Face Time

I was at an airport not long ago when a TSA agent did a double take while checking my ID. I’m used to this. I’ve always been blessed with youthful looks, and typically people meeting me don’t believe I’m actually nearing a half-century of years on Earth. Occasionally I’m still carded in bars. That feels […]

Truth vs. Beauty, Again

I haven’t got much on my mind today that I want to think about so I distract myself with pictures. This one, as science pictures often do, conflates beauty and truth and let me repeat, beauty.  It’s a result of letting the Hubble Space Telescope take repeated pictures of a single cluster of galaxies.  Clusters […]

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 […]

Guest Post: Archimedes in the Fence

According to ancient historians, Archimedes spent the last moments of his life drawing figures in the dirt, so deeply entranced with the pleasures of geometry that he failed to notice the bloody pillage of Syracuse right outside his door. Aloofness, it’s tempting to conjecture, was his fatal flaw. By many accounts, he paid scant attention when […]

The Xenotopian Impulse

Until last week, I’d never heard of the Broomway. Now I long to walk it. The Broomway is a paradox: a path through the ocean, a six-century-old walkway that disappears each day. It begins on the southeastern coast of England and heads straight out to sea, crossing about three miles of sand and mudflats until […]

The Pursuit of Balance

My neighborhood, as I’ve mentioned, is an interesting place: At our weekly potlucks, we speculate on everything from the number and sex of the next batch of goat kids (money’s on two girls) to the efficacy of bourbon as mouthwash (not promising, sadly). Last week, a guest announced that he was on his way to a […]

TGIPF Guest Post: Upstairs, Downstairs

This week on LWON’s occasional series Thank God It’s Penis Friday, we bring you wisdom from not one but two authors of newly released books about private parts. (Count your blessings, people.) Florence Williams is the author of BREASTS: A Natural and Unnatural History; Jesse Bering is the author of Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That? And […]

Into the Big Empty

I grew up in the Hudson Valley of New York State, and went to college in western Oregon — both beautiful places, beloved by many. But I never knew what it was to love a place until I spent a college summer in southern Utah, where I worked as a field tech on a wildlife […]