‘Darwin’s Beard’ and Other Notable Plant Names

Folks have a penchant for bestowing colorful names on the plants around them. Sometimes these monikers travel with people and are applied to similar but distinct species in other parts of the world. This, of course, is the kind of confusion Linnaeus and his taxonomist cohorts try to avoid, but employing the vernacular can be […]

“The history of global health is littered with grand plans that never panned out.”

– #HillaryClinton, speaking last year about which grand plan: A) #PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-Free Generation. B) #Obamacare. C) WHO’s “Final Push Strategy to Eliminate #Leprosy as Public Health Problem” in 2003 D) WHO’s 1991 resolution to eliminate leprosy by 2000. E) The Anti-Leprosy Campaign of 1925 (renamed the Leonard Wood Memorial Fund in 1931). […]

The science behind defiance: when PopSci covered Gandhi’s charkha.

A footnote to the recent sale of Gandhi’s famous spinning wheel is that the one of the earliest known references to his practical tool of nonviolent civil disobedience appeared in the December 1931 issue of Popular Science. Mahatma Gandhi invented the portable teak spinning wheel, or charkha, which folded into a bundle about the size […]

The Virgin and the Whore: Horticultural Morality

In late August, when the heat and humidity in my Mid Atlantic Zone 7 neighborhood have done in most of summer’s beauties, I’m on the look out for plants just coming into their own — like the sweet-scented, white flowers of a clematis vine popping up all over the alley fences in the neighborhood. When […]

The Great Molting Spot

  I could watch the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal LiveCam all day, although the lack of audio is disappointing. The bulls’ guttural barking and bellowing and harrumphing as they slam their blubbery chests into each other and slinky-roll across the sand are calls of the wild that make your skin prickle. I tried to capture […]

Meet the new geeks

Big changes here at Secret Science Geek. Besides getting a design makeover this summer, SSG welcomes two contributors, Lisa Lavelle Burke and Catherine M. Cooney. Lisa┬áis a writer, photographer, and gardener, who traded in her law partnership at Patton Boggs LLP to play in the dirt. She is a DC Master Gardener and a member […]