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.
Despite Trump’s denial of climate change the the ghastly attacks on climate science and mitigation in the new proposed budget, the Carbon Bubble — which overprices hydrocarbons and the industries that rely on them, as though we’ll be burning all of them with impunity — is about to pop.
South American polka dot tree frogs are pretty cool, but Julián Faivovich and Carlos Taboada found out they are even cooler when an ultraviolet flashlight is trained on them. They fluoresce. Many animals can see beyond the spectrum visible to humans, and these frogs adapted with this trait. From the abstract: Fluorescence, the absorption of […]
A small (51 men aged 24 +/- 3 years) study published in Neuron tasked experimental subjects with practicing the ancient Greek mnemonic technique of “memory palaces” and then scanned their brains with functional magnetic resonance imaging, comparing the scans to scans from competitive “memory athletes” and also measuring their performance on memorization tasks.
The Lightning port has thus far resisted the cruel fate that befell the headphone jack, and despite rumors that it may be disappearing come iPhone 8, for the present and foreseeable future, Lightning cables are a hot commodity for iPhone users. As such, we must make do in this strange time in which long, glorified […]
All the filters in the world won’t save your smartphone pics from a shaky hand. To really step up your mobile photography game, you’ll need some kind of mount to hold it steady. You could buy a smartphone attachment for a conventional camera tripod, but who wants to carry that kind of gear everywhere they […]
The forced transition from analog to digital TV signals was probably met with relative indifference from people with Netflix subscriptions and the “I don’t even own a TV” snoots. But anyone living in the vast swaths of the country that don’t have guaranteed high-speed internet, broadcast TV is a perfectly valid (and 100% free) way […]