How a Thanksgiving Day gag ruffled feathers in Mission Control

Patrick
Enlarge / Flight Director James M. (Milt) Heflin, in Mission Control during the flight of STS-26 in 1988.

NASA

The phone call from the “Mountain” to Mission Control in Houston came at just about the worst possible time. It was the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning in 1991. Up in space, the crew members on board space shuttle Atlantis were sleeping. Now all of a sudden, Lead Flight Director Milt Heflin faced a crisis.

The flight dynamics officer in Mission Control informed Heflin that the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, which tracked orbital traffic, had called to warn that a

Review: Synchronic is a time-bending slow burn of a sci-fi thriller

Patrick

Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan star as New Orleans paramedics who encounter a series of bizarre, gruesome accidents in the sci-fi thriller Synchronic.

Chances are you missed Synchronic, the latest sci-fi film written and directed by indie filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, when it was released in limited theaters and drive-ins last month. Not only were many theaters still shut down because of the pandemic, the filmmakers themselves made the unusual move of warning potential viewers (via Instagram) of the health risks associated with indoor movie theaters. (“We personally wouldn’t go to an indoor theater, so we

Why are nuclear plants so expensive? Safety’s only part of the story

Patrick

Should any discussion of nuclear power go on for long enough, it becomes inevitable that someone will rant that the only reason they’ve become unaffordable is a proliferation of safety regulations. The argument is rarely (if ever) fleshed out—no specific regulation is ever identified as problematic, and there seems to be no consideration given to the fact that we might have learned something at, say, Fukushima that might merit addressing through regulations.

But there’s now a paper out that provides some empirical evidence that safety changes have contributed to the cost of building new nuclear reactors. But the study also

iFixit teardown of M1 MacBooks gives us our first glimpse at the M1 up close

Patrick

As expected, iFixit has done a teardown of two of Apple’s three new M1-based Macs: the MacBook Air and the 2-port, 13-inch MacBook Pro. What they found is somehow both surprising and not: almost nothing has changed in the laptops apart from the inclusion of the

Nikola stock soars after confused investors think GM deal has closed

Patrick
Enlarge / GM CEO Mary Barra.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Nikola stock rose 15 percent on Wednesday after confused investors apparently mistook a month-old GM website for a brand-new announcement about the companies’ pending agreement. The stock is up another 7 percent as I write this on Thursday morning.

Shortly before 10am ET on Wednesday, people began sharing links to this GM page on social media.

“We signed an agreement with Nikola to engineer and manufacture the Nikola Badger,” the GM page said. Nikola’s stock price soared from $22.23 at 9:30am to $24.94 at 10am—a 12-percent jump in 30 minutes.

On

Pfizer reports final vaccine results: 95% efficacy

Patrick
Enlarge / An illustration picture shows vials with Covid-19 Vaccine stickers attached, with the logo of US pharmaceutical company Pfizer, on November 17, 2020.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech announced Wednesday that they have wrapped up the Phase III trial of their COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, finding it to be 95 percent effective at preventing disease and consistently effective across age, gender, race, and ethnicity demographics. The vaccine appeared effective at preventing cases of severe disease as well.

The companies added that they have also met a safety milestone—collecting a median of two months of safety monitoring data

“Staggering and Tragic”: COVID-19 cases spike in US children, top 1 million

Patrick
Enlarge / Boston Medical Center Child Life Specialist Karlie Bittrich sees to a baby while in a pediatrics tent set up outside of Boston Medical Center in Boston on April 29, 2020.

As COVID-19 cases skyrocket throughout the country, cases are also spiking in infants, children, and adolescents, and the group is now sharing more of the disease burden than ever recorded.

Cases in the young jumped 22 percent in the two weeks between October 29 and November 12, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The week ending on November

Capcom: Up to 350,000 people could be affected by ransomware leak

Patrick

Earlier this month, Capcom revealed that there had been “unauthorized access carried out by a third party” on its internal computer systems, but the company added that “at present there is no indication that any customer information was breached.” This morning, though, Capcom revealed more details of the “customized ransomware attack” affecting its internal systems, potentially including the leak of personal information for up to 350,000 people.

After a two-week investigation, the Japanese company says it can only confirm that personal information was accessed for current and former employees. But the list of “potentially compromised” people is much larger, including

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