VOICES Voices Icon Ideas and Insight From Explorers


Dan Stone

of National Geographic Magazine

How Do You Build a Stadium in The Rainforest?

What makes Brazil’s new World Cup stadium in the Amazon rainforest is its geography. The rain in a rainforest is relentless. The sun is brutal at the equator. Harsh rays can literally melt the plastic of the seats. Humidity can cause steel to buckle. An inside look at the stadium you’ll see in the rainforest next summer.

Why China Wants (and Needs) Foreign Farm Land

China eats about 20 percent of the world’s food, reasonably expected for its 1.3 billion people. But the country only has nine percent of the world’s farmland.

For decades, the disparity was tolerable. China found ways to maximize its domestic food supply with its agrarian society. Now as China’s population continues to rise, fueled by rapid industrialization, the country is running into a wall. Numbers like that simply aren’t sustainable.

Bringing Sun to a Norweigian City in the Shadows

The Norwegian town of Rjukan sits in an unfortunate spot. During the winter, the Gaustatoppen mountains block the sun entirely, leaving the 3,500 in a frigid shadow for six months.

Rather than wait for the Earth’s tilt to change, the town has a more immediate plan. It’s called the Solspeil, which means sun reflector in Norwegian. Starting in late October, different pieces of mirrors will sit at the top of the mountains and follow the sun across the sky. They’ll reflect a single beam of light about 2,100 square feet (200 square meters) into the Rjukan’s town square. It is, simply, artificial sun. People who are deficient in Vitamin D or those who simply miss the feeling of sunlight can stand in the sun all day, so long as there’s room in the beam.

How What Happens in Syria Could Affect Your Travel Plans

Airlines are preparing emergency routes in the event of military activity in the Middle East this fall. Here’s what that could mean for your travel plans.

Eating Crickets: I Tried Them and So Should You

I’ve always found something enchanting about the idea of eating bugs. Party because there’s the exoticism of it, introducing new things into our diet that challenge chefs and provoke our taste buds. But more than that, there are unending benefits to the planet and our health that seem attractive when thinking about a growing population and limited resources.

The only problem is that Americans have never been able to get past our crippling psychology of being creeped out. Yet it’s time to shake off the fear, starting with a pair of cricket energy bars.

Where Brazilians Love to Shop (Hint: Not in Brazil)

Anyone who’s ever gone on vacation in a country with cheap prices has heard some variation of the following advice: go with your suitcases empty. Buy everything there and then bring it all back. Favorable exchange rates and developing economies can make everything cheap, much cheaper than you’d find back home.

But there’s a strange way it’s playing out in Brazil. Rather than heading to Cambodia, China, or Bangladesh where many low-cost consumer goods are made, young Brazilians are heading to the United States.

One Way China is Getting Serious About Climate Change

China, the world’s top emitter of greenhouse gasses, has a plan to use climate change to is economic advantage. It’s plan is very, well, American.

How Fast Can A Human Run?

Every four years, the premier event at the summer Olympics is the 100 meter dash, the swift sprint that you can literally miss by sneezing. In the past two Olympics in London and Beijing, the man who won the race was the Jamaican phenom Usain Bolt. Bolt quickly earned the nickname of being the fastest man on earth, which no one has yet been able to take away.

Bolt’s talent is simply that he generates more power than other sprinters. Even more interesting, however, is how much energy he wastes, illuminating how much faster he could actually run.

Waste Water into Wine: An Idea for Producing More Phosphorus

There are a few shortages on the planet that pose fairly ominous threats to humanity. There’s clean water that’s becoming scarce in some regions, and energy that simply can’t meet future demands. Some endangered animals have too few remaining individuals. Yet one shortage that gets comparably little attention is expected to come with serious consequences: phosphorus.

The Butterfly Effect: How Blue Morpho Wings Could Stop Counterfeiting

For more than a decade, I’ve been fascinated by biomimicry, the way engineers take cues from animals to make airplanes fly faster or submarines glide more efficiently.

In Vancouver, British Columbia, we found one of the most advanced applications yet, with some seriously money-saving ways it can be used.

The Power of Mushrooms to Save the Planet

A lot of people think of mushrooms as lawn pests or simply as food. But mycologist Paul Stamets will tell you there’s a lot more they can do, if only we tap them.

Riding the Seaplanes of Canada

Why are seaplanes so ubiquitous in Canada? It has to do with the country’s culture, and its unique geography.

Vashon: Where Trees Can Be Cut Down—And It’s Okay

“Thou shalt not cut down trees” is pretty high up in the environmentalist handbook. On Washington state’s Vashon island, we visited a group of tree enthusiasts trying to take “sustainable logging” past simple marketing-speak.

How Much Do You Really Know About Science?

How many U.S. adults understand some of the core concepts of science? The answer: not as many as you’d think. Take a quiz to see how you rank.

Fired Up: Building a Better Cook Stove

Cook stoves that run on wood or coal aren’t the most efficient way to cook. But we went to Vashon Island just west of Seattle to understand how cook stoves for developing countries are actually getting better—and with them, a whole host of other environmental issues.