Tesser Well

It was a dark and stormy night. In her attic bedroom Margaret Murry, wrapped in an old patchwork quilt, sat on the foot of her bed and watched the trees tossing in the frenzied lashing of the wind. Behind the trees clouds scudded frantically across the sky. Every few moments the moon ripped through them, […]

Both Our Houses

The congressional session that begins in the New Year, according to the incoming leaders of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, will do nothing to address anything. Although Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the presumptive majority leader of the Senate, and John Boehner of Ohio, the Speaker of the House, did not make that promise explicitly, it is […]

Gotta Have Faith

I’ve been traveling a lot recently. I spent the month of August in China and Vienam, I went to Sweden in October, and of course I’ve been bouncing between my home in Mexico City and the good ol’ US of A. And you know what all this travel has gotten me thinking about? Institutions. I assume […]

Seeing Mammoths

Seeing a mammoth is not the same as looking over a zoo wall at a modern elephant, or even standing next to a live, gray, wrinkled wall of flesh with scant, coarse hairs. Watching the flexible, prehensile reach of an elephant’s trunk and the slow cross-wise chewing of hay, I’ve found it hard to see […]

Conversation with Sharon & Geoff: Starship Fusion

Last week, Lockheed announced it had a small team working on what it calls a Compact Fusion Reactor.  Fusion is the opposite of fission that’s used in nuclear plants today; it can produce enormous amounts of energy; the fuel for  itis cheap and plentiful; a small fusion engine would solve the world’s energy problems. I […]

Guest Post: Planning to Sprawl

I’ve been teaching undergraduates for a while now, various takes on the general theme of the environment and society.  Here are some things I’ve noticed. The students often believe that they have discovered the environment and all the bad things we are doing in it.  Up to now, they suppose, we have been unaware, self-centered […]

The Writings on the Wall

    You’d think a wall panel in the Galileo gallery in the Galileo wing of the Galileo Museum would be a good place to get an accurate context for Galileo’s historical significance. You’d be wrong: “These astronomical discoveries heralded a revolution destined to demolish an image of the universe that had lasted for two thousand […]

On My Way to Burning Man

I’ve just returned from Burning Man, a Mad Max bacchanalia in the desert of western Nevada. I went to see what my civilization was up to, what fiery pinnacle we’ve invented. I also wanted to see it in context, which is why my time at this 69,000-person conflagration was only part of a larger journey. […]