Moss and the mushroom cloud
Scientists have taken a close, high-speed look at moss and discovered that it spreads by releasing a high-pressure vortex of air containing spores that spread relatively far and wide. Evolution is truly an awesome tool for creating fascinating results.
California and South Carolina have whooping-cough outbreaks
Children are dying because they're catching what is a vaccine-preventable disease. The problem is that the infants who are dying are too young to get the immunizations themselves, so they depend upon herd immunity -- resistance to communicable diseases created by the accumulated vaccinations of many people -- to protect them against deadly infections. Unfortunately, vaccines are still getting an utterly undeserved bad rap from high-profile celebrities who let their emotions trump science.
Florida's "space coast" launched 60 years ago
The first rocket launch from Cape Canaveral was on July 24, 1950, shifting rocket tests away from the Desert Southwest to the Florida Atlantic coast. The advantages are obvious: It's closer to the Equator (which is better for lots of orbits) and the bordering ocean means that accidents would happen over water instead of populated land. Right now, it's anyone's guess what we'll be doing with space in another 60 years. The increase in space junk and the government's noncommittal approach to space exploration are rather significant factors of uncertainty.
The life of the world in a day
YouTube is promoting the "Life in a Day" project, which will seek to document, in video, the life of the world on July 24, 2010. The resulting submitted content is to be professionally edited and produced as a feature-length documentary film. They're calling it a sort of "time capsule" for the future. With the vast proliferation of content (we're undoubtedly producing more of it than ever) documenting everything about our lives, and with the ability to archive those documentary moments improving all the time, the big question might really be: How do we condense the things that we record in a way that separates the important from the ephemeral? A century ago, an ordinary American might have looked forward to being photographed twenty times in a lifetime. Today, a person with a normal social life could easily be photographed by twenty different photographers in a single day at the ballpark and a night at the bar.
The bridge designed in 1956 might not fulfill its destiny in 2010
The friendly drawings of a Philadelphia bridge designed in the Korean War era promised an elevated roadway that would fit in naturally with the surrounding trees. Today's graffiti suggests that it has failed to reach its potential as a monument.
If an alternative to fossil fuels will take 20 years, do we have enough time left?
We're largely preoccupied with the immediate questions about energy, like whether it's fair to keep China from taking over BP. But the slightly longer-term issue is whether we're at all prepared to figure out how to survive when fossil fuels start rising dramatically in price.
How to curate a conversation
Wealthy American Presidents
George Washington is estimated to have been the President with the greatest share of national wealth in existence at the time of his period in office. Who knew?