Great Balls of Fire

Early Monday morning, a fireball lit up the night sky over Wisconsin. For a just a second, dark became light. And then there was an explosion followed by a terrifying sonic boom. Loretta Brockmeier, a resident of Random Lake, Wisconsin, a town about 40 minutes north of Milwaukee, got up to use the bathroom and […]

The Telltale Liver

“You haven’t been eating anything weird, have you?” my doctor asked. “Like, really weird?” I was feeling crappy, and a routine panel of lab tests showed that my liver was sending out a mild distress signal. Now we were trying to figure out why. I didn’t think I had been eating anything weird, but I asked […]

Thankful? Oh, Really?

Ann:  It’s been a fairly dreadful year, personally and nationally, and giving thanks is going to be a stretch.  But even when I was a kid, I was thankless.  When my grandfather said grace at Sunday dinners — “Bless, oh Lord, this food to our use and us to thy service” — I thought the […]

Where should research chimps grow old?

In 2015, the National Institutes of Health announced the end of invasive chimpanzee research in the US. The agency had dramatically scaled back the program in 2013, and NIH director Francis Collins reported that due to lack of demand, he had decided to allow the remaining animals to retire as well. “It is clear that we’ve reached a tipping […]

The Eternal Toil of the Motor Protein

A few days ago, I stumbled across this particularly arresting GIF while scrolling through my Facebook feed. The animation shows a stringy figure with huge feet lugging a rippling green sphere along a ribbed beam. “Look at that little guy plodding along,” I thought. “That looks like hard work.” Here’s the thing: That “little guy” is a […]

Baby Science

There is a wealth of research on child rearing, some of which I’ve read. But my 14-month-old daughter recently pointed out that many of my so-called “evidence-based” views are hopelessly outdated. So I asked her to write a post in which she shares the very latest findings. This is cutting-edge baby science, dear readers. I […]

Bomb the Bloodsuckers?

Two weeks ago, tomatoes began splitting on the vine. Days of hard rain had left them dangling plump and heavy, and their cellophane skin couldn’t hold together. I wanted to harvest them. I tried on several occasions. But each foray into the backyard brought forth swarms of mosquitoes. By the time I reached the edge of […]

The Appeal of Crackpot Television

Last summer, my husband and I began watching what we believed to be one of the worst shows on television. The series, Zoo, is based on a novel by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge. Here’s the premise: The world’s animal population has turned against humanity. Lions are killing tourists, wolves are murdering prison inmates, even […]