Last Word

September 1-5, 2014. This week, Helen discovered a late summer symphony of peal bells and cicadas. Listen!  Ann discovered an unexpected but welcome pattern in the pronouns that the astronomers are using to describe their colleagues — “she.”  Richard introduced a new occasional LWON series — the Bad Science Poet. (Motto: “It’s not the science that’s bad—it’s […]

Bad Science Poet

Please join LWON today in welcoming a new occasional contributor, Bad Science Poet. (Motto: “It’s not the science that’s bad—it’s the poetry!”™) MAYBE, MAYBE NOT Is that uncertainty I see? Its position known to only me? Is that uncertainty I hear? Echoing (or not) from ear to ear? Said Heisenberg, “Yes.” Niels Bohr said, “One guess.” And Einstein?  […]

Only I

Smokey Bear Celebrates 70th Birthday and Reminds Americans … “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires”                                 –  Ad Council press release, August 7, 2014 Why me? Why am I the only one who can prevent wildfires? Forest fires were burden enough. I’ve […]

Facts? Sure. Truth? Hmm.

Richard:  A few months ago, Ann wrote a post about beauty and truth in science writing. I object to neither. But she seemed to take exception to a “literary nonfiction” approach to science, and I wondered what in particular her objections were. So I thought I’d ask her. Hey, Ann, what gives?  Ann:   Literary nonfiction […]

Giving History the Finger

The middle finger of Galileo’s right hand is a satisfying sight. Not because the resemblance to an obscene gesture is unmistakable (though that’s pretty amusing). And not because such a gesture might suggest that in the end a scientist who suffered persecution for the sin of being correct had gotten the last word—well, two words (though that would be amusing, […]

The Ghosts in the Machines

Early one evening a couple of weeks ago I was sitting on a bed in a hotel room in Aspen, laptop in lap, when I started hearing voices. I raised my head, listening closely. At first I assumed the voices were coming from the street, but then I saw that the windows were closed. I got up and […]

Repeat After Us

I was reading the end-of-semester student essays in the Science as Narrative course I teach when one phrase stopped me. Stopped me as in, I didn’t go on: “Darwin was happy to be tasked with telling a fire by its ashes.” Was it an actual thing, I wondered, this “telling a fire by its ashes”? I […]

I Dream of Wrigley

I dream of Wrigley. All the time. More and more often. I grew up in Chicago and went to games at Wrigley Field all season long, season after season, and even though I left Chicago 30 years ago, Wrigley Field has never left me. The one-hundredth anniversary of the opening of Wrigley Field last month got me wondering […]