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  • polar bear face_HERO

    If Nature Had a Human Personality, What Would It Be?

    It can be foolish to anthropomorphize the natural world. Perhaps the most frequent version of this failing is when people attribute human thoughts and emotions to animal behavior. Look at that adorable polar bear caressing that sled dog! Clearly that’s an endearing display of affection. It wasn’t, as a Washington Post article titled, “First a […]

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    The Problem with Nature Therapy

    The medicalization of nature turns a relationship into a dose.

  • Lake Urmia hero

    The Tragedy of Iran’s Great Salt Lake

    This classic Facts So Romantic post originally ran in August, 2014. The last time my cousin Houman traveled to Lake Urmia was 11 years ago. He and four of his friends piled into his car and drove for roughly 12 hours, snaking west from the capital of Tehran. Iran is shaped like a teapot; its […]

  • fallingwater mike dipompeo

    Fallingwater: A Building That Bonds With Nature and Dances With Time

    The water flowing down the stream’s banks sends a soft and consistent murmur through the forest. The flow, however, is far from continuous. At one point the cool water swirls in eddies and gathers in still pools, but then—almost accidentally—it surges forward and slips quickly over the ledge. It crashes loudly, bubbling up in a […]

  • PodMod Mississippi Cantrell

    Humans & Nature Can Co-Exist in “Cyborg” Ecosystems

    An illustration showing how dirt-filled PodMod containers would drift out of the Mississippi DeltaBradley Cantrell, Charlie Pruitt, Brennan Dedon, Rob Herkes Some people gaze at the Mississippi River and see the majesty of nature: a mighty waterway that carved a path through our continent, draining the vast plains between the Rockies and the Appalachians before […]

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    Take Two Hikes and Call Me in the Morning

      One hundred sixty years ago, Henry David Thoreau published his magnum opus, Walden. In it he detailed his time spent living alongside nature in a cabin adjacent to Walden Pond. In one of the book’s emblematic lines, Thoreau wrote, “We can never have enough of nature.” He believed that it was a “tonic” for us. […]

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    Art Can Show Us What’s Wrong With Our Planet

    An ice book destined to melt into the Great Miami River in Dayton, Ohio (2012).Basia Irland Earth is on the brink of a mass extinction—the first in 66 million years, and it’s caused primarily by human activity. Scientists first detected this epochal event by calculating diversity in our forests and taking the temperature of our atmosphere, and they now outline steps […]

  • Asigau yellow warbler

    Biologists Work to Protect a Cathedral of Biology

    The isolated Galapagos Islands are a ecological treasure and a key setting in the history of science: Charles Darwin did research there that helped him come to understand biological evolution—though, as detailed in a new Nautilus story by Henry Nicholls, it was observations of plants, rather than the better-known finches, that were most enlightening.  One hundred […]

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    How Humans Made Squirrels a Part of the Urban Environment

    This engraving of a gray squirrel was included in the December 1841 issue of Robert Merry’s Museum. One day in 1856, hundreds of people gathered to gawk at an “unusual visitor” up a tree near New York’s City Hall. The occupant of the tree, according to a contemporary newspaper account, was an escaped pet squirrel, […]