Walter Isaacson

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Elon Musk, SpaceX founder and chief executive, in Paris on June 16. (Nathan Laine/Bloomberg)

An hour before Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, it used a massive malware attack to disable the routers of the American satellite company Viasat that provided communications to the country. The command system of the Ukrainian military was crippled, making it almost impossible to mount a defense. Top Ukrainian officials frantically appealed to SpaceX founder Elon Musk for help, and the deputy prime minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, used Twitter to urge him to send Ukraine terminals so it could use the satellite system that the company had built. “We ask you to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations”, he wrote.…  Seguir leyendo »

Emmanuelle Charpentier, left, and Jennifer Doudna may have made the most important biological advance since the discovery of the structure of DNA. Credit Miguel Riopa/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

When Jennifer Doudna was in sixth grade, she came home one day to find that her dad had left a paperback titled “The Double Helix” on her bed. She put it aside, thinking it was one of those detective tales she loved. When she read it on a rainy Saturday, she discovered she was right, in a way. As she sped through the pages, she became enthralled by the intense drama, filled with colorful characters, about ambition and competition in the pursuit of nature’s wonders. Even though her high school counselor told her girls didn’t become scientists, she decided she would.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Light-Beam Rider

This month marks the 100th anniversary of the General Theory of Relativity, the most beautiful theory in the history of science, and in its honor we should take a moment to celebrate the visualized “thought experiments” that were the navigation lights guiding Albert Einstein to his brilliant creation. Einstein relished what he called Gedankenexperimente, ideas that he twirled around in his head rather than in a lab. That’s what teachers call daydreaming, but if you’re Einstein you get to call them Gedankenexperimente.

As these thought experiments remind us, creativity is based on imagination. If we hope to inspire kids to love science, we need to do more than drill them in math and memorized formulas.…  Seguir leyendo »

The rocket attacks on Israel launched by Hamas militants in Gaza, coupled with Israel's retaliation, have disrupted peace talks between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. This is a great victory for the radicals in Hamas, who never wanted such talks. While visiting the region this week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is trying to remind everyone that the real goal is to weaken Hamas.

One way to do that is to strengthen its moderate Palestinian opponents. Fortunately, there is a smart and honest leader of these forces: Salam Fayyad, an apolitical economist (with a doctorate from the University of Texas) who is prime minister of the Palestinian Authority.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sixty years ago, America faced a new and dangerous global challenge, the expansionist aims of Soviet communism. This threat arose rather suddenly, and it was clear that it could portend a long struggle.

Our leaders reacted with a burst of creativity. Working across party lines, they created a military alliance, NATO, to counter Soviet aggression. To win the economic struggle, they formed institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and programs such as the Marshall Plan. To win hearts and minds, they created Radio Free Europe and revamped Voice of America. They defined the struggle clearly and articulated it publicly with the Truman Doctrine.…  Seguir leyendo »