Browser Newsletter 1060

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

Best of the Moment

How Do Birds Navigate?

Tom Standage | The Economist | 17th July 2013

I hereby propose a new law of science journalism, which holds that any headline ending in a question mark can take the answer: "It's complicated". Which is certainly the case here. The global positioning system with which birds are born appears to rely on particles of iron in the ear, nerves in the beak, a chemical reaction in the eyes, and quantum entanglement effects. End-result: birds see magnetic fields as patterns of spots

Bring Back Flophouses

Alan Durning | Slate | 17th July 2013

A century ago you could find a simple small room in San Francisco for the equivalent of $8 a night and a flophouse bed for much less. A pity that building and fire codes squeezed this end of the market out of business. The higher that property values rise, the more urgently we need to find a way back to cheap and simple urban living; choices lying somewhere between today's studio apartments, and the pods you get in capsule hotels

Elon Musk’s Mission To Mars

Rory Carroll | Guardian | 17th July 2013

Interview with space pioneer: "We're in a very upward cycle right now and hopefully that remains the case. But it may not. There could be some series of events that cause the technology level to decline. Given that this is the first time in 4.5bn years where it's been possible for humanity to extend life beyond Earth, it seems like we'd be wise to act while the window was open and not count on the fact it will be open a long time"

The Great War Was A Just War

Gary Sheffield | History Today | 18th July 2013

The Nazis get the blame for World War Two. But the narrative of World War One is much less clear-cut. We mostly think of it as a futile series of bloodbaths conducted if not caused by callous and incompetent generals. That is wrong, and the approaching centenary offers the opportunity to get the story right. Germany was fighting a war of conquest and aggression in 1914-18, and Britain was fighting for national survival

Life-Or-Death Situation

Robin Henig | New York Times | 17th July 2013

Leading authority on right-to-die ethics confronts the worst-possible case: a bicycling accident leaves her husband quadriplegic. "Suffering, suicide, euthanasia, a dignified death — these were subjects she had thought and written about for years, and now they turned unbearably personal. She would watch lofty ideas be trumped by reality — and would discover just how messy, raw and muddled the end of life can be"

Video of the day: When Fear Meets The Line

Thought for the day:

"In all human affairs, it is impossible to remove one inconvenience without another emerging" — Niccolo Machiavelli

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