National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Editor’s Note: We’ll be running the article recommendations of our friends at TNR Reader each afternoon on The Plank, just in time to print out or save for your commute home. Enjoy! Why do the Chinese dominate at ping-pong? Chris Beam takes a stab at the country’s national pastime.GQ | 17 min (4,185 words) Germs and the galaxy: How NASA makes sure that we don’t accidentally colonize other planets.The Atlantic | 6 min (1,552 words) Poetry and sorcery: W.B. Yeats's career as a magician.Lapham's Quarterly | 14 min (3,464 words) Our surveillance keeps growing.
Early Monday morning, NASA’s half-ton, nuclear powered Curiosity rover touched down on the surface of Mars. Minutes later, the rover tweeted, “GALE CRATER I AM IN YOU!!!” The Robot’s outburst prompted a retort from Stephen Colbert. “I don’t know who this Gale is, but gentlemen don’t kiss and tell,” he admonished on his Tuesday show. But Colbert had his facts wrong—Curiosity is no gentleman. I discovered as much when I contacted NASA to find out who exactly is responsible for Curiosity’s sassy and flamboyant personality on Twitter, which has already managed to attract 900,000 followers.
Editor’s Note: We’ll be running the article recommendations of our friends at TNR Reader each afternoon on The Plank, just in time to print out or save for your commute home. Enjoy! The gods of Autocorrect are impish and fickle. What weird magic turns “Capistrano” into “campus tramp”? New York Times | 4 min (1,015 words) NASA’s new rover is busy hunting for life on Mars. But it can also tell us a lot about our own planet’s climate. Mother Jones | 3 min (634 words) The warlord General Butt Naked saw an apparition of Jesus and became an evangelical minister.
This isn’t a post about how hot the U.S. is getting. This is a post about how hot Greenland is getting—and why, maybe, we should care about it. On July 16, a NASA satellite photographed a iceberg breaking off from the Petermann Glacier, a massive sheet of ice that is on the northwest side of Greenland, contiguous to the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada.
WHEN SHE first learned that she was being considered as President Obama’s secretary of state, Hillary Clinton reportedly e-mailed an aide her complete disinterest: “Not in a million years.” Happily, his determined wooing won her over. From a failed presidential candidate who kept her race alive well past the bitter end, and from a polarizing first lady as reviled as she was beloved, Clinton has turned into what one of the London papers recently called “a hard-headed yet compassionate stateswoman who has restored reason and credibility to America’s global mission.” Clinton managed to calm and
Editor’s Note: We'll be running the article recommendations of our friends at TNR Reader each afternoon on The Plank, just in time to print out or save for your commute home. Enjoy! The 1950s are long gone, but the appeal of the drive-in movie theater is perennial. Smithsonian Magazine | 3 min (799 words) Watergate happened forty years ago, but the battle over Nixon’s legacy has been ongoing.
The economic crisis in Europe reached its latest crescendo last night, as Greece managed, through furious last-minute negotiations, to convince its creditors to give it some more breathing room. But if the Greeks have managed to stave off ruin for a few more minutes, nothing has essentially changed in their situation: Their economy is still in shambles. The burning question on most observers’ minds, and rightfully so, is whether the Greeks will ever manage to pay back their debts. But at this stage, it’s also worth considering how we ended up on the precipice of such catastrophe at all.
Today, The New York Times reported on an emerging diplomatic tiff over the use of unarmed drones around America’s embassy and consulates in Iraq. Iraqi officials, who say they weren’t consulted about the use of the aircraft, argue that the use of drones violates their sovereign airspace. The Study tries to avoid wading into diplomatic disputes, but it notices that drones are popping up more and more in the news, and not just for launching missiles at suspected terrorists.
Welcome to TNR’s 2011 List Issue. In putting the issue together, we had one major priority: to avoid creating a power list featuring anyone who regularly dominates headlines. Instead, we had a different idea: What if we revealed something about D.C. by documenting who quietly wields power? From there, we began to hatch other ideas for lists, and we realized that—while they can certainly be cheap gimmicks—lists can also convey a lot about a city. Below is the first list from the issue: Washington’s most powerful, least famous people.