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What big space data looked like in 1962

December 14, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Throughout most of human history, humans knew Venus as "the brightest star in the sky." Fifty years ago, however -- December 14, 1962 -- humanity got to know our neighbor planet in a wonderfully new way: up close and personal. On that day, NASA's Mariner 2 spacecraft sailed by Venus, ...

How the UN's 'game-changing' Internet treaty failed

December 14, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Did you know that, for the past two weeks, the future of the Internet has been at stake? Yes, it has. Those two weeks hosted the World Conference on International Telecommunications(also hosted, technically, by Dubai). And they hosted, as well, a fairly dramatic face-off -- often between blocs led by ...

The Pope has tweeted

December 12, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Earlier this month, the Vatican revealed the Pope's official Twitter account, @pontifex -- an attempt to engage with, among other people, some of the more than a billion Catholics around the world. Early this morning, that account began tweeting. This was the pope's first tweet, which doubled as a digital ...

The state of intellectual property around the world

December 12, 2012 Economies are slowing across the globe. But inventors across the globe apparently didn't get that memo. Patent filings and grants have exploded in the past few years -- fueled, in particular, by innovations coming out of, and into, China. And fueled, as well, by new fields -- computer technologies, communications ...

The year in tech, 2012

December 11, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Technology changes year to year, phone to phone, quarter to quarter. Here at The Atlantic, we like to focus on how those changes happen, the ideas that animate them, the people that execute them, the users who transform them. The last year saw massive change in this broad definition of ...

Via the Moon, a theory of life on Mars

December 11, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Scientists care about the moon in part because it is the moon -- our moon. But they care about it, also, because its body is in some ways a proxy for our Earth's: Its surface, like ours, bears the scars of a long existence in our little corner of the ...

For lonely astronauts, a robotic companion

December 3, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow You know the only thing lonelier than Sgt. Pepper's Hearts Club Band, and the Heartbreak Hotel, and the number one? Being alone and also not on Earth. Space, for all its wonder, for all its provocations, for all its adventure, is an isolating place -- which is why behavioral screening ...

What's your country's risk of Internet blackout?

December 3, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow What happened in Syria this week -- a wholesale disconnection from the Internet -- could happen anywhere. But it's more likely to happen in some countries than others. The web services firm Renesys often analyzes that risk -- for, say, companies that are deciding which countries might make good hosts ...

How can there be water ice on Mercury, which is right next to the Sun?

November 30, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Curiosity may not have found organic matter -- YET -- on Mars. But NASA has made, this afternoon,another big announcement: ice. Yes! Water ice. On Mercury. The newly observed ice is located in the shadowed region of Mercury's north pole, and is thought to be, the AP reports, somewhere between ...

The Internet is down in Syria

November 29, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow A hefty -- and scary -- percentage of the Internet in Syria seems to be down at the moment. Per the global Internet monitor Renesys, "77 networks experienced an outage in Syria starting at 10:26 UTC on November 29. This represents 92% of the routed networks in the country." People ...