Technology

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The audacious rescue plan that might have saved space shuttle Columbia

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?

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The Illusion of Time

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!

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Liber8 BB-8!

My on-the-fly take was that there was a conceptual problem: if we made machines smart enough to provide all our services, wouldn’t those machines effectively be people, deserving freedom from servitude?

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