Innovation

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Could this innovation provide a solution to one of our era’s biggest scourges?

Scientists Have Created Synthetic Sponges That Soak Up Microplastics

Made from starch and gelatin, the biodegradable sponges remove as much as 90 percent of microplastics in tap water and seawater

Consumer products made from carbon capture can't undo the damage we’ve done to our planet—but each of them exists thanks to innovations that could. 

Little Luxuries Made With Captured Pollution Hint at Big Frontiers in Climate Science

Entrepreneurs are using jewelry, fragrances and clothing to demonstrate what’s possible with repurposed carbon—and environmentalists have questions

Across the United States, around 70 percent of coal travels by rail.

Using A.I. to Track Air Pollution From Open-Top Coal Trains

Scientists in California are working with communities—and a suite of tools—to better monitor air quality

Sholes and Glidden gussied up an early model with floral ornaments, in imitation of sewing machines.

Where Did the QWERTY Keyboard Come From?

From laptops to iPhones, the first successful typewriter’s keyboard layout lives on

One ancient graffiti artist carved this creature at the Philae temple complex—most likely a horse.

Archaeologists Are Using Modern Tools to Learn About Visitors to an Ancient Egyptian Temple

Pilgrims who left behind ancient graffiti are the subject of new research in the middle of the Nile

Firefighters, still dressed in their smoke- and soot-stained bunker gear, take a breather after a harrowing day of battling a particularly stubborn brush fire.

15 Scenes of Americans at Work

These highlights from the Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest commemorate Labor Day

Installation photography of Musical Thinking: New Video Art and Sonic Strategies, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2023.

Video Artists Set the American Experience to Music

The Smithsonian American Art Museum brings its latest time-based media art to the widest possible audience, including the deaf and hearing impaired

A team including research scientists at Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute became the first in the world to successfully cryopreserve coral using a technique called isochronic vitrification.

Scientists Cryopreserve and Revive Coral Fragments in a World First for Conservation

The new freezing technique could reinvigorate corals suffering from warming oceans—or even preserve human organs in the future

To recreate the face of a pregnant Egyptian woman, Hew Morrison first digitally mapped her skull, then added muscles and soft tissues—and, finally, the most subjective element: the eyes.

How One Forensic Artist Brings the Dead to Life

Using DNA analysis and historic records, his work allows us to look ancient humans in the eye

Designed in 1906, Glenn Curtiss' first V-8 motorcycle required a longer, sturdier frame than any previous bike to support the massive weight of the engine.

A Century Ago, Glenn Curtiss Was the 'Fastest Man on Earth'

Before he changed aviation forever, the daredevil achieved an unparalleled speed record on land

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Deep-Sea Tourism or Deep-Sea Science?

Two chroniclers of explorers, including one who profiled OceanGate’s Stockton Rush, reflect on what visiting the depths of the ocean can—and can’t—teach us

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From Damaging Radiation to Tremendous Temperatures, These Materials Are Built to Withstand the Harsh Conditions of Space

The infinite wonder of space awaits further exploration, and SCHOTT will be there, pushing the boundaries of glass technology to new horizons each year

In 1984, Ivo Zdarsky fled from communist Czechoslovakia to Vienna in a homemade flying machine.

The Man Who Pierced the Iron Curtain in a Flying Go-Kart—and Left Civilization Forever

Escaping communism in a DIY aircraft wasn’t enough for Ivo Zdarsky. So he invented his own way of life in a Utah desert ghost town

One of the most popular species identification tools is iNaturalist. Since its creation in 2008, the app has logged more than 145 million observations from around the world.

The Race to Develop Artificial Intelligence That Can Identify Every Species on the Planet

Scientists are building machine-learning-powered software that can recognize a species based solely on a cellphone picture

The letter “x” often symbolizes something unknown, with an air of mystery that can be appealing.

A Brief History of the Letter 'X,' From Algebra to X-Mas to Elon Musk

A math historian explores how "x" came to stand in for an unknown quantity

Abigail Previlon, 13, takes part in online learning at home on October 28, 2020 in Stamford, Connecticut. At the time, Stamford Public Schools was using a hybrid educational model due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

What the Covid-19 Pandemic Revealed About Remote School

The unplanned experiment provided clear lessons on the value—and limitations—of online learning. Are educators listening?

The pop-top is a patently American invention.

How Popping Open a Can Became the Sound of Summer

More than 60 years ago, an unfortunate picnic set Ohioan Ermal C. Fraze on a path to inventing the first pop-top tab opener for canned beverages

"Cellphone: Unseen Connections" at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History walks through every aspect of the technology.

How Cellphones Connect Us All

A new Natural History Museum exhibition explores how the devices link us to Earth and to a network of people worldwide involved in their supply chain

Vertical farming can produce as much as traditional farming while using less water and less energy—if executed correctly.

Empty Office Buildings Are Being Turned Into Vertical Farms

With office usage hovering near 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels, cities are putting the underutilized space to new use growing food

The titular "Dial of Destiny" in the new Indiana Jones film is based on the Antikythera mechanism, an ancient device used to chart the cosmos.

The Real History Behind the Archimedes Dial in 'Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny'

A device called the Antikythera mechanism is the true-life basis for the object at the center of the franchise’s latest installment