Learning From Australia's Drought Lessons to Avoid a Mad Max Future

The drought is no longer a California problem. The Colorado River, which supplies water to one-eighth of the country’s population, is reporting record low water levels due to overallocation. The US needs a little perspective when it comes to how bad this is going to get. Luckily we have one: Australia. » 5/15/15 12:40pm 5/15/15 12:40pm

Spraypainting Phalluses On Potholes Is One Way To Get Them Fixed

The roads around my house have emerged from the winter looking like the set from a WWII epic set on a war-torn Moon. Local government, as a rule, sucks at repairing car-eating potholes in a timely and effective manner — unless, that is, you surround said pothole with a brightly colored penis. » 4/28/15 12:59am 4/28/15 12:59am

A Failed Lab Experiment Accidentally Invented a Replacement For Cement

As the world’s cities expand at faster and faster speeds, so does its use of cement. One oft-quoted statistic shows that China alone used as much cement in the last three years as the US used in the last 100. Just one problem: Cement is responsible for pushing a hell of a lot of carbon dioxide into the world. » 4/16/15 4:29pm 4/16/15 4:29pm

Welcome to the Rural Town That Wants to Build a Hyperloop Utopia

What do cities look like in the world of Hyperloop transit? Will supersonic travel turn our cities into vast, intermodal suburbs? And what about the edge towns that once bled into the country, fed by car travel—will they empty out and decay, eliminated by a new form of transportation that bypasses them? » 3/02/15 1:43pm 3/02/15 1:43pm

Why Are These Massive Cargo Ships Trapped at 29 U.S. Ports?

You've probably read about it, even if it didn't really register. Something about a backlog. Something about unions. Imports and exports. Now the dispute that's paralyzing 29 ports on the U.S. West Coast has the potential to affect all of us—and to empty the shelves in countless stores. » 2/19/15 5:29pm 2/19/15 5:29pm

Saudi Arabia Is Building a 600-Mile Wall Along the Iraq Border

Saudi Arabia is building great wall — or rather, a great chainlink fence with razor wire — to "protect against ISIS" in Iraq. And it's not the only country investing in very expensive walls right now, even though they probably won't work. Why? Because walls aren't just about security. They're also powerful symbols. » 2/11/15 2:19pm 2/11/15 2:19pm

Subway Etiquette Posters From 1970s Japan Are Just as Relevant Today

Don't smoke in the train station. Don't spit your gum on the floor. And please, god, don't splay your legs out like no one else is around you. These sound like basic rules of today's public transit, but they're actually messages that graced the walls of Tokyo's subway forty years ago. » 11/27/14 12:20pm 11/27/14 12:20pm

Explore More Than 3,000 Miles of Tunnels Beneath Montreal

Andrew Emond, a Montreal-based photographer, amateur geographer, and DIY gonzo spelunker of the city's sewers and lost rivers, has just re-launched his excellent website, Under Montreal. The revamped site now comes complete with a fascinating, interactive map of the city's subterranean streams, documenting Montreal's… » 3/04/14 11:31pm 3/04/14 11:31pm

The Landscapes Of Suburbia Are The Real Science Fiction

Science fiction is often charged with naïve technological optimism and historical amnesia. But for present-day Californians struggling with a wide range of environmental and social problems, science fiction might just provide the perspective we need to successfully pivot from the boom times of the twentieth century to… » 1/30/14 5:03pm 1/30/14 5:03pm