The Amazing Lives of Fan Li and Xi Shi

Gather round, my children and allow me to regale you with the wonderful tale of the adventures of Fan Li and Xi Shi – military strategist, femme fatale, and all-around badasses. Fan Li was born in a town called Yuan Sanhu sometime in the late 6th Century BCE in a kingdom called Yue, near the modern […]

Science Needs Cool Kids

I was not cool in high school. I think it would be a stretch to say I was a nerd, but I wasn’t cool and I certainly wasn’t getting laid. No, like so many scientists and science writers in the world, I mostly kept my head down and waited for college. You see, it’s in […]

Of Cops and Shots

The room is plain and cloaked in shadow, save the single pool of light draped over a hardened criminal. Facing the her is a meaty lug of a detective with a ketchup-stained tie and hairy knuckles. “This doesn’t have to go bad for you, Jenny,” the larger man growls. “You work with us and I can […]

The Greatest Athlete in the World

On Wednesday, at 3:25 Pacific Standard Time, two scruffy, skinny men embraced atop Yosemite’s El Capitan. To the casual observer, just a couple dudes in a national park trying to get off the mountain before sunset. Yet, these men had accomplished something so amazing that the sitting US president would call and congratulate them. So difficult […]

Debunking Hollywood: Falling!!!

Debunking Hollywood is LWON’s very occasional series that takes a hard science look at common TV and movie tropes.  Our hero is in dire trouble yet again. He stands on the rooftop, a villain in front of him, his feet inches from a seven-story fall. Sweat glistens on his brow as he fearlessly throws a punch but […]

Holiday Redux: A Bookseller And His Well

 LWON is celebrating the holidays by re-running some of our favorite posts. This post originally appeared in March 2014. In the May issue of the Rotarian Magazine next month you will be able to read the full version of a story I did last year on toxic mine runoff in highland Bolivia. It’s a nice […]

The Last Word: November 3-7, 2014

As with the four previous, we kicked off the week with Colin Norman’s tale of undergoing heart surgery. He’s feeling good but has turned his thoughts to the genetic nature of heart disease. He perused his family album in his mind and fretted for his daughters’ future. Then Erik made several connections between the institutional capacity […]