Friday, May 18, 2007

Science News is Slipping

I was pleased to encounter a science news story today about a research group that I know. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer published an AP story about the University of Pittsburgh's Human Movement and Balance Laboratory. It happens that the lab's director, Mark Redfern, was a professor when I attended Pitt, and taught a couple of my classes. I was even a research subject for some of their experiments.

In all, this story was a good presentation of scientific research. It included a personality profile, the implication that human subject volunteers are needed for experiments, a reference to a famous person (Kurt Vonnegut) affected by the condition (falls) being studied, some stats about the importance of falls, and an interesting question for which there is no certain answer. This last part is where the science comes in handy!

But since I know the professor featured, I sent off an email to him to find out how it was that his research made it into my local newspaper. If he responds, I will post the answers here. Any of you out there want to venture a guess about how a story from the Three Rivers made it to the Emerald City? Both funny and cynical comments will be appreciated.

---Update 5/18/07; 1900 hrs PDT---

Dr. Redfern just emailed me this description:

Hi Tom,
This is how this came about:
The School of Engineering had a two day educational program a couple of years ago for some reporters. At that time, a number of different investigators talked to them about the kinds of work we were doing. Our lab was one of those presentations. About two months ago (now two years after the presentations), I was contacted by one of the reporters, who asked what progress we had made. He decided to come out to Pitt to do an interview and write a story on the work. Nice guy and fairly sharp.

I will still accept comments about how this got from Pittsburgh to Seattle! Usually you only read stories from the local university...

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