• Print Edition 25

    Issue 25 of the Nautilus print edition combines some of the best content from our issues on Connections, Systems, Horizons, The Unseen, In Plain Sight, Clockwork, and Reboot. This issue includes contributions by: journalist Justin Nobel, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Powers, cognitive neuroscientist Heather Berlin, and microbial ecologist Miranda Hart.

  • looking over the tabu

    A Fijian Village Adapts Tradition to Try to Save Its Ailing Reefs

    The day that conservation biologist Joshua Drew, his two students, and I arrive in the Fijian village of Nagigi, the wind is blowing so hard that the coconut palms are bent sideways. “Trade winds,” we are told. And, “El Nino.” The villagers here also know that climate change is affecting the weather, but their more […]

  • Marijuana grow operation Humboldt County

    Water & Vice: Producing Intoxicants in an Era of Extreme Drought

    California is thirsty. The state is in its fourth year of a drought that is especially severe, by any measure. For instance, an April 1 snowpack measurement, a key indicator of surface-water supplies, was lower than any year on record, going back at least to 1950. Dry statistics aside, you can grasp the scope of […]

  • MONIAC American machine diagram

    The Rube Goldberg Machine That Mastered Keynesian Economics

    While researching my soon-to-be-released biography on John Horton Conway, an iconoclastic and very influential mathematician at Princeton, I organized a research trip to his native England. We visited with Conway’s elder sister, Joan, in Liverpool, and convened a reunion at his alma mater, Cambridge. We met there with a few of his “sum chums,” his co-authors […]

  • John Conway WINNIE

    This Early Computer Was Based on a Urinal Flush Mechanism

    John Horton Conway, a Fellow of the Royal Society who hails from Princeton via Cambridge, England, is notorious for many things—perhaps most for his promiscuous curiosity and his lifelong love affair with playing all manner of games. He’s also celebrated for his Conway groups in mathematical symmetry, for his surreal numbers, and for inventing cellular […]

  • chimp picking flowers in water

    Chimps and the Zen of Falling Water

    There is a waterfall in Tanzania’s Gombe National Park. Maybe 12 feet high, it’s fairly modestly sized, though even a modest waterfall is quite a magical thing. And it’s here that chimpanzees come to dance. You can watch a video online, narrated by the great primatologist Jane Goodall, who, as with so many chimpanzee behaviors, […]

  • Waterfall

    Why A Post-Nuclear World Would Look Nothing Like “Mad Max”

    Mad Max: Fury Road envisions an embarrassing, nightmarish future. Worldwide droughts have driven humanity to nuclear war over water, destroying modern civilization, and disfiguring the earth into a planet-spanning Sahara. Decrepit old goons control the last remaining pockets of groundwater and arable land; essentially, the movie is one drawn-out, violent chase scene through a sterile […]

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    The Last Drop of Water in Broken Hill

    In the Australian outback, the future of drought has come early.

  • Sharon Jones walking to boat hero b+w

    Can New Research & Old Traditions Save Fiji From Ecological Collapse?

    I look out the windshield of the taxi and see that the road through the tropical forest ends, but our journey does not. We continue on a rutted dirt road, then ford a small stream, and eventually emerge from the thick vegetation at the edge of a vast and empty beach. Here, we wait. A […]

  • Lake Urmia hero

    The Tragedy of Iran’s Great Salt Lake

    This classic Facts So Romantic post originally ran in August, 2014. The last time my cousin Houman traveled to Lake Urmia was 11 years ago. He and four of his friends piled into his car and drove for roughly 12 hours, snaking west from the capital of Tehran. Iran is shaped like a teapot; its […]