I’ve written previously about the recent privatization of space exploration, and companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin continue to capture headlines. However, publicly-funded, research-driven space exploration is still going strong, as NASA plans for the May 5 launch of InSight, a Mars mission that will measure the planet’s tectonic activity for the first time.
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Filtering by Tag: Science
Published at the dawn of the Cold War in 1946, the Acheson-Lilienthal Report proposed a collaborative, international approach to share the benefits, and mitigate the threats, of nuclear energy. Its eventual abandonment gives it a melancholic subtext, but its authors’ foresight is inspiring, and a worthy reminder that humanity's most pressing challenges require both global and long-term thinking.
Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, published on November 24, 1859, launched the field of evolutionary biology. More than just a piece of scientific literature, its ideas arguably changed the course of history, as eloquently captured in this Scientific American piece.
Privatization of government-run services, from education to infrastructure, has been an ongoing trend in recent decades, and SpaceX continued it by successfully launching a private rocket in 2008. Robert Frost, a NASA instructor and flight controller, aptly explains of the pros and cons of this shift here, and alludes to the tensions between of public good and private profit that are a root cause of many complex challenges.
Considering My Place
The light got weird. Like some sort of cosmic score, a solar eclipse “at totality" transcends words. Yet for me, the bizarre, light-dark quality of illumination before and after the two-minute period of full coverage almost overshadowed the main event. Afterward, I found my motivation to do just about anything else zapped. Thrust in the stark presence of that much greater than myself, I’m forced to acknowledge my inconsequentiality.
This week’s news headlines have been dominated by fears that the White House may dismiss the findings in a new climate report. But what does the Climate Science Special Report even mean?Read More
Isaac Newton’s Principia, first published on July 5, 1687, is one of the foundational texts of the scientific revolution and the Enlightenment. While its theories are most directly concerned with mathematics, physics, and astronomy, they are part of a rational, evidence-based approach to human society that inspired many political revolutions.
On the subject of revolution… what does a paradigm shift even mean?Read More
The first inoculation in American history, made possible by African medical practices, took place on June 26, 1721 during a smallpox outbreak in Boston. While the effort triggered a controversy reminiscent of today’s vaccination debates, it proved the effectiveness of inoculation, and was a significant first step towards the vaccine that would arrive in 1796.
June 14 is a special day in the history of computing: Charles Babbage proposed his difference engine to the Royal Astronomical Society in 1822, and UNIVAC 1 was dedicated for service to the US Census Bureau in 1951. While we probably take their importance for granted today, the development of these devices was indispensable to better understanding and managing complexity.
As the nationwide March for Science approaches, this week marks the anniversaries of two very different breakthroughs enabled by inquiry and innovation.Read More