Past Queries

Popular Science Magazine

It seems that the main audience that this magazine is geared towards is middle-aged men. These men would most likely have permanent homes to live in as the advertisement throughout the magazines advertise electric tools, lawn care, lawn mowers, spiral staircases, and other household objects. There are also a lot of “do- it yourself” projects and advertisements for tools and men’s watches that men would stereotypically be more inclined to enjoy.

A strong technical background is not needed for this magazine as the writers for the magazine articles take the time to explain any technical terms. However, some basic knowledge of science is definitely needed. An example would be the following quote from a Popular Science Article: “A Swiss team from the Bern University of Applied Sciences has put three different turbines in a tube that simulates the thoracic artery, millimeters-wide blood vessel”. This quote assumes that one knows what a turbine and blood vessel is, but not necessarily what a thoracic artery is as it proceeds to explain what a thoracic artery is. Therefore, the average reader may enjoy this magazine, but not necessarily a scientist or engineering who may be looking for more detailed scientific facts.

The feature articles in Popular Science are about 4-5 pages long and are a little over 1500 words long. Paragraphs are about 4-5 sentences long and number of words per sentence varies from about 10 to 15 words. Headings and subheadings are also used to summarize the main points of each (or a number of) paragraphs. These shorter paragraphs and headings make the article more reader-friendly for the average audience and it also makes it easier for the average reader to skim through the article.

Cornell University
Stimson Hall G25
Ithaca, NY 14850

Popular Science
2 Park Ave., 9th Floor
New York, NY 10016

To whom it may concern:

Each year in America, 1.1 million people, equivalent to the population of Dallas, TX, suffer from burn injuries that require medical attention. Half of these victims require hospitalization, and 4,500 will eventually lose their lives. Traditionally, the most severe of these burn cases are treated with skin grafts, which can take up to three weeks to culture, require one to two weeks of dressings to heal, and cover only up to five times their harvested area. Because skin grafting is so time consuming, infection and sepsis are very common life-threatening complications.

Our article brings to light an alternative procedure, known as “spray-on skin”, where the patient’s own skin cells are harvested and diluted to be sprayed over the burn area. The spray-on skin procedure can be much more effective than traditional grafts, as the full procedure takes about an hour and a half from the time skin cells are harvested; complete wound healing can occur within 4 days, and the procedure can cover 20 times the area harvested.

Traditional skin grafting also poses some psychological drawbacks for our burn victims, with one of the main concerns being is the formation of physical and gruesome scars. These scars subjects the victims to social exclusion and ridicule. How often do you see people stare at burn victims for a long period of time? While some can argue that social segregation could be emotionally well-managed by more mature adults, these scars can pose more of a problem for the child victims. These children are often the targets of ridicule and are alienated by their peers, which may give rise to traumas and psychological disorders.

Spray-on skin technology provides a solution to this complication. As the healing time of burn wounds is radically reduced from weeks to days, there is little time for bacteria to infect the wounds and form a scar. Adults, parents, relatives, and children can rest at ease that one unfortunate moment in their lives will not have a major impact on their future.

The procedure is not a new one; spray-on skin was first developed in 1993 and has been used in over a dozen of burn cases ranging from mostly superficial to deep dermal burns. However, the procedure is scarcely performed and widely unknown to the general population. We believe that Popular Science would be the perfect medium to spread awareness of this revolutionary procedure. No one is immune to the possibility of a severe burn, and this article presents the readers with a more effective solution to this potential misfortune. Because anyone can benefit from spray-on skin, this article will be more personal to a broad range of people. As a result, readers could potentially spread awareness of Popular Science merely by sharing the article with family and friends. Hopefully with improved awareness we could begin to shift common medical procedures to make spray-on skin available to a wider range of individuals.

We hope you will consider publishing our article in Popular Science. We believe that it will be beneficial both to our cause and to your magazine. Thank you for your time and consideration.


WIRED Magazine
520 Third Street, 3rd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94107 USA
June 1, 2011

Dear Mr. Anderson:

As part of the CU DATA initiative, we would like to propose our article, “The US Military: Keeping up with the Jones,” as a feature publication in WIRED Magazine.

The last decade has been a period of intense transition of the US military. It has dealt, and is dealing, with a rapidly evolving battlefield and a volatile funding environment. Our article will capture the essence of the technological innovation that drives this transition. We will present three specific instances of innovative - though not necessarily new - technology that are at the heart of this transition. We will show that these technologies will define a new era of defense policy just as nuclear technology defined policy for nearly five decades after the second World War.

The Predator drone has become an iconic representation of the Pentagon’s acknowledgement of a changing enemy. We will investigate the technology behind drones, their evolution into a semi-autonomous, networked swarm, and the use of these drones within the framework of international law. We will evaluate how this technology impacts the ethics of war.

Today soldiers can communicate far more information than ever to their commanders. As digital components grow smaller and cheaper, the computing and communication capabilities of portable, rugged units makes for a high speed network extending from the front line to the pentagon, which has reshaped military tactics and strategies.

Given the current economic climate, the benefits of adopting cheap, commercial off-the-shelf technology has never been more appealing to the United States war machine. The result is that soldiers may very well be using much of the same devices and software - Droid apps, Linux, iPhones - as their civilian counterparts. The article will address this trend and the mechanical reliability concerns which have been raised against it.

In our research we came to the conclusion that most of the already published articles dealing with these subjects provide specific information for only one kind of technology. We believe this broader overview will appeal to our readers in a way that is both technologically relatable and economically relevant.

We thank you for your time and consideration and look forward to hearing back from you soon.


Cornell University
Stimson Hall G25
Ithaca, NY 14850

Mark Jannot
Popular Science
2 Park Ave., 9th Floor
New York, NY 10016
3 June 3, 2011

Dear Mr. Mark Jannot,

Automated cars have currently been rising in popularity in the scientific world of innovations. Google’s fleet of unmanned cars has driven more than one hundred forty thousand miles, and Google has been currently lobbying for legislation in Nevada. Both of these events have been covered by Popular Science; and we, as students of Cornell University, believe these advances should continue to be covered, more specifically on how our society is transitioning towards a more automated world. How will our society change due to an establishment of an entirely automated transportation system?
We would like to propose an article titled “Look Ma, no hands! Roadmap to a Driverless Car Society”. Currently the technology and infrastructure are far from supporting a completely driverless car society; our article would cover the transition process from our current system to a fully autonomous one. New technologies that slowly eliminate the human element in driving will soon hit the road and our article will inform readers of what to expect.
As an introduction, we plan to use a brief glimpse of what automobile transportation might look like fifty to one hundred years down the road. Envisioning this will bring up many of the potential challenges in transitioning to an autonomous system. Next we will discuss the history of automobiles as well as some recent technologies such as Anti-Lock Braking Systems, Parking Assist and GPS. These advancements are taking the human element out of the driving experience, with the goal to make driving safer and more efficient.
In the next ten to fifteen years, the industry is expected to see more autonomous control features hit the road. For instance, Volvo is developing a highway train system where cars communicate via Wi-Fi to stay an efficient distance apart from each other. The train is led by a professional driver and the following cars are autonomously driven. Autonomously controlled systems like pre-crash and collision warning systems have already been released in the market and are highlighting safety features of modern cars today. With Google, DARPA, and other organizations pushing driverless car technology, we will see an array of newly automated safety features on the road in the following decades. Our article will cover the science behind these new technologies, and how users can expect to interact with them.
To conclude our article, we will bring the discussion back to a glimpse of a society with a completely autonomous car infrastructure. Our earlier content on what kind of technologies will be seen on the road in the coming decades will help shape a possible vision of the future and the challenges we will face.
As engineering undergraduates at Cornell University, we are immersed in the cutting edge and are surrounded by leaders in the fields of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering. Because of our knowledge in these two fields, the future of driverless cars is interesting and concerning to us as potential engineering professionals.
Thank you very much for your time and consideration. We look forward to hearing from you.


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