December 2011

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Haleakala Crater

Into the Volcano

A trip to the floor of the Maui volcano still promises an encounter with the "raw beginnings of world-making"

Hawaiian Islands
Sample cement blocks

Green Cement

With an eye on climate change, a British startup creates a new form of the ancient building material

Tevis Robertson Goldberg

An Amber Wave

Giving factory flour the heave-ho, small farmers from New England to the Northwest are growing long-forgotten varieties of wheat

1954 PH1123

Seeing the Sublime

A new museum devoted exclusively to the work of the abstract painter is opening in Denver. A leading critic takes a close look at one masterwork

Sperm whale

Call of the Leviathan

Scientists have discovered that the massive mammal uses elaborate buzzes, clicks and squeaks that spell doom for the animal's prey

Henry Morton Stanley

Breaker of Rocks

The explorer of Dr. Livingstone-fame provides a classic character study of how willpower works

Tribal youths

Native Journey

Klallam tribal members make plans for holy ancestral sites to resurface after the unparalleled removal of nearby dams


From the Editor

Most Interesting

Winfrey steps aside after a decade, Caruso steps in



Readers Respond to the October Issue

Indelible Images

Nanny Cam

A chance find has rescued the work of the camera-toting baby sitter, and gallery owners are taking notice


Earthquake Central

Two hundred years ago, a series of powerful temblors devastated what is now Missouri. Could it happen again?

The Civil War

Frozen in Place: December 1861

President Lincoln addresses the State of the Union and grows impatient with General McClellan


Lisa Randall

Physicist Lisa Randall explores the mind-stretching realms that new experiments soon may expose

From the Castle

New Angles

Around the Mall

A Family Reunion

With the help of Smithsonian model makers, the tribal nation is obtaining busts of ancestors who lived at a pivotal moment in their history

The Object at Hand

Mischievous St. Nick

The 19th-century artist Robert Walter Weir took inspiration from Washington Irving to create a prototype of Santa Claus

What's Up

What's Up

Presence of Mind

Darrow in the Dock

Newly unearthed documents shed light on claims that the famous criminal attorney bribed a juror

The Last Page

The Tour Bus Has Landed

The ups and downs of a lunar vacation