Guest Post: Can an Equation be a Poem?

“The most distinct and beautiful statement of any truth must take at last the mathematical form.” —Henry David Thoreau April is Mathematics Awareness Month. April is also National Poetry Month. Coincidence? Yep, almost definitely. But it’s also an opportunity: I’d like to propose that we—you and I, at least until the end of this blog […]

Kepler on the Moon, Part 2

(Part 2 of 2; Part 1 appeared yesterday.) Harry’s utterance “Damn damn Kepler on the Moon damn damn” immediately entered the lexicon of our little messenger world. I then introduced it to my non-work friends, who likewise adopted it as an absurdist catch-all. For years afterward my only knowledge of Kepler was as a punch […]

Kepler on the Moon, Part 1

My first job, post-paper route, was as a messenger in the advertising department of the Chicago Tribune. As a 15-year-old aspiring journalist (and, yes, underage hire), I thought the experience might be a career path to Woodward and Bernstein heights. By coincidence, the day I started—May 1, 1974—was Watergate Wednesday, the day that the Tribune was the only newspaper […]

Which Sherlock Are You? An LWON Diversion

In our quest to not only see but also observe, the readers and writers of LWON have a lot in common with Sherlock Holmes—that famously exquisite observer, terrible flatmate, and devoted fan of intelligent crime. (Science writers may feel even more affinity with Holmes’ long-suffering chronicler Dr. Watson, but that’s another story). Which Holmes, though? Arthur […]

The First Hero: A Girl

A couple of weeks ago, Michelle subverted the established cultural order by adopting her five-year old’s suggestion that Bilbo Baggins was a girl.  Most people applauded but some gnashed their teeth: don’t second-guess literature, they said, and if Bilbo is a hero and heroes are boys, then so be it.  But I have prior and […]

Holiday Review: Why Blog?

On a recent episode of the literary podcast All Write Already! Susan Orlean said, “I’ve always been skeptical about the value of blogs.” While I agree with her arguments in favor of writing for pay and under the guidance of an editor, I’ve also come to believe that under the right circumstances (i.e. you are not blogging […]

Finding Peter Ganz

About a month ago, I wrote a review of a play by David C. Cassidy about Farm Hall.  Farm Hall was the English country house in which the British government, just after World War II, sequestered the German nuclear scientists they’d kidnapped.  The scientists’ rooms were bugged, and their conversation was recorded and transcribed by […]

One Weird Old Trick to Undermine the Patriarchy

My five-year-old insists that Bilbo Baggins is a girl. The first time she made this claim, I protested. Part of the fun of reading to your kids, after all, is in sharing the stories you loved as a child. And in the story I knew, Bilbo was a boy. A boy hobbit. (Whatever that entails.) […]