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Not for the first time this year, Californians this week donned face masks to protect their lungs from the harmful airborne particles that have smothered the state in a sickly, sooty haze. The pollutants are products of three devastating infernos raging hundreds of miles apart, the largest of which, Butte County's Camp Fire, has swelled […]

Today, cannabis continues its slow march toward nationwide decriminalization with voters deciding whether to allow recreational use in Michigan and North Dakota, and for medical purposes in Utah and Missouri. As states keep chipping away at federal prohibition, more consumers will gain access, sure—but so will more researchers who can more easily study this astonishingly […]

The theoretical physicist John Wheeler once used the phrase “great smoky dragon” to describe a particle of light going from a source to a photon counter. “The mouth of the dragon is sharp, where it bites the counter. The tail of the dragon is sharp, where the photon starts,” Wheeler wrote. The photon, in other […]

On an uncommonly cold and gray Thursday in Los Angeles, in an empty alleyway outside her studio in Chinatown, Marawa Ibrahim—aka Marawa the Amazing—is preparing to spin what appears to be about 30 sparkly Hula-Hoops. It looks like a preposterous number of Hula-Hoops, to most people anyway. But for Marawa, a virtuosic performance artist with […]

The Devastating Allure of Medical Miracles

March 20, 2019 | Story | No Comments

Sheila Advento was not feeling well. It was July 6, 2003, and her mother’s house in northern New Jersey was filled with people. Sheila and her mom were there, along with Sheila’s boyfriend, sister, and brother-in-law—a slice of a huge extended family, many of whom, like Sheila and her parents, had immigrated to the US […]

Friends, have you thought about your insurance lately? [Reader clicks close tab.] Dammit! Wait, no, look: Climate change makes natural catastrophes worse, in both intensity and frequency, and insurance might be a significant way to pay for recovery. International aid can be unreliable; government money really is just taxpayer money. Corporations and nations have, for […]

On Monday, the buzz of machinery echoed through SpaceX’s Hawthorne-based manufacturing facility as SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell introduced a quartet of astronauts, each decked out in NASA blues. Behind them, tucked inside a clean room, was their ticket to low-Earth orbit: SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, still naked without its stark white outer shell. So far, every […]

The Unknowability of the Next Global Epidemic

March 20, 2019 | Story | No Comments

Disease X n. A dire contagion requiring immediate attention—but which we don’t yet know about. In 2013 a virus jumped from an animal to a child in a remote Guinean village. Three years later, more than 11,000 people in six countries were dead. Devastating—and Ebola was a well-studied disease. What may strike next, the World […]