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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 ...

These Massive Data Facilities Could Be Targets of Government Spying

October 2, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow 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 ...

What World Governments Are Most Likely to Snoop on Your Facebook?

September 27, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Want to avoid the government prying into your Facebook? Then move to Barbados. There, tens of thousands of years will roll by before you even reach a 1 percent probability the Man will scoop private data from your account. That's according to an occasionally anxiety-provoking map of Facebook security created ...

Here's Where You're Most Likely to Die From Air Pollution

September 19, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Where on earth are you most likely to die early from air pollution? NASA provides the answer with this mortally serious view of the planet, and it is: lots of places. Like tar stains on a healthy lung, the sickly yellow and brown areas in this visualization represent regions with ...

This Robot Army Is Obsessed With Random Acts of Kindness

September 17, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Cylons will shoot you with implanted machine guns. A Terminator T-1000 might spear you through the brain with a molten fist. Being the big, lumbering robots they are, a Decepticon will probably run you down like a bulldozer operator sucking on a fifth of Old Grand-Dad. So what's the lethal ...

Biofuel Researchers See Promise in Panda Dung

September 13, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Pandas are stupid. They are amazingly bad at sex. They're fat, lazy, and poop way too much – up to 40 times a day. Well, guess what, panda haters: In regard to that last point, panda dung could be the very thing that saves civilization from wars, famines, and doom. ...

NASA's Satellites Are Watching the Rim Fire Creep Into Yosemite

August 28, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Viewed from 512 miles above, California's rampaging Rim Fire looks kind of like a classy cigarette ad, with a glowing ember giving off light wisps of smoke. That's deceptive. The largely uncontrolled inferno is now the seventh largest wildfire on record in the state, threatening thousands of buildings and burning ...

All the Hurricanes of the Past 170 Years, Mapped

August 26, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Should you pilot a small, rickety craft across international waters this summer, it would be wise to consult this unusual map of foul ocean weather. The gusty cartography plots the paths all the tropical cyclones recorded in the past 170 years. Brighter areas show where they have overlapped in space, ...