a Book of the Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices by al-Jazari

The Marvelous Automata of Antiquity

Centuries before the computer, whimsical automata pushed the uncanny boundary between human and machine.

Fixing the Grassroots of the American Lawn

A citizen scientist bred low mow slow grow grass that needs little water and fertilizer.
Moscow subway

The Soaring Symbolism of Moscow’s Subways

Lofty ceilings, massive slabs of marble, and colorful mosaics celebrated Soviets in all their incarnations, from military leaders to collective farmers.
Treadmills atonement

Treadmills Were Meant to Be Atonement Machines

America’s favorite piece of workout equipment was developed as a device for forced labor in British prisons. It was banned as cruel and inhumane by 1900.
Woman using computer in the 1970s

Better Writing Begins with the Right Tools

Word processing software has not only changed the way we write; it's changed the way we read. It pays to think about what we want from our writing tools.
Jan van Der Heyden painting

Jan van der Heyden and the Dawn of Efficient Street Lights

17th-century Amsterdam was the first city in Europe to have an efficient system of street lighting—thanks to a Golden Age painter called Jan van der Heyden.
Concorde jet

The Rise and Fall of the Supersonic Concorde

Once a major advancement in aircraft technology, the Concorde jet was retired in 2003.
Robert Goddard at chalkboard

Robert H. Goddard, the Forgotten Father of Rocketry

Robert H. Goddard is acknowledged by many as the "father" of rocketry, but it's a strange paternity since he had so little influence on his contemporaries.
Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey in Houston - August 27 2017

How To Recycle Half A Million Flooded Cars

Although a car seems like a long-term capital investment, it is only a crash or disaster away from becoming two tons of mass-consumer junk.
NYC intersection

“Jay Walking” and the Fight for the Streets

Debates over the priorities of cars, public transit and "jay walking" are nothing new. There has long been a story class buried within the disagreements.