On Taphonomy

Taphonomy is the study of what happens to bodies, especially bones, after death on their way to fossilization. Few remains make it that far, but when they do, taphonomy is the journey through which the biological becomes geological. In life, bones are tissues, despite their rigidity. Calcium flows in and out of the bone bank as […]

Urban Wilderness and the “High Line Problem”

In October of 2013, I toured three miles of disused railroad line in Philadelphia. Some of it was underground, some on ground level, and some elevated. All of it was covered in spontaneous vegetation—garden plants, common weeds, and native species, a wild, diverse hodgepodge of over 50 species alive with fungi and butterflies and ladybugs. […]

Tropical Science

A few months ago I found myself south of the border working on a story for Scientific American about the glories of really small brains. When I say south of the border, I mean south of the Mexican border and when I say small brains I mean really really small brains. Like those of a […]

“Bug” on My Floor

It was a standoff in my own living room. The stranger and I faced each other, both completely still. I could almost hear that eerie whistle from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.  The stranger was dressed in black. I was dressed in black yoga pants. I towered over my challenger, who was only […]

Where is here; here is where

Isaiah grins at me across the dining room table and more than 1,000 miles. In my nephew’s small, pale hand is an outsized Crayola marker, to match the pencil in my more gnarled fingers. We both lean over rectangles of paper—his in Colorado, mine in Oregon, now occupying the same virtual space, thanks to a […]

Guest Post: Scientists Come in All Sizes

I spent part of our recent snow day in New England on the phone talking to Richard Primack, an ecologist who studies how climate change affects seasonal events such as budburst and bird migration. I was interviewing him for another story, but as we talked, a new one came to light. He told me that […]

Potted

I’m in love with a houseplant. It’s a maidenhair fern, its frilly little leaves dangling from willowy stems. There’s something about it that just makes me incredibly happy. It’s true, my heart even flutters a bit when I see it. This is my first adult relationship with a houseplant. As a kid, we had plants […]

Creating With Nature: Ice Ornaments

If it is still freezing hard during the night where you live, you can try this easy and fun art project. Find some paper plates, cups, tupperware containers, anything with an interesting shape that you can get ice out of in one piece pretty easily. I like the paper plates because you can kind of […]