On newsstands and online this week: My feature in The Atlantic Monthly on the art and science of camouflage.
The backstory: A couple years ago, while working on an article on deer hunting, I became interested in the idea of human camouflage. There seemed to be two completely different schools of thought. Hunters favored tromp l'oeil foliage patterns like those produced by Mossy Oak (bottom right photo), while soldiers wore those strange pixelated digital patterns (left).
Like a lot of articles I work on, this one stewed for a while. I kept a file on camouflage, followed my nose, and eventually found a way to write about it. Which is to say, I found Guy Cramer (that's him in the photo, upper right). Cramer, a 40ish Canadian, lives in a rural town east of Vancouver, B.C., and spends his days designing military camouflage patterns and inventing new ways to become invisible. The guy's a quiet genius. But I didn't know that at first. After meeting him in his research lab last year, it took me time and a lot of checking to make sure the guy was legit. He didn't fit the pattern of how we think of either military contractors or inventors. His office was neat, clean, almost eerily squared-away. There was no massive back office, no lobbying arm, no PR professional squiring me around. There was just Guy, quietly working on his projects in the cold misty Canadian afternoon. He's one of the most memorable characters I've met. Read more about him in the online version of the story.