After interminable delays and tens of billions of dollars in spending, NASA’s Statue of Liberty–size Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket is at last nearing its inaugural launch. Taking place as early as August 29, the launch will use the SLS’s 8.8 million pounds of thrust (39.1 million newtons) to send an uncrewed Orion spacecraft and… Continue reading NASA’s Moon-Bound Megarocket Will Send a Spacecraft to an Asteroid, Too
Megan Hall: Every year, the Cancer Community Awards, sponsored by AstraZeneca, presents an individual or organization with the President’s Award. This award recognizes those who are making a meaningful impact in the lives of cancer patients. In 2021, Margaret Stauffer received the President’s Award for her work as the Chief Mission Officer of the Cancer… Continue reading A Lifelong Quest to Improve Mental Health among Cancer Patients [Sponsored]
A similar scenario played out in the 1990s, when a Tennessee naturalist named Lynn Faust read the confident published assertion of a scientist named Jon Copeland that there were no synchronous fireflies in North America. Faust knew then that what she had been watching for decades in the nearby woods was something remarkable. Faust invited… Continue reading How Do Fireflies Flash in Sync? Studies Suggest a New Answer.
Explore In the early 1950s, a group of researchers at the Institute for Advanced Study embarked on a high-tech project. At the behest of John von Neumann and Herman Goldstine, the physicist Hedvig Selberg programmed the IAS’s 1,700-vacuum-tube computer to calculate curious mathematical sums whose origins stretched back to the 18th century. The sums were related to… Continue reading A Numerical Mystery From the 19th Century Finally Gets Solved
The epitome of modern convenience, our toilets make waste disappear with incredible efficiency and ease. We seldom think twice about pulling the lever or about where all that swirls down the pipes ends up afterward. But the massive mazes of sewage pipes underneath our towns and cities ultimately lead to some body of water nearby,… Continue reading We Only Think We Flush It Away
Explore It turns out there are many ways of “doing” intelligence, and this is evident even in the apes and monkeys who perch close to us on the evolutionary tree. This awareness takes on a whole new character when we think about those non-human intelligences which are very different to us. Because there are other… Continue reading Another Path to Intelligence
“Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie…”—Shakespeare, All’s Well That Ends Well Our Earth has existed for 45 million centuries; and humans for a few thousand. But this century is the first when our species is so numerous—and so demanding of energy and natural resources—that we risk collectively despoiling our planet. It’s surely an ethical… Continue reading Two Distinguished Scientists on How to Rescue Humanity
Outside of humans, the best (worst?) example of repugnant same-species violence is found in chimpanzees. When compared to other nonhuman great apes, chimpanzees are notoriously bloodthirsty. I mean that literally. Rival chimpanzee groups defending their territories will engage in open battle where they will occasionally beat one another to death. But they also conduct clandestine… Continue reading The Wisdom of Gay Albatrosses
When electrons couple up, further quantum trickery makes superconductivity unavoidable. Normally, electrons can’t overlap, but Cooper pairs follow a different quantum mechanical rule; they act like particles of light, any number of which can pile onto the head of a pin. Many Cooper pairs come together and merge into a single quantum mechanical state, a… Continue reading High-Temperature Superconductivity Understood at Last
Mike Cassidy was there in 2010 when Eyjafjallajökull, a volcano-covering ice cap in Iceland, erupted. It shut down European air space for weeks, costing the economy billions. Cassidy, a Ph.D. student at the time, had been invited on a research cruise to the country by scientists studying the ocean. From the research vessel, he got… Continue reading Are We Ready for the Next Massive Volcano?