Human

Category archives for Human

The moon is a rock. But it’s also Selene, Artemis, Diana, Isis, the lunar deities; an eldritch clock by which we measure our growth and fertility; home of an old man in the West and a rabbit in the East; the site of countless imaginary voyages; a long-believed trigger of lunacy (luna…see?). It’s another world,…

This is the first in a series of posts about art, the moon, and art on the moon. You would think this would be a fairly limited subject, but… Art on the moon has been happening for a long time. In 1969, a coterie of American contemporary artists devised a plan to put an art…

A few months ago, I attended Cyborg Camp in my hometown of Portland, Oregon. Cyborg Camp is an “unconference,” basically a room full of cyberpunks, mega-nerds, and aspirational coders that gather in an office building to talk about the “future of the relationship between humans and technology.” This event deserves a separate entry, but for…

Very Large Tourism

The author, dishing. To get to the National Radio Telescope Observatory, you have to be committed. Well, first, you have to be in New Mexico — about an hour’s drive south of Albuquerque, in the plains of San Augustin, to be precise, a Pleistocene lakebed bordered by the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert and…

The “God” Particle

Let’s talk about the God Particle. It strikes me that people refer to the Higgs boson as the “God particle” in the same way some call the iPhone the “Jesus phone”: with an almost pointed disregard for what such a prefix actually means. Considering the intensity of the culture wars, the popularity of the moniker…

Science Poem Manifesto

Earlier this year, I received a charming email from a pair of Helsinki-based artists and designers who work under the name of OK DO. OK DO is a socially-minded design think tank and online publication; they dug Universe and wanted to know if I’d contribute to a new publication and exhibition project they were working…

Eyes to the Future

My grandmother suffered in her old age from macular degeneration, a common age-related eye disease that causes the center of your visual field (the macula) to gradually fritz out. As it affected her more and more, the font size in her emails ballooned to cartoonish sizes. She began walking with a cane, and needed a…

Oh, Be a Fine Girl!

Readers, help me sort out an egregious detail of astronomical lore. The most common method of classifying stars — Harvard Spectral Classification — was thought up by one of the most famous female astronomers of all time, Annie Jump Cannon. Adapted from a cumbersome older method which sorted stars into 22 alphabetical categories of observable…

Peripheral Vision

I believe the world is a complex phenomenological experience that can be explained, rationalized, and lived in myriad different ways. The way I see it, we all begin with the same fundamental mystery — why are we here? what is life? — and we attack this problem with whatever tools we find work best; some…

Meeting an Astronaut

Last week, fresh off the fourth-to-last Shuttle mission, STS-131, NASA astronaut Jim Dutton came to speak at OMSI, my local science museum. When I got the email about this event, I RSVPed immediately — after all, an astronaut in my town? How urbane. Surely the intelligentsia of Oregon would come in droves to discuss the…