The Snail with the Right Heart — a love story, a science story, a story about the poetry of existence, about time and chance, genetics and gender, life and death, evolution and infinity, about not mistaking difference for defect, about recognizing diversity as nature’s wellspring of resilience and beauty.

    “Where is my cyanometer,” Thoreau exclaimed in his journal on a blue-skied spring day, referring to the curious device invented by the Swiss scientist Horace-Bénédict de Saussure a century earlier to measure the blueness of the sky. 

    Here are some of the most beautiful meditations on blue from 200 years of literature, including Thoreau, Goethe, Toni Morrison, Rachel Carson, Virginia Woolf, Rebecca Solnit, Georgia O'Keeffe, and other titans of the world in words.

    Whatever has happened, whatever is going to happen in the world, it is the living moment that contains the sum of the excitement, this moment in which we touch life and all the energy of the past and future.

    One of the greatest poets who ever lived, in her staggering biography of one of the greatest scientists who ever lived, on how to live with electric presence in dark and turbulent times

    100 years ago, the German polar researcher, geophysicist, and climate scientist Alfred Wegener coined the word Pangea to describe the ancient supercontinent that formed 335 million years ago as part of his revolutionary theory of continental drift, for which he was derided for decades before it became the pillar of our geologic understanding of our own planet. 

    Italian artist and architectMassimo Pietrobon performs a terrestrial spacetime warp to map modern-day country territories onto the supercontinent 175 million years after it began breaking up – a pleasantly disquieting reminder that we live in a world of ephemeral realities, imaginary and negotiated, mapped onto a physical world that is just as ephemeral on the appropriate timescale. 

    (via Kottke)

    Exactly 410 years after Galileo drew the first topographical map of the Moon, radicalizing humanity with the revelation that our satellite is not a perfectly smooth orb of ethereal matter but as solid and rugged as the Earth — not a heavenly body but a material one — here comes the first complete geologic map of the Moon, reminiscent of a Joan Miró painting: a collaboration between the United States Geological Survey, NASA, and the Lunar Planetary Institute.

    via Kottke

    The Universe in Verse 2020 – poems celebrating the science, splendor, and wonder of nature, featuring readings, reflections, and music by Rebecca Solnit, Patti Smith, Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, Rosanne Cash, Roxane Gay, Tim Ferriss, Elizabeth Gilbert, Eve Ensler, Alison Bechdel, Brian Greene, Krista Tippett, and other seekers of truth, makers of beauty, and cartographers of meaning. Tune in. 

    Excellent primer on the chemistry behind the common sense of washing your hands – why it’s your best defense against coronavirus, how that defense actually works biochemically, and why you aren’t really safe unless you do it for at least 20 seconds. Bonus points if you do it with minimal stress – here is pioneering immunologist Esther Sternberg on the science of how stress impacts your susceptibility to disease. 

    (HT Kottke)

    Elizabeth Blackwell is 29. The year is 1736. Her husband is in debtor’s prison and she has a small child to feed at home. What does she do? She turns desperation into inspiration, learning botany and painting an exquisite encyclopedia of medicinal plants: A Curious Herbal. 

    Self-taught astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy has created this arrestingly vivid portrait of the Moon from more than 100,000 images he took through his telescope from his backyard in Sacramento – a glorious redemption of the original meaning of amateur, “lover of.” How far we’ve come from the first surviving photograph of the Moon, to say nothing of the world’s first map of the Moon and Galileo’s reality-radicalizing perspectival drawings, in the mere blink of cosmic time since.

    via Kottke