March On

The first time I ever saw a marching band I ran away and cried. The band wasn’t even really marching–it was cooped up inside a small music hall. Maybe that was the problem. The timpani and the tubas, trapped in a single room, were far too loud for a little kid’s ears. When I finally saw […]

Fired Up

I quit glassblowing because it pissed me off too much. It’s been ten years since I’ve done it, so I don’t remember much about how to make a goblet or a vase or a Christmas ornament. What I do remember is the bright eye of the furnace, the relentless heat, and the crazy dreams that I […]

The Iniquity of Candied Orange Peel

*NOW WITH UPDATE: See below The neighbors came over, maybe a year ago now, and one of them, a Hungarian physicist, brought along candied orange peel he’d made from his grandmother’s recipe.  The physicist is the nicest human on earth, but his grandmother is the one I love; I’d love anyone who thought up those […]

Red Badge of Courage (Or, The One Where I Jinx Myself)

Guest poster Mary Caperton Morton wrote a lovely post about poison oak a few years back, but I just had this itch… I saw an old friend—or foe, I guess—on a run last weekend. Leafless during winter, the poison oak in a nearby park has started to push out shiny green triads along the trail […]

Guest Post: After the Crash

  Around 2 AM on July 16, 2005, graduate students Benjamin Boussert, Giulia Adesso, and Jason Choy left a dance party in San Francisco and started driving home to Berkeley, where they were studying chemistry. Boussert spent his days experimenting with tiny crystals, while Adesso investigated the properties of nanoparticles and Choy used lasers to […]

Secret Satans: Chem 101

For the holiday season, we here at LWON are confronting our fears of certain sciences.  We are choosing our most daunting subjects and writing about why they scare us. Heather: Today Christie and I are fessing up to the science that has often given us the cold sweats, the one that freaked us out at […]

Of Human Sacrifice and Rubber Balls

Exactly one century ago this year, a swashbuckling American archaeologist named Ernest Thompson was wrapping up his investigation of the Sacred Cenote at Chichen Itza, one of the most famous of all Maya sites. Thompson had been long been fascinated by the natural 130-foot-deep sinkhole that was filled in part with water. According to one […]