Category Archives: science

World’s first orbital-class rocket launch from a private launch site

Rocket Lab

On Thursday, shortly after midnight on the US East Coast, a New Zealand-based rocket company launched an orbital-class rocket from a private launch site for the first time. While relatively small, Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle stands at the vanguard of a new class of launchers designed to place increasingly tiny satellites into space. Among competitors such as Virgin Orbit and Vector Space Systems, which are late in the development stage, it is the first small satellite launch company to put a full-size rocket into space.

“We’re one of a few companies to ever develop a rocket from scratch and we did it in under four years,” said Peter Beck, chief executive and founder of Rocket Lab. “We’ve worked tirelessly to get to

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These people want you to know climate change isn’t just for liberals

Enlarge (credit: Aurich / Thinkstock)

Note: This piece is from our US colleagues. Please adjust your internal decoding of the words “conservative” and “liberal” for the next few thousand words.

He doesn’t start with an apocalyptic description of future impacts when he talks to people about climate change, but, for some audiences, University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor of Environmental Studies Calvin DeWitt does turn to the book of Revelations. “I’ll have a white-out pen in my pocket, and I’ll have them read Revelation chapter 11, verse 18. It’s a description of the sounding of the last trumpet, as you hear in Handel’s ‘Messiah,’ and the end verse says, ‘The time has come for destroying those who destroy the Earth,’” DeWitt told me. “And

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Shakespeare’s Genius Is Nonsense – Issue 48: Chaos

You’d be forgiven if, settling into the fall 2003 “Literature of the 16th Century” course at University of California, Berkeley, you found the unassuming 70-year-old man standing at the front of the lecture hall a bit eccentric. For one thing, the class syllabus, which was printed on the back of a rumpled flyer promoting bicycle safety, seemed to be preparing you for the fact that some readings may feel toilsome. “Don’t worry,” it read on the two weeks to be spent with a notoriously long allegorical poem; it’s “only drudgery if you’re reading it for school.” Phew! you thought, then, Wait a second… You might have wondered what you had gotten yourself into. Then again, if you had enrolled in Stephen Booth’s class, chances are … Read the rest

Are You a Self-Interrupter? – Issue 48: Chaos

Our technology-rich world has proven to be both a blessing and a curse. While on the one hand we have access to information or people anywhere at any time, on the other hand we find our attention constantly drawn by the rich, multisensory, technological environments. It all started with the graphical user interface that took us from the flat, two-dimensional text-based environment that operated on a line-by-line basis similar to a typewriter, to a small picture depicting an operation or program. From there it was a short hop to a completely multisensory world appealing to all of our visual, auditory, and tactile or kinesthetic senses. We now see videos in high definition, often in simulated 3-D. We hear high-definition stereo sounds that feel as crisp as … Read the rest

Why Did The Biggest Whales Get So Big?

Five years ago, on a boat off the southern coast of Sri Lanka, I met the largest animal that exists or has ever existed.

The blue whale grows up to 110 feet in length. Its heart is the size of a small car. Its major artery is big enough that you could wedge a small child into it (although you probably shouldn’t). It’s an avatar of hugeness. And its size is evident if you ever get to see one up close. From the surface, I couldn’t make out the entire animal—just the top of its head as it exposed its blowhole and took a breath. But then, it dove. As its head tilted downwards, its arching back broke the surface of the water in a graceful … Read the rest