What are the recurring themes in your work?
Matt Bai is a political reporter and staff writer for the New York Times Magazine, Bai graduated from Tufts in 1990 and received a Masters from the Columbia School of Journalism in 1994. Bai began his reporting career at the Boston Globe's metro desk; he spent five years as a national correspondent for Newsweek before coming to the Times in 2002. Bai has covered all sorts of national news: everything from the Columbine shootings to John Glenn's last space voyage to Mike Bloomberg's mayoral campaign. In recent years, Bai has focused primarily on intra-Democratic Party politics. He is the author of The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics, an analysis of the progressive movement. Bai's work has also appeared in both the 2005 and 2006 editions of The Best American Political Writing. Matt covered the 2008 presidential race for the New York Times Magazine.
Yeah you know I think when novelists write, you know novelists . . . Great novelists tend to write the same book over, and over, and over again. And . . . and they don’t mean to. It’s not like they sit down and come up with a theme first. It’s just what’s on their mind and what’s in their heart. You know journalists can be the same way if we have the self-expression or the venue for expression. I . . . The thematics of what I write are repetitive enough so that I notice it. (Chuckles) And I don’t intend it that way, but I’m sort of consumed with this question of, “What’s next?”; and how you adapt to government; and how you adapt to political parties; and how you drag people into a future that’s only going to be productive and full of promise – which I think it can be – if you envision it. As opposed to if you stumble into it with all your institutions becoming aging and irrelevant. So I do . . . You know the question I ask over and over again, and I’ve asked it predominantly of Democrats the last couple of years because that’s what I’m writing my book on. But the question I ask of everyone over and over again is, “What’s next?” What are you gonna change? How do you envision the role of our government changing? You know how do we . . . how do we meet this transition? Don’t tell me, as Republicans do, that it can . . . That you know it’s all gonna be Darwinian, and you know that the future belongs to the . . . to the entrepreneur, and everyone else can just get lost. Don’t tell me, as Democrats do, that we’re gonna go back to 1955, and it’s all gonna be fine because it’s just a matter of putting the right priorities in place, and you can stop the future. Tell me what . . . Tell me what the next iteration of American government is gonna look like. I ask that question over and over. I’ll probably ask it for like 20 more years. I’ll probably be some crank in a cabin somewhere, completely lost my mind, and I’ll be writing it some other way. Recorded on: 12/13/07
Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
From time-traveling billiard balls to information-destroying black holes, the world's got plenty of puzzles that are hard to wrap your head around.
- While it's one of the best on Earth, the human brain has a lot of trouble accounting for certain problems.
- We've evolved to think of reality in a very specific way, but there are plenty of paradoxes out there to suggest that reality doesn't work quite the way we think it does.
- Considering these paradoxes is a great way to come to grips with how incomplete our understanding of the universe really is.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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