The Titan Submersible Disaster Shocked the World. The Exclusive Inside Story Is More Disturbing Than Anyone Imagined

The Ocean Sciences Building at the University of Washington in Seattle is a brightly modern, four-story structure, with large glass windows reflecting the bay across the street. On the afternoon of July 7, 2016, it was being slowly locked down. Red lights began flashing at the entrances as students and faculty filed out under overcast […]

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They Experimented on Themselves in Secret. What They Discovered Helped Win a War

The Allied soldiers who weren’t killed limped back from the defeat. It was clear now, they needed to be able to creep up to the beaches days before a raid to get up-to-date information. They needed to know where the Nazis had tunneled into the land, placed explosives, or built machine gun nests. None of […]

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These Women Came to Antarctica for Science. Then the Predators Emerged

On April 12, 2019, Boston University finally fired David Marchant for sexually harassing Willenbring. (The university said it could not corroborate her claims of physical and psychological abuse.) Marchant released a statement, which the journal Science quoted as vowing that he had “never” sexually harassed anyone, “not in 1998 or 1999 in Antarctica or at […]

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Two Nations, a Horrible Accident, and the Urgent Need to Understand the Laws of Space Right Now

Representing Xenovia, the Leiden team took full responsibility for the explosion but said their client repossessed Candidia’s satellite in full accordance with the Outer Space Treaty. Having given notice to the Candidian company that it was late on payments, they argued, the Xenovian creditor had satisfied the treaty’s requirement for “appropriate international consultations.” Katsande felt […]

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Two Nations, a Horrible Accident, and the Urgent Need to Understand the Laws of Space

Representing Xenovia, the Leiden team took full responsibility for the explosion but said their client repossessed Candidia’s satellite in full accordance with the Outer Space Treaty. Having given notice to the Candidian company that it was late on payments, they argued, the Xenovian creditor had satisfied the treaty’s requirement for “appropriate international consultations.” Katsande felt […]

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My Parents’ Dementia Felt Like the End of Joy. Then Came the Robots

You learn a lot about people by hanging out with robots. QT made it plain to me how much human interaction depends on tiny movements and subtle changes in timing. Even when armed with the latest artificial intelligence language models, QT can’t play the social game. Its face expresses emotion, it understands words and spits […]

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You Know It’s a Placebo. So Why Does It Still Work?

You booked this doctor’s appointment weeks in advance. You took off work, endured the trip here, filled out paperwork while a cooking show blared from a TV on the wall, and now you’re finally in the inner sanctum, awkwardly perched on an exam table and staring at a jar of tongue depressors. Your doctor comes […]

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Scientists Have an Audacious Plan to Map the Ancient World Before It Disappears

In the center of Siena, Italy, a cathedral has stood for nearly 800 years. A black-and-white layer cake of heavy stone, fine-cut statuary, and rich mosaics, the imposing structure—now visited by more than a million tourists each year—would seem to be a permanent fixture of the city’s past, present, and future. Most people call it, […]

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Crispr Pioneer Jennifer Doudna Has the Guts to Take On the Microbiome

OK, you’ve lost me. What do you mean by “bring in a molecule”? It literally just means allowing a molecule into a cell. And if that molecule is a gene editor, then it can edit genes. So we’re really at the early days of trying to figure out, for all the microbes in the human […]

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The View From the Center of the World’s Myopia Epidemic

Doing surgery on the back of the eye is a little like laying new carpet: You must begin by moving the furniture. Separate the muscles that hold the eyeball inside its socket; make a delicate cut in the conjunctiva, the mucous membrane that covers the eye. Only then can the surgeon spin the eyeball around […]

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The World is Going Blind. Taiwan Offers a Warning, and a Cure

Doing surgery on the back of the eye is a little like laying new carpet: You must begin by moving the furniture. Separate the muscles that hold the eyeball inside its socket; make a delicate cut in the conjunctiva, the mucous membrane that covers the eye. Only then can the surgeon spin the eyeball around […]

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Meet the Psychedelic Boom’s First Responders

That first year, Fireside trained more than 100 volunteers and conducted some 2,550 conversations with callers—including Greenberg. Within months of reaching Jasmine, he had walked away from his job (and psychedelically high salary) to focus on work “that adds value to the universe.” Eventually he got on the phone with Fireside again—this time not to […]

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How to Survive a Devastating Earthquake—and Firestorm

Let’s say you want to go on a walking tour of San Francisco at its warmest and most energetic. You want to see the port town after the rush for gold swelled the foggy backwater into the largest city west of the Mississippi—back when it was home to the West Coast’s tallest buildings and beautiful […]

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The Psychedelic Scientist Who Sends Brains Back to Childhood

About a month into the 2020 pandemic lockdown, Gül Dölen, a neuroscientist, noticed that she had come untethered from reality. “Everything felt sort of swooshy,” she says, as if she was in an “altered, mystical state.” She wasn’t constantly obsessing over her lab at Johns Hopkins University. She chilled out. And for the first time […]

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The Explosive Legacy of the Pandemic Hand Sanitizer Boom

A few weeks after the investigators in Carson published their report, the FDA reinstated its pre-pandemic regulations on hand sanitizer. Now that supply had caught up to demand, the agency said, the relaxed rules were no longer appropriate. Manufacturers were not allowed to sell or donate any sanitizer produced under the rules starting in March […]

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The Trillion-Dollar Auction to Save the World

Seagrass is the “ugly duckling of conservation,” Carlos Duarte says. He calculated that the plant may put away carbon at 10 times the rate of a mature rainforest. Duarte sees the project in the Bahamas as a blueprint (pun intended, he says) for a much grander idea that has animated his work for the past […]

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Geothermal Everywhere: Finding the Energy to Save the World

because of the promising conditions in Starr and Hidalgo Counties, Jamie had been helping a handful of people there. The Sage team, of course. The public utility manager for the city of McAllen, who desperately wants to build a geothermal plant for his city. She’d been talking to Dario Guerra, a local water engineer who […]

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The Arctic’s Permafrost-Obsessed Methane Detectives

at the midnight Sun Golf Course in Fairbanks, Alaska, they say you never get the same shot twice. That’s because the Arctic is warming much faster than the rest of the planet, and as the underground permafrost thaws, it deforms the course’s fairways. This express defrost unlocks ancient organic matter—a lot of it. (The world’s […]

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The Mining Industry’s Next Frontier Is Deep, Deep Under the Sea

The nodules have been growing, in utter blackness and near-total silence, for millions of years. Each one started as a fragment of something else—a tiny fossil, a scrap of basalt, a shark’s tooth—that drifted down to the plain at the very bottom of the ocean. In the lugubrious unfolding of geologic time, specks of waterborne […]

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The Spaceport at the Edge of the World

What about human safety? ​​Gordon McEwan, whose home is near the proposed launch site, is anxious about falling rockets. In a meeting with Orbex and other crofters, he shared his concern that the launch exclusion zone was too small. When the rocket lifts off, the zone will have a radius of less than 2 kilometers. […]

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