The Fata Morgana Effect
Fairy castles in the air
A mirage in which a building, ship, or other structure appears to hover above the ground was named after the legendary half-sister of King Arthur.
The controversial theory of Peak Oil
A theory proposed in the 1950s says that the world's production of oil has already peaked and is heading toward a rapid decline. Is it truth, fiction, or merely optimism?
A little piece of Spain in France
Situated entirely within France, though quite close to the Spanish border, is a town that's considered part of Spain. Both countries go to considerable (if sometimes silly) lengths to protect their turf.
Greenhouse gas disposal techniques
The world is having trouble reducing its production of carbon dioxide, which increases global warming. But there's a way to make the problem less bad, at least temporarily: storing excess greenhouse gases in a safe place.
The Crypt of Civilization
Museum in a time capsule
There are time capsules, and then there are time capsules. A vault sealed in 1940 in Atlanta contains a huge stash of artifacts that should be unearthed in 8113.
Setting the world’s problems to music
Around the world, choral ensembles have formed for the express purpose of singing litanies of complaints. The result is surprisingly satisfying to listen to.
Robots that Smell
Artificial noses and beyond
Robots that see and hear are nothing new, but researchers have developed machines that can distinguish and identify odors. Applications include healthcare, public safety, and rescue work.
Automatic Transmissions for Bicycles
Reinventing the two-wheeler
Automatic transmissions are common on cars, but a similar technology can provide easier pedaling for bicyclists too. Bike manufacturers are trying to overcome the technical and marketing challenges.
Rescue from Dunkirk
Triumph of His Majesty’s Bathtub Navy
The battle was a failure, but hundreds of thousands of soldiers were rescued from the coast of France by the ordinary citizens who formed the Bathtub Navy.
The Nazca Lines
Peru’s mysterious geoglyphs
A series of gigantic drawings on a desert floor in Peru depict people, animals, and complex geometric shapes. They were made thousands of years ago, but can only be seen in their totality from the air, making their origin somewhat mysterious.