Off to the Sun

The final frontier.

In 1957, an astrophysicist at the University of Chicago named Eugene Parker submitted a paper to The Astrophysical Journal, the most prestigious journal in that field.  In it, he predicted the existence of the solar wind, a stream of charged particles, streaming out from the sun in all directions. The idea was considered so ridiculous that two reviewers rejected the article. But the editor of the Astrophysical Journal, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, (one of the giants of 20th-century astrophysics, who would win the Nobel Prize in 1983) couldn’t find any flaws in the math, so he overrode the reviewers and published it. Within four years, the paper had been vindicated by the earliest space probes, and our understanding of the sun and its dynamics took a quantum leap forward

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Off to the Sun

Must-Reads from Magazine

But She Fights

A Trump of their own.

There were many arguments for opposing Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency, but the retort usually boiled down to a single glib sentence: “But he fights.”

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Politicians Need Free Speech Too

A lesson from Finland.

High-ranking politicians are entitled to freedom of speech and conscience. That shouldn’t be a controversial statement, but it often is, especially in European countries where the range of acceptable views is narrow–and narrowing. Just ask Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini, who spent the summer fighting off an investigation into his participation at an anti-abortion vigil in Canada. On Friday, Soini survived a no-confidence vote in Parliament over the issue.

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Planet Earth Dodges a Bullet

Banality and evil.

A week ago, I wondered what was going on in Sunspot, New Mexico. The FBI had swept into this mountain-top solar observatory, complete with Black Hawk helicopters, evacuated everyone, and closed the place down with no explanation whatever. Local police were politely told to butt out. It was like the first scene in a 1950’s Hollywood sci-fi movie, probably starring Walter Pidgeon.

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The Unprincipled Boycott of Israel

The demands of the politicized life.

John Cheney-Lippold, an associate professor of American Culture at the University of Michigan, has been the subject of withering criticism of late, but I’m grateful to him. Yes, he shouldn’t have refused to write a recommendation for a student merely because the semester abroad program she was applying to was in Israel. But at least he exposed what the boycott movement is about, aspects of which I suspect some of its blither endorsers are unaware.

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The Low, Low Price of Serfdom

Nothing ventured.

Convenience, wrote Columbia University law professor Tim Wu, is a tyrant. It makes our lives easier and more enjoyable, but everything comes with a price tag. We may not recognize that which we are sacrificing in the pursuit of convenience, but we are sacrificing nonetheless.

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