Long Read
Article

The future of silk

Words by Hiawatha Bray

Silk is stronger than steel or kevlar. We are already using it to transport vaccines without cold chains and make automatically dissolving stitches. What else could it be used for?

Read more
Silk

Watt lies beneath

Words by Tom Ough

The earth’s core is hot. So hot, that if we drilled deep enough, we could power the world millions of times over with cheap, clean energy, supporting renewables when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. But getting there is tough.

Read more
Holes

The cocktail revolution

Words by Peter Suderman

Cocktails aren’t what they used to be – and that’s a good thing. The search for fresher and more novel ingredients from ever further afield continues to revolutionize mixology for the better.

Read more
Cocktails

Making architecture easy

Words by Samuel Hughes

Unlike nearly all other arts, architecture is inherently public and shared. That means that buildings should be designed to be agreeable – easy to like – not to be unpopular works of genius.

Read more
Tonality

The discovery of copper

Words by Ed Conway

Today’s world requires vastly more copper than you could imagine, and the world of electric vehicles will require even more. That means finding new ways to find and extract copper from the earth’s crust and oceans.

Read more
Copper

Houston, we have a solution

Words by Anya Martin

Houston was notorious for its sprawl. But it has seen a gentle density revolution since the 1990s. Allowing neighborhoods to opt out of citywide reforms was crucial in its transformation.

Read more
Texas

How DC densified

Words by Emily Hamilton

Washington, DC, has avoided the worst price rises that have plagued many other growing American cities. Arlington’s transit-oriented development might be the reason.

Read more
Density

Taming the stars

Words by John Myers

Cheap, safe nuclear power is possible, but is all but prohibited in most Western countries. A regulatory sandbox for fission could shake us out of our regulatory sclerosis.

Read more
Fission
Film
Gentle Density
Gentle Density
Reconciling beauty and density
Episode 1: BrooklynEpisode 1: Brooklyn
Watch nowWatch →
Watch now
Film
ARIA
A look at Britain’s new DARPA
ARIA: Betting on scienceARIA: Betting on science
Watch nowWatch →
Watch now
Special Issue 01
October 2022
Lost in Stagnation

Nanotechnology’s spring

Words by Eli Dourado

Nanotechnology sometimes sounds as much like science fiction as artificial intelligence once did. But the problems holding it back seem solvable, and some of the answers may lie inside our own bodies.

Read more
Science
Film
The Street Network
A look at Cuba’s grassroots internet
The Street Network (La Red Callejera)The Street Network (La Red Callejera)
Watch nowWatch →
Watch now

The Maintenance Race

Words by Stewart Brand

The world’s first round-the-world solo yacht race was a thrilling and, for some, deadly contest. Its contestants’ efforts can teach us about the art of maintenance.

Read more
Culture

Age of the bacteriophage

Words by Léa Zinsli

Bacteriophages – viruses that infect bacterial cells – were almost forgotten in the age of antibiotics. Now as bacterial resistance grows, they may return to help us in our hour of need.

Read more
Science

Why we duel

Words by William Buckner

Duels can be brutal and even lethal. But duels emerged in societies around the world for an important reason: to control and manage violence, not just to celebrate it.

Read more
Culture

How trust undermines science

Words by Sarah Perry

Our success is based on scientific discovery, so it’s not surprising how much faith we put into it. But we now trust science so implicitly that our trust undermines the institution itself.

Read more
Science

Better eats

Words by Nick Whitaker

The kitchen of 2020 looks mostly the same as that of 1960. But what we do in it has changed dramatically, almost entirely for the better—due to a culture of culinary innovation.

Read more
Culture

Buyers of first resort

Words by Neil Hacker

How do technologies get off the ground? As well as seed funding, many of the best technologies require Buyers of First Resort, which buy products until they improve enough to get to efficient scale.

Read more
Economics

Asteroid spotting

Words by Tom Chivers

Could an asteroid wipe out human civilisation like it may have eliminated the dinosaurs? Big asteroids come along extremely rarely and our monitoring systems are effective and well funded.

Read more
Science

Burying the lead

Words by Sue Márquez

Researchers have known for decades that lead poisoning damages brains and worsens crime, but millions of Americans still drink contaminated water every day. Here’s how we can fix that.

Read more
Politics

A place in the sun

Words by Anya Martin

While rents have been soaring for years in urban areas around the world, one Australian city has weathered the storm. What can the world learn from the experiences of Sydney?

Read more
Economics

In praise of pastiche

Words by Samuel Hughes

Building traditionalist architecture today is derided as inauthentic pastiche. But this perspective turns a blind eye to the dramatic and sophisticated ways that design has been applied throughout history.

Read more
Culture

The evolution of psychiatry

Words by Adam Hunt

Modern psychiatry appears to be at a standstill, wanting for better treatment and a substantive theoretical framework. Evolutionary theory has the potential to reinvigorate the field.

Read more
Science