A Few Good Maps

I’ve probably said this before, but I really like maps. In college, I bought a huge collection of used maps at a geography department sale to use as wrapping paper. When we lived in Oregon, we got a gigantic one of the state to put on the living room wall. (We also got an even […]

Holiday Redux: The Ceremonial Stone

LWON is celebrating the holidays by re-running some of our favorite posts. This post originally appeared in slightly different form in July 2014. Sarah dipped her fingers in a red mineral paint and lifted them to her face. She put streaks above her cheekbones and up her chin, her design standing out against a backdrop […]

Hiding in Plain Out-of-Sight

If you haven’t seen the movie Interstellar, you might not recognize the image above. It’s the black hole that figures prominently in the climax. But even if you have seen the movie, chances are excellent you still don’t know what you’re looking at. I didn’t, anyway, at least the first few days I spent staring at […]

Rainbow Connection

The other day, as our kids played around a big, messy tree–one with patchy bark and drooping sickle-shaped leaves–a friend told me she was going to show me a picture of a eucalyptus she knew I would love. A eucalyptus? Not one of these troublesome trees, I thought. But then she held up her phone. I peered in […]

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. […]

Things that Smell

My nose has been extra-sensitive lately. I can catch dog food at a hundred paces, both the kitchen and my still-diaper-wearing kids’ bedroom feel like odor minefields, and I have to walk along the lineup of barbecues at the nearby park with my shirt over my face. It’s a good thing I’m not an astronaut.

Snark Week: Evil Has a New Name – and Buck Teeth

The sun hangs low over the bayou, wavering in the humid evening horizon. Sweat pours off your face as you struggle see into the underbrush. And suddenly you hear it. A rustling in the bushes that turns your veins to ice. “Please, sweet Jesus,” you whisper, “be something else. Please, not here. Not now.” But […]

Giving History the Finger

The middle finger of Galileo’s right hand is a satisfying sight. Not because the resemblance to an obscene gesture is unmistakable (though that’s pretty amusing). And not because such a gesture might suggest that in the end a scientist who suffered persecution for the sin of being correct had gotten the last word—well, two words (though that would be amusing, […]