How the Enormous Mirrors on the World's Largest Telescope Are Made

The Giant Magellan Telescope is easily the most ambitious terrestrial astronomy program humanity's ever devised. It has—quite literally—been built from the ground up by leveraging a brilliant, unique off-axis design and bleeding-edge fabrication techniques. And nowhere is that more apparent than in the telescope's… » 9/03/14 2:15pm 9/03/14 2:15pm

How Antiperspirant Works (And Who It Might Hurt)

You only need to walk down your supermarket's personal care aisle to understand how big of a business the selling of deodorant and antiperspirant has become in the US, totaling over $2 billion in U.S. sales last year alone. But do you know what's actually in the stuff you roll on (hopefully) every morning? » 8/20/14 1:50pm 8/20/14 1:50pm

Why E-Cigarettes Might Not Be as Safe as You Think

It's little wonder why e-cigarettes' popularity has exploded into a $2 billion industry over the last few years; the promise of safe, harmless nicotine delivery without all the carcinogenic byproducts of looseleaf combustion is a hard offer to pass up. But are these devices and the nicotinated fluids they atomize… » 8/13/14 12:30pm 8/13/14 12:30pm

What the Heck Is Toothpaste Anyway?

It's been part of humanity's hygiene regimen for more than 4,000 years, but have you ever stopped to think what's actually in the stuff you're smearing across your teeth? The ingredients of modern toothpaste may read like a mad scientist's shopping list, but they're far better than what our ancestors had to endure for… » 8/05/14 2:20pm 8/05/14 2:20pm

How the "10 Percent of Our Brains" Myth Started (And Why It's Wrong)

Morgan Freeman can make anything sound legit no matter scientifically implausible. In Lucy for example, which premiered last Friday, his character cites the "fact" that humans only use about 10 percent of our brain's resources. This is very, very wrong! But why does it keep getting tossed around? And how much of our… » 7/29/14 12:00pm 7/29/14 12:00pm

Why Potholes Happen (And How to Get Them Fixed)

They're the bane of modern interstates and countryside roads alike: Potholes cost American drivers nearly $6.5 billion dollars in flat tires, blown shocks, and cracked rims in 2013, according to AAA. Save your car this beating by learning to recognize the early warning signs of developing potholes and how to get them… » 7/15/14 3:30pm 7/15/14 3:30pm

How Thumbsticks Came to Control the Modern World

It's no small feat translating a user's wishes into computer commands. Controlling massive robots in chaotic, fast-paced action of modern console games like Titanfall—and yet even children are able to intuitively tear through AI fodder in their digital mechs. How? Using dual analog thumbstick controllers. And they're… » 7/09/14 4:20pm 7/09/14 4:20pm

How Hot Dogs Are Made and What's Actually Inside

After the steaks, chops, breasts, ribs, thighs, hams, tenderloins and briskets are removed, there's a fair amount of gristle, fat and offal remaining on a butchered animal, and early on, people realized this could be put to good use. One of these products is the hot dog, a classic of pre-cooked, processed meat. » 7/04/14 11:00am 7/04/14 11:00am

Why Crickets Make Such Excellent Thermometers

Unlike renegade mammals that live fast and play by their own thermal rules, cold-blooded reptiles and insects march to the beat of a more universal drum—ambient air temperature. You can see it in the speed at which ants walk and fireflies flash, or hear it in the cadence of a cricket's love song. Their melodies are so… » 7/01/14 3:00pm 7/01/14 3:00pm

Why People Think Friday the 13th Is Unlucky

Being wary of Friday the 13th is much more than a quaint superstition observed by a few uneducated people in distant, unreachable towns and hamlets. In the United States alone, it is estimated that between 17 and 21 million people dread that date to the extent that it can be officially classified as a phobia. » 6/13/14 8:00am 6/13/14 8:00am

How Historians Are Using Nuclear Fallout to Find Fake Art

Today's modern art forger is capable of producing fake works of art so perfect that even trained experts are unable to spot them. Even down to the most minute details of the pigments, binders, and canvass, these fakes are almost better than the works they're based on. But thanks to a byproduct of the Atomic age, the… » 6/10/14 2:00pm 6/10/14 2:00pm

How Leather Is Slowly Killing the People and Places That Make It

Though we may consider ourselves intellectually and technologically superior to our cave-dwelling ancestors, we still adorn our bodies, transports, and homes with the skin of conquered animals. But unlike the wholly organic methods used by our forebears, the modern leather industry is simultaneously killing the local… » 6/03/14 4:23pm 6/03/14 4:23pm

Finding, Treating, and Beating the Most Survivable Forms of Cancer

Being diagnosed with cancer is often compared to being kicked in the gut—by a Clydesdale. But if caught soon enough, many of the disease's 200 iterations offer more than even survival rates, five years down the line. It's by no means a clean bill of health, mind you, but there several forms of cancer that modern… » 5/21/14 4:00pm 5/21/14 4:00pm