Life on Mars?: The ExoMars is about to begin searching for the surest sign of life — the gas it leaves behind

Published: Salon (October 17, 2016)

After successfully pulling off a crucial technical maneuver, the ExoMars spacecraft is now two days away from making history.

The primary objective of the European Space Agency’s ExoMars mission is to determine if enough methane and other gases exist on the Martian surface to prove that life exists — or used to exist — on the Red Planet. To complete the first phase of the process for doing this, ExoMars needs to release an orbiter known as the Trace Gas Orbiter into the Martian atmosphere and safely deposit a lander called Schiaparelli on the planet’s surface. On Sunday morning, Europe’s and Russia’s two probes successfully separated from each other, a move that was necessary to successfully send each one to their intended destination. If all goes according to plan, both probes will get where they need to be on Wednesday. read more

Hyperlate: Elon Musk and Tesla delay their next big product launch

Published: Salon (October 17, 2016)

It seems that followers of Elon Musk will have to wait another two days before his latest product unveiling.

In a tweet sent out on Sunday afternoon, Musk announced that Tesla needs until Wednesday to refine its upcoming launch. This was going to be part of a pair of product launches that Musk had promised last week, one for today and the other for Friday, October 28th. While the details of the latter launch are already public — Musk is going to unveil a residential solar roof with integrated batteries — the former has been kept secret. read more

Sick Bern: Bernie Sanders’ tweet cost Ariad Pharmaceuticals $387 million

Published: Salon (October 17, 2016)

With a single tweet, Sen. Bernie Sanders has cost Ariad Pharmaceuticals $387 million.

The article retweeted by Sanders was from Stat, a publication that specializes in covering health and medical news. It reported that, since the beginning of the year, Ariad has raised the price of its Iclusig chronic myeloid leukemia treatment by 27 percent. The drug now has a pre-rebate list price of $16,560 a month, or almost $199,000 a year. Even worse for Ariad’s image (to say nothing of consumers), this isn’t the first time they raised the price on that drug, having done so twice last year. read more

Halt and catch fire: Samsung scraps the Galaxy Note 7… because it spontaneously combusts

Published: Salon (October 11, 2016)

Less than two months after Samsung launched its highly anticipated Galaxy Note 7, and less than one month after issuing a recall, it has now been announced that the new smartphone is being scrapped altogether. The reason, it seems, is that consumers aren’t too fond of having their smartphones catch on fire.

That happens more often than you might think. In 2014, a iPhone 5c allegedly caught fire in its owner’s back pocket, while a Galaxy S2 nearly exploded near its owners genitals back in 2011. In 2012 a Droid Bionic burned through the pants of a Defcon employee, while less than a year later a similar incident occurred with a Galaxy Note in South Korea. Needless to say, this explains why people were so alarmed when a family in Florida discovered their jeep engulfed in flames because their Galaxy Note 7 had exploded in the vehicle. read more

Jill Stein and Donald Trump are both linked to a dangerous anti-vaccine myth that just won’t die

Published: Quartz (August 3, 2016)

Green Party candidate Jill Stein likes to present herself as a pro-science, more idealistic alternative to Hillary Clinton. Stein has so far managed to stay out of the media maelstrom, but a series of troubling comments are making headlines for all the wrong reasons. One of Stein’s most problematic opinions resurfaced this week when her campaign deleted a tweet in which she claimed there is “no evidence that autism is caused by vaccines.” (The Tweet was eventually replaced with one that qualified her position as “I’m not aware of evidence linking autism with vaccines.”) Although she hasn’t gone quite as far as Donald Trump—the Republican nominee has openly suggested that vaccines cause autism—Stein’s statements are at best irresponsible and misinformed. They are also baffling, given that the Green Party likes to tout its pro-science credentials. read more

Do We Each Experience Time Differently?

Published: The Good Men Project (July 30, 2016)

“It appears therefore more natural to think of physical reality as a four dimensional existence, instead of, as hitherto, the evolution of a three dimensional existence.”

This is a quote from Albert Einstein, who offered it to explain how the past and future both co-exist in the present moment. When Einstein made this observation, he was referring to how physical forces like speed and gravitational pull influence how each body experiences time. Since then, psychologists have learned that individual organisms will also experience time differently based on factors like age and the accumulation of memories. read more

How Donald Trump would destroy America (and possibly the world)

Published: The Good Men Project (May 19, 2016)

America is in a “boy who cried wolf” situation right now. We’ve grown so accustomed to comparing our presidents with tyrants, or insisting that a candidate’s ascent to power will result in calamity, that even those of us who see an actual wolf in our midst aren’t being taken seriously. The people voting for Donald Trump are well aware of our concerns but – having grown jaded to polemical hyperbole – aren’t able to recognize that the threat is real this time. read more

How will we preserve our digital future?

Published: The Daily Dot (April 24, 2016)

Some of my fondest childhood memories were set in libraries. I still recall wandering through stacks of books, my eyes glancing from title to title in the hope that they would land on some previously-undiscovered treasure. Sometimes I would take a step into the past by setting up a roll of microfilm and letting it whir through the scanner until it landed on an intriguing story from a bygone era.

The sights, the sounds, even the smells of these libraries linger in my brain long after I last set foot in them. As the Library of Congress celebrates its 216th anniversary today, it’s worth taking a moment to ask: What sources will be available to future young scholars? read more