Science

243 articles
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Siblings tend to lions at a Tanzanian animal clinic.

"Eleven years her senior, Derek left America when she was fourteen to study and work in New Zealand, Greenland, and Chad, combing lakes for pale bacterial blooms. Over a decade Diana had collected his letters, filled with descriptions of the origins of rivers, dead fish in the Niantic, elephant calves strung up in abattoirs. And when she finished her sophomore year, he founded the Keren Reserve, a lion research conservatory that commanded a half-million acres at the edge of the Sahel. He had filmed four documentaries for television. Now, he researched emerging atavistic traits in the prides: infighting, cubs abandoned by their mothers."

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A suburban teen attempts to build a reactor, radioactivity ensues.

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A 42,000-word, 3-continent spanning “hacker tourist” account of the laying of the (then) longest wire on earth.

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A scientific and psychological examination of a gunshot.

"This is how you feel a bullet. You have certain sensory receptors that detect pain, these are called nociceptors. When a nocicpetor receives a painful stimulus, it sends a signal through its neuron to the spinal cord, which sends the signal to your brain, which sends it to a number of different areas for processing. The location and intensity of the stimulus is deciphered by the primary and secondary somatosensory cortex, for example."

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Uncertainty principles applied to modern domestic life.

"But there were always more things to add to the list—don't speak of body issues in front of daughters or read magazines with tweaked and smoothed images that were—hadn't she read this—actually altering the brain chemistry for young girls. Plus the magazines were paper, wasteful, though reading on line wasn't great for macular degeneration and other ocular issues and who wanted one more thing—glasses—to have to remember to pack every day? Plus glasses might make her feel older which wasn't terrible—she's happy where she is and needs to lean in lean back push onward and show this—but glasses might make her feel sexless and that would make her less present in the moment."

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Inside the minds of two people, one with the world’s best memory and one with the world’s worst.

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On the centuries-long search for the perfect hangover remedy.

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An astronaut, a superhero, a love story.

"Sometimes she feels like her marriage to a superhero was preordained; what other options did she have when her passion was split between flight and the stars? When she gets home, she’ll wrap her arms around his neck, twist her legs around his, lie down on his back and they’ll go carving through the night sky, ignoring gravity’s plaintive calls to come back down, the lights of industrial Houston like the stars reflected ten fold, the opaque water of the Gulf spotted with the miniature cities of oil rigs."

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On drinking alcohol while pregnant.

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On starting a rural retreat for recovering addicts.

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A species of jellyfish that can transform itself back to a polyp at any time appears to debunk the most fundamental law of the natural world — you are born, and then you die.

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The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker was extinct. Then it wasn’t. The story of an uncertain resurrection.

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In 1943, a young research scientist found a cure for TB. It should have been the proudest moment of Albert Schatz’s life, but ever since he has watched, helpless, as his mentor got all the credit.

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How a woman who couldn’t stop sleeping woke up.

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A profile of Sir Dr. NakaMats, who claims to have invented over 3,000 things, including the floppy disk and karaoke machine.

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On the history of Nigerian penis theft.

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Animal nature, human racism, and the future of zoos.

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The future of homo sapiens.

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On the moral behavior of animals.

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Why do Ikarians live so long—and remain mentally sharp until the end?

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We know we need it, but we don’t know why.

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Two nineteenth century paleontologists, once friends and colleagues, become bitter enemies.

"But years ago, there was room for friendship. They talked for hours at Haddonfield, grinning in helpless academic passion and exclaiming at their own twin hearts. They ate breakfast together on a heap of rock in the marl pits, black bread and coffee as the sun swam into the sky. Cope in shirtsleeves, a boy's face, looking more like Marsh's son than his contemporary."

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“For every other kid in the room, the science experiment probably amounts to just another classroom activity, but for the Nashes the project is a reminder of Molly’s own fight for life and the controversial cutting-edge medicine that saved her.”

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Stalking bluefin tuna, the most valuable wild animal in the world.

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The rise of drug-resistant gonorrhea.

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The story of a device that delivers electric shocks to students at a school for special needs.

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A prehistoric human specimen sets precipitous events in motion.

"Whereas before we would march down the sterile, artificially lit halls of the Institute, nodding to one another as we passed, the air around us a cold flutter of clipboards and clicking pens, we now began to stop and greet one another, laughing. Two weeks with Loeka, and some of the men started showing up to the lab in more brightly colored shirts and gag neckties."

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How meteorologists are improving their predictive powers.

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The day Hurricane Irene nearly drowned Prattsville, New York.

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A psychological, historical and neurological look at Alcoholics Anonymous.

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An essay on Alcor – “the Arizona cryonics company that has put the body of Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer Ted Williams in cryogenic suspension, in the hope he may one day rise again” – and the desire to live forever.

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The story of John Laroche, which led to Orleans’ The Orchid Thief, and tangentially, the film Adaptation.

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On getting a brain implant to slow the progress of Parkinson’s disease.

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On the economics, impact, and communities of the international pipeline.

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An armchair astronaut attempts to become the first black man to walk on the moon.

"The robot had this fold-down flap on its backside and Wesley sat there, buckled in, and told us he and the robot were going to outer space. There were fuses attached to the thing's feet and we stood back as he lit them like Wile E. Coyote. Well, that crazy robot went up all right—right up in flames! And we all about fell on our faces laughing, Wesley loudest of all."

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“For the first few days after the surgery, it was difficult to separate out my newly implanted sense from the bits of pain and sensation created by the trauma of having the magnet jammed in my finger.”

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A father and his daughter observe the emergence of mysterious, animal-like oil rigs.

"Only the most violent post-return decommissioning could stop all this, only second deaths, from which the rigs did not come back again, kept them from where they wished to go, to drill. Once chosen, a place might be visited by any one of the wild rigs that walked out of the abyss. As if such locations had been decided collectively. UNPERU observed the nesting sites, more all the time, and kept track of the rigs themselves as best they could, of their behemoth grazing or wandering at the bottom of the world."

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On the uneasy relationship between magic and medicine.

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On the legal history of LSD in America and a researcher who never gave up on the drug’s promise.

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The 1920s experiment to reverse-engineer wild cows.

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Libertarian, futurist, billionaire: a profile of Peter Thiel.

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The scientific case for brain preservation and mind uploading.

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A profile of the man behind the “7 Habits.”

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For days I've been slogging through a rain-soaked jungle in Indonesian New Guinea, on a quest to visit members of the Korowai tribe, among the last people on earth to practice cannibalism.
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“Over the past century, coaches have used intuition and discipline to vastly improve athletic performance. Now scientists are taking the last step, helping athletes approach perfection.”

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Inside the increasingly hostile global warming debate.

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The fifty-year battle over where we store our nuclear remains.

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How technological progress slowed from its 20th-century peak, why we’ve shifted from changing reality to simply simulating reality, and whether capitalism is the true culprit.

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Perpetually reinvented through experimental chemistry, manufactured in Asian mills, packaged in foil with names like White Slut Concentrated and Charley Sheene for use as “hookah cleaner,” distributed in college town head shops, snorted and injected by hardened addicts and high school thrill seekers alike, bath salts may be the strangest and most volatile American drug craze since crack. And they’re (quasi) legal.

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Teaching Ted Kaczynski’s anti-technology ideas.

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On the rise of DIY genetic engineering.

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How we try - and usually fail - to fight the mosquito.

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How a surgical innovation allowed Dallas Weins to find a new face.

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The story of Nicole Davis, a 25-year-old woman diagnosed with breast cancer six months into her pregnancy.

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Is creativity in our genes? A self-made scholar’s search for the answer.

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On geoengineering, a high risk/high reward fix for global warming.

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Competing teams, some powered by billionaires and some by open-sourced code and volunteers, race to land a robot on the surface and claim a massive prize from Google.

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A sociobiologist on how we evolved into artists.

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On spending six months on the southern coast of Argentina with the “Jane Goodall of penguins” and several hundred of her research subjects.

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Controversy over the alleged gold standard of forensic evidence.

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On the possibility of “fluid intelligence.”

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On the Texas-sized trash island floating in the Pacific.

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A father and his daughter’s brain tumor.

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How the CIA, under a program called MK-ULTRA, used a San Francisco apartment to dose johns with LSD.

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An investigation into Erin Brockovich and the lawsuits that made her famous.

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At a nursing home, a middle-aged woman deals with her scientifically modified body and memories of her past.

"For the past few months, nanobots have been rebuilding Elise’s degenerative neural structures, refortifying the cell production of her microglia in an experimental medical procedure. Now she sits in the Memory Lane Neurotherapy lounge, strapped into a magnetoencephalographic (MEG) scanner that looks like a 1950s beauty parlor hair-drying unit. As a young female therapist monitors a glowing map of Elise’s brain, a male spits streams of nonsense at her."

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The impact, both on researchers and patients, of a radical treatment.

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The rise of anti-anxiety medication.

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The artist discusses her latest record, Biophilia, science and music education. 

Up until she developed a vocal-cord nodule a few years ago, Björk made a point of not investigating how that instrument worked. “With arrangements and lyrics,” she says, squinting over her coffee, “I work more with the left side of my brain. But my voice has always been very right brain. I didn’t try to analyze it at all. I didn’t even know until I started all this voice work, two years ago, what my range was. I didn’t want to let the academic side into that—I worried the mystery would go.”

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The stories of a record-setting chain of transplants.

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“In the very near future, the act of remembering will become a choice.”

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A profile of Taylor Wilson, who achieved nuclear fusion at age 14.

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Inside the world of targeted marketing.

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On Mike Powell, a Chicago-area high school wrestling coach who hasn’t allowed a life-threatening illness to interrupt his life’s work.

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How an industry that couldn’t miss did just that.

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A visit to the newly on-the-market Jamesburg Earth Station, a massive satellite receiver that played a key role in communications with space, and its neighbors in an adjacent trailer park.

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On Alison Winter’s Memory: Fragments of a Modern History, and issues of memory in the 20th century.

Underlying the compelling feeling that we are our memories is a further common-sense assumption that our entire lives are accurately retained somewhere in the brain ‘bank’ as laid-down memories of our experience, and that we retrieve our lives and selves from an ever expanding stockpile of recollections. Or we can’t, and then that feeling that it’s on the tip of our tongue, or there but just out of range, still encourages us to think that everything we have known or done is in us somewhere, if only our digging equipment were sharper.

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Jaroslav Flegr and his theory about Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite found in cat feces:

If Flegr is right, the "latent" parasite may be quietly tweaking the connections between our neurons, changing our response to frightening situations, our trust in others, how outgoing we are, and even our preference for certain scents. And that’s not all. He also believes that the organism contributes to car crashes, suicides, and mental disorders such as schizophrenia. When you add up all the different ways it can harm us, says Flegr, "Toxoplasma might even kill as many people as malaria, or at least a million people a year."

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A thirteen-year-old adoptee born in Russia with fetal alcohol syndrome, his golden sheperd Chancer, and the trainer who taught Chancer to bond emotionally with disabled children.

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The autonomous car of the future is here:

I was briefly nervous when Urmson first took his hands off the wheel and a synthy woman’s voice announced coolly, “Autodrive.” But after a few minutes, the idea of a computer-driven car seemed much less terrifying than the panorama of indecision, BlackBerry-fumbling, rule-flouting, and other vagaries of the humans around us—including the weaving driver who struggles to film us as he passes.

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A conversation about love in the form of excavation.

"I want to be unearthed again, she says, marvelled at, brushed delicately, cradled, magnified, examined, taxonomied, announced at symposiums."

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How black market mining is destroying the Peruvian rain forest and enslaving child workers.

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Reflections on the uneasy relationship between the Earth and the moon.

" The sequel is familiar. After hundreds of thousands of centuries we are trying to give the Earth its former natural appearance, we are reconstructing the primitive terrestrial crust of plastic and cement and metal and glass and enamel and imitation leather. But what a long way we have to go! For a still incalculable amount of time we will be condemned to sink into the lunar discharge, rotten with chlorophyll and gastric juices and dew and nitrogenous gases and cream and tears."

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How an increase in the earth’s temperature could wipe out a continent.

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How information replicates, mutates, and evolves.

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A profile of celebrity astrophysicist Neil Tyson.

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A 21-year-old falls into a coma from which he’ll never emerge. His mother, desperate to grant his wish of becoming a father, has his sperm preserved. Two years later, after a fruitless search for other alternatives, she finds a willing doctor and tries one last option: carrying her son’s child herself.

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A young couple’s story.

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A doctor reveals widespread organ harvesting of prisoners in China.

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The search for what makes identical twins different.

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On the recovery of snowboarder Kevin Pearce, who suffered a massive brain injury five days before the 2010 Olympics.

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On prospecting for space rocks in Kansas.

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After losing his sight at age 3, Michael May went on to become the first blind CIA agent, set a world record for downhill skiing, and start a successful Silicon Valley company. Then he got the chance to see again.

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The case for why a cup of joe is about to become a luxury item.

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Chantix is a pill that decreases the pleasurable effects of cigarettes. It also causes hallucinations, suicidal thoughts and waking nightmares:

A week into my Chantix usage, I started to feel as if the city landscape had imperceptibly shifted around me. Mundane details began to strike me as having deep, hidden significance. The neon arch above McDonald’s: The lights blinked on and off in some sort of pattern, and I needed to crack the code.

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On the autopsy of a 5,000-year-old murder victim.

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On a pair of Israeli psychologists who between 1971 and 1984 “published a series of quirky papers exploring the ways human judgment may be distorted when we are making decisions in conditions of uncertainty.”

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Irving Kahn is about to celebrate his 106th birthday. He still goes to work every day. Scientists are studying him and several hundred other Ashkenazim to find out what keeps them going. And going. And going.
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A profile of environmental activist Tim DeChristopher.

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A family of Georgia churchgoers contracted the plague of their time, HIV. Some survived, some didn’t—this is the story of their family over thirty years.

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On the enduring appeal, both amateur and academic, of man vs. dinosaur.

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On the battles, both between humans and animals, in Africa’s overpopulated Albertine Rift.

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What if science could trigger an out-of-body experience? Alex Shakar probes the question in this excerpt from his new novel, Luminarium

"He’s afraid: fear comes in ripples, emanating from his center. He can feel nothing but these ripples, he realizes, neither the chair beneath him nor the helmet on his head, nor his head itself."

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Retirement for chimps is, in its way, a perversely natural outcome, which is to say, one that only we, the most cranially endowed of the primates, could have possibly concocted. It's the final manifestation of the irrepressible and ultimately vain human impulse to bring inside the very walls that we erect against the wilderness its most inspiring representatives -- the chimps, our closest biological kin, the animal whose startling resemblance to us, both outward and inward, has long made it a ''can't miss'' for movies and Super Bowl commercials and a ''must have'' in our laboratories. Retirement homes are, in a sense, where we've been trying to get chimps all along: right next door.
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On the minds of teenagers.

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The misconception? You do nice things for the people you like and bad things to the people you hate. The truth? You grow to like people for whom you do nice things and hate people you harm.
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As part of his obsessive search for evidence of UFOs, Gary McKinnon worked his way into thousands of government computers. The U.S. charged him with terrorism. Doctors diagnosed him with Asperger’s. And his lawyers started arguing a new version of the insanity defense.

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The case for coaches in professions other than music and sports. Like medicine, for example:

Since I have taken on a coach, my complication rate has gone down. It’s too soon to know for sure whether that’s not random, but it seems real. I know that I’m learning again. I can’t say that every surgeon needs a coach to do his or her best work, but I’ve discovered that I do.

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In 1959, a social psychologist in Michigan brought together three institutionalized patients for an experiment:

[W]hat would happen, he wondered, if he made three men meet and live closely side by side over a period of time, each of whom believed himself to be the one and only Jesus Christ?

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On Timothy Treadwell, who lived and died by the bears of Alaska.

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A year with an autistic 20-year-old.

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In 2009, 300 people perished in an earthquake in L’Aquila, Italy. Next week, six Italian scientists and one government official will stand trial for manslaughter.

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On the dying city of Port Arthur, Texas, and one man’s fight to save it.

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On the endless quest to predict earthquakes.

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At work with the scientists standing on the precipice of a grand unified theory of the universe. Or failure.

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On the culture of plastic surgery in Los Angeles, and how the reporter’s life changed when she got a pair of fake boobs.

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In the film bullets approach in slow motion a series of glistening roundels, resembling condoms just taken out of their paper wrappings. Most of the bullets go right through, leaving a clean hole. But the last roundel in the film collapses slowly, wrapping itself around the bullet like a blanket on a laundry line hit by a wayward football. It is a piece of artificially bred human skin, reinforced with eight layers of transgenic spider silk, the material spiders produce to spin their webs.
Translated from the original Dutch, exclusive to Longform.org.
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A footnoted inquiry into the physics and metaphysics of tennis.

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The Stanford Prison Experiment, revisited 40 years later.

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A visit to the Museum of Broken Relationships.

Olinka and Drazen are artists, and after some time passed, they did what artists often do: they put their feelings on display. They became investigators into the plane wreck of love, bagging and tagging individual pieces of evidence. Their collection of breakup mementos was accepted into a local art festival. It was a smash hit. Soon they were putting up installations in Berlin, San Francisco, and Istanbul, showing the concept to the world. Everywhere they went, from Bloomington to Belgrade, people packed the halls and delivered their own relics of extinguished love: “The Silver Watch” with the pin pulled out at the moment he first said, “I love you.” The wood-handled “Ex Axe” that a woman used to chop her cheating lover’s furniture into tiny bits. Trinkets that had meaning to only two souls found resonance with a worldwide audience that seemed to recognize the same heartache all too well.

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An investigation into The End.

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A trip to the Cannabis Cup serves as a backdrop for the story of how the War on Drugs revolutionized the way marijuana is cultivated in America.

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On the development of South Korea’s New Songdo and Cisco’s plans to build smart cities which will “offer cities as a service, bundling urban necessities – water, power, traffic, telephony – into a single, Internet-enabled utility, taking a little extra off the top of every resident’s bill.” The demand for such cities is enormous:

China doesn't need cool, green, smart cities. It needs cities, period -- 500 New Songdos at the very least. One hundred of those will each house a million or more transplanted peasants. In fact, while humanity has been building cities for 9,000 years, that was apparently just a warm-up for the next 40. As of now, we're officially an urban species. More than half of us -- 3.3 billion people -- live in a city. Our numbers are projected to nearly double by 2050, adding roughly a New Songdo a day; the United Nations predicts the vast majority will flood smaller cities in Africa and Asia.

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On the nature of coincidence.

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Eagleman, a neuroscientist, describes how groundbreaking advances in the science of brain have changed our understanding of volition in criminal acts, and may erode the underpinnings of our justice system.

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A dispatch from the early days of AIDS:

It is as relentless as leukemia, as contagious as hepatitis, and its cause has eluded researchers for more than two years.

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The Canadian scapegoat of the AIDS epidemic.

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A brutal story from the Times’ cub Metro reporter:

''We're dying,'' he said. ''Why is this happening? Is it because we loved each other too much or not enough?"

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It was the worst AIDS crisis in years—until it wasn’t.

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Pathologists and epidemiologists take on “the confounding killer known as AIDS.”

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“Is he Socrates or Mengele?” On the late Jack Kevorkian.

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Why your phone may (or may not) be killing you.

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Timothy Brown was diagnosed with HIV in the ’90s. In 2006, he found that a new, unrelated disease threatened his life: leukemia. After chemo failed, doctors resorted to a bone marrow transplant. That transplant erased any trace of HIV from his body, and may hold the secret of curing AIDS.

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A commencement address to the graduates of Harvard Medical School on how their chosen profession is changing and what they’ll need to learn now that they’re out of school.

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On the shared life of Tatiana and Krista Hogan:

[T]he girls’ doctors believe it is entirely possible that the sensory input that one girl receives could somehow cross that bridge into the brain of the other. One girl drinks, another girl feels it.

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The placebo response doesn't care if the catalyst for healing is a triumph of pharmacology, a compassionate therapists, or a syringe of salt water. All it requires is a reasonable expectation of getting better.
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Nearly every American soldier injured in Iraq or Afghanistan is treated—for a few days at least—at a single hospital in Landstuhl, Germany.

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What overcrowded and swelling Bangladesh can tell us about how the planet’s population, more than 1/3 of which live within 62 miles of a shoreline, will react to rising sea levels.

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On a neuroscientist’s personal mission to solve the mystery of how the brain processes time.

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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.”

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The story of dog-scent lineup innovator Keith Pikett and the not-so-scientific science behind forensics.

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On the battle over solar farms in the Mojave desert. An excerpt from Madrigal’s new book, Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology.

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Energy problems are long problems that often receive short solutions. In 2000, when Mother Jones ran this history about what happened to the energy research boom of the late 70s and early 80s, I was buying $0.99 a gallon gas for my Escort. I chose this story because I think longform journalism can keep people interested in these issues that require decadal attention but are subject to year-to-year fluctuations in public interest. And it’s a great story.

-A. Madrigal

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Did A.Q. Khan sell nuclear secrets on the black market? The fame had unbalanced him. He was subjected to a degree of public acclaim rarely seen in the West—an extreme close to idol worship, which made him hungry for more. Money seems never to have been his obsession, but it did play a role.

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The unlikely ascent of A.Q. Khan, the scientist who gave Pakistan the Bomb, and his suspicious fall from grace.

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A profile of computational biologist Eric Schadt, the guy who’s figuring out what comes next after the Human Genome Project.

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In the 1880’s, a shabbily dressed man popped up in numerous America cities, calling upon local scientists, showing letters of introduction claiming he was a noted geologist or paleontologist, discussing both fields at a staggeringly accomplished level, and then making off with valuable books or cash loans.

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Sasha Shulgin, a former DOW chemist who now lives a quiet life as a pensioner outside the Bay Area, is responsible for the discovery of the majority of psychedelic compounds currently known.

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On the many lives and careers of Owsley Stanley (1935-2011), chemist, sound design innovator, and outback jeweler, whose name appears in the OED as a synonym for “a particularly pure form of LSD.”

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Barry Michels is Hollywood’s most successful therapist cum motivation coach with an approach that combines Jungian psychology, encouraging patients to embrace their dark side, and “three-by-five index cards inscribed with Delphic pronouncements like THE HIERARCHY WILL NEVER BE CLEAR.”

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A group of scientists started tracking thousands of British children born during one cold March week in 1946. Those children are now 65 and the data generated through careful tracking of their life history has become extremely valuable.

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The next frontier of search is… everything. Voice recognition, image recognition, and why Google’s data set is one of the most valuable scientific tools of our age.

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Daniel Kish is entirely sightless. So how can he ride a bike on busy streets? Go hiking for days alone? By using a technique borrowed from bats.

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Henry Heimlich saved untold choking victimes when he invented his maneuver in 1974. Since then, he’s searched in vain for another miracle treatment—pushing ethical boundaries along the way. Now at the end of his career, Heimlich has hired an investigator to find an anonymous critic working full-time to destroy his legacy.

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Tackling the science of cooking, one perfect french fry at a time.

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The American medical establishment has gone to extraordinary lengths—some of which read like conspiracy theory—to discredit the notion (and its most visible promoter, Dr. Atkins) that carbohydrates, not fat, are the cause of obesity. It looks like they were wrong.

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Twenty-five years later, inside the Exclusion Zone.

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The search for the genetic distinction that allows certain animals, humans included, to be domesticated.

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How focusing on the neediest patients could radically reduce health care costs.

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The story of H1N1 and one of the lives it claimed.

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Ray Kurzweil and the Singularity; when will our minds meld with the machine?

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What the twentieth century history of rocketry can tell us about innovation.

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From the Greeks to George Lucas, 2,200 years of failure.

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Fifteen years ago, Sherry Turkle developed a little crush on a robot named Cog. Since then, the MIT professor has been studying our ever-increasing emotional reliance on technology. She’s not optimistic about where we’re headed.

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The decline of the American autopsy and what it says about modern medicine.

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How a burst blood vessel transformed the mind of a deliberate, controlled chiropractor into that of an utterly unfiltered, massively prolific artist.

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On the expanding community of American parents who believe, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, that there is a link between routine vaccinations and autism.

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How to kick heroin in 24 hours.

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A jogging buddy collapses during a marathon, his heart suddenly finished beating. The writer goes looking for answers.

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Mattathias Rath made a fortune selling cure-all vitamins in Europe before moving his business to South Africa, where he launched a massive campaign against retroviral AIDS medications and in favor of his own vitamin cocktails. When scientists, AIDS non-profits, and even Medecins San Frontieres objected, he sued.

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From the 1940s through the early 70s, incoming freshman at Harvard, Yale, Vassar, Wellesley, and several other top schools were photographed nude in the name of science–bogus science, as it turned out. Most of the photos were destroyed, but not all.

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“Look, we all know that every city is unique. That’s all we talk about when we talk about cities, those things that make New York different from L.A., or Tokyo different from Albuquerque. But focusing on those differences misses the point. Sure, there are differences, but different from what? We’ve found the what.”

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A stylized account of the fall of ant colony.

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How the bulk of the cocaine entering the U.S. ends up cut with a cattle dewormer.

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A history of entrepreneurship in New York City, starting with shipping magnate Jeremiah Thompson’s big gamble in the 1820s: scheduled departures.

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An interview with Douglas Hofstadter, who after winning the Pulitzer for Gödel, Escher, Bach retreated into the lab and published only sparingly in technical journals, on what it would mean if a program could generate humor and/or masterful compositions.

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America, China, and the case for coal as a vital weapon in the war against climate change.

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“You can treat a lot of people, and India has,’’ says an epidemiologist working on TB. “But if you have tests that cause misdiagnosis on a massive scale you are going to have a serious problem. And they do.”

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Anxiety, weight, general well-being—how the first nine months determine the rest of your life.

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The brain of Henry Molaison gave science most of what it knows about memory. Dr. Jacopo Annese believes there’s even more to learn.

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Many experts believe it’s inevitable that in the coming decades, humans will figure out how to live considerably longer lives. It might not be a good thing.

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How two Italian teenagers hacked the Soviet space program and may have heard the dying breaths of a lost cosmonaut.

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Why Darwin’s theory of sexual selection is wrong and “gayness is a necessary side effect of getting along.”

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How “tissue engineering” will change regenerative medicine.

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The godfather of experimental psychedelics and his many occasionally imprisoned followers.

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The story of two Canadian artificial intelligence visionaries who became bitter rivals and then both committed suicide in the same month.

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What we can learn from procrastination.

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The story of how Washington blew its best shot to do something on climate change.

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If the fittest survive, why are so many people still depressed? An evolutionary theory on the benefits of painful rumination.

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Would you rather have one marshmallow now or two in a few minutes? How a kid’s answer to that question can predict his or her life trajectory.

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For most people who participate in clinical trials, being a guinea pig is just a way to make a quick buck. For others, it’s a career.

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On the golden anniversary of her first trip to study chimps, an ode to Jane Goodall.

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A writer struggles to defend his arbor vitae trees from a pack of hungry deer—“an episode of great vexation and buffoonery.”

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A trip to the Russian baths helps author start to see the good in his terrible eyesight.

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How misdirected incentives in the bewildering medical supply industry keep innovative, life-saving equipment from reaching hospitals.

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The cozy relationship between “the internet newspaper” and bogus medicine.

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The author investigates the massive wildlife die-off in the Salton Sea by rafting from its tributaries in Mexico.

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A profile of Francis Collins, a fervent Christian, former head of the Human Genome Project and Obama’s appointee to head N.I.H., now at the center of the stem cell research debate.

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A psychological theory emerges to explain why young Americans are taking a while to grow up.

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Where does Strawberry-Kiwi Snapple come from? Givaudan is part of a tiny, secretive industry that produces new flavors.

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An obsessive marine biologist gambles his savings, family, and sanity on a quest to be the first to capture a live giant squid.

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When one of the best young chemists in the world took his own life, Harvard was forced to reconsider the relationship between PhD students and their (often Nobel Prize-winning) advisers.

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An emerging school of therapy says that scripting your dreams while awake could eliminate the worst ones. Not everyone thinks that’s healthy.

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Vignettes of the residents of South Elliot Place.

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Should modern medicine shift its end-of-life priorities, focusing less on staving off death and more on improving a patient’s last days?

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In 1937, Harvard researchers began following the lives of 268 students. Year after year, the men were interviewed and given medical and psychological exams. The goal? Find a formula for happiness.

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Is there really such a thing as brain death?

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The battle to contain the Asian tiger mosquito–one suburban, above-ground pool at a time.

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The complex, highly evolved world of Moscow’s subway-riding stray dogs.

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In the 1950s, L.S.D. became a Beverly Hills’ therapy fad, and it profoundly changed idols like Cary Grant.

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In the early ’80s, underground chemists cooked up synthetic versions of heroin that took over the market in California—and left young users with symptoms typically associated with Parkinson’s.

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When spouses get upset because their husband or wife wants to be frozen upon death, it’s not because they find the practice sacrilegious. It’s because their partner is consciously considering a future without them.

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A first-person account. “If you’re the sort of person who has only ever had to deal with colds and cuts, food poisoning and the odd virus…what strikes you most is the glacial pace of recuperation.”

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Through a series of interviews and historical inquiries, Errol Morris dissects Anosognosia, ”a condition in which a person who suffers from a disability seems unaware of or denies the existence of his or her disability.”

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75 years after its founding, it’s still hard to explain exactly why Alcoholics Anonymous works.

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One of the founders of Google discovered that he carried a gene that meant a 50% chance of developing Parkinson’s. In response, he is working to change and expedite the way that Parkinson’s research is conducted.

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Will we deplete the worldwide Bluefin Tuna population beyond repair?

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The urban legend about the guy who hooked a rocket up to the back of his car and drove/flew it into a mountain? The anonymous author claims the story is about him and some of his small town high school buddies.

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Atul Gawande’s recent commencement address at Stanford’s School of Medicine graduation. “Each of you is now an expert. Congratulations. So why—in your heart of hearts—do you not quite feel that way?”

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After the explosion of the Columbia shuttle in 2003, two American astronauts aboard the International Space Station suddenly found themselves with no ride home.

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Why don’t TV weathermen believe in climate change?

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In the chaotic days before the Berlin Wall fell, the East German secret police shredded 45 million pages. Fifteen years later, a team of computer scientists figured out how to put it all back together.

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The doctor behind the autism-vaccine uproar is removed from the General Medical Council for being “dishonest,” “misleading” and “irresponsible” in his research into the MMR vaccine.

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What fragmented reading experiences do to neural circuitry. (It’s not good.)

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How smallpox went from eradicated disease to the ideal weapon of bioterrorists.

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The not-so-underground culture of neuroenhancing drug use, and where it’s headed.

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How the actor ended up with a house full of tourniquets and syringes, an unflinching belief in the restorative powers of “ozone,” and the brain scan of someone who has “experienced the equivalent of blunt trauma.”

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A profile of the mysterious and moderately intelligent Giant Pacific Octopus.

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How an alcoholic doctor simultaneously saved his own life and made what could be the medical breakthrough of the century.

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The truck driver who reverse engineered the atomic bomb.

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The Columbia shuttle was to be a revolution for NASA. But a year before its first launch, the shuttle was several years behind schedule, had cost $1 billion, and wasn’t guaranteed to ever get off the ground.

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What the sensation of uncontrollable itch and the phantom limbs of amputees can tell us about how the brain works.

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A growing movement is seeking a deeper knowledge of themselves through tracking sleep, exercise, sex, food, location, productivity. Technology has made it possible—but hasn’t taught us how to interpret the findings.

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The volcanic ash cloud from Eyjafjallajokull has caused travel chaos and misery. But we were lucky. An eruption in the future could wipe out the human race.

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Recently, African Elephants have been killing people, raping rhinos, and exhibiting uncharacteristically aggressive behavior. An investigation reveals deep similarities between elephants’ and humans’ reaction to childhood trauma.