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The Sun Is Disturbing the Quiet of Interstellar Space

The missions that humankind has sent farthest into space, a pair of NASA spacecraft called the Voyagers, are billions of miles from Earth. The last time one of them took a picture of its surroundings was in 1990, after flying by Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus on its way to interstellar space, the mysterious expanse between stars. This far beyond...

Pandemic Data Are Stalling Out

Editor’s Note: The Atlantic is making vital coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find the collection here. As expected, our picture of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States in the past week is muddied by incomplete and delayed data, the result of the Thanksgiving holiday and long weekend. Although cases, tests, and deaths appear...

Galaxy Brain Is Real

In December of 1995, astronomers around the world were vying for a chance to use the hottest new tool in astronomy: the Hubble space telescope. Bob Williams didn’t have to worry about all that. As the director of the institution that managed Hubble, Williams could use the telescope to observe whatever he wanted. And he decided to point it at nothing...

The Weekly Planet: The Best Way to Donate to Fight Climate Change (Probably)

Every Tuesday morning, our lead climate reporter brings you the big ideas, expert analysis, and vital guidance that will help you flourish on a changing planet. Sign up to get The Weekly Planet, our guide to living through climate change, in your inbox.Let’s say you want to donate $25 to fighting climate change. Where should your money go?Since I started...

Pandemic Data Is About to Go Sideways

Editor’s Note: The Atlantic is making vital coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find the collection here. Recently, over the course of just one week, the Houston Health Department received more than 110,000 lab reports of COVID-19 test results. In a city of 2.3 million people, “it’s quite a high volume,” says Beau J. Mitts, the department’s...

A Tragic Beginning to the Holiday Season

Editor’s Note: The Atlantic is making vital coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find the collection here. As the week before Thanksgiving brings thousands of Americans through airports and travel stations and into multigenerational indoor gatherings, U.S. states have reported more than 1.2 million cases of COVID-19. The seven-day average...

The Weekly Planet: A Start-Up’s Unusual Plan to Suck Carbon Out of the Sky

Every Tuesday morning, our lead climate reporter brings you the big ideas, expert analysis, and vital guidance that will help you flourish on a changing planet. Sign up to get The Weekly Planet, our guide to living through climate change, in your inbox.Stripe is one of those technology companies that control the internet’s plumbing. It makes payments-processing...

The Final Pandemic Surge Is Crashing Over America

Editor’s Note: The Atlantic is making vital coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find the collection here. Updated at 11:51 a.m. ET on November 20, 2020.Understanding the pandemic this week requires grasping two thoughts at once. First, the United States has never been closer to defeating the pandemic. Second, some of the country’s...

The Tragedy of a Ruined Telescope

One of the most powerful telescopes in the world is on the brink of collapse.Arecibo, a giant radio observatory nestled in the lush mountains of Puerto Rico, did some of the dreamiest work in astronomy. But it was forced to stop operations this year after suffering unprecedented damage, and officials now believe that it is beyond repair. Instead of...

How Many Americans Are About to Die?

Editor’s Note: The Atlantic is making vital coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find the collection here. The United States has made huge advances in fighting the coronavirus. The astonishingly high death rates the country saw during the spring have fallen, and Americans are much more likely now than they were then to survive a COVID-19...

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