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.
Okay, just stop whatever you're doing and go read this story. 91-year-old Denis Avey (an original Desert Rat) is now revealing the story of his WWII Auschwitz break-in. In 1943, Avey was a prisoner of war in Auschwitz (though not the main camp), and decided to swap places for a day with a Dutch Jew who was in one of the main camps. While in the camp, Avey took note of everything he could -- names, procedures, etc. -- and later took his information to military authorities (who apparently didn't believe... READ ON
I came across the "Super Mario Brothers Super Show" closing credits sequence (the first video below), and just had to post it. I apologize in advance.
"Super Mario Brothers Super Show" (Closing Credits)
"Let's do the Mario!" yells the strange dancing man greenscreened into a Mario world. No, that's okay. I do not wish to do the Mario at this time, or ever.
"Out of This World" (Pilot Opening Credits)
Apparently just stock footage of beach... READ ON
How do we measure happiness? What does it mean to be happy? How do we remember happiness? "It turns out the word happiness is just not a useful word anymore, because we apply it to many things," says Daniel Kahneman in a TED Talk about how we experience happiness, memory, and ourselves. (Or I should say our "selves," as Kahneman's talk suggests two distinct types of selves within each of us.) This is complex but fascinating stuff.
Discussed: ruining your memories, the experiencing self that lives... READ ON
Tonight (March 2, 2010) on NOVA: The Pluto Files, featuring Neil deGrasse Tyson, about the controversy over the "demotion" of Pluto from planetary status in 2006. NOVA airs at 8pm in most markets, on PBS -- check your local listings here.
Way back in 2000, Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, was faced with a dilemma. In displaying the solar system, he and his team had to figure out what to do with Pluto. The ninth planet, Pluto was much... READ ON
I just came across a great New York Times piece on the mail service in the Victorian era. It's full of trivia: for example, did you know that in 1889 London, mail was delivered TWELVE TIMES A DAY? Read this:
In Victorian London, though service wasn't 24/7, it was close to 12/6. Home delivery routes would go by every house 12 times a day — yes, 12. In 1889, for example, the first delivery began about 7:30 a.m. and the last one at about 7:30 p.m. In major cities like Birmingham by the... READ ON
Yes, it's that time again -- another auto-tuned science video has hit the interwebs! This one features a dozen speakers: Michael Shermer, Jacob Bronowski, Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins, Jill Tarter, Lawrence Krauss, Richard Feynman, Brian Greene, Stephen Hawking, Carolyn Porco, and P.Z. Myers. For the first time, they're identified onscreen as they speak/sing, so you can follow along.
Representative lyric: "There's real poetry in the real world. Science is the poetry of reality."... READ ON
Dr. Temple Grandin is famous for her work in animal behavior, as a consultant to the livestock industry. She has a natural facility to understand different modes of thinking, probably because her own mode of thinking is so different from most people's -- Grandin is autistic, and "thinks in pictures." She argues that in order to be humane to animals, we need to think like them -- in pictures and other sensory information, rather than verbal language. Grandin has also written about her life, and those... READ ON
After posting about a Lego machine that solves Rubik's Cubes this week, I've been wondering how fast people can do it. Here are some impressive Rubik's Cube-related finds from YouTube!
3-Year-Old Solves Cube in 114 Seconds
The title pretty much says it all. This young Chinese girl has mad speedcubing skillz; the two adults next to her (one has just a 2x2x2 cube) can't keep up.
10.56 Second Solution - Yu Nakajima
According to speedcuber Yu Nakajima, he holds the third-place world record... READ ON
"The more I drink, the more this Congress is makin' sense," sings a member of the Auto-Tune the News crew in their latest episode. Normally I wouldn't devote an entire post to just one Auto-Tune the News clip, but this one is worth it. The basic material here is presented by Congressman Peter Hoekstra, who argues (via a colorful story about a turtle fence built in Michigan) that money spent on health care reform will not be evenly apportioned among the states. In other words, some states will get turtle... READ ON
The buzz continues for The Pluto Files, coming to NOVA on March 2! In the The Pluto Files, we'll learn the inside story of "the rise and fall of America's favorite planet," Pluto, which was infamously downgraded from planetary status by Neil deGrasse Tyson in 1999 (well, it didn't become official until 2006). This Pluto thing is so infamous that we even have a shirt about the incident. The NOVA team has released a few more videos featuring major newsmen (and women) including Jon Stewart, Stephen... READ ON
In the 1980s, a beer-drinking goat was elected mayor of Lajitas, TX.