“This is as close to flying an actual space mission as you can probably get without being an astronaut,” says Ron Franco, an American Airlines pilot and a retired U.S. Air Force colonel. In 2016, he volunteered for NASA’s Human Exploration Research Analog as part of a four-person, 30-day, simulated mission to the asteroid Geographos….
My latest in Smithsonian Air & Space
The tallest island mountain in the world is Hawaii’s Mauna Kea, where the thin atmosphere and absence of light pollution create some of the best observing conditions for astronomers. At the summit, 13 telescopes sit along a ridge of formations that have built up around volcanic vents.
Creating Corals that can Survive Climate Change
See my Washington Post story on Ruth Gates and her research on the assisted evolution of coral in the latest @PostHealthSci
Seven Thousand Kilometers on No Gas! After their longest leg, the sun-powered Solar Impulse crew tells how they did it.
Can Hawaii Feed Itself?
Richard Ha and I climb into the cab of his big pickup and drive up the mountain. I’ve come to Hamakua Springs, Ha’s 600-acre farm in Pepeekeo on the Big Island, to help see the future of Hawaii agriculture. Ha is a resourceful and outspoken farmer, and I want to hear his views on the…
The Next Wonder Drug
For centuries, people around the world knew that chewing on the bark of certain willow trees could ease the pain of a toothache or a migraine. By the mid-19th century, scientists in France and Germany had isolated the chemical, salicylic acid, responsible for willow bark’s analgesic and anti-inflammatory qualities, but it proved too harsh on…
The Hidden Ocean Patch that Broke Climate Records
Check out my climate change story in Nautilus: http://nautil.us/issue/23/dominoes/the-hidden-ocean-patch-that-broke-climate-records
Tasty Mutants: The History of the Triploid Oyster
Check out my latest at The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/09/todays-oysters-are-mutants/380858/
Hibiscus and the Ghosts of Hawaii Past
The other day, I was scrolling absently through the abstracts in a recent issue of Pacific Science, when a paper by Hiroshi Kudoh made me do a double-take. Its subject was the typically modest question of modern evolutionary biology: how to explain the loss of seed buoyancy in Hibiscus glaber, a species of hibiscus found…
Hawaii: The Most Isolated Archipelago?
It’s one of those things we say: “The Hawaiian Islands are the most remote landmass on earth.” The truth, as usual, is more complicated than that. First, let’s deal with the simplest facts. The Hawaiian Islands, by virtue of being an archipelago, many parts of which are actually within eyesight of one another, simply cannot…