Following Miles O'Brien's Twitter reminded me that today is the anniversary of the destruction of the Challenger space shuttle, which blew up shortly after liftoff on January 28, 1986. You can read O'Brien's memories of covering the aftermath as a young reporter in Florida.
Me, I was 4 when this happened. My memories aren't so interesting. What really sticks out for me is finding out, years later, about the mechanical malfunctions that caused the explosion, the bureaucratic mismanagement that lead known to malfunctions being ignored—and the good, honest people at NASA and contractor Morton Thiokol who tried to make their bosses fix the problem and, after the disaster happened, brought their stories to the public.
This clip from National Geographic's documentary "Challenger: The Untold Story" introduces Robert Boisjoly, an engineer at Morton Thiokol who spotted problems with the space shuttle's O-Rings in 1985, tried to stop the fatal Challenger launch and later testified before the presidential committee. His efforts earned him a Prize for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
When Zoe Stavri woke up with a yeast infection, she had a strange and intriguing idea: what about adding some of her vaginal candida to sourdough starter?
Nick Sousanis, who delivered his doctoral dissertation in comic book form, has a new comic in the current Nature magazine, explaining the last 25 years’ worth of climate talks, as a primer in advance of the Paris climate talks next week.
Randall “XKCD” Munroe’s Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words arrives in stores today: it combines technical diagrams and wordplay in pure display of everything that makes XKCD brilliant and wonderful in every way.
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