Dreaming in the Pleistocene

It would have been different if it hadn’t been a cave, if the excavation had been out in the daylight where mystery more easily washes out. The darkness helped, nothing but my headlamp to show the way. Every morning we’d suit up at the cave entrance. A group of scientists descended a ladder one by […]

Flabbergasted By the Real World

I grew up on a small farm and among other creatures, we raised chickens. Every day they had to be fed and watered and their eggs, warm from their bodies, had to be gathered. When the chickens got old enough to stop laying regularly, we’d turn them into stew: we’d kill them and dress them, […]

A Visit From the Christmas Squirrel

He must have come in through the mail slot. I imagine him watching the mailman stride up the front steps Christmas Eve, flipping open the metal flap and thrusting the envelopes inside. The flap is propped open a smidge by the metal binder clip we use to hold outgoing mail. It is snowing — cold. […]

Guest Post: Isis, a Dog Out of Time

WARNING: If you are not up-to-date on the most recently aired episode of Downton Abbey on PBS, and you actually care what happens, read no more. Spoiler, though hardly a shock, within. “I’m worried about Isis,” Downton Abbey’s Lord Grantham told his daughter Mary the other night. “She’s not looking too clever.” ‘Tis true: Isis, […]

Redux: The Scientist in the Garden

This is an updated version of a post that originally appeared in January 2012. I can’t remember why the seed catalogs started showing up, but once they did, I was a goner. If you haven’t ever gotten one, imagine full color photo spreads of produce, like the striped Tigger Melon and and the orange-red lusciousness of […]

I Did It Dad! I LOVE This!

I’d been pondering the consequences of modern self-chronicling when Facebook sent me its rendering of my life in 2014. If Facebook’s Year End Review is any indication, my life boils down to this: adorable dogs, skiing, trail running and mountain biking. Lots of mountain biking.

Ye Olde Scientific Writing

A few weeks ago, biologist Stephen Heard blogged about beauty in scientific writing. Among his examples, he cited an elegant explanation of quantum mechanics research and a playful description of a snake surveying a “disconsolate line” of frogs. More details can be found in Heard’s paper on the subject, which calls for scientists to strive […]

Hard Times in the Younger Dryas

This time last year, most of North America was buried in an unusual cold period. The jet stream had hemorrhaged in early January and the Polar Vortex that usually sits atop the hemisphere like a halo came pouring down. Known as the 2014 North American Cold Wave, temperatures plummeted, particularly in the Northeast and Upper […]