Breaking the Ice on Technologies

Tag: Informative

How Measles Hacks the Body—and Harms Its Victims for Years

How Measles Hacks the Body—and Harms Its Victims for Years

It’s 2019, and all over the world measles is once again splotching across headlines. An ongoing outbreak in the Philippines has so far infected 4,300. In Ukraine more than 15,000 people have caught the disease since December, the country’s largest epidemic since the invention of […]

Two Satellites Almost Crashed. Here’s How They Dodged It

Two Satellites Almost Crashed. Here’s How They Dodged It

The first alert came on January 27. Two small satellites, whirling through Earth’s low orbits, had “the potential for a conjunction.” Those are the words Major Cody Chiles, spokesperson for the Joint Force Space Component Command, uses to mean “the chance of a collision.” The […]

Launch an 80,000-Pound Sled off an Aircraft Carrier? Sure!

Launch an 80,000-Pound Sled off an Aircraft Carrier? Sure!

[embedded content] You might think this is a video showing the testing of the electromagnetic catapult system for an aircraft carrier, but you are wrong. No, this is a video of a near-perfect example of a real physics homework problem. Yes, that is what it […]

This Robot Debates and Cracks Jokes, but It’s Still a Toaster

This Robot Debates and Cracks Jokes, but It’s Still a Toaster

The Monolithic black rectangle on stage with luminous, bouncing blue dots at eye level was not Project Debater, IBM’s argumentative artificial intelligence. It was just something for an audience to look at while a voice—is it redundant to call an AI’s synthesized voice “disembodied”?—projected over […]

A 6-Legged Robot Stares at the Sky to Navigate Like a Desert Ant

A 6-Legged Robot Stares at the Sky to Navigate Like a Desert Ant

In case you’ve been envying the desert ant Cataglyphis fortis lately, don’t. Skittering around the Sahara, the insect endures temperatures so brutal, it can sometimes only manage foraging runs of 15 minutes before it burns to death. Making matters worse, the heat obliterates the pheromone […]

R.I.P., Opportunity Rover: the Hardest-Working Robot in the Solar System

R.I.P., Opportunity Rover: the Hardest-Working Robot in the Solar System

Last night, NASA reached out one final time to the Opportunity rover on Mars, hoping the golf-cart-sized machine would phone home with good news. Since June, the robot has been unresponsive, likely because a planet-wide sandstorm coated its solar panels in dust. NASA has pinged […]

A New Lab Is Brewing Microbes to Create Makeup and Medicines

A New Lab Is Brewing Microbes to Create Makeup and Medicines

On the third floor of a back building on Verily’s South San Francisco campus, 10 white machines emit a low-pitched hum. Atop each one sits a plastic container so jammed with tubes and sensors it looks like a protein shake on life support. Inside, beige-colored […]

Sorry, Sandra Bullock: A Fire Extinguisher Is a Lousy Thruster

Sorry, Sandra Bullock: A Fire Extinguisher Is a Lousy Thruster

Suppose you are an astronaut out in space. You have nothing with you except your wits and … a fire extinguisher? Why a fire extinguisher? Because that’s what Sandra Bullock’s character has in the movie Gravity. Because a fire extinguisher shoots out gas (normally to […]

This Scary Map Shows How Climate Change Will Transform Your City

This Scary Map Shows How Climate Change Will Transform Your City

The central contradiction of climate change is that it is at once the most epic problem that our species has ever faced yet it is largely invisible to the average human. From the comfort of your home, you may not realize how climate change is […]

There’s Still So Much We Need to Learn About Weed—and Fast

There’s Still So Much We Need to Learn About Weed—and Fast

On Friday, US senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) introduced legislation to legalize marijuana at the federal level—a bill called SR 420, of course. Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have so far expanded access to weed in some form. But with federal law lagging behind, […]