Gee-Whiz: Trees

By O. E. Macdougal September/October 2015, Backwoods Home We’re told they include some of the oldest and largest living organisms on the planet. But do they? The fact is, only about one percent of a...

Gee-Whiz: Bad Fish, Big Fish

By O.E. MacDougal January/February 2015, Backwoods Home Fish were the very first vertebrates. That is, they were the first animals with backbones, the purpose of which is to sheathe and protect the nerves in the spinal...

Gee-Whiz: Dinosaurs

By O.E. MacDougal July/August 2014 Backwoods Home Biologists and paleontologists are now pretty certain that birds are part of the dinosaur lineage. Their extinct relatives include the T-Rex and velociraptors. So, dinosaurs are not really extinct,...

Gee-Whiz: Sleep

By O.E. MacDougal November/December 2017, Backwoods Home For thousands of years, sleep has been one of life’s great mysteries. As humans, we spend about one-third of our lives sleeping, though as babies we spent about 16...

Gee-Whiz: Coffee

By O.E. MacDougal May/June 2018, Backwoods Home Every second of every day about 26,000 cups of coffee are drunk around the world. That’s about 2¼ billion cups a day. But it’s still not the most widely...

Gee-Whiz: Alcohol

By O.E. MacDougal Backwoods Home Did early man first cultivate grains just to get drunk? The brewing of beer is older than civilization and goes back at least 9,000, and perhaps more than 12,000, years. Evidence of...

Gee-Whiz: From Paper to Canning

By John Silveira (aka O.E. MacDougal) May/June 2017 Backwoods Home The greatest inventions in history are the ones we now take for granted. Fire and the wheel-axle combination are among them. If we weren’t taught in...

The gee-whiz! page — Cats: Why they rule our world

By O. E. MacDougal Issue #170 • March/April, 2018 House cats A recent Gallup poll showed that cat ownership is pretty much evenly distributed between men and women, and that roughly 34 percent of all U.S. homes...

The MTHFR mutation and why it may matter to you

By John Silveira Issue #170 • March/April, 2018 This is an article with both anecdotal evidence and science. It is about me, anxiety and depression, a gene mutation, and a 17-cent-a-day “treatment” that works (for me). All...

Can we make a Tyrannosaurus rex from a chicken?

By John Silveira Issue #169 • January/February, 2018   Do you have chickens, ducks, turkeys, or geese in your yard? They’re not “just birds” because scientists now realize birds are dinosaurs. Real dinosaurs! For 150 million years,...

Avian Flu — How afraid of this

<!-- Avian Flu How afraid of this chicken should you be? By John Silveira --> Issue #97 • January/February, 2006 There's been a lot of talk in the mass media recently about Avian flu, also known as Bird flu and...

Subduction zone tsunami — What the residents of the Pacific Northwest have to fear

<!-- Subduction zone tsunami --> By John Silveira Issue #94 • July/August, 2004 I was sitting in my cubicle poring over a map of the Oregon coast—actually, just that part of the coast that is Gold Beach where Backwoods...

The world is ending! … Again?

By John Silveira Issue #85 • January/February, 2004 People love to talk about scary stuff. Especially when it's end-of-the-world scary, such as the big asteroid recently in the news that was supposed to hit Earth and...

The coming ice age

By John Silveira Issue #86 • March/April, 2004 As little as 30 years ago the talk wasn't about global warming, it was about an imminent ice age. Is an ice age likely? Even possible? Consider this:...

Three more ways the world can end … and I’m not kidding

By John Silveira Issue #155 • September/October, 2015 "What are you doing?" a voice asked. I looked up and saw O.E. MacDougal, Dave's poker-playing friend from Southern California, and he's now my friend, too. Accompanying him was...

Zombie Apocalypse

By John Silveira Issue #134 • March/April, 2012 "Can you survive a zombie apocalypse?" a familiar voice asked. I turned in my seat to see O.E. MacDougal, Dave Duffy's poker-playing friend from Southern California, walking toward me....