This week in science: Florence caves

Imagine if we could bring the magic of the free market to search and rescue operations; if only we could run it like we run our healthcare system.

From the Land of Enchantment comes one of the oddest science-related stories this year, So far it has generated plenty of speculation and no small number of UFO-alien conspiracy claims. But so far there’s little in the way of actual facts:

Everyone loves a good mystery, and there is a very curious one happening in New Mexico right now. On Thursday, September 6, the Sunspot Solar Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico, as well as a nearby United States Postal Service Office (USPS), was suddenly closed down and evacuated. This was reported to be for “security reasons,” but no details were provided, and still haven’t been at the time of this writing.

On the other side of the nation, what might have been a monster of a storm potentially killing hundreds of people too dumb to leave and causing untold billions of dollars in property damage mercifully backed off in the hours before landfall. Florence brought plenty of rain and gusty winds that are still stirring up trouble in the Carolinas, but otherwise spared the region of the worst she could have delivered. Bonus points for anyone who links the hurricane and the observatory story provided it also involves aliens.

On Thursday evening, without any advance notice, SpaceX tweeted that is had signed the world’s “first private passenger to fly around the Moon aboard our BFR launch vehicle.” Moreover, the company promised to reveal “who’s flying and why” on Monday, September 17.

  • Speaking of SpaceX, here’s an opinion: I am all for drug legalization, I think they should all be legalized. All of them, including hard drugs. Drug addiction is a medical problem with a medical solution, and obviously in a country without universal health care that’s always going to be a problem. But right now employees in defense contractors and other big US companies like SpaceX can be termed for testing positive for cannabis, including in a state where it’s legal, regardless of when they used it. Meanwhile, the company’s CEO was live on air, arguably on the job as he was or could have been talking about business in a large public venue, smoking a blunt. And the only reason it doesn’t matter there is because he’s a billionaire, and that’s freaking bullshit.

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