Internet | How Twitter found its money mojo
Twitter hasn’t got the hoped-for billion users yet, but it does have the billion dollars in revenues. “Twitter has cracked the code to making money on the net.” That is thanks to chief executive Dick Costolo, who arrived in 2009 when revenues were zero. He hired a physicist called Kevin Weil. Weil thought first of selling analytics, then came to a better idea — sell ads that appear as tweets. Bingo. (Steven Levy, Backchannel, 4,400 words)
Driverless cars | Autonomous vehicles: No drivers required
Quick overview of current progress towards driverless cars. “Almost every major car maker is working on some form of automation, as are many electronics companies.” Google is “widely acknowledged as the world leader”. Britain plans a pilot project this year with driverless shuttles in London. Google’s software will outperform a human driver in any situation in about five years, after it has learned to deal with one-off events. (Mitchell Waldrop, Nature, 1,070 words)
Testosterone is “as close to a direct anti-ageing medication as science has yet produced” for men and for trans-men. It works like a “magic wand”; users report “increased energy, more muscle mass, decreased body fat, greater sex drive, and a general sense of well-being”. So why don’t all men take testosterone when they hit middle age? Perhaps they soon will. On the anecdotal evidence collected here, they certainly should. (Alexis Madrigal, Fusion, 4,630 words)
Fertility | The real reason women freeze their eggs
Putting your eggs in the freezer to keep open the option of having children isn’t something you do as a career choice. It’s something you do because you haven’t encountered the man with whom you want to have children; and that’s a problem with men, not with you. With eggs in the bank, dating becomes a lot more relaxed: “Now I enjoy the late, lingering dinner with the guy, even if there is no future with him." (Jillian Dunham, New York Magazine, 3,250 words)
Climate | Was 2014 the warmest year?
Well, it wasn’t the warmest year ever; that one happened back when the Earth was a fireball. But was 2014 the warmest year since modern records began — which is to say, since the mid-19th Century? The best you can say is: Maybe. No other year has a stronger claim to the title. But allowing for the uncertainties of the measuring process, the probability that 2014 was the warmest year on record is less than 50%. (John Kennedy, Diagram Monkey, 1,830 words)
Tech | Neil Young’s PonoPlayer
The emperor has no clothes. Pono files carry more data, but you can’t hear the difference. Given a choice between the same music on iTunes and PonoPlayer, most listeners prefer iTunes. “If you want a better, richer, better-balanced, less-tiring, more-comfortable listening experience, don’t spend $400 on a new player and throw away your existing music collection. Just spend a couple of hundred bucks on a nice pair of headphones.” (David Pogue, Yahoo Tech, 2,100 words)
Psychology | It’s good to be wrong
Mind-bending essay on the fallibility of knowledge and the paradoxes to which it gives rise. You cannot attribute infallibility to the claims of another unless you already have infallible means of identifying an infallible authority. “Fallibilism, correctly understood, implies the possibility, not the impossibility, of knowledge, because the very concept of error, if taken seriously, implies that truth exists and can be found.” (David Deutsch, Nautilus, 3,250 words)
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