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Good for science, bad for your nightmares: Moths that drive robots

February 6, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow A group of silkworm moths, coached by researchers at the University of Tokyo, just took a driving test. Instead of their moms' old minivans, however, they were given another machine: a robot. The idea of all this wasn't so much to test the robomoths' driving capabilities -- moths are notoriously...

What Does the Sun Sound Like?

January 30, 2013 Robert Alexander is a data sonification specialist, which means that his job is, essentially, to convert data into sounds. Alexander takes collections of flat, static numbers -- stock price variations, wind speeds, human pulse rates -- and transforms them into music. "I think of myself as an explorer," Alexander says...

Here is the robot that will extract water from the moon

January 30, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow One of the biggest challenges of space travel has very little to do with the traveling itself, and more to do with everything that happens afterward. How will humans sustain themselves if we send them back to the moon (and, as planned, to Mars)? Food, even freeze-dried, is heavy. Water,...

Hillary Clinton traveled 956,733 miles during her time as Secretary of State

January 30, 2013 Hillary Clinton was many things as Secretary of State. One of the most notable, however, was "well-traveled." During her four years as the nation's top diplomat -- and particularly during her final year in that post -- Clinton fashioned herself as something of a George Clooney of global affairs, spending...

Women in combat: An idea whose time has come, aided by technology

January 25, 2013 "Women," Time magazine wrote last year, "are not small men." This is ... true. And yet for a long time, the military -- an organization that operates under the core auspices of pragmatic conformity -- sort of ignored its truth. Martial technologies -- uniforms, weapons, vehicles -- have tended to...

TSA has ended its contract with controversial scanner maker Rapiscan

January 18, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Here's the latest in the long, strange, often frustrating saga of airport security scanners: The Transportation Security Administration has ended a contract with Rapiscan, the manufacturer of the controversial backscatter screener. The reason, per the TSA? It wasn't that the machines subjected consumers to objectionably high levels of radiation --...

Cannonballs, samurai swords, chastity belts: Items found at TSA checkpoints in 2012

January 14, 2013 The Transportation Safety Administration is not merely a government agency. It is also a kind of real-time library, tracking the human folly that plays out at some of the human folly-est places there are: airports. Now, the TSA has released information from a year's worth of checkpoint-monitoring ... and the...

You Probably Write a Novel's Worth of Email Every Year

January 9, 2013 So we know that the average worker spends 13 hours a week -- 28 percent of office time -- on email. Which multiplies out to (eek) 650 hours a year. But what does that time investment look like as physical -- well, "physical" -- output? How does it amass as...

The age of surgical censorship

January 8, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Iran, to put it mildly, has a tense relationship with the Internet -- some evidence of the acrimony being the many attempts the country has made to curtail its citizens' use of social media. In May, its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a fatwa against anti-filtering tools that have...

The future of cybersecurity could be sitting in an office in New Jersey

January 7, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The Sans Institute was founded in 1989, and currently leads information-security training for military, government, and civilian officials -- sessions that tend to specialize, these days, in digital forensics and network penetration testing. For the past few years, SANS has been running computer simulation training games (the aptly named "NetWars")...