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  • flying car

    Hyperloop or Hype: Can Elon Musk’s Wild Transport Idea Work?

    How would you like to get around in a vehicle that “never crashes, that’s at least twice as fast as a plane, that’s solar powered, and that leaves right when you arrive, so there is no waiting for a departure time”? Sounds a little too good to be true, but that is precisely what serial […]

  • ostrich feet

    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 a lot like an ostrich’s, and nothing like […]

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    When Pigs Fly

    It’s no fairy tale—factory farms and air travel form a viral expressway to pandemics.

  • solar system model

    Two Good Ways to Really *Get* the Solar System

    The Sun is one busy celestial body. In addition to giving us light, holding the solar system together, and providing the energy for almost every living thing on Earth, it’s also a grapefruit in a grass field in Austin, Texas, and a 50-foot yellow archway in northern Maine. Now, obviously this huge mass of incandescent gas […]

  • reading

    Why People Love to Get Lost in Books

    In the huge range of different human cultural inclinations, one of the most widespread is a fondness for stories. We just love to get lost in a good book or movie. When we do, we tend to ignore where we are and become completely absorbed in the story. Psychologists call this “transportation,” and have conducted […]

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    Reading the Tea Leaves: How Particles Can Travel Upstream

    It’s been said that the true harbinger of scientific discovery is not “Eureka!” but “Huh… that’s funny….” That certainly proved to be the case for Sebastian Bianchi: a simple cup of tea led him to some intriguing, counter-intuitive insights into the surface tension of water. Back when he was an undergraduate physics major at the […]

  • sperm entrance

    The Feminine Smells That Get Sperm Moving

    Sperm are the cheetahs of the microscopic world: Made of little more than molecular muscle and batteries, tipped with a payload of genetic information, they are optimized for speed. But to orient themselves before their epic, seven-inch sprint (it’s more impressive if you’re less than one three-thousandth that size), they first need to sniff out […]

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    By the Light of the Moon, the Poles of the Earth

    The remarkable ways animals get around.

  • Kaltenegger_HERO_1280x376

    Worlds Without End

    Think we might eventually travel to other planets? In a way, we already are.

  • North_HERO_1280x376

    The Wanders

    When home is not a haven.