World’s oldest and stickiest lab study ready for drop of excitement

Via: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2013/apr/27/worlds-oldest-lab-study-excitement

"No one has actually seen a drop emerge, so it is getting quite nervy round here," said Mainstone. "The other eight drops happened while people had their backs turned. For the last drop, in 2000, we had a webcam trained on the experiment, but it broke down … in 1988, when the previous drop was about to emerge, I popped out for a coffee and missed it."

On The Necessity of Geology

Via: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/rosetta-stones/2013/03/21/on-the-necessity-of-geology/

There is an urgent need for talking and teaching geology.

Many people don’t know it. They think geology is rocks, but if they’re not rock aficionados, it’s nothing to do with them. So our K-12 schools inadequately teach the earth sciences. People don’t learn about geology, and they grow up to move to hazardous areas without being aware of the risks. They grow into politicians who feel it’s smart to sneer at volcano monitoring. They become people who don’t understand what geologists can and cannot do, and imprison scientists who couldn’t predict the unpredictable.

NY Times on Why Is It Hard to Make Friends Over 30?

Via: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/15/fashion/the-challenge-of-making-friends-as-an-adult.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

In studies of peer groups, Laura L. Carstensen, a psychology professor who is the director of the Stanford Center on Longevity in California, observed that people tended to interact with fewer people as they moved toward midlife, but that they grew closer to the friends they already had.

Basically, she suggests, this is because people have an internal alarm clock that goes off at big life events, like turning 30. It reminds them that time horizons are shrinking, so it is a point to pull back on exploration and concentrate on the here and now. “You tend to focus on what is most emotionally important to you,” she said, “so you’re not interested in going to that cocktail party, you’re interested in spending time with your kids.”

Tech Companies Leave Phone Calls Behind

Via: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/07/technology/tech-companies-leave-phone-calls-behind.html?_r=3&ref=technology

The companies argue that with millions of users every day, they cannot possibly pick up a phone.

“A lot of these companies don’t have enough employees to talk to,” said Paul Saffo, a longtime technology forecaster in Silicon Valley. Facebook, for example, has just one employee for every 300,000 users. Its online systems process more than two million customer requests a day.

Google, which at 14 years old is a relative ancient in Silicon Valley, is one of the few companies that publishes phone numbers on its Web site. Its phone system sends callers back to the Web no less than 11 times. Its lengthy messages contain basic Internet education in a tone that might be used with an aging relative, explaining, slowly and gently, “There’s nothing Google can do to remove information from Web sites.”

“What Made Sandy’s Flooding So Bad?” via WSJ

Via: http://blogs.wsj.com/metropolis/2012/10/30/weather-journal-what-made-sandys-flooding-so-bad/

Over its lifespan, Sandy set several important records: just before landfall it was the most intense hurricane (as measured by its minimum central pressure of 940mb) ever recorded north of North Carolina (even including those that never made landfall), its potential wave/storm surge destructiveness (peaking at 5.8 on a 6.0 scale) was ranked by NOAA to be higher than any other hurricane in the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico since at least 1969, and it was also at one point the largest hurricane ever recorded (since 1851) as measured by the diameter of its gale force winds (945mi). Though National Weather Service forecasts for Sandy appeared to have been very good, Sandy’s impacts — at least relating to storm surge — came in at the top end of anticipated ranges. It’s quite likely that Sandy’s mix of ingredients maximized damage for New York City in a way that no other hurricane has anywhere in the United States for at least the last 150 years.

How Google Builds Its Maps—and What It Means for the Future of Everything

Via the always awesome Alexis C. Madrigal of The Atlantic:

“If you look at the offline world, the real world in which we live, that information is not entirely online,” Manik Gupta, the senior product manager for Google Maps, told me. “Increasingly as we go about our lives, we are trying to bridge that gap between what we see in the real world and [the online world], and Maps really plays that part.”

This is not just a theoretical concern. Mapping systems matter on phones precisely because they are the interface between the offline and online worlds. If you’re at all like me, you use mapping more than any other application except for the communications suite (phone, email, social networks, and text messaging).

NY Times on Why Is It Hard to Make Friends Over 30?

Via: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/15/fashion/the-challenge-of-making-friends-as-an-adult.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

In studies of peer groups, Laura L. Carstensen, a psychology professor who is the director of the Stanford Center on Longevity in California, observed that people tended to interact with fewer people as they moved toward midlife, but that they grew closer to the friends they already had.

Basically, she suggests, this is because people have an internal alarm clock that goes off at big life events, like turning 30. It reminds them that time horizons are shrinking, so it is a point to pull back on exploration and concentrate on the here and now. “You tend to focus on what is most emotionally important to you,” she said, “so you’re not interested in going to that cocktail party, you’re interested in spending time with your kids.”

Building an All-Star Team at Skillshare

Via: http://www.mikekarnj.com/blog/2012/07/09/building-all-star-teams/

To determine if someone is a “cultural fit” at Skillshare, we created a set of core values as a team (during one of our retreats), and created interview questions for each one of our values. For example, ”Be Curious. Stay Passionate” was one of our key values, so we ask all candidates during the interview process, “what are you passionate about?” to get a better understanding of their passions for our mission and outside of work. This allows us to determine whether they are a culture fit or not based on our values and not on whether we can grab a beer with the person.

Lastly, we have an overall criteria of traits we look for when build out our team, which revolves around ambition/drive, curiosity/passion, and humbleness. We also look for “black swans” that have done something remarkable in their lives that make them stand out. For example, one of our recent hires was an Eagle Scout and another was ranked as one of top 100 piano players in the country.

How To Fill An Empty Bird’s Nest: Beijing’s Olympic Woes

Via: http://www.npr.org/2012/07/10/156368611/chinas-post-olympic-woe-how-to-fill-an-empty-nest

These days, a smattering of mostly Chinese tour groups trickles though the stadium. Visitor numbers are in freefall: They plummeted by half in the first six months of 2011 compared to a year before, according to state-run media. The Bird’s Nest cost $480 million to build and its upkeep costs $11 million a year.

But the only international visitors sitting in the stands on a recent day aren’t impressed.

“For me, it’s just a huge concrete place,” says German tourist Christian Lodz. “Personally I think, after four years, it looks a little bit shabby.”

“What I think is interesting is that it’s just not used for anything useful,” says his countryman Henne Zelle, waving at a crane and tarpaulins in the middle of the stadium. “There’s a construction zone there, and it’s kind of dirty.”

The problem is how to fill the empty expanse of seats; the stadium is designed to house 91,000 spectators.

Relativistic Baseball

Via: http://what-if.xkcd.com/1/

What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% the speed of light? Let’s set aside the question of how we got the baseball moving that fast. We’ll suppose it’s a normal pitch, except in the instant the pitcher releases the ball, it magically accelerates to 0.9c. From that point onward, everything proceeds according to normal physics…