Diamonds, Ageing, Beasts, Harry Potter, Jenny Diski

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

Lab-Grown Diamonds: Also Forever

Jenni Avins | Quartz | 6th April 2016

Three tech types in a California garage are making diamonds atomically identical to ones that come out of the Earth. Not just similar. The same. The manufacturing process requires heat roughly equal to that of the outer layer of the sun; so the lab-grown diamonds aren’t much cheaper than Earth-grown ones for the moment; but you can imagine that changing; and when it does, what happens to the price of diamonds? Do the lab-grown ones, cleaner and greener, go to a premium? (6,800 words)

Why Do Living Things Die?

Peter Hoffman | Nautilus | 12th May 2016

Blame physics, not biology, for ageing and death. Modern “explanations” of ageing — protein aggregation, DNA damage, inflammation, telomeres — merely describe biological responses to the physical damage done to cells over time by thermal and chemical degradation. Living cells are tiny, complicated, frantically busy machines, which are pretty good at repairing themselves, but eventually they do break. Eliminating all disease would not cause us to live significantly longer (2,150 words)

Otter Ego

Mark Rowlands | Times Literary Supplement | 11th May 2016

Impatient to know how animals feel, Charles Foster turns himself into a succession of animals. He mimics a badger by spending several weeks — with his eight-year-old son — sleeping by day in a hole in the ground in the Welsh Black Hills, and crawling by night in the surrounding forest eating worms and grasshoppers and licking slugs. Also on the to-do list: otter, fox, red deer, swift. Foster’s account of all this, Being a Beast, is “a unique and wonderful book” (1,370 words)

Fan Fiction: Harry Potter And The Panama Papers

Mallory Ortberg | The Toast | 11th May 2016

“Mustn’t complain, though,” Harry said after an odd silence. “That’s what our taxes are for, after all.” “We don’t pay taxes,” Hermione said. “Taxes are for Muggles.” She extinguished her cigarette in the last slice of cake. “But you’re –” Harry started. “I used to be a lot of things,” Hermione said decisively. “I have money now instead.” Harry stopped at every bar on the way home, until he could no longer remember the look that had entered her eyes as she said it … (380 words)

Diary: Jenny Diski

Mary-Kay Wilmers | London Review Of Books | 12th May 2016

From Jenny Diski’s first LRB piece in 1993: “I get on with the new novel. Smoke. Drink coffee. Smoke. Write. Stare at ceiling. Smoke. Write. Lie on the sofa. Drink coffee. Write.” From her last in 2016: “So here I am, thinking and taking pills, wondering whether the fibrosis will kill me or the tumour.” Mary-Kay Wilmers connects the dots: “She wrote about herself a lot – almost never didn’t one way or another. That in a sense was the point. The accounts she gave were ones only she could have given” (1,940 words)

Video of the day: Pigeons Light Up The Brooklyn Sky

What to expect:

Duke Riley eplains why he is releasing thousands of pigeons over Brooklyn with lights strapped to their legs (5’47”)

Thought for the day

The charm of history is that nothing changes and yet everything is completely different
Aldous Huxley

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