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. Environment

    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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Tech

    This power source is shockingly eel-like

    The electric eel’s powerful electric charge inspired this new squishy, water-based new approach to generating power.

  6. Animals

    Can anything stop the big pig invasion?

    Millions of wild pigs roam North America, causing billions of dollars in damage every year. Scientists are looking for new ways to stop the swine.

  7. Tech

    Electricity sensor harnesses a shark’s secret weapon

    A new “quantum” material mimics the sensors that help a shark sense its prey. Like a shark, it can detect tiny electric fields.

  8. Space

    En route to Mars, astronauts may face big health risks

    Going into space brings the thrill of a new frontier — and risks that scientists are racing to understand, from radiation to isolation.

  9. Computing

    How to stop phone apps from spying on you

    Many apps — especially free ones — collect data on a user and then sell them to advertisers. A new tool can help monitor that misuse of personal data and beef up privacy protection.

  10. Animals

    Lasers can turn a spider’s silk into sculptures

    Spider silk is strong and super-stretchy. Scientists have developed a way to sculpt that material into unusual, micro-scale shapes using lasers.

  11. Tech

    Seeing the world through a robot’s eyes

    Engineers in California have developed a new kind of camera that aims to give drones, self-driving cars and other robots better vision.

  12. Chemistry

    Specially coated fabric could turn a shirt into a shield

    Specially treated fabrics offer a new kind of defense against chemical attacks. It could protect troops — and people living in war-torn nations where chemical weapons may be used.