Is extreme poverty really being eradicated?

[For Esquire magazine, Jan 2016] Here’s a statistic that illustrates how the world has changed in the last 200 years. Had you been born in 1820 there’s a 94 percent chance that you’d be extremely poor, with just six percent of the world’s population not living in extreme poverty. However, those considered extremely poor in…

What’s that abandoned aircraft in Umm Al Quwain?

The plane is a Soviet Ilyushin Il-76 cargo plane. Currently it has an advert on the side for the Palma Beach Hotel, but its past is something far more interesting. According to the Aero Transport Data Bank the aircraft was built in 1975 in part of the Soviet Union that is now Uzbekistan. In the…

What’s the great filter?

Earlier this year, scientists announced the discovery of Kepler-186f, a planet 492 light years away. It was notable as the first planet discovered that’s almost exactly the same size as Earth, orbiting in the “habitable zone” — the distance from a star in which we might expect liquid water, and maybe comparable life. It also,…

Who was behind “Cicada 3301” and what did they want?

In January 2012 an image (pictured above) appeared on a board of 4chan, the site that’s (in)famous for being a digital playground for hackers and the birthplace the hacktivist group Anonymous. For good or for ill, though, some of the brightest digital minds are to be found loitering on this site, so this message caught…

Are intelligent solar roads a near-future reality?

In short, this is a technology that could potentially replace all roads, parking lots, sidewalks, bike paths, recreational areas and anywhere that currently uses standard tarmac. It could even create a system of sustainable energy for entire countries. In reality, it’s more likely to be used — at least for now — by private individuals…

Why was the SR-71 retired?

On July 28, 1976, flying out of Beale Air Force Base in California, a two-man crew comprising Capt. Eldon W. Joersz and Maj. George T. Morgan took off in a Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird”. On this flight, they reached speeds of 2,194 mph (3,529.56 km/h) which to this day is still an airspeed record. But around…

Why do so many zips say YKK on them?

If you are wearing something that has a zip, have a closer look at it and there’s a fair chance that you’ll see the letters YKK embossed on the puller. It doesn’t matter if it’s a high-end designer brand or cheap high-street label, the YKK legend appears with astonishing regularity. And it’s not just on…