Browser Daily Newsletter 1210


Hic sunt camelopardus: this historical edition of The Browser is presented for archaeological purposes; links and formatting may be broken.

Dr V’s Magical Putter

Caleb Hannan | Grantland | 15th January 2014

This story deserves some sort of special award for sheer narrative zest. It may not end up anywhere particularly momentous, but the journey is more than eventful. In brief: mad scientist invents revolutionary golf club. "What’s more, she was a Vanderbilt, some link in the long line descending from Cornelius, the original Commodore". And a friend of a friend of Dan Quayle's. Now read on. Indeed, just try to stop yourself

How To Ruin A Cultural Institution

Jed Perl | The New Republic | 13th January 2014

New York's Museum of Modern Art emerged from its last redesign in 2004 "looking more and more like a fking department store". Now it's being enlarged, because director Glenn Lowry wants "a bigger fking department store". And why? "For a decade now MoMA has been locked in a marketing battle with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The goal is to see which museum can be turned into the biggest tourist trap"

What Scientific Idea Is Ready For Retirement?

Andrei Linde et al | Edge | 14th January 2014

The 174 notes and essays reponding to this year's annual Edge Question amount to a book's worth of reading; but well worth the time; few disappoint and many dazzle. Nina Jablonski's call to get rid of "race" as a pseudo-scientific category is particularly well-argued, and conveniently placed close to the top of the stack. Martin Rees's note, a little lower down, is also full of good things, if more diffuse

Teleology Rises From The Grave

Stephen Asma | Berfrois | 15th January 2014

"The usual narrative goes like this: Kant said there would be no Newton of biology; along comes Darwin, the Newton of biology, who shows that natural selection explains adaptation without appeal to teleology; fast-forward to the present and we are now the inheritors of a mechanical biology and only religious cranks still bleat on about teleology. Such is the standard narrative – clear, simple and wrong"

Life Is A Braid In Spacetime

Max Tegmark | Nautilus | 9th January 2014

Enjoyable exercise in extreme reductionism, with a nice ruling conceit: "You are a pattern in spacetime. A mathematical pattern. Specifically, you are a braid in spacetime — one of the most elaborate braids known. At both ends of your braid, corresponding to your birth and death, all the threads gradually separate, corresponding to all your particles joining, interacting and finally going their own separate ways"

Video of the day:  The Sound Of Taste

Thought for the day:

"Morality is inversely proportional to the number of observers" — James Thompson

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