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Hanford’s B Reactor, now part of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. Even though most of the site is now deemed safe for the public, warning signs for radiological hazards are reminders that the effects of decades of contamination have not disappeared. Photography by Sean McDermott.

Cold War, Hot Mess

After decades of mismanaging its nuclear waste, the US Department of Energy wrestles with its toxic legacy.

Illustration by Lauren Simkin Berke

Mutations

Is it possible to understand the persistent lag in vaccination rates as a function of failed metaphor? That is to say, as a failure of language—the language of data, the language of science, the language of political rhetoric (to name just a few vocabularies)—to meet individuals at their particular coordinates on the social map? The virus and our national response to it has been figured and refigured.

<i>Rational Fog: Science and Technology in Modern War</i>. By M. Susan Lindee. Harvard UP, 2020. 296pp. HB, $45.

They’re Using You to Kill People

December 3, 2020

Thomas Pynchon found an accommodating symbol in the Aggregat 4 (aka the V-2) rocket, a weapon that could not save the war for the Greater German Reich but became operational soon enough to kill thousands huddled under the throbbing sirens of London. The centerpiece of his 1973 novel, Gravity’s Rainbow, was the world’s first supersonic ranged weapon, arriving at its target before its pitched scream. 

<i>Mullus Surmuletus, The Striped Surmulet</i>. (Courtesy Rare Book Division, The New York Public Library, Digital Collections.)

The Grand Temptation

March 2, 2020

Maybe Cape Cod is fertile ground for existential transformation. Something about the metals in its sandy soil catalyzing metaphysical shifts—I don’t know. All I know is I had my entire worldview rearranged when I was visiting its shores.

Interview and comic by Jess Ruliffson

The Final Act

March 6, 2018

Dr. Thomas A. Andrew served as New Hampshire's Chief Medical Examiner for two decades, retiring in September 2017 amid the growing opioid crisis. Now he's studying to become an ordained deacon in extension ministry to help at-risk youth on the Appalachian Trail.

Illustration by Victo Ngai

Once Bitten

Hundreds of thousands of cases of dengue fever have been reported in Puerto Rico, and yet little attention has been paid to the problem. In 2009 and 2010, the eighty-eight recorded dengue cases in Key West were the serious inducement needed to find solutions.

Gosia Herba

Soucouyant

The mouse before me is dead, its body emptied of organs. Dead but still innervated, so still blinking in this world. I only harvest from their core—heart, lungs, liver, and the rest—but soon I will have to work with their brains.

What Is Humanism?

Humanism has become a word of increasing importance amongst intelligent people. It is not important because it denotes, as Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick hastily assumed in an article in the December Harper's, a new effort to eat one's cake and have it to [...]

The Medical Venus

In the patient, quiet museum, she is exhibited
closed, indehiscent inside a glass casket,

reclining on her back, on hair long as her spine.

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