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.
Local government faces incentives just like everything else. If we want voters to encourage growth near them, we need to make it worth their while.
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.
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.
Building a state is not a matter of copying first world institutions. It is a tough process of deals and compromises. 19th century Mexico is a good example.
The West has been below replacement fertility once before. Then came the Baby Boom. Understanding that boom may help us deal with today’s bust.
The history of attempts to reform planning in Britain is proof that political willpower is not enough: you need to be smart, not just brave.
Thomas Edison is often accused of not having invented the things he gets credit for. He did something even harder: he built the systems needed to get them to market.
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.
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.
Ending acid rain was one of humanity’s greatest environmental successes. Here’s how it happened.
As climate change threatens crop yields, we need a second Green Revolution – one that, this time, is driven by genetic engineering.
We’ve learnt to see the world through the eyes of our prey. All the better to eat them with.
Building infrastructure doesn’t need to come at the cost of the environment. But it does need smarter rules.
Power outages force businesses across Africa to rely on expensive, dirty diesel generators. Price caps block improvement, but removing them isn’t easy.
We have learned to fear plutonium – one of the world’s most useful materials. But as long as you don’t eat it, you’re probably safe.
Plastic is eating the roads. It might be a cleaner, quieter, ready-made alternative to asphalt for the next generation of paving.
Exposing misinformation online is hard to do at scale and can veer into outright censorship. The wisdom of crowds can lead us to the answers.
International development was revolutionized by experiments and evaluations of its methods. Meta-science can learn from it.
Fire has almost disappeared as a cause of death in the developed world. A similar approach could do the same for infectious diseases.
Snakebites kill between 80,000 and 140,000 people every year. Better antivenom should be a high priority – thankfully new technology can help.
Though we tend to see history as just one political event after another, it’s technology and ideas, not politics, that change our lives the most. History should reflect that.
Breakthroughs in artificial intelligence are forcing skeptics to eat their words. We should take its risks seriously too.
Scientific papers are dense, jargon-filled, and painful to read. It wasn’t always this way – and it doesn’t have to be.