What Does ‘Neutral’ Mean in the Chemistry Lab?

Words Are the Major Currency in Scientific Communication—We Should Get Them Right

Can we, and should we, ever really be neutral? In a new series, Zócalo explores the idea of neutrality—in politics, sports, gender, journalism, international law, and more. In this essay, chemist Paul G. Jasien considers what “neutral” means in the lab and beyond.

The meanings of certain words can be less clear-cut than one might expect when they appear in different contexts. In Lewis Carroll’s classic book Through the Looking-Glass, for instance, the following conversation takes place between Alice and Humpty Dumpty:

“When I use a …

Public Health Experts, They’re Just Like Us!

It’s Easy to Forget That Our Scientific Community Is Learning About COVID in Real Time, Too

A friend recently reminded Kavita, a physician epidemiologist, about a text exchange the two had shared in February 2020. When he asked how worried he should be about SARS-CoV-2, then …

A still from Lupin

Hello (Bonjour) From Your Friendly TV Translator

I Hope You Enjoy My Subtitles and Dubs—Then Forget I Exist

If you don’t notice my work, it means I’m doing my job properly.

I’m an audiovisual translator, which means that I—and others like me—help you understand the languages spoken on screen: …

Brenda Barnes

L.A.’s Classical Radio Maven Doesn’t Need to Turn Up the Volume. In Fact, KUSC’s President Is Just Fine With Silence.

On our way over to happy hour drinks from her downtown office, Brenda Barnes marvels at the glut of construction projects on South Hill Street. “Change,” she tells me, “is …