The 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2017

From remote hideaways to coastal harbors, discover the towns that topped our list this year

Lifting an Unwieldy 75-Ton Hovercraft Out of the Water

When you're crane-lifting a giant hovercraft into a ship's hold, plenty can go wrong

A slave fortress in Cape Coast, Ghana

A Digital Archive of Slave Voyages Details the Largest Forced Migration in History

An online database explores the nearly 36,000 slave voyages that occurred between 1514 and 1866

NASA's Cassini spacecraft captures three of Saturn's moons—Tethys, Enceladus and Mimas—in this group photo.

Space Hub

How and When Did Saturn Get Those Magnificent Rings?

The planet's rings are coy when it comes to revealing their age, but astronomers are getting closer

When Londoners worried about losing their jobs in 1517, they turned against foreigners.

On Evil May Day, Londoners Rioted Over Foreigners Stealing Their Jobs

It’s been 500 years since London’s artisans turned a festival into a rampage

Some Very Compelling Evidence the Tower of Babel Was Real

Biblical scholars have debated whether the Tower of Babel existed. A remarkable stone tablet never before shown on film appears to settle that question


Get Lost in London’s Secret Gardens

Follow us to these fragrant green oases secreted away within central and far-flung London neighborhoods

After the war, the contents of Pershing's office, including his desk, were shipped back to the U.S. and delivered to the Smithsonian.

World War I: 100 Years Later

From This Desk, 100 Years Ago, U.S. Operations in World War I Were Conceived

Germany's defeat could be traced to pins in a map now on display at the Smithsonian's American History Museum

Does Creativity Breed Inequality in Cities?

Richard Florida thinks so. In his new book, the urban theorist says sometimes the most innovative cities also have the worst social and economic disparity

On the canal in Tongli.

Explore China's Ancient Water Towns

The Venice of the East sits just 30 minutes by train from Shanghai

Smart Startup

There's No Snoozing in Class With This Chemistry App

Chem101 allows professors to push out exercises for students to do on their devices, increasing classroom engagement

The censorship board. George Creel is seated at far right.

How Woodrow Wilson’s Propaganda Machine Changed American Journalism

The media are still feeling the impact of an executive order signed in 1917 that created 'the nation's first ministry of information'

"Old City Hall, Wall St., N.Y." Steel engraving by Robert Hinshelwood

George Washington's Congress Got Off to an Embarrassing Start

The new federal government was plagued with absences and excuses—until James Madison helped kick things into gear

Neuroscience is giving new meaning to the phrase "get on my wavelength."

New Research

Students’ Brains Sync Up When They’re in an Engaging Class, Neuroscience Shows

What does it really mean to get our brains on the same wavelength?

Unlikely savior: The remarkable properties of spaghnum moss help preserve long-dead bodies, sequester carbon and even heal wounds.

World War I: 100 Years Later

How Humble Moss Healed the Wounds of Thousands in World War I

The same extraordinary properties that make this plant an “ecosystem engineer” also helped save human lives

American South

Each Spring, the World's Punniest Humans Head to Texas

The 40th Annual O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships comes to Austin in May

Roadmap is a new idea whose aim is to facilitate action on climate change without any of the usual suspects—governments, countries, international bodies, negotiating parties.

Using a New Roadmap to Democratize Climate Change

A new tool aims to bypass governments and put the power of climate action in the people’s hands

The Sticky Clue That Links the Tower of Babel to the Bible

Evidence is piling up that the Tower of Babel really existed. It's a conclusion that's partially borne out by an astounding discovery

Maria Bochkareva

The Women Warriors of the Russian Revolution

Soldier Maria Bochkareva proposed all-female battalions, in part to shame men into continuing the fight

Synchronous fireflies put on a show each spring in the Great Smoky Mountains. Photinus carolinus is the only firefly species in the U.S. that flashes in unison.

National Parks

If You Want to See Thousands of Fireflies Light Up at Once, Head to the Great Smoky Mountains

A firefly mating ritual turns into a synchronized light show

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