Flying forest

Corvids are a wonderful genre of beast. I was reminded of this fact not long ago when, biking back home across southeast Portland from the waterfront, a veritable river of crows began streaming overhead. Thousands of them blurred and bobbed and circled each other in a stuttering current from east to west. This current eddied […]

Outmoded Diseases: An X-File for Osteomyelitis

  I won’t use her name. How she got the disease no one knows. Her leg was cut off at the knee to stop the infection from spreading, and her name is omitted because she is a respected scientist. What happened in her case verges beyond science. The disease is osteomyelitis. It means, simply, bone infection. In X-rays, […]

Redux: Is passion for science a heritable trait?

This post first ran on August 24, 2011. My dad and I share an obsession with endurance sports. We don’t just love to get outside and ride our bikes, we actually feel antsy and anxious if we go too many days without working up a sweat. As I’ve written elsewhere, our compulsion for exercise has a genetic […]

Do I Stay Or Do I Go? The Eveleth Conundrum

  Two years ago, I wrote a story for The Atlantic about my obsession with the town of Eveleth, Minnesota. I’ve never been there. But I’ve visited it often on Google Maps. Often enough to know the town really well. To know the giant hockey stick, the city hall, the big church, the tattoo shop […]

Getting Out of the Jail of Time

Time is a jail that we’ve built for ourselves, I think as I look at the clock and realize this post is due by some daunting hour of the morning. How could this day have been contained by a big hand and little hand on the face of a clock? Sometimes, or some places, the clock […]

Guest Post: The Lizards of Hastings-on-Hudson

The legend begins thus: In 1967 — or maybe it was ’66 — a pet store truck overturned in Long Island, sending a few dozen finger-length Italian wall lizards scampering into the bushes of Garden City. There Podarcis siculus thrived, slurping up arthropods along rock walls and sidewalks, dodging beaks and claws and tires. Over the decades, […]

The Wonderful World of Period Patents

I recently wrote a story for Racked about how some of the period underwear on the market work — the kind that either help keep your pad in place, or help replace tampons by wicking and absorbing blood. And because I always like to know about the evolution of various technologies, one of the first […]

Redux: The Mystery of the Ill-Timed Tides

Two years ago this winter, I was trying to figure out why the high tide seems to usually fall on winter mornings where I live, and the low tide on winter evenings. I promised that if I solved this mystery, I’d post an animation about how it worked. But while reader Stephan Zielinski provided plenty […]