Everything is turning into iron.

Iron-56, the most common isotope of iron, is what all material in the universe “wants” to be. That is, the nuclei of matter is all gradually exhausting its energy, and iron-56 is the form of matter with the lowest energy per nucleon. Eventually, stars will turn into iron—huge balls of iron. Everything will be iron. …

How to decode law histories.

After every law in the Code of Virginia is a little section called “history.” If you’ve seen it, you’ve almost certainly ignored it, because it looks like nonsense. In fact, it’s just a poorly encoded collection of really valuable data about that law. Here’s a translation guide. (From my State Decoded blog.) →

A big clue has been found in the mystery of the Lost Colony.

You’ll remember the story of the Lost Colony—Sir Walter Raleigh’s settlement in the late 1500s that just disappeared, leaving only the word “Croatoan” carved into the fort’s wall. (They’d arranged the signal of a Maltese cross to be carved into a tree to mean they’d been forcibly removed, and no such carving was found.) But …

Virginia enters the 21st century with online lobbyist registration.

At long, long last, the state is accepting lobbyist registrations and disclosures electronically. I gather that lobbyists must use this—they can’t keep filing on paper. Pssst, Virginia! Don’t make me FOIA these records, just let me download them! →

Rep. Pete Stark accused—then retracted—a charge against a journalist.

Pete Stark, a twenty (!) term Democrat from San Francisco, accused a San Francisco Chronicle reporter of contributing to one of his opponents. This took place while he was being videotaped, in the Chronicle’s offices. The reporter, who was in the room, said that wasn’t true. Then he said that he’d gotten the name wrong, …

Miami created a park to create a legal reason to banish homeless sex offenders.

Miami-Dade County, famously, has established laws that prohibit sex offenders from being within half a mile of a park, school, day care, or any place where children could hypothetically gather. In reality, that made it impossible for the city’s sex offenders to live anywhere at all, other than camping under the Julia Tuttle Causeway. (Until …

Anonymous $10,000,000 donation funding Crossroads GPS.

Karl Rove’s nonprofit, Crossroads GPS, just got an anonymous $10M donation to fund attack ads against President Obama. This is the second $10M+ contributions that the organization has received anonymously. Is there anybody who thinks that we should have a political system that allows anonymous, unlimited political contributions? Anybody? →

The trajectories of life-bearing meteorites from Earth.

Some Japanese researchers did the math on the fate of the billions of tons of rocks and water that were tossed into space when Earth was hit by an asteroid 65M years ago. It turns out that much of that material probably bore life, and it wound up not just on the Moon, but also …