The Simons Foundation was looking for a new editor for an existing magazine. They had reached out to Thomas Lin, digital editor at The New York Times, for suggestions.
Lin thought about who might be right for the role, but instead, came up with a different idea. Knowing Jim Simon’s penchant for improving math and science curricula in schools, he proposed a new magazine/webs site covering breakthroughs in fundamental sciences. The Simons liked the idea, and so Quanta Magazine was born. The award-winning, editorially independent science and math news site is published by the Simons Foundation, which itself is funded by Jim Simons, founder of hedge fund Renaissance Technologies.
In our wide-ranging conversation, Lin describes the tools needed to be a good science writer — a fundamental appreciation for how math and science as well as the ability to communicate complex issues in plain English.
Lin has written two anthologies on math and science: Alice and Bob Meet the Wall of Fire: The Biggest Ideas in Science from Quanta; and The Prime Number Conspiracy: The Biggest Ideas in Math from Quanta. He studied physics in school, originally planning in a career as an engineer, but was also attracted to journalism. He ended up on the National desk of the New York Times, before moving to the Science Desk, covering the latest breakthroughs in the basic sciences.
You can stream/download the full conversation, including the podcast extras on Apple iTunes, Bloomberg, Overcast, and Stitcher. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite host sites can be found here.
Next week we speak with NYU Stern professor Scott Galloway, discussing his new book, The Algebra of Happiness: Notes on the Pursuit of Success, Love, and Meaning.