Legislation Declaring Lynching a Federal Crime Hits New Roadblock

Editor’s Note, June 4, 2020:In February, the House of Representatives passed legislation declaring lynching a federal crime. The measure appeared poised to pass through the Senate uncontested—then, reports Zach C. Cohen for the National Journal, Republican Sen. Rand Paul placed a hold on the bill. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to conflate someone […]

The Long, Painful History of Police Brutality in the U.S.

Editor’s Note, May 29, 2020: In 2017,  Smithsonian covered the history of police brutality upon the protests over the verdict in the Philando Castile murder case. With the Twin Cities once again under the national spotlight after the killing of George Floyd, we revisit the subject matter below.  Last month, hours after a jury acquitted former police […]

First Rocket Launch From U.S. Soil in Nine Years Postponed

Editor’s Note, May 27, 2020: Due to poor weather conditions, the SpaceX shuttle launch slated for this afternoon has been postponed to Saturday, May 30. The launch would have been the first to blast off from United States soil in nine years. The last space shuttle flight launched on July 8, 2011, from Kennedy Space Center’s […]

How a Spy Known as the ‘Limping Lady’ Helped the Allies Win WWII

In early September 1941, a young American woman arrived in Vichy France on a clandestine and perilous mission. She had been tasked with organizing local resistance networks against France’s German occupiers and communicating intelligence to the Special Operations Executive (SOE), the fledgling British secret service that had recruited her. In reality, however, Virginia Hall’s supervisors […]

A Gentile’s Guide to Keeping Kosher for Passover

Editor’s note, April 7, 2020: As Jews worldwide observe the Passover holiday under the auspicies of the COVID-19 pandemic, with virtual seders and quarantine-driven riffs on annual traditions, here’s a look at the dietary rules and customs that make the eight days special. The Torah couldn’t make things any clearer. From Exodus 12:14 and 15: […]

After Closure, the Met Opera Offers Free Streaming of Past Performances

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many are avoiding public gatherings and ensconcing themselves in their homes—measures crucial to slowing the spread of disease. In cities like New York, mandated closures have now shuttered some of the largest tourist attractions around, deterring vulnerable individuals from entering their doors. But social distance doesn’t have to mean cultural […]

I Was Among the Lucky Few to Walk in Space

Ed White performing the first EVA by an American during Gemini IV in 1965. Jim McDivitt took this photograph. (NASA) International Space Station’s Canadarm2 is used to help Robinson during the mission’s third session of extravehicular activity (EVA). (NASA) Expedition 35 Flight Engineers Chris Cassidy (pictured) and Tom Marshburn (out of frame) completed a spacewalk […]

Ten Myths About the 1918 Flu Pandemic

Editor’s Note, March 17, 2020: This is an updated version of a story that originally ran on Jan. 11, 2018. Pandemic: It’s a scary word. But the world has seen pandemics before, and worse ones, too. Consider the influenza pandemic of 1918, often referred to erroneously as the “Spanish flu.” Misconceptions about it may be […]

How COVID-19 Is Affecting the Cultural World

Editor’s Note, March 13, 2020:This article has been updated to reflect the latest cancellation and postponement announcements in the cultural sphere. With confirmed cases of COVID-19 now numbering well above 130,000, precautionary measures aimed at slowing the pandemic’s spread are becoming more widespread. Crowds, clamor and even close conversation can elevate one’s chance of becoming […]

A Story of an Empire, Told Through Tea

Editor’s Note, March 12, 2020:Starting Friday, March 13, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will temporarily close “to support New York City’s effort to contain the spread of COVID-19,” reports the New York Times. A diverse display of 100 teapots is among the most thought-provoking elements in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s reimagined British Galleries, which […]

Celebrate Peak Bloom With Ten Fun Facts About Cherry Blossoms

SMITHSONIANMAG.COM | March 4, 2020, 11:21 a.m. Editor’s Note, March 11, 2020: The National Park Service has moved up its peak bloom prediction to March 21 through 24. Every spring, the 3,800 cherry trees along Washington, D.C.’s Tidal Basin burst into a symphony of pink-and-white blossoms. Because this picturesque period lasts, on average, just four […]