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- Jan 19 201710 minutes
The Not-So-Fine Tuning of the Universe: Physics:There’s more than one way to build a universe suitable for life.
Before there is life, there must be structure. Our universe synthesized atomic nuclei early in its history. Those nuclei ensnared electrons to form atoms. Those atoms agglomerated into galaxies, stars, and planets. At last, living things had places t
- Feb 5 20178 minutes
The Exotic Matter States Behind PCs, Visual Displays, and the Future of Water
You might have learned in school that there are three phases of matter: solid, liquid, and gas. That is a useful simplification for young students, but there are in fact many, many more. In the past century or so, we’ve discovered that there are hund
- Apr 7 20167 minutes
Why Nature Prefers Hexagons: The geometric rules behind fly eyes, honeycombs, and soap bubbles.
How do bees do it? The honeycombs in which they store their amber nectar are marvels of precision engineering, an array of prism-shaped cells with a perfectly hexagonal cross-section. The wax walls are made with a very precise thickness, the cells ar
- Jan 10 20174 minutes
‘Short-Lived’ Methane Could Raise Sea Levels for Another 800 Years
A new study shows that sea levels will keep increasing long after emissions leave the atmosphere.
- Jan 7 20177 minutes
The Atlantic Ocean and an Actual Debate in Climate Science
Scientists have recently begun to re-examine a scary question: Will a crucial ocean current shut down?
- Sep 3 20142 minutes
The Few Tough Species That Survive the Rigors of Nothingness
In the 1800s, scientists imagined that life was brought to Earth by a rock that had been knocked off of a distant, life-filled planet. Now, over 100 years later, we are able to test this idea of “panspermia”—by sending life away from Earth and seeing
- Jan 21 201610 minutes
The Problem with Nature Therapy: The medicalization of nature turns a relationship into a dose.
In a popular online video, Nature Rx, a depthless-eyed, rakishly bearded man prescribes nature as the drug of choice for your stress, cynicism, narcissism, and other “crippling symptoms of modern life.” There are scenes of campfires, mist-covered lak
- Feb 20 20171 minute
The Right Kind of Shine
“Dewy” skin is the hottest look, even when it’s freezing out
- Jan 22 20171 minute
Bottled Versus Tap
BOTTLED Where it comes from: Nearly half of New York’s comes from city reserves. How it’s regulated: The Food and Drug Administration treats it as a food, and it can’t require food companies to publish detailed reports on where their products come
- Jan 2 20173 minutes
How Bad Air Came Back
Air pollution is getting worse—and hurting us even more
- Jan 11 20175 minutes
A Break In The Search For The Origin Of Complex Life
A group of newly discovered microbes, named after Norse gods, may belong to the lineage from which we evolved.
- Aug 1 201311 minutes
Monsters, Marvels, And The Birth Of Science: How the unlikely and unexplainable, strange and terrifying, spawned the age of science.
Finding regularity in nature is the bread and butter of science. We know that reptiles lay eggs, while mammals bear live young; the Earth revolves around the sun every 365.25 days; electrons glom onto protons like bears onto honey. But what if some o
- Jul 18 20132 minutes
The Problematic, Newfangled Hack That Is the Human Leg
If you were to design a leg for a bipedal animal from scratch, what would it look like? Don’t bother looking down at your own body for inspiration—you won’t find a good model there. If you want to make a really good bipedal leg, you should make one
- Jan 26 20173 minutes
How a Scientist Mapped the Entire Peruvian Amazon by Plane
In August 2011, I climbed onto a small twin-propeller plane, crouching down to avoid smacking my head. The plane took off from Cusco, Peru, and was soon soaring over the Amazon rainforest. From the window, I could see a vast, unbroken layer of trees,
- Sep 19 20161 minute
The Anthropocene Should Bring Awe—and Act as a Warning
JUSTIN WORLAND AS GEOLOGICAL EPOCHS HAVE COME AND gone throughout Earth’s vast history, shifts have often correlated with large-scale global changes like ice ages and mass extinctions. An asteroid hits the planet, wiping out the dinosaurs, and the C
- Dec 23 20164 minutes
Escaping Japan's Cities for the 'So-Called Wilderness'
When the Japanese want to get out of Tokyo, glorious, alpine Kamikochi is where they go.
- Nov 1 20161 minute
Wind Is Getting Really, Really Cheap
The first offshore wind farm in the U.S. marks a turning point for the industry.
- Oct 24 20161 minute
5 Issues That Deserve More Love—or Hate
SHIPPING Ninety percent of all we use—shirts, phones, disposable coffee cups and the beans therein—have traveled around the world on ships burning one of the dirtiest fuels by the ton. According to Edward Humes, author of Door to Door, 160 of these
- Jan 9 20174 minutes
Obama in Science: The Renewable Revolution Will Outlast Trump
The president makes the case for his energy legacy in one of the nation’s preeminent scientific journals.
- Nov 18 20162 minutes
Cave Yields One Of The World's Most Unusual Creatures
A newly discovered inch-long millipede has more legs than the chorus line at Radio City Music Hall.
- May 1 20143 minutes
To Boost Tourism and Combat Erosion, This Company Is Installing Artifical Reefs in the Sea
Walter Marine has installed more than 35,000 reefs in waters in the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Mexico and other countries.
- Nov 6 20156 minutes
This Floating Contraption Could Scoop Out Absurd Amounts of Ocean Plastic
A 21-year-old named Boyan Slat says he can solve one of the greatest ecological disasters of our age: the build-up of vast amounts of plastic in our oceans. The young Dutchman, often photographed in a t-shirt and shorts, says he’s designed a structur
- Sep 16 20163 minutes
A Cosmic Crash May Have Made the Moon
Some marriages are arranged. Some are for love, others for convenience. Some happen as the result of a sextillion-ton collision in space. The Earth and the moon, for example. Over the past twenty years there has been one dominant model to explain the
- Dec 22 201626 minutes
The Best Books We Read in 2016
The Atlantic’s editors and writers share their favorite titles—new, classic, or somewhere in between—from a year of reading.
- Dec 26 201310 minutes
The Termite And The Architect: Animal homes resist our understanding.
In 1991, the multinational Old Mutual investment group approached the Zimbabwean architect Mick Pearce with an audacious assignment. The group wished to construct a retail and office complex called the Eastgate Centre in Zimbabwe’s capital city of Ha
- Feb 8 20172 minutes
The One Kind of Black Hole Astronomers Can't Pin Down
Scientists believe these light-eating bodies come in three sizes, but they haven’t yet confirmed that “medium” truly exists.
- Apr 1 20163 minutes
The Kitchen Sink
ERIK NEUMANN When John Wick and his wife, Peggy Rathmann, bought their 540-acre ranch in 1998, it was in bad shape. Located in California’s Marin County, a windswept region northwest of San Francisco Bay, the land had been worn down by overgrazing;
- Apr 25 20143 minutes
Strange Eyeless Fish Creates Its Own Sonar Signals to “See”
Deep in some pitch-black, underwater caves in Mexico, there lives a peculiar little pinkish-white fish. Only about four inches long, this albino has taste buds on the outside of its lower jaw, sleeps very little, and, most interestingly, has no eyes.
- Apr 15 20143 minutes
Born of Meteor Dust, Unusual Clouds Appear in the Night Sky
If you look to the darkening sky after the end of a long summer day, you might see tendril-like clouds with a blueish tinge that hang at the edge of space. They appear when conditions are right, generally at latitudes close to the North or South Pole
- Dec 9 20134 minutes
How to Build a Better Bat Cave
In the winter of 1975, a biologist named Merlin Tuttle bought himself a state-of-the-art digital thermometer and set out on a road trip from Wisconsin down to Florida. Tuttle, who was in his mid-30s and sporting a brown, push-broom mustache, was tryi