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Posts Tagged "GPS"

Critical Opalescence

What Happens to Google Maps When Tectonic Plates Move?

A couple of weeks ago, I was writing up a description of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, and I thought I’d compare the warping of spacetime to the motion of Earth’s tectonic plates. Nothing on Earth’s surface has fixed coordinates, because the surface is ever-shifting. Same goes for spacetime. But then it struck me: if [...]

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Dog Spies

Anthrozoology: Not a Study of Ants

Anthrozoology_Dog Spies_Square

Never seen the word “Anthrozoology” before? That’s okay. If you looked at the word and focused on the “ant” part, then try again. Instead, “Anthro” and “Zoology” are the interesting bits, and broadly speaking anthrozoology is the study of human-animal interactions and relationships. This is how it’s pronounced, along with a brief primer: As the [...]

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Steaming North: how the scientists are trying to find plankton

June 16th, 2012 We’ve set sail! Here’s proof: You can also tell by this graph of the ship’s speed over the last few days. The few hours before we set off were full of tying down all the science equipment and negotiating with customs officials to get a piece of equipment that had been shipped. [...]

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Life, Unbounded

The X Factor: Solar storms and life as we know it

Aurora seen from Space Shuttle Discovery in 1991 (NASA)

Back in February 2011 the Sun underwent a so-called X class solar flare event, prompting the following Life, Unbounded post. I thought I’d bring it out to air again in light of the solar flare events happening right now, and the potential for some disruption of our Earthly activities. There are also interesting implications for [...]

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Self-Driving Cars Are a Modern Miracle Waiting to Happen

When Bran Ferren was 9 years old his parents took him to the Pantheon in Rome. He looked around  at the marble and sculptures, which seemed typical in the ancient city, and then he looked up at the ceiling, which didn’t seem typical at all. It was high and dome shaped and at the top [...]

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Sequester-Hobbled DARPA Takes Aim at New Types of Terrorism

GPS satellite

With relevance to homegrown, lone operator terrorist threats highlighted by the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced a series of initiatives Wednesday aimed at defending the U.S. against increasingly ambiguous threats. Whereas its core mission will remain the same—researching new types of technology for the military—the cutting-edge agency [...]

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Davos: The Future of Space

Space: the beneficial frontier. That was the underlying theme of a panel called “The Future of Space,” which I moderated at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting at Davos, Switzerland. It was the first such session on space services in the formal part of the program at this meeting of leaders in policy and business—and [...]

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New York City Marathon Runs Anyway

The 2012 New York City Marathon may not be televised, but it is being organized on an unofficial basis by men and women who have banded together to run anyway. The official race was belatedly cancelled on Friday in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Teams from Canada, Germany, and Switzerland (identifiable because they carried their [...]

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Do You Use GPS? Say “Thanks” to Norman Ramsey (1915–2011)

Norman Ramsey from Nobel Prize

Norman F. Ramsey may not be a household name, but he was a giant of 20th-century experimental physics. His basic-science work earned him the 1989 Nobel Prize in Physics and laid the foundation for technologies now used by millions of people. He died last Friday at the age of 96. In exploring how atoms and [...]

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Plugged In

Beating Traffic with Trained Mammals

My favorite element of the electric grid is the method by which it gathers information about power outages. It seems the electric utilities have legions of trained mammals, and when power goes out, mammals in different areas press buttons, and the buttons make a bell ring at the utilities. For pressing the right button the [...]

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