Despite fears that NASA and the United States have given up on space exploration, the focus has simply shifted to private companies like Virgin and SpaceX, which are preparing for commercial space travel:
"This was the International Symposium for Personal and Commerical Spaceflight. It had been co-founded eight years earlier by a New Mexico State professor named Pat Hynes, who had been studying and advocating for the commercial potential of space for twenty years. She has watched the conference grow in size and influence alongside the industry. Now, the facility buzzed with engineers and scientists and entrepreneurs and astronauts. Sponsors included Lockheed Martin and Boeing, a European company touting its ability to 'launch any payload to any orbit at anytime,' and another company claiming the authority to sell plots of land on the moon. Hynes, ecstatic, inaugurated the conference by shouting a 'Let’s rock this house!' welcome, before introducing Michael Lopez-Alegria, a recently retired space-shuttle astronaut who spoke of his conversion from 'skeptic with outright disdain for the idea of commercial space” to a “Kool-Aid-pouring believer' in the private space industry."
PUBLISHED: May 20, 2013
LENGTH: 32 minutes (8219 words)
One year after a fatal fire in Stamford claims the lives of their children and her parents, a family tries to make sense of what happened:
"He tells me that seeing children can sometimes make him feel better and other times worse. The last photo ever taken of the girls—of the three of them in brightly colored winter coats, lined up with him in front of the Hudson around sunset—was taken right over there. He speaks slowly, sometimes stuttering, not always in complete sentences. He has a diluted British accent, a vestige of his childhood in England. He says he needs caffeine.
"We go to a coffee shop in the neighborhood. He orders a scone, a double cappuccino, and an iced tea. We sit in the sun. In between cigarettes, he chews Nicorette gum. He talks about the girls. He would take them to museums, parks, toy stores, dinner at the local diner, late movies, allowing them to run up in front of the screen to dance as the credits were rolling. He says he was too loose with them. Madonna had called him her fourth child; he says that she was right. He will not say anything else about her. She is struggling and trying to deal in her own way, and he does not want to hurt her."
PUBLISHED: Dec. 3, 2012
LENGTH: 31 minutes (7989 words)
A lost weekend, or several weeks, with Fiona Apple:
"A week later, my phone beeped. It was a heavily pixelated video. She was wearing glasses, looking straight at me:
"'Hi, Dan. It’s Fiona. [She moves the camera to her dog.] This is Janet. [She moves it back.] Um, are you coming out here tomorrow? Um, I, I, I don’t know—I’m baffled at this thing that I just got, this e-mail shit, I don’t know what these people—are they trying to antagonize me so that I do shit like this, so that I start fights with them? I don’t understand why there are pictures of models on a page about me. Who the fuck are they? What? What?'
"The text attached read: 'And are you western-bound? And hi there! F'
"I had no idea what she was talking about. Two days later, I landed at LAX."
PUBLISHED: June 17, 2012
LENGTH: 29 minutes (7287 words)
In her mind, she told me, there was one overwhelming thought: She wanted—she needed—Nik's sperm.
Outside the hospital, at the picnic table, she acknowledged how crazy the idea likely sounded. She said they could get an egg donor and a surrogate. No one said anything at first. They stared at her.
She went on. She told them how the last time she'd seen him, a little more than two weeks ago, he'd spoken again of his longing for children; she reminded them that they'd all had similar conversations with him. They'd decided to donate his organs anyway; why not take something from him that would otherwise go to waste? She spoke of making "Nikki's dream come true."
PUBLISHED: Dec. 24, 2011
LENGTH: 25 minutes (6428 words)
And so six o’clock dawned on the South Pacific.
And there was nothing.
Reached on his doorstep the following morning, Camping was, he said, “flabbergasted.” He was visibly shaken. “It has been a really tough weekend,” he acknowledged. He said he was “looking for answers.” And so in the hours that followed he pulled the drapes, doing all he could do, which was diving back into the Bible, reading, calculating, praying, reading, calculating, praying.
PUBLISHED: Oct. 16, 2011
LENGTH: 21 minutes (5481 words)
Hers is a story that wove itself into American popular culture, chronicled on television and in the tabloids (and even, recently, on a London stage as an acclaimed new opera). And yet until now, much of Anna Nicole Smith’s life has remained hidden, or willfully distorted by those who knew her, so that by the time she died she was less well known than when she first attracted the world’s attention almost twenty years ago.
PUBLISHED: June 6, 2011
LENGTH: 32 minutes (8036 words)
He was the most famous ape in America. But to really understand a chimp, you have to know his mother. "In her arms, swaddled and in a diaper, lay tiny Travis—named after her favorite singer, Travis Tritt. Travis was the son of Coco, who’d been snatched from the jungles of equatorial Africa in the early seventies and purchased for $12,000, and an 11-year-old retired zoo chimp named Suzy."
PUBLISHED: Jan. 24, 2011
LENGTH: 24 minutes (6096 words)
In 2004, 244 corpses supposedly destined for cremation at a Philadelphia funeral home were hacked apart, their organs and tissue sold for transplantation. It's a gruesome story of betrayal, for both the grieving families and the unwitting recipients of diseased body parts.
PUBLISHED: March 25, 2008
LENGTH: 21 minutes (5343 words)