Science

For the first time, we may have just detected the a large object that has entered our solar system from interplanetary space: C/2017 U1 PanSTARRS. It’s a shame we don’t have a spacecraft ready to go get a closer look, or maybe even get a sample.

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It seems the WPA2 encryption system used by most WiFi networks is badly broken: New KRACK Attack Against Wi-Fi Encryption KRACK! Wifi’s go-to security, WPA2, is fatally flawed, and will probably never be patched in many places WPA2: Broken with KRACK. What now? ‘All wifi networks’ are vulnerable to hacking, security expert discovers This follows […]

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After a 20-year mission, and to avoid any risk of contaminating Saturnian moons with microorganisms from Earth, the Cassini space probe was deliberately crashed into Saturn’s atmosphere today. The science it has returned has been stimulating and the imagery spectacular. The watery moon Enceladus now joins Europa among the solar system’s most intriguing life-compatible bodies.

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New Zealand’s kakapo parrot is equally rare and bizarre: critically endangered, with 154 survivors living on three protected predator-free islands, the birds can’t survive the presence of rats, cats, and other potentially-carniverous mammals, can’t fly, and reproduce slowly and strangely. The chapter about them is perhaps the most memorable part of Douglas Adams’ excellent non-fiction […]

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Columbus could not have foreseen the results of his search for piperine, Magellan was unaware of the long-term effects of his quest for isoeugenol, and Schönbein would surely have been astonished that the nitrocellulose he made from his wife’s apron was the start of great industries as diverse as explosives and textiles. Perkin could not […]

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In many ways, the treatment of ethanol in societies like Canada is exceptional. It’s the only powerfully psychoactive drug top-end hotels and restaurants will provide you in unlimited quantities as long as you can pay. It’s the only drug that large groups of strangers routinely use to the point of inebriation together, in contexts ranging […]

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CRISPR-Cas9 is a powerful new gene editing technique with the promise of widespread applications in research, medicine, and industry — as well as to provoke political and moral controversy.

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On the Washington Post website, there is an article about my aunt Mirka’s new book: Making the Mark: Gender, Identity, and Genital Cutting.

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It’s gimmicky and I find it hard to see personal cars and automobile infrastructure as part of a sustainable future, but this video still has historical relevance:

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Through a variety of mechanisms, anthropogenic climate change is worsening wildfires. For instance, warm winter temperatures were a key factor in British Columbia’s apalling mountain pine beetle epidemic, and trees killed by the beetles may be more susceptible to fire. More directly, high temperatures dry out forests and raise fire risks. Page 44 of the […]

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