TIME quantum physics

Teleportation Is Real and Here’s Why it Matters

Not this, not yet. But something similar is possible
Science Photo Library/Getty Images Not this, not yet. But something similar is possible

It ain't the stuff of Star Trek, but quantum physics can make it possible to do things that mystified even Einstein

The future has a way of becoming the past. Men on the moon? Check. Picture phones? Thank you, Skype. But teleportation? Not so much. The idea of breaking yourself down to your constituent molecules, beaming yourself across space and reassembling somewhere else sounds cool, but there are problems. For one, there’s The Fly. For another, it’s monstrously difficult.

But teleporting information is another matter. And in a new study just published in Science, researchers at the Delft Institute of Technology in The Netherlands have revealed that they’ve done just that—sort of.

What the Dutch physicists did involved something called quantum entanglement, which Einstein once described as “spooky action at a distance,” a term that pretty much describes what it is. Entangled particles are sort of the dysfunctional couples of quantum physics. You know that long-distance relationship you had in college that didn’t really work out and every time you and your significant other got on the phone or exchanged an e-mail you wound up getting into a fight and feeling a whole lot lousier than you did five minutes before? That’s action at a distance.

The same is true of entangled particles, except if quantum theory is right, the interaction can take place across infinite distances and instantaneously. That means that the spin rate and direction of one particle—which is how the behavior of these things are measured–will determine the spin rate and direction of its entangled partner on the other side of the universe, effectively simultaneously.

How does it work? Easy: First quantum stuff happens, then more quantum stuff follows and there are lots of equations that explain it all but they’d definitely give you a headache and they’d make you feel lazy for taking a gut major like political science as an undergrad—or at least that’s how they make me feel—so spare yourself that.

The point is, the Delft researchers proved the principle by isolating target entangled electrons inside two supercooled diamonds placed 10 meters—or 33 ft.—apart, creating what one of the physicists described as “miniprisons” for them. They then maniupulated their spin rate and determined that the behavior of one indeed continued to determine the spin of the other, and vice versa, even at that distance. Something similar had been achieved before, in 2009, by University of Maryland researchers, but the experiment worked only one out of every 100 million attempts. This one succeeded 100% of the time. Next, the Dutch plan to expand their work—literally—trying to see if the quantum entanglement holds at a distance of 1 kilometer, or .62 mi.

This matters for reasons that go beyond just allowing you to say things like spooky action at a distance, though that is admittedly pretty cool. Spin rate, to a quantum particle, counts as information, and information is what computers traffic in. But unlike traditional bits of information, which can have only one of two values—1 or 0—quantum bits, or qubits, can have an infinite number. Computers built of quantum particles entangled at a distance could be to contemporary computers what contemporary computers are to scratch marks on a flat stone. Don’t trade in your MacBook yet—but don’t say you weren’t warned.

TIME Opinion

Got Credibility? Then You’re Not PETA

Cereal untruths
Courtesy of PETA Cereal untruths

An anti-milk campaign plays the autism card, putting the animal rights group in some very disgraceful company

Correction appended, May 30

There are lots of ways to quit being taken seriously in America. You can deny climate change; you can pretend the Earth is only 6,000 years old. But there’s nothing that quite seals the nincompoop deal like linking something—anything really—to autism. Don’t like sugar, gluten, junk food, meat? Tell people they cause autism. It’s the go-to, check-the-box, one-stop-shopping for know-nothingism.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which yields to no group in its ability to be outrageous, has mostly avoided that inevitable step. But in an earlier ad campaign that’s gaining new attention—and that remains on the group’s website—the folks who love animals but apparently have a cooler relationship with facts have come through big. The ad shows a bowl of cereal making a frowny face, accompanied by the slogan “Got autism?” The tag line elaborates on that provocative question: “Studies have shown a link between cow’s milk and autism.”

So where to begin—aside from the fact that no, studies haven’t shown that? OK, to be perfectly fair, when pressed, PETA does cite two scientific papers that seem to support its claim. One, published in 2002, observed some possible improvement in autism symptoms when children were put on a diet free of gluten, gliadin and casein, proteins found either in grains or milk. Not only is the study old, it’s vague—with the researchers broadly blaming the problem on “processes with opioid effect,” whatever that means. It was also tiny—relying on a sample group of just 20 kids. Finally, the study was admittedly single-blind, which means that the experimenters knew which kids were getting the special diet and which weren’t. Got bias?

The second study came even earlier—in 1995, which is the dark ages of autism research—and it was almost as small, involving just 36 subjects. It detected no real link between dairy products and autism, instead finding only antibodies to milk proteins in the blood of autistic children. That suggests, well, who knows what? Association, as people who understand basic science will tell you, is not causation, and blood chemistry is only a broad, imprecise starting point for proving a link between any suspected cause and observed effect in research of this kind. Nineteen years after the paper was published, its authors have not moved one step closer to drawing that line between milk and autism—and neither have the thousands of other studies that have come since.

PETA has been getting justifiably blowtorched for the ad since it was resurfaced by various media outlets in the last day. But even in light of the criticism and the science that shows no such effects of milk, the group stands by its insupportable claim, saying, in a statement, “PETA’s website provides parents with the potentially valuable information that researchers have backed up many families’ findings that a dairy-free diet can help kids with autism.”

Look PETA, activism is easy; scaring people is easy; making parents feel guilty because they fed their autistic child a bowl of Cheerios and milk is easy. Science is hard—which is why not everyone gets to do it.

Oh, and while we’re on that, you know what else is hard? Autism. It’s hard for the children who have it; it’s hard for the families wrestling with it; it’s hard for the researchers knocking themselves out every day to understand it and treat it and prevent it. They don’t need agitators and fabricators making things worse. There’s nothing wrong with protecting the animals, but try to do it without hurting the kids.

Correction: The original version of this article misstated when the PETA campaign on milk and autism began.

TIME Opinion

The New Measles Outbreak: Blame the Anti-Vaxxers

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Kallista Images—Getty Images Thin-section transmission electron micrograph, TEM, of a single measles virus particle or virion

A disturbing report from the Centers for Disease Control shows what happens when anti-vaccine nonsense wins.

You have to be spoiled to play cute with disease—spoiled or, well, stupid. And today’s announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that measles cases in the U.S. have hit record highs in the first five months of this year is a maddening example of both. I learned of the report in an especially striking way.

I returned this morning from a conference in Singapore where some of the most stimulating discussions were about global health — specifically, how to extend the preventive measures and treatments so easily available in the developed world to the harder-to-reach parts of the developing one. There were conversations about how wireless technology can be used to communicate between rural villages and urban hospitals, how new medicines can be fast-tracked from development to distribution and how cold chains can be created to keep vaccines viable as they make their way to the people who need them.

On my return to the U.S., I passed through the arrivals terminal at JFK Airport, where Rotary International is running a billboard campaign showing globally recognized figures—Bill Gates, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jackie Chan—posing with the legend “We Are This Close to Ending Polio.” To reinforce that point, each celebrity’s thumb and index finger frames the “this close” in a measuring gesture.

By the time I was in the taxi line, the CDC announcement was on my smartphone.

Make no mistake, the measles outbreak in the U.S. is an act of choice, of election, of a decision to get sick—or a decision by parents to put their children at risk. Fully 90% of the new cases are among people who are unvaccinated or whose vaccination status is unknown. And nearly all of those people are unvaccinated for personal, philosophical or religious reasons—as opposed to any medical condition that requires them to avoid vaccines. This is true too of recent outbreaks of mumps and whooping cough, and of the dangerously declining rate of vaccination in the U.S. overall. Nearly all of that folly can be blamed on the rumors and outright lies that continue to be spread about various conditions vaccines are said to cause—autism, ADHD, vaguely defined immune system disorders and on and on depending on which celebrity or health faddist is telling the tale.

Meantime, those polio campaigners? The ones who really, truly are this close to eradicating one of history’s most feared diseases? A lot of them are risking—and in some cases, losing—their lives to do their jobs. In the tribal areas of Pakistan, vaccine field workers are being attacked and killed by Taliban gunmen as they make their way on foot, into villages, with their crates of little vials that, with a few drops, can protect children for life from paralysis and death. And so other field workers take their place, some of whom will surely die too.

In one of the most telling asides in today’s CDC press release, Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases, commented on a paradoxical problem in diagnosing new outbreaks of measles. “Many U.S. health care providers have never seen or treated a patient with measles,” she said, “because of the nation’s robust vaccination efforts and our rapid response to outbreaks.”

That, in a phrase, is what spoiled looks like. Of course, you can bet any first year medical student could have spotted the disease a few decades ago—and the same was true with mumps and whooping cough and polio and smallpox and rubella and all of the other diseases that we don’t have to see anymore because we have, in this country at least, vaccinated them all but out of existence. What was true in the U.S. then is still true in the developing world, where those diseases and more still run riot.

The people in those countries would not play cute with disease. The people in those countries would not have the time for rumors and lies and celebrity dilettantes who take up the anti-vax cause because they’ve grown bored with the anti-carb or anti-gluten or pro-cleanse fads. Being this close to eliminating a disease is not the same as truly being done with it. That’s something all those new measles patients learned this year. And that’s something we’ll all have to keep learning until we wise up.

TIME

Why Mass Killers Are Always Male

Elliott Rodger seen in a video he had posted on the Internet.
Polaris Elliott Rodger seen in a video he had posted on the Internet.

Whenever there's a mass shooting or massacre, there's a 98% chance the perpetrator is a man. Why is that?

There are no absolute certainties when it comes to mass killers, but a few things come close. Someone will use the term “disaffected youth” to describe the perpetrator. Somewhere there will be a diary—either Tweets, blogs, YouTube videos or scrawled musings in a lined notebook. And the murderer will—with more than a 98% certainty—be male.

That was the case again on Friday as Elliott Rodger, a 22-year-old student at Santa Barbara City College, killed six people and wounded 13 others in a stabbing and shooting spree, before taking his own life. If you say that you were surprised that his name was Elliott and not, say, Ellen, you either haven’t been paying attention or you’re playing at political correctness. But the fact remains: it’s almost always boys who go bad. The question is, Why?

There is no shortage of explanations for the overwhelming maleness of the monster population. Some of the answers reveal a lot—and yet nothing at all. Testosterone fuels aggression. Stipulated. Boys take longer to mature than girls. Stipulated. And like the forebrains of young females, those of young males are not fully myelinated until the late 20s or even early 30s. The forebrain is where executive functions—impulse control, reflection, awareness of consequences—live. In the case of males, who are already trip-wired for aggression, that provides a lot of years to behave badly.

There are, too, the social factors: violent video games, a culture of physical aggression fueled by contact sports and the general tendency of all societies to turn their men into hunters and warriors, putting those jobs off-limits to women or at least making them optional.

But there’s more, and a lot of it has to do with status. Males, for better or worse, are ferociously protective of their position in any tribe, community, or society, and any threat to that position goes to the core of their identity and self-esteem. It’s a common observation in times of recession that while loss of a job is miserable for both genders, it’s the males who are likelier to become completely undone by it. Without the role of worker and money-earner, men feel hollowed-out, and that too often calls for revenge. it’s not for nothing that the victims in workplace shootings are often managers who just the month before demoted or sacked the shooter.

As Candice Batton, director of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, told NPR in the wake of the 2013 Washington Navy Yard shootings:

“Some research supports the idea that males are more likely than females to develop negative attributions of blame that are external in nature, that is: ‘The cause … of my problems is someone else or some force outside of me’. And this translates into anger and hostility toward others.”

[Women], on the other hand, “are more likely to develop negative attributions of blame that are internal in nature, that is: ‘The cause of my problems is some failing of my own: I didn’t try hard enough, I’m not good enough.”

This is also the reason that when women do kill—and they do—it’s typically in a more intimate way, such as by drowning or suffocating. Men tend to go wild, spraying a room with gunfire and the world be damned. That, of course, also increases the male killer’s body count.

Rodger, dead now, his work done now, fits so much of this ugly profile. He did leave a diary—in his case YouTube videos—and his rants bare his resentments toward the women who never found him attractive enough, as primal a kind of status loss as can possibly be imagined.

He now joins the dark gallery of men and boys who have gone before him—each of them less important than the previous ones, since their crimes become so tragically familiar. If there is any bitter satisfaction to take from that, it’s that in their very attempt to be remarkable in some way, mass killers instead achieve a sort of homicidal banality, the anonymity they dreaded in life following them into death.

TIME infant mortality

Saving 3 Million Babies Is Easier Than You Think

Melinda Gates: it's time to save the rest of the babies
Thomas Imo; Photothek via Getty Images Melinda Gates: it's time to save the rest of the babies

The news on the childhood mortality front is both very good and very bad. Millions have been saved, but millions are still dying. Melinda Gates, in an address to the World Health Assembly, offers some smart solutions.

No one will ever know the names of the 17 million babies who didn’t die last year. Nearly all of them live in the developing world and nearly all of them would have been lost to preventable conditions like measles, cholera or malaria. But that didn’t happen. Instead, they were born healthy and most of them stayed healthy and will be celebrating their first birthdays sometime this year.

That’s part of the very, very good news about childhood mortality, defined as the death of children before their fifth birthday. Since 1990, when the United Nations drafted its Millennium Development Goals—eight broad targets for human health and equality—childhood mortality rates have fallen 47%, which, when corrected for population growth, yields those 17 million lives saved last year. But that means that 6.6 million babies and small children still died. That’s the equivalent of 18,000 every day, day after day, until the year ended. Unless things change, that pattern will repeat itself in 2014, 2015 and beyond.

The answer, however, isn’t simply doubling down on the strategies that have worked so far, like getting vaccines, antimalarial bed nets, cholera rehydration fluids and more to the people who need them. Those interventions must continue, but as Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, made clear in an address to the World Health Assembly in Geneva today, they’ve worked so well that the overwhelming share of the remaining deaths are caused by other problems entirely—ones that occur far earlier in the babies’ very short lives.

Each year, Gates said—citing, in part, exhaustive new studies by The Lancet—2.9 million children die in the first month of life and 1 million of those die almost immediately after birth. Worse, an additional 2.6 million babies each year are stillborn at some point in their third trimester—a death toll that is not even counted in the 6.6 million figure.

But, Gates stressed, the majority of newborn deaths are preventable. “I want to be very clear about what I mean when I say preventable,” she added. “I don’t mean theoretically preventable under ideal but unrealistic circumstances. I mean preventable with relatively simple, relatively inexpensive interventions.”

In most cases, actually, those interventions are entirely free. There are five protocols neonatal health experts recommend to cut newborn mortality dramatically and three of them are simply drying the baby completely after birth to prevent hypothermia, breastfeeding within the first hour of life and breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months if possible, and practicing what’s known as kangaroo care—or skin-to-skin contact between a baby and its mother or at least another adult caregiver as much as possible. Even in the developed world, kangaroo care is only now being broadly appreciated and adopted, particularly in neonatal intensive care units, where studies show that respiration, heart rate, blood pressure and a whole range of other vitals strengthen and stabilize when babies are held. Kangaroo care also increases the flow of breast milk in the mother, thanks mostly to elevated levels of the hormone oxytocin—colloquially known as the cuddle chemical.

Also important is the availability of resuscitation masks for babies who stop breathing at birth or shortly after. A mask and basic training in its use cost only about $5—nothing at all compared to the cost of caring for a sick or dying baby over the longer term. Finally, health specialists call for universal availability of the antiseptic chlorhexidine—at a cost of just a fews cents per application—to clean the end of the umbilical cord after it’s been cut and prevent what can be fatal infections.

“These are the best practices that work everywhere,” Gates said, “but that aren’t being used optimally anywhere.”

Inevitably, questions of cost are raised, but as with nearly all preventive measures, intervening early is almost always cheaper than dealing with problems later. In the U.S., an estimated $10 billion is spent each year to help babies deal with the health effects of not being sufficiently breast-fed. In the developing world, studies show that every $1 of neonatal intervention pays back $9 down the line, as families grow healthier, countries grow more stable, and economies are allowed to flourish.

Money, of course, is only one of many considerations—and a lesser one at that. It’s the moral component, the human component that we’d like to think will govern our choices. Even if saving the lives of babies were more expensive than it is, can you name a way that that money could be better, more humanely spent? The policymaker who can answer that question ‘yes’ is perhaps a policymaker who needs another job.

TIME human behavior

How Your Brain Justifies Torture

Witness to torture: Colin Firth in The Railway Man
Jaap Buitendijk—Weinstein Company Witness to torture: Colin Firth in The Railway Man

You fancy yourself a moral person, and you likely are. But your mind has a very dark side, and when it comes to torture, it's always trying to lure you in

Fresh out of reasons to despair for the human condition? Here’s one: even after the Stalin-era interrogations, the Bataan death march, the Hanoi tiger cages, the atrocities of Abu Ghraib, and the freshly, horribly, unforgettably depicted waterboarding scene in the new film The Railway Man—even after all that—our brains still play cute when it comes to justifying torture.

That’s the conclusion of a new study out of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Researchers there recruited 72 volunteers and asked subjects to read fictionalized accounts of real incidents during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in which prisoners were abused or tortured for a variety of reasons, including throwing food in a prison cafeteria or refusing to answer questions about an imminent attack. Sometimes it was an American (identified as “Jim Green”) who was the abuser, sometimes it was an enemy soldier (“Jawid Gawri”) abusing an American.

After the subjects read the stories they saw videos of actors reading the accounts aloud, but leaving out the reason for the abuse—reporting only that a prisoner had been beaten with a belt, say, or half-drowned in a bucket of water. This reinforced the subjects’ awareness of the act but created some distance from the justification the attacker used. Later, when the volunteers were asked to describe the incidents in as much detail as they could, they were significantly more inclined to forget the justification when “Jawid” was the abuser than when “Jim” was. In effect, the enemy had no excuse, but the American at least had a colorable cause of action.

This is consistent with a deep body of work showing that all people—very young children included—have a powerful bias toward remembering good things about in-group members and an equal tendency to remember bad things about out-groupers. That, in turn, is a small but significant step toward the dehumanization that allows torture to take place at all.

Certainly, morality is about more than just what we remember at any moment. Most people still condemn torture—at least outwardly—whether Jim or Jawid is the perp. But our brain—the seat of all that is otherwise brilliant and noble about us—nonetheless tries to give us a pass. It’s up to us to say no thanks.

TIME language

Sterling, Rubio and the Art of Making Things Worse

Donald Sterling speaking—never a good idea
Robyn Beck—AFP/Getty Images Donald Sterling speaking—never a good idea

The only thing that gets you into bigger trouble than saying the wrong thing is to keep saying it again and again. The owner of the L.A. Clippers and the junior senator from Florida need to learn the wisdom of just shutting up

Would somebody please get Donald Sterling away from the microphone—and while you’re at it, take Marco Rubio with you? The current (and, please, soon to be former) owner of the Los Angeles Clippers and the junior Senator from Florida have been taking a lot of heat lately for comments that were inartful at best and head-poundingly stupid at worst. In the case of Sterling, it was the no-go topic of race that landed him in trouble; in the case of Rubio it was anti-science nonsense on global warming. And when both men tried to rehab their reps, they broke the first rule any public figure should know: if you can’t make things better, shut up.

Sterling has offered nothing short of a cautionary clinic in how to do absolutely everything wrong when there’s a mess to clean up. After a recording was released of him telling his ex-girlfriend not to bring African Americans to Clippers games or to post pictures of herself with them on Instagram—despite the fact that the picture that set him off was of her and the globally loved Magic Johnson—he appeared with Anderson Cooper to explain himself and addressed the question of Johnson straightaway.

What kind of a guy goes to every city, has sex with every girl, then he catches HIV?” he asked. “Is that someone we want to respect and tell our kids about? I think he should be ashamed of himself. When he had those AIDS, I went to my synagogue and I prayed for him.”

He added this about Johnson’s work in the African American community: “[W]hat does he do for the black people? He doesn’t do anything. Jews, when they get successful, they will help their people, and some of the African-Americans—maybe I’ll get in trouble again—they don’t want to help anybody.”

So, not exactly damage control. Today, things got even worse, as yet another tape of Sterling surfaced in which he criticized President Obama for criticizing him: “I think that was such bad judgment on his part to make a flippant comment from Malaysia. He’s a good guy, and I like him, I just think everybody wants to get into the act, is that it?” Learning curve? Not so much.

Rubio is nowhere nearly so unhinged, but he did himself no favors either. After appearing on ABC News last weekend denying that “human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate,” and arguing that scientists have taken “a handful of decades of research and say that this is now evidence of a longer-term trend that’s directly and almost solely attributable to human activities,” he was predictably and deservedly blowtorched as both a political opportunist and a scientific know-nothing. So he traveled to the National Press Club to explain himself and made a hash of that too.

When he was asked by a moderator, “what information, reports, studies or otherwise are you relying on to inform and reach your conclusion that human activity is not to blame for climate change?” he came up empty, conjuring unwelcome memories of Sarah Palin, who drew a similar blank in 2008 when asked what newspapers she reads. “Well, again,” Rubio said, “headlines notwithstanding, I’ve never disputed that the climate is changing, and I’ve pointed out that climate to some extent is always changing, it’s never static.”

Much worse, he once again played the game of making up things climate scientists never, ever say, and then happily refuting them. “If we ban all coal in the U.S.,” he said, “if we ban all carbon emissions in the United States, will it change the dramatic changes in climate and these dramatic weather impacts that we’re now reading about? And anyone who says that we will is not being truthful.” Good thing no one is saying that then—except, of course, Rubio.

What gets into these guys’ heads is not clear. As with all powerful people—and, in particular, all powerful men—narcissism is surely a part of it. Live your life as a cosseted rich man like Sterling, or rise to a position of extreme prestige and power as a young man, like Rubio, and you begin to believe the rules don’t apply to you—because they often don’t. It’s similar to the tendency of professional athletes—who were often waved through high school and college regardless of poor grades and were then rewarded with eight-figure contracts at the age of 22—to get into so much trouble off the field. Why should DUI or domestic abuse laws apply to them any more than academic ones?

Sometimes it might be cultural obtuseness that’s to blame too. Sterling, 80, grew up in an era in which racial comments that are jaw-dropping today were the stuff of common conversation. Or it may be inexperience. Rubio is only 42, he’s been in the Senate for just over three years and he’s been talked about as a presidential contender for most of that time. The mistakes he’s making in that kind of pressure cooker are not the ones savvier, older campaigners like Bill Clinton or George H.W. Bush would make.

Whatever the cause, the advice is almost always a variation on the “measure twice, cut once” dictum carpenters live by. Think about what you’re going to say, then think about it again, then maybe—maybe—speak. Trying to unsay something is always harder than never having said it in the first place.

TIME russia

We’re Not Impressed With Your Space Tantrum, Mr. Putin

The International Space Station: Putin won't come to play anymore
NASA The International Space Station: Putin won't come to play anymore

An open letter to the Russian leader as his deputy prime minister threatens to ground American astronauts and military satellites

Dear Vladimir,

So you’re not having enough problems digesting Crimea, that half-bankrupt hairball you swallowed because it was there and looked tasty but now it won’t go down and everyone in the world is mad at you? Now you want to pick a fight in space too?

That’s how it seems, at least, after your Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin announced a number of tit-for-tat sanctions against the U.S. today—specifically among them, targeting our countries’ once-cozy collaboration on the International Space Station. According to Rogy, you’ll quit selling us seats on your Soyuz booster—which, since the grounding of the shuttle, is American astronauts’ only way into space—and use the station on your own, despite the fact that it was largely a NASA construction project. What’s more, you’ll no longer sell us the NK-33 and RD-180 engines we currently buy from you for our Atlas V boosters, at least for any launches of military satellites.

Ooh, smack! Now put down your lightsaber young Skywalker. Here’s why we’re not impressed:

First of all, you’ve conveniently scheduled the shutdown of your Soyuz taxi service for 2020, or four years before we plan to abandon the ISS and drop it in the drink anyway. Why wait until then? Could it be the cool $76 million we pay you per seat—cash that an oil-drunk economy like yours needs when fossil fuel prices are falling? But, as you surely know, at least two American companies—Orbital Sciences and Elon Musk’s SpaceX—will all but certainly have their own for-lease spacecraft flying well before then, and even NASA, which has been inexcusably slow in getting a next generation manned vehicle built, may be back in the game by 2020. In other words, you’re going to quit selling us a service we weren’t planning to use anymore anyway. (According to an e-mail from NASA to TIME, by the way, you’ve not even officially been in touch about your new plans, though you did take the time to let the media know—a little like breaking up over Twitter.)

As for the engines: yes, it’s true that the NK-33 and D-180 are nice bits of hardware and the Atlas does rely on them. But the Atlas pre-dates you, Vlad. Remember John Glenn? He flew on one of them, as did the ICBMs we were building in those days and pointing your way—and you guys weren’t exactly selling us the hardware we needed to take you out. You don’t want the revenue that comes from globalized trade? OK, so we’ll in-source our engines again and keep the cash at home.

Look, Czar Descamisodo, history will decide if your Ukrainian adventure was a winning hand. But the Space Race is over and America won. Even decades after the glory days of the moon landings, it’s still NASA that’s got spacecraft approaching, orbiting or on the surface of Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto and multiple asteroids. Russia? Not so much. The world will have to reckon with you for as long as you choose to misbehave in Europe and anywhere else your eye may wander. But in space? We’re fine without you. Tranquility Base, out.

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