NASA announces plans to send a drone to explore Titan for signs of life 27 June 2019

Get ready for Dragonfly’s autonomous flight on Saturn’s largest moon.
Is there now, or has there ever been, life on Titan? Dragonfly will carry a suite of scientific instruments meant to address this question.
[MIT Technology Review]

What Neil Armstrong got wrong 26 June 2019

Space technology has changed the world—but not in the way the dreamers of the 1960s imagined it would
Even though humanity hasn’t returned to the moon since 1972, there has been slow and steady progress in human spaceflight, remarkable robotic exploration of the solar system, and—perhaps most important—a profound reordering of life on Earth by satellites orbiting it.
[MIT Technology Review]

The write stuff: ten of the best astronaut memoirs 26 June 2019

Very short excerpts from books about space by people who have been there
At the time of writing, 558 people have orbited the Earth. Approximately 10% of them have written books about the experience.
[MIT Technology Review]

A European mission will intercept an unknown comet for the first time 20 June 2019

The “Comet Interceptor” will launch in 2028 and loiter a million miles away until an interesting and accessible comet is found.
Examining comets from the outer reaches of the solar system could help figure out how much of the water on Earth originated from comets.
[MIT Technology Review]

Scientists didn’t just “reverse time” with a quantum computer 14 March 2019

Amazing headlines about time machines are a long way off the mark.
Debunking some bunk science journalism.
[MIT Technology Review]

Zuckerberg’s new privacy essay shows why Facebook needs to be broken up 7 March 2019

Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t understand what privacy means—and he can’t be trusted to define it for the rest of us.
Why his claims to be re-orienting Facebook towards the protection of privacy don’t add up.
[MIT Technology Review]

It’s only a matter of time before a drone takes down a passenger plane 21 December 2018

And no, technology can’t fix the problem.
Why swarms of drones pose a threat to commercial air traffic.
[MIT Technology Review]

Robots at the Front 26 June 2018

“Army of None” Review
Autonomous weapons are becoming a common feature of modern war, raising practical and philosophical issues that remain to be solved. This book doesn’t do much to help solve them.
[Wall Street Journal]

The Future of the International Space Station 12 June 2018

NASA’s leader wants to privatize it. That’s a remarkably terrible idea.
There’s a case for killing the space station. There’s no case for turning over the keys to a private company.
[Vox]

In order to better serve you 24 May 2018

Updates to My Privacy Policy
In advance of the new General Data Protection Regulation.
[Slate]

The Saudi prince who took a joyride on the space shuttle
and other space misadventures
30 March 2017

International Collaborations in Space Always
Reflect Politics on Earth

A brief history of the countries that send people to space, and why.
[Slate]

A Hundred Million Invaders 1 February 2017

NY/NJ Baykeeper’s War on Microplastic
A multimedia piece on the impact of plastic refuse in oceans generally, and New York harbor in particular.
[Primer Stories]

Bad Math Props Up Border Wall 18 October 2016

Estimating the cost (in dollars) of Donald Trump’s proposed border wall
It would be many times more expensive than he claims.
[MIT Technology Review]

A son’s portrait of his murderous drug lord father, Pablo Escobar 30 September 2016

This unsettlingly shallow memoir of a drug kingpin falls flat.
A review of “Pablo Escobar, My Father” by Juan Pablo Escobar.
[Washington Post]

Cosmic Certainties 19 September 2016

More trouble with string theory, an attempt to do away with inflation, and a novel theory of dark matter, critiqued.
A review of “Fashion, Faith and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe” by Roger Penrose.
[Wall Street Journal]

There and back again and there again 5 July 2016

Why I love the Lord of the Rings trilogy
A summer reading enthusiasm.
[Slate]

New Directions 24 June 2016

On the way to Desert Storm, U.S. troops stopped in California in order to buy consumer GPS units at local stores.
A review of “Pinpoint” by Greg Milner and “Finding North” by George Michelsen Foy.
[Wall Street Journal]

The All-American iPhone 9 June 2016

What would it take to make iPhones in the US?
A thought experiment; doing so profitably is possible.
[MIT Technology Review]

Drones can photograph almost anything. But should they? 21 April 2016
What Justin Trudeau got wrong about Quantum Computing 18 April 2016

A video of the Canadian Prime Minister giving an apparently impromptu riff on quantum computing had a few mistakes in it.
This is a critique not so much of his minor errors, but of the media storm which treated his lecture as a sign of genius.
[Washington Post]