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Blog Profile / Achenblog


URL :http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/achenblog
Filed Under:News / Independent News
Posts on Regator:484
Posts / Week:3.1
Archived Since:April 20, 2011

Blog Post Archive

Time change (Part 1)

The trouble with the modern world is that we’ve lost our ability to understand and control time. Time used to be something we used to our advantage. Plant a seed, add some water, and time did the rest (barring a plague of locusts). Time healed all wounds. Time begat wisdom. We revered our elders and […]

Somewhere in Portugal

I’ve had almost no Internet access for my laptop, which was pretty much the whole idea of the vacation. Modern life has too much Internet access, on this we can all agree. In the old days we’d all walk down the sidewalk with eyes open, checking out the landscape, window shopping, people-watching, but now we’re […]

Journalism is aggregation

While reporting a story last week I had a sudden revelation: I’m an aggregator. I’m one of them. I’m the person that I’ve been kvetching about for years now. “They think information wants to be stolen.” You know the rant. What happened was, I was going through the Rolodex to find astrobiology sources, and I […]

Why there are no fish on Saturn’s moon Enceladus

It’s a great time to be an astrobiologist! Things are hopping out there in alien-life land. Well, let’s not get overheated about it: Nothing literally hops, so far, when it comes to extraterrestrial life. We can’t even find anything slithering, oozing or just coating the surface of a rock. We’re not greedy: We’d settle for […]

After covering Flight 370 for 3 weeks this is what I think happened

I fear we will never know what exactly happened to that plane. One of our sources said, “The Earth is big. The Earth is really big.” The open ocean is really vast, especially when you don’t know where to start looking. See our story from Monday: There’s stuff out there, but it’s not plane wreckage. […]

Life is all about small pleasures and major grievances

As you know, a good life is merely a succession of good days. A day is to a life as a sentence is to a story. The sane person will write into his or her day numerous passages that are innately pleasing. The morning constitutional; the garden reverie; the long soak in the tub; the […]

MH370: No, they did not find the plane

A couple of people yesterday said to me that they’d heard that the plane had been found. Not so. Not even close. We do not know where the plane is, nor why it veered off course. But you might have gotten the impression that the plane was found based on the news from Malaysia, where […]

Life, the universe, everything: Am increasingly astonished

The other day I was on the Metro, the Orange/Blue line from Capitol South toward McPherson Square, heading back to the office from the Library of Congress, when I felt overcome with astonishment at the existence of human beings. And Metros. Technology. Organisms with complex adaptations like brains, these agglomerations of cells that in some […]

Missing plane: Be skeptical what you hear about MH370

All along, I’ve thought: This plane will turn up any minute. Now, though, I’m wondering. The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has not yet expanded to Venus and Mars but it’s still extremely broad, basically from Russia to the southern Indian Ocean. There’s increasing suspicion that this was a deliberate act, a crime, but […]

Where is Malaysia Airlines Flight 370?

Where is that plane? We’re all quite obsessed with this story, which, as I wrote Wednesday, is the mystery of the year. For the families it must be excruciating not to know what happened. For the searchers it must be confusing — they’ve switched seas now, and are expanding the search into the Indian Ocean, […]

Trending: Spring

I’m writing this from my porch, trying to decide whether to declare, oracularly, that Porch Season has begun. This is among my most solemn duties. I have a sense of the world turning to me expectantly, trying to read my body language, like they do with Putin. I’m a humble person, as you know, but […]

Is NASA really going to send a probe to Europa?

What’s NASA really up to? Sometimes it’s hard to know for sure. For a number of years NASA has developed various programs and missions that did not survive the erosional forces of constricting budgets and strategic changes. The agency has a dilemma: It takes at least a decade to do anything significant in space, but […]

The problem with passenger pigeons and de-extinction

[Programming note: I'm not going to belabor how sublime and resplendent the weather was during my stretched weekend in Miami, because I think it's obnoxious when people gloat about temperature differentials, or, worse, launch into a discussion about SPF30 vs. SPF50, or worse yet, complain about stuff that only the blessed, the affluent and the […]

Whales and alien worlds

Here’s my story on the amazing fossil whale graveyard found in Chile. Cool site. Lots of bones, highly articulated, including two adults and a juvenile baleen whale that overlap — a clear sign of a mass stranding in the Late Miocene. Hard on the flukes of that story comes another science story, this one on […]

The biggest story in the world

The other day at the Library of Congress I thumbed through an original printing of Robert Plot’s 1677 volume “The Natural History of Oxford-Shire.” Plot was the curator of the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford. I handled the beautiful old book very carefully, with some awe and wonder (who were the copy editors then?), and tried […]

Asteroid did not nearly hit Earth, actually

I’m still kind of rattled and befuddled by the Chelyabinsk meteor. On Feb. 15, 2013, I had a story in the newspaper saying that, fear not, even though an asteroid was going to make a close pass by Earth that afternoon, you shouldn’t get too worked up about it because these rocks don’t hit Earth […]

The Shroud of Turin, pseudoscience, and journalism

When I signed on to my AOL email (retro cool!) on Thursday, a headline flashed on the screen saying something about the Shroud of Turin. Instinct said: Look away! Nothing good can come of reading a Shroud of Turin article. Fact-free zone! But I was weak, and I looked, and soon discovered that I had […]

Sochi Olympics: Big air points

I’ve been watching the Olympics, with hand poised to cover my eyes, anticipating another Agony of Defeat moment — some hideous spill or fall or crash or shockingly disastrous under-performance, a moment that will forever define the athlete’s career and make even his loved ones look away in dismay. Also I wince a bit when […]

The heroin and opioid epidemics

I’ve just posted a story online that takes a step back from the tragic death of Philip Seymour Hoffman and looks at the twinned epidemics of heroin and opioids. In many ways this is a disturbing story, because we all know people who have suffered from addiction and its often lethal consequences. This isn’t a […]

Be grateful the Beatles broke up

There are no bad Beatles albums, unless you count the concoctions like “Something New” or “Beatles VI” that were thrown together for the American market during the height of Beatlemania. To the bitter end, the Beatles produced great music (and, yes, I’m mentally blocking out a lot of weak songs and outright abominations — you […]

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