Redux: Boobies Behaving Badly

In 2015, I wrote a post ostensibly about a funny-looking seabird called the booby. It’s about evolution and biology I suppose but in truth, it’s really about the forces of nature that drive at least some of our actions. And how those forces aren’t always good.  In my last post I made the case for why we […]

The End of the Line

A few years ago, while working on a story on the shark fin trade, I found myself freezing in the back of a panga 25 miles out from the Baja shoreline wishing I was dead. Partly it was tossing seas that pitched the skiff from side to side and slapped over the gunwales. Partly it […]

How to Read Ancient Mayan

In this month’s issue of National Geographic, I tell a story of an ancient dynasty of Maya kings who made perhaps the region’s best attempt at creating what we might call an empire. It’s a twisting tale of political maneuvering and ambition unlike any other in the Pre-Columbian world. It’s actually kind of incredible that […]

Sliding Baselines

Most days we here at the Last Word on Nothing write engaging non-fiction about the scientific questions of our age that vex us and inspire us. Most days we blend excellent reporting with excellent writing told with heart, guts, and a dash of humanity. Most days, you the reader get to the end of one of […]

Stranger in a Foreign Land

I know this guy. He’s a good guy – hard working, wants to do right by his wife and kid – but somehow he’s found himself in an unusual position in the debate over US/Mexico immigration. This fellow adores his home country but also has a healthy sense of wanderlust. Yes he loves his countrymen and his family […]

Counting Pistachios, Taxis and Great White Sharks

In this month’s issue of National Geographic, I lay out a simple question. How many great white sharks are there on Earth? It seems simple enough – we’ve found some 3,500 planets outside our solar system and 400,000 species of beetles on Earth. This is the modern world of crowdsourcing and big data. We can […]

Snark Week: A Lurking Threat That Wants To Eat Your Testicles

It was a sunny morning in Ton Sai Beach, Krabi, Thailand, 2003. The birds sang, the Andaman breeze blew its gentle perfumed air through the trees as I sat down to my morning banana pancake. Oblivious to the danger lurking above me. Watching. Waiting. My girlfriend and I were on a yearlong rock climbing trip and, as […]

A Pilgrimage for the Soul

On Friday, May 13, group of road bikers got together for the 44th annual Pacific Coast Century Ride. I guess that’s its name. Honestly, I have no idea what to call it. Ever since I was a kid, we just called it “The Ride.” It started back in the 70s with a guy named George Andrews, […]