The story you reference may be Neutron Star.
Are there really that many more cosmic rays en route to Mars than there are where the ISS is?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetosphere -- see some of the graphics for scale - ISS is at a few hundred miles.
"Pioneers used to do that sort of thing all the time in the new world" " The new world (the Americas) had a lot of advantages that Mars does not:
Breathable atmosphere Climate suitable for growing stuff Fertile soil with plants and animals already there turkeys, cranberries and mashed potato for dinner (and locals to tell the colonists how to cook them) Trees for making wooden structures out of fresh water mineral resources etc
The Americas also had by some estimates 90 million humans living there already http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_history_of_indigenous_peoples_of_the_Americas - who taught the 'pioneers' about the local flora and fauna - who bred with them and so on. The Americas had humans living here for somewhere between 10,000 and 30,000 years - probably much longer, just not in the numbers needed to leave behind obvious signs of habitation.
...these labs don't exist for the pleasure of working there. And nerds clearly still don't have a clue of how they are perceived by the rest of society.
In a real sense they do exist for the pleasure of working there; because the primary societal goals for which the labs were created can only be accomplished by people who are motivated by the pleasure of their work. The motivations of people like Oppenheimer, Feynman, Hasslacher, et al. are not generally money, they are motivated to understand nature, to work with similarly talented people, and to be recognized within that peer group for their work. Acknowledgment outside the peer group is largely unimportant, which means even if they spent the time to consider how they are perceived by the rest of society, they would not especially care. These are not easy people to manage towards goals other than their own, and it takes someone like Oppenheimer who was both in the peer group and an excellent manager to do so. It may also take an existential situation like was faced in WWII.
I remember hearing or reading about an idea that involved identifying a leaker by seeding different people with documents that contained juicy, unique phrases to tempt journalists into quoting them directly, thereby identifying the source of the document.
Infocom did similar with review copies of games. Someone was posting their review copy on a BBS. We made custom copies for each reviewer with a modified room description for one of the rooms. It was posted, and that reviewer was caught.
This is a textbook on gravitation physics (Einstein's "general relativity" or "geometrodynamics"). It supplies two tracks through the subject. The first track is focused on the key physical ideas. It assumes, as a mathematical prerequisite, only vector analysis and simple partial-differential equations.
It is a really fun book to read at the first track level; especially if you are not on the hook for the homework.
I have to wonder what the masses did the first guy who brought home fire.
I'd have to guess that they bound him to a rock and had a giant eagle eat his liver.
The gods did that, not the masses.
Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken