August BONUS

Two of these in one month is rare. As in never-happened-before rare. But as I mentioned in the last Zaleski Minute, it’s really hot, which means I’m full of hot air, which I’ll now use to yell here in newsletter form. As always, if this takes you longer than 60 seconds, complain to management.

What I Was Writing:

  1. For CityLabPromoting the health benefits of talking to strangers might seem to reflect a certain pre-2020 mindset, before avoiding the respiratory droplets of others became a biological imperative. But in his new book, The Power of Strangers, Joe Keohane makes the case for doing something my grandmother has always been good at: striking up conversations with randos, which evidently makes us happier and healthier.

  2. For Medium (sort of): This is a story I published first in Popular Science in 2019, now republished this month on Medium. It’s about Gene DeSantis, Baltimore’s very own Johnny Appleseed, who has planted more than 15,000 trees throughout the city in the last four decades.

Why Is It So Hot?

Hello, folks. My ulnar nerves are entrapped and my eyes still need surgery. But look on the bright side for me: By the time I’m 60, it’ll finally be my turn to laugh at my friends.

Welcome to the August edition of The Zaleski Minute. As always, if this takes you longer than 60 seconds, complain to management.

What I Was Writing:

  1. For Popular ScienceIt is hotter than all the circles of Dante’s hell-world combined. But a plucky California startup has a solution to cool buildings, even in the dead of summer, using a quirk of physics called radiative cooling.

  2. For Popular MechanicsYou might recall Sudan, the last male northern white rhinoceros who died in 2018. There are only two female northern white rhinos left. It’s a foregone conclusion then, yes? The white northern rhino will die out soon — but not if these bioengineers manage to pull off the (near) impossible.

  3. For New ScientistThe gas the world needs to worry about isn’t carbon dioxide; it’s nitrogen. Now an international consortium of scientists is trying to squeeze what some call “the godfather of pollution” out of our ecosystems before fish die, seas turn red, and drinking water loses all potability.

  4. For CityLab: In his new book, public health scholar Lawrence Brown plumbs the question of black Americans’ relationship to the physical world: where they are, and are not, allowed to go; where they can, and cannot, live in cities; and what, ultimately, it all means.

See ya next time, whenever that might be.

[Insert Newsletter Title Here]

It’s April, and I have no idea what to call this thing. So there. But you know what it is: The Zaleski Minute. As always, if this takes you longer than 60 seconds, complain to management.

What I Was Writing:

  1. For CityLabThe same group that pushed last year for Covid-19 human challenge trials (you might recall my Elemental article on the subject) is now pushing for a national “Vaccine Day” holiday.

  2. For GQ: The opening of epidemiologist Shanna Swan's new book sounds a bit like science fiction: We are half as fertile as our grandfathers were. And if the trend continues, we may very well reach a point where the human race is unable to reproduce itself. Scared yet?

  3. For MIT Technology Review: In South Bend, Indiana, wastewater—the odoriferous H2O that flows from sinks, dishwashers, washing machines, and toilets—mixes with stormwater in what’s known as a combined sewer system. Well, here’s the thing: On especially rainy days, it all flows into the nearby St. Joseph River. For Tech Review’s big ole CITIES issue, a story about how a plucky group of researchers made the sewers smart, and tamed their pollution problem.

The April Redux:

It’s all the rage in Silicon Valley: the mental clarity diet. Intermittent fasting. Butter in your coffee. Eating only meat. But does eating to prevent “brain fog” really work? An investigation, in Elemental.

We Can Rebuild Him, Part 2

Friends: Happy new year, almost three months in the making. I’ve been hunkered down in the writing lair since January, having completed about 15,000 words of writing in that time for articles forthcoming in Popular Mechanics, New Scientist, MIT Technology Review, Popular Science, and CityLab.

So that’s why this is late. Well, that, and I also finally had cataract surgery on my left eye. (You might remember.)

Without further ado, the new Zaleski Minute. As always, if this takes you longer than 60 seconds, complain to management.

What I Was Writing:

  1. For MIT NewsZoom, phone, even connected devices. When the pandemic struck last year, doctors had to get creative about “seeing” patients — virtually. Now comes figuring out whether telemedicine is here to stay.

Up For The Challenge

A human challenge trial for Covid-19 is now underway in the U.K. Volunteers between the ages of 18 and 30 are being deliberately infected with the novel coronavirus. Why? My Elemental feature from last July answers the question.

Light At The End

Hello, all. It’s the last month of this sordid year, 2020. (As I like to say: Fuck him, and everyone who looks like him. In this case, “him” is the year.)

Welcome to December’s Zaleski Minute. Strap in. If this takes you longer than 60 seconds, complain to management.

What I Was Writing:

  1. For ElementalWhat many men consider their life’s greatest project — having and raising children, their own children — is something Scott Burkholder can never do. One of the bravest and kindhearted people I know, Burkholder shared his story with me about finding out he is infertile.

  2. For Popular ScienceThey come in the night, the bee thieves, swooping in and bugging out quicker than the wings of the insects they steal. That’s right. People steal honeybees in California, which uses billions of bees to pollinate the state’s almond orchards. Fortunately, one man is on the case: Detective Rowdy Freeman.

  3. For STAT News: Could copper surfaces in hospitals cut down on infections (and possibly kill SARS-CoV-2)? A short dispatch on the benefits of Cu.

Buy This

At age 6, Tanner Collins had one-sixth of his brain removed. Doctors wondered whether he would recognize objects ever again. His parents wondered if he would remember their faces. Then something miraculous happened — his brain literally changed, and he turned out to be fine. And now you can read my story in the 2020 edition of The Best American Science and Nature Writing. The anthology is a collection of articles written by some of the best science journalists in the U.S., and you can buy it now.

And now, the only appropriate way to leave you, given that a vaccine is (slowly) getting out into the world:

Loading more posts…