Italian-American physicist Enrico Fermi, circa 1941. One year later, he built the first nuclear reactor capable of producing a self-sustaining chain reaction.

In the early years of World War II, physicists in the United States and abroad were working feverishly on a super-weapon that would end the disastrous conflict. America won the race, thanks largely to Enrico Fermi, who, in 1942, developed the first functional nuclear reactor.

In doing so, he helped usher in the age of atomic energy.

A man in a vest squints at his cellphone while walking down the street.

Where is the nearest coffee shop?

Did Marcia reply to my email?

What’s the name of that guy in that movie?

a hand reaches out from under a pile of paperwork

How much paper is in your home that you could digitize or totally do without? It’s probably more than you think. Paper continues to go out of style, as companies and individuals aim to be more considerate of the environment—and save money on things like printing and postage.

A woman stands in her kitchen with a Google Home Virtual Assistant

Recent years have seen the invention and widespread proliferation of smart speakers and virtual assistants. For the purposes of simplicity, we’ll conflate the two here.

Ride-sharing, or ride-hailing, is an easy, cost-effective alternative to hailing a taxi or arranging for private transportation.

It’s no tech industry secret that the sharing and digital economies are in full swing. These movements—which enable individuals to connect with other people who are willing to pay in some way for their skills or goods—have been steadily growing since the beginning of the decade, thanks in large part to the near ubiquity of Internet use and smartphone ownership. 

Cartoon image of someone holding a tech device.

As technology becomes ever more powerful, our devices become ever more complex. Which means that gadgets like smartphones can do more things than ever but also do them in more ways than ever.

If you’ve ever wondered if there was a better way to do this or that with your electronic devices, you’ve come to the right place.

Image of a microphone for a podcast.

When a new radio show called Your Radio Playhouse premiered on WBEZ Chicago in the fall of 1995, listeners had to catch it right as it aired. Even as the show entered national syndication with a new name just one year later, it could still be heard just once a week.

Image of things you'll find in a household.

We may not be getting smarter every day, but our gadgets sure are. No longer just the domain of computers and cell phones, now more and more devices are Internet-connected, from fridges to lightbulbs.

But where does convenience end and frivolity begin?

How it works

Image of hundreds of channels for streaming.

Turn on your TV and the options are seemingly endless. Basic cable subscribers typically get 30 to 40 channels. For those willing to pay more, the choices increase significantly. News junkies have 27 options. Nine premium channels offer recent movies and original programming. If you’re into sports…well, let’s just say the possibilities are virtually endless.