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You're a biologist on a mission to keep the rare honeybee Apis Trifecta from going extinct. The last 60 bees of the species are in your terrarium. You've already constructed wire frames of the appropriate size and shape. Now you need to turn them into working beehives by filling every hex with wax. Can you help the bees create producing hives? Dan …
 
You founded a company that manufactures meatless burgers that are sold in stores worldwide. But you've recently received awful news: three people in one city died after eating your burgers. A criminal has injected poison into your product! The deaths are headline news and sales have plummeted. How do you deal with the crisis? George Siedel and Chri…
 
From Ancient Greece to the 20th century, Aristotle, Freud, and numerous other scholars were all looking for the same thing: eel testicles. Freshwater eels could be found in rivers across Europe, but no one had ever seen them mate and no researcher could find eel eggs or identify their reproductive organs. So how do eels reproduce, and where do they…
 
The average 20-year-old knows between 27,000 and 52,000 different words. Spoken out loud, most of these words last less than a second. With every word, the brain has a quick decision to make: which of those thousands of options matches the signal? And about 98% of the time, the brain chooses the correct word. How is this possible? Gareth Gaskell di…
 
In Colchis, the hide of a mystical flying ram hangs from the tallest oak, guarded by a dragon who never sleeps. The only way Jason can pry it from King Aeetes' clutches and win back his promised throne is by facing three perilous tasks— without the help of the Argonauts. Unbeknownst to the king, his daughter Medea was plotting something. Iseult Gil…
 
One summer evening in 335 BCE, Alexander the Great was resting by the Danube River when a band of strangers approached his camp. Alexander had never seen anything like these tall, fierce-looking warriors with huge golden neck rings and colorful cloaks. They were Keltoi or Celts— a collection of independent tribes spread across Europe. Philip Freema…
 
Long jealous of his older brother Osiris, the god who ruled all of Egypt, the warrior god Set plotted to overthrow him. Hosting an extravagant party as a ruse, Set announced a game— whoever could fit perfectly in a wooden chest could have it as a gift. But the chest was a coffin, trapping Osiris inside. Will his sisters be able to find and free him…
 
In the early 1900s, archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans uncovered nearly 3,000 tablets inscribed with strange symbols. He thought the script, dubbed Linear B, represented the Minoan language, while others came up with their own theories. Was it the lost language of the Etruscans? Or an early form of Basque? Its meaning would elude scholars for 50 years.…
 
In February of 1942, Mexican farmer Dionisio Pulido thought he heard thunder coming from his cornfield. However, the sound wasn't coming from the sky. The source was a large, smoking crack emitting gas and ejecting rocks, and would come to be known as the volcano Paricutin. Where do new volcanoes like this come from, and what triggers their unpredi…
 
On January 17, 1920, less than one hour after spirits had become illegal throughout the United States, armed men robbed a Chicago freight train and made off with thousands of dollars worth of whiskey. It was a first taste of the unintended consequences of Prohibition. So what exactly was Prohibition, and why did it happen? Rod Phillips investigates…
 
In a small town, a proud mother showed off her newborn son. Upon noticing his lucky birthmark, townsfolk predicted he would marry a princess. But soon, these rumors reached the wicked king. Enraged, the king stole the child away, and sent him hurtling down the river. But the infant's luck proved greater than the king's plan. Iseult Gillespie tells …
 
When Nicolas Bourbaki applied to the American Mathematical Society in the 1950s, he was already one of the most influential mathematicians of his time. He'd published articles in international journals and his textbooks were required reading. Yet his application was firmly rejected for one simple reason: Nicolas Bourbaki did not exist. How is that …
 
You're cruising down the highway when all of a sudden endless rows of brake lights appear ahead. There's no accident, no stoplight, no change in speed limit, or narrowing of the road. So why is there so much traffic? It's due to a phenomenon called a phantom traffic jam. Benjamin Seibold explains why it happens and how we might prevent it in the fu…
 
A mountain separating two lakes. A room papered floor to ceiling with bridal satins. The lid of an immense snuffbox. These seemingly unrelated images take us on a tour of a sperm whale's head in Herman Melville's "Moby Dick." Though the book features pirates, typhoons, high-speed chases, and giant squid, it's anything but a conventional seafaring a…
 
In the 16th century, physician Andreas Vesalius described how a suffocating animal could be kept alive by inserting a tube into its trachea and blowing air to inflate its lungs. Today, Vesalius's treatise is recognized as the first description of mechanical ventilation— a crucial practice in modern medicine. So how do our modern ventilators work? A…
 
The evil wizard MoldeVort has been trying to kill you for years, and today it looks like he's going to succeed. But your friends are on their way, and if you can survive until they arrive, they should be able to help stop him. Can you keep MoldeVort trapped long enough for help to arrive? Dan Finkel shows how. [Directed by Artrake Studio, narrated …
 
A new virus emerges and spreads like wildfire. In order to contain it, researchers must first collect data about who's been infected. Two main viral testing techniques are critical: one tells you if you have the virus and the other shows if you've already had it. So, how exactly do these tests work? Cella Wright explores the science of PCR tests an…
 
For almost a decade, scientists chased the source of a deadly new virus through China's tallest mountains and most isolated caverns. They finally found it in the bats of Shitou Cave. The virus in question was a coronavirus that caused an epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in 2003. So what exactly is a coronavirus, and how does …
 
The midwife Xoquauhtli has a difficult choice to make. She owes a debt to her patron Teteoinnan, the female warrior goddess at the center of the Aztec seasonal festival, who must be kept happy or she will bring bad luck. Xoquauhtli should participate in the festival today, but one of her patients could go into labor any minute. Kay Read outlines a …
 
In the 1980s and 90s, pharmaceutical companies began to market opioid painkillers aggressively, while actively downplaying their addictive potential. The number of prescriptions skyrocketed, and so did cases of addiction, beginning a crisis that continues today. What makes opioids so addictive? Mike Davis explains what we can do to reverse the skyr…
 
Your hands, up close, are anything but smooth. With peaks and valleys, folds and rifts, there are plenty of hiding places for a virus to stick. If you then touch your face, the virus can infect you. But there are two extraordinarily simple ways you can keep that from happening: soap and water, and hand sanitizer. So which is better? Alex Rosenthal …
 
You've been accused of a crime you did not commit. It's impossible to prove your innocence. If you insist that you're innocent anyway, you'll likely be found guilty and executed. But if you confess, apologize, and implicate others, you'll go free. This was the choice facing those accused of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts in the 17th century. Ho…
 
By 2050, it's estimated that over 65% of the world will be living in cities. We may think of nature as being unconnected to our urban spaces, but trees have always been an essential part of successful cities. Humanity has been uncovering these arboreal benefits since the creation of our first cities thousands of years ago. So what makes trees so im…
 
Australians call them "runners." The British know them as "trainers." Americans refer to them as "sneakers." Whatever you call them, these casual shoes are worn by billions of people around the world. Today, roughly 23 billion shoes are produced each year. So, how can we balance our love of sneakers with the need for sustainability? Angel Chang exp…
 
A baby cursed at birth. A fierce battle of good and evil. A true love awoken with a kiss. Since premiering in 1890, "The Sleeping Beauty" has become one of the most frequently staged ballets in history. So what makes this piece so beloved? And what exactly does ballet bring to this— or any other— story? Ming Luke shares what makes ballet the perfec…
 
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