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. […]


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 […]

Redux: Survivor Woman

Heather posted this on July 16, 2010, a time when we had probably 13 readers so apologies to all 13. She’s referring to a post Ann wrote about being dead wrong about some science. She also testifies to the physically horrifying life of an archeology writer. Yesterday, my colleague Ann Finkbeiner fessed up to one […]

Science Plus/Versus Religion

I’m generally anxious though I doubt that I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or at least when I went to trustable-looking websites and read their lists of symptoms and took their little tests, I didn’t quite fit or pass.  But sometimes I get scared and jumpy and fretful and hyper-alert and shaky; I stop thinking clearly; […]

Supplements: Something Smells Fishy

In 2010, I wrote an article for ScienceNow titled “Fish Oil Fights Inflammation.” The article focused on new research showing that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil block inflammation in cells and fight diabetes in mice. Jerrold Olefsky, who led the research, even had an explanation for how they do this. This whole process […]

The Guys Talk

About an hour into a long interview, the scientist relaxes, stops using words that might look good on a funding application, and starts saying things like: “Here’s a picture of our immediate neighborhood.  Here’s the Milky Way, that’s us.  Here’s the Andromeda Nebula, that’s our nearest friend.  And there are a bunch of little guys […]

This Is Not About Climate Change

I read a nice essay saying that scientists make their advice to politicians too simple.  What scientists over-simplify, said the essay’s author, is their uncertainties.  I thought the author might be right: surely politicians don’t believe flat statements like, say, “climate change is making the world warmer and we’re all going to die.”  Not that […]