2016 Yearbook

People hated 2016 so much, the year itself became a punchline. Indeed, we saw plenty of signs that something was amiss. Uber began taking over public transportation, we found out Kava could be poisonous, beaches even ran out of sand. But for every grim omen, we saw people fighting for a better future. People like the First Lady, who mastered social media to promote hope and social justice. We met a prisoner who proved the government secretly spied on him – from his jail cell. We even profiled a DIY scientist who tried to cure himself by bathing in bleach and eating feces pills. Now that’s courage. It was a long and memorable year, so we’re taking a moment to look back at our favorite stories.

Tech / Jan. 13


A common criminal was convinced the US government used a secret device to track him down. He spent months prison trying to prove it. Turns out, he was right.

By Russell Brandom

Transportation / Feb. 8

Inside Nevada’s $1.3 billion gamble on Tesla

The house bet big on Tesla – did it win?

By Colin Lecher

Transportation / Feb. 24

The road not taken

West Virginia: wild, wonderful, and hiding a vision for the future of public transportation.

By Adi Robertson

Transportation / Feb. 28

Inside America's worst train station

New York's Penn Station has been called "the worst place in the world" and that's probably an understatement. Time for an update.

By Andrew J. Hawkins

Tech / March 2

Life and death in the App Store

Sure, you can make an app for that — but no one wants to pay for it.

By Casey Newton

Tech / March 8

Deep mind

Google's DeepMind took on Go champion Lee Se-dol, and humanity lost.

By Sam Byford

Science / March 10

Why did Blue Origin leave so many female space reporters out of its big reveal?

Too many dudes have colonized the final frontier.

By Loren Grush

Culture / March 14

Michelle Obama 360: An exclusive look at how the First Lady mastered social media

Why yes, we would like to come spend some quality time with FLOTUS.

By Kwame Opam

Culture / April 10

The greatest Star Wars lightsabers in the world are built by fans

$15,000 seems like a reasonable amount to pay for a model lightsaber.

By Bryan Bishop

Tech / April 13

The secret rules of the internet

What stays and what goes on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter? And who decides?

By Catherine Buni & Soraya Chemaly

Science / May 6

A bitter pill

He wasn't feeling well. So he scrubbed his body with bleach and ate feces pills.

By Arielle Duhaime-Ross

Tech / May 12

Criminal charges

The cost of calling home from prison can feel like highway robbery.

By Colin Lecher

Transportation / June 6

On the road with George Hotz’s $1,000 self-driving car kit

We lived to tell the tale. His business plan didn't.

By Michael Zelenko

Tech / June 8

The App Store 2.0

The App Store changed how we used our phones. Now it's time to change the App Store.

By Lauren Goode

Science / June 21

Latest weight-loss device approved by the FDA leaves some doctors 'appalled'

Losing weight now means pumping food out of your stomach with a tube.

By Alessandra Potenza

Transportation / June 23

How do you teach an autonomous car when to hurt its passengers?

Cars of the future might decide who lives, and who dies.

By Tamara Warren

Tech / July 12

The FBI has collected 430,000 iris scans in a so-called 'pilot program'

Real talk: this pilot is no longer a pilot.

By Colin Lecher & Russell Brandom

Tech / July 14

Eat, Pay, Love

It's so nice to meet you. Now pay me.

By Emily Yoshida

Tech / Aug. 3

Welcome to Airspace

From Brooklyn to Bangkok, the conquest of Edison bulbs, refurbished wood, and minimal design.

By Kyle Chayka

Science / Aug. 15

How natural are nature documentaries?

A lot of nature documentaries are closer to fiction than fact. And that's what makes them so addicting.

By Elizabeth Lopatto

Culture / Aug. 18

Inside Laika studios, where stop-motion animation goes high tech

In a world of cheap computer tricks, puppets still rule.

By Tasha Robinson

Transportation / Sept. 1

Welcome to Uberville

Forget a new bus line, communities across the country are turning to Uber for all their public transportation needs.

By Spencer Woodman

Tech / Sept. 13

iPhone 7 Review

The day they killed jack.

By Nilay Patel

Tech / Oct. 6

Speak, Memory

What if you could talk to the dead in a chat box?

By Casey Newton

Tech / Oct. 19

Facebook caught an office intruder using the controversial surveillance tool it just blocked

Facebook said it was unaware of a program that tracked the location of its users. But we caught Facebook using the program to catch an intruder in Mark Zuckerberg's office.

By Colin Lecher & Russell Brandom

Science / Oct. 24

From Texas to the Smithsonian, following a trail of sexual misconduct

Uncovering sexual harrassment and misconduct, at one of the nations's most prestigious academic organizations.

By Michael Balter

Science / Nov. 7

One man wants to turn every porn watcher in California into a condom vigilante

The thin polyurethane line.

By Rachel Becker

Science / Nov. 17

Sand's End

You know we're on the brink of the apocalypse when the beaches have run out of sand.

By Josh Dzieza

Culture / Nov. 29

Building tools for digital activism

For too many, social media has become a space for abuse. How do we transform it into a space of activism?

By Kwame Opam

Culture / Dec. 8

What if the internet could make Casey Affleck the last Casey Affleck?

We need to talk about Casey Affleck.

By Kaitlyn Tiffany

Science / Dec. 19


Surprise: disruption and mental health care just don't mix.

By Cat Ferguson