• Absinthe / The tale of the Green Fairy MP3

    Author’s Note: This article was updated on April 30, 2008 to reflect changes in absinthe’s legal status in the United States. Picture yourself at the end of the nineteenth century in France. The Bohemian movement is in full swing. Revolutions in art and literature are brewing, technology is advancing rapidly, and more and more people are putting their creative efforts into the expansion of culture. You...

    28.12.2012

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    28.12.2012

  • Robots that Smell / Artificial noses and beyond MP3

    While out for a walk in my neighborhood, I caught a whiff of something that instantly made me think of my grandmother’s house. I haven’t experienced that smell—either from its original source or elsewhere—in well over a decade, but the memory of being back at my grandmother’s house was immediate and striking. On the other hand, I can’t really remember or recreate that smell i...

    26.12.2012

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    26.12.2012

  • Hikaru Dorodango / Mud balls as art MP3

    Children, I have observed, seem to have an innate affinity for dirt. No matter how recently a parent has dressed the child in freshly laundered clothes, no matter how carefully the parent has attempted to keep the child geographically separated from any substance that might soil or stain, it is just not possible to keep a child clean for more than 60 seconds. I use the word “affinity” advisedly, because i...

    24.12.2012

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    24.12.2012

  • Bionic Eyes / Seeing is believing MP3

    As a kid in the mid-’70s, one of my favorite TV shows was The Six Million Dollar Man. When astronaut and test pilot Steve Austin was critically injured in a plane crash, government scientists decided to replace his damaged body parts with electromechanical equivalents, making him the first bionic (or cybernetic) human. The cost for two new legs, a right arm, and a left eye turned out to be $6 million, but for ...

    14.10.2012

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    14.10.2012

  • Superautomatic Coffee Machines / The lazy way to make a perfect cup of coffee MP3

    There are those who believe half the pleasure of a great cup of coffee comes from the ritual of making it. The details of the ritual vary from person to person and place to place, but the desired effect is the same: a perfect cup of hot, rich, fresh coffee. “Perfect,” of course, is quite subjective. Among people who take coffee very seriously, there is a great deal of disagreement as to what types of bea...

    12.10.2012

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    12.10.2012

  • Dream Groups / Intramural introspection MP3

    I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Unbeknownst to most of my friends and family, I’m really an action hero. Several times each month, I go on dangerous assignments to exotic locations, where I narrowly escape death, rescue the hostages, recover the stolen chip, round up the bad guys, and generally keep civilization safe from evil. Admirers call me “Indiana Joe.” Of course, itâ€...

    10.10.2012

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    10.10.2012

  • Lichens / A tale of two organisms MP3

    by Morgen Jahnke There are some things in the natural world I tend to take for granted, but that reveal true surprises when I look at them more closely. Such is the case with lichens. I’ve known about lichens since childhood, but it turns out I never really knew anything about them at all. I always assumed they were like mosses, vegetable-like things that grew on the ground, rocks, and trees. In fact, lichens...

    08.10.2012

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    08.10.2012

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