Read “Guyot Hall under Quarantine” and “The Musical Mineralogist” in The Smilodon

Since the pandemic began, we’ve all had Zoom calls and Zoom meetings. They have their challenges—but what about a Zoom dissertation defense? That was the scenario faced by four Princeton Geosciences Ph.D. candidates this past spring.

It was an honor to be asked to write the cover story for this year’s issue of The Smilodon, the newsletter of the Princeton University Department of Geosciences which traces its history back to 1927.

“Guyot Hall under Quarantine” spotlights the experience of four Princeton Ph.D. candidates who received their doctorates during the COVID-19 lockdown. Taking center stage is their spectacular research—from tracking earthquakes in the most remote reaches of the South Pacific to studying the potential for life on Mars.

In this issue of The Smilodon, it was also a pleasure to write my third article profiling a quirky Princeton mineralogist (the first two, about a Mayor-Mineralogist and Hamilton’s duel doctor, were published in Princeton Alumni Weekly).

“Archibald MacMartin, the Musical Mineralogist” traces the life of a mysterious alumnus who left Princeton with 2,500 exemplary minerals in its collection—as well as founded the first independent music periodical in New York.

You can access a PDF of the issue, featuring both articles, at this link. Thanks for reading, and stay safe and well!

Read “The Duel Doctor in Weehawken” in Princeton Alumni Weekly

Curious about the connection between the Hamilton-Burr duel, grave-robbing, the US’s first botanical garden, and Rockefeller Center?

Today, Dr. David Hosack is mostly known as the attendant doctor during the Hamilton-Burr duel, a role which overshadowed his career as a leading American physician and botanical pioneer.

Read my latest piece in Princeton Alumni Weekly about David Hosack, one of America’s “founding physicians.”

Art by Daniel Hertzberg for PAW. 

 

 

Read “In Texas, a tale of two cities” on Medium

Working from home today? Tired of reading about COVID-19?

Maybe you’ll read about Texas. Last week, I got the chance to spend time in San Antonio and Austin, TX during the 2020 AWP Conference (which, of course, was marred by the then-dawning novel coronavirus pandemic).

During my travels, what I learned was this: If San Antonio offers a glimpse of Texas’ past, Austin might just yet be a glimpse of its future.

Check out my new travel piece on the divergent trajectories of San Antonio and Austin, TX, from my Medium blog.

Read “Mister Mayor, The Mineralogist” in Princeton Alumni Weekly

Alexander “Ha Ha” Phillips was no ordinary mineralogy professor. He was also Princeton’s Republican mayor—and may or may not have banned students from going to the movies.

Thrilled to publish this little piece of quirky history in Princeton Alumni Weekly, part of years of research I’ve conducted on the history of Princeton geology. Read the article here.

Art created for PAW by Daniel Hertzberg, based on a painting by Robert Bruce Horsfall (American, 1869–1948), housed in Princeton University Art Museum.

Watch “The Visionary in the Marsh,” lecture at Benaki Museum on blod.gr

On September 15, 2018 I had the extraordinary opportunity of giving a talk at the Benaki Museum in Athens, Greece, where I discussed the 1960 plans of architect Constantinos Doxiadis for Eastwick, Philadelphia, featuring some ‘cameo’ appearances from Robert Kennedy and Kevin Bacon. You can watch the talk here, courtesy the Bodossakis Foundation. Many thanks to Simon Richards and Mantha Zarmakoupi of the Delos Network for inviting me and allowing me to speak on this subject, one that has occupied my globetrotting research for the past three years.

The Delos Network is an initiative sponsored by the UK Arts & Humanities Council, with academic support from University of Birmingham, Loughborough University, and the University of Pennsylvania. This was the second of three conferences to discuss the work of global architect and urban planner Constantinos Doxiadis (1913-1975), the first such conferences in over a decade.

Thanks to the Delos Network and the University of Nevada, Reno, for financially supporting my visit.

Read “The elusive star of Vergina” on Medium

Last June, I had the opportunity to visit Vergina, a small village in Northern Greece that is home to the tomb of Philip II, Alexander the Great’s father. It was a tremendous experience, full of the power and splendor of ancient Macedonia. In terms of the difficulty in navigating Greece’s public transit options, however, it amounted to a modern odyssey. The perfect exp

To read my travelogue of my visit to Vergina, full of awe, frustration, and some witty observations, check it out on Medium:

“The elusive star of Vergina: To visit the tomb of Alexander the Great’s father, a modern odyssey”

More summer travel memoirs forthcoming on Medium. If you’re looking for a hint—next up will be along the lines of “Coming into the country with ‘Coming into the Country’.”

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Photo of fields of Vergina by Harrison Blackman.

Earth science history exhibition featured at Princeton Research Day on May 10, 2018

On May 10, 2018, I had the pleasure of presenting a poster entitled “Rocks all the way down: The earthshaking history of Princeton mineralogy” at the 3rd annual Princeton Research Day event.

Charting the history of Princeton mineral and earth science from the early American republic to today, “Rocks all the way down” showcases how mineralogy both formed the foundation and ongoing continuity of earth science at Princeton. And given Princeton’s place in several scientific revolutions over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, it is a fundamentally important story that explains how and why we came to better understand the natural world.

The effort is part of a project funded by the Princeton University Department of Geosciences, to be eventually published in article form.

At “PRD,” it was wonderful to connect with so many members of the Princeton community in discussing the University’s rich history in the earth sciences.

You can view the poster below; featured photo is courtesy of Georgette Chalker.

Screen Shot 2018-05-11 at 3.47.26 PM

Read “‘Taos 2010’ dreams revisited” in The Taos News

In 1989, The Taos News asked residents to predict what Taos would be like 20 years into the future. Nearly three decades later, I asked them how it all turned out—and what they now hope for in the years to come. What emerges is a startling portrait of a community’s transformation over the years, and a new vision of what may be on the way.

Read my feature story in The Taos News, an all-too-brief sketch of a unique community in the Southwest.

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Image courtesy of the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives.

 

Read “The ‘First’ Winter Olympics: How Chamonix 1924 iced out a rival Nordic competition” on Medium

The Olympic Games.

Out of all international sporting events, those three words possess the most fanfare. They evoke tradition, history—and the symbolic flame.

But if the Olympics are inspired from an ancient Greek tradition, then how did the Winter Games—featuring hockey, skating and curling—come to be?

The answer is complicated, and it’s the subject of my latest essay on Medium: “The ‘First’ Winter Olympics: How Chamonix 1924 iced out a rival Nordic competition.” In it, you can find out about the origins of the Olympics, the Olympics’ early rivalry with the Nordic Games, and of course, the ‘first’ Winter Games.

To read more of my stories on Medium, please look at my Medium profile. You can also see an extensive list of my published stories on the “clips” page.

As always, thanks for reading.

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Image: Poster for 1901 Nordic Games. (Author unknown [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Read “The Museum of the Bible is an intellectual travesty” on Medium

The Museum of the Bible is Washington, D.C.’s newest museum. Behind the glittering exterior, however, is the troubling and controversial narrative that the museum promotes.

To save you the trouble, I visited the Museum of the Bible for myself. You can vicariously experience my somewhat alarming visit by reading my new opinion essay on Medium. In it, I take you through the full museum experience, highlighting the problematic assumptions and strange editorial choices at every turn. Thanks for reading!

Public domain image courtesy Pixabay. All rights reserved.