Articles by Maya Wei-Haas

Left: A cooled pāhoehoe flow from the Kīlauea, showing its characteristic ropey texture, captured in 2012 (imageBROKER / Alamy). Right: An ‘a‘ā flow from Kīlauea moves down Makamae Street in Leilani Estates, Hawaii on May 6, 2018.

A Handy Guide to Volcano Vocab

Laze, vog, lava bomb—we help you decipher what geologists are actually talking about

Who needs fuzz and pudge when you have this slimy smile?

Future of Conservation

The Adorable Chinese Giant Salamander Is Slithering Toward Extinction

The amphibians could actually be five separate species, some of which may already be extinct

Don't be fooled by this roly-poly furball. These mischevious creatures need constant attention and round-the-clock care.

Pandamonium

Why Photographing Pandas Is More Challenging Than You Might Think

Photojournalist Ami Vitale describes her years of work capturing the lovable furballs

ELIA's blocky characters echo the Roman alphabet, with the goal of making it easier to learn for people who lost sight late in life.

Could This New Tactile Font Help People Who Lose Their Sight Late In Life?

ELIA Frames may serve some blind readers better than braille, but the new system has its skeptics

Future of Art

Comet "Snowstorm" Swirling in This Stunning GIF Is a Tricky Illusion

“Things are not quite as they seem," explains astronomer Mark McCaughrean

Giant Panda cubs developing their tree-climbing skills at China’s Chengdu Panda Base

The Science Behind the Unbearably Cute IMAX Movie "Pandas"

Wild populations of these loveable fuzz-faced bears need help, and scientists are on the case

The tornado that touched down near El Reno, Oklahoma plowed through the region. The violent winds and subsequent floods injured 155 and killed 20 people, including the first known storm chasers to die in the twister's swirling path.

How a Legendary Storm Chaser Changed the Face of Tornado Science

In 2013, Tim Samaras died in one of the epic storms he'd spent decades chasing. A new book chronicles his harrowing last days

Easter Island is home to at least 142 endemic species, including the Easter Island butterfly fish.

Chile Announces Protections for Massive Swath of Ocean With Three New Marine Parks

The almost 450,000 square miles encompass a stunning diversity of marine life, including hundreds of species found nowhere else

Thousands of years ago, a herd of Columbian mammoths trudged across present-day Oregon to an ancient lake, recording their interactions in the muddy sediments.

New Research

Rare Mammoth Tracks Reveal an Intimate Portrait of Herd Life

Researchers piece together a 43,000-years-old tableau of an injured adult and concerned young

It turns out the story of the domesticated bunny is a lot fuzzier than the legends tell it.

The Odd, Tidy Story of Rabbit Domestication That Is Also Completely False

New study lends weight to the idea that domestication isn’t a point, but a process

The Olympic Flame was lit from the sun's rays using a parabolic mirror, during the final dress rehearsal for the lighting ceremony at Ancient Olympia, in southwestern Greece, on Monday, Oct. 23, 2017.

Ask Smithsonian 2017

Your Burning Questions About the Olympic Torch, Answered

Curious minds will want to know that the blaze is lit not with matches or a lighter, but using a method that dates to Ancient Greece

Coal miners walk through a tunnel at the Consol Energy Bailey Mine in Wind Ridge, Pennsylvania in 2013.

Why Black Lung Disease Is Deadlier Than Ever Before

As President Trump prepares to send miners back to work, a near-obsolete illness is once again ravaging coal country

Behold, the unsung hero of the Winter Olympic Games: ice.

Winter Olympics

The Slick Science of Making Olympic Snow and Ice

Crafting the ideal ice rink or bobsled course takes patience, precision and the skill of an Ice Master

View from the cockpit of Solar Impulse 2 as the plane heads for landing in Abu Dhabi.

Future of Energy

Inside the First Solar-Powered Flight Around the World

A new documentary highlights the challenges overcome by the experimental aircraft, Solar Impulse

Lava cascades down the slopes of the erupting Mayon volcano in January 2018. Seen from Busay Village in Albay province, 210 miles southeast of Manila, Philippines.

Geology Makes the Mayon Volcano Visually Spectacular—And Dangerously Explosive

What's going on inside one of the Philippines' most active volcanoes?

A de-horned rhino lies in the sand at Hoedspruit endangered species centre in South Africa. Rhinos are particularly vulnerable during wartime due to illegal trade of their horns for weapons.

New Research

The Animal Cost of War

Even low-level human conflict can drive dramatic wildlife declines

An African lion enjoying an afternoon snack in the falling snow of 2012 at the National Zoo.

How Zoo Animals Stay Safe and Warm in the Arctic Blast

From flamingo 'hot tubs' to heated termite mounds, zoos have plenty of tricks to keep creatures safe when the forecast freezes over

A compound image captures the rising moon over the Futako-Tamagawa Rise complex in Tokyo, Japan.

Watch the Supermoon Rise Around the World in Pictures

The 'super' event was a great excuse to get outside and take in some celestial wonder—even if the moon didn't look all that different

The stunning image that opens the Siphonophorae chapter in  The Art and Science of Ernst Haeckel. Each gelatinous siphonophore is actually a group of colonial organisms all living and working together. To grow, they clone themselves—each new minion specialized for a specific function.

Art Meets Science

This 19th-Century Illustrator Found Beauty in the Slimiest of Sea Creatures

A new book chronicles Ernst Haeckel's life and his gorgeous renderings of wild things—scales, spikes, tentacles and all

Shan Dou (from left), Jonathan Ajo-Franklin, and Nate Lindsey were on a Berkeley Lab team that, in collaboration with researchers from Stanford, used fiber optic cables for detecting earthquakes and other subsurface activity.

Could Fiber Optics Detect Earthquakes?

By monitoring every grumble, shiver and burp our planet makes, researchers hope to be more prepared to take action when things go awry