Zooming-In On Satellite Calibration Targets in the Arizona Desert

These optical targets in the Arizona desert were built for calibrating the cameras of a spy satellite network called the Corona program. Similar to the huge bar codes found across the U.S. southwest, also used for testing high-altitude cameras, these targets are glyphs meant to be seen from the sky: fixed points of… » 4/08/14 11:59am 4/08/14 11:59am

How Would You Redraw North America?

Billionaire venture capitalist Tim Draper recently proposed splitting California up into six distinct states. Draper's plan is getting a good deal of ridicule in the press, despite the fact that it could actually make its way to California ballots in the next election. But it's easy to forget that throughout history,… » 3/27/14 3:21pm 3/27/14 3:21pm

Mysterious Underwater Rivers Criss Cross the Bottom of the Ocean

If you've ever made a trans-Atlantic call—or, heck, used the internet—then you might like to know a few things about the ocean floor. Mighty but enigmatic underwater rivers flow along the ocean bed. And it's telecommunications companies, who have to lay thick cables for transoceanic phone and internet connections, with … » 2/26/14 10:40am 2/26/14 10:40am

The UK Is Crowdsourcing Its Next Map Of The Ocean Floor

Believe it or not, we don't know how deep large parts of the ocean off the British coast really are, and this is obviously not a good thing for the many sailors who cruise around those waters. A new project funded by the European Community is using technology to solve this problem—technology and lots of boats. » 2/18/14 7:40pm 2/18/14 7:40pm

Spain Might Jump Time Zones To Stimulate Its Economy

If your economy isn't doing so well, just jump into another time zone. This is the strategy pursued by Samoa, for example, which rather dramatically leapt across the International Date Line back in 2011 in order to align its work-week more closely with its Pacific neighbors; and a more local version of this might be… » 2/18/14 10:40am 2/18/14 10:40am

Mud Wars, Sex in the Park, and Crimes Committed for Truffles

This week's roundup includes sex, violence, and truffles—the last of which is not unlike the drug trade, with a surprisingly shady underside. So, without further ado, here's this week's R-rated landscape reads. » 1/21/14 6:20pm 1/21/14 6:20pm

The U.S./Mexico Border Is Infested With Underground Machines

The very fact that underground robots being used to patrol the U.S./Mexico border—a program now moving into its second decade—can be greeted with what amounts to a disinterested shrug is a good indication of how sci-fi our everyday lives have gotten. There are underground robots patrolling the edge of the country. » 1/21/14 4:25pm 1/21/14 4:25pm

China's Claiming Territory By Calling Dibs on 800-Year-Old Shipwrecks

As China continues its controversial claim-staking throughout Asia, a corner of the academic world is becoming an unlikely focal point in the dispute: Archaeology. More specifically, the thousands of shipwrecks that litter the South China Sea—which China is aggressively claiming as evidence to back up its right to… » 12/02/13 10:51am 12/02/13 10:51am