Described by the Washington Post as “America’s funniest science writer,” Roach is the author of five books, including Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers and Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, to be published in April. Her recent trip to Dinosaur National Monument exceeded all expectations. “It was my first visit, and I was kind of imagining a single T. rex skeleton out in the middle of the desert,” she says. “But as soon as you get there and you walk into the exhibit hall, you see a massive wall of dinosaur bones, and it’s astonishing.”
A science writer with a PhD in biology, Borrell has studied frogs, snakes and insects in Central America, but nothing quite prepared him for the world’s largest lizards, the Komodo dragons of Indonesia. “The most startling thing is their intelligence,” he says. “There’s this cunning way that they gaze into your eyes.”
In writing two books about the father of the theory of evolution— Darwin and the Barnacle and Darwin’s Ghosts—Stott came to view the naturalist’s house and garden in Kent as crucial to his work. “It’s where he studied nature most closely,” she says. “As he walked around, he’d see plants and animals constantly coming into and going out of being.”
A biographer and novelist obsessed with mystery, Stashower’s newest book, The Hour of Peril, recounts a real-world thriller: the pre-Civil War attempt to assassinate Lincoln. “The story got pushed aside by urgencies of the time,” he says, “but if it’d been successful, the results would have been explosive.”
Patricia O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman
O’Conner and Kellerman, husband and wife, are the authors of Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language. Their essay examines, among other things, why we think (incorrectly!) it’s a sin to cavalierly split infinitives.
The author of two books, including Freedom’s Cap: The United States Capitol and the Coming of the Civil War, Gugliotta has previously written for Smithsonian about humankind’s migration out of Africa. Now he turns his attention to theories suggesting that the peopling of North America occurred thousands of years earlier than long assumed. “We have some new ideas for when people first got here,” he says. “The next question, in my mind: Who exactly were they?”
An animator and illustrator, Martin took on the challenge of creating a cover image for our story about the earliest inhabitants of North America. “A montage I’d already made for my own amusement was the starting point,” he says. “But I soon found out how difficult it is to depict people when we have no idea what they actually looked like.”