From his childhood in segregated Mobile, Alabama, to his run-ins with a nay-saying scientific establishment, the engineer Lonnie Johnson has never paid much heed to those who told him what he could and couldn’t accomplish. Best known for creating the state-of-the-art Super Soaker squirt gun, Johnson believes he now holds the key to affordable solar power.
How pig manure can pave our streets—and a path to cleaner energy
With the decline of the wristwatch, will time become just another app?
How can Americans talk to one another—let alone engage in political debate—when the Web allows every side to invent its own facts?
The do-it-yourself movement revives learning by doing.
Chimp sperm may unlock one of the riddles of human conception. But first you have to collect it.
Intimacy and loss in the age of social media
One entrepreneur’s latest effort to revolutionize how we think, learn, play music, and order coffee in Chinese
The giant’s creepy efforts to read my mind
How the Xerox 914 gave rise to the Information age
A california couple seeks to build the world’s greenest home.
The era of the Web browser’s dominance is coming to a close. And the Internet’s founding ideology—that information wants to be free, and that attempts to constrain it are not only hopeless but immoral— suddenly seems naive and stale in the new age of apps, smart phones, and pricing plans. What will this mean for the future of the media—and of the Web itself?
When the Conficker computer “worm” was unleashed on the world in November 2008, cyber-security experts didn’t know what to make of it. It infiltrated millions of computers around the globe. It constantly checks in with its unknown creators. It uses an encryption code so sophisticated that only a very few people could have deployed it. For the first time ever, the cyber-security elites of the world have joined forces in a high-tech game of cops and robbers, trying to find Conficker’s creators and defeat them. The cops are failing. And now the worm lies there, waiting …
What happens when high tech meets haute couture
Inexpensive, handheld Raman scanners will soon enable anyone to identify just about anything.
Runoff from old mines poisons Colorado’s rivers. Why are enviro groups trying to stop locals from cleaning them up?
A large chunk of Kansas City’s real estate lies 100 feet below ground, and offers a creative solution to global warming.
The short and brutal life of a Nascar engine
Is one of aviation’s most enduring technological hopes about to become a reality?
A scientist, a pool hustler, and an avant-garde composer fight a fearsome insect invasion.
New sensor tech is democratizing art and invention.
A new fuel-cell technology promises to revolutionize access to cheap, clean energy.
Most of us have genes that make us as hardy as dandelions: able to take root and survive almost anywhere. A few of us, however, are more like the orchid: fragile and fickle, but capable of blooming spectacularly if given greenhouse care. So holds a provocative new theory of genetics, which asserts that the very genes that give us the most trouble as a species, causing behaviors that are self-destructive and antisocial, also underlie humankind’s phenomenal adaptability and evolutionary success. With a bad environment and poor parenting, orchid children can end up depressed, drug-addicted, or in jail—but with the right environment and good parenting, they can grow up to be society’s most creative, successful, and happy people.
Researcher Stephen Suomi explains why monkeys with risky genes often turn out just fine
How an emerging technology could threaten civility