Inspecting nuclear warheads like they were passwords

Nuclear weapon inspectors have a weighty but tricky job. An inspecting state relies on them to verify if a weapon is a nuclear warhead, but the state whose weapons are being inspected doesn't want to divulge too much information about the weapon's design or performance. As David Cliff, a researcher at the Verification Research, Training and Information Center, …

Did Facebook cheat us?

No. There were some good arguments on this topic, swinging between aesthetic rebuttals to logical deconstructions. Here are four I liked: 1. Tal Yarkoni, Director of the Psychoinformatics Lab at University of Texas, Austin, writes on his blog, "... it's worth keeping in mind that there's nothing intrinsically evil about the idea that large corporations might be trying …

Science Quiz – June 30, 2014

Every week, I create a science quiz for The Hindu newspaper's In School product. It consists of 10 questions and only developments from the week preceding its day of publication (Monday). The answers are at the end. A team of Scottish scientists announced the discovery of the world's oldest animal-built _____ in Africa in the week of June 23. According to …

Looking for life? Look for pollution.

Four-thousand years on Earth and we've a lot of dirt to show for it. Why would an advanced alien civilization be any different? That's the motivation that three astrophysicists from Harvard University have used to determine that powerful telescopes could look for signs of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in alien atmospheres as signs of alien civilization. "If the civilization reaches …

Spitzer has helped choose a near-Earth object the A.R.M. could bring nearer

From its perch up in space, Spitzer can use its heat-sensitive infrared vision to spy asteroids and get better estimates of their sizes. This is what the author of a study that appeared in Astrophysical Journal Letters on June 19 said in a NASA press release about the space telescope. The Spitzer was used by …