Issue No. 19 | Frontiers

The Bleeding Edge

The thing about approaching the unknown—colonizing the American West, understanding climate change, altering social customs, exiting Earth’s atmosphere—is that you often don’t know you’ve gone over the edge until you’ve fallen off. This month, we investigate frontiers in multiple realms. In our documentary series I’m Moving to Mars, we meet five people who want to leave Earth ... forever. On the terrestrial front, our story on the fate of baobabs explores the mystery of why some of our planet’s oldest trees are dying sudden and dramatic deaths and what it might mean for the rest of us. Also: a look at the insane plans Exxon engineers came up with in 1997 to save us from global warming; life inside a coed frat; and what some psychic mediums think the afterlife—the final frontier—really looks like.

COVER ART BY LIAM COBB

Monologue

Scott Kelly: There Are No Lifeboats on Mars

The former astronaut is pro–space exploration, but he’s not so sure that sending people to live on Mars is “the ethical thing to do.”

Giant Mirrors. Ocean Whitening. Here’s How Exxon Wanted to Save the Planet

In 1997, scientists working for the oil company offered visionary solutions for climate change—which might have destroyed the earth in the process.

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The Mysterious Life (and Death) of Africa’s Oldest Trees

A shocking study found some of the most famous baobab trees are dying. What will this mean for the people who depend on them—and for the planet?

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I’m Moving to Mars

Would you travel to another planet if it meant staying forever? Meet five finalists for the Mars One program, all of whom dream of doing just that.

The Instagram Influencers of Crown Heights

For many Orthodox Jews, technology is something to be shunned. But in Brooklyn’s Chabad Lubavitcher community, women use social media to celebrate what it means to be #hasidic.

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Mixtape

Frontiers Mixtape

Five short films about struggle, determination, and animal-machine hybrids—because boundaries were made to be pushed.

The Future of Frats Is Female

Greek life has never been more popular, or troubled, than it is today. Could admitting women change the nature of fraternities for the better?

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Visions of the Afterlife

For the mediums of the Lily Dale spiritualist community, the frontier between the living and the dead is easily entered. The only difference is how they open the door.

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Off Topic

Failure to Launch

Experts have been anticipating commercial space travel since the late 1970s. What would it take to get this insanely priced industry off the ground?

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Looking Across the Border

Four migrant children, forced to wait with their families in a camp in Tijuana, Mexico, dream of what might await them in the United States.

Off Topic

Salt, Space, Acid, Heat

A survival guide for a ruined planet, with inspiration from some of the toughest (and tiniest) creatures on earth.

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Off Topic

West World

A photographer’s obsession with a familiar yet otherworldly landscape.

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Off Topic

So Crazy, It Just Might Work

A coat grown out of mushrooms, body odor as ID, a breakthrough in human-dolphin communication, and more from the wild edge of scientific research.

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The Nib’s Family Issue

Support The Nib today, and get sweet-ass schwag.

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About the Cover: Frontiers

The Victorian astronomers and 1980s set designers who inspired Topic’s January 2019 cover artist to shoot for the stars.

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