Ethnography

The Soviet Military Secretly Mapped the Entire World

These intricate, curious maps were supposed to be destroyed. The ones that remain reveal a fascinating portrait of how the U.S.S.R. monitored the world.<p>English retiree John Davies has been smitten with maps his whole life. “I was drawing maps of my house as a toddler,” he said. Though his career in …

Culture

The Tiny, Murderous World Of Frances Glessner Lee

How do you learn to solve a crime? Police detectives spend years learning on the job, sifting through evidence in real world crime scenes. But a new show at the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Renwick Gallery in Washington D.C. explores another approach — it's called Murder Is Her Hobby, and it …

Culture

Watch: This unsettling color footage shows a 1944 Japanese American incarceration camp

A rare peek in vivid Kodachrome, filmed the day the camp was closing down<p>Powerful, newly-discovered color footage from 1944 shows a day in the life …

Culture

These pictures capture England’s Brutalist vision of urban utopias

Lecture slides tour the inspirations and realizations of a national housing program<p>Decaying urban centers were overcrowded and infrastructure was …

Culture

With Smog Meringues, You Can Taste Your City’s Air Pollution

Artists whip up a way for your taste buds to go through what your lungs do every day.<p>Tasting notes for wine often reference other delicious things. …

Culture

These striking photos show the secret, strange world of military research and development

An obscure archive reveals the science—and art—behind combat culture<p>In suburban Boston, there is a military base unlike all others. It’s not a …

Culture

The only known recording of Hitler's normal speaking voice

In 1942, Hitler paid a secret visit to Baron Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, Marshal of Finland and Commander-in-Chief of the Finnish Defence Forces in …

Culture

France’s Lost Pigeon-and-Balloon Memorial Is Well Worth Remembering

The statue—made by the sculptor of the Statue of Liberty—paid tribute to a flock of 19th-century war heroes.<p>People who wandered through Paris’s Porte …

Culture

The Long Ethical Arc of Displaying Human Remains

A look at why museums exhibit Egyptian mummies, but not Native American bones.<p>The woman lies in a coffin of cracked wood and faded paint. The casket …

Culture

When the ‘Chester the Molester’ artist got arrested for molesting, why was anyone surprised?

It turned out, the work was hiding its creator in plain sight<p>It seemed that there was nothing that could shock <i>Hustler</i> readers anymore. Larry Flynt, …

Crime

The 17th-Century Spy Who Gave Us Big Strawberries

Two American strawberries reunited in Europe, and gave us the fruit we love today.<p>In 1711, the War of the Spanish Succession was going poorly for …

Culture

We’re All Citizens of the Garbage Patch State

An Italian artist has created an imaginary homeland for all of our plastic waste.<p>Picture a car. And another, and another, until you get to 1.5 …

Culture

Shady funds through foreign powers, digging up dirt, and an election won: the Nixon playbook

His re-election committee was known as CREEP, and he feels too relevant<p>It was April 5, 1972 and Pennzoil president Bill Liedtke had only one more day …

Culture

This fraudulent and sadistic Nazi doctor was executed in the same camp where he once worked

Sigmund Rascher’s grotesque career ended in fatal irony<p>Sigmund Rascher was working as an SS doctor in 1939 when he wrote to his boss, Heinrich …

History

These four domestic terrorists held hundreds of people hostage in a cave 750 feet underground

With hazy objectives and a lot of liquor, they seized Carlsbad Caverns<p>The drinking began the night before and carried on well into that afternoon. By …

Culture

The cultural politics of fork usage are surprisingly complex. (Knives down, Americans!)

How I got silverware shamed by a British friend<p>Iwill never forget the time my British friend, we’ll call her Sara, looked across the table and …

Culture

Watch: This writer’s best-selling book was titled ‘Soul Sister,’ but she only dressed up as black

What to make of Grace Halsell, who tried on minority identities as a reporting tactic?<p>Grace Halsell was a white journalist who grew up in …

Culture

Archaeologists Unearth the Victims of a Mysterious Massacre 400 Years Ago on an Australian Island

Beacon Island<p>Beacon Island<p>The cargo ship <i>Batavia</i> set out from the Netherlands in October 1628, bound for the Dutch colony at present-day Jakarta, …

Culture

The Conqueror Who Longed For Melons

Many Indian dishes can be traced back, indirectly, to a 16th-century, food-obsessed ruler named Babur.<p>Zahir al-Din Muhammad, the 16th century Central …

Culture

In Bonn, Trump’s Answer to Global Warming? Drill, Baby, Drill!

Every year around this time, negotiators from across the globe meet in one city or another—Montreal, Marrakech, Copenhagen, Paris—to resolve that the world really ought come up with a plan to do something about climate change. This year’s Conference of the Parties, the twenty-third such gathering, …

Science

Love in Any Language

You’re at a seaside café on the Italian Riviera. The morning sun sparkles on the water; the air is ambrosia. You notice a handsome stranger at the …

Culture

Here’s how a bunch of macho oil workers led to the legal protections from same-sex harassment

The 1998 Supreme Court case was a win for the LGBTQ community<p>Joseph Oncale signed up to work on a remote oil rig hundreds of miles offshore, in the …

Culture

Why Did Leonardo da Vinci Write Backwards? A Look Into the Ultimate Renaissance Man’s “Mirror Writing”

As the standout example of the "Renaissance Man" ideal, Leonardo da Vinci racked up no small number of accomplishments in his life. He also had his …

Culture

The Truth Behind UNC Football's Dark Confederate Past

The gun looks puny compared to today’s mounted weaponry. But the 10 men of the Wilmington Light Infantry posed around it with jaunty pride. Without …

Culture

The maddening story of why microwaves were first marketed only to men

Welcome to the world of gadgets for guys, also known as ‘brown goods’<p>Change the channel, turn up the volume, press record…and cook dinner? That’s how …

Culture

These photos of amateur volcano hunting changed the way we look at natural disaster

Tempest Anderson chronicled our volatile planet<p>Before the professionalization of the arts and sciences, amateur dabbling could lead to great …

Culture

Why Governor Jerry Brown Was Booed at the Bonn Climate Summit

Spare a little pity for Jerry Brown. The California governor has been standing up admirably to Donald Trump on many issues, but especially on climate change—even threatening to launch scientific satellites to replace the ones that Washington wants to ground. This week, he’s in Bonn, Germany, at the …

Science

Um, Uh, Huh? Are These Words Clues To Understanding Human Language?

Has anyone — a parent, teacher, or boss — told you to purge the words "um" and "uh" from your conversation?<p>When these words creep into our narrative as we tell a story at home, school, or work, it's natural to feel that we can do better with our speech fluency.<p>In <i>How We Talk: The Inner Workings of</i> …

Culture

Lincoln’s spy: How Pinkerton laid the foundation for the CIA and FBI

Allan Pinkerton, the grandaddy of American private eyes, has a “true detective” story made for the binge-watch era<p>The organized investigation of suspicious behaviors has evolved in two directions. One is in the case of detective work, dealing with activities that endanger individual citizens. The …

Culture

Gravestone for London children killed by WW1 bomb gets Grade II listed

Eight memorials, including mass grave for 15 children killed at their school, are given special status by Historic England<p>The marble slab covering a mass grave in an east London cemetery marks some of the saddest civilian casualties of the first world war: 15 of the 18 children who died in their …

Culture