William "Atomic Bill" Laurence is the great forgotten figure of the Manhattan Project, a star science reporter for the New York Times tapped to chronicle the top-secret project as one of the first embedded journalists in history. But was also a propagandist for the military? I examine his complicated story in this feature for Undark magazine.
Many people think the Cold War ended 25 years ago, and with it the existential threat of nuclear weapons. But the nukes are still out there in the night, and the danger remains all too real. In December 2016, I attended a conference of scientists, artists, and other thinkers that considered new ways to face the threat, and chronicled the story in Undark.
In our pervasively computer-based age, digital forensics has become one of law enforcement's most powerful investigative tools. Now library archivists are adopting some of the same techniques to dig out and preserve the treasures of obsolete digital media. I tell the story in this Nature article.
A key sticking point in the recent Iran nuclear deal was the issue of verification: how can we tell when they're cheating? But the International Monitoring System of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization has that covered. It's an exquisitely sensitive worldwide network of sensors capable of detecting and pinpointing a nuclear test anywhere on the globe. Find out how in my article in the September 2015 issue of MIT Technology Review.