Better photosynthesis, bomb-sniffing spinach, and that’s just the start of the ways plants are inspiring scientific innovation.
How did a chemist from Philadelphia wind up a Soviet spy?
Foul-mouthed, heavy-drinking eccentric Harry R. Truman became a folk hero for refusing to evacuate his home in the months before Mount St. Helens erupted. Where did he go once it did?
A misunderstanding of hippo physiology gave rise to one of the most widespread and pointless practices in medical history.
To slow global warming scientists have tried schemes both simple and bizarre to bottle up cow burps.
Can artificial intelligence help us decipher smell?
A globe-hopping doctor and a weird amphibian produce a fast, inexpensive pregnancy test.
A discovery by Indian scientist and statesman Meghnad Saha revealed the nature of stars.
A molecule used in antifreeze may one day heal damaged spinal cords.
In the 1940s two chemists joined forces to fight Los Angeles’s stinky, stinging air.
Bizarre chemical structures are helping us better understand how our planet formed and, perhaps, where to find life elsewhere in the universe.
Can a parasite in your cat’s litter box take control of your mind?
Sam Kean recounts the hunt for the brain’s clandestine painkillers.
How one man’s youthful rebellion may unlock a cure for cancer.
Is recycled wastewater too much to swallow?
A Japanese gourmand discovers the fifth element of taste.
Studying ancient DNA (aDNA) is a lot like playing Whac-A-Mole: stamp out one problem and another will pop up and take its place.
Poisoners have long made use of the periodic table of elements for their dirty work—think arsenic and mercury—but modern technology offers a new elemental option: a disappearing poison.
Sometimes scientific discovery requires an unusual tool.
Phosphorus helps power cells and forms the backbone of DNA. It’s also a vital ingredient in fertilizer, and one that may run short in the not-too-distant future.
In space no one can hear ice scream! For more than 100 years scientists have been discovering and creating bizarre, exotic ices. Ices that can even burn a hole in you!
Rocks in space! Yeah, we know space is filled with rocks, but until now no one had any plans to mine them for their metals.
The chemistry of the universe may help explain the presence of life on Earth.
Modern chemistry can fill in some ancient gaps.