Camille Carlisle

Camille Carlisle, assistant editor Sky & Telescope
Camille Carlisle
Camille M. Carlisle was an editorial intern at Sky & Telescope in 2008 and joined the staff as an assistant editor in 2011. In 2014 she took the moniker science editor.

Beginning as an astronomy and astrophysics major at Villanova University, Camille soon discovered that her favorite part of physics lab was writing lab reports. She eventually switched to an English major halfway through her junior year. After graduation she went on to complete a master's degree in science writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before returning to S&T Camille worked at Science News magazine in Washington, D.C., where her primary role was as the publication’s fact checker. Her articles have appeared in S&T, Science News, Technology Review, and MIT’s webzine Scope. She was also a fellow of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing in 2009-2010.

Camille covers science news for Sky & Telescope magazine and She also edits the magazine's news section and does whatever else may land on her desk. She’s fond of chocolate chip cookies and passionate about black holes — she wrote both her bachelor's and master's theses on them (black holes, not cookies). She is a native of northern California but nowadays can be found weaving her bike through Cambridge traffic.

17 thoughts on “Camille Carlisle

  1. lamport

    Dear Ms. Carlisle,

    Reading your article in the January Sky and Telescope on the formation of supermassive black holes, I was struck by the elephant that might be in the room but is neither seen nor mentioned: dark matter. If dark matter consists of particles that interact only through gravity, then they can contribute to a black hole and feel no radiation pressure, so they obey no Eddington limit. Has this possibility been considered? There is plenty of dark matter out there, and I believe we don’t know very much about how it is distributed now, let alone 13 billion years ago.

    1. Camille M. CarlisleCamille M. Carlisle


      Thanks for the question. The issue is that, in order to fall into a black hole, matter needs to lose angular momentum. Gas can do this via friction. But dark matter — as far as we currently know — does not interact with itself. So dark matter probably wouldn’t be able to pour into a growing black hole.

      We’re actually learning a surprising amount about how dark matter is distributed on cosmic scales. The Planck satellite mapped matter’s gravitational lensing effect on the cosmic microwave background (, and other teams have also used lensing to map matter:

  2. rayyeagerrayyeager

    Been enjoying your articles on black holes. The images and artists renderings show a black hole facing us. If a black holes were facing away from us would we see it. Would the light pulled in a black hole facing away from Earth appear to us.


    Ray Yeager

  3. julian

    subject line: how the future builds its present.

    camille, you are the brightest spark at sky % telescope. i read your articles before anybody elses, and i have the inkling that you play your cards close to your chest, and that you know more than you let on. please dip into my blog COSMOSFOOM at word so we can start a discussion at the highest discourse level possible: “how to keep the cosmos from going (foom) ; apologies to zaphod beeblebrox.” i critique corporate cosmology from a literary, philosophical, abnormal psychology 102 (!) and political economy point of view and find it wanting.

    “if we do not make the cosmos humane, it will kill us all, and then it will kill itself.” the arming sequence for the self- destruct button is just across the hall.

  4. pmarshall7pmarshall7

    Dear Camille;
    Truly enjoyed your Focal Point article “Two Routes to the Truth” in this June 2017 issue of Sky and Telescope. Too many of my atheist friends see the universe as something to study and intriguing. But I see the complexity and diversity (living and material) as awe inspiring. Seeing the precise and watch care of God’s overarching creative power. Thank you for this article of yours, when to many articles in S&T have belittled people of faith.

    1. nateklaibernateklaiber

      To both you and Camille:
      I would be interested for you to both share more about your experiences with God. For instance: which God? Does your shared believe in a creator God – and your communication with him (as the article states that Camille has “heard, felt, and seen God.”) lead to the same conclusions or outcomes? Would you be open to answering more questions separately?


  5. tom-dasilva

    Great focal point article. The compilation of facts and physical laws can either inspire faith, or hubris. Unfortunately, hubris tends to dominate in the professional scientific community. I don’t understand why faith has taken a beating at the hands of science. It would seem that the ever deeper unveiling of the precision and complexity of the universe would have had the opposite effect. Anyhow, it did for me.

  6. TonyC

    Ms. Carlisle,

    I also enjoyed your Focal Point article in the June 2017 issue of Sky and Telescope. As a person of faith (a practicing, but imperfect Catholic), you have eloquently put into words several of the thoughts I have had concerning religion and science. Thank for a great article.

  7. Jim

    Ms. Carlisle,
    I enjoyed your June 2017 Focal Point article. It is refreshing to see a positive article on the place of Faith in science. As a Music major, I remember my college Physics teacher requiring us to read and report on a book – on Physics and Anti-Physics -(which may have been the actual title) which had the same theme that you posited: there is a place for both Physics and Meta-Physics in science as they are both searching for truth. Thank you! “soli Deo Gloria”

    1. tim53

      I don’t think faith has any place in science. Please don’t get me wrong. That’s not a statement of arrogance. Just a point of clarification. Similarly, science doesn’t assume anything. Really, science is a tool – a way of investigating the physical universe as objectively as possible. As Sagan once said, in science, the only sacred truth is that there are no sacred truths. One doesn’t have to assume that there is absolute truth to do science. There are plenty of things about the universe that are either not completely understood, or that are encumbered by centuries of misunderstandings. Science is as much about falsifying hypotheses as it is about verifying them. In fact, the most fun I’ve had as a professional scientist has been formulating hypotheses to explain the observations I’ve made, then doing everything I can to prove the hypothesis wrong (and if I don’t, my colleagues and peer reviewers most certainly will).

      1. Jim

        As a random example, could you clarify? Zero = Zero – an undefined concept?, an assumption? an unvarying truth? an unproven accident? Yet any elementary student can tell you that zero = nothing and therefore zero =zero on unreasoned faith. And does not science assume zero =zero on faith, or do you have to prove and define zero each and every time you use it?? After all it has only been an articulated concept for…..what, 1400 years plus change?? But yet zero, nothing, has to equal something or it has no reliable existence and is nothing more than a figment of our imagination, a construct. I personally believe, have faith, that zero = zero=nothing or nothing can be accomplished. To your statement “There are plenty of things about…misunderstandings” I would add – or will never be understood on a physical level.
        P.S. Language is such a versatile tool that we all have to be critical in our usage because every specialty really does have it’s own vocabulary and common words can have vastly different meanings which we use without thinking within our own fields. I hope I have been unambiguous in my thoughts and not assumed unvoiced progressions of thought beyond what I’ve written or ascribed something to you which you did not intend.

        1. nateklaibernateklaiber

          Hi Jim,
          I am confused by your response. You are correct, we use our language and concepts. I don’t have “faith” that zero = zero. I simply can’t go around claiming that zero = one hundred. Nor would any scientist engage in a discussion allowing me to refute the meaning of zero. It’s not a good use of time for anyone. It’s agreed upon across languages (mathematics) and allows us to establish it as a foundation to build upon other things. Yes, it’s still our concept. We could just as easily call it “garf” – we simply need the language to communicate. It doesn’t require faith.

          “Or will never be understood on a physical claim.” How do you know this? We’ve discovered many things our ancestors deemed would never be understandable. We need to embrace that humility that we are still evolving our understandings. Embrace there is still much to be learned and modified. This is similar to the god of the gaps argument – “We don’t know, therefore God” – only it’s “We will never understand, therefore God.” I am not saying you’re making this argument, but referring to the anecdotes shared by Camille in her article. Our lack of understanding does not prove the existing of a benevolent creator God.


          1. Jim

            Hi Nate,
            I should follow my dad’s advice – K.I.S.S – keep it simple stupid. My post doesn’t make sense to me either at the moment. What I meant to convey is that every discipline works on agreed upon assumptions, or concepts. And in some cases those concepts/assumptions become proven fact or truth (i.e Laws of gravity, thermodynamics, entropy, etc.). So therefore, science assumes them as truth. They may be refined but there will always be a kernel of truth to them.
            The Truth of faith and the truth of our physical world (scientifically proven) will converge in a single, objective truth – God. I suppose I could say ‘we don’t understand, therefore God’ and I would be essentially correct through that unity of Truth. But doing so does not negate or diminish the eventuality of coming to scientific understanding. So Truth is always there.
            I hope I was clearer this time around, and I thank you for your patience.


  8. xHarry

    Please allow me to take issue with the assertion in your June Focal Point essay that science and religion are both concerned with finding “Absolute Truth”. I have encountered the concept of absolute truth in philosophical and religions contexts, often associated with “Revealed Truth” . In science, rather, I have mostly encountered theories, concepts that often have statistical interpretations and imperfect explanatory adequacy. But as we replaced the cosmology of the ancients with the cosmology of Copernicus,Kepler, Newton and Einstein we have gotten successively better models and numerous testable implications. Nevertheless, our understanding remains incomplete.
    In choosing to defend entrenched notions of cosmology in the face empirical evidence to the contrary, the Roman Catholic Church did not act in a manner consistent with that of a seeker of truth – certainly not in Galileo’s lifetime.
    I don’t desire to challenge your religious beliefs but neither do I wish to be confronted with them in S&T.

    Harry Lewin

  9. tim53

    Hi Jim:

    Sceince and religion have very different approaches to learning. So it’s confusing or frustrating when people try to conflate them unnecessarily. Uses of terms like truth, believe, and faith get conflated all the time. Is there absolute truth? When I contemplate that question, I think “yeah, probably. But what truth, and about what, are you referring to?” When faithful contemplate the same question, they tell me something like “Yes, of course there is. Here, it’s in this book. End of discussion.” I know that’s immensely satisfying to them, but it does nothing for me. Thomas was my favorite disciple. What about belief? Surely, scientists believe their theories, right? Perhaps because religion defines belief very specifically as it relates to a relationship to a deity, I think it’s important to not use the term in science. And if the objective of scientific investigation is to find truth, a good scientist will be at their best if they check any beliefs they have at the door and let the data tell them what’s real and what isn’t. Don’t believe anything going into an investigation, and you’ll be much better equipped to discover truth without bias. Faithful often will insist to me that scientists have faith that their hypotheses are true. I used to think that, sure, there might be a certain amount of faith in one’s understanding of basic scientific principles that allows one to formulate and test the hypotheses. But, like belief, faith has a very specific meaning to religious people that a scientist wouldn’t equate with what happens in science. I think we all know that zero = 0, but there could very well be situations where a scientist (a mathematician) might be required to prove what zero is. As for zero = nothing? Not necessarily. I can imagine a volume of space that has nothing in it, but that volume would have a location and dimensions, so it wouldn’t be zero.

    I used to be religious. A very long time ago. ;^) I still can admire certain religious leaders without sharing their beliefs. Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama come to mind.

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