13 Years Later and Still Bracing

When I realized that I was scheduled to post on the 13th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, I decided I should write something about the legacy of that day. I want so badly to find a kernel of hope, but current events leave me with nothing but pessimism. Violence has begotten more violence. Since September 11, 2001, […]

The Urban Ocean

Where do you fall on the issue of wind farms at sea? Tidal energy generators? Artificial reefs? Mooring fields? Glass bottles? Old piers? Shipwrecks? Are they junk to be cleared away or are they habitat to be protected? How are they to be categorized, and at what stage in their “useful” lives do they become […]

Why Archeologists Hate Indiana Jones

The jungles of the Peten are hot and sweaty. Most of the best places for archeology are. Field seasons are especially hot, since they are always during the driest time of year so that the site doesn’t get flooded. Howler monkeys boom from the parched trees, which barely twitch during the windless days. Meanwhile, pasty grad […]

Guest Post: Farewell Invertebrates, We Hardly Knew You

The first thing I saw when I walked into the National Zoo’s Invertebrate Exhibit on Saturday was a glass tank filled with corals. And the first thought I had was, oh my god, they’re so beautiful. In the tank, an explosion of star-shaped mouths opened and closed in time to some inaudible rhythm. Nearby a […]

Garwin: the Movie (UPDATED)

Garwin: the Movie opens with an old, steady, precise hand on a computer keyboard, scrolling through now-declassified* documents.  Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower make announcements, and newspapers flash headlines about our splendid new hydrogen bomb.  Then the blossom of a mushroom cloud unfolds; and John F. Kennedy talks about Russian missiles in Cuba; and the […]

It’s Time to Evolve. Yes, You Too.

A few years ago, I was driving back exhausted from a rock climbing trip in the mountains. My buddy Bryan Fong, was bored and feeling a little punchy. When he gets like this, he tends to bring up politically sensitive topics and starts looking for buttons to press. In this case, he honed in on […]

A Bookseller And His Well

In the May issue of the Rotarian Magazine next month – for those of you who can find it – you will be able to read the full version of a story I did last year on toxic mine runoff in highland Bolivia. It’s a nice story of a tiny valley high in the mountains […]

Abstruse Goose: NSA Surveillance, Solved

I just don’t have anything to add to this.  Though I’m pretty sure if the NSA put their massive minds to it, they could figure out how to hear us thinking, let alone typity-typing on our computers without an internet in sight.  Did you know that NSA is the country’s largest employer of mathematicians?  It […]