Done with ClientCo for now, so once again I get to post this veritable cornucopia from the bench, as Nature intended
- Unfathomable - "Sunken treasure, death-defying adventure, sibling rivalry: How Charles and John Deane invented modern deep-sea diving and saved the British Empire." James Nestor tells the story of the brothers who invented the diving suit.
- Why CSI: Space Will Be a Far Greater Challenge Than Forensic Science on Earth - "At the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation centre, NASA has just concluded the latest year-long study into the effects of long-term isolation in space… Immoral or illegal conduct has been a fixture in human history from the dawn of civilisation to the space age we live in today. It’s inevitable that it will at some point become an issue in space, so it’s important to be prepared for the eventuality. The question is how, or whether, terrestrial methods of inflicting violence can be used in space, and if so, whether terrestrial methods of criminal investigation are up to the job.”
- Remembering the Radioactive Boy Scout - Zeity has mentioned David Hahn several times when I’ve linked to other stories about amateur attempts at building nuclear reactors. Now Hahn has died, aged 39. David Cassel looks back at his story: ”He bought test tubes and Bunsen burners, and by age 14 could synthesize his own nitroglycerin… Finally, after an explosion in the family basement, David’s parents requested that his experiments be conducted in the shed in their backyard. Bad idea.”
- Two moose locked antlers in a fight, then froze together in a stream - "The two men rounded a bend, and there, Webster said, they saw it: a large set of antlers and a hairy brown hump protruding from the ice. They got closer, and they saw another hump — and another set of antlers, entangled with the first set." If moose weren’t so argumentative, this wouldn’t have happened.
- The Propaganda Kimonos Japan Kept Hidden From Outsiders - "When you picture a Japanese kimono, you probably think of something like a haiku in clothing form. Maybe stylized scenes of chrysanthemums, long-tailed birds flying over blossoming cherry trees, or a picturesque mountain landscape. Now imagine a kimono showing two children in military gear marching to battle with their faithful puppy. How about a kimono showing Mussolini on horseback? Or one with a cute child in infantry garb with sword held aloft?" Sam Perkins on Japanese garments of the early-to-mid twentieth century which have been quietly forgotten in the wake of Japan’s defeat of 1945.
- Titanpointe: The NSA’s Spy Hub in New York, Hidden in Plain Sight - Interesting look at a Manhattan telephone exchange which is, supposedly, used by the NSA - though let’s face it, it’s hardly surprising that the NSA go where the telephone lines are. ”It has long been known that AT&T has cooperated with the NSA on surveillance, but few details have emerged about the role of specific facilities in carrying out the top-secret programs. The Snowden documents provide new information about how NSA equipment has been integrated as part of AT&T’s network in New York City, revealing in unprecedented detail the methods and technology the agency uses to vacuum up communications from the company’s systems.”
- Catch Us If You Can - Bruce Watson on the perennial appeal of stories about impostors: ”While most of us struggle to stay within social boundaries, impostors break through those barriers, striding effortlessly onto any stage they choose… Deep down, psychologists suggest, impostors appeal to us because we suspect that we are all, to some degree, faking it. Their stories expose the kaleidoscope of the self itself, and how to keep one step ahead of feeling like nobody ourselves.”
- Who Will Command The Robot Armies? - Transcript of Maciej Cegłowski’s recent talk at the Direction conference in Sydney: ”When John Allsopp invited me here, I told him how excited I was discuss a topic that's been heavy on my mind: accountability in automated systems. But then John explained that in order for the economics to work, and for it to make sense to fly me to Australia, there needed to actually be an audience. So today I present to you my exciting new talk: Who Will Command the Robot Armies?”
- The Art of the Blurb - Jason Guriel on the snippets of text used to promote books: ”You can imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered a doctored blurb about Carson, attributed to yours truly, on the Random House website. I had recently panned Carson’s book Red Doc> in Poetry magazine, and some collagist had reordered sentences from my review to suggest a positive appraisal. But why the desperate measures?”
- The Williamson Tunnels, revisited - A look at the ongoing work to open up the miles of tunnels beneath Edge Hill in Liverpool, constructed for no known reason other than providing work for the unemployed at the expense of tobacco-merchant Joseph Williamson between 1805 and his death in 1840: ”Using only buckets secured on ropes, the volunteers have, since 1999, managed to excavate an extraordinary vertical world that, at the Paddington site, now extends 80 feet below the surface. In the last three years, the innumerable haulings of countless rubble-filled buckets has revealed the true extent of Williamson’s labyrinth – three levels of tunnels stacked on top of each other, descending today via an improvised scaffold supporting wooden steps.”