Conversation: James Gleick in the Fourth Dimension

May I introduce James Gleick?  He’s been on staff at the New York Times, and has written seven books, including Chaos and Genius (a biography of Richard Feynman), for which he’s won impressive prizes.  And he’s just published Time Travel, which Joyce Carol Oates called “another of [his] superb, unclassifiable books.”  It’s a compendium of […]

Bug Love Redux: Wonder TK

The People of LWON and their splendid guests have several ongoing preoccupations, and rather than have you try to mentally collate them over the years, we thought we’d devote a week to each preoccupation.  That way they’ll all be in one place. This week is devoted to redux posts on loving bugs. I wrote my […]

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 […]

River time, river tongue

It was a bird of confluences. Nameless, to us. Gray as cloud belly, large as raptor, with eyes streaked over black as if with a stick of charcoal. The first time I saw it, I stood shin deep in the narrow, clear Pitman River, steps away from the line of opaque jade water marking its […]

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 […]

Preppers and Pets

I’ve recently added a bit to my awkward beginning-of-interview spiel. I do the standard “here’s what my story is about, here’s why I wanted to talk to you” thing. But I also now usually say something like “oh, and if you hear any weird sounds, there are squirrels fighting in my back yard and my […]

Redux: Where the Wind Has No Name

Of all the evocative place words humans have come up with, the words for local winds may be the most varied and most charming. There’s the Albrohos of Portugal, the Gilavar and the Khazri of Azerbaijan, and the Shamal of Iraq. There’s the Cape Doctor of South Africa, the Hawk of Chicago, and the Wreckhouse winds of Newfoundland. […]