article via the Cosmos website.

Alien Notion
The Walrus, December 2010
For more than fifty years, an international network of astronomers has been probing the sky with sensitive radio telescopes, listening for any sign of intelligent life beyond Earth. What happens if they find it?

Read the article via the Walrus website.

End of Days: A Universe in Ruins
Cosmos magazine, Oct. 23, 2008
When — and how — will the universe end? Will the ultimate apocalypse arrive with a bang, or a whimper? Dan Falk looks into our far, far cosmic future. (Note: This story won a 2009 Science Writing Award from the American Institute of Physics.)

Read the article via the Cosmos website.

The God Particle
The Walrus, December 2012
Physics books — Neil Turok’s The Universe Within is the latest — sell like hot cakes, even though we struggle to understand their content. Are we hoping to find more than just quarks and quasars between their covers?

Read the article via The Walrus’s website.

Did ancient astronomers build Stonehenge?
Astronomy, July 2008
The driving force behind the building of Stonehenge was likely more theater than science.

View the article: PDF (92 KB)

God’s Laboratory

University of Toronto Magazine, Winter 2008
This spring, an international team of physicists, including several from U of T, will launch the most ambitious science experiment ever devised. Their goal: to unlock the secrets of the universe.

View the article: PDF (80 KB)

He Changed the World Forever

The Globe and Mail, June 25, 2005 (a double-page spread from the newspaper)
Newton’s laws used to rule. Then, 100 years ago, an unassuming patent clerk named Einstein wrote a physics paper that revolutionized the way we think about the universe. Eventually, it also turned the old man with the wild hair into a superstar scientist and a living icon.

View the article: PDF (108 KB)

Totally Genius
The Walrus, June 2005
The smartest scientists in the world still haven’t solved a basic question: are minds like Shakespeare, Mozart, and Einstein born or made?

View the article: PDF (100 KB)

The Anthropic Principle’s Surprising Resurgence
Sky & Telescope, March 2004
Intellectual surrender or cutting-edge cosmology? The pros and cons of including life in our theories of the cosmos.

View the article: PDF (92 KB)

Worlds Apart
Nature, 17 April 2003
Our knowledge of planets outside our Solar System has been transformed in the past few years. But these new-found worlds don’t look much like our planetary neighbours, and no one is quite sure why.

View the article: PDF (80 KB)

Design or Chance?
The Boston Globe Magazine, Oct. 21, 2001
A pseudoscientific challenge to evolutionary theory – “Intelligent Design” – is raising questions about the origin of life and sparking debate in academia.

View the article: PDF (100 KB)