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Anti-Surveillance Camouflage for Your Face

July 24, 2014 The NSA made me slather my face in make-up. Or, it didn’t make me, exactly. But last spring, I found myself wandering around D.C., wearing dazzle camouflage for the first time. It was a sunny Saturday, the capital swamp neither frigid nor muggy-oppressive—perfect for walking. It took me 45 minutes ...

NASA's Zombie Spacecraft Learns to Fire Its Engines

July 8, 2014 The quest to save the ISEE-3—a long-lost NASA probe launched in the disco era and abandoned in the dot-com boom—might just succeed. Late last week, the amateur scientists and engineers working to salvage the probe hit a major milestone: They coaxed the craft into firing its rotational thrusters. The achievement ...

Everything We Know About Facebook's Secret Mood Manipulation Experiment

June 30, 2014 Facebook’s News Feed—the main list of status updates, messages, and photos you see when you open Facebook on your computer or phone—is not a perfect mirror of the world. But few users expect that Facebook would change their News Feed in order to manipulate their emotional state. We now know ...

NASA Is Building a Tiny Mothership to Explore Distant Lunar Oceans

June 19, 2014 Suppose you’re a planetary scientist. You operate an unmanned spacecraft, surveying a distant moon in our solar system. Years of funding, engineering work, and long-distance space travel have all come together, and at last this machine—to which you have devoted so much of your life—is in place. And it’s just ...

Scientists Found a Way to Save a Long-Lost Spacecraft—Now It's Facing Its Biggest Test Yet

June 3, 2014 On April 7, 1986, NASA scientist Bob Farquhar sent final instructions to the International Comet Explorer (ICE), a half-ton probe that had made its way 54 million miles from Earth. It had passed through the tail of Halley’s Comet only a few days before, and now the mission’s flight director ...

Our Mars Orbiter Looked Down and Saw Our Mars Rover

April 18, 2014 Right now, five human spacecrafts study Mars by hanging out near it. Two do it from the Martian surface—the Curiosity rover, which began its mission in 2012, and the more-than-a-decade-old Opportunity rover—and three do it while orbiting around the red planet. Earlier this month, one of those kinds of spacecraft ...

This Coder Is Running for Congress

April 11, 2014 New Jersey’s second district lies vast across its south. Atlantic City to the Delaware River, cranberry bogs and the Pine Barrens: Where the state’s other districts have been gerrymandered into twiddly bits, the second district seems large, substantial, and plausibly contiguous. Unlike the state’s Gotham-gorged north, south Jersey is known ...

Meet the Company That Built 'Cuban Twitter'

April 4, 2014 The United States discreetly supported the creation of a website and SMS service that was, basically, a Cuban version of Twitter, the Associated Press reported Thursday. ZunZuneo, as it was called, permitted Cubans to broadcast short text messages to each other. At its peak, ZunZuneo had 40,000 users. And what ...

Meet the Company That Secretly Built ‘Cuban Twitter'

April 4, 2014 The United States discreetly supported the creation of a website and SMS service that was, basically, a Cuban version of Twitter, the Associated Press reported Thursday. ZunZuneo, as it was called, permitted Cubans to broadcast short text messages to each other. At its peak, ZunZuneo had 40,000 users. And what ...

This Is What a Facial-Detection Algorithm Looks Like in 3D

March 25, 2014 Once the heady stuff of films like Minority Report, facial recognition algorithms are now a part of so many technologies that it’s hard to keep track of them. iPhones, iPhoto, and Facebook all try to detect bodies and faces with biometric software. Just last week, Facebook announced that its proprietary ...