The Financially Damaging Myth of No Effort

A few weeks ago now I went to something called XOXO, a festival for independent artists. There are lots of recaps of this conference on the internet so I won’t try to add to that pile. But I did want to tie together two things I heard that I think are intrinsically related, and that […]

Letters from the Dead

A recent email from a stranger posed a query as to what to do with Native American artifacts in her possession. I’ve never found the answer to be an easy one. The woman didn’t take much. She called it, “a small box of artifacts, a few really nice perfect arrows and a couple that where truly made […]

Rosetta and Philae: Plucky siblings for life

On September 30, the Rosetta orbiter will make a controlled collision with Comet 67P/C-G. It is not designed for landing, so this is the last we will hear from it. This date also marks an end to a happy period for my family that started in 2013 when my son was just four years old […]

Mystery on 39th Street

Maybe we were delirious. It was after two in the morning and I had my kids out on the street in Manhattan. With how hot August was, we tried to stay out late, taking advantage of cooler nighttime temperatures. This was our eighth night knocking around the city, urban exploration I called it, an extracurricular crash course […]

The Four Stages of Twitter Grief

2016 has been ruthless. Yesterday, Gene Wilder died. In July it was Elie Wiesel and Miss Cleo. In June it was Muhammad Ali. In April it was Chyna and Prince. In January it was David Bowie and Alan Rickman. In 2016 we grieve in public, on social media. When Prince died people wrote millions of Tweets […]

Sliding Baselines

Most days we here at the Last Word on Nothing write engaging non-fiction about the scientific questions of our age that vex us and inspire us. Most days we blend excellent reporting with excellent writing told with heart, guts, and a dash of humanity. Most days, you the reader get to the end of one of […]

A Concatenation of Extraterrestrials

The past few days have been a cosmic convergence of opinions about extraterrestrial life.  First, I’ve been interviewing scientists and engineers who think that funding searches for planets that might support life isn’t unreasonable.  Second, a neighbor told me he’d read in the New York Times that extraterrestrial life almost certainly had evolved somewhere, some […]