Adrienne LaFrance

Eduardo Munoz / Reuters

Colorful Lights Are Turning Skyscrapers Into Tacky Billboards

As LEDs make it cheaper to illuminate buildings, cities are becoming experimental visual spaces—and not always for the better.

Rudy Balasko / Andrey_Kuzmin / Shutterstock / Zak Bickel / The Atlantic

The High-Stakes Race to Rid the World of Human Drivers

The competition is fierce, the key players are billionaires, but the path—and even the destination—remains uncertain.

Ricardo Ramalho / Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

The Most Destructive Wave In Earth's (Known) History

Geologists have discovered evidence of an ancient 560-foot mega-tsunami.

ANSA

Pompeii and the Ancient Origins of Blaming the Victim

People have sought moral explanations for natural disasters since antiquity.

Google

Self-Driving Cars Could Save 300,000 Lives Per Decade in the U.S.

Automation on the roads could be the great public-health achievement of the 21st century.

Eric Thayer / Reuters

A Brief History of Levees

Manmade embankments are an ancient technology, modeled from nature.

Noah Berger / REUTERS

Is Anywhere on Earth Safe From Climate Change?

Relocating to a landlocked city isn’t enough.

Jennifer Morrow / Flickr

When You Give a Tree an Email Address

The city of Melbourne assigned trees email addresses so citizens could report problems. Instead, people wrote thousands of love letters to their favorite trees.

Urthecast

A View From Space So Clear You Can See the Cars Moving

Surreal views of Boston, London, and Barcelona from an ultra-high-definition camera aboard the International Space Station.

Shutterstock

How Airbags Are Supposed to Work

A volatile chemical compound is being used as propellant in airbags made by Takata, the company behind the massive auto recall in the United States. Should it be?

Flickr/Brad Hammonds

Are Taxis Safer Than Uber?

Many major cities don't keep comprehensive data about assaults against passengers—and even FBI-led background checks have limitations.

Reuters/Damir Sagolj

The Ghost of Earthquakes Past

Mega-quakes trigger massive temblors for years after they first hit.

Flickr/Gulan Bollsay

The Slow, Agonizing Death of the MetroCard

New York's long-heralded swipe-free subway payment system may not arrive until 2022.

Steve Cadman/Flickr

Big Data Can Peer Into Your Soul Based on Your Zip Code

Software company Esri's database files Americans into 67 different consumer groups—with eerie accuracy.

Stephen Lam/Reuters

Is There a Better Way to Measure Earthquakes?

The logarithmic magnitude scale is confusing to many, but it's here to stay. 

U.S. Geological Survey

How Man-Made Earthquakes Are Changing the Seismic Landscape

Scientists say fracking is part of why Oklahoma now rivals California in quake activity.

Francois Lenoir/Reuters

The Robots Are Coming, but Are They Coming for Our Jobs?

Experts are split on whether artificial intelligence will boost—or decimate—the economy.

ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock/Robinson Meyer

The Evolution of Slang

For a century and a half, The New York Times has been earnestly—and hilariously—defining the evolving language of cities.