In Tribute: Her True Calling

Exactly 10 years ago today, I got one of those calls we all dread. My mom had cancer, a stage-4 brain tumor, the kind that seems to pop up out of nowhere fully formed and beyond repair. I was standing in my kitchen when I heard the news, and I remember dropping the phone as I […]

The Last Word

November 16-20, 2015 Guest Ramin Skibba predicts a rise of Persian science that will parallel sanctions relief. Helen takes a tour of a DC wastewater plant that has a new biosolids processing system. Craig sees “The Martian” and traces its story through a continuum of intellectual striving that was alive in the Paleolithic development of […]

In extremis

In April 2001, my cousin and I hitchhiked to Quebec City to register our dissent. Tens of thousands were gathered to protest the Free Trade Areas of the Americas Summit and we wanted to play our part for global social justice. Like many politically active young people before and since, I experienced what can happen […]

Guest Post: Why humans suck at earthquake preparedness

Driving through my hometown in Kentucky, I admire the old-growth oaks, the spires and stained glass of Victorian era homes, and the tall brick chimneys. Then I think about how they would crumble in an earthquake. Ever since moving to the west coast, I size up the earthquake safety of every place I go: I […]

“The Martian” and Ice Age Astronauts

Two nights ago I sat in a theater watching the film “The Martian.” I loved seeing a viable spacecraft making gravitational slingshots around planets while a stranded, potato-growing astronaut claimed himself the first colonist on Mars. What’s there not to love? Meanwhile, in my coat pocket I carried an object from an entirely different age […]

Guest Post: The Return of Persian Science

Like many multiethnic and multicultural people, I’ve had difficulty coming to terms with my multifaceted yet fragmented identity. As a half-Iranian in the midst of Americans, I’ve lacked key cultural influences and a US-centric worldview, while in Iran I feel like an outsider at times. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to visit twice so far—once […]

The Last Word

  November 9-13 This week, guest poster Soren Wheeler shares why the chaos and failure inherent in science should be embraced in science education. In a dispatch from China, I offer a glimpse into the fieldwork that, despite the roaches, makes my heart go pitter-pat. Craig Childs exposes a secret of the cracked and desolate Atacama Desert: It comes, gloriously, to life. During this week of Veteran’s […]

Life on Another Planet, The Atacama in Bloom

Rain has been falling on the driest non-polar desert in the world, famous for parts of it not seeing a drop of rain for centuries. The Atacama Desert in South America is caught in the rain shadow of the Andes on one side, and cold dry air washing in from an Antarctica ocean current on the […]