Readings — From the March 1991 issue

Science’s litmus test

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  • Forrest M. Mims III

    25 years ago the recording from which this transcript is excerpted, which was requested and edited by Paul Tough of Harper’s, established my veracity after Jonathan Piel denied that he had offered to buy and publish three of my columns in SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN magazine. The full transcript also established Piel’s animosity against a very personal and traditional aspect of my Christian faith (God is our creator) that he felt would embarrass the magazine. My fourth column was to have described a handheld instrument that measures the ozone layer when pointed at the sun. That instrument went on to earn a Rolex Award, find a data error in a NASA ozone satellite and jump start my career in science. So while I was disappointed to lose the column that Piel assigned during a 1988 telephone call, he unknowingly played the key role in my future career, and for that I can be nothing but grateful. Thanks, Jon. I wish you all the best. As Shakespeare wrote, all’s well that ends well.

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