In ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,’ Planet Sovereign Defies Physics

One of the great things about movies set in space is that the writers have the opportunity to come up with some fantastically crazy situations. Just look at the planet Sovereign, revealed at the beginning of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Don’t worry about why the Guardians are on this planet too much—instead, let’s […]

Lunar Scientists Want to Hitch a Ride on America’s Next Moonshot

At the beginning of the month, Vice President Mike Pence announced that the US, at long last, will go back to the moon. At least, some day. Pence didn’t give a date, details, or even a ballpark cost during his speech at the opening of the National Space Council. But he did give a morale […]

Ultra-Powerful Radio Bursts May Be Getting a Cosmic Boost

Ultra-Powerful Radio Bursts May Be Getting a Cosmic Boost

Some of the brightest flashes in the universe may be coming into focus. So-called fast radio bursts are enigmatic, ultra-brief, ultra-powerful bursts of energy coming from distant galaxies. They last for only a fraction of a second, but in that time they emit the energy of perhaps 500 million suns. Their power and brevity have […]

Nathan Myhrvold’s *Modernist Bread* Reveals the Secrets of Gluten

If your homemade country loaf comes out of the oven shrunken and unfluffy, you may have neglected a central tenet of breadmaking: Hydrate the flour. When you knead the dough, you are massaging moisture into the wheat’s proteins, creating a matrix of gluten that traps gases so the bread can inflate from the inside. “The […]

Meet the Geek Who Tracks Rogue Satellites With Coat Hangers

Every 95 minutes, the Chinese satellite Zhuhai-1 02 makes a full pass around the planet, its solar-panel arms extending from its boxy body as it observes Earth. Sometimes, its path takes it over Pueblo, Colorado. There, more than 300 miles below, Mike Coletta’s receiving station can pick up Zhuhai’s transmissions. Because as sophisticated as space […]

How the Napa Fires Could Hurt 2017’s Wine Grapes

Nick Goldschmidt has been lucky so far. A wildfire has burned more than 8,000 acres just north of his vineyards in Geyserville, California, but so far his vines are OK. So is his house in Healdsburg, roughly midway between Geyserville and a 36,000-acre fire that destroyed more than 2,800 homes in Santa Rosa. But now, […]

The Crowdsourced Maps Guiding Puerto Rico’s Recovery

This story originally appeared on CityLab and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration. Almost three weeks after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, the island is in a grim state. Fewer than 15 percent of residents have power, and much of the island has no clean drinking water. Delivery of food and other necessities, especially to remote areas, has […]

You Aren’t Ready for the Weirdness of Working With Robots

Humanity is entering a confusing time: the Age of the Bizarrely Intelligent Robots. No longer confined to cages on factory floors, the machines are more and more walking, rolling, and hopping among us. But the question is, are we ready for their invasion? After all, interacting with other humans is hard enough for most of […]

NASA’s CO2-Tracking Satellite Deconstructs Earth’s Carbon Cycle

This much scientists know: Humans pump about 40 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. Less clear is where the planet puts it. About half of it stays in the air, where it adds to the annual, two- to three-part-per-million increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration and the gradual warming of the planet. The […]

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