Notes from the Abyss

The musings of geographer, journalist, and author David M. Lawrence

Welcome to my Blog

MECHANICSVILLE, Va. — Welcome to Notes from the Abyss.

Before you read anything sinister into the title of the blog, it refers to my book, Upheaval from the Abyss, which recounts the story of some pioneers of oceanic exploration and how their work fueled the development of two revolutionary scientific theories — continental drift and plate tectonics.

My book was classified as history of science for the marketers, and it was, but it was first and foremost a narrative: of the sea, of science, of war, and especially of people who fought against one obstacle after another to learn about the world in which we live.

This blog will be an attempt to continue in that tradition.

When suitably inspired — I hope at least once a week — I will write something, maybe about a breaking story in science, maybe about my career as a scientist (specifically, a biogeographer). I may wage war against the forces of ignorance from the dubious bully pulpit of this blog. Or I may just tell some war story from my past in which I should have ended up dead as a result of my own stupidity.

In other words, I don’t have a damn clue about what I will write.

I know you can read my profile, but the profile format is a bit limited in providing readers a feel for what drives me to this intersection of science and journalism. I’m not always sure myself — for much of my adult life I have lived as both, often switching from one career track to the other when misfortune necessisitated a change.

I grew up interested in science, and wanting to become a scientist, but I grew up in a newspaper family. My father, George M. Lawrence, decided to become a journalist in his early 30s, and in 1970 began working toward a journalism degree at Louisiana State University in Shreveport. Before long, he was working at the local morning paper, then known as The Shreveport Times. He would take me to LSU-S with him, and he would take me to The Times with him.

It was a wonderful time to witness journalism — with Watergate on the national scale, and massive city corruption on the local scale — and I learned early on the potential of the press to inform and empower.

Still, I never planned to become a journalist, but I always needed money in college, and — after beginning my own newspaper career as a copyboy — I was always able to find work in a newsroom. I tried to keep the two careers separate, but in the early 1990s I thought it might be worthwhile to combine them.

So, here I am: a journalist, covering everything from sports to science; an author in search of another book project; and a scientist trying to do research when I’m not reporting, writing, or teaching courses in biology, geography, and meteorology at colleges and universities in the Richmond, Va., metropolitan area.

Our journey begins. I hope you, the reader, and I, the writer, find it worthwhile.

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