The End of Hunger?
January 02, 2010
Famine: A Short History By Cormac Ó Gráda (Princeton University Press, 327 pp., $27.95) The earliest recorded famines, according to Cormac Ó Gráda in his brief but masterful book, are mentioned on Egyptian stelae from the third millennium B.C.E. In that time--and to an extent, even today, above the Aswan dam in Sudan--farmers along the Nile were dependent on the river flooding to irrigate their fields. But one flood out of five, Ó Gráda tells us, was either too high or too low. The result was often starvation.
When Space Weather Attacks (Apocalypse Edition)
March 24, 2009
It's true, this blog hawks a lot of different apocalyptic scenarios. They help us get out of bed in the morning. Some of our doomsday worries are well-founded (rising global temperatures, say), while some are less worth obsessing about hourly (giant asteroids, supervolcanoes). But how should we rank this cataclysm-in-waiting? It is midnight on 22 September 2012 and the skies above Manhattan are filled with a flickering curtain of colourful light. Few New Yorkers have seen the aurora this far south but their fascination is short-lived.
Will Cell Phones Kill You?
April 09, 2008
The Secret History of the War on Cancer by Devra Davis (Basic Books, 505 pp., $27.95) I. In 1775, Percivall Pott, a surgeon at St. Bartholemew's Hospital in London who gave his name to several diseases and conditions, published Chirurgical Observations. Although he had treated such distinguished personages as Samuel Johnson and Thomas Gainsborough, his treatise focused on the lowliest of the low. In so doing, he became the first to hypothesize what is now a widespread notion: that cancer can be caused by environmental exposure.
May 03, 2004
Quack gay marriage science
Drug of Choice
November 26, 1990
In the mid-1980s, as word of the French abortion pill rippled across the world, the new drug was greeted as a thing of awesome powers.