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On Christmas Eve 2016, Andrew Seymour, an astronomer at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, kissed his 4-year-old daughter, Cora Lee, goodnight, telling her he was off to track Santa. He walked to the well-worn telescope, occasionally passing revelers riding horses through the empty streets—a common sight in Arecibo during the holidays. Sometimes a lonely […]

Heredity is a powerful concept. It’s the thing that ties families together—that gives shape to their shared history of stories, of homes, of personalities. And more and more, it’s the way we understand families’ shared genetic inheritance. But that more modern biological notion of heredity comes with some new, technical baggage: It’s easier to talk […]

The Uneven Gains of Energy Efficiency

March 20, 2019 | Story | No Comments

This story originally appeared on CityLab and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration. On a rainy day in New Orleans, people file into a beige one-story building on Jefferson Davis Parkway to sign up for the Low-Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a federal grant that helps people keep up with their utility bills. New Orleans has […]

Don't Just Lecture Robots—Make Them Learn

March 20, 2019 | Story | No Comments

The robot apocalypse is nigh. Boston Dynamics’ robots are doing backflips and opening doors for their friends. Oh, and these 7-foot-long robot arms can lift 500 pounds each, which means they could theoretically crush, like, six humans at once. The robot apocalypse is also laughable. Watch a robot attempt a task it hasn’t been explicitly […]

Personal technology is getting a bad rap these days. It keeps getting more addictive: Notifications keep us glued to our phones. Autoplaying episodes lure us into Netflix binges. Social awareness cues—like the "seen-by" list on Instagram Stories—enslave us to obsessive, ouroboric usage patterns. (Blink twice if you've ever closed Instagram, only to re-open it reflexively.) […]

The Case of the Missing Dark Matter

March 20, 2019 | Story | No Comments

Physicists don’t know much about dark matter. They can’t agree on what it’s made of, how much a single particle weighs, or the best way to construct a Play-Doh diorama of it. (How would you do it? Dark matter is invisible—light doesn’t interact with it at all.) Nobody has ever caught a dark matter particle […]

For 20 years, an experiment in Italy known as DAMA has detected an oscillating signal that could be coming from dark matter—the fog of invisible particles that ostensibly fill the cosmos, sculpting everything else with their gravity. Quanta Magazine About Original story reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine, an editorially independent publication of the Simons […]

Update: SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket on a mission to resupply the International Space Station. Another day, another SpaceX launch. On Monday at 4:30 pm ET, the commercial space company is slated to propel a previously-flown Dragon cargo ship into low Earth orbit aboard a used Falcon 9 rocket. The Dragon spacecraft, which […]