Inventions & Discoveries
The tools and technology that help us understand and change the world
Winter’s coming, so wrap up and discover the history of home insulation.
Nikola Tesla’s career epitomizes the scientist as showman.
In the 1980s Phil Allegretti found an unusual hobby. His collection of old DDT cans, sprayers, and diffusers tells the story of our contradictory approach to pesticides.
Can scientists bring the woolly mammoth back from extinction? And should they?
Sometimes scientific discovery requires an unusual tool.
For decades serious people have tried to turn the stuff of science fiction—space colonies, self-replicating machines, and solar sails—into scientific reality.
How a machine used to create atom bombs became a tool for healing.
What most frightened the Nobel Prize–winning chemist and explorer of Earth’s deep past?
Whale oil has been used in soap, explosives, and even margarine. Has it also fueled space exploration?
What does a world short on phosphorous look like?
The early 20th century was an especially rich time for creating ways to process and preserve food.
Mix a 19th-century chemist with a South American roader builder. Add cows and boil.
Follow the birth, life, and demise of the Hercules Powder Company, which once dominated the explosives industry in the United States.
In the 1950s hearing aids shrank from the size of a cigarette packet to the size of a lighter. The secret behind this shrinkage? The mighty transistor.
For more than 100 years scientists have been discovering and creating bizarre, exotic ices. Ices that can even burn a hole in you!
Many scientists devised periodic systems in the 1860s, but Dmitri Mendeleev is today recognized as the father of the periodic table. How did this Russian provincial come to possess one of the most famous names in science?
Coal fueled the cities of the Industrial Revolution. But coal did far more than power steam engines and heat homes.
Wars are often fought over resources, but as far as we know only one war has ever been fought over fertilizer.