Guest Post: Writing a Relationship

About a year ago I sat in the Members’ Room at the Royal Society as Professor Judith Howard FRS, once a doctoral student of Dorothy Hodgkin’s, explained how crystallographers worked in the early days. She showed me how Dorothy would begin by calibrating the black circles in an X-ray diffraction pattern by eye, to begin […]

The Gig Economy

A number of the People of LWON are freelancers.  They work from story to story, one publication after another, holding multiple positions all the while. One reason for freelancing is that staff jobs at newspapers or magazines, which have always been sparse, are now outright rare. So writers go out on their own; they put […]

Guest Post: How Our Pets Domesticated Us

One of the most fascinating tidbits I came across while researching my new book, Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs, concerns the 10,000-year-old village of Shillourokambos. Located on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, the site was once home to an early farming community whose inhabitants stored grain in stone silos and corralled […]

Guest Post: Farewell Invertebrates, We Hardly Knew You

The first thing I saw when I walked into the National Zoo’s Invertebrate Exhibit on Saturday was a glass tank filled with corals. And the first thought I had was, oh my god, they’re so beautiful. In the tank, an explosion of star-shaped mouths opened and closed in time to some inaudible rhythm. Nearby a […]

Guest Post: Death of a Fig Tree: My Climate Change

This winter in Baltimore we suffered. We steeled ourselves against record-breaking cold, and our heating bills were scandalous. There was so much snow that the children got tired of sledding. (It snowed on Tax Day, for Pete’s sake.) Months later, the potholes are punishing, and my fig tree is at death’s door. As far as […]

Guest Post: Return to Laki

People say that writing a book is something of an obsession. It has to be. Why else would you turn over your life for several years to, say, the sex life of bedbugs or the dark energy driving the universe? In our case, it was 18th-century Iceland that did us in — more specifically, a […]

Why I Won’t Watch California Chrome Race on Saturday

We haven’t had a Triple Crown winner in 36 years, since a horse named Affirmed won in 1978.  This year, there’s a lot of buzz around a chestnut colt named California Chrome. He’s already won the Kentucky Derby and The Preakness, and word is he has a good chance to win Saturday’s mile-and-one-half Belmont Stakes, […]

Guest Post: Archimedes in the Fence

According to ancient historians, Archimedes spent the last moments of his life drawing figures in the dirt, so deeply entranced with the pleasures of geometry that he failed to notice the bloody pillage of Syracuse right outside his door. Aloofness, it’s tempting to conjecture, was his fatal flaw. By many accounts, he paid scant attention when […]