Originally published on Mon September 3, 2012 6:06 pm
The astronomer in me will tell you that summer officially ends on Sept. 22. That's the date of the Autumnal Equinox, the point in Earth's orbit where the hours of day and night are equal. That definition is fine for a scientific understanding of the cosmos, but when it comes to experience, we all know that summer really ends on Labor Day. And in that division between the ways we meter time (for science or business) and the way we actually live time, there is a Labor Day lesson we might keep close to our hearts all year long.
Originally published on Mon September 3, 2012 10:51 am
Times Square, New York, July 2012.
Credit Barbara J. King
Today The New York Times is running a nifty annotated list called "A History of New York in 50 Objects." Historians and museum curators chose for this project 50 objects that, to this anthropologist's eye, reflect the great significance of material culture in human life.
For each object listed, there's an interactive link.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. You've probably heard of your distant cousins the Neanderthals, but how about a more secretive member of the family tree, the Denisovans? Yeah, ring a bell? No? That's because traces of Denisovans are hard to come by.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY; I'm Ira Flatow. Five years ago this month, the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis collapsed, sending a full load of rush-hour traffic into the Mississippi River. The disaster injured nearly 150 people, killed 13. The bridge was literally falling apart.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY, I'm Ira Flatow. If you have a smartphone or a tablet, you might want to pay attention to this story because last week a jury in California reached a verdict in a major patent battle case between electronics makers Apple and Samsung, a fight over the way their mobile devices worked and looked.
Up next, the brains behind "Bones." If you go to the beach this weekend and check out what the other sunbathers are reading, there's a good chance you'll come across someone deep into a Temperance Brennan crime novel. Brennan is a forensic anthropologist, the person the police call when they find human remains that are, well, past their prime, if we say.
If you headed outside this Labor Day weekend, besides seeing that second blue moon of the month, just look up at the sky, would you believe that about half of those stars you see are actually two stars or more, the kind of double star system that's quite common? And this week, astronomers reported on the discovery of a planetary system orbiting such a binary star, two planets orbiting two suns. It's called Kepler-47 after the Kepler planet-hunting mission that spotted it.
On March 16, 1966, a potentially fatal problem gripped the Gemini 8 space capsule. Orbiting high above the Earth, it began spinning out of control. Spiraling towards unconsciousness and, perhaps, death, Neil Armstrong shut down the malfunctioning thrusters and wrestled Gemini back to stability. This was neither the first nor the last time that Neil Armstrong had escaped disaster. As an Naval pilot in Korea, he managed to guide a bullet-ridden aircraft, missing three feet of wing, back to friendly territory.