How Breakthroughs Happen - The Atlantic

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The 50 Greatest Breakthroughs Since the Wheel

Why did it take so long to invent the wheelbarrow? Have we hit peak innovation? What our list reveals about imagination, optimism, and the nature of progress.

Vote for the Top Five Breakthroughs Since the Wheel

We asked a dozen scientists, historians, and technologists to rank the most-important technological innovations since the wheel. Now, it's your turn.

Technologies to Bet On

The next breakthroughs

Why We Live 40 Years Longer Today Than We Did in 1880

The golden age of medicine -- in one chart

Who Will Tomorrow's Historian's Consider Today's Greatest Inventors?

We asked leading figures in technology, science, medicine, and design for nominations. Here's what they said.

All Can Be Lost: The Risk of Putting Our Knowledge in the Hands of Machines

We rely on computers to fly our planes, find our cancers, design our buildings, audit our businesses. That's all well and good. But what happens when the computer fails?

The New Science of Old Whiskey

Bourbon makers attempt to perfect a 2,000-year-old invention.

The Man Who Would Teach Machines to Think

Douglas Hofstadter, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Gödel, Escher, Bach, thinks we've lost sight of what artificial intelligence really means. His stubborn quest to replicate the human mind

Is Google's Secretive Research Lab Working on Human-Dolphin Communication?

Is Google's Secretive Research Lab Working on Human-Dolphin Communication?

The short answer is "no," but the long answer is much more interesting.

Some High Schoolers Built a Satellite and NASA Just Sent It to Space NASA

Some High Schoolers Built a Satellite and NASA Just Sent It to Space

The satellite will let students talk to other students, in space, through a machine built by children, launched on a deconstructed atomic weapon.

Meet the Marines' Humdrum Toy: A Headless Miniature Pony Robot DARPA

Meet the Marines' Humdrum Toy: A Headless Miniature Pony Robot

More than a decade of research has gone into creating the Legged Squad Support System, which is equal parts endearing and terrifying.

New at the Nursery: Tomato + Potato = TomTato Thompson & Morgan

New at the Nursery: Tomato + Potato = TomTato

One well-designed plant, meeting all your garden needs

Haulin' Data: How Trucking Became the Frontier of Work Surveillance Reuters/The Noun Project/Alexis Madrigal

Haulin' Data: How Trucking Became the Frontier of Work Surveillance

Every rig driver in America will soon be tracked by an electronic recorder. Proponents claim it will make the roads safer, but some wonder what else the data could be used for.

The Dark Art of Bots: How to Make $2 Million Online Without a Human Audience Reuters

The Dark Art of Bots: How to Make $2 Million Online Without a Human Audience

All it takes is a firm grasp of arbitrage economics and a flexible ethical code.

The Absurd Beauty of Creating Musical Turnstiles in NYC's Subway Reuters

The Absurd Beauty of Creating Musical Turnstiles in NYC's Subway

LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy has a plan to give New Yorkers "one little gift of kindness."

How Online Mapmakers Are Helping the Red Cross Save Lives in the Philippines OpenStreetMap

How Online Mapmakers Are Helping the Red Cross Save Lives in the Philippines

Volunteers across the world are building the digital infrastructure for the organization's Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts

Don't Freak Out, but the First 3D-Printed Metal Gun Totally Works Solid Concepts

Don't Freak Out, but the First 3D-Printed Metal Gun Totally Works

It fired 50 rounds and showed no signs of stopping. 

The Best-Case Scenario for Twitter Reuters

The Best-Case Scenario for Twitter

Twitter would have a durable position as the most powerful live medium in the post-broadcast TV age.

What Tweets With Ridiculous Numbers of Retweets Say About Twitter

What Tweets With Ridiculous Numbers of Retweets Say About Twitter

Let's just say that the Arab Spring doesn't make an appearance. 

The Little Switch

The Little Switch

A meditation on one of the world's most common technologies

Of Course Gas Stations Will Use Facial Recognition Tech to Serve 'Relevant' Ads Amscreen

Of Course Gas Stations Will Use Facial Recognition Tech to Serve 'Relevant' Ads

Because who hasn't seen Minority Report, right?

How to Hear Sign Language Microsoft/YouTube

How to Hear Sign Language

Microsoft uses Kinect technology to turn gestures into text, and text into speech. 

Finally, an Art Form That Gets the Internet: Opera

Finally, an Art Form That Gets the Internet: Opera

True to operatic tradition, Nico Muhly's Two Boys has murder, cross-dressing, and an angry mob of commenters.

The Biggest Story in Photos

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Why We Tend to Show Our Left Side in Pictures
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