The End of the Line

A few years ago, while working on a story on the shark fin trade, I found myself freezing in the back of a panga 25 miles out from the Baja shoreline wishing I was dead. Partly it was tossing seas that pitched the skiff from side to side and slapped over the gunwales. Partly it […]

How to Read Ancient Mayan

In this month’s issue of National Geographic, I tell a story of an ancient dynasty of Maya kings who made perhaps the region’s best attempt at creating what we might call an empire. It’s a twisting tale of political maneuvering and ambition unlike any other in the Pre-Columbian world. It’s actually kind of incredible that […]

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 […]

Stranger in a Foreign Land

I know this guy. He’s a good guy – hard working, wants to do right by his wife and kid – but somehow he’s found himself in an unusual position in the debate over US/Mexico immigration. This fellow adores his home country but also has a healthy sense of wanderlust. Yes he loves his countrymen and his family […]

Counting Pistachios, Taxis and Great White Sharks

In this month’s issue of National Geographic, I lay out a simple question. How many great white sharks are there on Earth? It seems simple enough – we’ve found some 3,500 planets outside our solar system and 400,000 species of beetles on Earth. This is the modern world of crowdsourcing and big data. We can […]

Snark Week: A Lurking Threat That Wants To Eat Your Testicles

It was a sunny morning in Ton Sai Beach, Krabi, Thailand, 2003. The birds sang, the Andaman breeze blew its gentle perfumed air through the trees as I sat down to my morning banana pancake. Oblivious to the danger lurking above me. Watching. Waiting. My girlfriend and I were on a yearlong rock climbing trip and, as […]

A Pilgrimage for the Soul

On Friday, May 13, group of road bikers got together for the 44th annual Pacific Coast Century Ride. I guess that’s its name. Honestly, I have no idea what to call it. Ever since I was a kid, we just called it “The Ride.” It started back in the 70s with a guy named George Andrews, […]

The Last Word

April 18 – 22, 2016 Guest Veronique Greenwood starts the week with the first in a three-part series of posts about learning Chinese. (Look for the next installment on Monday.) Erik doesn’t like parenting books, except when he does. And he really likes The Informed Parent. (But he still doesn’t know how to set up […]