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Updated: 5 min 54 sec ago

The Americans Gets Picked Up for a Third Season

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 14:11

The Cold War espionage is far from over: FX has ordered a third season of The Americans. FX said Wednesday that the hit show would get 13 new episodes airing next year.

“We are so delighted and grateful to continue telling the stories of these characters,” executive producer Joel Fields told Variety.

The critically-acclaimed spy drama set in the 1980s is currently in its second season and has been averaging 3.08 million total viewers. “The Americans” was trending on Twitter within hours of the announcement.

The Americans continues be one of the best shows on television,” FX’s co-president of original programming Eric Schrier said in a statement. “Fans will be blown away by the rest of this season, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with next year.”

[Variety]

Categories: Magazines

Jenny McCarthy: I’m Engaged to Donnie Wahlberg

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 14:04

Jenny McCarthy is about to become Mrs. Donnie Wahlberg. The View co-host shared her engagement with the world on Wednesday, showcasing her yellow sapphire ring on the talk show, US Weekly reports.

McCarthy’s 11-year-old son Evan had a starring role in the proposal, handing his a series of cards with the words “will,” “you,” and “marry,” before former New Kid on the Block star walked in with a shirt with the word “me” on it, McCarthy said.

“Of course I said ‘yes,’” the 41-year-old McCarthy said. And her son was excited, too. “In that moment Evan yelled, ‘I have another dad!’ and it made all of us cry,” McCarthy shared.

The two have been dating since last summer. The upcoming nuptials (they haven’t yet set a date) will be the second time around for both stars. McCarthy was previously married to actor and director John Mallory Asher.

[Us Weekly]

Categories: Magazines

Richard Garriott Wants You to Remake His First Dungeons & Dragons Game

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 14:03
Portalarium

I have no idea how Portalarium creative director Richard Garriott’s Shroud of the Avatar is going to turn out, but I’m all kinds of interested to see how this clever little promotional retro-competition he’s sponsoring will.

It involves one of the oldest games he designed. No, not Akalabeth. I’m talking about D&D#1, a game young master Garriott designed on a teletype machine nearly four decades ago while in high school (he’s 52 today, and a pretty eclectic guy — he’s also been to space).

Back in 1977, Garriott typed the game onto paper tape spools, which he fed into a terminal that ran the D&D-inspired roleplaying scenario in the simplest sense: explore a top-down dungeon (it used ASCII characters to indicate geometry), while doing battle with enemies and excavating treasure along the way.

Tele-who? Teleprinter technology. You know the Selectric 251 from the TV series Fringe that let people send and receive messages? Kind of like that, only without the interdimensional communications module. They’re electromechanical typewriters older than me, and Garriott used one to craft a slew of D&D-inspired games: 28 in all, paving the way for his first Apple II game, which in turn anticipated his storied Ultima computer roleplaying series.

Garriott’s asking anyone intrepid enough to take the source code (in BASIC) for that original teletype game — created at Clear Creek High School in Houston, Texas on a teletype machine connected via an acoustic modem to a PDP 11 type mini-computer — and translate it into something that faithfully recreates the original game (the instructions specify “No fancy graphics, stick with a traditional font on ‘yellow’ paper”). The contest just kicked off yesterday, April 15, and the clock’s ticking — entrants have until May 15.

According to the contest overview, the game’s been MIA since 1979, when teletype was retired. The idea here is to come up with a playable version Portalarium can drop into Shroud of the Avatar. You can submit using Unity or design “a no-plug-in Browser Version,” and the winners will be announced shortly after the contest closes. Winners (in each category) get a Citizen-level pledge reward (within Shroud of the Avatar) that Portalarium values at $550, while two runners-up in both categories will receive a Collector-level pledge reward valued at $165 apiece. The only catch: all submissions become Garriott’s property.

Categories: Magazines

Judge Stays Ohio Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 14:01

A federal judge in Ohio stayed his ruling that the state must recognize out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples, though he carved out an exception for the four couples that originally filed suit against the state.

District Court Judge Timothy Black said he issued the stay for the benefit of the public because the state is planning to appeal his original decision, the Columbus Dispatch reports. “The federal appeals court needs to rule, as does the United States Supreme Court,” Black said, citing the potential for confusion and high legal costs if same-sex couples were to act on his ruling.

The state asked Black to stay his decision to avoid “premature” reactions from same-sex couples, such as traveling to other states to get married. The four couples’ attorneys argued the decision caused unnecessary harm because three of the couples are expecting children and want to name both parents on birth certificates. In Wednesday’s decision, Black said the state must recognize the marriages of the four couples that filed suit against the state. Three of the couples are Ohio residents and one couple lives in New York.

Judges have acted similarly in several cases where state bans on same-sex marriage and recognition of same-sex marriage have been challenged.

[Columbus Dispatch]

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Joe Biden Joins Instagram, Everyone’s Lives Improve Exponentially 

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 13:42

Well, it finally happened. Vice President Joe Biden has joined the selfie-snapping, brunch-loving, filter-abusing masses of Instagram, and we couldn’t be more thrilled about it.

His handle is @VP and everyone should probably start following him immediately.

Seriously, his first post is utter perfection:

Can’t wait to see what else you have in store for us, Amtrak Joe.

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Ski Resorts Want You to Pay for Next Season’s Skiing Right Now

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 13:39
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Resorts are trying to get skiers locked in as loyal guests next season—and simultaneously keep them away from competitor mountains—with major deals for early-bird purchases.

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America’s biggest ski resorts are at it again. For a variety of reasons, starting with recent seasons of less-than-stellar snow and ending with increasingly aggressive tactics in the pursuit of customer loyalty throughout the industry, resort companies are upping their game to convince skiers and boarders that they should pay for next season’s skiing mere days after the current season has ended.

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And how do they get customers to commit so far in advance? By waving special offers that are often so good customers can’t refuse.

Two of the industry’s biggest players, Vail Resorts and Intrawest, make it easy even for those who are currently struggling to pay off credit card bills related to the ski season just in the rear-view mirror, by allowing customers to lock in pass prices now with only a $49 down payment. Once that’s been paid, the company has your credit card information—and before next ski season begins, your card will automatically be charged for the balance.

Vail, which owns and operates ten major ski resorts, including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Heavenly, and Kirkwood, offers a wide variety of passes. The unrestricted Epic Pass is at the top price-wise, running $729 (up $40 from special prices available last summer), with a range of cheaper options for special buyer categories (kids, seniors, college students) and for skiers who can live with more restrictions (blackout dates, fewer resorts, etc.). Considering that a single-day walkup ticket can run well over $100 at a place like Vail, it’s easy to see how these season passes are well worth the money for even a moderate skier who figures to log in, say, 10 or 12 days of making turns each winter.

For diehards putting in a few dozen days per season on the mountain, these passes are no-brainers. They’re probably even underpriced. Why, then, do ski companies keep prices so low?

The big reason is that they want skiers to commit their money—and their loyalty—early, long before anyone can tell if the season’s snow will be good or bad (and potentially not worth the trip at all). They also want customers to commit because doing so largely eliminates the possibility that these skiers will wind up spending a day, let alone an entire week’s vacation, at a competitor resort. After you’ve already coughed up a few hundred bucks for a pass, after all, you’ll want to use it rather than paying more money out of pocket.

The ski companies are also well aware of the powerful trickle-down effect of selling one pass. The likely result is that the passholder will wind up spending money in resort-area restaurants, bars, and hotels, perhaps over the course of seven, ten, or many more days. And pass purchases beget pass purchases, as skiers and boarders tend to buy passes at the same places as their skier and boarder family and friends.

In fact, the Intrawest Passport pushes group sales by directly incentivizing family and friends to buy their passes together. One adult pass, which grants six days of mountain access at each of the company’s six North American resorts (including Steamboat and Winter Park in Colorado, Stratton in Vermont, and Tremblant in Quebec), costs $589. But up to five additional adult passes purchased at the same time cost $449 each, and up to five kids ages 12 and under are totally free. The deal gets more appealing when you add more people to the mix—and bringing more customers to Intrawest’s resorts is exactly what the company wants.

Each of the many ski pass programs in North America features different price points and inclusions, but they all have one thing in common: They want your money asap. Intrawest is only guaranteeing current pricing through April 30. The Mountain Collective, which provides two days apiece at resorts like Whistler-Blackcomb and Aspen-Snowmass and 50% off the regular rate thereafter, is throwing in an extra free day at your choice of mountains for a vague “while supplies last” period. The Mountain Collective pass is now $359, up from $349 last season, and runs $99 for kids 12 and under.

Another pass partnership, the Powder Alliance, hasn’t announced its policies for the upcoming season yet. If they remained unchanged from 2013-2014, all season passholders from a dozen resorts will automatically get three free days each at all of the other participating resorts, including Stevens Pass in Washington, Crested Butte in Colorado, Snowbasin in Utah, and Schweitzer in Idaho. And yes, you can expect discounts for buying passes early. The pricing at Schweitzer, for instance, generally calls for 2014-2015 passes to rise by $100 as of June 1. The takeaway is pretty obvious: Smart skiers will want to lock in a lower price now.

Categories: Magazines

KFC Is Reintroducing a Sandwich That Replaces Bread With Fried Chicken

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 13:39

Maybe KFC felt like it didn’t go far enough by bestowing a $20 fried chicken prom corsage upon the world earlier this week. Wednesday, the fast food chain announced that is bringing back the Double Down starting April 21.

To the uninitiated (way to keep those arteries unclogged, guys!), the Double Down is a sandwich that replaces bread with fried chicken, used to hold together an assortment of bacon and cheese. Although the item has been in and out of stores since its 2010 premiere, now is the obvious time to bring it back. Why? Because the internet is currently facilitating American consumers’ slow overdose on viral food hybrids. Taco Bell uses both Doritos and waffles in place of taco shells. McDonald’s has new ads for it’s pancake breakfast sandwich. Dominos announced a fried chicken crusted pizza Monday. (Pizza Hut Middle East stuffed chicken nuggets and cheeseburgers into its pizza crust in 2012, so we’re slightly underwhelmed.)

Can the Double Down stand tall in among its Twitter-friendly “food” hybrid counterparts? Maybe it can make a compelling SnapChat campaign to convince us. According to USA Today, the tagline has been dubbed “Double Down Dare”… so we’ve been warned.

Sidenote: If you want more information on what the Double Down is actually like, here’s TIME’s Joel Stein chowing down when it was first released:

Categories: Magazines

Al-Qaeda’s Second-in-Command Seen in New Video

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 13:34

A video published recently on Islamist websites purports to show a large group of al-Qaeda fighters, including the terrorist group’s second in command, gathering in an open air location.

Counterterrorism authorities are scrutinizing the video for clues to potential plots, the Washington Post reports, citing unnamed U.S. officials. Officials told the Post the video appears to be recent and authentic. They declined to explain why there had been no U.S. strike on the gathering in an undisclosed, open location.

Nasir al-Wuhayshi, al-Qaeda’s leader in Yemen, is said to appear in the video without a mask, along with other group leaders. Some faces in the footage are blurred out, raising fears the organization may be seeking to protect the identities of recruits being trained for attacks.

The video evokes footage shot in the late 1990s of al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. The terrorist network’s Yemen affiliate has generally avoided open-air meetings.

The United States has carried out eight strikes in Yemen so far this year. A U.S. strike there in December killed a dozen people in a wedding caravan.

[Washington Post]

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Judge Overturns North Dakota Early Abortion Ban

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 13:31

A federal judge overturned Wednesday a North Dakota law that banned early abortions, the Associated Press reports.

The law made it illegal for a woman to get an abortion after a fetal heartbeat was detected. That can happen as early as six weeks into pregnancy—often before a woman even knows she’s pregnant.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland ruled that the law was “invalid and unconstitutional.”

North Dakota has only one abortion clinic, located in Fargo. The Fargo clinic filed a lawsuit against the early abortion ban in July with the support of the New York-based Center for Reproductive rights.

The overturned law was among four anti-abortion bills that North Dakota Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed in 2013 with the support of the state’s Republican-dominated legislature.

[AP]

Categories: Magazines

This Is How Caffeine Actually Affects Your Brain 

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 13:00

Over 83 percent of Americans drink coffee, making the U.S. the world’s largest consumer of the potent beans. We probably love it so much because it’s also our favorite drug—caffeine keeps us going (even in today’s strangely wintry weather). But only a fraction of addicts actually understand how caffeine impacts the brain. Here’s a video that explains the addiction.

The Reactions video explores the chemistry of caffeine, which breaks up into three different molecules: theobromine, paraxanthine, and theophylline. The combined impact of these three compounds induces the wakeful state we all need to start our mornings.

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Virginia Tech Pays U.S. Fines Related To ’07 Killings

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 12:57

(RICHMOND, Va.) — Virginia Tech has paid federal fines for its actions on the morning of April 16, 2007, when a lone gunman killed 32 people on the school’s campus.

The U.S. Department of Education said Wednesday the university has paid two fines totaling $32,500 for violations of the Clery Act, which requires universities to issue timely warnings of campus threats.

Student gunman Seung-Hui Cho (sung-wee joh) shot two at a dorm on the Blacksburg campus hours before his rampage at a classroom building. University officials have defended their decision to not alert the campus of the first shootings because police said that they were domestic in nature and that the broader campus was not at risk.

Tech officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

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Sky Ferreira Heads to Compton in “I Blame Myself” Video: Watch

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 12:53

After more than five years as a rising pop star, Sky Ferreira must be used to her singles going underappreciated, and “I Blame Myself” was the most underappreciated track off last year’s already great Night Time, My Time. Indebted less to ‘90s alt than the kind of sparkly, introspective pop that’s not tied to any decade – like Ferreira’s own “Everything Is Embarrassing” – it was both immediate and searing, sparing no fury for the intersection of condescension, sexualization and (“it’s like talking to a friend who’s trying to be a lover”) she encountered while churning through the major-label teen pop machine, while never being obvious. It goes right for the throat: of its targets, of its hooks.

It’s also, with its John Hughes closing-credits vibe, fertile material to turn into a video. Sadly, the clip for “I Blame Myself” is not really so topical, a fakeout of a gangsta rap clip that – shock? – doesn’t star a gangsta rapper but a be-hoodied Sky, fresh out of the stylist’s room — or at least the “LoveGame” storyboard. There is about a 50 percent chance you will encounter a thinkpiece about this by the end of the week.

 

Categories: Magazines

Instagram Begins Purging Spam Accounts

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 12:49

Instagram is taking out the trash: the photo-sharing app is sifting through its entire user base and deleting inactive, old and spam accounts on a mass scale for the first time.

If you log into your account today, you will likely see a message that reads:

“Changes in followers

We’ve removed deactivated and spam accounts. Your list of followers and people you follow may have changed.”

“After receiving feedback from members in the Instagram community, we recently fixed an issue that incorrectly included inactive accounts in follower/following lists,” an Instagram spokesperson said in a statement to Re/code. “We believe this will provide a more authentic experience and genuinely reflect people who are actually engaging with each other’s content.”

Owned by Facebook since April 2012, Instagram has always had a bit of a spam problem. So many users complained about fake accounts that the company had to officially comment on the situation two years ago.

“There’s no quick fix, but we have a team of engineers working every day to tackle the issue and we hope you’ll notice their improvements,” Instagram wrote in the comments section of a photo on the official Instagram account.

Instagram’s terms prohibit people from spamming others on Instagram and encourage users to police the app themselves by reporting suspected spam as “inappropriate.”

Many users may see a drop in their number of followers thanks to the purge, but at least now you’ll know who your real friends are.

[Re/code]

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See One Man Perfectly Imitate 30 Different Animals 

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 12:30

RudiRok is a Finnish comedian and beatboxer, but he also wouldn’t be out of place on Noah’s ark. In this video, he perfectly mimics the sounds of 30 different animals, from horses and pigs to lambs and even flies.

The beatboxer’s lion and pig imitations are spot-on, the wolf perfect. He yowls like an upset kitten, then purrs like a contented one.

While RudiRok’s other videos haven’t catapulted him to instant Internet fame, mimicking animals seems to be a particular talent. Just imagine the possibilities! Helping pandas mate by faking their calls. Ordering bears to catch salmon for him. Attracting ducks for hunters. Way better than being a DJ.

Categories: Magazines

How to Generate Solar Power Where the Sun Don’t Shine

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 12:29

Solar power, it goes without saying, requires solar radiation, which if you’re thinking like a solar traditionalist means a shining sun. But the key to upending that sort of conventional thinking about how we sip “free” energy from the massive thermonuclear fusion reactor seething at the center of our solar system — and, critically, store it when the sun ain’t shining — turns out to involve a little something at the crux of a slew of recent breakthroughs, including the hypothetical continuation of Moore’s (currently doomed) Law.

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Meet carbon nanotubes: atom-thin layers of carbon rolled into incredibly tiny tubes — carbon being a chemical element that, among other things, allows us and all other forms of organic matter to exist.

According to MIT News, researchers at MIT and Harvard have fashioned carbon nanotubes capable of absorbing the sun’s radiation and storing it in chemical form, where it can then be tapped at will to generate heat on demand. Heat alone, that is, and probably not electricity, since converting the thermal energy to electricity would nullify efficiency gains. But imagine a versatile, environmentally nil sort of thermal nano-battery that you could use to provide heat for cooking or warming or anything else that might benefit from economically captured and ready-stored high temperature fuel.

According to the researchers, publishing in the journal Nature Chemistry, we need far better ways to store energy — it’s one of the precepts behind mainstreaming solar power. “Other than liquid fuels, existing energy-storage materials do not provide the requisite combination of high energy density, high stability, easy handling, transportability and low cost,” they write.

Their solution: take special types of molecules known as molecular switches, capable of being switched (and reversed) between various states — a process known as photoswitching — and expose them to sunlight. When you do so, they absorb the energy and shift to a kind of “tense” storage state, and they can remain in that state for a long time. Then, all you need to do is give them a jolt, causing them to “relax” and discharge the energy in the form of heat. And best of all: the transaction is emissions-free — you can use it continuously, and the materials are never consumed.

The working cycle of a solar thermal fuel is depicted in this illustration, using azobenzene as an example. When such a photoswitchable molecule absorbs a photon of light, it undergoes a structural rearrangement, capturing a portion of the photon’s energy as the energy difference between the two structural states. When the molecule is triggered to switch back to the lower-energy form, it releases that energy difference as heat. MIT

The trick in this case lays in getting the molecules packed tightly enough to make the idea tenable. When the researchers tried to link their molecular switches to carbon nanotubes, they found they couldn’t get them half as close as their computer simulations indicated they’d need to. But it seemed those simulations might be wrong: Even at less than half the requisite modeled density, the synthetic material was meeting their heat storage demands.

Digging deeper, they discovered what was really going on: The photoswitching molecules were attaching to the carbon nanotubes in a way that brought the molecules themselves together much more closely than surmised.

As usual, the laboratory version is just that — a laboratory model. According to Defense One, the MIT/Harvard team is currently looking into other types of photoswitching molecules and underlying layers (like the carbon nanotubes) in hopes of increasing the amount of chemically storable solar energy, as well as finding more viable ways to scale these storage mechanisms up.

Categories: Magazines

If You’re a Nerd, This Is the Best Web Site on the Internet Right Now

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 12:23

The next installment in the X-Men franchise, Days of Future Past, is close at hand — and that means the hype machine is being kicked into eighth gear. Twentieth Century Fox’s latest gambit is 25Moments.com, a “fictional experience from the world of X-Men.” The micro-site is intended to set the stage for the new film, in which various X-people travel through time to find themselves (literally). The result is an alternate history lesson in which President Nixon chills with giant killer robots and babies are born made of metal thanks to the Chernobyl disaster. Is it a tedious, viral click-through? Yes. Is it amazing? Also yes. Here’s a closer look at some of the best shots from the site.

“During a pivotal moment in the Cold War, missiles launched near Cuba allegedly malfunction due to an unidentified group with unexplained powers.” 20th Century Fox “The mutant known as Magneto is implicated in the assassination of John F. Kennedy by a witness on the grassy knoll. Magneto denies direct involvement, sparking the ‘Free Magneto’ movement.” 20th Century Fox “The Chernobyl nuclear power plant melts down, causing a spike in premature mutant expressions for generations.” 20th Century Fox
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Judge: North Dakota Abortion Law Unconstitutional

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 12:18

(BISMARCK, N.D.) — A federal judge has overturned a North Dakota law banning abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy and before many women know they’re pregnant.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland on Wednesday ruled that the law banning abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected is “invalid and unconstitutional.” Hovland said the law “cannot withstand a constitutional challenge.”

The state’s only abortion clinic is in Fargo. Backed by the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, the clinic filed a lawsuit against the measure in July.

The measure was among four anti-abortion bills that Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed into law last year with overwhelming support from the state’s Republican-led Legislature.

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Up To 100 Georgia Students Hit By Pepper Spray Blast

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 12:17

(DOUGLASVILLE, Ga.) — Police say up to 100 students were affected by a blast of pepper spray set off in a hallway at a Georgia high school.

Douglasville police spokesman Maj. G. Graff says 75 to 100 students complained about itchy eyes and noses after someone set off the spray at Douglas County High School, west of Atlanta.

Graff tells WSB-TV (http://bit.ly/1eJp6Or) that police were unsure who released the pepper spray and were looking at surveillance video to learn more.

Emergency officials evaluated the students as firefighters helped evacuate part of the building.

Categories: Magazines

A 7-Step Guide for Rebooting Civilization After the Apocalypse

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 12:16

The world as we know it has ended. A particularly virulent strain of avian flu finally breached the species barrier and hopped successfully to human hosts. Or tensions between India and Pakistan reached the breaking point, culminating in the use of nuclear weapons. Or a rocky asteroid, only around a mile across, slammed into the Earth and fatally changed atmospheric conditions.

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Now what?

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As recently as the last century, people made the things they used every day. Yet in the span of just a couple generations, we have become a society of consumers rather than makers. Thanks to today’s modern conveniences, we have become disconnected from the basic skills and knowledge on which our lives and our world depend.

Here, then, are a few of the skills you’ll need to survive in the post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Survive the immediate aftermath

Aside from dodging raiding bandits, the single most important thing you can do to stay alive in a post-apocalyptic world without antibiotics is to stop yourself picking up infections in the first place. Ensure your drinking water is not contaminated — boil it if necessary, or even disinfect using diluted bleach scavenged from any abandoned household. Soap is enormously effective at protecting against gastrointestinal and respiratory infections, and can be made by treating animal fat or plant oil with quicklime (roasted chalk or limestone) and soda (see below).

Scavenge what you need

For a certain grace period you’ll be able to dine-out on the left-overs of our fallen civilization — stockpiles of canned food in the supermarkets — before you need to redevelop agriculture to stop yourself starving to death. You’ll need viable, preserved seeds, and the Global Seed Vault on the Norwegian island of Svalbard will be well-worth a post-apocalyptic recovery expedition. This is a doomsday-proof facility dug deep into the arctic permafrost and represents an ideal agricultural SAVE file.

Reconstruct the calendar

The bane of our working lives today, the calendar is in fact critical to reliable agriculture and survival as it allows you to track your passage through the cycle of the seasons and so predict the best time for planting and harvesting.

In the northern hemisphere, summer solstice is the day the sun rises from its northern most point on the horizon (which you can in turn determine with a magnetized needle) — this falls around 21st June and so you can use this observation to peg the rest of the calendar. As your agriculture becomes increasingly efficient it’ll demand a lower and lower fraction of your population, freeing people to specialize in other skills and for your society to grow in complexity and capability.

Restart a chemical industry

Advancing civilization is not just about ensuring food surplus or exploiting windmills or steam engines to ease human labor, but also about providing vital substances. One of the most crucial classes of chemicals throughout history has been alkalis like potash (potassium carbonate) and soda (sodium carbonate), as these are needed in making glass, paper and soap. Potash can be simply extracted from the ashes of a wood fire by soaking water through them. Discard the insoluble minerals that settle on the bottom, and then recover the dissolved potash by evaporating away the water. Soda is made in the same way, from burning seaweed.

Tree-powered cars

Once all the remaining gasoline and diesel is gone you’ll struggle to drill for your own oil: the easily-accessible reserves have already been pumped dry. But that doesn’t mean you’ll have to abandon automobiles and mechanization — astonishingly, the internal combustion engine can be run on flammable gases released by the thermal-breakdown of lumber. Wood gasifier cars were common during WWII, with a tall combustion chamber strapped on the back and a pipe delivering the flammable gases into the engine cylinders.

Reestablish contact with remote communities of other survivors

If there are no functioning radios left, you can create your own receiver with surprising simplicity from scavenged materials, as was demonstrated by POW ingenuity during WWII. The key component is the rectifier that strips the sound away from the carrier wave: the contact between a pencil and rusty razor blade functions for this. A crude transmitter can be built for Morse code broadcasts using a spark generator.

How to relearn all else

By far the most important thing to try and protect and preserve through the apocalypse is the technique you need to apply to relearn everything else for yourself, to rediscover how the world works and then exploit that knowledge for developing novel technology and improving your life. This tool is the scientific method. The core principle is that you can only reliably understand the world by observing it first-hand and by quizzing it with carefully constructed questions (“experiments”) to test which of your explanations works best.

Lewis Dartnell is a UK Space Agency research fellow at University of Leicester and author of The Knowledge: How to Rebuild the World from Scratch (The Penguin Press). Read more at the-knowledge.org.

Categories: Magazines

We Want Your Pictures for Earth Day

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 12:06

Earth doesn’t do ugly. There’s virtually no place you can live on the planet that at some point can’t knock you out with its flat-out gorgeousness—and we’re not just talking rainforests and coral reefs here. Badlands are anything but bad when you appreciate their raw, rugged beauty; the same is true of tundras and deserts and sprawling plains—fruited or not. The odds are at least one of these bowl-you-over vistas is located in your part of the world.

OK, so prove it. To honor Earth day 2014, Google+ and Time want to see your best picture of your beautiful Earth, which you can share with the straight-up hashtag #MyBeautifulEarth. Google+ will feature your images on a page of all of that local loveliness from now through April 22, which can be seen and savored in real time, as the page grows. Time’s photo editors will cull through the submissions, and the best of them will appear on an electronic billboard In New York’s Times Square. Earth being what it is—and people being what we are—it’s almost certain that at some point you’ve looked around yourself and wished that everybody could see the mesa or glacier or mountain or river or coastline or canyon or valley or bay just outside your window. On April 22, 2014, they could.

To share your photo, go to plus.google.com and click on “Share what’s new” in the Share box at the top of your stream, or open the Google+ app on your phone, and click the blue camera icon. Add a description for your photo, and include the hashtag #mybeautifulearth. Add your photo to your post, then add “Public” in the “To:” box. Click Share, and you’ve shared your part of the planet with the world.

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