How online ratings make good schools look bad

In the US, most kids go to school based on where they live. That means, when families decide where to live, one big factor is: How good is the school in the neighborhood? So how do you figure that out? Well, you could visit the …

How an opera gets made

How an opera gets made

This is Anthony Roth Costanzo, countertenor extraordinaire, rehearsing one of the most challenging pieces in opera today. For six straight minutes, he and his fellow castmates have to sing the word “ah.” That seems easy enough, right? Until you watch it. [Sings “ah”] It’s an …

The trick that made animation realistic

The trick that made animation realistic

This walrus didn’t get these dance moves on his own. They came from Cab Calloway, a 1930s jazz singer and band leader. Do you see it now? Cab was a source of endless inspiration for early animators, who transformed his dancing into that walrus, and …

This goofy bird vs. the fossil fuel industry

This goofy bird vs. the fossil fuel industry

These people are on a pilgrimage. They’re in one of the most remote parts of the United States, to see something spectacular that happens every year. An icon of the American West. This is a sage grouse. And this is its mating dance. The sage …

Why you always seem to have room for dessert

Why you always seem to have room for dessert

You know the feeling. You finish a full meal and are like… “I’m never eating again.” But then, out comes a beautiful piece of cake. And, well…. “You said you were full!” “Not for dessert.” Turns out, you really can “make room” for dessert. And …

How America fails its whistleblowers

How America fails its whistleblowers

In the United States, around 3 million people work with classified information as part of their job. That includes people who work in the military, for government agencies like the CIA, or for private companies hired by those agencies. Let’s say you are one of …

How stop motion animation began

How stop motion animation began

This beetle is going into the city to see his lover. She’s a dancer. But this 1912 film is not just a staggeringly weird tale of insect infidelity. It’s the true kickoff to a stop motion tradition that has given us a ton of wildly …

Brazil’s indigenous land is being invaded

Brazil’s indigenous land is being invaded

The Karitiana are an indigenous group in Brazil. They live on protected land, deep in the Amazon rainforest. When it was established in 1986, it was surrounded by rainforest. But today, it’s almost completely surrounded by farms. This kind of encroachment is happening across the …

Where the 1960s “psychedelic” look came from

Where the 1960s “psychedelic” look came from

If someone were to show you these album covers, or these posters… Even if you’ve never heard of the bands featured, you’d probably be able to guess what kind of music they play. This style has become synonymous with the psychedelic ’60s. But these abstract …

The destruction of the Amazon, explained

The destruction of the Amazon, explained

“And in South America tonight, an environmental problem of a much greater magnitude.” “The destruction of the Amazon rainforest.” “A worldwide disaster.” In the 1980s, the world learned that the Amazon was in danger. “Trees are falling at a startling rate…” “77,000 square miles…” “… …