Tags Explainer

How Will a New Clock Keep Good Time Even in Deep Space?

Navigating in deep space is tricky, particularly when you need to keep up interplanetary synchronized clocks. NASA is convinced we can do better with a new atomic clock they’re testing in orbit this year. Here’s how it works, as illustrated by an adorably consternated second hand.

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Mika McKinnon

January 22nd

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Don’t Get Too Excited Yet About the LHC’s Hint of a New Particle 

Earlier this week, physicists at the Large Hadron Collider announced they’d found tantalizing traces of a possible new fundamental particle — perhaps a heavier cousin of the Higgs boson, or the elusive graviton, a quantum carrier of the force of gravity.

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Jennifer Ouellette

December 17th

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Why Algae Could Be the Greatest—and Trickiest—Fuel Source of All

From powering airplanes to replacing nuclear energy , algae has been touted as a green energy miracle. So if our waterways are already filled with the stuff, why isn’t it filling the world’s skies with biofueled planes? Algae is a tricky creature that presents a lot of challenges and misconceptions. Here’s why it’s difficult to harness—and why it could big a big payoff.

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Bryan Lufkin

December 8th

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Why Twitter Can and Will Make GIFs Disappear

You may have heard that Deadspin’s GIFs disappeared from Twitter. And then Deadspin disappeared from Twitter . And then Deadspin reappeared on Twitter. It all seems insane, except all of it was a pretty standard blunt-force application of copyright law on the internet. The only unusual part was that Deadspin was able to fight back.

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October 14th

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Is War Becoming More Humane?

Devices like laser-guided bombs and nonlethal weapons have the potential to reduce civilian casualties and wanton suffering. But as these new technologies emerge, are humans actually becoming more ethical about waging war, or is killing just becoming easier?

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George Dvorsky

October 13th

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Forty Years Ago, America’s Farms Completely Changed Their Shape—And No One Noticed

Do you think you know what a cornfield looks like? You don’t know what a cornfield looks like.

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Ria Misra

October 7th

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This Year the Medicine Nobel Prize Went to a Pair of Parasite Poisons

The 2015 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine just went to three scientists who found parasite-killing chemicals that are now important tools for fighting human diseases. But the chemicals in question weren’t created in a lab: one is produced naturally by a bacterium, the other by a plant used in a traditional Chinese herbal recipe dating back 1000 years.

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Diane Kelly

October 5th

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When Bears Go To Rehab

Every year, hundreds of black, brown and even polar bears are successfully rehabilitated from their addiction to human-reliant food sources and released back into the wild. How does bear rehab work?

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September 11th

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Zuck Is Having a Baby, But What About That Adorable Dog?

Congratulations have been pouring in ever since Mark Zuckerberg posted (on Facebook, of course) that he and his wife Priscilla Chan are expecting a daughter in a few months. It’s wonderful and all (mazel tov, you two!), but most people took a look at their photo and wondered, is that a dog—or a mop?

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Diane Kelly

July 31st

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A Beautiful Visual Explainer Will Help You Understand Machine Learning

Ever wondered what machine learning was and still failed to understand it no matter how much you read? Then this neat visual introduction to the topic should do just the trick.

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Jamie Condliffe

July 28th

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