Conversation: James Gleick in the Fourth Dimension

May I introduce James Gleick?  He’s been on staff at the New York Times, and has written seven books, including Chaos and Genius (a biography of Richard Feynman), for which he’s won impressive prizes.  And he’s just published Time Travel, which Joyce Carol Oates called “another of [his] superb, unclassifiable books.”  It’s a compendium of […]

Scientist in the Field: The Mosquitoes of Two Towns

I must tell you up front that Kathleen R. Walker, second author on “Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae) Longevity and Differential Emergence of Dengue Fever in Two Cities in Sonora, Mexico,” published recently in the Journal of Medical Entomology, is my stepdaughter.  She’s an entomologist, she studies bugs; I occasionally have a bug question.  I asked […]

I Know What the Fox Says

Across the street are two houses with two small yards, connected so they look like one, shaded by trees, one of which has a rope looped in it. The little kids come out of both houses, run through the shade into the dapple-spots of sunlight, disappear back into the shade, grab the rope and swing, […]

Helen and I Smack Down Unhappiness

Oh my but it was hot.  The sun stayed out, the humidity kept climbing, the air was flat-white and dense, walking through it took more effort than it was worth.  The temperature was in the upper 90’s, heat index in the upper 110’s, and they stayed that way for days.  A cardinal sat in the […]

A Concatenation of Extraterrestrials

The past few days have been a cosmic convergence of opinions about extraterrestrial life.  First, I’ve been interviewing scientists and engineers who think that funding searches for planets that might support life isn’t unreasonable.  Second, a neighbor told me he’d read in the New York Times that extraterrestrial life almost certainly had evolved somewhere, some […]

Redux: Ann Remembers Jim’s Camera

That’s Jim Gunn up there, concentrating on his camera.  Jim’s camera shouldn’t really qualify for a week of posts celebrating uncelebrated technology because it was famous for quite a while.  It was inventive and perfectly made and did something no camera had ever done: it digitized the sky. But like most new and wonderful technologies, the […]

Anastomosing Rabbit Holes

I’m having trouble with a story.  First I went down one rabbit hole (the effects, on both sides of the Atlantic, of the Irish Potato Famine) until it branched into two (now-dead towns, one in Maryland, one in Ireland), and then I went down both.  You can picture me heading down one, scrambling back up, […]

Science Metaphors (cont.): Secular Evolution

This is the latest in a series in which science’s metaphors offer the explanations of and guidance for the most cryptic of life’s problems. A few weeks ago I was at a conference about galaxy evolution.  In the titles of many talks was the puzzling phrase, “secular evolution.”  Secular? as opposed to religious? so secular […]