NASA scientists want to build a cheap, earthbound laser that could zap away the “space junk” orbiting the earth. Yes, space junk—those man-made, useless objects that float above us, including old satellites and busted rocket stages. Beyond merely turning space into a heavenly garbage dump, these materials pose a risk for spacecraft. In 2009, for example, an active commercial satellite collided with a defunct Russian one, spewing debris throughout the solar system. The beam would push junk out of the way if it approached a spacecraft. The device could be shared by several nations to avoid a fuss over ownership of such a powerful piece of equipment.
1. A cloud of radioactive material from Japan’s crippled nuclear reactors, floating ominously across the Pacific.
2. Cause of newest Los Angeles drug craze. Ex.: “Dude, got any iodide?”
Burn Notice: Turns Out, Cavemen Were Bright
A new study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that, dating back 400,000 years, early humans were skilled at controlling fire, using it regularly and continuously. The findings back up a growing body of research revealing that cave people weren’t as dim as previously thought.
Home Sweet Home
How to get ahead? Stay behind at your parents’.
Good news for 20-somethings living in their parents’ basement: new research suggests they’re on the road to freedom. (Good news for parents, too.) Despite popular fears that today’s young adults are slackers, in most cases, parents’ financial help is temporary, according to a new Journal of Marriage and Family study. Today’s prolonged adolescence merely serves as a “safety net” while grown kids earn a degree, save money, or recover from a traumatic event. Ultimately the support promotes independence and self-reliance in the younger generation. While almost half the participants received money from their folks or lived at home in their mid-20s, only 10 to 15 percent still relied on this support by their early 30s.
M.D.s for Sale
Raffling off classroom seats to wealthy foreigners could save struggling American schools.
Here’s one idea for state universities feeling the pinch of budget cuts: sell a few admission spots to overseas bidders. That’s what Dalhousie University’s medical school in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is planning to do. The Canadian med school, which is government subsidized, will hawk 10 first-year spaces at $75,000 each to Saudi Arabia to gin up cash after having lost some funding. Tom Marrie, dean of the med school, tried to ease any concerns. The students “will arrive speaking fluent English and with degrees from North American universities, so we are confident they will fit in well with our student body,” Marrie said.