Launching rockets from planes is a decades-old concept that never really took off. Billionaire Richard Branson thinks its time has come. On Sunday morning, Virgin Orbit became the third privately funded American rocket company to reach orbit—and the only one to accomplish the feat from mid-air. The company’s liquid-fueled rocket, called LauncherOne, was released from…

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Our nation’s failure to invest in information technology has severely limited our Covid response. A federal chief experience officer could change that. Imagine if, when the president addressed the nation in those early, frightening days of March 2020, he had announced the launch of a user-friendly digital hub for citizens to access critical government services…

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In an interview with WIRED, former secretary of defense Ash Carter discussed how to build morality into AI—and make sure other countries do too. On Wednesday, I hosted a discussion with former secretary of defense Ashton Carter, who is now the director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy…

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If the Covid vaccine push has proved anything, it’s that big government works. In the dismal early days of the pandemic, a vaccine seemed depressingly far off. Historically, the average time to develop a new vaccine was 10 years—far too long for our current emergency. But then something happened to shift things into overdrive: serious…

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The two major investigations into the origins of the pandemic are compromised by potential conflicts of interest. Those problems need to be fixed—fast. “We find ourselves 10 months into one of the most catastrophic global health events of our lifetime,” wrote Stanford University immunologist and bio-threat expert David Relman in November, “and, disturbingly, we still…

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Everyone in the game may be hot, but some of the characterizations we see aren’t as subversive as you might think. Supergiant’s epic of a rogue-like, story-driven action game Hades has understandably taken the gaming world by storm. Its lot of sultry beauties fighting and wholesomely sharing ambrosia is a delightful accompaniment to beating up The…

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In botanic gardens around the world, the reproductive future of the famously smelly plant is threatened. A new collaborative program wants to save it. This story originally appeared on Undark and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration. The alien-like blooms and putrid stench of Amorphophallus titanum, better known as the corpse flower, draw big…

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As tech companies scramble to tackle the extreme far-right, police and law enforcement are encasing Washington, DC, in a ring of steel. They came prepared for war. Leroy Coffman parked his Red GMC Sierra pickup truck a stone’s throw from the US Capitol building at 9:15 am on January 6. Inside the truck, legal documents…

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Platforms are scrambling to avoid being used by right-wing extremists targeting the inauguration. But the seeds of this crisis were sown long ago.  Social media companies took a great deal of criticism for their role in enabling the January 6 breach of the Capitol. Now, with Joe Biden’s inauguration a few days away, and federal…

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Catch up on the most important updates from this week. Officials try to speed up vaccinations, scientists discover more mutations, and researchers chart the pandemic’s future. Here’s what you should know: Want to receive this weekly roundup and other coronavirus news? Sign up here! Headlines Officials attempt to speed up vaccine rollout as Biden’s team…

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