Sunday, October 09, 2005

Good news

I've often said that the A section of a newspaper is an examination of how life doesn't work, while the Money, Sports and Life sections are examinations of how it does.

After picking up BBC's Focus magazine on a whim and killing a long Metro ride with it, I'm inclined to add science news to the latter category.

Sure, Focus had a few stories about the things that can harm us -- global warming, hurricanes, etc. Those cheering for economists to trump scientists may complain about the prominence of these issues, but at least one essay proved that they're not towing any sort of party line.

Besides, that was hardly the point. The magazine was full of everything from entertaining puzzles (the feature story on Sudoku and magic squares) to a look at how science is improving our world. I had no idea Raytheon was working on affordable missile defense for commercial air traffic. I had no idea Japanese scientists had developed robotic exoskeletons to help people walk as their bodies decline. (Anyone else wonder if Six Million Dollar Man was prophecy, not fiction?) I didn't know much about the role Arthur C. Clarke played in proposing satellite communications.

Focus is a bit pricey, but it's a good read. And it makes me wonder why we in the media don't pay more attention to this sort of thing rather than the daily disaster. (Yes, I know today's a bad day to write such a thing because we have a legitimate disaster in Pakistan and India, but most days, that's not the case.)

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