The Last Word

February 2 – 6 Ann gave us a posthumous profile of Charles Hard Townes, whom you can thank for astronomers being able to peer inside the centre of the Milky Way, and for conscientious physicists advising the US Defense Department without being muzzled. Fancy a moth in maroon velvet? Grotesque ripple-lines? Giddy exclamation points and […]

Ye Olde Scientific Writing

A few weeks ago, biologist Stephen Heard blogged about beauty in scientific writing. Among his examples, he cited an elegant explanation of quantum mechanics research and a playful description of a snake surveying a “disconsolate line” of frogs. More details can be found in Heard’s paper on the subject, which calls for scientists to strive […]

To File or Pile?

With the new year often comes an urge to purge all my unnecessary belongings. I dream of tossing entire filing boxes of documents into the recycling bin, hauling a dozen garbage bags of clothes to Goodwill, or whittling down my possessions to a few suitcases and moving into a tiny house. This year, I was motivated […]

The Last Word

  December 29, 2014 to January 2, 2015 LWON continued revisiting our favorite posts this week with a series of holiday reduxes, including wishes for a “bullshit-free” 2015. Craig goes primal with some dabs of red ochre face paint during an icy trek. Tens of thousands of years ago, artistically-inclined ancestors in Indonesia used the […]

Holiday Redux: The Beauty of Punctuation

LWON is celebrating the holidays by re-running some of our favorite posts. This post originally appeared in November 2013. Several years ago, I splurged on a gorgeous red hardcover edition of Strunk and White’s classic book on writing, The Elements of Style. Illustrated by Maira Kalman, the pages are filled with fanciful depictions of punctuation […]

Winter Blooms

Winter is settling in: the air is nippy, branches are bare, and wearing open-toed shoes is now out of the question. During a recent visit to a horticulture centre, though, I was impressed to see that many flowers in their gardens still bloomed. Cheery red blossoms, gold-centered asters, and frilly magenta petals popped against a bleak backdrop […]

The Last Word

March 10 – 14 This week, Christie told us that story she doesn’t tell. Then lots of other people flocked to the comments to tell theirs. Guest poster Daniel O’Connell asked if there’s gold in them thar evolutionary hills. Cameron wondered if deep-sea species will be soon be forced to have their own reality show. […]

A tiny cave creature, eyeless and deadly

Joey Pakes was swimming in a cave in Mexico on July 4, 2008 when she spotted her first remipede. Pakes, a graduate student in biology at UC Berkeley, had seen pictures of these aquatic centipede-like creatures before. But when she encountered one in the wild, the experience was completely different. “They’re such graceful animals,” she recalls. “It […]