How to get set for the March for Science

Stand Up for Science rally

Lab-coated scientists get their pictures taken after a “Stand Up for Science” rally in downtown Boston’s Copley Square. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

BOSTON – Hundreds of science-minded demonstrators converged on Boston over the weekend to test a prototype for the March for Science, a campaign that’s expected to bring out more than a million people around the globe on April 22.

The “Stand Up for Science” rally took place on Feb. 19 during the height of this year’s meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and as a result drew attendees from the AAAS crowd – including Bish Paul, a molecular biologist who got his Ph.D. from the University of Washington and worked at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Paul, a gay immigrant from India, told The Boston Globe that his aim wasn’t to attack Republicans, but to defend the scientific community and what it stands for.

“We’re not protesting a party,” he said. “As scientists, we want to support truth.”

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9,000-year-old Ancient One laid to rest

Image: Kennewick Man

Experts collaborated to create a bust showing how Kennewick Man, also known as the Ancient One, may have looked. (Sculpted bust by StudioEIS; forensic facial reconstruction by sculptor Amanda Danning; photograph by Brittany Tatchell / Smithsonian)

After more than 20 years, one of anthropology’s most contentious cases was closed over the weekend with the reburial of the 9,000-year-old remains of Kennewick Man, now better known as the Ancient One.

More than 200 people, including members of five Native American tribes, gathered at an undisclosed site on the Columbia River Plateau early Feb. 18 to bury the remains in accordance with centuries-old funerary rituals, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation said in a news release.

“This is a big day, and our people have come to witness and honor our ancestor,” said Armand Minthorn, a member of the Umatilla tribes’ board of trustees and Longhouse leader. “We continue to practice our beliefs and laws as our Creator has given us since time immemorial.”

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Drone’s-eye view of SpaceX rocket landing

SpaceX’s first-ever commercial rocket launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center was picture-perfect, but the landing was arguably even more photogenic – or should we say “dronogenic”?

The company’s Falcon 9 rocket quickly rose into the clouds over Launch Pad 39A, the Florida takeoff point for Apollo moon missions and space shuttle flights. Within just a few minutes, SpaceX’s robotic Dragon capsule separated from the rocket and headed toward the International Space Station for a cargo delivery.

Meanwhile, a camera-equipped drone captured a thrilling view of the Falcon 9’s first-stage booster descending through the clouds, firing its engines and touching down on SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1, on the Florida coast not far from where its flight began.

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SpaceX launches from historic moon pad

SpaceX launch

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket rises from Launch Complex 39A. (NASA via YouTube)

SpaceX sent a rocket rising from NASA’s historic Launch Complex 39A today for the first time since the space shuttle fleet retired, marking a new chapter for a pad that served as the springboard for Apollo moon missions.

The Falcon 9 rocket sent a robotic Dragon capsule toward the International Space Station with almost 5,500 pounds of supplies and experiments, under the terms of SpaceX’s multimillion-dollar contract with NASA.

As a bonus, the rocket’s first-stage booster flew itself back to a perfect touchdown at SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1, not far from the Kennedy Space Center launch site in Florida. That’s part of SpaceX’s plan for reusing hardware and driving down the cost of space launches even further.

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SpaceX delays its first liftoff from historic pad

Falcon 9 rocket

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 sits on Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39A. (NASA via YouTube)

SpaceX postponed the first launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center since the last shuttle flight in 2011, due to concerns about a control system on the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage.

The Falcon 9 had been due to loft a robotic Dragon cargo capsule into orbit from the center’s Launch Pad 39A in Florida, delivering 5,500 pounds worth of supplies and experiments for the International Space Station.

But with less than 20 seconds left in today’s countdown, SpaceX’s mission managers decided they needed more time to work through a nagging technical issue with the controls for the second stage’s rocket engine nozzle..

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Scientists revive weird cave crystal microbes

Cave crystals

Crystals dwarf an explorer in Mexico’s Naica cave complex. (Photo by Alexander Van Driessche – CC BY 3.0)

BOSTON – It sounds like a sci-fi tale: Scientists manage to revive strains of microbes that have been trapped inside giant cave crystals for tens of thousands of years, and find out that they seem positively alien.

But this tale is totally real. And although these organisms are so unlike anything else on Earth that they haven’t yet been given a genus or species name, they’re totally terrestrial.

“They’re really showing us what our kind of life can do,” said Penny Boston, director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute.

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5 tips about cybersecurity (and ‘Mr. Robot’)


A scene from “Mr. Robot” shows a hacker at work. (USA Network)

BOSTON – It’s always risky for geeks to give advice to geeks, but when security experts who have worked with organizations ranging from Facebook to DARPA to the FBI are the ones giving advice, it’s worth listening.

Two such experts are Nick DePetrillo, principal security researcher for Trail of Bits; and Andre McGregor, a former FBI agent who is now director of security for Tanium. McGregor has the added cache of being an technical consultant for “Mr. Robot,” the USA Network series that delves deeply into the hacker world.

DePetrillo and McGregor discussed the ins and outs of cybersecurity and the concerns raised by the rise of connected devices (a.k.a. the Internet of Things) today in Boston during the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Check out five takeaways from their talk on GeekWire.

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