Chris Higgins is the author of The Blogger Abides and writes for This American Life, The Atlantic, Breakfast on Mars, and The Magazine. You can follow him at chrishiggins.com.
As a Public Radio Nerd (PRN), I've long enjoyed Science Friday, the weekly NPR call-in show that brings popular science to the masses. Hosted by Ira Flatow, a certifiable nerd in his own right -- I've run across him in aquarium hobbyist message boards, and Mac nerd message boards -- the show carries the tagline "Making Science User-Friendly™." And I think it succeeds. But it also has deep nerd cred, including a Twitter feed, three podcast feeds, and a website designed by FlatoGraphics: presumably... READ ON
My father went to Haverford College in Pennsylvania, and he recently came across a nice article in Haverford's alumni magazine about Theodor Geisel. Now, Geisel is not a Haverford alum...but his agent Herb Cheyette is. I've collected a few choice bits of trivia from the article below, but I encourage you to read the full article for a fond remembrance of Geisel from his friend and agent Herb Cheyette.
Geisel had a closet next to his studio filled with hats sent to him from children around the world,... READ ON
Editor's Note: This was our most popular post of 2008.Yesterday I came across a slightly mysterious website -- a collection of Polaroids, one per day, from March 31, 1979 through October 25, 1997. There's no author listed, no contact info, and no other indication as to where these came from. So, naturally, I started looking through the photos. I was stunned by what I found.In 1979 the photos start casually, with pictures of friends, picnics, dinners, and so on. Here's an example from April 23,... READ ON
Epistolary history is full of open letters, those that are written with the intent that they'll be read by a wide audience. Here we've collected six of the best (or at least, most influential) open letters of all time.
1. Letter from Birmingham Jail
Writer: Martin Luther King, Jr.
Recipients: "Fellow Clergymen"
Key statements: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere"; "Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds."... READ ON
As you settle down with family and friends this holiday season, be prepared: load up your iPhone (or iPod Touch) with applications to get through common holiday disasters. We've got a complete roundup here -- from fun photo moments to actual medical emergencies, these apps will get you through the holiday season intact...but your journey will be perilous. Read on, if you dare!
1. Save Grandpa's Life
The family is settled in for a feast. The wine is flowing, there's a large bird to be consumed,... READ ON
The Obsolete Technology Website is full of goodies. It's got links to classic video games of yore (many now playable online), a history timeline of the personal computer, and -- my favorite -- a collection of old computer ads. These ads harken back to a simpler time, when "portability" meant that a computer weighed under 30 pounds, when a color monitor was an optional feature, and when Bill Cosby was the most trusted adman in America. Here are a few choice selections from the Obsolete Technology... READ ON
Last month I pointed to a stunt (er, experiment?) in which the Mythbusters painted Leonardo's Mona Lisa using a computer-controlled paint gun. Now, programmer Roger Alsing has written an evolving program to "paint" Mona Lisa using just 50 polygons. "Huh?" you may say. Well, let's let Alsing explain the steps his program runs:
0) Setup a random DNA string (application start)
1) Copy the current DNA sequence and mutate it slightly
2) Use the new DNA to render polygons onto a canvas
3) Compare... READ ON
Software guy Anil Dash and his wife Alaina had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: they spent a night inside the Guggenheim. In an exhibition called Revolving Hotel Room, visitors can inhabit a space that transcends public and private boundaries -- at a price of about $300/night, all available nights quickly sold out, but the Dashes got one. Dash writes about the amenities:
The truth is, the Guggenheim as a space makes a terrible hotel. The room was hardly secluded, the amenities were perfunctory,... READ ON
Dan Kaminsky is a supergeek in Seattle. He's a computer security expert, using the typical superpowers of network packet analysis, free WiFi from Starbucks, and a job at Microsoft. But last January, Kaminsky's Spidey Sense tingled: he had discovered a flaw in the Internet's DNS (Domain Name System), the globally distributed system that translates human-readable names like www.mentalfloss.com into machine-accessible addresses like 126.96.36.199. Wired details what happened next:
Kaminsky froze.... READ ON
Netflix makes a business out of getting subscribers to add tons of DVDs to a list of discs that will later be mailed out. Theoretically, the more discs in that list, the longer that subscriber will remain with the service, since new movies will just keep coming. So a big part of Netflix's business is recommending titles to subscribers based on what they've previously enjoyed. Netflix calls its recommendation system... READ ON
Michael Jackson wanted to do a Harry Potter musical. J.K. Rowling said no.