Skip to main content

Editor's Note

Questioning the status quo is not an easy thing to do. Sometimes you end up rocking the boat a little too much. Sometimes people are resistant to looking at things in new ways. And let’s face it, the status quo can be a safe and comfortable place to rest. Unless you’re a Johns Hopkins researcher, that is. By their very nature, the scientists, professors, and researchers in the Krieger School are not afraid to push the envelope. They are bored with the status quo. Rather, they prefer to press on past the comfortable to discover new realities, new truths, and new knowledge.

This issue of Arts & Sciences magazine is a great example of the fruits that can be had by refusing to be satisfied with the way things are. Take our cover story—some of our sociologists and economists have been in the news recently for a number of interesting discoveries about families. Their research is showing that many common beliefs about how people live are simply not true. The old adage that people can “pick themselves up by their bootstraps” turns out to be virtually impossible for some because of reasons beyond their control. Check out the other popular “truisms” our scientists are bringing into question.

Meanwhile, in the basement of Ames Hall, Professor Cindy Moss is challenging some long-held beliefs about bats through her research on the nocturnal creatures. Did you know, for example, that “blind as a bat” couldn’t be further from the truth? More importantly, her work holds promising applications for people without sight and also for aircraft efficiency.

And as always, you will learn in this issue how some of our students are also pushing beyond the status quo, to conduct research in such far-flung places as Peru and Italy, to explore the challenges faced by female gubernatorial candidates, and to figure out if host galaxies have star formation rates large enough to power observed radio emission. That’s just a sampling.

Questioning the status quo. Pushing past the norm. Stretching the boundaries. Whatever you want to call it—it’s what Johns Hopkins researchers, students, and alumni crave. And yes, there are invariably stumbles along the way, but clearly it is still the path to new knowledge.

Kate Pipkin