Links for 2009-11-12

  • Diary entries from a German soldier in WWI, posted 93 years after they were written.
  • "This blog is made up of transcripts of Harry Lamin's letters from the first World War. The letters will be posted exactly 90 years after they were written. To find out Harry's fate, follow the blog!"
  • "Last night I settled down into a cushy high-backed chair, got comfortable, turned off my brain and let my mouth hang open for three hours, while Hollywood spoon feed me a sweet gruel made of the worst dialogue, cheesiest moments and most unnecessary (but awesome) special effects they had to offer. I got to see a preview screening of 2012, the latest in a long line of terrible end-of-the world blockbusters. And you know what? Not that bad! Not nearly as bad as The Day After Tomorrow which was bad even as far as bad things go. But 2012 was pretty entertaining because it totally realized how ridiculous it was and then it featured some really amazing images."
  • "What caught the attention of Michele Belot and Jonathan James, though, was the way Oliver's project had been implemented. Belot and James - economists at Nuffield College, Oxford, and at the University of Essex respectively - noted that the campaign had created a near-perfect experiment. The chef had convinced Greenwich's council and schools to change menus to fit his scheme; he mobilised resources, provided equipment and trained dinner ladies. Other London boroughs with similar demographics received none of these advantages - and indeed, because the programme wasn't broadcast until after the project was well under way, probably knew little about it. The result was a credible pilot project. It wasn't quite up to the gold standard of a randomised trial, but it wasn't far off."
  • "There are some remarkable contrasts between "dumb" searches and "smart" ones. People who start their search "how 2" are more likely to search "how 2 get pregnant" or "how 2 grow weed." People who start their search "how one might" are more likely to search "how one might discover a new piece of music" or "how one might for the rise of andrew jackson in 1828.""
  • "At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Jamaican athlete Usain Bolt broke the world record for the 100 m sprint. Just one year later, at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics in Berlin he broke it again. A few months after Beijing, Eriksen et al. studied Usain Bolt's performance and predicted that the record could be about one-tenth of second faster, which was confirmed in Berlin. In this paper we extend the analysis of Ref. [1] to model Bolt's velocity profile for the Beijing 2008 and Berlin 2009 records. From the results we obtained, we were able to deduce the maximum force, the maximum power and the total mechanical energy produced by the athlete in both races. Surprisingly, we concluded that all of these values were smaller in 2009 than in 2008. "
  • "How many of you have fantasized about being able to finish your damn degree, if only money wasn't this constant monkey on your back? Well, it turns out that money is only one factor of many that determines how long it takes to finish. Instead of rocketing through their degree programs, participants in the [Mellon Foundation] study [that provided exta funding for humanities grad students] only made minimal improvements (and in some cases, extended typical completion times). Completion rates and time to completion saw such modest improvements, in fact, that researchers were doubtful a six-year degree "could be achieved in any general way in the humanities.""

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