IDEAS

IDEAS

The Struggle of Women in Science is Written in the ...

Editor’s note: Finishing up a summer in which a total solar eclipse was a highlight, I was struck by how many people trekked across the United Stated and camped out under the stars to witness the fleeting moment of darkness and silence of this celestial event. I was dumbstruck when I read Leila A. McNeill’s piece about how women fit into the history of the heavens. By Leila A. McNeill In her 1968 poem, Planetarium, the poet Adrienne Rich wrestles with ...
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Great Blue

By Stewart Lawrence Strolling recently in Washington, DC’s, Rock Creek Park, I had a rare close encounter with one of the Park’s dwindling number of Great Blue Herons. While joggers streaked by, oblivious to its presence, and rush-hour traffic passed noisily overhead, I sat in wordless wonder as the Great Blue, clinging to a half-submerged log, slowly surveyed its domain, then gently peered into the water with its fierce yellow eyes and double-billed javelin beak. The Great Blue is less well ...
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Feel-good fractals: from ocean waves to Jackson Pollock’s art

By Florence Williams When Richard Taylor was 10 years old in the early 1970s in England, he chanced upon a catalogue of Jackson Pollock paintings. He was mesmerised, or perhaps a better word is Pollockised. Franz Mesmer, the crackpot 18th-century physician, posited the existence of animal magnetism between inanimate and animate objects. Pollock’s abstractions also seemed to elicit a certain mental state in the viewer. Now a physicist at the University of Oregon, Taylor thinks he has figured out what ...
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How to be a Hero/Explorer (or Before Indiana Jones)

Before Indiana Jones Came Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron By Blake Smith Before Indiana Jones and Lawrence of Arabia, came Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron. Born in 1731, Anquetil was the original Orientalist-adventurer: a European scholarly expert of Asian culture who also embodied bold, heroic action in the field. His speciality was the roots of ancient religions in Asia. He was the first European to translate the Avesta, a millennia-old collection of scriptures central to Zoroastrianism, the ancient faith of pre-Islamic Persia. In order ...
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Sea: What I’m Reading

By Adria Carey Perez As a voracious reader, I come across all kinds of interesting articles, books, and blogs. Every issue, I will share links to some of the best things I’ve found related to the issue’s theme: you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll scratch your head, and you’ll go away a little smarter. I’m always looking for good recommendations, so contact me if you’ve got anything in mind. I include an extended list in my newsletter. As a subscriber, you will ...
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Forgotten Books: Been There, Done That

By Adria Carey Perez Do you know the story of Zora Neale Hurston? She published Their Eyes Were Watching God, one of my favorite once-forgotten books,  in 1937, was a writer at the center of the Harlem Renaissance, and was an adventurous anthropologist and folklorist, traveling extensively in the South, Jamaica, Haiti, and Honduras. And she died penniless in obscurity in 1960. She traveled, she wrote, and she challenged cultural mores of her time. Because of a 1975 Ms. Magazine article by ...
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Why We Need to Stop Thinking So Much About Climate ...

Editor’s note: I had every intention of using this space to talk about sea level rise and coral bleaching and all of the calamitous, impending disasters that are coming our way because of human induced climate change. But I don’t think that statistics and facts about these changes really impact how most people live their daily lives. Sure, we are interested and make some small adjustments, but the narrative of how we live and function as a society doesn’t really ...