I write a lot of things that are shorter than books, from book reviews of a few hundred words up to full-blown articles of 5,000-7,000 (and occasionally as much as 10,000) words. They range in tone from argument-driven scholarly essays to descriptive reference-book entries to less-formal essays . . . the written equivalents of, respectively, me talking about my research at an academic conference, me giving a lecture to a roomful of first-year undergraduates, and me giving a talk at your local public library or historic site.

You can always find an up-to-date list of these shorter pieces, with full information on where they were published, on my profile. The pieces on display here, which you can read by following the links below, are examples of me writing for non-specialists . . . high school students, undergrads, and members of the general public.


The Solar System -- A history of scientific ideas about our corner of the universe, from the ancient Greeks to the early 21st century

The Grand Canyon -- A short piece on Americans’ evolving relationship with the biggest ditch on the planet


What The Public Thinks It Knows About Science -- Five misguided messages that popular culture teaches about science

Going Off-Script: New Orleans and the Control of Nature -- Reflections on Hurricane Katrina and out attitudes toward nature

Hollywood, History, and the Art of the Big Anachronism -- Why even ridiculous movies about the Middle Ages can teach you something


J. P. Telotte, The Mouse Machine

Christopher Frayling, Mad, Bad and Dangerous: The Scientist in the Cinema

The PBS/American Experience documentary Hoover Dam

I also do a series of short (300-500 word) reviews on other My reviews on focus on books related to my research and writing. My reviews on cover, in principle, every book I’ve read since the beginning of December 2012. My reviews on also cover (again, in principle) the books I’ve read since 2012 . . . but also books that were, at the time I wrote about them, unreviewed or under-reviewed on the site.