Redux: On Getting From “Wow!” to “[yawn]”: Yes!!!

Yesterday the Royal Swedish Academy announced that the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics would recognize the discovery of gravitational waves; the recipients would be Barry Barish, Kip Thorne, and Rainer Weiss, three of the visionaries who shepherded the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) through four decades of technological and bureaucratic innovations. (Another founder of the […]

Redux: Giving History the Finger

At a thousand words, this picture would be way undervalued. But there it was, waiting to be taken (the picture, that is, not the object). So I took, during a visit to Florence, and I wrote, in 2014, and I redux, here, because some images you just can’t get out of your head. The middle […]

Sid Drell, 1926 – 2016, Whom We Still Needed

Last Wednesday, December 21, Sidney Drell died.  I can’t imagine anyone called him anything except “Sid.”  He was 90.  He was a particle physicist who for a while was deputy director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator.  He had a persistent South Jersey accent which somehow seemed to go with his attitude that nothing was too […]

What We Talk About When We Talk About Intelligent Life

Two weeks ago, while sitting on the floor building a puzzle with my toddler, I heard a window-rattling thud. I figured it was the neighbor’s soccer ball hitting the glass door again, so I got up feeling somewhat ticked. When I looked out the window, the first thing I saw was an absolutely apoplectic male […]

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. […]

Redux: Is passion for science a heritable trait?

This post first ran on August 24, 2011. My dad and I share an obsession with endurance sports. We don’t just love to get outside and ride our bikes, we actually feel antsy and anxious if we go too many days without working up a sweat. As I’ve written elsewhere, our compulsion for exercise has a genetic […]

Guest Post: How to Navigate a Rising Sea

When Alson Kelen was young, he used to lie at night against his father’s arm, on an island where there were no lights and no cars. He listened to waves slapping against wet sand, the breeze shaking the palm fronds, the delicate crackling of a coconut shell fire. As the purple-blue evening gave way to night, […]

The Quantum Entanglement of Bad Things

My husband had surgery and complications and is recovering slowly, entailing a lot of medical appointments and difficult information and difficult decisions and long absences from home and office.  Home and office have taken advantage of this to do bad things.  You might think this increase in badness is due to psychology or coincidence; it’s […]