Henry Wiencek, far left, (clockwise from upper right) Ken Jennings, Michael Dobbs, Abigail Tucker and David Wise all contributed to the October issue of Smithsonian. (Illustrations by Lara Tomlin)
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David Byrne
The legendary frontman of the Talking Heads, the singer-composer writes in his essay “How Music Works” that we should think of music as interactive. "I’m encouraging people not to be passive consumers of music," he says. "You can enjoy the products of professionals, but you don’t have to give up the reins."

Michelle Nijhuis
A science writer and author, Nijhuis was lucky enough to track down one of the most elusive birds in North America: the black swift. (“Secrets of the Swift”). “They fly really high, and nest in incredibly inaccessible places,” she says. “To see one up close was amazing.” She last wrote for Smithsonian about white-nose syndrome in bats.

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