This Friday, an object that scientists have been carefully tracking for some time now, dubbed WT1190F, will enter the earth's atmosphere in the skies above the Indian Ocean. Given its size and unusual orbit, scientists believe it's an old piece of space junk, perhaps even a spent rocket or a panel from one of the Apollo spacecraft. WT1190F is not alone up there. It turns out that space is a veritable junkyard.
There’s this fascinating, kind of haunting video from 1970 that you can watch on YouTube, in which Edwin Land — chemist, inventor, inspiration to Steve Jobs, and co-founder of Polaroid Corp. — walks through a half-built factory in Norwood where he planned to change the world.
It’s a quiet Tuesday evening in the Cambridge Center Roof Garden in Kendall Square. The sun sets low in the sky, and all is peaceful. One by one, a small group gathers, bringing their own dark cloud of stress and frustration.
When you spend a few hours in a cab with Jim Christie, like I recently did, you learn one thing pretty quickly. He sees almost everything, from how many other taxis are in the vicinity to potential fares lurking in the shadows to a quicker path opening up amidst a swell of traffic.
Christie's keen vision makes perfect sense. After all, when he started driving a cab, Kevin White was in his first term as mayor; John Havelicek was in his prime with the Celtics.
"It was back in the day when we still had uniforms," said Christie, "Waist jacket with a tie and a taxi hat."
Frederick Douglass’ story began like millions of other Americans, millions too many.
Douglass’ life is much the same as many enslaved people. As one of the great abolitionist women said, “animals, horses are treated better than enslaved people.”
That’s Beverly Morgan Welch, executive director of the Museum of African American History. Born in Maryland, Douglass was taken from his mother as an infant, and then from his grandmother as a young boy.
The story of Massachusetts as we know it today began with a group of religious separatists known as the Pilgrims and their ship, the Mayflower — but their story is not exactly the one you learned in school.
We, of course, live in color. But the world that early Hollywood presented was almost exclusively black and white. Chelsea-born Herbert Kalmus, his college buddy Daniel Comstock and gadget guru Burton Westcott wanted to change that. So in 1915 they launched a company, Technicolor, to do just that.
"Kalmus and Comstock went to MIT — Massachusetts Institute of Technology — and that’s where the term 'tech' comes from in Technicolor," said film producer Richard W. Haines, author of "Technicolor Movies: The History of Dye Transfer Printing."
Speculation ran wild in the days following that Rhode Island beach explosion, and one of the early theories posed that it might have been an old military munition buried in the sand. But just how likely is it that unexploded military artillery would be found on a New England beach?
Nauset Beach on Cape Cod is known for its excellent bass and blues fishing. It's known to surfers as a real destination, and to off-road-vehicle enthusiasts as one of the beaches where — with a permit — you can cruise. Less known are the dramatic events that took place on this 10-mile stretch of coast in the summer of 1918.
When I asked Scott Kenyon about his reaction to the news that New Horizons had actually flown by Pluto, his answer wasn't that different from those of the myriad of people I've chatted with about it, from scientists to educators to regular Janes and Joes.
UPDATE 7/14/15: Looks like we made it. Shortly before 8 a.m. EDT, nine years, five months and 25 days after NASA's New Horizons blasted off the surface of the Earth, it whizzed past Pluto at about 7 miles per second. At least we think it did.
As is the plan, New Horizons is out of contact with the ground while it does its job, snapping photos and completing a whole host of measurements some 3 billion miles away. Scientists are anxiously awaiting their next contact with the craft, scheduled for shortly before 9 p.m. EDT, when New Horizons is expected to signal scientists that the flyby has been successfully completed and begin transmitting data back.
Richard Binzel, an MIT planetary sciences professor who is on the New Horizons science team, sent WGBH News this statement Tuesday morning by email, shortly after New Horizons began its Pluto flyby:
Breathtaking! There is such a richness in the differences in color and textures on the surface of Pluto that we are going to be challenged for years to come to reach some explanations. For now, it’s a brief celebration and then back to our science team work.
And how's the mood at the science team's operations center this morning? Here's Binzel and few of his fellow New Horizons scientists:
What they're reacting to is the best photo yet of the dwarf planet (top), taken late Monday night by New Horizons from about 476,000 miles away and released this morning by NASA. It's just a tease of what's to come. New Horizons' flyby takes it just 7,000 miles from Pluto's surface. Keep in mind, while the photos and data will start coming in this evening, it will take 16 months for New Horizons to transmit the full treasure trove back to scientists here on the ground.
Original story: After a journey that has lasted the better part of a decade, the answer to "are we there yet" is finally “yes,” for NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. After a brief glitch over the weekend, all systems are once again go for an historic encounter, 3 billion miles from Earth.
Lots of people came through Back Bay station here in Boston on July 11, 1914. And, likely, even a few of them stood 6-foot-2 at 215 pounds. But only one would rise to the heights of the 19-year-old who arrived from Baltimore that day.
"The end of the institution, maintenance, and administration of government, is to secure the existence of the body politic" — so begins the preamble to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
About 50 people were gathered just after noon Tuesday, right where folks often gather at South Station: near the big electronic board listing departures and arrivals. Only no one was looking at the board. All eyes – and plenty of cell phones – were pointed squarely below it. Why?
The question of whether Boston Police should carry electronic control weapons, commonly known by the brand name Taser, has been renewed after the police shooting earlier this month of Usaamah Rahim in Roslindale.
The thing you notice after a few minutes talking with Dave Celino, chief fire warden for the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, is that what you or I might call "brush," or "woods," or "forest," he calls "fuel."
"Fuel diameter, fuel type, fuel moisture, fine fuels — there are categories of fuel," Celino said.
When you get to know a little about his work, you start to understand why.