Editor's note

Why do the seats in airport terminals all look the same? Who built a rotary phone that would go on to sell over 160 million units? How did office workers keep papers organized before the paperclip? Five design professors tell the stories behind some of the best-designed products of all time.

And today marks the sixth anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that sparked meltdowns at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The catastrophe led to a major loss of public support for nuclear energy in Japan, yet the current government intends to keep it. Nagasaki University’s Tatsujiro Suzuki, who was a member of Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission when the tsunami struck, argues that it is time to rethink Japanese nuclear policy.

Nick Lehr

Editor, Arts and Culture

Lead story

  • From the mundane to the divine, some of the best-designed products of all time

    Catherine Anderson, George Washington University; Carla Viviana Coleman, University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Craig M. Vogel, University of Cincinnati ; Kalle Lyytinen, Case Western Reserve University; Lorraine Justice, Rochester Institute of Technology

    We asked five design experts – what's your favorite product of all time, and why?

Environment + Energy

Ethics + Religion

Politics + Society

Arts + Culture

Health + Medicine

  • No doubt about it: smokefree laws cut heart attacks in big way

    Stanton Glantz, University of California, San Francisco

    Smokefree laws save lives quickly, by preventing heart attacks. A recent study showed a drop in heart attack deaths by 12 percent, adding to a growing body of research on benefits of the laws.

  • Low-income girls often feel unprepared for puberty

    Marni Sommer, Columbia University Medical Center; Ann Herbert, Johns Hopkins University

    In developing countries, many girls feel unprepared when they go through puberty. And research indicates that low-income girls in the US may feel the same way.

  • Why artificial turf may truly be bad for kids

    Stuart Shalat, Georgia State University

    Artificial turf has become popular for kids' sports as well as for professional players. The little black crumbs that help support the blades of fake grass may not be so harmless.

The key question on exposure is: Do these chemicals get into children playing on these fields?

Stuart Shalat

Georgia State University

Read more

Stuart Shalat

Economy + Business

Science + Technology

  • Why we should not know our own passwords

    Megan Squire, Elon University

    As searches of smartphones and other digital devices at US borders become more common, can research and computer science help protect travelers' privacy?

  • The WikiLeaks CIA release: When will we learn?

    Richard Forno, University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Anupam Joshi, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

    The latest release from WikiLeaks, of information about CIA hacking efforts, is yet another reminder of how Americans and our government must better protect our secret information.



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