All the Other Franklins

  “What happened to Franklin is, in its way, a trivial question. He had a wooden ship in the Arctic and no idea what he was doing – what do you mean, what happened to him? But we still ask why. “ – Adam Gopnik, Winter (2011) As of a week ago, we have an […]

Stepping Off the Multi-Tasking Treadmill

Yesterday in the Washington Post, I wrote about how I wanted to love my treadmill desk, but I just don’t. I had high hopes. I’ve been a standing desk user for more than 10 years, long before they were a “thing.” I’m an active, restless person who already spends more than 80 percent of my […]

The Last Word

September 8 – 12, 2014 The week began with a greatest hit from Cameron, a 2011 post that proved to be one of LWON’s most-visited—an ode to an astronomy professor who changed her mother’s life, Then came a new and no less viral post from Erik questioning the professional ethics of another academic, Henry Walton Jones, Jr., a professor of […]

On My Way to Burning Man

I’ve just returned from Burning Man, a Mad Max bacchanalia in the desert of western Nevada. I went to see what my civilization was up to, what fiery pinnacle we’ve invented. I also wanted to see it in context, which is why my time at this 69,000-person conflagration was only part of a larger journey. […]

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 […]

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 […]

Lessons Not Learned

The dog emerged from the aspen grove with straw on her face. At least, that’s what my husband Dave first thought when he saw Molly reappear on the trail he was running with a couple of friends. But it turned out that those weren’t threads of straw. They were porcupine quills, protruding from her lips […]