I'm Chels. I blog about science, art, tennis, and my adventures in journalism. Officially, I'm a Science Writer at Brookhaven National Lab and I blog for them, too. Unofficially, I'm pretty awesome.

Or, you know, owsome.

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Springtime happies

I’m terrible at identifying birds based on their chirps, but there’s a winged creature in the yard that’s making sounds like an old Atari game, and it might be my favorite bird I’ve ever heard.

There’s also a pair of cardinals dancing around on the back bushes, which I only just now realized are budding with tiny green leaves. It feels jubilant outside. Every sound seems to be celebrating spring. My neighborhood is a hive of activity. I can hear lots of leaves being raked and everyone’s got a radio on keeping them company in the yard, and something about the warmth is making me want to be productive and do a thousand things. But at the same time, I’m enjoying just sitting still in the sun for a few minutes, listening to Creedence, and watching bumblebees the size of my thumb flit around to all the new green stuff popping up.

One of the most difficult winters of my life is so definitively over. I almost can’t remember the last time I felt this content. 

Best design at the CSA fair.

Sunshine turns Icky into a contortionist.


Best photo project ever. These two are a blast. April 11, 2014.

We did some clowning around today for our weekly polaroid shot. 



Scientific engravings from 1850

by John Philipps Emslie

(via the Wellcome Collection)

I move to give John Philipps Emslie his own posthumous Tumblr, like now.

I second the motion. 

Dysentery parasite attacks gut by eating cells alive 

It’s “purely malevolent”, says Michael Blennerhassett of Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, because the amoeba aren’t interested in the cells once they’re dead. This suggests they don’t need to eat them for the nutrients they contain, says Blennerhasset, who was not involved in the study. “This is a previously unsuspected method of attack.”

I wrote a piece on amoebas that live in intestines and wreak havoc by shredding cells apart (and end up causing dysentery, as it happens). My first attempt at writing this article started like this: “There’s a tiny, single-celled creature living in your intestines, and it’s mean.” But don’t freak out, because it’s not in everyone’s intestines, okay?

The whole time I was writing about these little creatures, I was thinking, “Gross gross gross gross gross gross gross.” So, yeah! Go read about this disgusting parasite! Amoebic dysentery is awful! 

Thank heavens. It’s time once again for crazy tennis sportswriting to commence

Teachin' Mom my blog lingo

  • Mom: That's awesome! Or, you know, awsome.
  • Chels: I believe you mean OWSOME.
  • Mom: Oh yeah that.

John McPhee: The Art of the Interview : The New Yorker 

"If I’m in someone’s presence and attempting to conduct an interview, I am wishing I were with Kafka on the ceiling. I’d much rather watch people do what they do than talk to them across a desk. I’ve spent hundreds of hours in the passenger seats of their pickups, often far from pavement, bouncing from scribble to scribble. Under a backpack, and hiking behind the environmentalist David Brower, I walked across the North Cascades, up and down the switchbacks, writing in a notebook. Even across a desk, an interviewee will sometimes talk so fast it’s impossible to keep up—like Alan Hume, M.D., a surgeon in Waterville, Maine. Nothing was unforthcoming about Dr. Hume. He talked clearly, rapidly, volubly, and technically. Writing notes, I did my best to stay with him, but when he breezed into the biochemistry of the blood gases I was totally lost and turned him over to a Japanese machine."

I am dying to read the rest of this John McPhee piece, because he’s the best damn writer I’ve ever read. It’s paywalled, so I thought, “All right, I’ll just grab a print copy of the magazine.” Easy, right? 

Try looking up bookstores on Long Island. The closest one to me that hasn’t recently closed is 40 minutes away. I rifled through the National Enquirers and “ladies magazines” at the drug stores and grocery stores near me, only to find that they don’t carry most magazines of substance, including The New Yorker. So, because I live in the cultural sinkhole that is Long Island, I’d have to drive to the airport if I want to get my hands on a copy. 

How has it come to this? If I want to read a few thousand words by one of my favorite human beings, I have to subscribe to a year of receiving a magazine, letting it sit on my coffee table for two months, and then recycling it. I guess I could read the thing, but most of it is available online. Just let me pay for this one article, please newyorker. Please.

We had a really high rate of data transmission. You could have watched Netflix on the moon if you wanted to.

Mihaly Horanyi, a member of the NASA team that operates LADEE, a spacecraft orbiting the moon and working to test a broadband communications system between Earth and the moon using lasers.

Okay, look. If we can get a fucking data stream to the MOON, why does it take my phone so long to load GIFs? Why doesn’t HBOGO work? GIVE US THE GOODS, NASA.

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