What We Are Reading Today: Where the River Flows

Updated 11 August 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Where the River Flows

Author: Sean W. Fleming

Rivers are essential to civilization and even life itself, yet how many of us truly understand how they work? Why do rivers run where they do? Where do their waters actually come from? How can the same river flood one year and then dry up the next? Where the River Flows takes you on a majestic journey along the planet’s waterways, providing a scientist’s reflections on the vital interconnections that rivers share with the land, the sky, and us.
Sean Fleming draws on examples ranging from common backyard creeks to powerful and evocative rivers like the Mississippi, Yangtze, Thames, and Congo. Each chapter looks at a particular aspect of rivers through the lens of applied physics, using abundant graphics and intuitive analogies to explore the surprising connections between watershed hydrology and the world around us. Fleming explains how river flows fluctuate like stock markets, what “digital rainbows” can tell us about climate change and its effects on water supply, how building virtual watersheds in silicon may help avoid the predicted water wars of the 21st century, and much more.


What We Are Reading Today: Crossing the Pomerium by Michael Koortbojian

Updated 23 January 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Crossing the Pomerium by Michael Koortbojian

The ancient Romans famously distinguished between civic life in Rome and military matters outside the city — a division marked by the pomerium, an abstract religious and legal boundary that was central to the myth of the city’s foundation. 

Michael Koortbojian explores how the Romans used social practices and public monuments to assert their capital’s distinction from its growing empire, to delimit the proper realms of religion and law from those of war and conquest, and to establish and disseminate so many fundamental Roman institutions across three centuries of imperial rule. Crossing the Pomerium probes such topics as the appearance in the city of Romans in armor, whether in representation or in life, the role of religious rites on the battlefield, and the military image of Constantine on the arch built in his name. 

The book reveals how, in these instances and others, the ancient ideology of crossing the pomerium reflects the efforts of Romans not only to live up to the ideals they had inherited, but also to reconceive their past and to validate contemporary practices during a time when Rome enjoyed growing dominance in the Mediterranean world.