Do you Fear? or Understand?

Our species has travelled a long and twisty road to get to where we are today. From hunter-gatherers to farmers and fishers, to city-builders, machine-makers, and space travelers, we've survived by adapting to our changing world. Not too long ago, fearing the Dark Forest and the Big Bad Shark was necessary for our survival. But…

The Real Deal

In the early 1960s I was in grade school, and my mother let me stay home to watch NASA's Mercury and Gemini spacecraft launches on TV. We'd follow the whole exciting run-up and count-down, and cheer for blast-off, willing the fiery ship up, up and away into space. This gave me my life-long love of space travel…

Another Monarch Update

Enjoy this 360° video from the NYT that takes you to the Michoacan forest in Mexico: Basking in Butterflies Check out this wonderful 360° video of the Michoacan forests, destination of the migrating Monarchs. (sorry I wasn't able to embed.) Every year, thousands of monarch butterflies migrate from eastern Canada to Michoacan, Mexico. Step inside a…

The Monarch’s Incredible Journey

The iconic Monarch butterfly certainly made an impression on my young self. Late in August we'd be out floating on the pristine marsh rivers of Ontario, picnicking after a swim, and in the balmy afternoon breeze a flutter of orange would catch my eye, brilliant against the teal green water. In those days I didn't realize the Monarchs traveled…

The Surprising Love Life of the Fig

This is a reblog from the NewYorker.com. Please follow the link to read the complete article. Who knew fig reproduction was so unusual?  Bite a fig in half and you’ll discover a core of tiny blossoms. All kinds of critters, not only humans, frequent fig trees, but the plants owe their existence to what may…

Seeing More: A Scientist’s Field Journal

I'm linking to Isaac Yuen's piece at the Ekstories blog because it tells a wonderful tale of art and science, as inseparable as mind and body. Finding Place through Art and Science: The Field Journals of Lyn Baldwin Biologist Lyn Baldwin's field journals are full of beautiful watercolors from her travels as a biologist in British Columbia. Her careful…

To Stand Under

How do we learn to live with people who aren't like us? Mahzarin Benaji researches unconscious bias at Harvard. She discussed her fascinating and important research  this week on the podcast On Being. Dr. Benaji uses the word "implicit" instead of “unconscious,” because of "the implication that the unconscious is this incredibly motivated, smart process that is constantly trying to do things…

Pluto and the Texture of the Infinite

In ancient times, (or when I was in grade school) the planets were  very smooth, like billiard balls. We had no detailed images, only descriptions of what they might be. Images of the galaxies and nebulas were quaintly fuzzy. Over the past 40 years we humans have sharpened our focus. The Hubble Space Telescope and…

Crochet Coral Reef

We've heard about multiple hazards threatening the well-being of our ocean, from a profusion of plastic junk to rising temperatures to excess CO2 - but what have you done about it?  No, this is not your typical tree-hugger guilt trip! I want to amaze you with the creativity and cross-cultural genius of this particular project: The Crochet Coral Reef Margaret Wertheim is…