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Alexis Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is a staff writer for The Atlantic.
Results 81-90 of 121

Operation Acoustic Kitty: The CIA's Would-Be Cat Spy

May 9, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow You see, cats are sly and unpredictable. They can slip unnoticed from place to place, watching, listening, wryly judging, surveilling. So, why wouldn't the Central Intelligence Agency stick a microphone in a cat's ear and embed a radio transmitter in her body? Oh, but they would! In an excerpt from...

The Hordes of Microbes Inside Your Body Are Your Friends

April 26, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow As tools for engineering life’s building blocks have proliferated in recent years, our definition of human life has become more expansive. For example,we are learning that the vast ecosystems of microbes inside our bodies are as integral to our health as our own tissues, affecting everything from our immune systems...

NASA Announces the Discovery of the Most Interesting Planetary System Outside Our Own

April 18, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The Kepler Space Telescope has been in orbit looking for planets around other stars since 2009, and it's started to find some startlingly interesting solar systems out there. Today, the Kepler team announced the discovery of star system Kepler 62, a group of five planets circling a red star, two...

Hey Reddit, Enough Boston Bombing Vigilantism

April 18, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow If there's one thing we want to believe about the Boston bombing, it's that someone saw the perpetrator. Somewhere, inside an iPhone or on a memory chip, there's an image of the terrorist(s). The video would serve as evidence at a trial, and it would calm the queasy feeling that...

The SSA Employee Behind All the Great Data on Baby Name Popularity

April 16, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Every year, the Social Security Administration releases its annual list of the most popular names in America. They've become a valuable source of data for researchers, as Ruth Graham brilliantly laid out in the Boston Globe this weekend. The best thing about name data is that it is the perfect...

How Boston Police Could Examine Videos From the Boston Bombing

April 15, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow As investigators try to figure out what happened today during the bombings at the Boston Marathon, they'll turn to video taken at the scene of the explosions. In addition to any closed-circuit television cameras lining Boylston Street and its surroundings, The Bureau Chief of Public Information, Cheryl Fiandaca, called for...

Cell Networks Use Much More Energy Than Data Centers

April 15, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow For years, people have talked about the electricity consumption of data centers. Some people want to believe, somehow, that Googling is energy intensive. But it's not. Thanks to Koomey's Corollary to Moore's Law, computation has been getting more energy efficient: The number of computations per kilowatt-hour of electricity usage has...

Emerging Infectious Diseases, Better Public Health Outcomes, and Zombies

April 5, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Perhaps the public's obsession with zombies can be refracted from horror movies and towards health issues, suggests a new paper in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. The hope is that zombies can do for public health awareness what they did for Jane Austen: tack on some zombies and suddenly boring...

The True Story of the Government Programs That Tried to Build an Atomic Heart

March 22, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow In 1967, the National Heart Institute and the Atomic Energy Agency began a ten-year effort to develop an artificial heart powered by plutonium-238. The atomic hearts would have pumped human blood with the energy provided by the radioactive decay of that isotope. The effort failed thanks to technical challenges, intra-governmental...

The Best Intelligence Is Cyborg Intelligence

March 12, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow A quick pointer to today's A1 New York Times story on a phenomenon we've been following on this blog for the past year: as algorithmic entities explode across the web, humans remain central to their operation. Automation only goes so far and for all Watson's Jeopardy wins, there are still...