After three years just as many failed launches, and a couple of lost satellites, private rocket company SpaceX successfully delivered its first payload into orbit yesterday using their Falcon 1 rocket.
Looking at the recent, highly politicized fights over global warming, stem cell research and evolution, a foreign observer might think that the American public sees scientists as a class of people above sweat shop owners, but below pornographers. Similarly, the outrage on many science blogs over the public response to those issue could lead readers to think that scientists view the American public as angry villagers ready to burn chemists at the stake for witchcraft.
Today, the most comprehensive poll to date exploring the American people's relationship with science, conducted by the non-partisan Pew Research group, has shown that many of those perceptions are just plain wrong.
In the 30 plus years since scientists started using satellites to track the area of the Arctic ice cap, the size of the ice pack has gotten smaller and smaller. However, new data from NASA's IceSAT satellite shows that the ice has been melting faster than anyone predicted.
Remember when, as a kid, you would pass “top-secret” notes written in lemon juice that your friends could only read in the right light? Well, in light of new nanotechnology research, this now sounds absurdly antiquated, like cave painting in the modern era. Instead, the youth of tomorrow (and adults too) could have the option to communicate via documents that self-erase at a preprogrammed time.
I was always told that learning a skill like juggling or playing an instrument requires three things: practice, practice and practice. Now, researchers have found a way to shorten the path to new motor skills to practice, practice and magnetic brain stimulation.
As one of his first acts as president, Barack Obama dismissed former-president Bush's rules governing the federal funding of stem cell research. And on Monday, the National Institute of Health issued its new set of replacement guidelines.
The new rules overturn the ban on creating new cell lines, establish a registry of stem cell lines approved for federally funded research, and create a system where stem cell lines approved under previous guidelines can petition for federal funding under the new regime.
Next year, 33 years after its maiden flight, the space shuttle will retire. What happens after that has become subject to fierce debate within the space agency. The designated successor program, named Constellation, was the darling of previous NASA administrator Michael Griffin, but a new review now has the space agency looking elsewhere for a ride back into the firmament.
Bad news for professional orcs all across the Middle Kingdom. On Monday, the Chinese government announced a ban on the conversion of virtual money into real money for the purpose of buying actual goods and services. By allowing Chinese citizens to spend real money on virtual products, but not vice versa, the government has specifically targeted gold farming, an activity that employs hundreds of thousands of Chinese workers.
Now that every scientist who isn't part of the lunatic fringe agrees that human greenhouse gas emissions significantly alter the world's climate, the debate on Capitol Hill has shifted from science to policy. And that debate has proved even more complex than Congressional fights over the stimulus package, car company bailouts, and the decision to invade Iraq.
On Friday, the House of Representatives passed HR 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, by a margin of 219 to 212, with three abstentions. The bill is the first legislative attempt to regulate carbon emissions, and the first bill to directly finger humans as the cause of climate change.