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50 years ago today, the internet was born in Room 3420

November 9th, 2019 at 3:28 am » Comments Off

50 years ago today, the internet was born in Room 3420  Here’s the story of the creation of ARPANET, the groundbreaking precursor to the internet—as told by the people who were there. When I visited UCLA’s Boelter Hall last Wednesday, I took the stairs to the third floor, looking for Room 3420. And then I […]



Why the Fourth Industrial Revolution could spell more jobs – not fewer

October 4th, 2019 at 12:30 am » Comments Off

Automated packaging at an Italian factory. If automation drives down prices, the result could be a net increase in jobs. Ever since Homo erectus carved a piece of stone into a tool, the welfare of humanity has been on the increase. This technological breakthrough led first to the hand axe, and eventually to the iPhone. […]



A fire lookout on what’s lost in a transition to technology

September 25th, 2019 at 12:33 pm » Comments Off

  A single tree burns in southwest New Mexico after a lightning strike. For more than 100 years, the U.S. Forest Service has been posting men and women atop mountains and trees, and in other hard-to-reach places, to wait and watch for smoke. Can you see it? The fire in the photo above? A single […]



What makes Silicon Valley different?

September 20th, 2019 at 9:30 am » Comments Off

The home in Menlo Park, California, where Sergey Brin and Larry Page founded Google in 1998. Paul Sakuma/AP Like Detroit with automobiles or Pittsburgh with steel, Silicon Valley is synonymous with technology. In her new book The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America, Margaret O’Mara casts a historian’s eye on the contradictions of […]



The new servant class

August 25th, 2019 at 10:52 am » Comments Off

“Wealth work” is one of America’s fastest-growing industries. That’s not entirely a good thing. In an age of persistently high inequality, work in high-cost metros catering to the whims of the wealthy—grooming them, stretching them, feeding them, driving them—has become one of the fastest-growing industries. The MIT economist David Autor calls it “wealth work.” Low-skill, […]



How mosquitoes changed everything

August 19th, 2019 at 2:13 pm » Comments Off

They slaughtered our ancestors and derailed our history. And they’re not finished with us yet. The insects are estimated to have killed more people than any other single cause. In 1698, five ships set sail from Scotland, carrying a cargo of fine trade goods, including wigs, woollen socks and blankets, mother-of-pearl combs, Bibles, and twenty-five […]



How electric and driverless vehicles will change building design

May 19th, 2019 at 11:39 am » Comments Off

  The world’s first affordable automobile had a dramatic impact on residential design. On October 1, 1908, the first Model T Ford was built in Detroit. Unlike horses, most people could afford to have their own private car and keep it at their home. Between 1908 and 1927, Ford built some 15 million Model T […]



The peculiar blindness of experts

May 15th, 2019 at 3:33 am » Comments Off

  Credentialed authorities are comically bad at predicting the future. But reliable forecasting is possible. The bet was on, and it was over the fate of humanity. On one side was the Stanford biologist Paul R. Ehrlich. In his 1968 best seller, The Population Bomb, Ehrlich insisted that it was too late to prevent a […]



A 23-year excavation into the life of Leonardo da Vinci

April 28th, 2019 at 6:27 am » Comments Off

Met curator Carmen Bambach reveals what she has learned about the world’s most famous Renaissance man. Carmen Bambach, curator in the Department of Drawings and Prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, spent 23 years studying the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci. The culmination of her research, a 2,200-page, four-volume […]



Millennial life: How young adulthood today compares with prior generations

March 25th, 2019 at 11:05 am » Comments Off

Over the past 50 years – from the Silent Generation’s young adulthood to that of Millennials today – the United States has undergone large cultural and societal shifts. Now that the youngest Millennials are adults, how do they compare with those who were their age in the generations that came before them?



A 30 million page library is heading to the moon to help preserve human civilization

March 16th, 2019 at 1:58 am » Comments Off

Falcon 9 rocket launches carrying Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Feb. 21, 2019. The massive archive is aboard Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft. When Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft launched toward the moon last week, it was carrying a mysterious cargo. Mission planners called it a time capsule but hinted that that wasn’t the […]



Bill Gates made these 15 predictions back in 1999 — and it’s scary how accurate he was

February 7th, 2019 at 12:22 pm » Comments Off

His forecasts turned out to be eerily prescient. In 1999, Bill Gates wrote a book titled Business @ the Speed of Thought. In the book, Gates made 15 bold predictions that at the time might have sounded outrageous. But as Markus Kirjonen, a business student, once noted on his blog, Gates’ forecasts turned out to […]



10 Unanswerable questions that neither science nor religion can answer