One of the most tragic events in the history of space exploration is the loss of the space shuttle Columbia and all seven of its crew on February 1, 2003—a tragedy made worse because it didn’t have to happen. But just as it is human nature to look to the future and wonder what might be, so too is it in our nature to look at the past and wonder, “what if?” Today, 13 years after the event, Ars is rerunning our detailed 2014 examination of the biggest Columbia “what if” of all—what if NASA had recognized the danger? Could NASA have done something to save the crew?
With such rapid expansion of capability, it may seem difficult to tell what the next 60 years will bring, much less the next century. But we never do anything in space without first imagining what we could do, so in that spirit, here is an attempt to predict—and nudge us into—the future.
Designing digital experiences comes with an ingrained obsession. The obsession of speed and performance. Amazon calculated that an increased loading time of just one second could cost it $1.6 billion in sales each year. Google loses about 8 million searches (and ad displays) when page speed decreases by just four tenths of a second — scary shit!
That left some speculation about, um, aliens. While it’s incredibly unlikely, it does kinda fit what we’re seeing. An advanced civilization would have big energy requirements, and it would make sense to build huge structures around their star to capture as much light as possible for solar power. The dips in light we see are then these “megastructures” passing in front of the star (some people call this a Dyson Swarm; a collection of enormous solar panels enclosing the star).
The participants were asked to focus on the correct answer and count the number of times its frame flashed. The brain patterns from the flickering answers together with the detection of another kind of brain signal that occurs when someone counts, enabled a computer to tell which answer, if any, the person was focusing on.
One Las Vegas builder is trying to figure out how to design a house that millennials might actually be interested in buying–and actually be able to pay for
Millennials are having a hard time entering the real estate market (because the generations before them destroyed it). This affordable, sustainable house is trying to change that.
Individuals have been fashioning homemade firearms for as long as guns have existed. Zip guns, crude but functional weapons often made from taped-together pieces of pipe and rubber bands, were particularly popular in the 1940s and 1950s. The AK-47, one of the most widely used assault rifles on the planet, has a reputation for being a cinch to make and practically impossible to break.
The demi began when a visitor from France told Zibeau and friends about two alternative currencies circulating in his hometown of Nantes, alongside the Euro. They got to talking about the ins and outs of alternative bank notes, particularly the security aspect. “We joked about [how] the Canadian dollar is pretty secure,” says Zibeau. That’s when they came up with the idea of cutting Canadian bills in half, combining the benefits of a local currency with the power of a national anti-counterfeiting plan.
It wasn’t until Danish Astronomer, Ole Römer entered the fray that measurements of the speed of light got serious. In an experiment that made Galileo flashing lanterns on a hill look like a primary school science fair project, Römer determined that, lacking lasers and explosions, an experiment should always involve outer space. Thus, he based his observations on the movement of planets themselves, announcing his groundbreaking results on August 22, 1676.