Asbestos was a miracle material, virtually impervious to fire. But as we fixed city fires in other ways, we came to learn about its horrific downsides.
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.
Many scientific papers receive little attention initially but become highly cited years later. What groundbreaking discoveries might have already been made, and how can we uncover them faster?
War is hell. But by allowing more effective states to rule productive regions, it may have been a catalyst for Europe’s early modern advancement.
New Zealand passed the most ambitious upzoning reforms in the world. Now comes the backlash.
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.
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.