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Shannon Hall

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    The Supervolcano Under Yellowstone Is Alive and Kicking

    The wind shifts. The stench of rotten eggs makes it nearly impossible to breathe and the hot fog clouds my view. I hold my breath and close my eyes, imagining the fog growing thicker, crushing me. Then without warning the wind clears and I’m enveloped once again in the cold, dry air. The heat feels […]

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    Fireworks Displays Can’t Include a Perfect Red, White, and Blue

    Mother Nature can be a handful when she wants to be,” says John Conkling, the former technical director of the American Pyrotechnics Association and a professor emeritus of chemistry at Washington College. Except he used a stronger, more colorful word than “handful.” When it comes to fireworks, “she just doesn’t want to give you that […]

  • Yellowstone National Park

    The Supervolcano Under Yellowstone is Alive and Kicking

    There's enough hot rock to fill the Grand Canyon nearly 14 times.

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    Is It Time to Embrace Unverified Theories?

    In the world of modern physics, there is change afoot. Researchers are striving so hard to leap beyond the mostly settled science of the Standard Model that they’re daring to break from one of science’s crucial traditions. In pursuit of a definitive, unifying description of reality, some scientists are arguing that scientific theories may not […]

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    6 Graphs That Showed Landmark Discoveries—But Were Later Debunked

    It begins with the smallest anomaly. The first exoplanets were the slightest shifts in a star’s light. The Higgs boson was just a bump in the noise. And the Big Bang sprung from a few rapidly moving galaxies that should have been staying put. Great scientific discoveries are born from puny signals that prompt attention. […]

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    Is Coloring Within the Lines the New Meditation?

    I sit motionless on the hardwood floor. My legs are crossed in a full lotus position and the back of my hands rest on top of my knees with my pointer fingers pressed slightly against my thumbs. My posture reflects the small Buddha statue in front of me. And together, our shadows dance on the […]

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    A Visual History of Humanity’s Exploration of Pluto

    Before I could string full sentences together, I used to wander outside past my bedtime. I would push open the sliding glass door and immediately look up, searching for stars sprinkled beyond the silhouetted trees. At the time, I couldn’t even begin to comprehend what I was seeing. Instead, each beacon of light represented a […]

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    Why Fireworks Displays Can’t Include a Perfect Red, White, and Blue

    “Mother Nature can be a handful when she wants to be,” says John Conkling, the former technical director of the American Pyrotechnics Association and a professor emeritus of chemistry at Washington College. Except he used a stronger, more colorful word than “handful.” When it comes to fireworks, “she just doesn’t want to give you that […]

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    What Do Romantic Aliens See at the End of Their Alien Days?

    When it comes to exoplanets, reality is catching up with science fiction. Take Kepler-16b, a Saturn-size planet roughly 200 light-years from Earth that circles not just one star but a pair of stars. Nicknamed Tatooine, after the fictional home planet of Luke and Anakin Skywalker, this world must see sunsets that are twice as breathtaking. […]

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    Fallingwater: A Building That Bonds With Nature and Dances With Time

    The water flowing down the stream’s banks sends a soft and consistent murmur through the forest. The flow, however, is far from continuous. At one point the cool water swirls in eddies and gathers in still pools, but then—almost accidentally—it surges forward and slips quickly over the ledge. It crashes loudly, bubbling up in a […]