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  • Ideas for a better world in 2011

    Ideas for a better world in 2011

    In many ways, 2010 is a year you may want to relegate to the filing cabinet quickly. It began with a massive earthquake in Haiti and wound down with North Korea once again being an enfant terrible – bizarrely trying to conduct diplomacy through brinkmanship. In between came Toyota recalls and egg scares, pat downs at airports and unyielding unemployment numbers, too little money in the Irish treasury and too many bedbugs in American sheets. Oil gushed from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico for three months, mocking the best intentions of man and technology to stop it, while ash from a volcano in Iceland darkened Europe temporarily as much as its balance sheets. Yet not all was gloomy. The winter Olympics in Canada and the World Cup in South Africa dazzled with their displays of athletic prowess and national pride, becoming hearths around which the world gathered. In Switzerland, the world's largest atom smasher hurled two protons into each other at unfathomable speeds. Then came the year's most poignant moment – the heroic and improbable rescue of 33 miners from the clutches of the Chilean earth. There were many transitions, too – the return of the Republicans in Washington and the Tories in Britain, the scaling back of one war (Iraq) and the escalation of another (Afghanistan), the fall of some powers (Greece) and rise of others (China, Germany, Lady Gaga). To get the new year off to the right start, we decided to ask various thinkers for one idea each to make the world a better place in 2011. We plumbed poets and political figures, physicists and financiers, theologians and novelists. Some of the ideas are provocative, others quixotic. Some you will agree with, others you won't. But in the modest quest to stir a discussion – from academic salons to living rooms to government corridors – we offer these 25 ideas.

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    Even as the Curiosity Mars rover was still testing its equipment in preparation for its surface mission, NASA has unveiled plans for another unmanned mission to Mars. Is the agency playing favorites?

  • Pioneer Anomaly solved: No need to rewrite physics just yet

    The gradual slowing of NASA's Pioneer space probes launched in the early 1970s could not be explained by our current model of gravitation, until now.

  • Ideas for a better world in 2011

    Ideas for a better world in 2011

    In many ways, 2010 is a year you may want to relegate to the filing cabinet quickly. It began with a massive earthquake in Haiti and wound down with North Korea once again being an enfant terrible – bizarrely trying to conduct diplomacy through brinkmanship. In between came Toyota recalls and egg scares, pat downs at airports and unyielding unemployment numbers, too little money in the Irish treasury and too many bedbugs in American sheets. Oil gushed from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico for three months, mocking the best intentions of man and technology to stop it, while ash from a volcano in Iceland darkened Europe temporarily as much as its balance sheets. Yet not all was gloomy. The winter Olympics in Canada and the World Cup in South Africa dazzled with their displays of athletic prowess and national pride, becoming hearths around which the world gathered. In Switzerland, the world's largest atom smasher hurled two protons into each other at unfathomable speeds. Then came the year's most poignant moment – the heroic and improbable rescue of 33 miners from the clutches of the Chilean earth. There were many transitions, too – the return of the Republicans in Washington and the Tories in Britain, the scaling back of one war (Iraq) and the escalation of another (Afghanistan), the fall of some powers (Greece) and rise of others (China, Germany, Lady Gaga). To get the new year off to the right start, we decided to ask various thinkers for one idea each to make the world a better place in 2011. We plumbed poets and political figures, physicists and financiers, theologians and novelists. Some of the ideas are provocative, others quixotic. Some you will agree with, others you won't. But in the modest quest to stir a discussion – from academic salons to living rooms to government corridors – we offer these 25 ideas.

  • Did something just smack into Japan's Akatsuki Venus probe?

    Did something just smack into Japan's Akatsuki Venus probe?

    The Akatsuki Venus probe failed to enter orbit Monday night, leading some to speculate that the Japanese spacecraft was struck by something.

  • Solar sail experiment could test Einstein hypothesis

    Solar sail experiment could test Einstein hypothesis

    A physics professor has proposed using a solar sail to confirm a side-effect of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.

  • Japanese solar sail successfully rides a sunbeam

    Japanese solar sail successfully rides a sunbeam

    A Japanese solar sail has experienced its first accelerating push from sunlight in a successful test of its novel propulsion system, Japan's space agency has confirmed.

  • Japanese space mission to Venus will be powered by a solar sail

    Japanese space mission to Venus will be powered by a solar sail

    The first solar-powered sail craft will embark on an ambitious journey to Venus.

  • Astronomer notices one less stripe on the planet Jupiter

    Astronomer notices one less stripe on the planet Jupiter

    Australian astronomer Anthony Wesley noticed that one of the huge bands of clouds in the southern half of Jupiter has vanished.