- D-Brief considers if gas giant exoplanet Kelt-9b is actually evaporating.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper that considers where to find signs of prior indigenous civilizations in our solar system. (The Moon, Mars, and outer solar system look good.
- Joe. My. God. reveals the Israeli nuclear option in the 1967 war.
- Language Log shares a clip of a Nova Scotia Gaelic folktale about a man named Donald.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the ongoing deportations of Hispanic undocumented migrants from the United States.
- The LRB Blog notes the brittle rhetoric of May and the Conservatives.
- The NYRB Daily mourns the Trump Administration's plans for American education.
- Savage Minds considers the world now in the context of the reign of the dangerous nonsense of Neil Postman.
- Strange Maps shares a map documenting the spread of chess from India to Ireland in a millennium.
- Window on Eurasia argues that the Russian government needs to do more to protect minority languages.
- James Bow calls for an end to the US-Canada Safe Third Country agreement prohibiting people coming from American soil from claiming refugee status in Canada.
- D-Brief reports on the vast array of man-made minerals appearing in what is now being called the Anthropocene Era of Earth.
- Dangerous Minds notes the efforts of the Disco Preservation Society to preserve DJ mixes from 1980s San Francisco.
- Language Log takes issue with Neil DeGrasse Tyson's argument that cryptographers, not linguists, would be needed in Arrival.
- The LRB Blog notes impunity for murderers of civil society activists in Honduras.
- Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen talks about Joyce Gladwell's autobiography Brown Face, Big Master.
- The NYRB Daily celebrates the work of Hercules Segers.
- The Planetary Society Blog is skeptical of the Space X plan to send tourists past the Moon by 2018.
- Supernova Condensate lists 8 things we know about Proxima Centauri b.
- Towleroad reports on new walking tours being offered of gay London.
- Arnold Zwicky engages with a California exhibition comparing paintings with movies.
- Apostrophen's 'Nathan Smith wonders why so many stories featuring gay children kicked out of their families feature the children later reuniting with these same people.
- The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly draws from her own experiences growing up in a family marked by abuse to argue that Trump is treating Americans as any abuser treats their dependents.
- D-Brief notes how the Moon is being bombarded by a wind of oxygen from Earth.
- Joe. My. God. reported rumours that the Trump administration is set to remove employment protections for LGBT employees of federal contractors.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the firing of the US Attorney General for refusing to defend Trump's anti-Muslim visa ban.
- The Map Room Blog looks at how medieval people read maps.
- The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer wonders how the Trump presidency will end up, if he will self-destruct or if he will manage to threaten American democracy.
- Torontoist interviewed some of the Torontonians protesting the US visa ban outside of the American consulate.
- The Crux makes the case that, for too long, modern homo sapiens have underestimated the genius of the Neanderthals.
- D-Brief looks at the efforts of some scientists to develop brewing standards for the Moon.
- Language Hat examines different languages' writing standards--Turkish, Greek, Armenian--in the late Ottoman Empire.
- Language Log deconstructs claims that Japanese has no language for curses.
- Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen looks at the standards of truth by which Trump's supporters are judging him.
- The NYRB Daily looks at the hollow Styrofoam aesthetics of the Trump Administration.
- Savage Minds considers the idea of personhood.
- Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell considers key mechanics of populism.
- Arnold Zwicky meditates, somewhat pornographically, on a porn star of the last decade and public sexuality.
This news comes from the end of 2016, but it's still quite good. May China continue to progress in space travel, for the benefit of us all.
China vowed Tuesday to speed up the development of its space industry as it set out its plans to become the first country to soft land a probe on the far side of the moon, around 2018, and launch its first Mars probe by 2020.
"To explore the vast cosmos, develop the space industry and build China into a space power is a dream we pursue unremittingly," read a white paper setting out the country's space strategy for the next five years. It says China aims to use space for peaceful purposes and to guarantee national security, and to carry out cutting edge scientific research.
The white paper released by the information office of China's Cabinet points to the growing ambitions of China's already rapidly advancing space program. Although the white paper doesn't mention it, China's eventual goal is the symbolic feat of landing an astronaut on the moon.
While Russia and the United States have more experience in manned space travel, China's military-backed program has made steady progress in a comparatively short time.
Since China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003, it has staged a spacewalk and landed a rover on the moon in 2013 -- the first time humans had soft landed anything on the moon since the 1970s.
- Bad Astronomy shares a photo of the Earth and Moon taken by a Mars probe.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money responds to a baffling claim by a New York City policeman that stranger rape is more of a concern than acquaintance rape.
- Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw, returned from Denmark, wonders
about the extent to which social happiness is maximized by stability and security.
- Progressive Download's John Farrell argues that scientists should approach the theory of evolution in a less mechanistic light.
- Window on Eurasia reports on the transformation of United Russia into a parallel structure of government akin to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and engages with the possibility of a pro-Russian Ukrainian government-in-exile.
- Alex Harrowell of Yorkshire Ranter looks at the problems of an independent central bank, finding that failings attributed to these are actually faults of government.
- Arnold Zwicky looks at the highly evolved fashion sense of faggots, in the context of Italy's divides and celebrities.
Scientific American's Leonard David describes the noteworthy ongoing improvement of China's reach in space.
Floating back under parachute from outer space to Inner Mongolia on November 17, China’s Shenzhou-11 astronauts brought to a close the nation’s longest piloted space trek, which lasted 33 days. The mission capped off a year that saw a series of noteworthy successes in China’s blossoming space program, including the country’s sixth manned space mission, the launch of a new space lab module and the inaugural use of a new spaceport. China also opened a world-class radio telescope this year, signaling the country’s growing involvement in space science. These advances, experts say, establish China as one of the top-tier spacefaring nations on Earth and the one with perhaps more momentum than anyone—a status that excites scientists and could inspire other nations to step up their own plans.
Most of the Shenzhou-11 mission had the two crew members, Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong, safely tucked inside the live-in space lab Tiangong-2, which just launched in September. The duo’s work was dedicated in large part to honing expertise required to develop China’s own large space station. That station is due to come online by the mid 2020s—around when the International Space Station is due for retirement—a fact that Chinese space planners have emphasized.
The year’s Chinese checklist also included the first use of a new Kennedy Space Center-like spaceport, the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island off China’s southern coast. The sprawling facility saw the maiden liftoffs of two rockets this year: the Long March-7 and a heavy-lifter, the Long March-5. Both boosters are essential to an expansive space agenda, with the latter dedicated to lofting the nation’s multi-modular space station and possibly, quite literally, shooting for the moon.
China is building upon earlier robotic lunar exploits, including unmanned orbiters and a lander that dispatched the nation’s Yutu moon rover in December 2013. Now their multi-pronged plan calls for the robotic spacecraft Chang’e 5 to launch in the second half of 2017 atop a Long March-5 rocket, land on the moon and collect several pounds of lunar samples, then hurl the specimens back to Earth. And on tap in 2018 is the launch of a lander headed for the far side of the moon, which would be a space first for any country. Looking beyond the lunar landscape, China is also busy at work on a Mars rover that is slated for a 2020 liftoff.
- Bad Astronomy notes the discovery of water vapour clouds in the atmosphere of nearby brown dwarf WISE 0855.
- blogTO notes the imminent arrival of winter weather.
- Centauri Dreams reports on a new theory of the Moon's origins suggesting the impact collision which create it was much more violent than we thought.
- The Dragon's Gaze notes how snowlines migrate across a system in the course of a star's life.
- The LRB Blog reports on the mind-numbing legal complexities of Brexit.
- The Map Room Blog reports on a new book of maps of New York City.
- The NYRB Daily explores the making of a documentary in 1970 on Thomas Bernhard.
- Seriously Science notes that kittens recognize the sounds of their mother.
- Towleroad reports on a South African imam promoting gay rights at a Cape Town mosque.
- Window on Eurasia argues Putin's annexation of Crimea made reform in Ukraine essential, and reports on budget cuts and their threat in the North Caucasus.
Emma Grey Ellis' Wired article takes a look at how China's space program is progressing.
On Monday, at a launch center in the middle of the Gobi desert, two taikonauts boarded a spacecraft and rocketed into space. Yesterday their ship, Shenzou-11, docked with China’s experimental space lab, Tiangong-2. For the next 30 days—China’s longest crewed space mission—they will conduct experiments, test equipment, practice repairs, try to grow plants, and keep track of how the space environment affects their bodies. Sound familiar, space fans?
It should. Tiangong-2 is like a baby International Space Station. Sure, it doesn’t have the ISS’s scale, technological sophistication, or multi-national backing. But it’s the technical testing ground for the grown up space station China plans to launch in the next couple of years. Which will more permanent, and about the size of Mir, the Soviet Union’s space station in the 80s and 90s. But mostly, Tiangong-2 an important part of China’s long term plan to build a Moon base. And from there, it’ll be hard to deny China a seat at the space superpower table.
Like everything China does, people consistently underestimate the nation’s space program. Common snubs include: It’s miles behind the curve; their gear is all Russian knockoffs; their launch schedules are hopelessly slapdash. Yeah, those have all been true at one point, but not an honest assessment of the program as it currently stand.
China did not launch its first satellite until the 1970s, and didn’t really invest heavily in their space program until the early ’90s (the Cultural Revolution was a bigger priority) but they’ve been gaining ground on the US and Europe ever since. Early on, the nation’s program relied on Russia, both for components and training for their would-be taikonauts.
And the Shenzhou spacecraft do resemble Soviet (now Russian) Soyuz. But don’t hate: “The Shenzhou is the same idea, but not a copy,” says Jonathan McDowel, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “In its present form, it’s very much a Chinese vehicle.” The Chinese spacecraft is bigger, more powerful, and its forward habitation module has solar panels that can provide power for a separate mission—even after the astronauts climb aboard Tiangong-2.
- Bad Astronomy's Phil Plait evaluates the doability of Elon Musk's proposal for colonizing Mars.
- blogTO notes that Casa Loma will be transformed into a haunted house for the month of October.
- The Dragon's Tales notes NASA's belief that Europa almost certainly has watery plumes.
- False Steps shares an early American proposal for a lunar base.
- Far Outliers notes the location of multiple massacres in Chinese military history.
- Joe. My. God. notes that a far-right group is unhappy Alabama judge Roy Moore has been suspended.
- The Map Room Blog notes the acquisition of a British-era map of Detroit.
- Marginal Revolution speculates as to whether a country's VAT promotes exports.
- The Planetary Society Blog notes the end of the Rosetta space probe.
- The Russian Demographics Blog charts increases in maximum life expectancy over time.
- Seriously Science notes a paper arguing that small talk diminishes happiness.
- Towleroad reports on a gay Cameroonian asylum seeker in the United Kingdom at risk of deportation.
- The Volokh Conspiracy notes Instapundit's departure from Twitter without noting why Reynolds is leaving.
- Window on Eurasia reports on the complexities surrounding the possibility of another Finno-Ugric festival.
- At Antipope, Charlie Stross describes how Brexit has forced him to rewrite his latest novel.
- D-Brief suggests early Venus was once habitable, and notes the rumour of an Earth-like planet found around Proxima Centauri.
- The Dragon's Gaze notes the detection of storms of brown dwarfs.
- The Dragon's Tales reports on more signs of water on Mars.
- False Steps notes an early American proposal for a space station in orbit of the Moon.
- Language Hat talks about lost books, titles deserving broader readership.
- The LRB Blog talks about the EU and Brexit.
- Marginal Revolution notes a study suggesting Trump support is concentrated among people close to those who have lost out from trade.
- Neuroskeptic reports on the story of H.M., a man who lost the ability to form new memories following a brain surgery.
- The Volokh Conspiracy engages the idea of voting with a lesser evil.
- Window on Eurasia notes the role of immigrants in Moscow's economy.
- Bloomberg notes concerns over Northern Ireland's frontiers, looks at how Japanese retailers are hoping to take advantage of Vietnam's young consumers, examines the desperation of Venezuelans shopping in Colombia, looks at Sri Lankan interest in Chinese investment, suggests oil prices need to stay below 40 dollars US a barrel for Russia to reform, observes that Chinese companies are increasingly reluctant to invest, and suggests Frankfurt will gain after Brexit.
- Bloomberg View gives advice for the post-Brexit British economy, looks at how Chinese patterns in migration are harming young Chinese, suggests Hillary should follow Russian-Americans in not making much of Putin's interference, and looks at the Israeli culture wars.
- CBC considers the decolonization of placenames in the Northwest Territories, notes Canada's deployment to Latvia was prompted by French domestic security concerns, and looks at an ad promoting the Albertan oil sands that went badly wrong in trying to be anti-homophobic.
- The Inter Press Service considers the future of Turkey and looks at domestic slavery in Oman.
- MacLean's looks at China's nail house owners, resisting development.
- The National Post reports from the Colombia-Venezuela border.
- Open Democracy considers the nature of work culture in the austerity-era United Kingdom, looks at traditions of migration and slavery in northern Ghana, examines European bigotry against eastern Europeans, and examines the plight of sub-Saharan migrants stuck in Morocco.
- Universe Today notes two nearby potentially habitable rocky worlds, reports that the Moon's Mare Imbrium may have been result of a hit by a dwarf planet, and reports on Ceres' lack of large craters.
- Bloomberg notes the rail boom in Bangladesh, looks at the fall in the value of the pound, notes a German proposal to give young Britons German citizenship and observes Spanish concern over giving Scotland a voice, looks at competition between Paris and Frankfurt to get jobs from the City of London, looks at how a Chinese takeover of an American ham company worked well, and observes that revised statistics show a much rockier economic history in Argentina.
- Bloomberg View notes that Merkel is Britain's best hope for lenient terms and compares Brexit to the Baltic break from the Soviet Union.
- The Globe and Mail notes continuing problems with the implementation of tidal turbines on the Bay of Fundy.
- MacLean's notes that pride marchers in the Manitoba city of Steinbach can walk on the street, and looks at the impact of immigrant investment on Vancouver's housing market.
- National Geographic notes the endangerment of Antarctica's penguins.
- Open Democracy compares Brexit and the breakup of the former Soviet Union, looks at water shortages in Armenia, and examines the impact of Brexit on Ireland.
- The Chicago Tribune looks at urban violence.
- Universe Today notes the Dutch will be going to the Moon with the Chinese.
- D-Brief notes that astronomers have witnessed a distant black hole eat a star.
- Dangerous Minds looks at 1980s VHS cover art from Germany.
- The Dragon's Gaze looks at TYC 3667-1280-1b, a warm Jupiter orbiting a red giant.
- The Dragon's Tales looks at how an electric wind helped render Venus uninhabitable.
- A Fistful of Euros' Alex Harrowell notes that the dependence of Brexit proponents on outrage over immigration limits their appeal.
- The LRB Blog notes the severe internal divisions within the Labour Party.
- The Map Room Blog links to a map of North America drawn in the style of fantasy maps.
- The Planetary Society Blog notes Chinese plans for the Chang'e 4 probe to explore the far side of the Moon.
- The BBC notes a study suggesting that the bombardment of the early Moon by comets gave it water.
- Bloomberg View criticizes red tape in Greece, and notes that the salts of Australia will be drawing solar cell manufacturers to that country.
- The Guardian notes Jeremy Corbyn's claims of BBC bias against him.
- The Inter Press Service examines the vulnerability of young women in Africa to HIV.
- MacLean's notes the struggles of a prominent Inuit family, the Tootoos, with alcohol.
- National Geographic notes an exciting archeological dig into the heart of Roman London and reports on signs of activity on Pluto.
- New Scientist notes that, among the orcas, evolution is driven by culture, with culturally distinctive groups also being genetically distinctive.
- The Toronto Star reports that Mossack-Fonseca, the law firm at the heart of the Panama Papers, is shuttering offices.
- Wired notes Switzerland's Gotthard tunnel and warns that Flint is not the worst bit of American infrastructure in decay.
- blogTO notes a new union for Toronto freelancers.
- Dangerous Minds notes a Chinese ban on live streams of women eating bananas seductively.
- The Dragon's Gaze notes a paper purporting to provide ways for telescopes to distinguish between exo-Venuses and exo-Earths.
- The Dragon's Tales links to a study modelling the collision between Theia and the proto-Earth that created the moon.
- Language Log notes Chinese colloquialisms.
- The LRB Blog reflects on the environmental and political implications of the Fort McMurray fire.
- Marginal Revolution recommends postponing tourism to some exotic destinations until they build up the needed infrastructure.
- The NYRB Daily introduces readers to the Weimar-era novel Grand Hotel.
- I disagree with Peter Watts' argument that things need to get worse before they get better.
- North!'s Justin Petrone reflects on his experience of the esoteric in Estonia.
- Window on Eurasia notes the importance of the Soviet victory in the Second World War as a way of justifying Russian hegemony.
- blogTO notes the continued delays with Bombardier's streetcar deliveries to the TTC, looks at the expansion of WiFi to Toronto stations, and has hope for independent bookstores.
- The Crux notes a proposal to make the Moon a solar energy power centre for the Earth.
- The Dragon's Gaze notes Venus analog Gliese 832d and observes the mass of material in orbit of WD 1145+017.
- The Dragon's Tales studies the atmosphere of Pluto.
- At The Fifteenth, Steve Roby reviews one book on Blondie's Parallel Lines and another on an in-universe Alien book.
- The LRB Blog mourns Prince and reflects on the Swedish take on Brexit.
- The Map Room Blog maps immigrants in France.
- Towleroad shares the new Roísin Murphy single "Mastermind."
- Window on Eurasia notes the transition of Russian to a polycentric language.
- Centauri Dreams notes that the early Earth's magnetic field could protect it from a violent young sun.
- D-Brief notes some British storks have abandoned seasonal migration in order to stay year-round at landfills.
- The Dragon's Gaze looks at the WASP 94AB binary, a system with two stars each with a hot Jupiter.
- The Dragon's Tales reports Russia has slashed its space program's budget by 30%.
- Marginal Revolution suggests poor Americans could benefit from being more open to moving around.
- The NYR Daily is not optimistic about the 2016 American presidential election.
- Strange Maps divides the world into zones defined by income.
- Torontoist looks at Ireland Park, built to commemorate the Famine refugees.
- Transit Toronto notes that today, the 18th of March, is Transit Driver Appreciation Day.
- The Financial Times' The World wonders what would happen if Russia cut natural gas supplies to the European Union.
- Arnold Zwicky shares an amusing St. Patrick's Day cartoon.
- Dangerous Minds notes a petition to make Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" the American national anthem.
- The Dragon's Gaze looks at a study looking for exoplanets in the galactic bulge.
- The Dragon's Tales notes a study suggesting that the very early Earth and the impactor which created the Moon were both water-rich.
- The Everyday Sociology Blog looks at the fragility of gender.
- The Honourary Canadian notes the terrible ABC translation of Justin Trudeau's French.
- Language Log considers ancient Chinese.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money argues that Hillary Clinton is bad for the labour that supports her.
- The LRB Blog notes a Syrian refugee held in an Istanbul airport in terrible conditions.
- The Map Room Blog notes a Super Mario Brothers-style map of the Ottawa light rail network.
- Marginal Revolution notes that support for women boosts fertility.
- Peter Rukavina looks at news articles revealing the life of an Island man going through divorce.
- The Russian Demographics Blog noted the recent mass emigration from Ukraine.
- Towleroad reports on Samantha Bee's attempt to interview Donald Trump supporters.
- The Volokh Conspiracy argues in favour of open borders.