The National Security Agency is, by nature, an extreme example of the e-hoarder. And as the governmental organization responsible for things like, say, gathering intelligence on such Persons of Interest as Osama bin Laden, that impulse makes sense--though once you hear the specifics, it still seems pretty incredible. In a story about the bin Laden mission, the NSA very casually dropped a number: Every six hours, the agency collects as much data as is stored in the entire Library of Congress.
It’s predictable that the U.S. government, not leaving anything to chance, used DNA to identify Osama Bin Laden’s body. What is more than a little creepy, is that they matched his DNA to that of his sister, who died several years ago of brain cancer, and whose brain the FBI has kept in its hall of brains since then.
Biotech companies will soon perform their own studies to determine whether their genetically modified seeds are safe for the environment, according to a new federal plan. That means companies like Monsanto, which provides about 90 percent of the world's transgenic crops, will help the government decide whether their own products should be approved.
Nearly a decade ago, NASA built an Earth-monitoring satellite that could have observed global warming in action. Then the agency stashed it in a warehouse in Maryland, where it remains to this day.
By Bill DonahuePosted 04.06.2011 at 12:28 pm 50 Comments
It all began so hopefully. Al Gore proposed the satellite in 1998, at the National Innovation Summit at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Gazing skyward from the podium, the vice president described a spacecraft that would travel a full million miles from Earth to a gravity-neutral spot known as the L1 Lagrangian point, where it would remain fixed in place, facing the sunlit half of our planet. It would stream back to NASA video of our spherical home, and the footage would be broadcast continuously over the Web.
As promised, the Commerce Department's National Broadband Map went live yesterday, showing the various types and speeds of internet connections all across the country. It's meant to function both as a tool for consumers and businesses, and as a wakeup call to the country--it's pretty shocking to see just how much of the country lacks high-speed broadband.
This year, the White House is asking you to send more than just your taxes to the government on April 15th. They also want you to send your ideas on which grand, unsolved scientific challenge of the 21st century you think the US should tackle first. They're thinking big here. Landing-on-Mars, cure-for-HIV, cold-fusion big. And Uncle Sam wants you to help them direct the research.
After months of deliberation and 150 meetings, the Obama Administration finally released its new guidelines for nuclear weapons policy. In a sharp break from previous administrations, Obama's Nuclear Posture Review released today dictates the U.S. halt development of any new nuclear weapons and cease to consider nuclear retaliation against non-nuclear nations, even in response to a biological or chemical attack.
In an effort to increase efficiency, cut carbon emissions, and reduce costs, Finland has begun a pilot program wherein snail-mail letters are converted into PDFs and made viewable online by their addressees, in advance or in lieu of physical delivery. So far, the effort is volunteer-only, but it has already sparked concerns in Finland about privacy and government overreach.
Today the Federal Communications Commission unveiled its plan to expand broadband Internet access to 100 million more Americans within the next five years. The plan calls both for the expansion of wired networks in under-serviced areas, and for the dedication of more wireless spectrum for Internet use as opposed to television. Largely deficit-neutral, the plan has bipartisan support in the current Congress, in part because contentious issues of net neutrality and privacy were not tackled by the FCC's plan. As you remember, PopSci called for an improvement to the nation's broadband infrastructure last year
In an attempt to shorten the gap between the end of the Space Shuttle and the deployment of its replacement, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) has introduced a bill that would extend the life of the Shuttle by two years. The bill directly contradicts the White House's space policy, which favors a rapid decommissioning of the Shuttle, followed by an emphasis on the private sector to maintain support of the International Space Station (ISS).