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When the Sea Saved Humanity

Shortly after Homo sapiens arose harsh climate conditions nearly extinguished our species. Recent finds suggest that the small population that gave rise to all humans alive today survived by exploiting a unique combination of resources along the southern coast of Africa...

By Curtis W. Marean

'Super-Earths': Could They Harbor Life?

The night skies are littered with distant planets, but what are they really like? Theoretical models suggest that a surprising number of "exoplanets" could be similar to Earth—and may even support life...

By Dimitar D. Sasselov and Diana Valencia

Robot Pills

A voyage through the human body is no longer mere fantasy. Tiny devices may soon perform surgery, administer drugs and help diagnose disease

By Paolo Dario and Arianna Menciassi

Origins: Going Back to Where the Story Really Starts

Sometimes we forget where a story really starts. Are electric cars new? Where did malaria start? Who invented spaghetti? Read on, for the surprising origins of many strange and familiar things...

By Brendan Borrell, Melinda Wenner Moyer and Mike May

Cheese Story

Swiss dairy farmers created an American institution

By Melinda Wenner Moyer

Before Mickey Mouse

The inspiration for today's animated pictures began long ago with dreams and toys

By Brendan Borrell

On the Parasite's Trail

Scientists have traced malaria to its first human victims a mere 10,000 years ago

By Mike May

Snap, Crackle, Bang

The ancient Chinese invented fireworks to scare off 10-foot-tall mountain men

By Mike May

Thorny Fence

The invention of barbed wire was a huge commercial success--and the subject of furious legal battles

By Mike May


A rise in maternity ward deaths led one physician to discover the importance of hand washing

By Mike May

Urban Bug

Packed living conditions made the influenza virus a leading public health threat

By Melinda Wenner Moyer

Moral Animal

A sense of right and wrong starts with innate brain circuitry

By Melinda Wenner Moyer

Gravity's Tug

The first black holes are almost as old as the universe itself

By Brendan Borrell

The First Humvee

Wheeled vehicles may have first arisen as a tool of war

By Brendan Borrell

Rainbow Cells

Biodiversity was the first step toward complex life

By Melinda Wenner Moyer


How nothing became something

By Brendan Borrell

Filming the Invisible in 4-D

Picture this: a movie revealing the inner workings of a cell or showing a nanomachine in action. A new microscopy is making such imaging possible

By Ahmed H. Zewail


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