October 2014

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Escape to Alcatraz Ai Weiwei Prison Cell

Escape to Alcatraz

China's most controversial artist selected America's most notorious prison as the home for his new show

Swimming Upstream Pacific Salmon

Swimming Upstream

The fish is facing an upstream struggle to survive. Can human ingenuity find a solution?

Air Waves Net Neutrality Radio

Air Waves

Today's epic battle has been fought before, when radio took to the air a century ago

Intro - Popov Spy Cuff Links

Hall of Spies

Inside the agency's headquarters is a museum filled with relics from half a century of cloak-and-dagger exploits

Cold Comfort DEW Line

Cold Comfort

The stations designed to ring an alarm against nuclear attack may have new responsibilities due to climate change

Wonder Woman Comic Cover

The Origin Story of Wonder Woman

The history of the comic-book superhero's creation seven decades ago has been hidden away—until now

Nuclear Option Football

Nuclear Option

Take a peek at the mysterious black briefcase that has accompanied every U.S. president since John F. Kennedy

True Colors Robert Webster

True Colors

This remarkable man risked his life to undermine the Confederacy yet remained close to his former owner after the Civil War

Dead Letters Rudolf Hess

Dead Letters

Why are packets of food that belong to the Nazi war criminal sitting in a Maryland basement?

Eliot Ness vs. J. Edgar Hoover 1

Eliot Ness vs. J. Edgar Hoover

Newly released files shed fresh light on the difficult relationship shared by the “Untouchable” Prohibition Bureau agent and the powerful FBI director


Letters to the Editor




Robert Ballard, the famed explorer who discovered the wreck of the Titanic, ponders what else is on the ocean floor

Around the Mall

Earth by Dali

Clement Valla makes art out of Google Earth's surrealist irregularities


Alternate History

Abel Buell’s map was the first in the country submitted for a copyright


Saving Face

Surgeons only have to go so far before the brain takes over and reconnects the nervous system


Did Marco Polo Discover America?

Maps attributed to the 13th-century traveler sketch what looks like the coast of Alaska

Around the Mall

Face Plant

The project, made of soil and sand, will cover five acres between the Lincoln Memorial and World War II Memorial

Around the Mall


Smithsonian Folkways is re-releasing its catalog of Spanish Civil War songs

Around the Mall

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