David Appell

I write mostly about the physical sciences, especially climate change and physics, but over time I've written about almost all of the sciences.

Here's a complete list of my publications.

Some of my recent and/or favorite articles include:

“The invisibility of length contraction,” in Physics World, August 2019.

“We need a better way to measure hurricanes,” at Slate, October 2017.

"Catching Gravity, Rolling By," on the upgrades to the LIGO, the U.S. gravitational wave observatory, on the cover of the September 2015 issue of Physics World

"Planets Galore," about the climatology and habitability of planets in other solar systems, in the April 2014 issue of Physics World magazine.
Physics World cover, June 2013
“Mopping up carbon,” the cover story in the June 2013 issue of Physics World magazine, about ideas and efforts to extract carbon dioxide directly from the air as a way to combat climate change.

Has global warming really slowed down in recent years? No, as I reported in
"W[h]ither Global Warming? Has It Slowed Down?" for The Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media.

"When supergravity was born," the story of a late-night computer calculation that proved the existence of a theory that combines gravity with an idea about fundamental particles called supersymmetry, in the September 2012 issue of Physics World magazine. PW's editor introducted it here.


"The Climate Problem: We've been here before," about how warnings of climate change parallel an earlier manmade problem that was once warned about -- space debris -- and how space junk is now threatening to cascade out of control and limit the operations of satellites, published in the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media.


The cover story in the October 2011 issue of Physics World,
"Relativity's New Revolution," about those who are using computers to solve Einstein's equations of gravity to better understand black holes and other astrophysical objects.

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"When ice grows up," about the ice spikes you might see rising up out of your ice cube trays.

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A profile of geophysicist Kei Hirose and his work using ultra-high pressure to understand the inner cores of the Earth.

A feature article about space elevators and some of the new developments from those who want to someday build one, in Physics World, a news article about a Japanese company that wants to build an elevator, and an article in Scientific American that takes a closer look at some of the motivations of those in the space elevator community.

"Still Hotter than Ever," about an independent calculation that finds the same "hockey stick" shape to northern hemisphere temperatures over the several hundred years, for Scientific American. A few years earlier I profiled climate scientist Michael Mann for SciAm, the leading author of the "hockey stick" work, one of seven scientist profiles I've written for them over the years.

Several years ago Salon accepted my proposal to write an article about that year's Fields Medals, mathematics' equivalent of the Nobel Prizes. I panicked shortly after that; how do you write about high-level mathematics for a general audience, anyway? I got creative out of necessity, and the result was "Math = beauty + truth / (really hard)." Someone told me it was the best article about mathematics they'd ever read. I don't know about that, but it was fun to write and, as they say, satisfying to have written.

List of my publications