LAUREL, Md. — Alan Stern, head of the New Horizons mission to Pluto, had just three words for the team of scientists and engineers assembled with him on July 14: “We did it.”
At 8:52:37 p.m. Eastern time, a radio antenna near Madrid received the first signal from the spacecraft since it buzzed the dwarf planet. After decades of planning and a 9.5-year journey...
Suppose there was a fourth little pig. This one was a physicist. Unlike his brother the engineer, who built a house out of tried-and-true bricks, the physicist pig chose a building material by doing calculations based on fundamental principles. He settled on a substance made from silicon and oxygen, an abundant material with high bond strength and the aesthetic bonus of transparency. It was...