OSU Horning Lecture Series focuses on writing about science


CORVALLIS - Oregon State University's annual Horning Lecture Series, which brings to campus some of the most distinguished scholars in fields blending science and the humanities, will focus this year on the people who help bring science to the general public.

The 2002-03 series, "Writing about Science and Scientists: Genres of Fact and Fiction," will bring to Corvallis seven scientists and humanists who will speak about articles, books, essays, plays and films that explain and interpret science for general audiences.

The lectures, sponsored by the Thomas Hart and Mary Jones Horning Endowment in the Humanities, are free and open to the public. Several OSU departments also support individual lectures.

Mary Jo Nye, the Thomas Hart and Mary Jones Horning Professor of Humanities, said the timing is ripe for looking at the intersection of science and popular culture. "The great success of Michael Frayn's play, 'Copenhagen,' just like best-selling books and TV productions on the cosmos or the Manhattan Project, demonstrate the power and appeal of good writing about science and scientists," she said.

Leading off the series will be Linda Lear, an award-winning biographer, who will speak at OSU on Thursday, Oct. 10. Her talk, "Rachel Carson: The Making of a Prophetic Voice," begins at 7:30 p.m. in Milam Auditorium. Her talk is co-sponsored by the OSU Philosophy Department's "Ideas Matter" series and the Spring Creek Project.

A research professor in environmental history at George Washington University, Lear is the author of a 1997 book called "Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature." She also edited a volume of essays by Carson, and wrote the introduction for this year's 40th-anniversary edition of Carson's most famous piece, "Silent Spring."

Other lectures on the schedule include:

  • Oct. 10 - "Rachel Carson: The Making of a Prophetic Voice," by Linda Lear, research professor of environmental history, George Washington University, 7:30 p.m., Milam Auditorium.


  • Oct. 31 - "Watching Scientists Watch the Universe," by Dennis Overbye, deputy science editor, The New York Times, 4 p.m., The Joyce Powell Leadership Center in the Memorial Union.


  • Nov. 21 - "The Theater of Science," by John Doyle, a British author and theater director, 4 p.m., Memorial Union 206.


  • Jan. 30 - "Sexual Selections: What We Can and Can't Learn about Sex from Animals," by Marlene Zuk, professor of biology, University of California at Riverside, 4 p.m., Memorial Union 206.


  • Feb. 20 - "Science as Drama: Bestselling Science Books and Blockbuster TV," by Bruce V. Lewenstein, who teaches communication and science and technology studies at Cornell University, 4 p.m., The Valley Library's Autzen Classroom (Room 2082).


  • April 14 - "Bohr, Heisenberg and 'Copenhagen': Drama Meets History of Science," by Finn Aaserud, director of the Niels Bohr Archive at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, 4 p.m., Weniger Hall Room 153.


  • May 22 - "Filming and Writing History: The H-Bomb Debate," by Peter Galison, the Mallinckrodt Professor of the History of Science and of Physics, Harvard University, 4 p.m., The Joyce Powell Leadership Center in the Memorial Union.

Note: The Horning Endowment also will support a symposium, scheduled for Tuesday, April 29, in conjunction with OSU's Holocaust Memorial Week. Called "Homosexuality, Nazis and the Holocaust," it will be held in LaSells Stewart Center.