recommended reading

author archives

Results 121-130 of 147

The NASA Rocket That Hovers Like a Helicopter (But Could Land on Mars)

March 7, 2014 Yesterday, a NASA test vehicle lifted off from the ground in Florida, flew freely through the air, and landed about 650 feet away. It landed, crucially, in the same position it launched—upright—and that makes it look kind of like a science fiction film. You can watch the awesome video below:...

Why Facebook Just Spent $19 Billion on a Messaging App

February 20, 2014 Late Wednesday, Facebook announced its purchase of WhatsApp for $16 billion. $4 billion in cash and $12 billion in Facebook stock were granted to the company, with an additional $3 billion worth of Facebook stock to come. WhatsApp makes a glorified texting app. It lets you send text and pictures...

What It Looks Like When One Satellite Sees Another

February 14, 2014 There will be pictures at the end of this post. I promise. But first, there is a story. There aren’t many U.S. government programs—even space programs—like Landsat. Since the 1970s, the project’s satellites have continuously imaged the surface of the Earth, providing the longest-running archive of Earth observation photography. You’ve...

Now You Can Track U.S. Drone Killings on an App

February 11, 2014 On Monday, the new publication First Look reported that electronically obtained metadata controls who, how, and when U.S. drones kill abroad. Journalists Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill write that that kind of information doesn’t only determine who is killed: Metadata on phone SIM cards determines how victims of the strikes...

2 Spiffy—and Privately Owned—New Cameras Were Installed on the International Space Station Today

January 28, 2014 Two cameras have been installed on the International Space Station (ISS), according to NASA representatives on a live webcast. The two devices—a high-resolution video camera and a medium-resolution still camera—are operated by the Canadian firm Urthecast (pronounced Earth-cast). The first such cameras on the ISS, they will capture imagery of...

Silicon Valley's New Spy Satellites

January 7, 2014 Imagine an energy company which manages a pipeline through Canada’s taiga. The company’s charged with maintaining that pipeline, with making sure it isn’t leaking and hasn’t been compromised. So, every day, the company pays a local to get in a plane and fly over the otherwise inert, massive metal tube,...

Meet Silicon Valley’s New Spy Satellites

January 7, 2014 Imagine an energy company which manages a pipeline through Canada’s taiga. The company’s charged with maintaining that pipeline, with making sure it isn’t leaking and hasn’t been compromised. So, every day, the company pays a local to get in a plane and fly over the otherwise inert, massive metal tube,...

The New Armor That Lets You Sense Surveillance Cameras

December 13, 2013 We pass under surveillance cameras every day, appearing on perhaps hundreds of minutes of film. We rarely notice them. London-based artist James Bridle would like to remind us. Bridle has created a wearable device he calls the “surveillance spaulder.” Inspired by the original spaulder—a piece of medieval plate armor that...

2014 Sequestration Threatens Planetary Sciences at NASA

December 4, 2013 In the fall of 1997, a massive, unmanned rocket—one of the largest ever—took off on American soil, bound to Venus. It swung around that planet, entering deep-space so it could take advantage of the sun’s gravitational pull. Then it took a tour of the solar system, passing Venus again, Earth,...

How Online Mapmakers Are Helping the Red Cross Save Lives in the Philippines

November 12, 2013 It will be months before we know the true damage brought about by super typhoon Haiyan. The largest death tolls now associated with the storm are only estimates. Aid workers from across the world are now flying to the island nation, or they just recently arrived there. They—and Filipinos—will support...