Stephen Hawking, Blockchains, E.O. Wilson, Wagner, Camorra

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

How Intel Gave Stephen Hawking A Voice

Joao Medeiros | Wired | 13th January 2015

Interesting in all sorts of ways. A corner-case in user experience. How do you design a bespoke interface enabling an elderly man with minimal muscle control to communicate more easily, when said person also happens to be one of the smartest people in the world? For one thing, the predictive text function is highly customised: “Selecting the automatically predicts black. Selecting black automatically predicts hole” (2,700 words)

There’s A Blockchain For That

Scott Rosenberg | Backchannel | 13th January 2015

Persuasive argument that the technology underlying Bitcoin has the power to reshape commerce and society, even if Bitcoin itself fails as a currency. The blockchain solves the problem of trust, by sharing information widely. "Think of it as a way of transferring a digital message from one party to another, where both parties can count on the integrity of the message, even when they don’t trust, or even know, each other" (4,600 words)

The End Of The Anthropocene

S. I. Rosenbaum | Boston Magazine | 8th January 2015

Beguiling portrait of the great naturalist E.O. Wilson at home in Brookhaven, his retirement community near Boston. Residents come mostly from the faculties of Harvard, MIT, and Tufts. “It’s like a geriatric university”. Wilson, 85, is about to publish his second book in a year. “It’s the perfect place for an author. I don’t think I’m insulting this place when I refer to Brookhaven as a place where old genius comes to die” (2,370 words)

Wagner And The Jews

Nathan Hale | Mosaic | 5th January 2015

A sophisticated and challenging essay on a familiar theme. Richard Wagner's personal anti-semitism is well documented. But can his ideology travel through his art to infect admirers of his music in later generations? Yes — by means of "the longing he instills in us for a completion and finality that music alone can provide. Failing to receive such resolutions from the world, one might attempt to force them upon it" (8,810 words)

My Life Under Armed Guard

Roberto Saviano | Guardian | 14th January 2015

Italian journalist Roberto Saviano exposed the Naples mafia in his book Gomorrah. He has lived under armed guard and constant threat of death ever since. "This life is shit – it’s hard to describe how bad it is. I exist inside four walls, and the only alternative is making public appearances. I’m either at the Nobel academy having a debate on freedom of the press, or I’m inside a windowless room at a police barracks" (3,900 words)

Video of the day: The Making Of The LEGO Movie

What to expect: The makers of the film explain how they modelled the bricks and figures (4'10")

Thought for the day

The ultimate mathematician is one who can see analogies between analogies
Stefan Banach (

Join 150,000+ curious readers who grow with us every day

No spam. No nonsense. Unsubscribe anytime.

Great! Check your inbox and click the link to confirm your subscription
Please enter a valid email address!
You've successfully subscribed to The Browser
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in
Could not sign in! Login link expired. Click here to retry
Cookies must be enabled in your browser to sign in