Science | The Atlantic

Making sense of strange new worlds—big and small, far and near.

Latest articles

How We Survive the Winter

On April 13, Robert Redfield, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, appeared on the Today show and assured viewers that the worst was nearly behind us. It had been a month since the last gathering of fans in an NBA arena; a month since the fateful week when Americans began panic-buying bottled water and canned beans. The...

The Language of Space Exploration Is Stuck in the 1800s

American presidents, when they talk about the country’s space program, often reach for grandiose terms. John F. Kennedy spoke of setting sail on a new sea, and Lyndon B. Johnson of “space pioneers” bound for a “glorious New World.” George H. W. Bush likened space missions to Christopher Columbus’s voyage across the Atlantic, and George W. Bush harkened...

Coffee Rust Is Going to Ruin Your Morning

In the southern corner of Guatemala, outside the tiny mountain town of San Pedro Yepocapa, Elmer Gabriel’s coffee plants ought to be leafed-out and gleaming. It is a week before Christmas, the heart of the coffee-harvesting season, and if his bushes were healthy, they would look like holiday trees hung with ornaments, studded with bright-red coffee...

The Most Important Number for the West’s Hideous Fire Season

Updated at 7:07 p.m. ET on Sept. 15, 2020.To understand the ravenous wildfire season in the American West this year, boil some ravioli. Put the heat on high. After about 10 minutes, the pasta will go limp and start to break apart. Keep boiling. When the pot holds a shallow puddle of water and a pile of soggy debris, keep going. Don’t turn down the heat...

Something Weird Is Happening on Venus

Updated at 7:22 p.m. ET on Sept. 14, 2020.After the moon, Venus is the brightest object in the night sky, gleaming like a tiny diamond in the darkness. The planet is so radiant because of its proximity to Earth, but also because it reflects most of the light that falls across its atmosphere, more than any other world in the solar system.Something really...

Photos of California’s Suffocating Smoke

When Balazs Gardi set out to photograph California’s wildfires last month, he avoided the towering infernos and burning edifices. He went where the flames crept slowly over the land or were all but extinguished. After 9/11, Gardi spent more than a decade chronicling the war in Afghanistan, and there he came to understand that the image that most grabs...

One Sperm Donor. 36 Children. A Mess of Lawsuits.

To the mothers, he was just Donor 9623. They did not know his name, but from his glowing sperm-donor profile, they knew he had an IQ of 160, spoke four languages, was pursuing a doctorate in neuroscience engineering, and looked like Tom Cruise.But Donor 9623 wasn’t who he said he was. He wasn’t in graduate school. He had never even finished college....

The West Has Never Felt So Small

The Willamette Valley, in Oregon (Will Matsuda)The West is on fire and there’s nowhere to run. Up and down Interstate 5, the artery connecting most of the major cities on the West Coast, a pall of thick smoke has turned the sun red. Millions of acres have burned. I’m calling and texting friends in communities across Oregon, Washington, California. A...

America Is Trapped in a Pandemic Spiral

Editor’s Note: The Atlantic is making vital coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find the collection here. Army ants will sometimes walk in circles until they die. The workers navigate by smelling the pheromone trails of workers in front of them, while laying down pheromones for others to follow. If these trails accidentally loop back...

America Is Running Low on a Crucial Resource for COVID-19 Vaccines

In the past seven months, more than 100 COVID-19 vaccines, therapies, and drugs have been pushed into development. But for any of these treatments to make it to humans, they usually have to face another animal first: a monkey. And here, scientists in the United States say they are facing a bottleneck. There just aren’t enough monkeys to go around.“Nationally,...

Discover, share and read the best on the web

Subscribe to RSS Feeds, Blogs, Podcasts, Twitter searches, Facebook pages, even Email Newsletters! Get unfiltered news feeds or filter them to your liking.

Get Inoreader
Inoreader - Subscribe to RSS Feeds, Blogs, Podcasts, Twitter searches, Facebook pages, even Email Newsletters!