Scientific Innovation

Eight billion cans sold, and counting.

How Spam Went from Canned Necessity to American Icon

Out-of-the-can branding helped transform World War II's rations into a beloved household staple

Scientists used the new adhesive to create electronic skin controlled by a smartphone.

A More Super Superglue Could Help Build Jelly-Like Robots

A tweaked version of the popular adhesive may give a big boost to stretchable electronics and soft robots

The Erie Canal in Syracuse, New York.

Thank the Erie Canal for Spreading People, Ideas and Germs Across America

From Albany to Buffalo, navigate the history of the famed waterway

So much potentially misleading information, so little time.

How Fake News Breaks Your Brain

Short attention spans and a deluge of rapid-fire articles on social media form a recipe for fake news epidemics

PhD students experiment with the glove in professor Tolley's lab.

This Glove Makes VR Objects Feel Real

Pneumatic "muscles" on the glove simulate the feel of real objects

The "abortion pill" (actually two separate medications) can be taken up to 10 weeks after pregnancy, according to the FDA.

The Science Behind the “Abortion Pill”

Legal or not, more American women are opting for abortion by medication. We asked doctors: How safe is it?

A young padawan asks astrophysicist Erin Macdonald a question at a Future Con panel. This year, Smithsonian's Future Con took place as a special programming track within Awesome Con, leading to a number of serendipitous moments like this.

When Cutting-Edge Science Meets Science Fiction, It Packs the House

At Future Con, fans of sci-fi, fantasy and comics met the researchers and engineers who are bringing their stories to life

Cyanobacteria, sometimes known as blue-green algae, are single-celled organisms that use photosynthesis to produce food just like plants do.

Need to Fix a Heart Attack? Try Photosynthesis

Injecting plant-like creatures into a rat's heart can jumpstart the recovery process, study finds

Each time you use your phone's weather app, you're indebted to a self-taught computer scientist named Klara von Neumann.

The Unheralded Contributions of Klara Dan von Neumann

Despite having no formal mathematical training, she was a key figure in creating the computer that would later launch modern weather prediction

The orientation of the layers in this protective composite material were inspired by the queen conch shell

This Conch-Shell Inspired Material Could Make Helmets and Body Armor Safer

Scientists from MIT are using structures that evolved over millions of years to strengthen protective gear

These Astronauts Drink Recycled Urine to Stay Hydrated

Astronauts themselves are important sources of water in outer space. With the help of a special centrifuge, their urine is distilled, then processed

The Direct Air Capture carbon collecting plant in Hinwil, Switzerland

First Commercial Carbon-Capture Plant Goes Online

The plant will collect 900 tons of carbon a year, piping it into a nearby greenhouse to boost vegetable growth

Artist’s conception of two merging black holes, spinning in a nonaligned fashion.

Scientists Hear Two Even More Ancient Black Holes Collide

At this point, detecting ripples in the fabric of space-time is practically commonplace

Recent research found that fully one third of humanity can't see the Milky Way because of light pollution

Is Light Pollution Really Pollution?

As countries grow richer, light pollution gets worse–but some are fighting to change that

A mid-air tourist flight. The author is second from the left.

The Future of Zero-Gravity Living Is Here

Entrepreneurs predict there will be thousands of us living and working in space. Our correspondent takes off to see what that feels like

A prosthetic hand outfitted with an inexpensive webcam lets its user grab objects with less effort.

Prosthetic Limb 'Sees' What Its User Wants to Grab

Adding computer vision and deep learning to a prosthetic makes it far more effective

Exoskeletons, automaton pets and tiny toy humanoids (pictured) populate the Korea Institute of Robot and Convergence.

A Visit to Seoul Brings Our Writer Face-to-Face With the Future of Robots

In the world’s most futuristic city, a tech-obsessed novelist confronts the invasion of mesmerizing machines

This Marine Compares Flying the Harrier to Riding a Dragon

Harrier's unique takeoff style and agility owes a lot to its 47-foot frame and mere 15,000 pounds in weight--almost half the size of modern fighter jets

Chocolate, coffee and tea all played a role in overturning a medical theory that had dominated the Western world for more than a millennium.

How Coffee, Chocolate and Tea Overturned a 1,500-Year-Old Medical Mindset

The humoral system dominated medicine since the Ancient Greeks—but it was no match for these New World beverages

Glue Made of Mussel Slime Could Prevent Scarring

The glue, infused with a version of the protein decorin, healed wounds in rats, giving them skin with hair follicles and oil glands instead of scar tissue

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