Inverse Daily: LightSail 2 Is a Resounding Success

LightSail 2 could one day be used to propel cargo to Mars and visit new star systems.

TGIF, Inverse Daily fam. Have you seen this list of official names for people from a certain state? (New Mexicans and “Hawaii residents” are my personal favorites.) Check it out, balk, and then join me on a dive into today’s news.

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INVERSE QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I’m not interested in the loud, sour-grapes voices.”

Black Widow writer Jac Schaeffer, who doesn’t care that her anti-discrimination stance on comic book canon might make retrograde fanboys mad.

Worst Behavior

It must have made a few people nervous when, in 2015, a hacker group called the Impact Collective leaked huge amounts of user data from Ashley Madison, an online dating site encouraging marital infidelity. They were right to be worried about their data. Not only did their cheating become public, but the data became fodder for scientific studies searching for correlations between bad spouses and other traits (political party, interestingly, was the focus of one of them).

The latest, Emma Betuel tells me, links infidelity with bad behavior in the workplace. Comparing the leaked data with records of professional misbehavior by police officers, CEOs, and CFOs, the team discovered that people who used the service were up to twice as likely to have reports of “corporate misconduct at work.” The bigger picture is that people who try to live by different codes of ethics at home and work may be finding it harder to keep things separate than they realize.

Learn more about what the leaked data revealed about cheaters.

The more you know:

Sailing on Sunshine

It would be understandable if you were dubious when the Planetary Society announced a crowdfunded project to build a ship that could glide through space like a sailboat, its mylar sail filled not with wind but with … sunlight. Sounds wild, but as the team behind LightSail 2 just revealed, the plan was a major success. The spacecraft, launched June 25, is officially the first in Earth’s orbit to use the momentum of photons to change its direction around our planet.

Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye (yes, that one!) told Scott Snowden that the plan is for LightSail 2 to continue flying for another year, giving the project team time to learn how, exactly, one should steer a solar vehicle through space. If they figure it out, it’ll save humanity a lot of head-scratching when it comes to fueling ships bound for Mars and beyond.

Learn what happens next.

The more you know:

Smartphone Slowdown

There’s nothing quite like the thrill of unboxing a new phone and marveling at the sheer scratchlessness of it. But phones are expensive, and most people can only afford to pay the price of newness every couple of years. There’s evidence showing that the period elapsed between phones is getting longer. In 2013, people in the US waited about 20.5 months before upgrading; in 2016, they waited 22.7 months.

Apple’s been paying attention to these trends, Mike Brown tells me. This year’s iPhone, he points out, is less exciting-looking than the 2020 model, and that might be because Apple has noticed that consumer habits have shifted amid a maturing smartphone market. Annual iPhone sales hit their peak in 2015 — around the same time that Apple slowed down its quick-fire pattern of drastic design changes every other year.

Find out what this means for the future of phone upgrades.

The more you know:

Curiosity is the path to a smarter, more curious you. We’re on a mission to make learning easier and more fun than it’s ever been. Each day, we create and curate engaging topics for millions of lifelong learners worldwide. From asteroids and animals to artificial intelligence and ancient history, we’ll explore questions you’ve always wondered about and uncover answers you didn’t know you needed. Sign up now.

Scarily Sweet

In her Netflix documentary Homecoming, pop star and galactic force Beyoncé revealed that she’d cut sugar completely out of her diet in order to get back in shape for her world tour after pregnancy. It wasn’t easy, and for good reason. As science fellow Ali Pattillo reports, roughly 68 percent of all packaged foods and beverages in the US food supply contain “caloric sweeteners” — sugar in its various forms. It’s in almost everything we eat, whether or not it’s sweet, and health professionals are, rightfully, concerned.

That said, sugar comes in different forms, and some are worse than others. The main distinction is between naturally occurring sugars and added sugars. The former refers to the sugars we get from naturally sweet foods, like a plump cherry or a kernel of corn. Those ones are better than the added sugars we get from high-fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners — which are made by extracting fructose from fruits and vegetables — because they are wrapped up in fiber and other nutrients, allowing our bodies to use them at a steadier, slower pace.

Find out when sugar is more sickly than sweet.

The more you know:

Future 50: Joe Cunningham

The latest addition to Inverse’s Future 50 is Joe Cunningham, a guitar-playing, whale-saving representative from South Carolina who’s fighting to save America’s oceans. Sarah Sloat paid the 37-year-old former ocean engineer and construction lawyer a visit at his office in DC, where he discussed his first big test in Congress: passing a bill that will effectively ban offshore drilling on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts.

Cunningham represents South Carolina’s First District, which he won, somewhat by surprise; he had won over several districts that had voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election. He found support in coastal Republican mayors who were interested in his campaign against offshore drilling because it would put an end to the peace-shattering sound of seismic airgun blasts used in the hunt for oil and gas beneath the seabed.

Read the Future 50 profile on Cunningham here and his essay on why he’s saving America’s oceans here.

Check out more Future 50 from Inverse here:

Today’s Good Thing

Because life on this planet is only going to get better if we try to make it better, each day I’ll be presenting One Good Thing humans are doing to create positive change.

Today, that’s the residents of the UK, whose sales of plastic bags in its biggest supermarkets have halved in a single year — down from 1 billion to 549 million. Grab a canvas bag and keep the trend going.

Meanwhile …

  • Researchers show that when supervisors are purely driven by bottom lines, they can end up losing the respect of their employees.
  • Musk Reads: Tesla is booming in China, solar steps into the sun, and the Pickup Truck draws closer.
  • Fans find incredible Easter egg in Avengers: Endgame.

Inverse Loot

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Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts on Coca-Cola and Pepsi backing out of the plastics lobby.

Sue W. said she recently stopped drinking the stuff: “I was so tired of the plastic bottles, I changed.” Ken P., joking that he was “showing his age,” said that he remembers when both companies used and recycled glass bottles. “Why not go back to that?” Good question. R.M., meanwhile, said both companies should find a biodegradable plastic. “I would even pay a little more if they use it.” All great ideas. Now let’s make them real.

Thoughts on how Ashley Madison users behave at work? Let me know at yasmin@inverse.com.

This ain’t infidelity,

— Yasmin