New yorker: Moon dust

New yorker: Moon dust

Kate Green speaks of the cargo of 50 pounds of rock and soil that was brought to Earth after Armstrong- Aldrin’s first journey to the moon.

New yorker

Moon dust

Kate Green writes about the mystery of moon dust. She speaks of the cargo of 50 pounds of rock and soil that was brought to Earth after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s first journey to the moon. “But back at Johnson Space Center,in Houston,scientists discovered that the seals had been destroyed – by moon dust”. Green says the matter of moon dust,which is “fine,like a powder,but cuts like glass”,has once again come to fore “with international and commercial space programs announcing a number of potential robotic and human moonshots”. And so,she says,it impacts not only on aluminium boxes,vacuum seals and space boots,but also on the lungs of travellers or prospective settlers. “The invasive nature of lunar dust represents a more challenging engineering design issue,as well as a health issue for settlers,than does radiation,” wrote Harrison (Jack) Schmitt,an Apollo 17 astronaut,in his 2006 book,Return to the Moon. The dust sullied spacesuits and ate away layers of moon boots. Dust followed the astronauts back into their ships,too. According to Schmitt,it smelled like gunpowder and made breathing difficult.


Brain damage

In a revelation that could hold both promise and pain for friends and family of patients in a vegetative state,Katie Drummond questions the diagnosis for such patients — unaware of themselves or their environment,and unlikely to ever be again. She quotes a series of recent studies which give way to the “startling possibility” that patients in a vegetative state may actually be as aware as perfectly healthy individuals. Among others,she draws attention to one study in which researchers tried to see if patients could demonstrate not only awareness,but “the ability to pay attention,by switching flexibly between tasks and filtering out irrelevant information”. And one patient,deemed severe,demonstrated brain activity similar to eight perfectly healthy participants. Drummond says while such studies do open up new possibilities,it does lead to new questions about how they should be cared for,what additional rights they may need,and whether or not this new information will help or harm family members. In conclusion,Drummond writes that even “if some patients exhibit remarkable levels of awareness and cognitive capacity,experts say it’s likely that the majority simply won’t — which could exacerbate painful realities for families”.


The Good Wife

TV writer Stephen Marche reviews the newest season of CBS’s The Good Wife – now a show about “inter-generational warfare”. He writes that it is rare for a show to come into its own in the middle of its fifth season. The show may be dressed up as a simple legal drama,“but it has become one of the most intellectually ambitious shows made by a major network”. In fact,its the only major show that regularly deals with technological changes like e-commerce tax avoidance and Bitcoin,making these “timely storylines refreshingly current”. Betting on inter-generational warfare is a gamble for The Good Wife,but it’s a way to compete with the great shows on AMC and HBO. Inter-generational warfare refers to how the US government spends 2.4 dollars on those over 65 for every dollar it spends on children. The younger generation is being left to fend for itself — for example,law school tuition has increased by 314 per cent between 1989 and 2009. Marche feels that Breaking Bad and its predecessors were about “characters whose struggles with good and evil pushed the boundaries of what we consider normal sympathy”. But,the creators of The Good Wife have found another way to make television fascinating — by showing us how we actually live now.