Casting the Single-Player Movie Star by CHRIS SUELLENTROP


By CHRIS SUELLENTROP

Kevin Spacey, who plays Francis Underwood in the Netflix series “House of Cards,” portrays a nefarious defense contractor in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.

Published: November 1, 2014 at 08:00PM

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‘Lincoln and the Power of the Press,’ by Harold Holzer by DAVID S. REYNOLDS


By DAVID S. REYNOLDS

Lincoln dealt shrewdly with the publishers and editors of politically powerful 19th-century newspapers.

Published: November 1, 2014 at 08:00PM

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The Astonishing Weaponry of Dung Beetles by DOUGLAS EMLEN


By DOUGLAS EMLEN

Animal arms races always unfold in the same way. But those with the biggest weapons don’t always win.

Published: November 1, 2014 at 08:00PM

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Syrian Photographer’s Record of Deaths Generates Outrage, but Little Action by MICHAEL R. GORDON


By MICHAEL R. GORDON

A celebrated defector is no longer optimistic that the United States has the will to stop the abuses committed by the Assad government.

Published: October 31, 2014 at 08:00PM

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Specular Spectacular

This near-infrared, color mosaic from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows the sun glinting off of Titan’s north polar seas. While Cassini has captured, separately, views of the polar seas (see PIA17470) and the sun glinting off of them (see PIA12481 and PIA18433) in the past, this is the first time both have been seen together in the same view.

The sunglint, also called a specular reflection, is the bright area near the 11 o’clock position at upper left. This mirror-like reflection, known as the specular point, is in the south of Titan’s largest sea, Kraken Mare, just north of an island archipelago separating two separate parts of the sea.

This particular sunglint was so bright as to saturate the detector of Cassini’s Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) instrument, which captures the view. It is also the sunglint seen with the highest observation elevation so far — the sun was a full 40 degrees above the horizon as seen from Kraken Mare at this time — much higher than the 22 degrees seen in PIA18433. Because it was so bright, this glint was visible through the haze at much lower wavelengths than before, down to 1.3 microns.

The southern portion of Kraken Mare (the area surrounding the specular feature toward upper left) displays a “bathtub ring” — a bright margin of evaporate deposits — which indicates that the sea was larger at some point in the past and has become smaller due to evaporation. The deposits are material left behind after the methane & ethane liquid evaporates, somewhat akin to the saline crust on a salt flat.

The highest resolution data from this flyby — the area seen immediately to the right of the sunglint — cover the labyrinth of channels that connect Kraken Mare to another large sea, Ligeia Mare. Ligeia Mare itself is partially covered in its northern reaches by a bright, arrow-shaped complex of clouds. The clouds are made of liquid methane droplets, and could be actively refilling the lakes with rainfall.

The view was acquired during Cassini’s August 21, 2014, flyby of Titan, also referred to as “T104” by the Cassini team.

The view contains real color information, although it is not the natural color the human eye would see. Here, red in the image corresponds to 5.0 microns, green to 2.0 microns, and blue to 1.3 microns. These wavelengths correspond to atmospheric windows through which Titan’s surface is visible. The unaided human eye would see nothing but haze, as in PIA12528.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The VIMS team is based at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

More information about Cassini is available at http://ift.tt/ZjpQgB and http://ift.tt/Jcddhk.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/University of Idaho via NASA http://ift.tt/1s0kCnh

When a Child Legally Becomes an Adult by ALINA TUGEND


By ALINA TUGEND

Most parents know that their children are legally adults when they turn 18. But the full significance may not be apparent until something drives it home.

Published: October 31, 2014 at 08:00PM

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