Can We Defend Ourselves Against Brain Tumors?

Eleven years ago this week, my 67-year-old mother died from a brain tumor. It was Glioblastoma multiforme, an insidious fourth-stage cancer that, without treatment, usually kills within three months. Treatment options are miserable for the patient and not terribly effective; for those who opt for surgery and radiation/chemo, the cancer almost always returns within a year […]

Shattered

A couple of weeks ago, my 20-year-old cousin put his father’s service revolver to his head and pulled the trigger. His parents and one of his brothers were home at the time. They heard the shot and ran to his room. His mother and brother tried to stop the bleeding while his father performed CPR. […]

A Squee from the Field: Why I Love my Job

Sometimes, while out on the job, I have to pinch myself and think, ‘hold on to this moment.’ Because the moments that make up my workday can be truly fabulous. Here’s what last week’s pinch was for: I was squatting on the ground at the Bifengxia panda base in central China, on a cloudy but pleasantly […]

Coffeeshop Science

Somewhere in the deep pits of my mind, I still think of “scientists” as remote people whose sentences I won’t understand, and of “science” as an incomprehensible body of knowledge I have to memorize.  This is probably also the public’s image of science.  But if 1000 years as a science writer have taught me nothing […]

Hug It Out

There are hugs, and then there are hugs. Am I right? Hugging is not one-size-fits-all. It’s a skill, partly innate, and not everyone has it. We all know people who are huggers, and people who just aren’t. There are also people who like to be hugged and people who curl away as a hugger approaches, even flinching a little […]

Bees Are Us

Early the other morning, I woke up to a strange humming noise. My first thought was the ceiling fan motor was petering out, but it turned out the sound was coming from outside. So I stepped out onto my little balcony for a look, and listen. The hum hummed louder. It took a minute before […]

The Wonderful World of Oz…and Science

Lately I’ve been reading my way through the series of Oz books. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is only the first in a series of 14 books, and it’s not remotely the best. It’s fascinating to reread books I loved as a child. Some are still great. Others have inexplicably morphed into poorly-written, preachy duds. […]

TWITTERFIGHT #don’tdoit

Last week one day my Twitter feed lit up like a rocket launch.  The people I follow on Twitter are mostly science writers and they generally confine their passions to the likes of supernovas, dinosaurs, fracking, insect sex, and disfunctionalMRI’s.  But last Thursday @page88, a media/culture writer with a Harvard PhD in literature, wrote for […]