NASA Finally Breaks the Budget

The ax finally fell today on NASA's human-spaceflight program. The space agency will no longer fulfill one of the roles it was originally created for: to carry astronauts into earth orbit.

Private Firms Are the Future of Space

In the early 1970s, Freeman Dyson wrote an essay comparing space travel to the colonization of the New World and the settlement of the American West. The subject was fanciful, but that didn't keep Dyson, an eminent physicist and writer for the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, from making a meticulous effort to quantify and compare the costs of these vastly different ventures.

Global Warming Is Out of Control

The last time world leaders talked about halting global warming, in Kyoto in 1997, they lacked a consensus. The U.S. Senate had spurned the talks by a vote of 95–0, eliminating any chance that the United States, then the world's biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, would take a leadership role.

Radical Ways to Cool the Planet

As forecasts for global temperatures grow increasingly dire, scientists are taking a serious look at an idea once considered crazy: reengineering the atmosphere.

Last Word: Craig Venter

In what may be remembered as the age of biology, Craig Venter is the field's pre-eminent innovator. He startled the world by making rapid strides towards sequencing the DNA of a human genome at Celera Genomics. (His well-publicized race with Francis Collins, president of the National Human Genome Research Institute, ended in a gentlemen's tie when the two scientists and President Bill Clinton heralded the project's completion in 2001.) Last week, Venter announced that his private institute had...

Biomarkers: 'I'm Pretty Optimistic'

The best way to attack cancers and other diseases is to be watchful for the earliest signs. That's why medical researchers are excited about the potential for diagnostic techniques involving proteins--workhorse molecules that carry out myriad tasks required to keep the human body functioning.

Do It Yourself, Robot

Christmas day 2003 was a gloomy time at the National Space Center in Leicester, England. Scientists waited all day for a signal from the European Space Agency's Beagle 2, announcing its successful landing on Mars, but no signal ever came.

Another Nuclear Dawn

The story of nuclear power seems to have begun and ended in the 20th century. First came the fireworks--two atom bombs that ended a world war and announced vast stores of energy in the fine structure of the atom.

Rediscovering America

Of all the stories people tell, the least grounded in fact tend to be those about origins. Only a few decades ago, Christopher Columbus was the discoverer of America and a hero of the second-grade classroom.

The End Of The Word As We Know It

It's never easy to plumb the reading habits of children, but teachers and parents perennially knock themselves out with worry over any sign of a decline. Among U.S. teenagers, reading skills haven't improved in high schools since 1999, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a standardized test.

RICHARD HOLBROOKE

News of the devastation caused by aids has been a steady drumbeat for decades now, and it keeps getting louder. The New York-based Council on Foreign Relations recently reported that 39 million people are expected to die of the disease in the next five or 10 years, and warns that some countries may find themselves unable to perform basic functions of governance.

PEOPLE PROBLEMS

In the 1950s, astronomer Fred Whipple theorized that comets were made of ice, with some rocks and dirt mixed in, and that their trademark long tails were made of vapor created by the sun's heat.

ENERGY: FINALLY ON THE WAY IN FRANCE? IT'S FUSION

Fusion energy wasn't new back in 1972, when physicist Robert Goldston first arrived at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory as a graduate student. His colleagues were ecstatic over generating one tenth of a watt of electricity for one hundredth of a second--enough to make a light bulb flicker. "We thought that was so amazing," he says, "we held a big party."More than three decades later, the celebrations are still going on, but no bulbs are lit.

INVESTING IN GREEN

The recent re-discovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker, long thought to have gone extinct, was a rare bit of good news in an otherwise gloomy time for conservationists.

NOTES FROM A GENIUS

Richard Feynman was a particularly American sort of genius. He was born in 1918 into a middle-class Jewish family and grew up in, of all places, Far Rockaway, Queens, an outer borough of New York City.

TRUE TEAMWORK

President George W. Bush has won plaudits for the diversity of his cabinet officials, most notably when he promoted Condoleezza Rice, an African-American woman, to secretary of State in his second term.

The Truth About Gender

When it comes to gender differences, everybody's an expert. But George Lazarus is a bit more expert than most. Although he doesn't study the subject formally, as a pediatrician in New York City he sees a lot of children, who are, after all, far better than adults at expressing their essential natures.

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