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Matthew Wills

Matthew Wills has advanced degrees in library science and film studies and is lapsed in both fields. He has published in Poetry, Huffington Post, and Nature Conservancy Magazine, among other places, and blogs regularly about urban natural history at matthewwills.com.

A Hell of a Cracker

The unusual origin of the graham cracker

The Origins of Halloween

Halloween history and ethnography.

The Early American Origins of Political Terms

What does stump speech and pork barrel mean? A short lexicon of American political terms.

The Origin of Quarantine

Such forms of enforced isolation are referenced as far back as the Old Testament, while the word "quarantine" itself dates to the late medieval Plague.

Laika: The First Earthling in Space

The first Earthling was Laika, a Russian mongrel found on the streets of Moscow.

Remembering and Representing Alan Turing

A 1955 obituary of Turing from the Royal Society is fascinating for what it leaves out of the first draft of history.

Passengers Long Gone

Martha, last of the passenger pigeons. 

Long-Distance Migration: Everybody’s Doing It

The birds do it. The butterflies do it. And now we know that the dragonflies do to it, too: long-distance migration. 

The Origins of the Secret Service

Where did the Secret Service come from?

Why Do Leaves Change Colors in the Fall?

Why do leaves change colors in fall?

Melville Reborn, Again and Again

A scholar traces Herman Melville's reputation in American and British literary circles.

Space Is The Place: The US, USSR, and Space Exploration

Even during the Cold War, US and Russian cooperation succeeded in space exploration.
Grassy Lake in the John Muir Wilderness

The Wilderness Act Celebrates its 50th Birthday

The federal Wilderness Act was signed 50 years ago.

A Historic Look at Climate Change Research

Plant ecologist Charles F. Cooper wrote prescient and succinct words on the topic of climate change back in 1978.
Tami Bond, Photographed at University of Illinois in Urbana, Illinois, September 6th, 2014.

MacArthur Fellow Tami Bond studies the “Dark Horse” of Climate Change

Environmental engineer and newly-minted MacArthur Fellow Tami Bond is an expert on "black carbon."

How to Wash Your Hands

The research behind hand washing and MRSA, a resistant bacteria.

The ABCs of Ebola

A is for don’t panic. The rest is science.

Mosquitoes: The Science Behind the Pests

Why do mosquitoes bite some people more than others? How you smell to a mosquito affects how much you're bit.

The Road to Capital in the Twenty-First Century

Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century hit the number one spot on the New York Times nonfiction ...

Historical Perspectives on the World Cup

First, the basics. The World Cup is run by FIFA, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association. Heidrun Homburg ...