Category Archives: Top 10

Eureka! I Have Lost It!

The original keyboard cats.

Left to our own devices and allowed to live without constant fear of death by hunger or violence, we devise some pretty startling stuff.

Sure, some of our better efforts don’t outlast our calamities, or go obsolete before their time or simply never get their chance to shine because no one yet recognizes the need for them. But you can’t keep a good idea down forever, as I explore in this list of …

10 Times Humanity Found the Answer (and Then Forgot)

The Global Genetic Coronal Phosphorescent Thermohaline Economic Asteroid-Earthquake Singularity War That Will Doom Us All

“The Last Day of Pompeii” by Karl Briullov.

In the real world, disasters aren’t just a matter of scale – they’re a question of preparedness and of a society’s capacity to handle the fallout. Vaccines, rapid-response teams and early-warning systems can move the needle from calamity toward recovery, while poverty, corruption and ignorance slide it toward catastrophe. So, cue announcer: “In a world … where real disasters aren’t single events that arise from simple problems that are solvable in 93 minutes  …”

10 Possible Future Disasters

Marine Biology Breakthroughs: I Cover the Waterfront

Photo of coral, goldies and and two divers
Photo by Derek Keats.

In honor of World Oceans Day (June 8), here’s my recent article on some of the remarkable discoveries made by marine biologists over the past few years. From clearing up the murky “lost years” of juvenile turtles to further solidifying our understanding of a jellyfish’s final fate, these delvers of the deep have shrunk what Shakespeare called “the vasty deep” to something a bit more fathomable but no less amazing. Find out more as I take a deep dive into …

10 Recent Breakthroughs in Marine Biology

A Bizarre Bazaar of Food Facts

Smashed buildings and detritus litter a flooded street following the Boston Molasses Disaster of 1919.
The aftermath of the Boston Molasses Disaster of 1919. Photo courtesy Globe Newspaper Co.

Food is both mundane and magical, ephemeral and essential – the ultimate cultural touchstone. Our religions proscribe taboo foods, oblige sacred meals and employ food as a conduit for sacred power. Our myths abound with divine edibles that grant gods immortality, while our folktales counsel against feasting in fairyland lest we trap ourselves forever.

But for all the reverence we pay them, many comestibles arose from humble, bizarre or even disgusting sources, while what we choose, or are compelled, to eat is driven by everything from necessity to neurosis. For better or worse, food scientists, molecular gastronomists and, yes, marketing  firms channel these impulses in profitable (if not always healthy directions). The results are, shall we say, appetizingly bizarre …

10 Weird-but-true Food Facts

Nightmare Fuel: 10 of the CDC’s Deadliest Stockpiles

False-color scanning electron micrograph of a flea, the carrier for several infectious diseases, including Yersinia pestis, the plague bacterium.
False-color scanning electron micrograph of a flea, the carrier for several infectious diseases, including Yersinia pestis, the plague bacterium. Image courtesy the CDC.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has to walk a fine line. Saving people from the nastiest infectious diseases and bioterror attacks requires that they study those same viruses and bacteria. But even in one of the most carefully controlled and well-equipped facilities on Earth, items are occasionally mishandled or misplaced.

What’s the worst that could happen? It’s not a rhetorical question when we take a tour of …

10 Deadly Agents the CDC Works With