Castration, New York, Physics, Tyopgraphy, Forgery

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Gavin Francis | Paris Review | 19th June 2018

A doctor on the benefits of castration. “Gelding animals takes testosterone out of their development, making them less aggressive and more biddable, but also bigger. Castrated dogs are simpler to train and will more readily round up castrated sheep in the fields. Early Assyrian and Chinese civilizations transposed this knowledge to humans: Boys born in poverty would be castrated and sent to work in the imperial household. Eunuchs were often taller, sometimes stronger than average” (1,930 words)

This Is A Nuclear Bomb

Alex Wellerstein & Ferris Jabr | New York | 12th June 2018

How terrorists might smuggle a nuclear bomb into New York, and what would happen if they detonated it. “A ten-kiloton bomb would be seven feet long and weigh about 1,000 pounds. It would be simple to transport such a device aboard a container ship, just another unseen object in a giant metal box among millions of other metal boxes on the ocean. A moderate amount of shielding would be enough to hide its radioactive signature from most detectors at shipping hubs” (4,150 words)

Going Nowhere Fast

Ben Allanach | Aeon | 19th June 2018

Scientists expected the Large Hadron Collider to complete and confirm the Standard Model of physics, which aspires to present a comprehensive account of all the particles and all the forces in our Universe. But the results from recent experiments have generated far more questions than answers. Could the Standard Model be wrong? “None of the more exotic particles and interactions that theorists hoped to see has been forthcoming. No stop squarks, no gluinos, no neutralinos” (2,900 words)

Boiling Lead And Black Art

Eddie Smith | Practically Efficient | 13th October 2017

Gutenberg revolutionised the printing of words by introducing moveable type in the mid-15C. But for representing mathematical formulae, typesetting was generally less satisfactory than manuscript right up until the 1970s, when Daniel Knuth invented TeX. Knuth was, in effect, the Gutenberg of maths. “Today, we take it for granted that computers can instantly render pretty much anything we can dream up in our minds, but this was closer to science fiction in the late 1970s” (6,200 words)

The Perfect Fake

Samanth Subramanian | Guardian | 15th June 2018

High-tech forgers can fake Old Masters that fool even the greatest museums and grandest auction houses. Modern works are easier still to counterfeit since there is less risk of including anachronistic materials detectable by chemical analysis. The experts who used to certify authenticity have “begun to subtract themselves from the game”, as reputational and financial risks increase. “The technical skill needed to forge a Leonardo is colossal, but with someone like Modigliani, it isn’t” (6,500 words)

Video of the day Thirty Days At Sea

What to expect:

Timelapse. The voyage of a container ship from the Red Sea to Hong Kong (10’00”)

Thought for the day

Technique is noticed most markedly in the case of those who have not mastered it
Leon Trotsky

Podcast Nice Game

Bob Axelrod talks about game theory in international affairs, and why it’s sometimes a good idea to lose
(16m 56s)

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