July/August 2012

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An illustration of a man holding a torch in front of artistic renderings of historic images

Britannia Rules the Games

Acclaimed sportswriter Frank Deford connects the modern Games to their unlikely origin—in rural England

J Allyn Rosser

Summer Olympics Look

Hope Solo

Heart and Solo

As her controversial new memoir will show, the leader of the U.S. women’s soccer team has always defended her turf

Darren Abraham

The Rings Cycle

Lal White was forgotten by many, even residents of his small English factory town, but the whimsical Cycle Song hopes to change that

Blood samples

The Science of Doping

Behind the scenes there will be a high-tech, high-stakes competition between Olympic athletes who use banned substances and drug testers out to catch them

Blood sample

The Future of Cheating

As technology advances, so will access to ingenious—and troubling—new techniques

Jim Thorpe 1912 Stockholm Games

The All-American

In 1912, Jim Thorpe became the greatest American Olympian of all time, but not if you ask the IOC

Kayakers on the Thames

Let the Good Thames Roll

Float down England's longest river, from its origin in the Cotswolds to its ramble through London, a journey through centuries of "liquid history"

Britain’s Olympic womens rowing team

Scull and Bones

There must be something in the water at Eton, where rowing rules as the sport of choice




Letters to the Editor

The Conversation

Readers Respond to the June Issue

From the Editor

Torch Song

Ode to an ancient summer rite, excesses and all

From the Castle

The Latest and The Greatest


The Mind

The famed author and advocate for people with autism looks at the differences in how the human mind operates

Order in the Cortex

More than just eye candy, these images are teaching scientists new insights into how the brain is organized


Wise Up

Forget about senior moments. The great news is that researchers are discovering some surprising advantages of aging


Why Play is Serious

A leading researcher in the field of cognitive development says when children pretend, they’re not just being silly—they’re doing science


Rise of the Chatbots

Could you be fooled by a computer pretending to be human? Probably


Performance Anxiety

With amateurs and pros clamoring for answers, a psychologist who studies screw-ups comes through in the clutch


Dogs of War

New research finds that "man's best friend" could be lifesavers for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan


Gray Matters

Somehow, the brain is greater than the sum of its parts


Speaking Truth to Power

The mass media artist has been refashioning our idioms into sharp-edged cultural critiques for three decades—and now brings her work to the Hirshhorn


We're Number 2!

The U.S. vice presidency has been filled by a rogues gallery of mediocrities, criminals and even corpses


Going for the Gold

Lured by the soaring price of the precious metal, prospectors are heading for the California hills like it's 1849 all over again

Around the Mall

American Idol

New songs by the American folk legend keep turning up, a century after his birth

Around the Mall

Playlist: Forever Young

The Grammy winner celebrates her 88th birthday with a new album that reflects her lifelong love of kids' music

Around the Mall

This Just In: Power Suit

Around the Mall

Ask Smithsonian

Also learn more about the jaw harp, why it takes three days to get to the Moon and more

Around the Mall



Trial of the Century

In a new alternative history, The Great Emancipator lives to fight a second civil war

Fast Forward

Served Cold

On the outer boundaries of the Arctic Circle lies a massive construction project funded by Facebook: the future home of thousands of server farms