The saffron war of 1374 lasted 14 weeks driven by a notion that the spice could cure plague. It can’t. But people lost their heads over it. It’s not just gold, diamonds, and oil we cherish and plunder. Seemingly benign commodities—whether it’s medicinal tea or stinky fungus—have exerted power over us for centuries. Here’s just a taste of their recent history.
With nearly limitless beverage options, you might not realize how much variety exists in the seemingly bland realm of tap water. This colorless refreshment can vary widely from city to city, house to house, or even sink to sink. Scroll over the image below to see some surprising items that might show up in your H2O.
For millennia, psychonauts have ingested both natural and man-made substances to see the world in new ways. Now, brain scans and other studies reveal how these buzz-builders work, helping scientists harness their power for good and expose the roots of addiction.
The galaxy brims with billions of planets, but whoa—they’re so far away! Unfortunately for would-be star trekkers, even the closest would take hundreds of lifetimes to reach with current technology. Until someone invents the warp drive, we’ll have to do our exploring with telescopes.
Driverless cars are moving fast. Google and Lyft flash us their self-driving-car schemes, and Uber has already put robo-cabs to work in Pittsburgh. But if autonomous cars are going to chauffeur us, we need to regulate them.