science
Can Eating Poppy Seeds Really Cause You to Fail a Drug Test?

When Elaine on Seinfeld failed a drug test after eating a poppy seed muffin back in the 1996 episode "The Shower Head," the idea that you could fail a drug test after eating poppy seeds took off. Turns out, this wasn't yet another Hollywood writer invention—you really can potentially fail a drug test if you eat poppy seeds. Read More >>

design
How a Simple Design Error Could Have Toppled a NYC Skyscraper

When it was built in 1977, Citicorp Center (later renamed Citigroup Center, now called 601 Lexington) was, at 59 stories, the seventh-tallest building in the world. You can pick it out of the New York City skyline by its 45-degree angled top. Read More >>

booze
A Brief History of Beer

Beer brewing and drinking are activities that have been part of the human experience seemingly since the dawn of civilisation. Around 10,000 years ago, mankind began to move away from living life as nomadic hunter gatherers, and began settling down in one spot to farm the land. Grain, a vital ingredient in beer making, was cultivated by these new agricultural societies. Read More >>

music
10 Essential Record Store Day Releases

The prices are high, the queues are long -- Record Store Day is coming to a shop near you this Saturday April the 19th. There are hundreds of releases this year, but HUH. has narrowed it down to just 10 which they think are worth getting out of bed early enough to go and buy. Read More >>

design
The Untold History of Where Barcodes Come From

When George Laurer goes to the shops, he doesn't tell the check-out people that he invented the barcode, but his wife used to point it out. "My husband here's the one who invented that barcode," she'd occasionally say. And the check-out people would look at him like, "you mean there was a time when we didn't have barcodes?" Read More >>

power
Why is My Laptop On?

"Why is my laptop on?" does not seem like a complex question. But when I tried to answer it this week—to really answer it—I realised that I only kind of understood energy pretty well. Read More >>

history
That Time the Whac-A-Mole Inventor Accidentally Blew Up His Warehouse

It was lunch time on a muggy late September day in 2013 when an explosion shook downtown Orlando, Florida. A warehouse on west Jefferson street was the casualty. Police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks were already on their way by the time Tim Roth, a good Samaritan, was on the scene. As he searched through the rubble and debris for injured humans, what he found was something else entirely. Read More >>

design
Why Roller Coaster Loops are Never Circular

Many extreme roller coaster these days have vertical loops. Have you noticed that these loops are never circular? Why is this? Read More >>

design
The Untold History of Ugliness

We've all had that moment while perusing a flea market or junk store when you stumble across an item and have to yelp, "Good lord, that is ugly!" So ugly, in fact, you have to marvel that it even got made in the first place. Read More >>

design
The Uni Student Who Built a Secret Tunnel Underneath the Berlin Wall

At its peak, the Berlin Wall was 100 miles long. Today only about a mile is left standing. Compared with other famous walls in history, this wall had a pretty short life span. Read More >>

design
This WhatsApp Redesign Would Make Facebook's $16 Billion Buy Worth It

Whatsapp has been one of the most talked about start-up giants in recent memory. Building upon the most basic of mobile services, messaging WhatsApp has managed to monetise and evolve the service through cross platform integration and making it free (among many other things). Following the $16billion acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook I thought that this is a good as time as any to look at what this means for WhatsApp and what changes both aesthetic and functional might be implemented by it. Read More >>

crime
How Biotech Could Make Life in Prison a Living Hell

At the University of Oxford, a team of scholars led by the philosopher Rebecca Roache has begun thinking about the ways futuristic technologies might transform punishment. In January, I spoke with Roache and her colleagues Anders Sandberg and Hannah Maslen about emotional enhancement, 'supercrimes', and the ethics of eternal damnation. What follows is a condensed and edited transcript of our conversation. Read More >>

apple
The Six Types of Apple Store Genius

This isn't brick and mortar, it's glass and steel. Pseudonymous Apple Store employee J. K. Appleseed walks you through a choose-your-own-adventure story with a twist. Yep, we're going backstage at Apple Retail, the supercollider of human expectations and consumer technology. Read More >>

history
Why Engines are Commonly Measured in Horsepower

>We owe this unit of engine power measurement to Scottish engineer James Watt. Read More >>

mars
What Four Months on Mars Taught Me About Boredom

The scene: I'm in my closet-sized cabin, inside a white dome built to house a crew of six for four months as part of an isolation experiment. As a crew, we are working and living as 'explorers' stationed on the surface of 'Mars'. Our colony is lifelike and NASA-funded, but it is situated in a place quite a bit closer to home, on a remote slope of a Hawaiian volcano. Read More >>

space
Why it's So Hard to Find Alien Life

A big reason why the Fermi paradox has punch is the matter of time. Max Tegmark gets into this in his excellent new book Our Mathematical Universe (Knopf, 2014), where he runs through what many thinkers on the subject have noted: Our Sun is young enough that countless stars and the planets that orbit them must have offered homes for life long before we ever appeared. With at least a several billion year head start, wouldn't intelligent life have had time to spread, and shouldn't its existence be perfectly obvious by now? Read More >>

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