Earth and Mars are both so-called "Goldilocks" planets, writes Burkhard Bilger, each large, warm and atmospheric in a way seemingly conducive to life. But, to the best of our knowledge, only one of them thrived.
Still, we keep going back. Like a delinquent sibling, Mars is all we’ve got—the next Earth-like planet may be in the Tau Ceti system, seventy trillion miles away—and its virtues nearly redeem its vices. Mars has sunlight, water, carbon, and nitrogen. Its surface is no more unpleasant than the inside of a volcanic vent, where bacteria thrive. It may yet have life. On November 26, 2011, NASA sent the world’s most sophisticated mobile science lab to explore it: the robotic rover Curiosity. The project’s scientists were quick to lower expectations: they were just looking for places that might once have been habitable, they said. Yet Mars, even dead, may answer some very old questions about life: What sets its machinery in motion? Why here and not there? Why us and not them?
It’s the end of an era, sort of: Fraunhofer IIS, the developers of the MP3 audio compression format, announced that they are ceasing their licensing program. In a blog post, spokesman Matthias Rose says that it’s had a good 20-year run and is obsolete. But it’s also true that the decoding patents expired last year, […]
Freddy deBoer writes that he’s been telling the same joke for years about Silicon Valley’s only product, which might be universalized as “At last, a way to verb with nouns on the internet!” But the social-media techopoly is stable, now, and so the venture capitalists have moved on to the three terrible trends that will […]
Alex Wood is an addict but won’t give up his smartphone. But he has five strategies for limiting its control over him: “I used to wake up tired. My body would ache and my head felt sore, like waking up with a hangover. Finally, I took control, like attending an AA class for addicts, I […]
If you are camping during rainy season, or just want a TSA-approved lighter, these plasma torches make perfect travel companions. These gas-free lighters create a small plasma beam that’s safer than butane to use and more environmentally friendly. It creates a super-hot, splashproof flame so you can get a campfire going, or have a smoke […]
If you don’t want to get stuck footing the bill for a hit and run, this dashboard-mounted camera offers up to 2K resolution to make sure you always have a reliable witness, and it’s available in the Boing Boing Store for 30% off it’s usual price.The PapaGo mounts unobtrusively to your windshield to see everything […]
While some people still maintain that everything in Apple’s walled garden “just works” and is immune to the rampant malware of the Windows world, the reality is different. The Mac’s growing market share has made it a much more viable target for malicious actors, and its built-in tools aren’t always enough to fix things. Drive […]