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Blog Archive for the ‘Long Term Science’ Category

Edge Question 02018

by Ahmed Kabil on February 7th, 02018

John Brockman. For the last twenty years, literary agent John Brockman has presented the members of his online salon Edge with a question that elicits discussion about some of the biggest intellectual and scientific issues of our time.(Previous prompts include “What scientific term or concept ought to be more widely known?” or “What should we be worried about?”). The essay responses — in…  Read More

Is the Bristlecone Pine in Peril? An Interview with Great Basin Scientist Scotty Strachan

by Ahmed Kabil on September 26th, 02017

Earlier this month, the bristlecone pine, one of the oldest and most isolated organisms on Earth, found itself in unfamiliar territory: in the headlines. News outlets such as the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post reported that the bristlecone pine was “in peril” and threatened by extinction due to a warming climate. The news came…  Read More

Cassini Ends, but the Search for Life in the Solar System Continues

by Ahmed Kabil on September 21st, 02017

On September 15 02017, the Cassini-Huygens probe, which spent the last 13 years of a 20-year space mission studying Saturn, plummeted as planned into the ringed planet’s atmosphere, catching fire and becoming a meteor. Farewell Cassini, how far you’ve come. On this eve, in fiery death, Saturn & you are one. VIP (Vaporize In Peace):…  Read More

Galloping, GIFs and Genes: Geneticists Store Moving Image in Living Bacteria

by Ahmed Kabil on August 22nd, 02017

In 01872, California Governor Leland Stanford hired the famed photographer Eadweard Muybridge to settle a question of popular debate—whether all four of a horse’s feet ever left the ground when it galloped. The resulting series of photographs, Sallie Gardner at a Gallop, showed without a doubt that horses do indeed go airborne at a full…  Read More

The Hermit Who Inadvertently Shaped Climate-Change Science

by Ahmed Kabil on July 6th, 02017

Billy Barr was just trying to get away from it all when he went to live at the base of Gothic Mountain in the Colorado wilderness in 1973. He wound up creating an invaluable historical record of climate change. His motivation for meticulously logging the changing temperatures, snow levels, weather, and wildlife sightings? Simple boredom. Now, the…  Read More

Göbekli Tepe and the Worst Day in History

by Ahmed Kabil on May 24th, 02017

Technological advances are revolutionizing the field of archaeology, resulting in new discoveries that are upending our previous understanding of the birth of civilization. Many scholars believe that few will be as consequential as Göbekli Tepe. The ruins of Göbekli Tepe. Photograph by Vincent J. Musi. IN 01963, anthropologists from the University of Chicago and the…  Read More

The Orrery at The Interval: An Invitation to Long-Term Thinking

by Ahmed Kabil on April 24th, 02017

As visitors to Fort Mason amble past The Interval, the Long Now Foundation’s cafe-bar-museum-venue space, some are drawn, as if by gravitational pull, to an unusual eight foot-tall stainless steel technological curiosity they glimpse through the glass doors. Metal gears sit stacked one on top of the other to form a tower, with geneva wheels jutting…  Read More

The Other 10,000 Year Project: Long-Term Thinking and Nuclear Waste

by Ahmed Kabil on March 16th, 02017

With half-lives ranging from 30 to 24,000, or even 16 million years , the radioactive elements in nuclear waste defy our typical operating time frames. The questions around nuclear waste storage — how to keep it safe from those who might wish to weaponize it, where to store it, by what methods, for how long,…  Read More

The 10,000-Year Geneaology of Myths

by Ahmed Kabil on February 8th, 02017

ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS SCENES in the Paleolithic cave paintings in Lascaux, France depicts a confrontation between a man and a bison. The bison appears fixed in place, stabbed by a spear. The man has a bird’s head and is lying prone on the ground. Scholars have long puzzled over the pictograph’s meaning, as…  Read More

Edge Question 02017

by Ahmed Kabil on January 20th, 02017

It’s been an annual tradition since 01998: with a new year comes a new Edge question. Every January, John Brockman presents the members of his online salon with a question that elicits discussion about some of the biggest intellectual and scientific issues of our time. Previous iterations have included prompts such as “What should we…  Read More

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