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What sequestration would do to the country's science budgets

September 17, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Last August, to end the bitter debt ceiling crisis that led to a downgraded U.S. credit rating and a deeper decline in Americans' esteem for their leaders, President Obama signed into law the Budget Control Act of 2011. The legislation -- a stopgap measure meant to allow the country to...

Swabbing and hoping: How NASA keeps germs from colonizing Mars

September 11, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow In 1967, the United States joined the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union in signing the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies. The agreement, more casually known as the "Outer Space Treaty," remains...

The World Wide Web, by the numbers

September 5, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Tim Berners-Lee's vision for the World Wide Web was predicated on two core ideas: universality and connectivity. But now that the web has been around for a generation -- and, you know, changed the world, revolutionized information, etc., etc. -- how has it actually been adopted? Is the web, its...

The Martian landscape, in wacky 3D

September 5, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The surface of Mars has become, at this point, one of the most photographed celebrities in the world. Via its dedicated paparazzo, the Curiosity rover, the Red Planet has been depicted as, variously, black-and-white blobs; high-def images, in striking color; panoramas; interactive panoramas; pseudo-Instagrams; and cheeky GIFs. Thanks to Curiosity...

President Obama's Reddit AMA: The numbers are in, and they're huge

September 5, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow When President Obama took to Reddit for his "Ask Me Anything" session this week, he pretty much immediately brought down the site. Visitors trying to read the president's answers to questions posed by the Reddit community were, for a time, greeted with this: Reddit recovered, though, and was able to...

Apollo 11's astronauts received an $8 per diem for the mission to the moon

August 28, 2012 The astronauts of Apollo 11: Intrepid explorers. Inspirational heroes. Government employees. When it came to payment for the moonwalkers' work, it turns out, the last of these trumped the other ones. In his book Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth, Andrew Smith detailed the expense policies...

Curiosity takes its first drive, leaving Morse code on Mars

August 23, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow When the creators of Curiosity built the rover that would explore Mars, they gave its wheels special treads. The marks left by Curiosity's tires as they tool through the dust of the Martian soil won't just serve as visual odometry markers, allowing Curiosity's engineers to determine the rover's orientation and...

The Wikipedia edit wars begin on Ryan's page

August 13, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow In high school, Paul Ryan's classmates voted him as his class's "biggest 'brown noser.'" This little tidbit is a source of delight for political opponents of the Wisconsin representative-turned-Romney-running mate; to his supporters, in general, it's an irrelevant piece of youthful trivia. But it's also a tension that will play...

Google keeps paying deceased employees' families for a decade

August 10, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Many of the perks Google famously offers its employees are designed to help those employees enjoy a healthier life. Organic food in the cafeteria! On-site gyms! Subsidized massages! Nap rooms! Turns out, though, that the company also wants its employees to enjoy a better death. More specifically: a wealthier death....

Shots all around! The World Wide Web is now old enough to drink

August 8, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Twenty-one years ago, Tim Berners-Lee published the first webpage. Web page, in the parlance of the time. This was part of a project Berners-Lee had embarked on while working at CERN, and it really was just a project: a protocol for linking documents via hypertext, one effort among many that...

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