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The Arctic Is Losing an Alarming Amount of Snow

August 19, 2014 There was once a time when the Arctic rocked a full, glorious coat of snow. But the region has lately experienced a bout of icy balding, losing as much as half the depth of snow that usually accumulates on sea ice during the spring. Arctic snow helps protect the underlying ...

Help Science Identify a Kajillion Astronaut Photos of Cities

August 15, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Want to do a small part to help world science, or just pretend you're an astronaut (wheee!) zooming above Earth at 17,500 mph? Then pound some Tang and head on over to "Cities at Night," an ambitious crowdsourcing effort to sift through an immense mountain of photos shot from space. ...

Brooklyn Wins New York's (Literal) Rat Race

August 13, 2014 If there was ever a data visualization that could make the skin crawl, it's this one: a history of 311 calls that shows the sewer rat's complete dominance over New York. Put together from city data by the folks at MIT's "You Are Here" project, the verminous viz contains 38,163 ...

Baltimore Gets a Giant Bus Stop Shaped Like the Word 'Bus'

August 11, 2014 For the easily confused, here's a bus stop that couldn't be clearer about what it is in letters measuring 14 feet tall and 7 feet wide. The extremely literal "BUS STOP" went up in mid-July in Baltimore's Highlandtown neighborhood next to the headquarters of the Creative Alliance, the nonprofit group ...

The U.S. Cities With the Worst Climate Change-Related Flooding

July 29, 2014 What's the most pernicious climate-change threat facing the U.S. in the years to come? It might not be lung-scorching air pollution, less-nutritious crops, or super-fueled wildfires, but rising sea levels repeatedly swamping coastal cities, according to a new NOAA report. The number of "nuisance flooding" days in the U.S. has ...

Where to View This Weekend's East Coast Rocket Launch

July 11, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow NASA's Cygnus cargo spacecraft has the crucial duty of delivering thousands of pounds of supplies to the International Space Station. But first it has to get into the air, and to that end the space agency has stuck it inside a rocket that will blast off spectacularly on Sunday afternoon*. ...

Smartphone Junkies Report Higher Job Satisfaction

July 8, 2014 Next time the boss catches you playing games on your phone, try this one out: "Candy Crush is helping boost my workplace performance." It wouldn't be a total lie because—and you can thank me later for finding this excuse to burn company time—research has linked frequent phone breaks with being ...

Wind Turbines Can Act Like Big Magnets for Lightning

February 24, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow There are many surprising things about wind turbines: the way they can morph into immense fireballs, their ability to fly, the huge number of bats they kill. Perhaps it's not so astonishing, then, to learn that they can act like giant lightning-firing machine guns, too. Turbines's hidden lives as lightning ...

Japan's Drivers Must Obey Traffic Robots

January 27, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Do American drivers know the extent to which they're being deprived, signage-wise? When motorists enter a construction zone in this country, they'll likely to run into a bunch of orange signs or, at the flashiest, a glowing arrow like this one: (@neotsn / Flickr) It's fine enough if the goal ...

Here's a List of Data Centers the NSA Is (Probably) Spying On

October 2, 2013 The U.S. government may have shut down, but you know its vast spying apparatus is working hard. And what might it be doing right now? Penetrating private Facebook accounts? Slipping Trojan horses into computers at The Guardian? Ordinary citizens might never know what their government is up to security-wise, but ...