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2013 Dennis Overbye

Dennis Overbye, correspondent from The New York Times presented the Physics Department's 2013 Ta-You Wu Lecture.

This lecture was held on Wednesday February 12, 2014 in Blau Auditorium at the Ross School of Business on the University of Michigan's Central Campus

Confessions of a Dinosaur in the Age of New Media

The internet has created a golden age of science writing but it has also fragmented the audience making it harder than ever for society as a whole to understand what science has to tell us about our genes or the fate of the Earth. The cosmic affairs correspondent of The New York Times explains why covering science is harder and more important and more fun than ever.

Biographical Sketch of Dennis Overbye

Mr. Overbye's reporting can range from zero-gravity fashion shows and science in the movies to the status of Pluto, the death of the Earth and the fate of the universe.

He joined The Times in 1998 as deputy science editor, resuming a newspaper career that had been disrupted in the ninth grade when he lost his job as editor of the junior high paper after being in a classroom after hours where erasers were thrown. In the meantime, he graduated from M.I.T. with a physics degree, failed to finish a novel and worked as a writer and editor at Sky and Telescope and Discover magazines.

He has written two books: "Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos, The Scientific Search for the Secret of the Universe" (HarperCollins 1991, and Little, Brown, 1999), and "Einstein in Love, A Scientific Romance" (Viking, 2000). As a result of the latter, there are few occasions for which he cannot rustle up a quotation - appropriate or not - from Albert Einstein. Mr. Overbye is a coauthor with James Glanz for the forthcoming ebook, "A Search for the Higgs Boson: The God Particle."

In 2001, realizing that the reporters were having more fun and got to take cooler trips than editors, he switched to being a reporter. He has been covering the universe for more than 30 years, but lately he professes to be amazed that a huge chunk of his work is devoted to two topics that did not exist only a decade or so ago: the proliferation of planets beyond our own solar system; and the mysterious dark energy that seems to be souping up the expansion of the universe and spurring metaphysical-sounding debates among astronomers and physicists.

He lives with his wife, Nancy, and daughter, Mira, in Morningside Heights. In their house, he reports, Pluto is still a planet.