Last week Michelle wrote that, given the speed of change in the reality under the science, climatology needed some new words, and she proposed a beauty: “antevernal,” meaning “daffodils blooming in February.”  To back her word-making, she quoted a naturalist:  “If the language we use to speak of the natural world is not innovative and […]

Walking Into the New Year

Well now then.  Here we are.  The first day of another year.  What to do about that? January 1 is a day for looking forward.  Kids mostly look forward, I think.  But any adult knows you make sense of any given situation only by looking back, by remembering.  Memory allows the comparison between then and […]

Redux: Coffeeshop Science

This was posted September 24, 2015.  I go later to the coffeeshop now and don’t run into Larry and John, its chief scientists.  I do have an update on neighborhood-kid questions though.  “Why does this blue flower have a yellow dot in the center?” “Why do birds poop?” “Why are there ants going up the […]

Redux: Finding Peter Ganz

This first appeared in December 19, 2013.  I run it again now because I’ve been reading David C. Cassidy’s new book, Farm Hall and the German Atomic Project of World War II, subtitled, “A Dramatic History.”  Cassidy is an historian of physics, so the “history” part of the subtitle is not unexpected.  But he also […]

The Last Word

November 27 – December 1, 2017 Michelle, hoping to inoculate her daughter and everybody else’s daughter against rampant and pervasive patriarchy, compiles a girl-centric list of bedtime reading.  After all, the holidays loom, presents will be given. Erik kills plants.  He doesn’t mean to, though to be honest he doesn’t love them all that much.  But […]

Loving Explosions

Years ago, talking about the persistent rumor that the Hubble Space Telescope was an off-the-shelf spy satellite retrofitted for astronomy*, I told a NASA employee that I was pretty sure academic astronomers were culturally anti-military and they wouldn’t be crossing lines and dealing with spies or the defense department.  The NASA employee looked at me […]

The Last Word

November 6 – 10, 2017 Somebody killed a wolf named OR 28.  Is this to be seen in the context of populations and therefore a slight matter? Is this to be seen in the context of individuals and their families and therefore a terrible thing?  Emma presented the argument, didn’t take sides. The Humanities 110 […]

The Last Word

October 23 – 27, 2017 Guest Rebecca Boyle takes issue with Cassie’s attitude about neutron star mergers.  Argument sounds a little abstruse but it ends in humane charm: “I’ll stay on Team Neutron Star, and you can watch from the sidelines, and we’ll still be friends.” Craig finds a woman attractive, reflects that not all #MeToo’s […]