From the very start, England's 17th century colonies in America had a problem -- a shortage of coins [D94, T01] The British idea was to grow large amounts of tobacco, cut timber for the ships of their global navy and merchant marine, and so forth, sending in return the supplies they felt were needed to keep the Americans working. In effect, early colonists were supposed to both work for the company and shop at the company store. The investors and the Crown much preferred this to paying in coin what the farmers might ask, letting the farmers themselves buy the supplies -- and, heaven forbid, keep some of the profit as well.
Thus began a most remarkable unveiling of the Chinese nuclear weapons program, a deliberate disclosure of its nuclear crown jewels to a central player in the American nuclear intelligence community. Chinese officials knew exactly who Stillman was. It is clear they chose to show him, firsthand, the achievements of their nuclear world. They wanted Stillman to take the information home, to tell the American government, the scientific community, and the citizenry at large all about China's technical capabilities. Why would the Chinese government do that? Nuclear weapons design information is supposed to be a deep, dark secret.
Alan Shepard became the first U.S. astronaut 50 years ago today. The mission set off a 50-year string leading to companies like Space-X and Virgin Galactic that are aiming to commercialize space. Here's a look at the computers behind NASA in 1961 and what counted as "high-speed" data transmission.
If you only had 20 minutes, what would you do to convince an intelligent (college educated or professional) audience of the significance of life extension beyond 120 years? Assume they do not commit the tithonus error and are rational enough to understand that probably do want to live indefinitely so long as the quality of life meets their own standard. The problem then becomes convincing others that it is indeed possible to live very very long lives
To science we owe dramatic changes in our smug self-image. Astronomy taught us that our earth isn't the center of the universe but merely one of billions of heavenly bodies. From biology we learned that we weren't specially created by God but evolved along with millions of other species. Now archaeology is demolishing another sacred belief: that human history over the past million years has been a long tale of progress. In particular, recent discoveries suggest that the adoption of agriculture, supposedly our most decisive step toward a better life, was in many ways a catastrophe from which we have never recovered. With agriculture came the gross social and sexual inequality, the disease and despotism, that curse our existence.
Packouz was baffled, stoned and way out of his league. "It was surreal," he recalls. "Here I was dealing with matters of international security, and I was half-baked. I didn't know anything about the situation in that part of the world. But I was a central player in the Afghan war -- and if our delivery didn't make it to Kabul, the entire strategy of building up the Afghanistan army was going to fail. It was totally killing my buzz. There were all these shadowy forces, and I didn't know what their motives were. But I had to get my shit together and put my best arms-dealer face on."Sitting in the restaurant, Packouz tried to clear his head, cupping a hand over his cellphone to shut out the noise. "Tell the Kyrgyz KGB that ammo needs to get to Afghanistan!" he shouted into the phone. "This contract is part of a vital mission in the global war on terrorism. Tell them that if they fuck with us, they are fucking with the government of the United States of America!
When the U.S. military wanted to take out Moammar Gadhafi's air defense systems, it unleashed a barrage of 122 Tomahawk cruise missiles. But these munitions aren't like most others in the American arsenal.Smart, maneuverable, able to see its surroundings and shift to new targets in mid-flight, the newest Tomahawks are closer to the unmanned planes flying over Afghanistan than to the weapons they fire. In some ways, the Tomahawk is the drone's suicidal cousin: a robotic aircraft, packed with explosives, that has no intention of ever coming home.
Cancer 'victim' is making use of Oregon's Death with Dignity Act to end his suffering. He started a thread on reddit and answered a number of questions in the lead up to his death. Amazing clarity of mind for someone facing something so daunting.
This chair by Dutch designer Floris Wubben was made by binding and splinting the branches of a willow tree, forcing them to grow into four legs.
Inspired by the recent protests that led to the fall of the Tunisian government and the ousting of longtime Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Egyptians have joined other protesters across the Arab world (in Algeria, notably) in protesting their autocratic governments, high levels of corruption, and grinding poverty. In Egypt, tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets. Here's a photo of one of the protests in Cairo, the capital