Losing Control

When you’re carrying a child, you make certain sacrifices. I knew I’d have to give up Tanqueray and the occasional guilty cigarette. I was even prepared to forgo sushi. But I soon learned that the list was far longer than I imagined. No hot tubs, the experts advised. No queso fresco. No Advil. No deli meat. […]

Behind the Steel Door

In 2011, Yoshihiro Kawaoka reported that his team had engineered a pandemic form of the bird flu virus. Bird flu, also known as H5N1, has infected infected nearly 700 people worldwide and killed more than 400. But it hasn’t yet gained the ability to jump easily from human to human. Kawaoka’s research suggested that capability might be closer […]

This Year’s Flu Vaccine Is Shoddy: Four Reasons to Get It Anyway

Influenza hit the US hard this winter. In December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that influenza had reached epidemic proportions across large swaths of the country. Most of us think of the flu as an inconvenience, but the virus can be deadly. In early January, a 26-year-old radiology technician in Wisconsin died […]

How to Write a Science Feature

1. Write late at night, preferably the night before your deadline. That’s when the creative juices will really be churning. Your gut will be churning too. With panic. 2. Don’t write the whole piece in one fell swoop. Focus on a single sentence. Make sure that sentence is perfect before you move on to the […]

Cold Hands, Warm Space Heater

On my way to the dry cleaners, I passed a gaggle of highschoolers on their way home from class. The high was 16 degrees yesterday, and the wind made it feel like single digits. But most of these students were dressed for a crisp fall day. One kid, some Justin Bieberesque boy on a bike, […]

The Last Word: November 3-7, 2014

As with the four previous, we kicked off the week with Colin Norman’s tale of undergoing heart surgery. He’s feeling good but has turned his thoughts to the genetic nature of heart disease. He perused his family album in his mind and fretted for his daughters’ future. Then Erik made several connections between the institutional capacity […]

Off Our Meds: Doctor Knows Best

This week LWON presents “Off Our Meds,” an examination of some scary issues in medicine. We won’t resort to fear mongering, because we don’t have to. Medicine is scary enough as it is. The woman came to Scott Haig, an orthopedic surgeon, because she had a lump on her collarbone. Usually these lumps are caused by arthritis or […]

Last Word

September 1-5, 2014. This week, Helen discovered a late summer symphony of peal bells and cicadas. Listen!  Ann discovered an unexpected but welcome pattern in the pronouns that the astronomers are using to describe their colleagues — “she.”  Richard introduced a new occasional LWON series — the Bad Science Poet. (Motto: “It’s not the science that’s bad—it’s […]