Cornelia Dean has front and center a terrific story of daring engineering, wartime fears, remote wilderness, and to justify its place in ScienceTimes, climate change. The famed Alcan Highway from southern-ish Canada to Fairbanks, Alaska has gone in the last half century from treacherous gravel road to smooth pavement suitable for travel trailers, but now its engineers face a new challenge. The permafrost on which much of it was built is melting in many places. Sunlight on dark asphalt is one reason, a warming climate another. This is a story of adaptation: that of the original engineers who had to devise construction methods on the fly, and of adaptation today to the softening ground. Dean packs so much info in here that it reads like the pitch for a book on the Alaska Highway. I'd read it.
Other headlines to note:
- Denise Grady : American Woman Who Shattered Space Ceiling; One among many obituaries for Sally Ride, a physicist who to her surprise got invited to train with NASA as an astronaut - and wound up the first American woman in space and the youngest American ever.
- Michelle Nijhuis: Frozen Sperm Offer a Lifeline for Coral ; A lovely piece by Ms. Nijhuis. At first this morning I thought NYTimes misspelled her name NUHUIS, but in the on line typeface that is what NIJHUIS looks like.
- Dennis Overbye: Mystery Tug on Spacecraft is Einstein's 'I Told You So' ; Finally, a niggling little suspicion that the Pioneer 10 and 11 more or less interstellar probes are traversing a gravity field of a nature outside known science, straying slightly but spookily off course, seems to have its refutation. Overbye's version: "..they have been driving the solar system with their high beams on. Einstein's particle-wave duality, which is not quite the same as the quantum mechanics he mistrusted, helps explain the mystery tug. The effort to unravel the affair, by one stubborn man, was heroic.
- Jean Friedman-Rudovsky: New Paint wipes Out Infestation in a Village ; Good news, but the likelihood of this method to suppress disease swill quickly spur insecticide resistance seems under-explored.
As usual lots more. Whole Section ;
Elsewhere in NYTimes:
Sunday Review (op ed) David Leonhardt: There's Still Hope for the Planet; The Times's DC bureau chief sees a spontaneous move toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is, he avers, happening apart from big-government int'l policies such as cap-and-trade that seek to put a penalty on use of fossil fuels. It depends, he further declares, more on innovation and falling costs on the green and sustainable energy side of the ledger.
Opinion - Paul Krugman: Loading the Climate Dice ; A well assembled column that, one must also observe, covers little new ground.
- Charlie Petit