• The Countdown: 7/22/2011

    It’s hot, the A/C in my room is broken, and I’m writing this in a laptop. Needless to say, I have a vested interest in keeping things short tonight.

    3… Continents started to form by 3.0 billion years ago, according to a new study in Science.

    2… An “old” story only coming to my attention thanks now to a review in this week’s Science: the Earth’s continental glaciers (the ones that cause sea level rise when they melt) may not be melting as rapidly as we previously thought. This is excellent news if the work holds up.

    1… In case you didn’t turn on the TV or surf the web today, the shuttle landed safely! (Seriously how did you end up here without hearing this!?!) And contrary to the sensationalist stories and headlines you may have seen, this isn’t the end of NASA. Nor is it the end of human spaceflight. It’s not even the end of human spaceflight @ NASA. It’s the end of the shuttle program. That’s a huge thing, but let’s not blow it out of proportion. My guess is we’ll be sending humans back to lower Earth orbit with U.S.-made and U.S.-flown vehicles by the middle of the decade. And this time, lower Earth orbit will just be a stopping point, as opposed to a final destination.