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 […]

Beauty & Truth in Writing about Science

  A little while ago I was on a panel for the local science writing association, and each panel member was assigned to talk briefly about writing about science in a way that’s both literary and beautiful. I gave my talk and a few days later, it was posted on the association’s website.  Much social […]

Garwin: the Movie (UPDATED)

Garwin: the Movie opens with an old, steady, precise hand on a computer keyboard, scrolling through now-declassified* documents.  Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower make announcements, and newspapers flash headlines about our splendid new hydrogen bomb.  Then the blossom of a mushroom cloud unfolds; and John F. Kennedy talks about Russian missiles in Cuba; and the […]

Interview with Will Storr: Disputable Sources

Ann:  Will Storr is a phenomenon.*  His specialty is writing good stories about people in bad places.  He’s got a story in Matter about an extremely unpleasant disease called Morgellons.  People with Morgellons have terrible itches, then tiny fibers creep out of their skin and make oozy sores.  The disease sounds like a horror story out […]