John James Audubon's Birds of America holds the record as the world's most expensive book. Not to buy, but to publish. Audubon had to raise more than $115,000 in the early 1800s ($2 million in today's dollars) for a print run of the multi-volume, large (39 x 26 inches) work that contained 435 hand-...
September 10, 2010 | By Sarah Zielinski
Though I was a very good at math in school, I usually found the subject incredibly boring, so much so that I often slept through class (teachers didn't mind as long as I aced the exams). The one exception was a college math course for biologists that gave us real-world problems like figuring out th...
August 31, 2010 | By Sarah Zielinski
Author David V. Herlihy discusses his book about Frank Lenz's tragic failed attempt to travel the world by bicycle
August 27, 2010 | By Megan Gambino
Comic book fans and city activists hope that people think of the Ohio city, and not Krypton, as the home of the Man of Steel
August 19, 2010 | By Anne Trubek
The origins of some food idioms are a piece of cake to figure out; just use your bean. Others sound so bizarre they could make you go bananas. There are so many of them, I would have to be crackers to try to list them all, but here are a few that are particularly nutty: The apple of my eye: Accordi...
August 13, 2010 | By Lisa Bramen
It's a sticky August afternoon, and the family members are facing their third day of vacation in a tiny beach town. The thrill of splashing in the surf and crafting sand castles has faded, replaced by streaks of sunburn around the edges of swimsuits and sandal straps. ("I told you to put lotion eve...
August 05, 2010 | By Amanda Bensen
The Pulitzer-Prize winning poet discusses how new technologies will affect the creative process
August 2010 | By Lucinda Moore
As digital screens proliferate and people move from print to pixel, how will the act of reading change?
August 2010 | By Kevin Kelly
Most of the time we don't think about the periodic table. Individual elements are always important—gold, oxygen, aluminum—but we rarely consider the table as a whole. It just hangs on the wall where it will be consulted from time to time (or perhaps admired for its aesthetics, like the one that han...
July 20, 2010 | By Sarah Zielinski
Tom Swift is turning 100—and he still doesn’t look a day over 18
July 01, 2010 | By Danny Heitman
First of all, go and check out Smithsonian's 40th anniversary issue, "40 Things You Need to Know about the Next 40 Years." There's lots of science, nature and technology stories, including ones about electric cars, how a wildlife refuge is dealing with rising sea levels, lab-grown body parts and ho...
June 29, 2010 | By Sarah Zielinski
Do you ever dream of retiring to some sort of quiet, rural paradise to raise a pretty little herd of goats and make gourmet cheese? I'll confess that I have.Well, that idyllic vision got sullied with reality this week when I picked up a new book called "Hay Fever: How Chasing a Dream on a Vermont F...
June 02, 2010 | By Amanda Bensen
William-Henry Ireland committed a scheme so grand that he fooled even himself into believing he was William Shakespeare's true literary heir
June 2010 | By Doug Stewart
With To Kill a Mockingbird, published 50 years ago, Lee gave America a story for the ages. Just don't ask her about it
June 2010 | By Charles Leerhsen
Beware the hidden hazards lurking within popular children's books
June 2010 | By Abigail Green
I once told a friend about bonobos—"they're like chimpanzees," I said, "but they're peaceful and have sex all the time"—and he thought I was making them up. My computer doesn't think they exist either; it suggests alternative spellings including "bonbons" and "bongos." Bonobos are our closest livin...
May 26, 2010 | By Sarah Zielinski
A chance encounter on a New Orleans dock in 1858 haunted the writer for the rest of his life
May 2010 | By Ron Powers
There are some food truths we hold to be self-evident, and one of them is that orange juice is inherently good. It's packed with vitamin C; it's what your mom tells you to drink when you feel a cold coming on; it looks like sunshine in a glass. Plus, it's delicious.Those things are true, but Alissa...
April 27, 2010 | By Amanda Bensen
Usually reading about food makes me hungry, or at least curious to taste what's being described. But I just came across an example of something that I truly have no desire to try: Sea Pie.Working at a magazine often means receiving review copies of new books in the mail, whether I requested them or...
April 26, 2010 | By Amanda Bensen
When we think of wildlife trafficking, we usually think of stories like this one from the December issue of Smithsonian, which details the exotic creatures being stolen from Ecuador's rainforest. We don't think about the trafficking taking place here in the United States, and we certainly don't thi...
April 06, 2010 | By Sarah Zielinski