Draw Me a Picture of Nature

The literary critic Raymond Williams once wrote that “Nature is perhaps the most complex word in the language.” It’s a head-scratcher right up there with love, or goodness: We depend on it for survival, but we’re often not quite sure where it is, what it is, or whether we’re a part of it. Jessica Mikels-Carrasco, […]

Slay a Monster—With Science!

  “There are monsters in my mind,” my daughter said at bedtime. “Oh, honey,” I said. “Monsters don’t exist.” She glared at me. “Yes, they do.” I sighed. “Have you ever heard of allometric scaling?” Well, it didn’t go exactly like that.

Freezeproof a Fairy—With Science!

Tom Painter, a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, studies snow hydrology in mountains around the world. He’s also a leading expert on the thermodynamics of fairies and princesses. Painter started his fairy-princess sideline a few years ago, when he was asked to lend his expertise to Tinkerbell: Secret of the Wings. In the movie—bear with […]

Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods

Allow me to introduce you to the hugag, a moose-like creature native to Minnesota, Wisconsin, and eastern Canada. “Its head and neck are leathery and hairless; its strangely corrugated ears flop downward,” wrote William Cox, the first state forester of Minnesota. “Its four-toed feet, long bushy tail, shaggy coat and general make-up give the beast […]

The Pocket Guide to Bullshit Prevention

I am often wrong. I misunderstand; I misremember; I believe things I shouldn’t. I’m overly optimistic about the future quality of Downton Abbey, and inexact in my recall of rock-star shenanigans. But I am not often—knock wood—wrong in print, and that’s because, as a journalist, I’ve had advanced training in Bullshit Prevention Protocol (BPP). Lately, […]

A Hometown Hero, A Foreign Flag

Last Saturday, my daughter and I went to the opening day of Little League season. In our small town of White Salmon, Washington, it’s a day for classic Americana: The players chase their coaches around the bases, the Boy Scouts raise the Stars and Stripes, we sing the Star-Spangled Banner, and a local celebrity throws […]

The Long Now of the Tiburón Bighorn

In the spring of 2012, botanist and graduate student Benjamin Wilder was camping on Tiburón Island, a large island in the Gulf of California whose flora he has studied for most of a decade. Wilder wanted to find out more about the evolutionary history of the plants on Tiburón, so he was looking for fossil […]

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 […]