photograph by Paul Fetters

Editor's Letter

I have to admit, I was a skeptic. The iPad seemed like one more way to spend serious money on a nifty electronic device. But receiving one as a Christmas present (my husband broke his vow of no more gifts with an on-off button, sworn to after seeing other digital gifts gather dust on my desk) has made me a believer. The iPad is a marvelous machine.

Witness “Star Walk.” Open this app on your iPad, point the lightweight tablet toward the sky, and behold—every constellation and major star in that part of the heavens is identified. There’s Virgo, with bright Spica—the 15th brightest star in the nighttime sky, you are told. Swing the tablet to the right and the screen adjusts—there’s Leo, with bright Regulus twinkling on his chest. I’ve learned more about the night sky in the last two weeks than I have in my first five decades!

Now that I have this window into myriad new worlds, it makes me even more proud and pleased to announce that the HHMI Bulletin is available to iPad users. Downloadable free from the iTunes store, the app is a new, interactive way to learn more about the cool science coming out of HHMI. We are having fun figuring out creative ways to take you deeper into the scientific discoveries the Bulletin reports.

With this new format, we’re hoping to reach an audience not currently familiar with the Bulletin. We’re eager to get our stories in the hands of what we think is a sizeable—and global—contingent of science-curious readers.

Given the iPad’s potential as a learning tool, we also hope the Bulletin app finds its way into the classroom. In January, a New York Times article reported escalating orders for iPads by public schools across the country, including 2,000 in New York City alone. With upward of 5,400 educational apps available, of which nearly 1,000 are free, the tablet offers a way “to extend the four walls of the classroom,” says one Long Island teacher.

Science educators know that hands-on is the best way to teach science. Maybe tablet computers like the iPad will turn out to be second best. Time will tell. Meanwhile, I’ll be trawling the iTunes store for more brilliant apps like Star Walk—and for more science magazine apps like the HHMI Bulletin. I can’t wait to see what I learn next.

Mary Beth Gardiner
Editor, HHMI Bulletin