How to Remember a Disaster Without Being Shattered by It

McKinnon had grown up listening to police and fire scanners. Her father was a deputy fire marshal, and her mother was a nurse. From their living room, McKinnon heard about car crashes, people trapped inside of homes, or victims escaping from burning buildings, dragging themselves outside for help. Overhearing these life-or-death intrusions into an otherwise […]

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The LA Musician Who Designed a Microphone for Mars

It’s called the “seven minutes of terror.” As the 2,300-pound, six-wheeled, nuclear-powered Perseverance rover approaches Mars on Thursday, a supersonic parachute will slow the descent vehicle to 200 mph. About 70 feet above the landing site, retrorockets will settle it into a hover, then a “sky crane” will lower NASA’s newest rock-crawler to the rust-colored […]

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Premature Babies and the Lonely Terror of a Pandemic NICU

In the beginning, Ruscica and D’Ambra brought their parents and friends to the NICU to see their son. D’Ambra worked part-time and took a bus and then a train from their home in New Jersey to NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, in northern Manhattan, each day. But every day, it seemed, the bus and the […]

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The Lion, the Polygamist, and the Biofuel Scam

According to Leon, Dermen said, “You’re being too flashy. You’re looking for too much attention.” He pointed at Jacob. “Do you appreciate what this man has done for you? Do you care about him?” “Yes,” said Leon, fear rising in him. “Would you do anything for this man?” “Sure.” “Would you be willing to leave […]

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The Lion, the Polygamist, and the Biofuel Scam

According to Leon, Dermen said, “You’re being too flashy. You’re looking for too much attention.” He pointed at Jacob. “Do you appreciate what this man has done for you? Do you care about him?” “Yes,” said Leon, fear rising in him. “Would you do anything for this man?” “Sure.” “Would you be willing to leave […]

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The Lion, the Polygamist, and the Biofuel Scam

According to Leon, Dermen said, “You’re being too flashy. You’re looking for too much attention.” He pointed at Jacob. “Do you appreciate what this man has done for you? Do you care about him?” “Yes,” said Leon, fear rising in him. “Would you do anything for this man?” “Sure.” “Would you be willing to leave […]

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Covid, Schools, and the High-Stakes Experiment No One Wanted

The kids got their temperatures checked, and staffers directed them to their classrooms. Children sat spaced out, separated by two empty desks. Nancy Mitchell’s daughter Jordan was among those who returned. “She was really falling behind,” Mitchell says. The so-called summer slide, when students forget some of what they’ve learned, had deepened into a Covid […]

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The Strange and Twisted Tale of Hydroxychloroquine

The same week the mania for the drug took hold in Silicon Valley, Larry Ellison, the chair of Oracle and the fifth-richest person on earth, started talking with Donald Trump. According to The Washington Post, Ellison wanted to pitch a widespread study of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as a treatment. Ellison proposed that Oracle could develop […]

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The West’s Infernos Are Melting Our Sense of How Fire Works

Even as Knapp cranked the spigot, the swirling smoke he’d seen was fast accelerating, transforming much of the Carr Fire’s enormous lower plume into the biggest fire tornado ever observed, a whirling vortex of flame 17,000 feet tall and rotating at 143 mph with the destructive force of an EF-3 tornado, the kind that erases […]

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San Francisco Was Uniquely Prepared for Covid-19

Twitter execs realized they couldn’t afford to stand by until the science and official guidance were settled. “If we wait for enough data to present itself for a jurisdiction to make a confident decision,” Christie remembers thinking, “we might be too late for our own people.” On Wednesday, February 26, the executive team ordered every […]

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We Can Protect the Economy From Pandemics. Why Didn’t We?

On December 31, 2019, Nita Madhav was in Portland, Oregon, attending a cousin’s wedding. That summer, after four years leading the infectious disease data science team, she’d taken over as CEO of Metabiota. Now she was enjoying a holiday away from the stress of running a 60-plus-employee company. Her extended family had traveled from around […]

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The First Shot: Inside the Covid Vaccine Fast Track

This is where your B cells and T cells, the problem-solvers and soldiers of the adaptive immune system, come in. Each day, these cells are undergoing their own form of natural selection: developing and recombining at random to create billions of antibodies and receptors in different patterns, each of them a possible match for dangers […]

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27 Days in Tokyo Bay: What Happened on the Diamond Princess

More than a million people watched Iwata’s whistle-blowing video. The system wasn’t perfect, the health ministry said. Still, it was too late to make much of a difference. Medical experts were calling the Japanese response a disaster. People who had finally been evacuated from the ship continued to test positive for Covid-19. On February 20 […]

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How a Pudgy Porpoise May Save Other Animals From Extinction

The ensuing gold rush was catastrophic for fish and porpoise alike. At first, the totoabas were so plentiful that they could be harpooned from the beach, butchered for their maws—which, when dried, resemble colossal potato chips with unappetizing tendrils—and left to rot. But as the population dwindled, fisherman turned to new methods. Near the Colorado […]

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