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A Little Ship Just Saved the International Space Station

November 7, 2014 In a week that seems to be at least partially dedicated to space movies, the International Space Station—and the six very real humans living within its confines—just had a Hollywood-worthy moment. In late October, the European Space Agency reports, the orbiting lab was threatened with a collision by space junk,...

Wait, Why Another 'Czar'?

October 20, 2014 Ron Klain may be the nation's first "Ebola czar," but he certainly won't be the first czar to take power in the United States. American democracy has, over the years, proven quite eager to appoint "czars" (or, if you prefer, "tsars"). Here is a list of America's czars, from the...

Why Presidents Are Also Celebrities

September 18, 2014 In October of 1912, as he was leaving Milwaukee’s Gilpatrick Hotel to deliver a speech at the city’s auditorium, Theodore Roosevelt was shot in the chest. He was campaigning at the time for a third party and third term in the White House; John Schrank, an unemployed saloonkeeper, blamed TR...

Brain Drain Is Threatening the Future of U.S. Robotics

June 30, 2014 ASPEN, Colo.—Should the U.S. establish a new federal agency to regulate robots? Here's one potential problem with that proposal—one that has very little to do with the law, and very much to do with technology: "The government has virtually no experts on the inside that understand autonomous robotic systems." That's...

We're Not Ready for a Federal Robotics Department

June 30, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Should the U.S. establish a new federal agency to regulate robots? Here's one potential problem with that proposal—one that has very little to do with the law, and very much to do with technology: "The government has virtually no experts on the inside that understand autonomous robotic systems." That's according...

At This School, You Can Check Out Drones Like Library Books

June 24, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The University of South Florida recently received a grant to expand its "Digital Media Commons"—part of a broader effort to remodel the school's facilities with new technologies. After a year applying that grant money, however, something crazy happened: The Tampa-based university found itself with leftover funds. So it decided to...

'Why-Fi' or 'Wiffy'? How Americans Pronounce Common Tech Terms

June 23, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Okay, once and for all: Is it "gif" or "jif"? EBay Deals, which runs a blog, decided to find out. Its team surveyed 1,100 people—U.S. residents, ranging in age from 18 to 45—asking them about the terms they use to describe some of the most common objects and actions of...

One Closed API at a Time, the Era of the Open Web May Be Waning

June 17, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow On Friday, Netflix's VP of edge engineering, Daniel Jacobson, sent the following letter to the service's third-party developers: Netflix API Developers, As Netflix continues to grow internationally, the emphasis of our engineering efforts is to satisfy a growing member base and a growing number of devices. To better focus our...

Tetris Turns 30

June 6, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow On June 6, 1984, the computer engineer Alexey Pajitnov launched the side project he'd been working on at Moscow's Academy of Science of the USSR: a simple video game—an almost ridiculously simple video game—he called Tetris. In short order, his creation would be called "by far, the most addictive game...

We're Now Putting Ads on the Moon

May 16, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Here is a partial list of the trash that humans have left on the moon: more than 70 spacecraft, including rovers, modules, and crashed orbiters; 12 pairs of boots; 2 golf balls; an assortment of empty packages of space food; TV cameras; various hammers, tongs, rakes, and shovels; backpacks; insulating...

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