It may look nice out, but it's cold: probably best to stay indoors and read this lot instead
- Who Needs GPS? The Forgotten Story of Etak’s Amazing 1985 Car Navigation System - "With backing from Atari’s cofounder, an engineer-navigator brought high-tech driving directions to cars–during the Reagan Administration."
- Walt Disney's Curious Fascination With Death - "The story of Walt Disney, for all its wholesome charm, would never earn a G rating. Like many of the brilliant cartoonist’s creations, it is a tale inextricably tied to death and, in Disney’s case, one that starts with a stunning act of animal cruelty — and we don’t mean the slaughter of Bambi’s mother." Sean Braswell uncovers the dark side of the animator’s life.
- The Lives of Others - "Edward White’s The Lives of Others is a monthly series about unusual, largely forgotten figures from history." Excellent collection of columns, with subjects ranging from the girls who started the spiritualism craze of the nineteenth century to a Papal chef from the Renaissance period.
- Four New Ugly Damselfish Species That You Won’t Care About - Scientists have discovered four new species of damselfish, and Joe Rowlett has nothing but contempt for them: ”Damselfish authority and apparent masochist Dr. Gerry Allen took upon himself the sisyphean task of revising our understanding of the Philippine Damselfish (Pomacentrus philippinus), an eminently unpopular species that occasionally sneaks its way into the aquarium trade when nobody’s looking… Normally, I’d take the time to carefully read through the scientific descriptions and relate these diagnostic traits to you, dear reader, in precise detail. But, for these pointless fishes, I just can’t even bother.”
- Does an anomaly in the Earth’s magnetic field portend a coming pole reversal? - John Tarduno and Vincent Hare on the possible implications of an anomaly in the earth’s core, revealed by analysis of the remains of fires from the first agriculturists of the Iron Age of southern Africa: ”The communities often responded to times of drought with rituals of cleansing that involved burning mud granaries. This somewhat tragic series of events for these people was ultimately a boon many hundreds of years later for archaeomagnetism. Just as in the case of the firing and cooling of a pot, the clay in these structures recorded Earth’s magnetic field as they cooled.”
- The Missing Moon Files - "Researchers scour old labs and archives, looking for invaluable lunar data before it’s too late."
- This Picture Has No Red Pixels—So Why Do the Strawberries Still Look Red? - An optical illusion from Professor Akiyoshi Kitaoka is similar to that dress thing that got everybody so worked up a couple of years ago: ”The optical illusion is created through a similar phenomenon that caused so much turmoil with The Dress. It's called color constancy. It's your brain's way of color correcting the world when it's filtered through different light.”
- The Tragedy of Newcomb Mott, Who Thought He Could Walk Into Soviet Russia - "When Newcomb Mott flew into the small airport in Kirkenes, Norway, in 1965, nothing had ever truly gone wrong in his life." Before long he would be dead, having wandered into Russia in the hope of getting a nice stamp in his passport
- How I ended up writing a new real-time kernel - Dmitry Frank on creating a new Real Time Operating System: ”The processors used for our designs are primarily 16- and 32-bit Microchip MCUs, with RAM from 8 to 32 KB, and ROM from 128 to 512 KB, without any kind of MMU… At some point, it became clear that what I'm doing is far beyond “refactoring”: there are some things in the TNKernel's API that I didn't like, so, I changed API slightly; and there are things that I was missing for too long: timers, software stack overflow control, events group connection, etc; so I implemented them. It's not the TNKernel anymore.”
- Death by Wallpaper: The Alluring Arsenic Colors that Poisoned the Victorian Age - The peril of dyes: ”In some kind of disconnect, people believed that only by licking the walls would they get poisoned, or only by the green colors. In this way, it wasn’t too different from the radium cosmetics that took off in the mid-20th century, even while the potentially dangerous power of radiation was evident. Left untouched, Victorian wallpaper could still release flakes of arsenic into the air or produce arsenical gas when conditions were damp.” Pretty though