If You Care About Cities, Apple’s New Campus Sucks

The new headquarters Apple is building in Cupertino has the absolute best door handles. The greatest! They are, as my colleague Steven Levy writes, precision-milled aluminum rails that attach to glass doors—sliding and swinging alike—with no visible bolts. Everything in this building is the best. The toroid glass of the roof curves scientifically to shed rainwater. And if it never rains again (this being California), well, an arborist selected thousands of drought-tolerant new trees for the 175-acre site. Not every Apple employee will get to work in the new building—ouch!—but 12,000 will. Of course, it only has 9,000 parking spaces, but that’s supposed to encourage people to take an Apple shuttle to work. And once they arrive, they’re not going …

The Quest to Make a Bot That Can Smell as Well as a Dog

Unfortunately, the other reason we don’t have robots that can smell is that olfaction remains a stubborn biological enigma. Scientists are still piecing together the basics of how we sense all those volatile compounds and how our brains classify that information. “There are more unknowns than knowns,” says Hiroaki Matsunami, a researcher at Duke University. Mershin, however, believes that we don’t really have to understand how mammals smell to build an artificial nose. He’s betting that things will work the other way around: To understand the nose, we have to build one first. In his efforts with a brilliant mentor named Shuguang Zhang, Mershin has built a device that can just begin to give dogs—his panting adversaries—a run for their …