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A Better Battery

Why do batteries matter? Look at all your electronic devices: from laptops to smartphones to Kindles or iPads, even your watch.

A Chekhov From China

Yiyun Li, born in Beijing in 1972, moved to Iowa in 1996 to pursue a doctorate in immunology. She got as far as a master’s of science and then, armed with a solid introduction to the body’s defense mechanisms, she changed course.

Africa’s Tech Edge

It’s a painfully First World problem: Splitting dinner with friends, we do the dance of the seven credit cards.

How Shirley Temple Helped FDR

Shirley Temple wasn’t just a child star. She was the original child-as-star, the super-kid who inspires parental ambition along with adoration.

Our Nudge in Chief

The radio talk-show host Glenn Beck has named Cass Sunstein, a professor at Harvard Law School, “the most dangerous man in America.” Given the number of men currently serving life sentences or sitting on death row for serial murder or terrorist acts, not to mention the fugitives on the FBI’s most-wanted list, this is quite a charge.

Reading the Beatles

Trinity Mirror/Mirrorpix/Alamy At the press conference at JFK airport, on virgin soil, they do their by-now fully developed thing: four mouths in a row, four bobbing heads, four sets of speculative-aggressive eyes.

Survival Tweets

When Sandra Hassan created the I Am Alive app, her intention was mostly dark humor. A 26-year-old graduate student in Paris, Hassan had gotten sick of worrying about family and friends whenever she heard news of a suicide bombing in her hometown of Beirut.

The Five Spot

There’s always a lesson to be learned, whether in a hotel bar or over tea in a teahouse, no matter which way it goes, for you or against, what you want to hear or what you don’t.

The Disillusionist

Imagine a family like the Downton Abbey clan gone bad. By the end of the 20th century the estate has been sold off, of course, and most of the money has disappeared.

Your Gullible Brain

Can a person be bright? Cold? Soft? Sweet? When the psychologists Solomon Asch and Harriet Nerlove posed these questions to a group of 3- and 4-year-olds in 1960, the response, on the whole, was skeptical.

We Need More Secrecy

In October 2002, one of the worst terror attacks of the post-9/11 era killed 202 people and wounded 240 more at two nightclubs on the Indonesian island of Bali.

A Stethoscope That Can See

For nearly 200 years, the stethoscope has allowed doctors to eavesdrop on the beat of patients’ hearts and the whoosh of their blood.

A New Golden Age for Media?

For the first time in a long while, people with money are excited about the news business. Some are investing in it—most bounteously, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who bought The Washington Post for $250 million, and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, who has pledged the same amount to his new First Look Media; but also the executives at Disney-owned ESPN in Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, those at Vox Media in Ezra Klein’s planned wonkipedia, a bunch of top-shelf Silicon Valley venture capitalists in the publishing platform Medium, and lots of others.

He Hunted Osama bin Laden, He Breaks Into Nuclear-Power Plants

Delta Force lore has it that when the Army is filling its elite Special Operations unit, it looks not just to those who are the best, but to those who are the best at blending in.

Office Talk Visualized

It’s easy to poke fun at nonsensical office speak. For one thing, it sounds exhausting: a colleague might “reach out,” “drill down,” and promise to “circle back” in a single e-mail.

The Conversation

The Fraternity Problem In March, Caitlin Flanagan explored the bizarre accidents and violent crimes that plague Greek houses: kids falling off roofs, severe hazing, even sexual assault, including one case at Wesleyan University that the author detailed.

The Pirate Economy

As recently as the early 2000s, piracy on Africa’s eastern coast was a small-time affair. Since then, the pirate economy has gone berserk.

Where the Card Sharks Feed

Fish all start out the same. They are bad at poker yet continue to play. By the time they reach the limits of their endurance, emotional or financial, they are poorer but seldom wiser.

Why We Look the Way We Look Now

Arrive at a party in a fringed flapper dress or a hoop skirt, and you’re in costume. Come in the style worn by Katharine Hepburn or Barbara Stanwyck in the 1930s—a dress of woven silk gauze and chiffon that clings to the figure and plunges in the back—and you’re perfectly turned out.