Imagine a future in which buildings tower miles over the streets below, tourists take day trips to the edge of our atmosphere, and multiple space stations can be spotted drifting across the night sky. To make this sci-fi vision a reality, we will need to create new kinds of structures that are lightweight but still strong and tough.
In what is being called the biggest attack on the Amazon in fifty years, Brazil has just opened a massive area of the rainforest up to mining. A formerly protected national reserve twice the size of New Jersey, which is home to several indigenous tribes, has been officially abolished and will be turned over to mining interests.
This film was shown only once, and with no advance notice on stations in only five US cities. The original Michael Eisner intro helps spark a sense of nostalgia which few documentaries today can capture.
In the quest for the most innovative inventions, scientists are probing all directions for ways to interact and influence the world around them. What happens however when that drive for progression gets pushed further than one may hope to consider. In today's media fueled chaos, it's not common to feel a bit dismayed at some of the horrible events affecting many people imprisoned by the beliefs of those around them.
One of the biggest modern myths about agriculture is that organic farming is inherently sustainable. It can be, but it isn’t necessarily. After all, soil erosion from chemical-free tilled fields undermined the Roman Empire and other ancient societies around the world. Other agricultural myths hinder recognizing the potential to restore degraded soils to feed the world using fewer agrochemicals.
Without knowing it, most Americans rely every day on a class of chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFASs. These man-made materials have unique qualities that make them extremely useful. They repel both water and grease, so they are found in food packaging, waterproof fabric, carpets and wall paint.
Cassini is the most sophisticated space probe ever built. Launched in 1997 as a joint NASA/European Space Agency mission, it took seven years to journey to Saturn. It’s been orbiting the sixth planet from the sun ever since, sending back data of immense scientific value and images of magnificent beauty.
In the spring of 1837, a “long, gawky, ugly, shapeless man” walked into Joshua Speed’s dry goods store in Springfield, Illinois, requesting supplies for a bed. Speed said the cost would be US$17, which ended up being too pricey for the visitor, who asked instead for credit until Christmas. The 23-year-old Speed was nonetheless taken with this stranger; he “threw such charm around him” and betrayed a “perfect naturalness.”
I’m an anthropologist who grew up in Japan and has lived there, off and on, for 22 years. Yet every visit to Tokyo’s Harajuku District still surprises me. In the eye-catching styles modeled by fashion-conscious young adults, there’s a kind of street theater, with crowded alleyways serving as catwalks for teenagers peacocking colorful, inventive outfits.
A Hungarian film titled “Sing” recently won the Oscar for best short film. “Sing” tells the story of young Zsófi, who joins a renowned children’s choir at her elementary school where “everyone is welcome.”
Humans and animals need to do several things to pass on their genes: eat, avoid being eaten, reproduce and sleep. Missing any of these biological imperatives leads to death. But when we’re asleep we can’t perform those other functions. One of modern science’s big mysteries, then, is: why do we sleep?