Damage Patterns

The other night I was in the midst of writing about the Ice Age when I strayed to the internet. Up came the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography that went this year to New York Times photographers Mauricio Lima, Sergey Ponomarev, Tyler Hicks and Daniel Etter for their coverage of the European refugee crises. Fresh from writing a […]

Redux: What Luis Alvarez Did

This post originally ran on November 11, 2013. I rerun it now partly because I liked it and mostly because it’s a conversation with Hope Jahren and Ben Lillie. Hope has a new book out, written with her usual brilliant, nail-gun verve; Ben runs an on-going travelling theatrical anthology that’s like nothing else I’ve heard of. […]

Ding Dong Moose

I recently became familiar with a scientist whose productivity makes me exhausted: Georges-Louis Leclerc, the Count of Buffon, who produced a 36-volume work on natural history in the mid-18th century. Trained as a lawyer, he became interested in mathematics and then botany on his family’s lands in France. His work propelled him into a choice position as the […]

The Oregon Trail Game

The first time I played the Oregon Trail computer game – a parody of American westward expansion inflicted on countless school kids – was this winter. I was snug in bed, as befits a prospective pioneer facing one of history’s largest human migrations. Up to 500,000 settlers set out along the Oregon and California Trails […]

Homeopathy Part One: Rebels of Medicine

Today’s post is the first of a two-part series on homeopathy. Look for another tomorrow by LWON’s own Sally Adee.  In 460 BCE, a rebel was born. Ruggedly handsome, fluffy hair that drove younger girls crazy and a gleaming bald pate that made the older ones swoon. His buddies called him “The Father of Medicine,” “Ἱπποκράτης” or […]

Drawings of Drawings of Lions

Early in the 17th century, two lions lived in the zoo in Ghent. Their names were Flandria and Brabantia. There were probably other lions nearby. Archduke Albert and his wife, Isabella, ruled the region, now in Belgium, and they had a menagerie at their palace. Having a menagerie was the sort of thing extremely wealthy […]

Debunking Hollywood: The Gordian Knot

I’ve often wondered who was the first person to tie a knot. Who was that ancient ancestor 10, 20, 100 thousand years ago who first wrapped a strip of animal skin – or maybe some fibrous vine – around itself and realized that it could hold itself together, even hold a person’s weight. Or hell, […]