Stephen Ornes

Freelance Writer

Stephen Ornes has been writing for Science News Explores since 2008, and his 2014 story "Where Will Lightning Strike?" won an AAAS/Kavli Gold Award. He lives in Nashville, Tenn., and he has three children, who are inventing their own language. His family has a cat, six chickens, and two rabbits, but he secretly thinks hagfish are the most fascinating animals. Stephen has written two books. One is a biography of mathematician Sophie Germain, who was born during the French Revolution. The other, which was published in 2019, features art inspired by math. Visit him online at

All Stories by Stephen Ornes

  1. Math

    For these artists, math is their muse

    Artists around the world are finding inspiration in the curves, equations and patterns of mathematics. Here are some of their stories.

  2. Tech

    This robot’s parts are helpless alone, but turn smart as they team up

    In a new system called “particle robotics,” many small, simple helpless units can seemingly come to life and start moving when amassed into a team.

  3. Health & Medicine

    Explainer: Vaccines are not linked to autism

    Some parents say no to children’s vaccines because they worry immunizations could cause autism. But science has looked again and again and still finds no causal tie.

  4. Physics

    Explainer: What are black holes?

    Among the most extreme celestial bodies in the universe, black holes are dense, massive entities whose gravity can sometimes hold together an entire galaxy.

  5. Tech

    Rise of the botnets

    Botnets are armies of connected, infected computers that attack websites and other online businesses. Some scientists have found ways to use connected computers for good, too.

  6. Oceans

    How three coastal communities are dealing with rising seas

    As our climate changes and seas rise, people who live near the ocean are at risk of losing their towns — and homes.

  7. Materials Science

    Some plastics learn to repair themselves

    A new material can fix its own scratches and small cracks. One day, it also may make self-healing paints and plastics possible.

  8. 860_units_of_measure.png

    Scientists vote to fix the world’s weight-loss problem

    Scientists will soon vote to change the definition of the kilogram. The event shows how much we depend on a tiny metal cylinder locked in an underground vault in France.

  9. 860_CCC_Wildfires.png

    Is climate change fanning megafires?

    Climate studies predict that a warmer world will up the risk of megafires. Now, scientists are studying real blazes for the fingerprint of a warming climate.

  10. Climate

    Fingerprint of climate change shows up in some extreme weather

    Scientists have long predicted that climate change will worsen extreme weather. Now, they have tools to help measure that impact.

  11. Computing

    What powers these electronics? We do!

    Active people may end up becoming the 'fuel' for their electronics. Engineers are developing ways to harness the body’s motions to power the many devicess on which we now depend.

  12. Environment

    Scientist tackles water pollution with epic swims

    German chemist Andreas Fath swam the entire Tennessee River — in record time. The reason was not to win a place in the Guinness Book of Records. He wanted to raise awareness about water pollution.