Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 11:13 am
This week, one man's customer service call to Comcast turned into a badgering — a simple request to cancel his service was repeatedly beaten back by the employee on the other end of the line. It was a familiar feeling for a lot of us, which perhaps explains why more than 4 million people have listened to it in less than a week.
Scientists and engineers at NASA are using origami techniques to help solve a fundamental dilemma facing spacecraft designers: How do you take a big object, pack it into a small container for rocket launch, and then unpack it again once it arrives in space — making sure nothing breaks in the process.
Forty-five years ago, this week, 123 million of us watched Neil and Buzz step onto the moon. In 1969, we numbered about 200 million, so more than half of America was in the audience that day. Neil Armstrong instantly became a household name, an icon, a hero. And then — and this, I bet, you didn't know — just as quickly, he faded away.
"Whatever Happened to Neil Whosis?" asked the Chicago Tribunein 1974.
Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 10:32 am
A flood of comments about net neutrality crashed the Federal Communications Commission's commenting site on Tuesday, the original deadline for public comments on the controversial Internet proposal. But the tech problems are buying those who want to weigh in some extra time — the deadline for public commenting is now Friday at midnight.
Of the 780,000 comments submitted to the FCC, 100,000 came on Tuesday alone, which the FCC's outdated electronic comment filing system was not capable of handling.
I'm standing on a beach and I see, a few hundred yards out, a mound of water heading right at me. It's not a wave, not yet, but a swollen patch of ocean, like the top of a moving beach ball, what sailors call a "swell." As it gets closer, its bottom hits the rising shore below, forcing the water up, then over, sending it tumbling onto the beach, a tongue of foam coming right up to my toes — and that's when I look down, as the wave melts into the sand and I say,
"Hi, I'm from New York. But what about you? Where are you from?"
Originally published on Mon July 14, 2014 10:41 am
If you do a Google search on the World Cup game in which Germany slaughtered Brazil 7-1, the top results will say things like "destroy," "defeat," and "humiliate."
But Google itself is choosing to steer clear of negative terms. The company has created an experimental newsroom in San Francisco to monitor the World Cup, and turn popular search results into viral content. And they've got a clear editorial bias.
Just one week after Google Glass went on sale in the U.K., fears of piracy have led to calls to ban the eyewear from being worn in movie theaters.
Criticism of the Google device, which can allow those wearing it to record what they see, has come from the powerful Cinema Exhibitors' Association, which as the BBC reports "has no power to enforce a ban, but instead makes recommendations to most of the country's cinema industry."
Science doesn't just further technology and help us predict and control our environment. It also changes the way we understand ourselves and our place in the natural world. This understanding can inspire awe and a sense of grandeur.
Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 11:55 am
A large swath of the Atlantic Ocean could soon be used to generate electricity, as a U.S. agency proposes opening more than 1,000 square miles of ocean to wind energy projects. The area is off the coast of Massachusetts, which has been working on the proposal with federal officials.
Behind the scenes at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, there's a vast, warehouse-like room that's filled with metal cabinets painted a drab institutional green. Inside the cabinets are more than a half-million birds — and these birds are not drab. Their colorful feathers make them seem to almost glow.
Yahoo has responded to the years-long calls for tech companies to disclose their staffs' gender and racial breakdowns. The numbers released Tuesday show its workforce, like much of the tech industry, is dominated by white and Asian males. In its post releasing the data, Yahoo explained its reasoning:
The vast majority of debris in the ocean — about 75 percent of it — is made of plastic. It can consist of anything from plastic bottles to packaging materials, but whatever form it takes, it doesn't go away easily.
While plastic may break down into smaller and smaller pieces, some as small as grains of sand, these pieces are never truly biodegradable. The plastic bits, some small enough that they're called microplastics, threaten marine life like fish and birds, explains Richard Thompson, a professor of marine biology at Plymouth University in the U.K.
The Hubble Space Telescope is being pressed into service to search for a post-Pluto "icy body" as a last stop for NASA's New Horizons probe.
The Baltimore-based committee that metes out observing time for the HST announced today that it is allotting time to look for a suitable Kuiper Belt object for New Horizons to flyby after it passes close to Pluto in July 2015.