Ingenious Design Lowers the Water Under a Bridge to Let Tall Ships Pass

Most bridges are compromises: Cars want to speed low and straight across the water, but but boats want to pass under them. So we wind up with either tall bridges (expensive) or moveable bridges (clunky and awkward). But now a Dutch engineering firm has come up with a radical solution that doesn't involve the… » 9/25/14 4:20pm Thursday 4:20pm

A Swarm of Tiny Bots Could Inspect the Hidden Underbellies of Bridges

America's bridges are not—we're sorry to report—doing so great. Of the over 600,000 bridges in the U.S., more than half are over 30 years old, and 11 percent are structurally deficient. That makes inspecting bridges all the more important; unfortunately, the underside of a bridge is also pretty damn inaccessible to… » 9/25/14 1:15pm Thursday 1:15pm

Study Shows Most Serious Cyberattacks Are Coming From Inside the US

When we think about where hackers come from, China is probably the first country that comes to mind—for good reason, too. Russia's maybe next in line. But a controlled experiment by cyber security researchers shows that the vast majority of attacks actually come from a very familiar place: the United States. » 9/24/14 11:00am Wednesday 11:00am

The U.S. once considered using 23 nuclear bombs to blast out a highway

Rising out of California's Mojave Desert are the Bristol Mountains, nearly 4,000 feet of rock blocking easy passage through the scorching desert. For decades, Route 66 and the Santa Fe Railway have had to bend south, acquiescing to the mountains' height. But in the 1960s, at the peak of atomic age, we had a plan to… » 9/23/14 4:34pm 9/23/14 4:34pm

In the 1960s California had a serious plan to take water from Alaska

It's so ungodly hot in much of California right now that you can almost hear the sun sucking what's left of our reservoirs dry. But if a group of engineers and politicians would have had their way in 1964, the lower 48 would be swimming in water imported from the far North—all the way from Alaska. » 9/16/14 5:39pm 9/16/14 5:39pm

The Plan to Turn Our Aging Oil Rigs Into Skyscraper-Sized Reefs

Off the coast of Southern California, there's an underwater city. A thicket of almost 30 enormous steel oil rigs, each as large as a skyscraper, bolted to the floor of the ocean. Most of them are elderly, aging giants—and soon, the state will need to make a decision about whether to rip them up or let them stand.… » 9/12/14 10:58am 9/12/14 10:58am

14 Underground Structures That Expose the World Beneath Our Feet

From filthy punk clubs to pristine public transport, there's a heck of a lot going on under our cities. Underground: The Spectacle of the Invisible at Zurich's Museum of Design goes deep into the different types of urban infrastructure that have been built up down below, and the different reasons that being… » 9/10/14 9:00am 9/10/14 9:00am

Japan's Spending $5 Billion to Fast Track Maglev Trains in the US

Come on guys. It's just 40 miles. We'll even go halfsies with you. Except, in this case, "halfsies" still amounts to $5 billion. Japan, in an effort to help DC build a maglev train that would cut travel time to Baltimore down to 15 minutes, is offering up half the cash to do it. The question is: Does that make the… » 9/08/14 5:44pm 9/08/14 5:44pm

What's the Best Visualization of the Internet You've Ever Seen?

All the cables and servers that make up the internet may be actual, physical things, but the data they send zipping all over the world is a bit harder to put into perspective. Many have tried—quite a few have failed—but every once in a while, creativity and genius combine to form the perfect picture of the internet… » 9/08/14 12:31pm 9/08/14 12:31pm

The Stubborn "Nail Houses" That Refuse to Get Demolished

In 1914, the government of New York City took ownership of a Manhattan apartment building belonging to one David Hess. The city used a legal power called eminent domain, allowing governments to seize private property for public use—in this case they wanted to expand the subway system. Hess fought them and lost, and… » 9/05/14 3:34pm 9/05/14 3:34pm

What Would Happen to the Internet if Mankind Disappeared?

Parts of it would die within a couple of days; if your access to it remained operational, some of it might remain partially usable for a year or two. All large complex systems require constant maintenance by huge staffs of intelligent people, and the internet is no exception. Like you've seen in future-dystopian… » 9/05/14 11:00am 9/05/14 11:00am

This Waste Incineration Power Plant Glows Like It's On Fire

Power plants that burn garbage for energy are not places where you expect to find beauty. Usually utilitarian in design, they're often relegated to the middle of some industrial wasteland. But Denmark, a leader in incinerating waste for energy, has taken the opposite tack, commissioning big, beautiful power plants… » 9/03/14 4:44pm 9/03/14 4:44pm

Hacking Into Traffic Lights With a Plain Old Laptop Is Scary Simple

The idea that our traffic data systems are vulnerable is not a new one. In fact, improving cyber security on our nation's infrastructure is a huge priority right now. But a new study from the University of Michigan on the vulnerabilities of traffic lights is shocking proof that we need to make some major changes, and… » 8/19/14 5:50pm 8/19/14 5:50pm