The Prince Who Preordered Jane Austen’s First Novel

The Prince Who Preordered Jane Austen’s First Novel

For an author publishing her first novel, every pre-order is a valuable prize. For Jane Austen, a 36-year-old writer who polished her prose in a country parlor by reading aloud to family, cracking 19th-century England’s book market came with some royal help. A new discovery —a 15-shilling bill of sale from 1811, for Austen’s Sense […]

A Photographer Captures Contrasts and Characters in Barcelona's Streets

A Photographer Captures Contrasts and Characters in Barcelona's Streets

This article is part of a series highlighting photographers who have submitted to Smithsonian.com’s annual photo contest. Josep Fabrega Agea has never forgotten the first time he set foot darkroom. At age nine, his father took him to Vildacens, a town close to Barcelona, to develop photo film. As he watched images emerge beneath the […]

Vibrant Art Installations Infuse New Life into Abandoned Houses in This Cleveland Neighborhood

Vibrant Art Installations Infuse New Life into Abandoned Houses in This Cleveland Neighborhood

A symphony of hammers, saws and chisels pierce the early-morning silence that had blanketed Slavic Village, a neighborhood tucked away on Cleveland’s south side. As daylight creeps in, a team of artists is busily creating a series of art installations that will transform several vacant houses that pockmark the neighborhood. Called Rooms to Let: CLE, […]

Get to Know Khorovats, Armenia’s Favorite Grilling Pastime

Get to Know Khorovats, Armenia’s Favorite Grilling Pastime

Sitting on a cliff overlooking the Debed Gorge in northern Armenia, the Haghpat monastery is a stunning Unesco World Heritage Site worth the hair-raising tour bus ride up a mountain road. Yet the monastery’s ancient kitchen has stood empty for years, and the only other food option is a snack bar at the edge of […]

A Brief (But Global) History of Ketchup

A Brief (But Global) History of Ketchup

Trade wars have an interesting way of revealing cultural stereotypes. Countries often propose tariffs not on the most valuable items in their trading relationships – since that would be painful to them as well – but rather products iconic of national character. A good example of this came in the European Union’s retaliation against U.S. […]

New Research Suggests Dr. Seuss Modeled the Lorax on This Real-Life Monkey

New Research Suggests Dr. Seuss Modeled the Lorax on This Real-Life Monkey

Millions of Americans grew up with Dr. Seuss’ Lorax, the gruff orange ball of fluff who doggedly guarded his forest of Truffula trees against the greedy Once-ler. Today, in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, scientists unveil a surprising possible inspiration for the stern Seuss stalwart: a mustachioed monkey native to the plains of Central […]

How Enslaved Chefs Helped Shape American Cuisine

How Enslaved Chefs Helped Shape American Cuisine

“We need to forget about this so we can heal,” said an elderly white woman, as she left my lecture on the history of enslaved cooks and their influence on American cuisine. Something I said, or perhaps everything I said, upset her. My presentation covered 300 years of American history that started with the forced […]

Dubai Will Be Home To the World’s Biggest Vertical Farm

Dubai Will Be Home To the World’s Biggest Vertical Farm

Vertical farms—indoor facilities in which crops are grown in hydroponic systems stacked on top of each other—are ideal for all kinds of situations. Old, abandoned urban factories make for nice vertical farms. But they might be best suited for environments like the United Arab Emirates, where arable land is limited but sunshine, which can be […]

The Supernova That Launched a Thousand Gorgeous Space Images

The Supernova That Launched a Thousand Gorgeous Space Images

In 1990, Dana Berry was messing around with a precursor to the software program Photoshop at NASA’s Space Telescope Science Institute, where he worked as a science visualizer. The Hubble Telescope had launched that year, and all around him, the Institute’s scientists were busy analyzing and releasing about a half dozen deep space images. But […]

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