Illustration by Brian Taylor

Jill Greenberg
A photographer, celebrity portraitist and artist, Greenberg is known for her ability to capture humanlike emotions on the faces of animals, featured in her books Monkey Portraits and Bear Portraits. Still, shooting the photogenic infants for “Born to Be Mild” may have been even more difficult. “We shot on a raised platform, so we needed to have spotters all around it to ensure the babies didn’t crawl off the edges,” Greenberg says. “Between that and the fact that they were all teething and drooling profusely, it was an interesting day, to say the least.”

Joshua Keating
An editor at Foreign Policy, Keating began examining the cultural factors that alter our understanding of time and started seeing them pop up everywhere. “I was at a rock concert recently, and it started an hour late,” he says. “Even that’s a minor countercultural signifier—there’s no hipster cred in starting at 9 on the dot.”

Claudio Edinger
A world-renowned photographer, Edinger visited the Rocinha slum in his native Rio de Janeiro (“Rio Revolution”) after decades away and was shocked by the reduction in crime. “Last time, I had a guide clearing my way, saying to gangsters, ‘It’s OK, he is press,’ as if it were a foreign country,” he says. “It’s changed dramatically.”

Helen Fields
After writing about everything from the origins of life to benefits of aging for Smithsonian, Fields covers a topic many scientists have long shied away from. “Plasticity is just messy,” she says, referring to the flexible behavior of organisms like frogs in response to their environment. “It’s much easier to just chalk everything up to genetics.”

Dan Falk
“Scientists in so many fields have sought to explain time,” says Falk, a science writer and radio producer who is fascinated by how we perceive it (“Time Warped” ). “We can’t see it at all, yet it feels like this very tangible thing.” He explored the history, physics and philosophy of time in his 2008 book In Search of Time: Journeys Along a Curious Dimension and is also the author of The Universe on a T-Shirt: The Quest for the Theory of Everything.

J. Madeleine Nash
A former science correspondent for Time, Nash is the author of El Niño: Unlocking the Secrets of the Master Weather-Maker. Writing about geochemist Larry Edwards’ use of cave formations to study ancient climates (“Tunnel Vision”), she was struck by the incredibly deep scale of geologic time reflected in the stalagmites. “How many times do you get to look into a time capsule that’s been sealed away for several hundred thousand years?”

Kevin Cook
The author of four books, including The Last Headbangers: NFL Football in the Rowdy, Reckless ’70s, Cook discovered the story of Las Vegas’ first interracial casino by happenstance. “I was driving along when my passenger said, ‘That’s where the Moulin Rouge was,’” he says. “I became fascinated by this vacant lot’s role in American history.”