The RIPE Stuff

One of the best gifts I received this year was a flat of tomato seedlings from Arthur Allen, author of RIPE: The Search for the Perfect Tomato. After several years of tomato blight in our urban DC garden, my husband and I were excited to receive the plants in April from Art, who, let’s face […]

A Silky Science-inspired Gift You Don’t Have to Be a Geek to Love

A few years ago my brother-in-law gave me a beautiful silk scarf in a wonderful abstract pattern. “Can you tell what it is?” he asked, a kid bursting with a riddle. “A scarf?” I replied. “No! It’s lipoprotein cells!” I examined the delicate array of gold and gray star bursts, and confessed that I would […]

Empathy Is Easier When Medicine Explains Quirks

A couple of recent medical news stories—about Bell’s palsy and misophonia–really struck home, and made me think how harshly people judge others, even members of their own family, because they don’t understand the medical condition underlying odd behavior. I’m not talking about mental illness, but rather little-understood physical conditions that can wreak daily havoc on […]

What Copernicus Saw in the Revolutions

Fact: The book On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, in which Nicolaus Copernicus in 1543 laid out his blueprint for the “marvelous symmetry of the universe,” was not banned outright by the Catholic Church, but rather listed on the Index of Prohibited Books in 1616 as “suspended until corrected” – and remained there for more than […]

China’s Human Canaries in the Coal Mine

Pesticides and pollutants are related to a 450 percent increase in the risk of spina bifida and anencephaly in rural China, according to scientists at The University of Texas at Austin and Peking University, as reported on Science Daily. Their study, published in August in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the result of a […]