Science & Technology

How Clinical Trials Work

Prescription medications undergo rigorous rounds of testing and approval before hitting the consumer market. The Onion breaks down the steps involved in this process

Scientists Develop New Extra-Sloppy Peach

DAVIS, CA—Explaining that the latest strain of the fruit was far softer and runnier than previous varieties, agricultural scientists at the University of California, Davis announced Thursday the successful development of a new extra-sloppy peach.

SpaceX’s Plan To Colonize Mars

SpaceX founder Elon Musk continues to lay the groundwork to attempt the human colonization of Mars. Here’s a step-by-step guide to his plan:

The Pros And Cons Of Self-Driving Cars

With Uber’s robot cars debuting this week in Pittsburgh, many wonder whether driverless technology will improve or endanger our lives. The Onion weighs the pros and cons of self-driving cars

How Animals Go Extinct

With an estimated 40 percent of species on earth now considered endangered, many wonder how it’s possible for these animals to be wiped out. The Onion provides a step-by-step breakdown of how species go extinct

Horrible Facebook Algorithm Accident Results In Exposure To New Ideas

MENLO PARK, CA—Assuring users that the company’s entire team of engineers was working hard to make sure a glitch like this never happens again, Facebook executives confirmed during a press conference Tuesday that a horrible accident last night involving the website’s algorithm had resulted in thousands of users being exposed to new concepts.

Team Of Vatican Geneticists Successfully Clone God

VATICAN CITY—Describing the groundbreaking work as a major step forward for theological research, a team of Vatican geneticists held a press conference Tuesday at the Apostolic Palace to announce they had successfully cloned God.

Dad Shares Photo Album Through Never-Before-Seen Website

SECAUCUS, NJ—Wondering aloud how the father of three even managed to find the online image-hosting service, family members of local dad Phil Yates told reporters Monday the 57-year-old had shared a photo album with them through a never-before-seen website.

NASA Discovers Distant Planet Located Outside Funding Capabilities

WASHINGTON—Noting that the celestial body lies within the habitable zone of its parent star and could potentially harbor liquid water, NASA officials announced at a press conference Thursday they have discovered an Earth-like planet located outside their funding capabilities.

‘DSM-5’ Updated To Accommodate Man Who Is Legitimately Being Ordered To Kill By The Moon

ARLINGTON, VA—Saying they were committed to ensuring the influential reference text accurately represented all known psychological conditions, leading members of the American Psychiatric Association announced Monday they would update the Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition to accommodate a man who is legitimately being ordered by the moon to kill those around him.

NASA Launches First Cordless Satellite

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL—In what experts are calling a breakthrough achievement that is poised to revolutionize American space exploration and telecommunications, NASA announced Friday it has successfully launched its first cordless satellite into orbit.

What Is Pokémon Go?

Since its debut last Thursday, the augmented-reality smartphone app Pokémon Go has been downloaded millions of times and has grown publisher Nintendo’s stock by 25 percent. The Onion answers some common questions about the game and its unprecedented success.

Factory Robot Working On Some Of Its Own Designs After Hours

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC—Saying it had been mulling over the “fun little side project” for a while, an Electroimpact Quadbot reportedly put in some extra work after hours at the Boeing assembly plant Wednesday to try out a few of its own original designs.

Books Vs. E-Readers

Though e-readers have increasingly supplanted books in the digital age, many bibliophiles defend the importance of physical texts. Here is a side-by-side comparison of physical books and e-books
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NASA Embarks On Epic Delay

The Mission Control countdown clock was reset four times before it needed to be repaired.
The Mission Control countdown clock was reset four times before it needed to be repaired.

WASHINGTON—Top officials at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration unveiled plans this week for a comprehensive, multibillion-dollar delay—the agency's most ambitious postponement of cosmic exploration ever.

The unprecedented delay has reportedly brought together the nation's foremost aerospace engineers, whose combined efforts have already added 18 months of rescheduled meetings to the daring mission.

While he could not lock down any specifics regarding completion dates or construction deadlines, NASA associate administrator Christopher Scolese said this latest endeavor will be on a scale and time frame greater than anything the agency has attempted to put off before.

"Delays of this magnitude were once the stuff of science fiction," Scolese told reporters during a noon press conference Monday that actually started around 3:15 p.m. "But now, thanks to a number of long-overdue technological advances, this historic delay will stretch the very limits of what humankind can push back indefinitely."

According to NASA officials, the epic postponement will occur in three progressively longer stages. The first, predicted to last anywhere from three to five years and cost an estimated $13.8 billion, is tentatively scheduled to begin in late 2012. The second stage—which will ultimately be broken up into 14 smaller stages—will comprise a series of advanced timetable adjustments that, if successful, could delay human beings from exploring the outmost reaches of the known galaxy for decades to come.

The third stage is largely theoretical at this point.

"Never before has man dared to fall behind on such a sweeping scale," said Brenda Win, head administrator of the newly established delay-management team, which is expected to be named sometime next month or maybe the month after. "A postponement like this only happens once in a lifetime. This will be the series of setbacks you'll tell your grandchildren about."

Added Win, "Unless our initial estimates are wrong or the weather proves unfavorable, in which case they'll probably be able to see it for themselves."

Working tirelessly to derail the project are distinguished astrophysicists from around the world, as well as countless administrators, bureaucrats, division heads, deputy division heads, and deputy associate division heads. Also joining the effort are seven highly trained, flight-ready NASA astronauts, currently on standby for the June 2007 launch of the space shuttle Discovery.

"I would consider it an honor and a privilege to be part of even the first four years of this incredible delay," said Steven Tani, a pilot and International Space Station flight engineer. "Now all that's left to do is wait for my security clearance, sit through the first of 10 mandatory physical examinations, and proceed with the six-month period of microgravity acclimation training so that we can start to begin getting this delay underway. I just hope it doesn't take as long as last time."

In their first official request to secure additional funding from Congress, NASA officials stressed the monumental significance of the delay, calling it "the ultimate manifestation of mankind's insatiable desire to look out across the galaxy and dream of writing a grant proposal, waiting for the necessary governmental approval, building detailed experimental models, establishing adequate requirements for System Procedure, triple-checking mission parameters, absorbing massive budget cuts, and canceling the launch date."

"When we have finally finished here, the universe will see there is no end to what man can entangle in red tape," Scolese wrote in the stirring statement. "Even as we speak, our top people are dragging their feet on what will become the longest and most profound delay in the planet's history."

"Mark my words: In our lifetime, NASA will delay putting a man on Mars," Scolese continued. "Well, maybe not in my lifetime. I'm almost 50."


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