Features

In-depth analysis and opinion from the worlds of science and emerging technology.

  • The year in space 2021

    With helicopters on Mars, private crewed missions, robotic probes flying into the Sun's atmosphere, and Captain Kirk boldly going to the final frontier, 2021 was a bumper year in space exploration. Here's a look at the top stories in the Cosmos.
  • Is thorium the future of nuclear power?

    Unless you're really into trivia about gas lanterns and the mantles that make their light so bright, you've probably never heard of thorium, but you may hear a lot more about it in the future. This unassuming metal could one day rival uranium as the nuclear fuel of choice.
  • The year in science 2021

    Tardigrades shot from a gun, the world's largest offshore wind turbines, nuclear fusion records, radical new materials, and potty-trained cows ... here's a look back at the incredible stories science served up in 2021.
  • The Biro, the invention that changed the writing game

    In 1945, the first successful ballpoint pen went on sale in the United States and Britain. Initially seen as an expensive novelty, the Biro soon went on to become not only a part of our everyday lives, but one that revolutionized how we communicate.
  • Going to Mars is hard: Lessons from Mariner 9

    Fifty years ago this weekend, NASA's Mariner 9 probe went into orbit around Mars. This pioneering mission revolutionized our ideas about Mars and, with humans looking to head that way, is a timely reminder of just how utterly inhospitable a place it is.
  • The antimatter enigma: What is it and why didn't it destroy the universe?

    Normal matter has an “evil twin” that annihilates on contact, and despite decades of study antimatter remains very mysterious. So what actually is it? Where is it? Why is it important to understand? And why hasn’t it already destroyed the universe?
  • How do nuclear reactors work?

    The urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has put the nuclear energy debate squarely back on the agenda. So how does nuclear energy energy work, where is it headed, and can the atom become "our friend" again?
  • Mercury Redstone 4: A close shave for America’s second man in space

    Sixty years ago this week, America sent its second man into space. The mission had gone flawlessly, but nearly ended in tragedy when the Liberty Bell 7 Mercury space capsule sank into the sea, almost taking astronaut Virgil Grissom with it.
  • The problem at the heart of modern psychedelic clinical research

    How much of a problem is it if participants in psychedelic clinical trials can easily tell they have been given a placebo? Researcher Suresh Muthukumaraswamy suggests it is, and many findings from recent psychedelic trials may be over-estimated.
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