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12 articles

Making Up Hollywood

The story of Max Factor, a Polish immigrant who revoltuionized Hollywood cosmetics starting in the 1920s, and his “Beauty Calibrator” machine.


Whitewood Under Siege

The controversy-filled world of shipping pallets.


Forensic Topology

How architecture has made Los Angeles a bank robber’s paradise.


A Philosophy of Tickling

“Why do people laugh when tickled? Why can’t you tickle yourself? Why are certain parts of the body more ticklish than others? Why do some people enjoy tickling and others not? And what is tickling, after all?”


Shaved Heads, Snipped Tubes, Imperial Marines, and Dope Fiends

The rise and fall of Synanon, an addiction-recovery cult in California, and its charismatic leader, a one-time homeless wino named Chuck Dederich who taught his followers to berate each other for therapy.


The Behavioral Sink

The story of Universe 25, a mouse utopia that became an overcrowded hell, and its implications for the future of humankind.


The Coldscape

Our entire way of life depends upon the “cold chain,” the network of artificially refrigerated spaces that have reshaped the modern world.


Heavy Breeding

The 1920s experiment to reverse-engineer wild cows.


Reimagining Recreation

On New York City’s “Young Turks of radical urban playground design.”


Mengele’s Skull

Tracking the Nazi doctor’s bones through South America.



Rust as a drug.

"Hydrated ferric oxide. A textbook will tell you it's what happens when iron oxidizes after exposure to air and water, but that's what happens to iron, not to you. Not to you if you put a fingertip coated with its sandy granules to the back of your tongue or when you inhale a long, coppery ridge. "


Caveman: An Interview with Michel Siffre

In 1962, Siffre spent two months living in total isolation in a subterranean cave, without access to clock, calendar, or sun. Sleeping and eating only when his body told him to, his goal was to discover how the natural rhythms of human life would be affected by living “beyond time.”