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The Moving Lights of a World in Quarantine

Even during the worst of the pandemic in New York City, when the threat of the virus had emptied out the streets, the lights of Times Square stayed on, its many towering advertisements flashing and flickering. The coronavirus had driven millions of people indoors, but the city’s most recognizable plaza was illuminated—a symbol, George Lence, a spokesperson...

The Pandemic Experts Are Not Okay

Saskia Popescu’s phone buzzes throughout the night, waking her up. It had already buzzed 99 times before I interviewed her at 9:15 a.m. ET last Monday. It buzzed three times during the first 15 minutes of our call. Whenever a COVID-19 case is confirmed at her hospital system, Popescu gets an email, and her phone buzzes. She cannot silence it. An epidemiologist...

Lockdowns Could Be the ‘Biggest Conservation Action’ in a Century

Spring is a bloody season on American roads. Yearling black bears blunder over the asphalt in search of their own territories. In the West, herds of deer, elk, and pronghorn scamper across highways as they migrate from winter pastures to summer redoubts. A smaller-scale but no less epic journey transpires in the Northeast, where wood frogs, spotted...

The Week America Lost Control of the Pandemic

The American pandemic is careening out of control. Yesterday, the United States reported more than 52,000 new cases of the coronavirus, setting a new all-time daily record, according to the COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic. The surge has put the country’s supply of coronavirus tests under strain, especially in some of the worst-hit states, such...

The Birdsong That Took Over North America

The birds were singing something strange.Ken Otter and Scott Ramsay first noticed it in the early 2000s, when they were recording white-throated sparrows in Prince George, a city in western Canada. The birds are so ubiquitous across the country, and the male’s song so distinct, that bird-watchers have put words to it: Oh sweet Canada, Canada, Canada....

A Massive Star Seems to Have Just … Disappeared

A star has gone missing.Not in our own Milky Way, but in a galaxy about 75 million light-years away. The star in question is so hot that it glows crystal blue, and it shines a couple million times brighter than the star we know best, our sun. Even as stars go, it’s massive. Astronomers have studied it for nearly two decades, so it was pretty disconcerting...

U.S. Coronavirus Testing Could Fail Again

Editor’s Note: The Atlantic is making vital coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find the collection here. The United States is once again at risk of outstripping its COVID-19 testing capacity, an ominous development that would deny the country a crucial tool to understand its pandemic in real time.The American testing supply chain...

A Mysterious Rhythm Is Coming From Another Galaxy

For about four days, the radio waves would arrive at random. Then, for the next 12, nothing.Then, another four days of haphazard pulses. Followed by another 12 days of silence.The pattern—the well-defined swings from frenzy to stillness and back again—persisted like clockwork for more than a year.Dongzi Li, a doctoral student at the University of Toronto,...

A Burst of Light Unlike Any Captured Before

Astronomers don’t usually jump out of bed when they receive alerts in the middle of the night that, somewhere far away, two black holes have smacked into each other and sent shock waves coursing through the universe. These days, the detection of colliding black holes verges on routine, and astronomers know what to do: Go back to sleep.They will rouse...

A Devastating New Stage of the Pandemic

Editor’s Note: The Atlantic is making vital coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find the collection here. Updated at 6:00 p.m. ET on June 25, 2020For the past few weeks in the United States, the awful logic of the coronavirus seemed to have lifted. Stores and restaurants reopened. Protesters flocked to the streets. Some people resumed...

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