Mars, Prediction Markets, Armageddon, Tourism, Birding

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

Mars, Underground

Mark Betancourt | Air & Space | 1st July 2016

“Why explore extraterrestrial caves? Partly for the same reasons scientists venture into caves on Earth. They’re protected from weather and from meteoric bombardment. Liquid water on Mars is likely to exist underground, at depths where ice is melted by warmth from the planet’s interior. They offer protection from radiation. If life moved underground to escape, caves are a good place to look for fossil evidence of their tenancy. It’s even possible that in some Martian caves, life still exists” (3,500 words)

Of Polls And Prediction Markets

Andrew Gelman | Statistical Modeling | 13th July 2016

Why prediction markets failed to predict Brexit. “In the past, traders followed the polls too closely and sent the prediction markets up and down. But now the opposite is happening. Traders are treating markets odds as correct probabilities and not updating enough based on outside information. Belief in the correctness of prediction markets causes them to be too stable. When new information comes in, it gets discounted. People are using the current prediction odds as an anchor” (1,130 words)

Preparing For Nuclear Armageddon

Garrett Graff | Politico | 14th July 2016

Each incoming British prime minister faces “perhaps the most grim duty of any head government official in the world”. He or she must write, by hand, the “Letter of Last Resort” — a secret order to the nation’s submarine commanders telling them what to do with their nuclear weapons if nuclear war has broken out and they are sure that Britain has already been destroyed. “The failure to pick up the BBC Today programme for a few days is regarded as the ultimate test” (1,930 words)

Tourism In The Age Of Terror

Dieter Bednarz et al | Der Spiegel | 13th July 2016

“Fear of terrorism is dividing the world into winners and losers. Spain, Germany, Greece and Italy are profiting. In Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco, small family-owned companies and large hotel chains alike are going under. The losers see themselves in a war of sorts, one in which today’s enemy was yesterday’s friend. Unemployed Egyptians, desperate Tunisians — that’s how new refugees are made, or how legions of young men become susceptible to the siren song of Islamist preachers” (4,200 words)

Use Your Voice To Attract Birds

Nicholas Lund | Audubon | 11th May 2016

“Persuading birds to pull themselves out of deep cover and show themselves to you using nothing but the power of your own vocal cords is no easy feat, and those who can successfully pull off ‘pishing’, as such coaxing is known, are kings of the woods. I’ve had big flocks of Pine Siskins completely surround me. I’ve had warblers bounce around my feet. I’ve pished into a silent copse and summoned bird life like some kind of avian Aquaman. When pishing works, oh man, you’re on top of the world” (1,000 words)

Video of the day: Economics Is For Everyone

What to expect:

RSA talk by Ha-Joon Chang with whiteboard animation, arguing for wider public interest in economics (11’20”)

Thought for the day

The last thing one discovers in composing a work is what to put first
Blaise Pascal

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