When it comes to science, I have the patience of a rabid fox, trapped in a cage, in front of which a wounded rabbit is standing. My family, the folks in my lab and the need for sleep balance this nascent madness. But sometimes the caged fox of mania escapes; sometimes when everyone else sleeps […]
Recently, one of Paul Cezanne’s missing paintings was rediscovered. The painting shows Paulin Paulet, a gardener on Cezanne’s family estate, looking at his poker cards. Cezanne painted Paulet as part of a series of paintings between 1890 and 1896. This particular painting is called A Card Player. It had not been seen since 1930; its whereabouts […]
The Sieve Hypothesis: Clever Study Suggests an Alternate Explanation for the Function of the Human Stomach
You have a stomach. I have a stomach. It is one of our few universals. Humans, mate, sing, talk, and raise their children in many different ways, but we’ve all got stomachs. The question is why.
Stomachs help to digest food; they get the process rolling, boiling and grinding by coating our food in slime, enzymes […]
Nature knows no real balance, just moments of apparent equilibrium before some rise or fall.
We are studying scale insects—a kind of immobile (scientists say “sessile”) animal that lives on plants and sucks at them until, in some cases, they die (and by we, I mostly mean one of my students, Emily Meineke, and her other […]
The mosquito is so small it takes almost nothing to ruin it.–Mary Oliver
Mosquitoes devour some people and ignore others. If they like you, swat a dozen and a dozen more appear in their place, inserting their mouthparts into your capillaries and imbibing as quickly as they can. Why? We can consider this question in two ways. The […]
Here is a story you might find a bit laughable. At the end of the dark ages in what is now Italy, when knowledge was being reborn, anatomists would read from an ancient Greek text while their assistants dissected a human body and pointed out its parts. If the body looked different from what was […]
At one particularly strange moment in my career, I found myself picking through giant conical piles of dung produced by emus—those goofy Australian kin to the ostrich. I was trying to figure out how often seeds pass all the way through the emu digestive system intact enough to germinate. My colleagues and I planted thousands […]