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The real reason Boeing’s new plane crashed twice

The real reason Boeing’s new plane crashed twice

This is an airplane engine. It’s sitting in a field in Bishoftu, Ethiopia— part of the wreckage of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which crashed on March 10, 2019. 157 people died. This was just a few months after another flight, Lion Air 610, crashed in Indonesia and killed 189 people. These two flights were operating …

The most feared song in jazz, explained

The most feared song in jazz, explained

This is John Coltrane’s Giant Steps. It’s considered one of the most important jazz albums of all time, it cemented John Coltrane as a legend among jazz saxophonists and composers, and it’s home to one of the most one of the most revered and feared compositions in jazz history. The reason why the album’s title …

The real reason Amelia Earhart is so famous

The real reason Amelia Earhart is so famous

How about this one? Still no? Okay, okay. How about… now. Yup, that’s Amelia Earhart enjoying a ticker-tape parade in her honor. She’s often thought of as the first or the Her accomplishments are widely known. Among them being the first woman — and second person ever — to solo nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean. …

How Technicolor changed movies

How Technicolor changed movies

You know this scene from The Wizard of Oz. It happens just after Dorothy croons in sepia-toned Kansas, Toto wags his tail, and the house gets caught in a tornado. She travels from a faded film strip to a Technicolor world. But there are three things about this scene you might get wrong. And each …

Hong Kong’s huge protests, explained

Hong Kong’s huge protests, explained

The people of Hong Kong are out in the streets. Hundreds of thousands are demonstrating against a deeply unpopular bill. But this is about a whole lot more than a bill. It’s about the status of Hong Kong and the power China has over it. It’s a fight to preserve the freedoms people have here. …

The rise and fall of the American fallout shelter

The rise and fall of the American fallout shelter

“4…3…2…1” “T-Zero!” This is the Operation Ivy nuclear test in 1952. And this is using a level for really nice masonry on your fallout shelter. It’s from 1960’s Walt Builds a Family Fallout Shelter. The idea was that you’d deck out your basement so you’d be safe when the bomb went off and this happened. …

The Middle East’s cold war, explained

The Middle East’s cold war, explained

The Middle East is one of the most complex regions in the world: Currently there are 4 failing states and 3 wars, with major powers increasingly taking opposite sides. Countless armed militias and terrorist groups are spreading violence across borders. The region has seen conflict after conflict going back well into the 20th century. But …

The roots of America’s democracy problem

The roots of America’s democracy problem

America has a democracy problem. Take a look at this chart. Over there on the left, that’s how many people each member of the US House represented in 1790. There’s now one representative for every 747 thousand Americans. That makes the US a crazy undemocratic outlier internationally. But it also makes us different than what …

The chart that predicts recessions

The chart that predicts recessions

A crisis of confidence. Automobile production dropped 37 and a half percent. Wall Street reacted very badly. If you were looking at a very specific type of line. You see, normally, this line points slightly upward — like here, in September 1977. But about a year later, it started pointing the other way, just slightly! …