The questions that kids ask about science aren’t always easy to answer. Sometimes, their little brains can lead to big places that adults forget to explore. That is what inspired our series Science Question From A Toddler, which uses kids’ curiosity as a jumping-off point to investigate the scientific wonders that adults don’t even think to ask about. The answers are for adults, but they wouldn’t be possible without the wonder that only a child can bring. I want the toddlers in your life to be a part of it! Send me their science questions, and they may serve as the inspiration for a column. And now, our “toddler” …
Today, a black hole observed … tomorrow, a pothole avoided?
At the end of February, a team of researchers submitted a paper to the medical journal The Lancet that predicted the top 25 U.S. counties most at risk for measles in 2019. Now, almost halfway through what is on track to be the nation’s worst year for measles outbreaks since 1992, their study is looking rather prescient. Of the counties named in the paper, published in May, 14 have had cases of measles. At least 12 counties on the list are adjacent to counties that have ended up with measles cases this year. This includes two of the counties in the largest ongoing outbreak: Nearly 500 confirmed cases in Queens and Kings counties, New York.
Presidential hopeful Andrew Yang is famous for his plan to implement a universal basic income to help Americans who lose their jobs to robots. And that isn’t the only place tech innovation takes center stage in his platform. He also advocates that your online data be treated as personal property that you can choose (or not) to sell to companies like Facebook. In a Yang presidency, election results would be verified through blockchain (an encryption system best known for shoring up cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin), quantum computing research would be better funded, and a Legion of Builders and Destroyers would have the power to overrule local zoning and land-use decisions for the greater infrastructure good. He is definitely the only presidential candidate talking seriously about fighting climate change with giant space mirrors.
The Midwest has been drenched by rain and beset by floods. California is bracing for wildfires after several years of record-breaking burns. Hurricane season is just getting into gear in the Atlantic Ocean, which has been hit by more storms than usual over the past three years, and those storms have been above-average in intensity. Heat waves have been increasing across the country for decades. Just last weekend, New Yorkers were being warned to use less air conditioning to prevent blackouts — and to charge their phones for when the blackouts would inevitably happen.
In early April, a paleontology graduate student, Robert DePalma, published a major find in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and hyped the discovery in The New Yorker. Locked in layers of North Dakota rock, he had found an impressive collection of ancient fish, microorganisms and plants that date to the same time period as the infamous global extinction event that killed the dinosaurs. That extinction is widely believed to have been caused by an asteroid impact, and DePalma’s site seems to offer further evidence supporting that theory.
We’re launching a new column, Climate Questions From A Grown-Up, and we need your help to make it happen.
The Affordable Care Act gave Amy McKay a chance to do something she never thought would be possible. It had nothing to do with her health care. The only pre-existing condition McKay was worried about was metaphorical, an infection colonizing the body of the federal government.
Biometrics have emerged in consumer electronics as an alternative to passwords, but security experts warn that they also bring new privacy risks.