Magnetism, Extinction, Vidia, Seaweed, Power


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

The Spinning Magnet

Samira Shackle | New Humanist | 7th August 2018

An historian of magnetism explains how turbulence in the Earth’s molten core can flip the planet’s magnetic poles. “North moves to South and South moves to North. It takes thousands of years. During that time the field wanes to just a tenth of its usual strength. The last time the poles switched places was 780,000 years ago. Right now, there is tremendous, unusual activity within the outer core and scientists are wondering whether the poles are preparing to switch places again” (1,700 words)

What Killed The Dinosaurs?

Bianca Bosker | Atlantic | 8th August 2018

A field trip to India with Princeton geologist Gerta Keller, who argues that dinosaurs were wiped out by volcanic eruptions, and not, as most scientists believe, by an asteroid. “Appropriately for someone who studies mass extinctions, she has a tendency to attract disaster. She told me about having narrowly escaped death four times — once while attempting suicide, once during an Algerian coup, once from getting shot, and once from food poisoning. This was by no means an exhaustive list” (8,400 words)

Editing Vidia

Diana Athill | Granta | 19th December 2008

Remembering V.S. Naipaul, not always fondly. “Vidia’s anxiety and despair were real: you need only compare a photograph of his face in his twenties with one taken in his forties to see how it has been shaped by pain. It was my job to listen to his unhappiness and do what I could to ease it – which would not have been too bad if there had been anything I could do. But there was not: and exposure to someone else’s depression is draining, even if only for an hour or so at a time” (10,500 words)

Mother Of The Sea

Susan Hand Shetterly | Longreads | 8th August 2018

The joys of seaweed. “We soaked the blades and set them in a pot with milk and lemon zest and a touch of vanilla. We put the pot on the stove. The mixture began to thicken. Our mother cracked some eggs, beat the yolks with sugar in a bowl, and poured the thick seaweed mix through a strainer and into the yolks and sugar. She whipped the egg whites, folded them in, and served us custard. Blancmange, she called it. It was a beautiful off-white linen color with just the slightest taste of the sea” (4,260 words)

What The West Is Becoming

Bruno Maçães | National Review | 8th August 2018

“One could speculate endlessly about the causes of the new situation, but the truth is straightforward. Technology, once the preserve of the West, is now universal. The same tools we have used to manage and influence the rest of the world are now fully available outside the West. When power and influence flow in all directions at once, the result is, from one point of view, a democratic order where everyone will rule and be ruled at once. From a different point of view, it can be described as chaos” (1,350 words)

Video of the day Robin Williams In Motion

What to expect:

Tony Zhou takes a close look at Robin Williams’s use of body language (6’06”)

Thought for the day

I don’t care that they stole my idea — I care that they don’t have any of their own
Nikola Tesla

Podcast Hollywood Babylon | You Must Remember This

Fact-checking shows Kenneth Anger’s scandalous history of Hollywood to be mostly exaggeration and invention
(54m 06s)

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