A thin slice of the ancient rocks collected from Gakkel Ridge near the North Pole, photographed under a microscope and seen under cross-polarized light

Geologists Uncover Remnants of Earth’s Mantle That Have Lasted Over 2.5 Billion Years

New research suggests that a discrepancy in rocks shows they endured extreme heat, and reveals more about an ancient part of our planet’s history

A little over a century ago, a limestone cave system north of Kuala Lumpur was reborn as a holy Hindu shrine, called Batu Caves.

From Cisterns to Temples, These Twelve Underground Worlds Are Open for Exploring

Some of these age-old subterranean spaces have even been transformed into amusement parks, art galleries and restaurants

The JOIDES Resolution in 2012 off the coast of Costa Rica, on an expedition to understand how earthquakes form

What Will Happen If This Iconic Research Vessel Stops Drilling in the Deep Sea?

After a career marked by major discoveries, the JOIDES Resolution is likely on its last official mission to retrieve rock cores from the ocean floor

The Wentworth brothers campaigned ceaselessly for the liberty of free speech in the House of Commons. They were driven by the ongoing succession crisis, which they felt Elizabeth was ignoring, placing England in danger of civil war or foreign invasion.

The Brothers Who Asserted Their Right to Free Speech in Tudor England

Peter and Paul Wentworth called on Elizabeth I to name an heir to the throne, wielding Parliament's free speech privileges to urge the queen to take action

The new adaptation of The Decameron is “like a medieval ‘Love Island,’ and it descends into Lord of the Flies chaos,” says actor Tanya Reynolds.

Based on a True Story

The Real Story Behind Netflix's 'The Decameron'

Loosely based on Giovanni Boccaccio's 14th-century collection of short stories, the series follows a group of Italian nobles and servants who flee to the countryside to escape the Black Death

A lesser flamingo feeds at Lake Bogoria, in Kenya.

How Will Climate Change Hurt Lesser Flamingos?

Their food supply in East African lakes could collapse as rains increase

A 1959 photograph of William "W.R." Saxon, who is standing third from left

Untold Stories of American History

This Little-Known Civil Rights Activist Refused to Give Up His Bus Seat Four Years Before Rosa Parks Did

William "W.R." Saxon filed a lawsuit against the company that forced him to move to the back of the bus, seeking damages for the discrimination and mental anguish he’d faced

Women archers compete at the 1908 London Olympics.

The Paris Olympics

From Corsets to Singlets, the Olympics Have Driven the Evolution of Women's Sportswear

The bold choices of female athletes like Serena Williams have pushed brands, including Nike and Speedo, to produce better gear

Of these featured individuals, Benjamin Spock, Johnny Weissmuller and Harold Sakata medaled at the Olympics.

The Paris Olympics

Ten Surprising Public Figures Who Dreamed of Olympic Gold

The list includes European royals, Darth Vader's stunt double and an American World War II general

Apollo 11 astronauts watched the Earth rise above the moon’s horizon on July 20, 1969.

Apollo Astronauts Left American Flags, Boots and Even Poop on the Moon. Here's Why These Artifacts Matter

Fifty-five years after the first human lunar landing, scholars and experts are looking to preserve the past as more nations and companies undertake moon missions

The peacock mural in James McNeill Whistler's Peacock Room, as seen in the 2022 exhibition “The Peacock Room Comes to America”

How Golden Peacocks on a Dining Room Wall Destroyed a Longstanding Friendship in Victorian Society

Paintings, sketches and correspondence shed light on the drama surrounding the famed “Peacock Room”

Few things personify cool like a shades-wearing instrumentalist masterfully commanding the saxophone.

Smithsonian Photo Contest Galleries

These 15 Groovy Photos Capture the Joy of Music

Musical instruments have existed for eons, and humans continue to create and enjoy them

The baba au rhum is forgiving and achievable for the average home cook.

The Paris Olympics

The Boozy History of Baba au Rhum

The French are known for their pastries, but few desserts garner as much attention as this dried-out cake resuscitated with rum

The remains of whales that sink to the ocean floor become biological oases. Since 1977, scientists had only identified about 50 such whale falls across the world’s oceans, but a recent effort uncovered a startling density of them off the coast of Los Angeles.

Why Have So Many Whale Remains Been Found on the Ocean Floor Near Los Angeles?

Scientists have discovered more whale falls there than in the rest of the world combined

In "Lady in the Lake," Natalie Portman plays a fictional journalist who investigates a pair of mysterious deaths. The cases are inspired by the real-life disappearances of Esther Lebowitz and Shirley Lee Parker.

Based on a True Story

The Real Story Behind the Baltimore Deaths That Inspired 'Lady in the Lake'

A new mini-series offers a fictionalized take on two unrelated 1969 cases: the mysterious disappearance of bartender Shirley Lee Parker and the murder of 11-year-old Esther Lebowitz

Some historians have suggested the giant turtle reported in 1948 was an alligator snapping turtle, pictured here. Other experts disagree with this theory.

Could Citizens of This Indiana Town Have Seen a 500-Pound Turtle?

Two men said they saw such an animal, dubbed the Beast of Busco, in 1948

President Ronald Reagan, pictured waving to a crowd shortly before John Hinckley Jr. tried to assassinate him on March 30, 1981

History of Now

The History of Presidential Assassination Attempts, From Andrew Jackson to Teddy Roosevelt

Before last weekend's attack on Donald Trump, would-be assassins unsuccessfully targeted Ronald Reagan, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and seven other sitting presidents or candidates for office

A light painting made in Delhi, India, in December 2016 shows high air pollution levels a month after an extreme air quality event.

These Alluring Images Capture the Threats of Air Pollution Around the World

Researchers combined long-exposure photography with pollution sensor data to create representations of pollution in India, the United Kingdom and Ethiopia

From the real reason behind the Games' collapse to a breakdown of who was eligible to compete, here's what you need to know about the ancient Olympics.

The Paris Olympics

Nine Things You Didn't Know About the Ancient Olympic Games

With an intensive athletes’ boot camp and the threat of execution for unwelcome spectators, the Greek sporting event was a serious affair

James Baldwin, Istanbul, Sedat Pakay, gelatin silver and chromogenic prints, c. 1965

Explore James Baldwin Alongside His Friends, His Contemporaries and the Queer Artists Inspired by His Writing

A new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery honors the iconic writer while also celebrating the communities that influenced him

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