One Of NASAs Great Observatories Will Be Retired At The End Of The Month

In less than two weeks, one of NASA’s flagship infrared telescopes will close its eye on the cosmos. On January 30, Spitzer, one of the agency’s Great Observatories, will transmit its final science and engineering data to mission control and be switched off. The Spitzer Space Telescope has changed infrared astronomy for the better. Launched into space on August 25, 2003, it has in its 6,000 days in orbit studied everything from distant galaxies to our planetary neighbors.   Spitzer provided a new way for astronomers to study the universe. Among its many accomplishments are detailed studies of star-forming nebulae and what goes on inside them. It delivered the largest and most detailed infrared portrait of the Milky Way, consisting …

Reading Ted Chiangs The Merchant and the Alchemists Gate

What would we do if we could visit our own pasts or futures? Are we more likely to change our timelines, or will our timelines actually project themselves back on to us more forcefully? This is the first discussion post of this beta-testing, informal TechCrunch book club, which is starting with the first short story in Ted Chiang’s science fiction collection “Exhalation.” Join us as we walk through each story in succession in the coming weeks and explore a wider expanse of technology and its effect on society. The first story in the collection is “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate,” a compact, interwoven series of tales that discusses a time-shifting “gate” that allows people to move forward and backward …

“The Blob” Killed Over One Million Seabirds In North America

“The Blob” – a severe marine heatwave in the North Pacific, not a monster from a 1950s B-movie – might have killed over 1 million seabirds. A new study, published in PLOS One this week, argues that around 1 million common murres and other seabirds died of starvation in North America as a result of the marine heatwave known as “The Blob.”  “The common murre die-off in fall/winter of 2015-2016 was the largest magnitude seabird die-off ever observed in any of the world’s oceans,” lead study author John Piatt, a research biologist at the USGS’s Alaska Science Center, told IFLScience. “Just as extraordinary was the complete breeding failure of multiple murre colonies ranging from the Bering Sea to the Gulf of Alaska to the …

Atomico promotes surgeon-turned-VC Irina Haivas to partner

Irina Haivas, the surgeon-turned-VC who joined London-based VC firm Atomico in late 2018 and has already led several investments on behalf of the firm, has been promoted to partner. Her Atomico investments to date include: Healx, the Cambridge, U.K.-based startup using AI to help discover new treatments for rare diseases (and is clearly a big bet for Atomico); Accurx, the messaging service for doctor surgeries (I broke news of the startup’s Atomico-led Series A back in February 2019); and Kheiron Medical Technologies, a machine-learning startup helping to support radiologists. What’s particularly interesting about that list is that Haivas was able to lead those investments as a principal, dispelling the myth that you need to be a partner to source and …