The September issue of Air & Space / Smithsonian, featuring the cover story I desperately wanted to call Warp Corps — because it's about a corps of people whom Star Trek has inspired and influenced, you see — is now on sale at the National Air and Space Museum (both locations, on the National Mall and at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia) as well as at Barnes & Noble stores and the digital retailer of your choice. You can read the feature here. Also, I'd love if if you would come buy a copy of the magazine from me for a paltry one-time fee $6.99 at the Museum during its three-day celebration of Star Trek's 50th anniversary. The event kicks off at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 8 — the evening the Original Series episode "The Man Trap" was first broadcast on NBC.Read More
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In the March 2016 issue of Air & Space / Smithsonian, where I work, I've got a big feature about the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator, which is the two-stage technology NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena is working on that will one day allow NASA to deposit heavier objects on the surface of Mars intact. Sounds pretty dry and technical, maybe, but why not show a little confidence in my ability to tell a story? My pal and editor Heather Goss already made me take all the acronyms out, upping the likelihood you'll read this, we both hope.Read More
Can of Wormholes, or Accretion Discography: My Interview with Kip Thorne, Interstellar Progenitor and Scientific Adviser
For my day job at Air & Space / Smithsonian, I interviewed Kip Thorne, the theoretical physicist who with his friend the movie producer Lynda Obst, conceived the film Interstellar back in 2006. Thorne remained closely involved with the picture throughout its writing, production, and editing, and has now published a 324-page companion to the film called The Science of "Interstellar" laying out his scientific rationalization for every aspect of its story -- even the Love Tesseract Wormhole.
DUH: Don't read this interview if you intend to see Interstellar but haven't yet.
And if that's your situation, and you live anywhere in the Washington, DC diaspora, make sure to catch the movie in 70mm IMAX at either the National Air & Space Museum downtown or at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center out by Dulles International Airport. I've seen it both this way and in digital IMAX, and the 70mm presentation is more painterly and majestic. It also sounds better, curiously. The muddy sound mix we talked about on Pop Culture Happy Hour last week (based on a digital IMAX screening in Silver Spring, Maryland) was not a problem when I saw the film again at NASM in 70mm.
Infrared Dawn: On the James Webb Space Telescope in the July 2014 issue of Air & Space / Smithsonian
And now for something completely different, and completely intimidating -- at least initially. The current issue of Air & Space magazine has my first-ever astronomy story, about the James Webb Space Telescope, the remarkable $8.8 billion dollar replacement for the aging Hubble Space Telescope.
As JWST orbits the Earth from a million miles away, its six-meter mirror of gold-coated beryllium will collect light that's fainter, farther away, and billions of years older than we've ever been able to see, showing us some of the earliest objects that formed in the universe after the Big Bang. As with most of NASA's flagship projects, JWST has taken longer and cost far more than NASA had said and Congress had hoped. It's now set for launch in October 2018.Read More