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Robinson Meyer

Robinson Meyer is an associate editor at The Atlantic, where he covers technology.
Results 1-10 of 32

Our Mars Orbiter Looked Down and Saw Our Mars Rover

April 18, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Right now, five human spacecrafts study Mars by hanging out near it. Two do it from the Martian surface—the Curiosity rover, which began its mission in 2012, and the more-than-a-decade-old Opportunity rover—and three do it while orbiting around the red planet. Earlier this month, one of those kinds of spacecraft ...

This Coder Is Running for Congress

April 11, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow New Jersey’s second district lies vast across its south. Atlantic City to the Delaware River, cranberry bogs and the Pine Barrens: Where the state’s other districts have been gerrymandered into twiddly bits, the second district seems large, substantial, and plausibly contiguous. Unlike the state’s Gotham-gorged north, south Jersey is known ...

Meet the Company That Built 'Cuban Twitter'

April 4, 2014 The United States discreetly supported the creation of a website and SMS service that was, basically, a Cuban version of Twitter, the Associated Press reported Thursday. ZunZuneo, as it was called, permitted Cubans to broadcast short text messages to each other. At its peak, ZunZuneo had 40,000 users. And what ...

Meet the Company That Secretly Built ‘Cuban Twitter'

April 4, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The United States discreetly supported the creation of a website and SMS service that was, basically, a Cuban version of Twitter, the Associated Press reported Thursday. ZunZuneo, as it was called, permitted Cubans to broadcast short text messages to each other. At its peak, ZunZuneo had 40,000 users. And what ...

This Is What a Facial-Detection Algorithm Looks Like in 3D

March 25, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Once the heady stuff of films like Minority Report, facial recognition algorithms are now a part of so many technologies that it’s hard to keep track of them. iPhones, iPhoto, and Facebook all try to detect bodies and faces with biometric software. Just last week, Facebook announced that its proprietary ...

The NASA Rocket That Hovers Like a Helicopter (But Could Land on Mars)

March 7, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Yesterday, a NASA test vehicle lifted off from the ground in Florida, flew freely through the air, and landed about 650 feet away. It landed, crucially, in the same position it launched—upright—and that makes it look kind of like a science fiction film. You can watch the awesome video below: ...

Why Facebook Just Spent $19 Billion on a Messaging App

February 20, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Late Wednesday, Facebook announced its purchase of WhatsApp for $16 billion. $4 billion in cash and $12 billion in Facebook stock were granted to the company, with an additional $3 billion worth of Facebook stock to come. WhatsApp makes a glorified texting app. It lets you send text and pictures ...

What It Looks Like When One Satellite Sees Another

February 14, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow There will be pictures at the end of this post. I promise. But first, there is a story. There aren’t many U.S. government programs—even space programs—like Landsat. Since the 1970s, the project’s satellites have continuously imaged the surface of the Earth, providing the longest-running archive of Earth observation photography. You’ve ...

Now You Can Track U.S. Drone Killings on an App

February 11, 2014 On Monday, the new publication First Look reported that electronically obtained metadata controls who, how, and when U.S. drones kill abroad. Journalists Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill write that that kind of information doesn’t only determine who is killed: Metadata on phone SIM cards determines how victims of the strikes ...

2 Spiffy—and Privately Owned—New Cameras Were Installed on the International Space Station Today

January 28, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Two cameras have been installed on the International Space Station (ISS), according to NASA representatives on a live webcast. The two devices—a high-resolution video camera and a medium-resolution still camera—are operated by the Canadian firm Urthecast (pronounced Earth-cast). The first such cameras on the ISS, they will capture imagery of ...