From the Publisher
Few creatures can boast of devotions so deep as greylag geese. Most are monogamous; many spend their decade-long adult lives with the same goose, side-by-side in constant communication, taking another partner only if the first should die. It’s a rema
In A History of Reading, the Canadian novelist and essayist Alberto Manguel describes a remarkable transformation of human consciousness, which took place around the 10th century A.D.: the advent of silent reading. Human beings have been reading for
Have you ever been happy?” My girlfriend asked me that question, after work over drinks at some shiny Manhattan bar, after another stressful day on the trading floor. How to answer that? I knew she was talking about work, but how unhappy did she thin
When I tell Katie Sieving, an avian wildlife ecologist at the University of Florida, that it’s probably a stretch to call “mobbing” an act of heroism, she laughs. Mobbing, as the term suggests, involves a mob: It’s when a group of animals band togeth
The pros share what works for them. Read and learn.
To grasp how unlikely it was for Gloria C. MacKenzie, an 84-year-old Florida widow, to have won the $590 million Powerball lottery in May, Robert Williams, a professor of health sciences at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, offers this scenari
Nearly three years ago, George Boorujy took a trip to Wolfe’s Pond Park, on the southeastern edge of Staten Island in New York City, and threw a bottle into the ocean. On a cold, sunny day this February, artist Brigitte Barthelemy, her husband, and t
Back in January, science news was abuzz with reports that the lowly dung-beetle—shellacked trundler of balled-up excreta, stuck with one of nature’s least glamorous jobs—used a majestic method to find its way around: the Milky Way. The critters had a
As they drove on featureless dirt roads on the first Tuesday of 2010, John Dabiri, professor of aeronautics and bioengineering at the California Institute of Technology, and his then-student Robert Whittlesey, were inspecting a remote area of land th
Noise is one of my favorite things in the universe. I don’t mean the neighbor’s rusty old lawnmower thundering you out of bed on a Sunday morning; like everybody else, I despise that kind of noise. No, what I am talking about is noise as the scientis
Despite what we're often told, positive thinking may not be conducive to meeting one's goals. In fact, you're probably better off visualizing obstacles.
Once, I dreamed I was at a man’s funeral. According to the deceased’s instructions, each of his toes were to be buried in tiny, individual coffins. When I woke up, I wondered, “What could it mean?” According to some neuroscience research on dreams,
Standing deep inside the archives of the Roman Catholic Church’s Canadian headquarters, it suddenly struck me that this was an odd place to find evidence that people are still evolving. That human evolution has continued into modern times was, until
It’s April in the outback of New South Wales, a southeastern state of Australia, and the afternoon sun is warming the red, sandy, and scrubby plains. We’re near the desolate area where The Road Warrior was filmed. But the movie got it wrong. The real
Two hundred years ago, the greatest eruption in Earth’s recorded history took place. Mount Tambora—located on Sumbawa Island in the East Indies—blew itself up with apocalyptic force in April 1815. After perhaps 1,000 years’ dormancy, the devastating
The light dimmed and the murmur of conversation died away. The curtain opened. Lindemann was standing on the stage. He was plump and had a bald spot made all the more noticeable by the few sparse hairs combed over the nakedness of his skull, and he w
For women who left the workforce, their ambitions didn’t disappear so much as found a new target.
In 2007, on a fine summer day in rural Austria, a flock of northern bald ibises followed two paraplanes, gondolas with prop engines, held aloft by yellow and blue parachutes. Although the ibises looked like vultures on the ground, the resemblance dis
Santiago Ramón y Cajal, a Spanish histologist and anatomist known today as the father of modern neuroscience, was also a committed psychologist who believed psychoanalysis and Freudian dream theory were “collective lies.” When Freud published The Int
It was gearing day—24 hours in San Diego to gather everything we’d need for our three-week field course in the Sea of Cortez—and Veronica and I had decided to commence our mission at Costco. But we’d barely made it through the low-lying archipelago o
In 2007, David Smith, a doctor of internal medicine and founder of a company that makes wound dressings, gave a presentation at a medical conference in Maryland. Afterward an audience member, worried by mounting reports of traumatic brain injury from
A stocky male figure walks along a beach in what is now Gibraltar, on the southwestern tip of Europe, his pronounced brow shading his eyes. Pigeons watch over him on the cliffs overlooking the plain. Ducks float in the ocean off in the distance, and
Honesty is the basis of any good relationship. This is as true for animals as it is for humans. When a peahen is looking for a mate, she sees a peacock’s tail as an honest signal of his quality. “Look at me!” says her suitor, wiggling his ridiculous
There’s no doubt that the climate in many parts of the planet is changing quickly. The planet is getting hotter, sea levels are rising, storms are intensifying, many lands are drying up—and there are going to be more changes that will test organisms’
There are two classes of words commonly applied to swifts: words about ethereality, and violent words. They are not contradictory. The violence makes the ethereal accessible. Swifts lay open the sky so that we can go there. They slash the veil. If th
The subject line of the email was simply, “Bird?” It’s not unusual for researchers at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles to receive requests like this. Local residents aren’t shy about asking for help to identify critters they encounter on hi
Her husband died, but Jen Hidinger continued to chase their dream-while lending a hand to others in the industry.
In 1989, scientists at the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Zoo published a study on migratory songbirds with alarming results. The study relied on 22 years of data from annual surveys of more than 60 neotropical species, bird
Think bird counts are something only scientists and serious birdwatchers do? A new e-book, out just in time for the annual Caribbean bird count, gets everyone involved.
North Dakota is not known for its pigeons. Or forests, for that matter. The state bird is the western meadowlark, a mellifluous yellow songbird often seen singing on fence posts. Such posts substitute for trees in much of North Dakota. The state is p