After the first atomic bomb explosion (seen here from 10,000 yards away, in a time series from .006 seconds to .081 seconds after detonation), Oppenheimer recalled, "a few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent."

Building the Bomb

A book about atomic scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer charts the debate over deployment of the first A-bomb and the anxiety that suffused its first live test


World's Unlikeliest Bestseller

Fifty years ago a brewer's bet spawned a compelling compendium of feats, stunts and trivia

Doses of oral polio vaccine are added to sugar cubes for use in a 1967 vaccination campaign

Conquering Polio

Fifty years ago, a scientific panel declared Jonas Salk's polio vaccine a smashing success. A new book takes readers behind the headlines

Lafayette, Indiana—If Americans know where they're going, some thanks are due road workers like Tony Ybarra, preparing to stencil fresh blacktop and to set some drivers straight.

American Bounty

A new book documents a week in the life of America in all its rich, colorful, contradictory, nostalgic, emotional, heartfelt and, oh yes, exuberant...glory

Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park Big Cypress Bend boardwalk

Fakahatchee Ghosts

But no exorcisms, please these rare orchids are the stars of a hit movie and a best-selling book



Our unusually far-flung correspondents report

Day after day, the brothers (Wilbur, left, and Orville at the controls) put their new and improved glider through its paces. Assistant Dan Tate lent a hand.

To Fly!

A new book traces the Wright brothers' triumph 100 years ago to an innovative design and meticulous attention to detail


Mr. Lincoln's Washington

The house where the conspirators hatched their heinous plot now serves sushi, and the yard where they were hanged is a tennis court


Henry Kissinger on Vietnam

Henry Kissinger's new book revisits America's troubled extrication from Indochina


Preparing for the Best

Thanks to the mega-selling Worst-Case Scenario handbooks, we now know how to cope with charging bulls, plunging elevators and runaway locomotives

A number of mechanisms used by common antibiotics to deal with bacteria and ways by which bacteria become resistant to them.

Book Excerpt: Supergerm Warfare

Dragon's drool, frog's glands and shark's stomachs have all been recruited for the fight against drug-resistant bacteria

Star formation in the constellation Orion as photographed in infrared by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope

Astronomy's New Stars

Thanks to new technology, backyard stargazers have traveled light-years of late to join professionals in mapping the heavens


Goya and His Women

An exhibition at Washington's National Gallery of Art takes a fresh look at one of Spain's most celebrated artists and the women he painted


Behind the Lines: Role Models

Our writers explore new worlds in time and space

Ao dais make striking uniforms for four university students heading home after classes. Long gloves and hats provide welcome protection from the sun in a land where a suntan is not considered fashionable; masks serve as barriers to dust and exhaust.

Silk Robes and Cell Phones

Three decades after Frances FitzGerald won a Pulitzer Prize for Fire in the Lake, her classic work on Vietnam, she returned with photojournalist Mary Cross


Around the Mall & Beyond

Author Unknown: On the Trail of Anonymous

Don Foster Has a Way With Words

Uncovered a Shakespeare elegy, confirmed Ted Kaczynski wrote the Unabomb Manifesto and identified Eric Rudolph as a suspect in the 1996 bombing


Narrow Escapes in Literature

Curl up under a blanket and enjoy these whirlpool-inspired excerpts from works by Poe, Verne, Homer and others. Hot chocolate is recommended.

A 15th-century manuscript of the Odyssey

Excerpt from Homer's Odyssey

At every chance the gods throw up mighty obstacles to prevent him from getting home even as the Lady Circe gives him the advice he needs to survive

George Orwell

Excerpt from George Orwell: A Life

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