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- Jan 12 201711 minutes
Why Most Planets Will Either Be Lush or Dead: Earth Science:The Gaia hypothesis implies that once alien life takes hold, it will flourish.
Can a planet be alive? Lynn Margulis, a giant of late 20th-century biology, who had an incandescent intellect that veered toward the unorthodox, thought so. She and chemist James Lovelock together theorized that life must be a planet-altering phenome
- Jan 2 20171 minute
She Helped Send John Glenn Into Space
CAITLIN KEATING AND MIA McNIECE At the age of 98, Katherine Johnson tells People her greatest accomplishment is “just staying alive.” But the West Virginia native has much more to be proud of: A brilliant mathematician (played by Taraji P. Henson in
- Dec 23 20164 minutes
The Top 11 Science And Health Stories Of The Year
It was a great year for weed and gravitational waves.
- Feb 9 20174 minutes
Trump's Advisers Want to Return Humans to the Moon in Three Years
The plan could dramatically shift the mission of the space agency, prioritizing low-Earth orbit activity over distant exploration.
- Jan 30 20174 minutes
The Moon May Be Covered With Oxygen Beamed From Earth
The gas travels alongside particles from the sun, and could offer clues to life’s origins.
- Jan 19 201710 minutes
The Not-So-Fine Tuning of the Universe: Physics:There’s more than one way to build a universe suitable for life.
Before there is life, there must be structure. Our universe synthesized atomic nuclei early in its history. Those nuclei ensnared electrons to form atoms. Those atoms agglomerated into galaxies, stars, and planets. At last, living things had places t
- Sep 9 20164 minutes
How the Blind See the Stars
The new moon night was dark and rich in stars. The line at the bottom of the steps was 200 deep and growing. This was a busy public night at the Martz/Kohl Observatory atop Robin Hill, in Frewsburg, New York, and the rickety old ladder up to the eyep
- Mar 13 201410 minutes
Looking For A Second Earth In The Shadows: Astronomy:Scientists are blocking out the light of distant suns to look for life.
Some dark, clear nights, when the blazing stars cast shadows down on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, the astronomer Olivier Guyon steps away from his workbench and computer screens and walks outside the giant 8-meter Subaru Telescope to savor the heavens. Guyon b
- Dec 12 201312 minutes
The Madness Of The Planets: Astronomy:Our home in the universe continues to rock out of control.
I am a staunch believer in leading with the bad news, so let me get straight to the point. Earth, our anchor and our solitary haven in a hostile universe, is in a precarious situation. The solar system around us is rife with instability. Residents of
- Jul 2 20139 minutes
The Best Way Yet to Talk to Aliens (If They’re Out There)
“None knows whence creation arose; And whether he has or has not made it; He who surveys it from the lofty skies. Only he knows—or perhaps not.”This is an edited snippet from a 3,500-year-old Vedic creation myth. I sent each of its 143 characters str
- Oct 8 20156 minutes
The Cello Music of the Spheres: Experience mathematical beauty and symmetry in a multimedia work.
If there really is a music of the spheres, the sound of a fundamental harmony in the universe, it has to be Just Ancient Loops, a 2012 work by composer Michael Harrison. Played on the cello, and complemented by a film created from archival clips and
- Feb 7 20163 minutes
5 Ways NASA Enabled Today’s Super Bowl
Getting us into space is NASA’s raison d’etre. But the agency’s innovations don’t always stay inside NASA. They have a tendency to affect fields like medicine, communications—even football. This Sunday, the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers take
- Dec 1 20164 minutes
Spooks In Space
How a banal celestial lab kicked off a new age of warfare.
- Dec 7 20164 minutes
The Extreme Hazing Of The Most Expensive Telescope Ever Built
The James Webb Space Telescope, $8.8 billion and 20 years in the making, is undergoing rigorous testing to make sure it can survive launch.
- Nov 21 20162 minutes
Want to Go to Mars? Ron Howard’s New Series Gives Red Planet Fever a Boost
IT’S A FIRST-WORLD LUXURY TO LIVE in a country in which we can gripe about not having gotten to Mars yet. If we could land on the moon 47 years ago, why is Mars taking so long? The question is being asked more often lately, which makes it a good time
- Dec 12 20164 minutes
The Map That Lets You Listen To The Radio Everywhere
Radio Garden is a meditation on connectedness and what broadcast technology does to local culture.
- Dec 14 20162 minutes
Find Cosmic-Blast Shields, Find The Aliens
Astronomers say they could detect signs of advanced civilizations by searching for their defense mechanisms.
- Jan 17 20173 minutes
Remembering Gene Cernan
“Too many years have passed for me to still be the last man to have walked on the moon.”
- Jan 3 20174 minutes
The Most Vulnerable NASA Missions Under Trump
Reading the tea leaves on the president-elect’s space policy
- Jan 21 20166 minutes
How the Cold War Created Astrobiology: Life, death, and Sputnik.
Astronomy and biology have been circling each other with timid infatuation since the first time a human thought about the possibility of other worlds and other suns. But the melding of the two into the modern field of astrobiology really began on Oc
- Dec 8 20166 minutes
The Romantic Venus We Never Knew: Venus used to be as fit for life as Earth.
On the day that I was born—winter solstice, 1959—a headline in Life magazine proclaimed “Target Venus: There May be Life There!” It told of how scientists rode a balloon to an altitude of 80,000 feet to make telescope observations of Venus’s atmosph
- Jan 6 20172 minutes
Is NASA Paving the Way for Asteroid Mining?
The agency just greenlit a robotic mission to the most metal-rich space rock in the solar system.
- Jan 4 20177 minutes
Trump Might Be Thinking About a Moon Base
Last week, upon leaving the president-elect’s office, Douglas Brinkley, a historian and conservationist, reported that Trump “was very interested in a man going to the moon.” Before that point, the entirety of Trump’s utterances of space policy consi
- Jan 27 20172 minutes
How Fast Is the Universe Expanding?
Astronomers have added a new data point in their attempts to answer the cosmic question.
- Aug 22 20162 minutes
An Unlimited Digital Universe With Wonder to Spare
I’M CRUISING THROUGH AN AMARANTH-TINGED VACUUM in a dangerously vulnerable starship. Asteroids phase in and out of view, each a mineral mass my photon cannons can mine for fuel. In the distance, a distress signal beckons from one of the nearly unlimi
- Jan 9 20172 minutes
The Moon May Be Formed From Many Tiny Moons
New research suggests the moon was the result of a series of smaller collisions rather than a single catastrophe, contradicting a theory that has been widely accepted for over 30 years.
- Dec 15 20161 minute
The Icy Secrets of Ceres
New research suggests water ice lurks under the surface of the dwarf planet.
- Jan 14 20171 minute
SpaceX Sticks the Landing in Triumphant Return
After a four-month launch hiatus, the company’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully sent a communications satellite into orbit and returned its first stage to a floating robotic barge.
- Jan 13 20178 minutes
Why Mars Is the Best Planet
It’s like The Man in the High Castle for Earth’s history.
- Jan 11 20171 minute
The Milky Way’s Stolen Stars
Astronomers say some of the galaxy’s most distant stars were actually whisked away from a passing mini-galaxy.