Drugs, Trials and a Little Bit of History Repeating

I can’t help but notice that placebos have crept into the political news in recent weeks. Okay, maybe they aren’t in the headlines but they’re there, just below the surface. That’s because when you see a headline about the Food and Drug Administration, you should immediately start thinking of placebos. The Trump administration hasn’t named […]

When America was Great, the First Time

We were great in the Ice Age. Big weapons, big animals, big land. While parts of the world were crawling with hominids for a million years or more, this side of the planet was off limits. Getting here was never easy, not in the late Pleistocene, not now. The Americas are bookended by the world’s two […]

Just Have Lunch

I wish I could remember – but I can’t  – the woman who told me a story about how she and other women in her profession had regular lunches, casually, unofficially, no agenda.  Was she a lawyer? A writer? An astronomer?  Just don’t remember.  The thing I’m sure about is that the point was not […]

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 […]

A Science Journalist After the Election

Well, there it is. The people have spoken and now the Electoral College has spoken and we have our new president, Donald J Trump. I strongly believe in the importance of an unbiased media – even if it’s just an ideal that we strive for and never really achieve. As journalists, I believe it’s crucial that […]

The Great Eucalyptus Debate

The Tasmanian blue gum, Eucalyptus globulus, is a magnificent tree. That is perhaps the only thing that everyone agrees on. It is, as Jake Sigg puts it, “a big, grand, old tree.” Tall, gnarled, stripey-barked, with white flowers like sea anemones, blue gum eucalyptus are characteristic of the San Francisco Bay area, despite being native […]

Fear and Loathing in Elections

After months of promising, cajoling, negotiating, threatening, inspiring, inciting, confusing, shaming, glorifying, fibbing, flubbing, blustering and exulting, the election is over and we have a winner. Donald J Trump. This was truly an historic election for a lot of reasons that no doubt my colleagues in the political media have, and continue to thrum on about […]