Go ahead, call me a quack

I have a friend who is a magician. He performs the occasional stage show with card tricks and coins hidden behind the ear. His work is sleight of hand, a flash of movement deceiving the eye. He’d say it’s science. You experiment and find what actually works. My friend, Angus Stocking, is also a tarot […]

Poetry

Last week Michelle wrote that, given the speed of change in the reality under the science, climatology needed some new words, and she proposed a beauty: “antevernal,” meaning “daffodils blooming in February.”  To back her word-making, she quoted a naturalist:  “If the language we use to speak of the natural world is not innovative and […]

A Winter’s Tale

Last night I went out with my kids to see the new Star Wars movie, followed by an hour and a half drive home along rivers and over a Colorado pass late at night. A car or two came by every twenty minutes or so. As my two boys slept in their pillows of jackets, […]

Redux: On Getting From “Wow!” to “[yawn]”: Yes!!!

Yesterday the Royal Swedish Academy announced that the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics would recognize the discovery of gravitational waves; the recipients would be Barry Barish, Kip Thorne, and Rainer Weiss, three of the visionaries who shepherded the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) through four decades of technological and bureaucratic innovations. (Another founder of the […]

Why Am I Not There?

I’m not at the totality today, and it’s been gnawing at me. Between 1 and 7 million people are estimated to witness this swath of darkness across the middle of North America from coast to coast. I live about an eight-hour drive away, and I’ve heard totality is a mystical experience, once in a lifetime. […]

Redux: There Goes the Sun

On Monday the world gets another look at a total eclipse of the Sun. Viewers in the United States will be especially fortunate. See the map immediately below…and then please continue to scroll to a map showing the path of a previous solar eclipse—one that I witnessed for myself in 1999. I wrote about that […]

Perspective, Perhaps

Last week, according to some real news, Earth got a wave hello from far away, from some-3-billion-year-old vibrations that were set off when two black holes smashed into each other. (Really? There’s not room for both of you up there?) According to the New York Times, the collision—reported by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, which felt the signal—resulted in […]

Redux: Giving History the Finger

At a thousand words, this picture would be way undervalued. But there it was, waiting to be taken (the picture, that is, not the object). So I took, during a visit to Florence, and I wrote, in 2014, and I redux, here, because some images you just can’t get out of your head. The middle […]