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Cathy Newman began her career writing for the Miami News, before joining the staff of National Geographic Magazine where she is Editor at Large. In addition to dozens of articles for the magazine, she is the author of three books for National Geographic. Perfume: The Art and Science of Scent, Women Photographers at National Geographic, and Fashion.

Fictional Nat Geo Photographer Gives His Regards to Broadway in “Bridges of Madison County” Musical

Meet Robert Kincaid. Plays guitar. Smokes Camels. Stuffs a knapsack full of equipment in his pick-up truck, and takes off for Iowa to shoot the covered bridges of Madison County for National Geographic. Falls deeply in love with Francesca Johnson, a farmer’s wife. But it’s not happily ever-after—at least not for Kincaid and Johnson. They…

Mapping Out the Hidden World of Women Cartographers

“Oftentimes the world of women cartographers seems to be hidden, much like the so-called dark side of the moon,” says Will C. Van Den Hoonaard in Map Worlds: A History of Women in Cartography, newly published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press. As it turns, a woman—the Russian-born cartographer Kira Shingareva—was one of the first mapmakers…

How the Grammy Hat Worn by Pharrell Williams Fits into the History of Haberdashery

“Traditionally whatever is worn on the head, whether or not it grows there naturally, is a sign of the mind beneath it,” writes Alison Lurie in The Language of Clothes. What then is going on in the mind beneath the Dudley Do-Right camel-colored hat worn by singer Pharrell Williams at last night’s Grammy Awards? And…

What Comes Out of a Whale and Goes Into Perfume? Ambergris!

Literature is full of quests. Jason hunted for the golden fleece. Dorothy followed the yellow brick road to find her way home to Kansas. Christopher Kemp, you might say, went looking for a piece of whale poop, which in its most refined state is the worth-its-weight-in-gold substance known as ambergris. The material is used as…

All By My Selfie: National Geographic Photographers Muse on the Word of the Year

National Geographic photographers shared their selfies following the announcement of “selfie” as the Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year.

Tune In, Turn On, Dress Up: Hippie Chic at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts

If you remember the ‘60s, you weren’t there, the mantra of that weed-filled decade goes. For those who missed it—for pharmaceutical reasons or otherwise—the Museum of Fine Arts Boston opens its Hippie Chic Show on July 16. It will run until November 11, 2013.  Editor at Large Cathy Newman spoke to Lauren Whitley, MFA curator…

Emperor of the Image: Remembering National Geographic’s Robert Gilka

In his 27 years as director of photography, he transformed National Geographic magazine into the visual icon it is today.

Writer Brian Switek Shares His Love for Dinosaurs

Dino-fanatic author Brian Switek grew up in New Jersey, dreaming of Jurassic celebrities like Stegosaurus and Brontosaurus (now known as Apatosaurus). An imaginary pet Brontosaurus figured in carefully crafted crayon portraits of his family. He discusses his passion in the new book My Beloved Brontosaurus.  Switek, who writes the Laelaps blog for National Geographic online,…

Plant Knowledge: They Can Smell, Sense Color, Spy a Fly

Who knew that a weed can smell the difference between a tomato plant and wheat, a tobacco plant can sense color, and a Venus flytrap can distinguish between the splash of a raindrop and a fly? Like so much in nature, it’s a matter of survival. Daniel Chamovitz, author of What A Plant Knows: A…

Orville Wright’s Revealing Letter to a National Geographic Icon

There is no notation in the archives of National Geographic to indicate why Luis Marden happened to be at the dedication of Wright Hill, a memorial honoring the Wright Brothers in Dayton, Ohio, but one can guess. Marden, a legendary photographer and writer who worked for the magazine from 1934 to 1976, loved airplanes. He…

‘Hate Kills': Photos and Insights From Photographer Lynn Johnson

  The geography of hate is a litany of tragedy and place names like Bosnia, Cambodia, Rwanda. But hate has no borders. Photographer Lynn Johnson spent five years documenting the wreckage of hate’s corrosive force in America. Her project, Hate Kills, evolved from a master’s thesis and has been exhibited in her hometown of Pittsburgh and other…

Invasion of the (Trout) Aliens

It is in the nature of human hubris to assume Man Knows Better than Nature. Which is why, perhaps, when it comes to trout, things are a downright mess.  Thanks to the British, as the Empire expanded beyond the sunset, so did trout. In 1864, they were introduced to Tasmania, India in 1889 and South…

Insect Fear Film Festival: Just Like Cannes, Only With Spiders and Scorpions Instead of Jennifer Lawrence and Brad Pitt

When it comes to generating buzz, it’s hard to beat the Insect Fear Film Festival, which celebrates its 30th anniversary on Saturday, February 23.  The lights will dim in the Foellinger Auditorium at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The screen will light up. Skin will crawl— as will a cinematic parade of members of…