Seeing as a Child Sees: Science, Wonder, and Excitement

“We have a healthy spacecraft,” Alice Bowman announced on the evening of July 14, 2015. Bowman, the operations manager for the New Horizons mission, was commenting on the incredible flyby of Pluto, a flyby that gave humans a closer view of the planet than we had ever seen before. In an interview following the historic flyby,…

What Difference Does a Damaged Skull Make, Anyhow?

Readers of this blog are familiar with my fascination of the fossils of human ancestors. I’ve written about fossils’ beauty, their strange stories, and the ways they make us question our ideas. Despite these points, critics often ask: do the discoveries of these bits of bone actually make any difference? In other words, why is paleoanthropology important;…

On Friendships & Missing Links: Bringing Characters to Life

There’s a moment, I’ve realized, for each scientist I study, when they transform from an abstract, historical figure into a human being. This character-to-human transition happens quickly, and the shift is striking—as if they’ve transcended the two dimensional world left behind in their written letters and suddenly sprung to life. In this moment, without warning, I feel empathy…