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Stories by John Matson

Be like an astronaut: Vote!

Many of us once dreamed of becoming astronauts. But faced with the prospect of attaining an advanced aeronautics degree, enduring g -force training, and, um, drinking recycled urine, most of us opted for more mundane careers...

October 27, 2008 — John Matson

Mercury taking shape in images of previously unseen terrain

NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft, launched in 2004, completed its second flyby of Mercury early Monday morning, passing within 125 miles (200 kilometers) of the planet’s surface and snapping striking photographs of never-before-seen terrain...

October 8, 2008 — John Matson

The white stuff: Falling snow spotted above Mars

NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander, having already uncovered water ice in the soil of the Red Planet's northern polar plains, has now spotted another sight familiar to those of us who dwell in the higher latitude climes back on Earth: falling snow...

September 30, 2008 — John Matson

Big and bigger: New prime numbers claim top two spots

Yesterday we reported on the impending announcement of two newly discovered mammoth prime numbers, and the details, now out, do not disappoint. According to the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS), the volunteer-powered distributed-computing group responsible for finding most of the largest known primes (a prime number is divisible only by 1 and itself), both are larger than any other known primes: one clocks in at nearly 13 million digits in length and the other at a slightly smaller 11.2 million digits...

September 16, 2008 — John Matson

It's twins! Two massive new primes (as in numbers) discovered

Prime numbers have long held a special appeal among the mathematically minded, from the Greek astronomer Eratosthenes, who devised a method for finding primes some 2,200 years ago, to the cryptographers who made them the foundation of today’s encryption protocols...

September 15, 2008 — John Matson
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