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Saving the World Through Water

Taking a break from Freshwater Species of the Week, I wanted to post this infographic from WaterStep, an international nonprofit based in Louisville, Kentucky. WaterStep works to provide clean drinking water to those in need around the world, from developing countries to people impacted by disasters. As WaterStep points out, unsafe water is one of…

Visualizing the Psychology of Attraction

Asking “how do we capture attention,” this infographic from Iconic Displays makes a brief survey of the science of attraction. In college, my friend and roommate worked on a research project in this area. At the time, he told me that much of attraction is about symmetry, with the underlying biological assumption that organisms with better symmetry…

The World’s Fastest Swimmers, Past and Present

How does a dolphin measure up to a penguin when it comes to speed in the water? And can Michael Phelps take either of them? What about a squid or a sailfish? This infographic from Backyard Ocean takes a fun look at some of those comparisons, as well as great moments in water-crossing history. Which fact…

From Dr. Seuss to Disney, a Surprising History of Propaganda

When I was younger, I watched a lot of the Disney Channel. My favorite content was the old-school cartoons, featuring the likes of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and gang, although the Goofy spots were my favorite. One time I caught a program about Disney’s propaganda films from World War II. Those animated shorts are rarely…

The Greenest Ways to Get Around

Note: In response to reader feedback on this post, the makers of the infographic below updated it and resent us a copy, so we reposted it at 2:52 PM on May 7, 2013. The infographic was not created by National Geographic. You’ve probably heard by now that how you get around has a big impact…

Addiction Fact and Fiction

National Geographic Channel has been running a number of programs on drugs and addictions, including the show Drugged (see 10 tips for recovering from addictions). Addiction is a strange beast that has devastated millions of people and families around the world. It’s also in the news a lot, from allegations of sex addict stars to the…

Artificial Intelligence Is Working Hard So We Can Hardly Work

We’ve written about artificial intelligence (AI) a fair amount in the past, from IBM’s Watson supercomputer, to AI-controlled space probes, and swarm theory. As futurist Ray Kurzweil pointed out in his book The Singularity Is Near, the public has a number of misconceptions about AI. Kurzweil argues that AI is proceeding much faster than people…

Hacking the Mind: Social Engineering

I recently posted about Brain Games, the new National Geographic TV show with mind-bending interactivity, and shared an infographic about intelligence. I follow that with an infographic my friend just made for Veracode on hacking the mind–perhaps a dark side of brain science. Earlier today I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, The…

The Science of Smart

Yesterday, National Geographic staffers were treated to special previews of upcoming programs on National Geographic Channel. One of the most exciting was upcoming episodes of Brain Games. The audience was thrilled by a series of new interactive puzzles from the show. I won’t give away the surprises, but it’s amazing how optical illusions can work…

Where the Wild Things Shouldn’t Be: Roads

I’ve written some about roadkill over the years. (Yes, I know someone who collects fresh roadkill and prepares it for her family, but that’s not what I mean.) Unfortunately, for many people, the only interaction they have with wildlife is seeing it belly up on the side of the pavement. Roadkill is a tragic loss…

What You Don’t Know About Home Burglaries

Just in time for the return to the big screen of Bilbo Baggins, perhaps the most unlikely of burglars in literature, comes this infographic on home theft. In the book I co-wrote a couple of years ago on lighting (Green Lighting), we took a brief look at the question of whether outside security lights or street lights…

Hurricane vs. House

During Hurricane Ike in 2008, the eye of the storm passed over my grandma’s and aunt and uncle’s houses, according to data from my uncle’s home weather station. My family’s homes sit just 16 feet above sea level, steps away from an alligator-filled bayou in southern Houston. Storm surge estimates had predicted that the bayou…

First World Problem: Nothing But Clean, Filtered Water to Drink

My friend’s grandma never drank water. “That’s for horses,” she would say. Instead, she drank cafe au lait or orange juice. My own grandma rarely drinks water, usually preferring coffee or juices. A lot of people in the developed world are this way, even those who are told by their doctors that they are dehydrated. There…

Plastic Bag Taxes Don’t Hurt Low-Income People

My cousin Kelly Davis worked hard on the recent campaign to convince the government of Washington, D.C. to pass a “bag tax” on single-use plastic shopping bags within the district. Now, if D.C. shoppers want a bag with their purchase they have to pay a nickel. Kelly told me opponents to the tax argued that…

Photography’s Colorful History

National Geographic has long been known for photography, and National Geographic magazine has published its fair share of iconic images over its long, storied history. Of course, photography itself has a long, storied history. Did you know the first color photograph appeared in 1861? That 70% of activity on Facebook revolves around photos? Or that…