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Innovations that shape our world

Since early humans first tended fires and sharpened spears, we’ve sought to apply our knowledge to shape the natural world to suit our needs. Here we chronicle the promise and pitfalls of this basic human drive in all its present day manifestations – from robots and AI to nanotechnology and materials to devices, transportation, engineering and manmade disasters.

Chinese scientists have built two major quantum infrastructure projects, and the race is on to take the next step.

Yuen Yiu, Staff Writer

The image shows a flight simulator with a cockpit with controls, as well as a set of screens with a pilot's view of the plane's surroundings.

Researchers are learning how to train pilots for the unexpected.

Joel Shurkin, Contributor

Scientists are training computers to help us stop asteroids from crashing into our planet.

Yuen Yiu, Staff Writer

An inexpensive handheld sensor may simplify testing for pesticides on fruits and vegetables – but won’t replace government monitoring.

Valerie Brown, Contributor

Measuring sleep cycles no longer requires complex instruments and a lab.

Nala Rogers, Staff Writer

AI is helping to identify safer techniques in construction work.

Marcus Woo, Contributor

Researchers create safer batteries with perforations that prevent full-scale failures.

Yuen Yiu, Staff Writer

Devices made from bacteria-filled hydrogel inks sense chemicals and perform logic operations.

Catherine Meyers, Editor

3-D camera technology gets behind the wheel of self-driving cars.

Karin Heineman, Executive Producer

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