How The New Cold War Is Improving Your Navigation

Ever contemplated going to war with America, but been thwarted when the Great Satan switched off your access to its navigation satellites? That’s potentially a real problem for China and Russia, but the real victor in this navigational arms race might be you; it’s improving the quality of location data on your phone… » 4/29/15 6:50pm 4/29/15 6:50pm

Could Humble Milkweed Replace Down Feathers In Your Outdoor Gear?

Down is the most effective commonly-available insulator for outdoors apparel. But, it's also expensive, loses its ability to insulate when wet (if untreated) and — there's no way around this — is horribly cruel to most of the ducks and geese who donate their underfeathers. Now, there may be a real alternative:… » 4/16/15 5:00pm 4/16/15 5:00pm

What's the Blockchain, and Why Does Bitcoin Depend On It?

It’s going to unshackle us from the oppressive dungeon of fiat currency! But also criminals and rogue cops use it to do nefarious drug stuff! Digital currency is often defined by its volatile hype cycle. And yet its most promising feature is incredibly mundane-sounding: a bookkeeping system called “the blockchain.” » 4/15/15 4:44pm 4/15/15 4:44pm

Everything You Never Wanted To Know About Rabies

So far as awful ways to die go, being attacked by a rabid animal then dying a slow, painful death must rank near the top. And exactly that happens to 55,000 people every year. Here's how you (or your dog) can get rabies, what it does to your body as it kills you and what you can do to ensure neither of you gets it. » 3/19/15 6:24pm 3/19/15 6:24pm

How Nanoscale Optics Create Nature's Most Dazzling Colors

What do a butterfly's shimmering wings, a fish's opalescent scales, and a peacock's brilliant feathers have in common? Yes, their colors are beautifully iridescent. But they are also produced by the physical interaction of light with sophisticated nanoscale architecture that we are only just beginning to understand. » 2/19/15 2:00pm 2/19/15 2:00pm

Here's Why Small Black Holes Are More Dangerous Than Big Ones

If you were going to travel close to a black hole in order to study it, which type should you choose? Most people would probably pick a smaller black hole, because it seems easier to avoid. But that's a fatal mistake. Small black holes can be far more dangerous than big ones, due to a terrifying process called… » 1/27/15 3:15pm 1/27/15 3:15pm

How small is an atom, really? (or how to make your head explode)

Kurzgesagt has a neat new explainer: "How small is an atom?" I watched it. It does a great job at giving you an idea of how small atoms are and how they work. But it doesn't matter, because my brain just plainly refuses to believe any of this. Hulk head hurt. Hulk smash atoms. Oops, Hulk make nuclear detonation. » 1/21/15 10:03pm 1/21/15 10:03pm

The Real Story Behind the 1914 Christmas Truce in World War I

It was 100 years ago this very night that something miraculous happened along the Western Front. After months of bitter fighting, soldiers on both sides gathered in no-man's-land in a spontaneous show of peace and goodwill. Here's what happened on that historic day — and why it marked the end of an era. » 12/25/14 8:34am 12/25/14 8:34am