Einstein, Oscar Wilde, California Drought, Somerton Man, Charles Kennedy, Kidnap

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

Einstein And Relativity

David Tong | Plus Magazine | 4th June 2015

Admirably clear explainer. "Einstein wondered what would happen if the Sun were to explode. The Sun is so far away that it takes light eight minutes to travel to Earth. We wouldn't know about the explosion straight away. But what about gravity? The Earth moves in an ellipse around the Sun. If the Sun wasn't there, it would move off in a straight line. But when would that happen? Straight away, or after eight minutes?" (1,300 words)

How Oscar Wilde Cracked America

Philip Hoare | New Statesman | 4th June 2015

Wilde's lecture tour of America in 1882 made him into the first modern celebrity — famous for being famous. The advertisements alone caused a sensation, depicting a long-haired Wilde lounging and pouting in a smoking jacket. In person, Wilde wore "satin and fur accessorised with lavender gloves, silver-topped cane and buttonhole". Americans came to mock, but found him captivating. The tour was "endlessly extended" (1,600 words)

After Water

Susie Cagle | Longreads | 2nd June 2015

Despatch from the California drought. Residential wells go dry across the San Joaquin Valley and the last ground water is tainted with nitrates. "Is it better to cook with precious bottled water or eat fast food every night? Whose truck can you borrow to pick up the water you need from the fire station to bathe your babies? How dirty does it have to be for you not to drink it on a 110 degree day? How long can you live like this?" (5,160 words)

The Lost Man

Graeme Wood | Caifornia Sunday | 5th June 2015

Australia's greatest cold case. A body is found on a beach near Adelaide in 1948 — a man wearing a suit and tie, perhaps a dancer, probably poisoned. He carries a fragment from the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. When the rest of the book is found, a cipher is written on the back, with the telephone number of a nurse who, called to identify the body, almost faints. Her son is said to resemble the mystery man. What was she hiding? (5,200 words)

Charles Kennedy: Death Of A Liberal

Bagehot | The Economist | 5th June 2015 | | Read with 1Pass

Remembering Charles Kennedy, once a popular young leader of the Liberal Democrats, who died alone in his Scottish bungalow this week "bereft of his deceased father, of his ex-wife and the adored son who lives with her, of the Highland voters he had represented, until last month, for 32 years, and of his professional faculties". Drink undid him. "Like bottles of Scotch, Mr Kennedy’s political heft was drained by his addiction" (1,018 words)

My Three Years A Hostage

Michael Scott Moore | Guardian | 2nd June 2015

Here's how to tell if you are about to be kidnapped in Somalia. The first clue is that your friend decides to leave early — the friend you were counting on to help you get around. The second clue is that you get turned back at the airport, and there's a truck blocking your road into town. After that, it's all Mad Max. "The guards handed me bread, a bottle of water and a can of tuna. That would be my diet for the next several months" (8,000 words)

Video of the day: Grand Overlook Hotel

What to expect: Comic mash-up of scenes from The Shining and Grand Budapest Hotel. Some gore (1'15")

Thought for the day

To be properly acquainted with a truth, we must first have disbelieved it

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