How a scientist looking to prove his food wasn’t fresh discovered radioactive tracers and won a Nobel Prize
George de Hevesey had the suspicion the cooks were reusing leftovers and made his dinner into a radioactive tracer experiment.
Study: ancient technique holds thousands of tons of carbon, sequestered over centuries
"Dark earth" holds thousands of tons of carbon, sequestered over centuries by indigenous practices, a new study suggests.
The physics of why the first clock in America failed
When the first Dutch-built pendulum clock was brought to the Americas, it failed to keep accurate time on the continents of the new world.
PhD student solves a mysterious ancient Sanskrit text algorithm after 2,500 years
For centuries, a grammatical problem surrounding a meta-rule in Pāṇini's Aṣṭādhyāyī has risked readers misinterpreting the text.
Viktor Frankl: The doctor who prescribed the meaning of life to his patients
Not having a meaningful life can be dreadful, and one psychologist thought it was the root of many neuroses. His ideas became Logotherapy.
New AI translates 5,000-year-old cuneiform tablets instantly
Translating an ancient language is a time-intensive process, and only a few hundred experts are qualified to perform it. Could AI do the job?
We are spectacularly bad at predicting the future
Forecasters say AI will either enslave or liberate us, but the history of prediction suggests we have little way of knowing who will be correct.
The radical drop in maternal mortality was a public health miracle
In 1758 in Sweden, 1205 mothers died for every 100,000 live births, which was likely representative of the global maternal mortality rate.
Ancient technology that was centuries ahead of its time
These forward-thinking inventions are often called "ahead of their time." They are reflections of the ingenuity of their civilizations.
Did life evolve more than once? Researchers are closing in on an answer
Current scientific consensus is that life emerged from non-living molecules in a process called abiogenesis. But if life emerged once, why not more times?
We’re analysing DNA from ancient and modern humans to create a “family tree of everyone”
Genetic genealogy not only helps us understand where we came from, but it could also be used for tracing the origin of genetic mutations.
We used to have steam-powered cars. What happened to them — and will they come back?
Steam cars went extinct because gas-powered cars became far more convenient. Will technology ever bring back the steam car?
People destroyed printing presses out of fear. What will we do to AI?
Just like today with AI, people worried about the printing press' effect on job security and the spread of disinformation.
Technology over the long run: See how dramatically the world can change within a lifetime
Bringing to mind how dramatically the world has changed can help us see how different the world could be in a few years or decades.
Science fiction books that predicted the future with terrifying accuracy
Science fiction writers have anticipated a variety of modern inventions, from cars to organ transplants. Some books barely seem like fiction.
Today, people fear Twitter. In the 1850s, they feared telegrams
Telegrams elicited the exact same concerns, including the spread of misinformation, “addiction” among youth, censorship, and impersonation.
Ancient mystery solved: Why was Roman concrete so durable?
How have Roman walls held up so long? Their ancient manufacturing strategy may hold the key to designing concrete that lasts for millennia.
Earth’s magnetic field supports biblical stories of destruction of ancient cities
By utilizing the ancient orientation of the Earth’s magnetic field, scientists have been able to piece together the history of ancient Judea.
How flu got milder since 1918 pandemic
The risk of death from influenza has declined over time, but globally, hundreds of thousands of people still die from the disease each year.
Our ancestors first developed humanlike brains 1.7 million years ago
Using computed tomography, a team of researchers generated images of what the brains of early Homo species likely looked like.
How Greek philosopher Democritus predicted the atom in 400 B.C.E.
The idea of atoms goes as far back as the ancient Greek philosopher Democritus in 400 B.C.E., who thought physics left no room for free will.
Wild mammals are making a comeback in Europe thanks to conservation efforts 
Many large mammals in Europe were close to extinction. New data shows us that the continent’s mammal populations are flourishing again.
Svante Pääbo wins Nobel Prize for discovering an extinct human species via DNA
Swedish geneticist Svante Pääbo has won the Nobel Prize for "discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution."
Three reasons “you” won’t return after this life
Entire religions are constructed around theories of an afterlife, but former monk Stephen Batchelor lists three reasons you won't come back.
Paradox-free time travel is “logically” possible, say physicists
An undergraduate and his supervisor ran the numbers and found paradox-free time travel to be mathematically consistent.
A neural network discovered Copernicus’ heliocentricity on its own
Scientists trained a neural network to predict the movements of Mars and the Sun, which placed the Sun at the center of our solar system.
Laser scans reveal ancient cities hidden in the Amazon river basin
Lidar technology reveals the surprisingly complex infrastructure and urban planning that united Casarabe settlements.
How to be happy: Aristotle’s 11 guidelines for a good life
In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle proposed that humans are social, rational animals who seek to “live well.”
The true meaning of Einstein’s most famous equation: E=mc²
Although most people can name Einstein's most famous equation, E = mc², very few people can explain what it means.
5 drugs that changed the world (and what went wrong)
Anesthesia, penicillin, antibiotics, diazepam, and the birth control pill have all radically changed our lives.
The Singularity: When will we all become super-humans? 
Are we really only a moment away from "The Singularity," a technological epoch that will usher in a new era in human evolution?
15th century futurism: Leonardo da Vinci’s famous helicopter design finally takes flight
Da Vinci dreamed up a helicopter 400 years before they actually existed. Now, engineers have brought his design to life, but with a twist.
How will humans change in the next 10,000 years?
If humans don’t die out in a climate apocalypse or asteroid impact in the next 10,000 years, are we likely to evolve further?
Widom of Daoism: why Yin-Yang is so much more than a tattoo
Yin-Yang symbolizes not a conflict or struggle but shows that nothing in life is solely either this or that.
How child mortality fell from 40% to 3.7% in 200 years 
The collapse in child mortality rates is a testament to the tremendous benefits of scientific, technological, and economic progress.
Archaeologists identify contents of ancient Mayan drug containers 
Archaeologists used new methods to identify contents of Mayan drug containers, discovering a non-tobacco plant.
A historian identifies the worst year in human history
The year 536 ushered in the coldest decade in thousands of years and started a century of economic devastation.
Why Einstein is a “peerless genius” and Hawking is an “ordinary genius”
Why some people are considered geniuses while other equally impressive people are not seems largely arbitrary.
How to be a techno-optimist
Technology will not save the world, and it is inherently neither good nor bad. But, when tech is coupled to human virtue, good will prevail.
We need to know about progress if we’re concerned about the world’s large problems
Our World in Data explains their mission to publish the “research and data to make progress against the world’s largest problems.”
The US Civil War drastically reshaped how Americans deal with death – will the pandemic?
How do American's attitudes towards death change when they are confronted with such enormous losses?
Longtermism’s perspective on humanity’s past, present, and future
If we manage to avoid a large catastrophe, we can see ourselves as living at the early beginnings of human history.
Derinkuyu: Mysterious underground city in Turkey found in man’s basement
A basement renovation project led to the archaeological discovery of a lifetime: the Derinkuyu Underground City, which housed 20,000 people.
A papyrus reveals how the Great Pyramid was built
The papyrus contains an eye-witness account of the gathering of materials for the Great Pyramid.
X-rays may save Henry VIII’s resurrected warship, the last of its kind
Henry VIII’s favorite warship survived centuries under the sea. New x-ray scanning technology will hopefully help preserve the Mary Rose for centuries more.
Lasers reveal hundreds of Mayan and Olmec ceremonial centers
Archaeologists are hunting for — and finding — previously hidden ancient structures in lidar data collected by planes and drones.
The history of boredom might surprise you
What we can learn from our complicated relationship with boredom.
Ancient frozen viruses hold clues to life and climate
Using new techniques, researchers at Ohio State have identified ancient viruses we’ve never seen before.
5 ways we all live like royalty
Our fantasy world of the past has become everyday reality.
Ancient computer found in shipwreck decoded by scientists
A new model explains how an ancient computer known as the Antikythera Mechanism could have made complex astronomical predictions.
Neanderthals had the capacity for human communication
Neanderthals appear to have had the capacity to hear verbal language, suggesting that modern human communication has ancient roots.
Inside the arctic vault protecting human culture from an apocalypse
The Arctic World Archive preserves cultural artifacts for future generations in the event of a global disaster, and it now contains 21 TB of open source code.
Scientists sniff out the smells of old europe
A research team has just launched an ambitious project to identify and reconstruct the most popular scents of everyday life in 16th century Europe.
Museums are racing to save Hong Kong's history before it gets censored
A sweeping security law has Hong Kongers racing to digitize archives and artifacts, from Tiananmen Square to Telegram channels.
The race to find slave ships, before they're lost forever
Diving with a Purpose is training the next wave of marine archeologists, working with youth to document potential slave ship wrecks before they’re lost.
Bringing lost languages back to life with AI
An algorithm that can identify the closest living relatives of lost languages could help linguists unlock the meaning of ancient texts.
The hidden history in Black genealogy
In partnership with Ancestry
This team is restoring generations of overlooked African American genealogy, and people are discovering family histories they never knew they had.
Medieval medicine yields modern weapons
Deadly antibiotic-resistant superbugs require new weapons. Ancient and medieval medicine may point us to where to find them.
Secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls may be in animal DNA
Scholars' understanding of the Dead Sea Scrolls may be enhanced by an unusual source: the DNA of the animals they’re printed on.
Why do selfies matter? Ask Frederick Douglass
The great abolitionist, freedom fighter and orator, Frederick Douglass, used photography to smash racial stereotypes and reframe Black identity.