Facts? Sure. Truth? Hmm.

Richard:  A few months ago, Ann wrote a post about beauty and truth in science writing. I object to neither. But she seemed to take exception to a “literary nonfiction” approach to science, and I wondered what in particular her objections were. So I thought I’d ask her. Hey, Ann, what gives?  Ann:   Literary nonfiction […]

The Gig Economy

A number of the People of LWON are freelancers.  They work from story to story, one publication after another, holding multiple positions all the while. One reason for freelancing is that staff jobs at newspapers or magazines, which have always been sparse, are now outright rare. So writers go out on their own; they put […]

Union and Reunion

Splendid, isn’t it. It’s UGC 8335 — one name, so once it was apparently mistaken for one thing though obviously it’s two. They’re spiral galaxies in the process of running into and through each other. This is a photograph by the Hubble Space Telescope; the galaxies are really there; this is real.  You could think […]

Anti-Copernican Shock

[NOW WITH NEW VISUALIZATION:  see below] Planets around other stars, exoplanets, have given me a long-running case of boredom – how long can you sustain OMG LOOKIT THAT PLANET HAS TWO SUNS? not long.  I keep writing about them anyway.  I do it because 1) sometimes somebody pays me to; and 2) the planets may […]

Science Metaphors (cont.): Tidally Locked

I’ll go home tonight, I’ll open the front door, I’ll yell, “Hey sweetie, hi!”  Then Sweetie will yell, “Hello, young Ann.” I’ll look at the mail, then I’ll yell again, “Did you pick up the salmon?” And he’ll say, “Yep, it’s in the refrigerator.”  And then I’ll look over the mail and start to throw […]

Exoplanet Oliver, Oh Please?

I was interviewing an astronomer for a story about planets outside our solar system, extrasolar planets. Exoplanets have names like Kepler-11 e, or HD 106906 b, or HAT-P-54b. (Googling those names will get you some satisfyingly weird planets and in fact, most exoplanets are satisfyingly weird.  I mean, 51 Peg b is 150 times more […]

The Iniquity of Candied Orange Peel

*NOW WITH UPDATE: See below The neighbors came over, maybe a year ago now, and one of them, a Hungarian physicist, brought along candied orange peel he’d made from his grandmother’s recipe.  The physicist is the nicest human on earth, but his grandmother is the one I love; I’d love anyone who thought up those […]