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June 24, 2019

Falcon Heavy rocket set to attempt SpaceX’s “most difficult launch ever”

The Falcon Heavy rocket is seen in its hangar in Florida before rollout to the launch pad. [credit: SpaceX ]

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket will attempt its most technically demanding mission yet on Monday night, with a rideshare flight organized by the U.S. Air Force. Company founder Elon Musk has characterized the mission as “Our most difficult launch ever.”

During this Space Test Program-2 flight, the world’s most powerful operational rocket will attempt to deliver 24 different payloads into three different orbits, resulting in [...]

 
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June 23, 2019

Immerse yourself in a key moment of Apollo history, courtesy of the BBC

Enlarge (credit: NASA)

With the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing fast approaching, there’s a veritable deluge of programs, events, and media of various forms, all dedicated to recapturing an astonishing moment in humanity’s collective history. All of these things face a serious challenge: the Apollo missions have been revisited so many times and from so many angles, it’s difficult to say anything truly new.

Go for the obvious points, and you’ll face telling a big chunk of your audience things they already knew. Aim for something truly novel, and there’s the risk that you’ll end up [...]

 
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June 23, 2019

It’s possible to build a Turing machine within Magic: The Gathering

Enlarge / Assemble just the right deck, and draw just the right cards, and you’ll get the equivalent of a universal Turing machine within the game, a new study finds. That makes it the most computationally complex real-world game yet known. (credit: Gordon Chibroski/Portland Press Herald/Getty Images)

Consider this hypothetical scenario: Bob and Alice are playing a game of Magic: The Gathering. It’s normal game play at first, as, say, Filigree robots from Kaladesh face off against werewolves and vampires from Innistrad. But then Alice draws just the right card from her customized deck, and suddenly Bob finds himself [...]

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June 22, 2019

Curiosity rover finds gas levels on Mars hinting at possibility of life

It’s easy to get jaded about potential signs of life on Mars, but a recent discovery might raise eyebrows. The New York Times has learned that NASA’s Curiosity rover has detected “startlingly high” levels of methane — the gas typically produced by l…
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