Science

Night sky viewed from the hills surrounding O'Leary Peak. A bright meteor streaks across the center of the scene.
Photo taken September 17, 2017 by Deborah Lee Soltesz. Credit U.S. Forest Service Coconino National Forest.

Look! Up In the Sky!

January 13, 2021 at 12:19 pm

Back in November, Spectator contributor Tera Camus pitched me a story about local UFO sightings which sounded like fun and so I said yes and then she wrote it and then I sat on it for a few weeks, intending to add some additional information, and then Christmas came andRead More

The Fish that Stopped the Ship?

The Fish that Stopped the Ship?

December 2, 2020 at 1:06 pm

Author’s Note: As this year unlike any other grinds to a bleak close, I offer – in the spirit not of prophecy, but satiric thought-experiment – ‘alternate universe’ visions of the near future. And bear with me, dear reader, as I first appear to lose my mind…   “The extremelyRead More

Regenerative Farming Practices v. Pesticides

Regenerative Farming Practices v. Pesticides

December 2, 2020 at 1:00 pm

Millions of people from around the globe have been expressing their well-founded views about the need for substantial changes because they realize in order to survive as a species we have to change what is in our heads. As an example, we collectively know the core scientific factors regarding climateRead More

The Case of the Designer Baby

The Case of the Designer Baby

November 11, 2020 at 10:19 am

I have recently been working on a bioethics textbook. Bioethics is a discipline largely driven by case studies – short narratives intended to make the ethical issues under discussion clear, real and urgent. Consequently, many bioethics textbooks include case studies. I want to do something different in this month’s column,Read More

Flooded farmland after Tropical Storm Lee, Campbell Hall, NY (Photo by Daniel Case [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Bean There: Weathering Climate Change

November 4, 2020 at 10:15 am

Editor’s Note: We’re reaching into Michelle’s Smith’s archives for posts as useful now as when they were first published and this week, we’re revisiting one of her lovely long-form essays, first published in November 2019.   The cat and I huddled under the blankets in the dark as the windRead More

CRISPR-Cas9 is a customizable tool that lets scientists cut and insert small pieces of DNA at precise areas along a DNA strand. This lets scientists study our genes in a specific, targeted way.
Credit: Ernesto del Aguila III, National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH (Public Domain)

Genetic Scissors: Thoughts on Gene Editing

October 14, 2020 at 1:49 pm

Jennifer A. Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier were recently awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work on the gene-editing tool now known as CRISPR/Cas9. This award has drawn the public’s attention to a technique that has been of interest (and concern) to bioethicists for several years — certainly sinceRead More

Fire in the Valley below at dusk. Photo by Vernon Wolf.

Letter from Bend: No More Denial

September 23, 2020 at 12:12 pm

The fires are still burning here in Oregon. There are eight confirmed dead with almost 5.000 structures lost. Whole towns were substantially destroyed (look up Detroit, Gates, Blue River, Phoenix, Talent). Forty-thousand people were evacuated. This was not an ordinary year and although there was a terrible nexus of conditionsRead More

P.S. 58 - Carroll & Smith Sts. Bklyn. hold a "take cover" drill practice Here youngsters crawl under their desks, 1962, photo by Walter Albertin

Confronting the Actual Existential Threats

May 6, 2020 at 11:34 am

“The unease and fear are appropriate and can be useful, all the more so as the self is liberated from convoluted efforts at falsification and denial.” — Robert Jay Lifton, The Climate Swerve   On February 8, as COVID-19 fast-approached a slow-moving British government, BBC World News aired a discussionRead More

Gardening Tips for Seedy Characters: Soil with a Twist of Lime

Gardening Tips for Seedy Characters: Soil with a Twist of Lime

April 22, 2020 at 9:10 am

Editor’s Note: The Spectator is reaching into Michelle Smith’s gardening column archive for some weekly advice that is as relevant now as when it was first written.   What to do this week This is a great time of year to talk about soil structure. Whatever you have in your backyard, ifRead...

Overview of Detroit Industry, North Wall, 1932-33, fresco by Diego Rivera. Detroit Institute of Arts. 
Diego Rivera

“In Seasons Such as These,” A Word on Socialism

April 15, 2020 at 11:04 am

  “Not even the apparently enlightened principle of the ‘greatest good for the greatest number’ can excuse indifference to individual suffering.” — Aneurin Bevan, In Place of Fear   “Poor naked wretches, wheresoe’er, That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm, How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides…defend youRead More