Science and the Public Sphere: Getting out the Truth - A Media Roundtable with discussants Michael Lemonick, Robert Krulwich, Shirley Jackson, Lawrence Krauss, Jim Lehrer, Mike Turner, Carolyn Porco. The panel was moderated by Walter Isaacson.
In this, its third year, Aspen Ideas Festival once again gathers scientists, artists, politicians, historians, educators, activists, and other great thinkers around some of the most important and fascinating ideas of our time. As these thinkers present their provocative ideas, they engage a sophisticated and highly motivated audience.
Walter Isaacson is the president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan educational and policy studies institute based in Washington, DC. He has been the chairman and CEO of CNN and the editor of TIME magazine.
Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson
The Honorable Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., is President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Troy, New York. She has held senior leadership positions in government, industry, research, and academe.
Her research and policy focus includes energy security and the national capacity for innovation, including addressing the "Quiet Crisis" of looming gaps in the science, technology, and engineering workforce and reduced support for basic research.
A theoretical physicist, she was chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (1995-1999). She is a Vice Chairman of the Council on Competitiveness and co-chairs its Energy Security, Innovation and Sustainability initiative.
She is past President (2004) and Chairman of the Board (2005) of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of the National
Academy of Engineering, the American Philosophical Society, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Physical Society, and AAAS.
She is a member of the Board of Directors of the NYSE Euronext, serves on the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution and as a director of
IBM, FedEx, Marathon Oil, Medtronic, and PSEG.
She also is a member of the Board of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Calling her a "national treasure," the National Science Board selected her as its 2007 Vannevar
Bush Award recipient for "a lifetime of achievements in scientific research, education, and senior statesman-like contributions to public
Lawrence M. Krauss is Ambrose Swasey Professor of Physics, Professor of Astronomy, and Director of the Center for Education and Research in Cosmology and Astrophysics. He was appointed to the faculty of physics and astronomy at Yale University in 1985, and then joined Case as Chair of Physics in 1993. The author of 7 popular books including international bestseller, The Physics of Star Trek and his newest book, Hiding in the Mirror: The Mysterious Allure of Extra Dimensions from Plato to String Theory and Beyond, Krauss is also a regular radio commentator and essayist for newspapers such as The New York Times, and appears regularly on television. He has received the highest awards of the American Physical Society, the American Association of Physics Teachers, and the American Institute of Physics.
Robert Krulwich covers science for National Public Radio and is Co-host of NPR's "Radiolab." His specialty is explaining complex subjects—science, technology, economics – in a style that is clear, compelling and entertaining. For several decades he was a correspondent at ABC and CBS News plus he hosted PBS’ Frontline, Nova Science Now and a BBC cultural show, "The Edge." TV Guide called him "the most inventive network reporter in television." He has explored the structure of DNA with a banana, created his own Italian Opera "Ratto Interesso" to explain how the Federal Reserve regulates interest rates, he pioneered the use of new animation on ABC's Nightline, World News, and on NPR's Internet site to explore cellular biology and subprime lending.
Since he wasn't a very good baseball player, he turned to sports writing, then writing in general. As a member of what he's called "the Hemingway generation," he decided to support himself as a newspaper writer until he could make a living as a novelist.
After graduating from the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism, Lehrer served for three years in the U.S. Marine Corps, then began his career as a newspaper reporter, columnist and editor in Dallas. His first novel, about a band of Mexican soldiers re-taking the Alamo, was published in 1966 and made into a movie. Lehrer quit his newspaper job in order to write more books, but was lured back into reporting after he accepted a part-time consulting job at the Dallas public television station. He was eventually made host and editor of a nightly news program at the station.
Lehrer then moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked as public affairs coordinator for PBS and as a correspondent for the National Public Affairs Center for Television (NPACT). At NPACT, Lehrer teamed up with Robert MacNeil to provide live coverage of the Senate Watergate hearings, broadcast on PBS. It was the beginning of a partnership that would last more than 20 years, as Lehrer and MacNeil co-hosted The MacNeil/Lehrer Report (originally The Robert MacNeil Report) from 1976 to 1983, and The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour from 1983 to 1995. In 1995, MacNeil left the show, but Lehrer soldiered on as solo anchor and executive editor of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
When he wasn't busy hosting the country's first hour-long news program, Lehrer wrote and published books, including a series of mystery novels featuring his fictional lieutenant governor, One-Eyed Mack, and a political satire, The Last Debate. Lehrer surprised critics and won new readers with his breakout success, White Widow, the "tender and tragic" (Washington Post) tale of a small-town Texas bus driver. He followed it with the bestselling Purple Dots, a "high-spirited Beltway romp" (The New York Times Book Review), and The Special Prisoner, about a WWII bomber pilot whose brutal experiences in a Japanese P.O.W. camp come back to haunt him 50 years later. His recent novel No Certain Rest recounts the quest of a U.S. Parks Department archaeologist to solve a murder committed during the Civil War.
Across this wide range of subjects, Lehrer is known for his careful plotting and even more careful research. Clearly, this is a man who cares about good stories -- but which is more important to him, journalism or fiction? Lehrer once admitted that he's known as "the TV guy who also writes books. Someday, maybe it will go the other way and I'll be the novelist who also does television."
Michael D. Lemonick is an associate editor at Time magazine, which he joined in 1986 as a staff writer responsible for the science, environment and space sections. He has written cover stories on the great supernova of 1987, superconductivity, vanishing beaches, the Soviet space program, and climate change. In 1988, he became executive editor of Discover magazine but returned that year to Time as an associate editor, writing on Antarctica, Alaska, particle physics, and dinosaurs. Prior to joining Time, he was a senior editor at Science Digest magazine. His book, The Light at the Edge of the Universe, is an account of the lives and work of modern cosmologists.
Carolyn C. Porco is an American planetary scientist and the leader of the imaging science team on the Cassini mission presently in orbit around Saturn. In late 1999, she was selected by the London Sunday Times as one of 18 scientific leaders of the 21st century, and by Industrial Week as one of "50 Stars to Watch". Porco was responsible for the epitaph and proposal to honor the late renowned planetary geologist, Eugene Shoemaker, by sending his cremains to the Moon aboard the Lunar Prospector spacecraft in 1998. Her contributions to the exploration of the outer solar system were recognized with the naming of Asteroid (7231) Porco: "Named in honor of Carolyn C. Porco, a pioneer in the study of planetary ring systems...and a leader in spacecraft exploration of the outer solar system".
Michael S. Turner is a theoretical astrophysicist and the Bruce V. and Diana M. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. He is director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at Chicago, which he helped to establish, and is president-elect of the American Physical Society. Turner helped pioneer the interdisciplinary field of particle astrophysics and cosmology and the Fermilab astrophysics program, which today accounts for about ten percent of the lab’s activities. He led the National Academy study Quarks to the Cosmos that laid out the strategic vision for the field. Turner’s scholarly contributions include predicting cosmic acceleration and coining the term dark energy. His many honors include the Warner Prize of the American Astronomical Society, the Lilienfeld Prize of the American Physical Society, the Klopsted Award of the American Association of Physics Teachers, and the 2011 Darwin Lecture of the Royal Astronomical Society, among many others.