Those Who Emerged from the Earth

As we know by now, science is not the last word on anything. It is one story among many, and it alone doesn’t satisfy every inquiry. Over the last few years I’ve been visiting landscapes associated with the Bering land bridge in western Alaska. Most archaeologists believe this is where the first people crossed from […]

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 […]

The Case for Tracking Outcomes

Earlier this year, I installed a little program on my computer that tracks how I spend my time. At the end of the day, it can tell me how many minutes I spent editing a specific document, how long it took me to write a blog post and how much time I spent surfing the internet or […]

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, […]

Report from the Solutions Summit

Back in early 2013, an email discussion among friends turned into a realization. We were having the same tired discussions about gender bias, over and over. The details might vary slightly, but it was the same story, again and again, and nothing was changing. It was time to go public and start looking for solutions. […]

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 Lungful of Quiet

I’m writing to you from inside an artificial lung. Really. I’m sitting at a desk in a cylindrical, windowless room, 180 feet across. The floor and walls are concrete, and the ceiling, several stories above, is rimmed with an enormous black rubber gasket which sighs gently—up, then down—every time somebody opens the door. No one […]