It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

(January 15, 2015) What is considered the world's first book? There was a time in the pre-Internet (practically Paleolithic) era, when I never thought to ask a question like that — too complicated...

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Orion, Hunter of the Winter Skies

(January 1, 2015) Winter is Orion the Hunter's season as he strides across the evening sky, trusty sword hanging below the three stars of his belt. Orion is the most recognizable of all...

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Consciousness: Magic or Meh?

(December 18, 2014) You're sitting opposite your friend Susan and you see her glance down and notice a stain on her blouse. You immediately know pretty much what's going on in her head...

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To Sleep, Perchance to be Brainwashed

(December 4, 2014) All animals with brains sleep. Why? In humans, at first blush it seems like a perfect waste of time for us to spend a third of our lives in somnolent...

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The Kelsey Trail

(November 20, 2014) Ask Yahoo Maps for directions from Crescent City to Fort Jones, and you'll be sent on a 180-mile semi-circular trek across State Route 199 and down I-5. You can, if...

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Gutenberg's Legacy

Changing The World (Part 2)

(November 6, 2014) Last week, I discussed the enormity of the revolution jump-started by Gutenberg's system of mechanical printing. His genius was his ability to combine several existing technologies, adapting and improving them...

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Gutenberg's Legacy:

Changing The World (Part 1)

(October 30, 2014) Although Johannes Gutenberg (1398-1468) is usually credited with having invented printing, it's fairer to say that he introduced a system of mechanical printing to Europe, since virtually all the technologies...

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A Little Lower Than the Angels?

(October 9, 2014) When Nicolas Copernicus relegated the Earth from the center of the cosmos to one of several planets revolving around the sun, he let the genie out of the bottle. If...

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Salmon Mountain: Humboldt's Highest

(September 25, 2014) Around 170 million years ago, in a period geologists call the Middle Jurassic, huge reptiles ruled the seas and skies: quarter-ton pterosaurs above, killer whale-size pliosaurs below. On land, shrew-like...

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Suicide: Decision or Disease?

(September 11, 2014) Last June, Golden Gate Bridge directors voted to fund 20-foot-wide "suicide nets" on each side of the bridge, at a cost of $76 million. Over 1,600 people have jumped to...

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Test Your Science Quotient

(August 21, 2014) Think you know science? Answer true or false: 1. The "Flammarion engraving" (above) dates to the Middle Ages. 2. Between 2000 and 2010, more murders occurred in New York City...

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The Mapmaker's Dilemma

(August 7, 2014) If you're over 50, chances are the obligatory world maps hanging in your classrooms were based on the Mercator projection. You probably remember it: Greenland, which is 14 times smaller...

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Soft Drinks, Obesity and Scientific Neutrality

(July 24, 2014) Some connections are just so obvious we hardly give them a second thought: drinking and driving, crack and bad teeth, smoking and lung cancer. And — this week's topic —...

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Quest for the Mother Tongue: Part 2

(July 10, 2014) Last week, we considered the possibility of reconstructing Proto-World, the mother tongue from which all of the world's languages, living and dead, are derived. Although a handful of maverick researchers...

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Quest for the Mother Tongue: Part 1

(July 3, 2014) According to most linguists, all languages trace their roots to a single mother tongue, dubbed "Proto-World," "Proto-Sapiens" or the "Ur" language. Invented more than 100,000 years ago, before humans left...

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Recent Comments

  • Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

    • Thanks for keeping books in our mind, especially in the health issue! Another local institution…

    • on January 25, 2015
  • Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

    • Someone was puzzled by my byline. Groucho continued, "Inside of a dog, it's too dark…

    • on January 17, 2015
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