Smart News Ideas & Innovations | Smithsonianhttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/rss/smartnews-ideas-innovations/RSS feed for Smart News Ideas & InnovationsenFri, 28 Apr 2017 20:16:08 +0000Check Out This Year's Entries to the RobotArt Competitionhttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/check-out-entries-years-robotart-competition-180963071/Thirty-eight teams have submitted almost 200 artworks painted by robots, many guided by artsy artificial intelligence Fri, 28 Apr 2017 20:16:08 +0000Times Square's Glitzy Look was One Man's Bright Ideahttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/times-square-look-one-man-180963032/Douglas Leigh's ability to imagine new kinds of advertising shaped the signs of the cityFri, 28 Apr 2017 13:20:00 +0000This Caterpillar Can Eat Plastichttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/researchers-find-waxworms-can-digest-plastic-180963028/The find could lead to new techniques for breaking down our ever-growing plastic wasteWed, 26 Apr 2017 16:08:39 +0000MIT’s ‘Treepedia’ Shows How Green Your City Growshttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/mits-treepedia-maps-how-green-your-city-grows-180963000/Using data from Google Street View, researchers created an interactive map that measures tree density on city streetsTue, 25 Apr 2017 19:53:58 +0000A Civil War Colonel Invented Fracking in the 1860shttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/civil-war-colonel-invented-fracking-1860s-180962979/His first invention was an "oil well torpedo," but it was followed by others Tue, 25 Apr 2017 13:42:48 +0000People Have Been Using Big Data Since the 1600shttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/people-have-been-using-big-data-1600s-180962949/A humble hatmaker was among the first to compile data on how Londoners lived—and diedMon, 24 Apr 2017 16:02:39 +0000Watch the Causes of Death Change Across Americahttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/watch-causes-death-change-across-america-180963003/The patterns highlight key social and economic issues in the country Mon, 24 Apr 2017 13:00:00 +0000Although Less Deadly Than Crinolines, Bustles Were Still a Pain in the Behindhttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/although-less-deadly-crinolines-bustles-were-still-pain-behind-180962919/“The woman with a bustle can never sit down in a natural position,” one 1880s doctor wroteFri, 21 Apr 2017 16:21:18 +0000A New Museum in Sweden Is All About Failurehttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/new-museum-sweden-all-about-failure-180962995/Visit the many examples of products that were short-sighted, short-lived or just sillyFri, 21 Apr 2017 16:16:21 +0000Fire Poles Saved Time, But They Also Injured Firefightershttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/fire-poles-saved-time-they-also-injured-firefighters-180962923/Many fire departments across the country have phased out the poleFri, 21 Apr 2017 13:20:00 +0000This Frog’s Slime Kills Flu Viruseshttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/frogs-slime-kills-flu-viruses-180962950/But don’t go kissing frogs just yetWed, 19 Apr 2017 11:00:00 +0000Scientists Want to Freeze and Pulverize Your Old Computershttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/need-get-rid-your-old-computer-scientists-want-freeze-and-pulverize-it-180962938/E-waste is a growing problem worldwide, but a new method could help take a byte out of the issueTue, 18 Apr 2017 16:22:12 +0000Ancient Architectural Science is Coming to a Renowned Indian Engineering Schoolhttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/ancient-architectural-science-coming-renowned-indian-engineering-school-180962936/Principles of alignment with the sun and magnetic fields in vastu shastra stretch back 8,000 yearsTue, 18 Apr 2017 15:02:41 +0000“Are Women Animals?” Asked One 19th-Century Letter Writerhttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/are-women-animals-asked-one-19th-century-letter-writer-180962859/If women couldn't have the rights of full human beings, "An Earnest Englishwoman" asked, could they at least have as many legal protections as animals?Mon, 17 Apr 2017 16:00:00 +0000The Story of Hollywood's Most Famous Lionhttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/mgms-first-lion-didnt-roar-180962852/Actually, there have been five of themMon, 17 Apr 2017 14:52:08 +0000This Free Laundromat Has a Famous Sponsor: the Popehttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/free-laundromat-has-famous-sponsor-pope-180962896/Rome’s homeless people will be able to do their laundry on the Vatican’s dimeThu, 13 Apr 2017 20:43:11 +0000Fashion Made From Cow Poo Wins Innovation Awardhttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/fashion-made-cow-poo-wins-innovation-award-180962882/Mestic looks to manure to produce bioplastic, paper and fashion-forward textilesThu, 13 Apr 2017 17:45:04 +0000Digital Tombstone Brings the Dead Back to Lifehttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/digital-tombstone-brings-dead-back-life-180962881/Death is eternal—but cemeteries are changing with the timesThu, 13 Apr 2017 14:30:00 +0000This Artificial Neural Network Generates Absurd Pickup Lineshttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/artificial-neural-network-generates-absurd-pickup-lines-180962880/But the technology probably won't be able to land you a date anytime soonWed, 12 Apr 2017 16:28:07 +0000The First Manned Space Flight Was the Rocket Designer’s Victory as Much as Yuri Gagarin’shttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/first-manned-space-flight-was-rocket-designers-victory-much-or-more-yuri-gagarins-180962822/Sergei Korolev designed the entire Soviet rocket program. But nobody knew his name until after he diedWed, 12 Apr 2017 13:10:00 +0000One Million Internet Users Created This Piece of Arthttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/one-million-internet-users-created-piece-art-180962867/Contributions range from the juvenile to bizarre to strangely beautifulTue, 11 Apr 2017 20:44:48 +0000The Bizarre Story of Saddam Hussein’s Failed “Supergun”http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/bizarre-story-saddam-husseins-failed-supergun-180962820/It was called “Big Babylon” and it was originally supposed to fire satellites into orbitTue, 11 Apr 2017 14:00:00 +0000This Swashbuckling Botanist Changed America’s Landscapeshttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/swashbuckling-botanist-changed-americas-landscapes-180962763/Not always for the betterFri, 07 Apr 2017 15:11:15 +0000Once Upon a Time, Exploding Billiard Balls Were An Everyday Thinghttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/once-upon-time-exploding-billiard-balls-were-everyday-thing-180962751/It was a side effect of no longer making them from ivoryThu, 06 Apr 2017 14:41:25 +0000Your Alaskan Cruise is Possible Because Canada Blew Up an Underwater Mountainhttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/it-took-almost-1400-tons-explosives-blow-underwater-mountain-peak-canada-180962732/People predicted tsunamis and an earthquake, but nothing particularly bad happenedWed, 05 Apr 2017 17:45:56 +0000Watch SpaceX's Recycled Rocket Stick Its Landinghttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/watch-spacexs-recycled-rocket-stick-its-landing-180962799/The reused Falcon 9 booster rocket may usher in an era of cheaper and more frequent trips into spaceWed, 05 Apr 2017 15:38:02 +0000Now Everyone Can Track Yosemite’s Bears Onlinehttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/new-website-lets-nature-enthusiasts-track-yosemites-bears-180962793/The park is displaying delayed GPS data on a new website to stop curious humans from scouting out the creatures in real timeWed, 05 Apr 2017 12:00:00 +0000A Second Doomsday Vault—This One to to Preserve Data—Is Opening in Svalbardhttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/second-doomsday-vault-preserve-data-opening-svalbard-180962749/Known as the Arctic World Archive, it will store copies of books, archives and documents on special filmWed, 05 Apr 2017 12:00:00 +0000Brief Vending Machine Delay Helps People Make Better Snack Choiceshttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/brief-vending-machine-delay-helps-people-make-better-snack-choices-180962764/When a vending machine withheld junky snacks for 25 seconds, people were slightly more likely to choose a healthier optionTue, 04 Apr 2017 15:07:30 +0000Before Velcro’s Patent Expired, It Was a Niche Product Most People Hadn’t Heard Ofhttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/velcros-patent-expired-it-was-niche-product-most-people-hadnt-heard-180962701/The hook-and-loop tape's moment in the sun came after others were free to copy itMon, 03 Apr 2017 16:00:00 +0000There’s a New World’s Blackest Blackhttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/theres-new-worlds-blackest-black-180962748/And it’s really blackFri, 31 Mar 2017 17:11:40 +0000Nanocars Will Race Across (a Very, Very Tiny Bit of) Francehttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/gentlemen-start-your-molecules-180962736/Ladies and gentlemen, start your moleculesFri, 31 Mar 2017 15:27:44 +0000Happy 159th Birthday to the Modern Pencilhttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/happy-159th-birthday-modern-pencil-180962656/The patent for this supremely convenient invention didn't last longThu, 30 Mar 2017 18:04:15 +0000Coca-Cola’s Creator Said the Drink Would Make You Smarterhttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/coca-colas-creator-said-drink-would-make-you-smarter-180962665/Like the wine and cocaine drink that preceded it, Coca-Cola was first marketed as a brain tonicWed, 29 Mar 2017 17:52:21 +0000Norway Proposes World's First Mile-Long Tunnel for Shipshttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/norway-proposes-mile-long-tunnel-ships-180962711/The tunnel would help ships and ferries avoid rough seas around the Stadlandet Peninsula where 33 people have died since World War IIWed, 29 Mar 2017 17:03:50 +0000 Before 1929, Nobody Thought the President Needed a Telephone in his Officehttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/1929-nobody-thought-president-needed-telephone-his-office-180962646/Herbert Hoover got a phone in the Oval Office over fifty years after the White House first got a switchboardWed, 29 Mar 2017 14:00:00 +0000How Detroit Went from Motor City to the Arsenal of Democracyhttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/when-detroit-was-arsenal-democracy-180962620/Detroit already had car manufacturing capability: that turned into war production capability in the early 1940sTue, 28 Mar 2017 16:00:00 +0000Your Monthly Menstrual Cycle, Reenacted on a Microchiphttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/scientists-hacked-living-tissue-and-microchips-create-working-menstrual-cycle-180962683/Bodies are complicated, but they’re no match for persistent bioengineersTue, 28 Mar 2017 15:42:20 +0000The Guillotine's Namesake Was Against Capital Punishmenthttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/joseph-guillotin-opposed-capital-punishment-180962630/And contrary to popular myth, he died of natural causes, not by beheadingTue, 28 Mar 2017 13:20:00 +0000San Diego Breweries Experiment With Recycled Waterhttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/san-diego-breweries-experiment-recycled-water-180962681/Stone and Ballast Point Breweries both created beers made from highly purified waste waterMon, 27 Mar 2017 20:21:31 +0000Researchers Turn Spinach Leaves Into Beating Heart Tissueshttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/researcher-turn-spinach-leaves-potential-heart-patches-180962678/These living leaves could eventually become patches for the human heartMon, 27 Mar 2017 17:36:01 +0000Another Use for Viagra: Curing Hamster Jet Lag http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/another-use-viagra-curing-hamster-jet-lag-180962613/It works—but only for hamsters (and maybe people) traveling eastMon, 27 Mar 2017 13:00:00 +0000This New Man-Made Sun Is 10,000 Times More Intense Than Sunlight on Earthhttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/new-man-made-sun-10000-times-more-intense-sunlight-earth-180962667/It’s a bright idea that just might help humans create solar fuel Fri, 24 Mar 2017 17:42:20 +0000India's Ganges and Yamuna Rivers Are Given the Rights of Peoplehttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/ganges-and-yamuna-rivers-given-rights-people-india-180962639/A few days after a New Zealand river gained the rights of personhood, an Indian court has declared that two heavily polluted rivers also have legal statusThu, 23 Mar 2017 19:03:13 +0000This Innovator Thought Elevators Should Be Roundhttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/first-passenger-elevator-was-built-four-years-after-first-elevator-shaft-180962598/Peter Cooper thought that round would be the most efficient shape for elevators, and requested an elevator shaft designed accordinglyThu, 23 Mar 2017 15:43:49 +0000Mathematician Emmy Noether Should Be Your Herohttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/emmy-noether-should-be-your-hero-180962591/She revolutionized mathematics, and then was forgotten because she was a womanThu, 23 Mar 2017 14:00:00 +0000The First Saxophone Was Made of Woodhttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/first-saxophone-made-of-wood-180962541/ The instrument was patented by–you guessed it–Adolphe Sax, on this day in 1846Wed, 22 Mar 2017 14:00:00 +0000This Game Turns James Joyce’s Most Notorious Novel Into Virtual Realityhttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/game-turns-james-joyces-most-notorious-novel-virtual-reality-180962596/But will it make you want to finish <i>Ulysses</i>?Tue, 21 Mar 2017 14:38:09 +0000Chef Boyardee Was A Real Personhttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/chef-boyardee-was-real-person-180962514/What’s more: Hector Boiardi was a respected chef who even helped cater Woodrow Wilson’s second weddingMon, 20 Mar 2017 16:00:00 +0000The World’s First Solar-Powered Satellite is Still Up There After 59 Yearshttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/worlds-first-solar-powered-satellite-still-there-after-59-years-180962510/This tiny grapefruit-sized satellite will still be up there well into the 2100s if we don’t take it downFri, 17 Mar 2017 16:00:00 +0000The Idea of Surgeons Washing Their Hands is Only 150 Years Oldhttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/idea-sterilizing-surgical-instruments-only-150-years-old-180962498/The world of surgery before that was much grosser and less effectiveThu, 16 Mar 2017 16:00:00 +0000This Patent Was the Hallmark of an Aerosol Whip Cream Empirehttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/patent-was-hallmark-aerosol-whip-cream-empire-180962455/Aaron “Bunny” Lapin had already made Reddi-Wip a national concern when he finally received the patent for the aerosolizing whip cream nozzleWed, 15 Mar 2017 16:00:00 +0000Scientists Successfully Grow Potatoes in Mars-Like Soilshttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/scientists-successfully-grow-potatoes-mars-soils-180962528/Can potatoes grow on the red planet? The International Potato Center is on the caseWed, 15 Mar 2017 15:40:54 +0000The First-Ever Blood Bank Opened 80 Years Ago Todayhttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/first-ever-blood-bank-opened-80-years-ago-today-180962486/Its inventor also coined the term "blood bank"Wed, 15 Mar 2017 15:00:00 +0000NASA Spots India's Long-Lost Lunar Orbiterhttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/nasa-finally-found-lost-lunar-orbiter-180962521/Chandrayaan-1 had been missing for eight yearsTue, 14 Mar 2017 17:20:31 +0000Getting Married on Pi Day is a Thinghttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/getting-married-pi-day-thing-180962456/Unfortunately, there are indications that couples who get married on special dates might not have the same chance of succeedingTue, 14 Mar 2017 13:30:00 +0000The Teenager Who Patented Earmuffs Kept His Town Employed for 60 Yearshttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/chester-greenwood-invented-earmuffs-or-did-he-180962434/Chester Greenwood became an earmuff tycoon whose factory kept his hometown in businessMon, 13 Mar 2017 18:00:00 +0000Take a Virtual Trip to the International Space Station http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/take-virtual-trip-international-space-station-180962501/New VR simulation turns you into an orbiting astronaut Mon, 13 Mar 2017 17:08:34 +0000Don't Judge the Book-of-the-Month Club By Its Coverhttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/dont-judge-book-month-club-its-cover-180962382/Although today you might associate its name with staid offerings, the club’s first book was by an openly queer authorFri, 10 Mar 2017 17:00:00 +0000During (and After) WWII, Some States Had Year-Round Daylight Saving Timehttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/some-states-stayed-war-time-after-wwii-ended-180962376/A 1963 'Time Magazine' article called it "a chaos of time"Fri, 10 Mar 2017 15:00:00 +0000Germans Invented the Autobahn. Now They’re Building a Superhighway for Bikes http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/germans-invented-autobahn-now-theyre-building-superhighway-bikes-180962446/A cyclist’s dream will soon be reality in BerlinThu, 09 Mar 2017 16:25:52 +0000Here Are All The Discoveries That Had To Happen Before Two Scientists Could Find DNA’s Structurehttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/here-are-all-discoveries-had-happen-two-scientists-could-find-dnas-structure-180962327/Watson and Crick weren’t the only ones working on the problems of humanity's genes, by a long shotTue, 07 Mar 2017 16:00:00 +0000The First Breakfast Cereal, Granula, Had to Be Soaked Before Being Eatenhttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/first-breakfast-cereal-granula-had-be-soaked-being-eaten-180962340/Invented by a doctor and health reformer, the brittle cakes were not an instant successTue, 07 Mar 2017 13:10:00 +0000Happy 80th Birthday to the First Woman in Spacehttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/happy-80th-birthday-first-woman-space-180962319/She spent almost three days in space on her first flightMon, 06 Mar 2017 13:45:00 +0000A Pound Cake Was Originally Made With Four Pounds of Ingredientshttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/pound-cake-was-originally-made-four-pounds-ingredients-180962308/Most Americans today don't bake using pounds and ounces, but cups and teaspoonsFri, 03 Mar 2017 16:31:29 +0000Why Stamps Cost the Same Anywhere in the Countryhttp://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/stamps-have-cost-same-anywhere-country-march-3-1845-180962314/The Postal Act of 1845 was just the beginning of a process of postal standarization that took many yearsFri, 03 Mar 2017 15:20:00 +0000