A Humanist's Sojourn Among Scientists

If academe is like a village, it's a voluntarily segregated community. Most residents stay in their disciplinary neighborhoods and work where the surroundings are comfortable and familiar. Recently, however, I left my humanities neighborhood for an unlikely destination: A foray into journalism took me to the community of condensed-matter physics. I needed to talk to laboratory scientists about their work, and the prospect was intimidating.

I was reporting on a scandal involving