Breaking Earth’s Gravity (And Other Barriers)

Question: What message do you hope your space flight will send to Middle Eastern women, and to Middle Eastern men?

Anousheh Ansari: Actually I think space travel is a dream for many men and women. I think my trip will be perceived differently by different genders because for women, a lot of time, not only space travel, it’s not accessible to everyone, but is even less accessible to women, there are a lot more barriers for them especially if they live in countries where things like space travel, engineering, any science and technology-related field would be considered a more male-dominated, male-appropriate field. And so I want to show them that there is nothing preventing woman, or making them less qualified to be involved in any of these fields. But equally, I think men also get very interested because, as I said, that space is not accessible today to many people and one of my goals as my involvement through Ansari X Prize was to create opportunity for everyone equally, men and women.

Question: What role do women’s rights play in the ongoing public protests in Iran?

Anousheh Ansari: I would say that women’s rights are definitely a key issue because you also see women actually in a way being very, very active in this movement. It has been an issue over the past years, and the situation sort of fluctuates sometimes it gets a little bit easier and then it gets harder again, and overall, I think women in Iran are very resilient and I am very proud of all the Iranian women that are standing up for their rights and speaking out, and I hope that they will succeed and I am glad the international community is paying attention and supporting them as well.

The astronaut describes what her space flight meant for Middle Eastern women and why she is proud of female protesters in her native Iran.

Why a federal judge ordered White House to restore Jim Acosta's press badge

A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration likely violated the reporter's Fifth Amendment rights when it stripped his press credentials earlier this month.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta (R) returns to the White House with CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist after Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly ordered the White House to reinstate his press pass November 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. CNN has filed a lawsuit against the White House after Acosta's press pass was revoked after a dispute involving a news conference last week. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Acosta will be allowed to return to the White House on Friday.
  • The judge described the ruling as narrow, and didn't rule one way or the other on violations of the First Amendment.
  • The case is still open, and the administration may choose to appeal the ruling.
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How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
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Scientists just voted to change the definition of a kilogram

The definition of a kilogram will now be fixed to Planck's constant, a fundamental part of quantum physics.

Greg L via Wikipedia
Surprising Science
  • The new definition of a kilogram is based on a physical constant in quantum physics.
  • Unlike the current definition of a kilogram, this measurement will never change.
  • Scientists also voted to update the definitions of several other measurements in physics.
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