Why Termites Are Giving Humans a Lot to Chew On

The Industrious "Underbug" Isn't Just Chomping Our Houses. It's Furnishing Clues About the Future of Technology, Energy, and Warfare.

Apart from mosquitoes and cockroaches, termites may be the least beloved insects rambling around our planet. But they’re also among the most underappreciated of creepy-crawlies—and their example can tell us a thing or two about how to create biofuels, train robots, and harness artificial intelligence.

Author and journalist Lisa Margonelli made her best case for the lowly and unsightly, yet ubiquitous and highly successful arthropods at a Zócalo discussion titled “What Can Termites Teach Us About the Future of Technology?”

Margonelli, deputy editor at Zócalo Public Square, is an unabashed fan …

The Weaponization of Empathy in a Hyper-Connected World

How to Live Through the Weird Next Chapter of This Ambiguous Virtue

Every time I go on Facebook I end up staring into the eyes of a puppy. Sometimes it has been mistreated, has a bad case of mange, or worse. Sometimes …

Why Hand Counting Votes Makes Every Vote Count

From Maine to Alaska, Manual Tallies Bring Trust and Transparency to Nerve-Racking Elections

Just before the polls closed on election night, I met with 12 of my townspeople at our town hall in Maine, raised my right hand, and took an oath to …

Why I’m Teaching Myself to Eat Baitfish

My Small Town's Alewives Are the Fish of the Future

My town has a fish. Or maybe the fish has us. It’s a herring known as an alewife—about nine inches long, with a forked tail and a belly that shines …

Why Californians Should Believe in Snow Days

They’re Fun. They Fuel Our Nostalgia. They Remind Us of Our Obligation to One Another.

I’m sitting here in Maine having a snow day. I can only see about 30 feet in front of my cabin; everything beyond is obscured by white frosty particles, which …

Your Electric Car Isn’t Making California’s Air Any Cleaner

The Environmental Benefits of Rich People’s Teslas Are Canceled Out By All the Gas-Guzzling Clunkers Still on Our Roads

This is a tale of two zip codes.

First there’s 94582: San Ramon, California.

Since 2010, the roughly 38,000 citizens and businesses of this prosperous Bay Area suburb, where the median household …