"At the runway's edge, Halvorsen spotted a few dozen boys and girls. [...] Halvorsen promised to drop candy to them on a future flight. [...] Not surprisingly, dropping candy from a military airplane was against regulation, but Halvorsen was resolute. [...] Instead of a court martial, Halvorsen received congratulations. The operation's commander, Gen William Turner, realized the psychological value of Halvorsen's efforts and lent his full support: Operation "Little Vittles" was official! As Halvorsen and a few dozen other pilots made daily candy drops, letters poured in. Elated children thanked Der Schokoladenflieger (The Chocolate Pilot) and Onkel Wackelflügel (Uncle Wiggly Wings) for the gifts. [...] All told, Operation Little Vittles rained down 23 tons of candy from 250,000 parachutes. And though it took nearly a year, the Soviets eventually called off the blockade for one simple reason: It wasn't working."
04 July 2015
Lovely MissC piece on the Candy Bomber, Lt. Gail Halvorsen...
Read the US Declaration of Independence! The Spirit of ‘76 a review of Barry Alan Shain's The Declaration of Independence in Historical Context.
The best US holiday (except possibly Thanksgiving) celebrates political independence from imperialist overlords by blowing things up! Liberty, Prosperity, and Fireworks! Here's what's inside... Thanks to WorldScienceFestival!
03 July 2015
Cool to read about the PopUp Factory at Solid Conference 2015 and get a taste of mass customization meets groupwear...
02 July 2015
01 July 2015
Sad to hear Sir Nicholas Winton has passed in his sleep at 106 years. He's one of the few who acted -- both at-scale and by-all-means-necessary -- to save children, mostly Jewish, caught up in Nazi craziness in the early phases of WWII. And he did so quietly -- and quasi-legally -- but totally morally. Unsung, he, with the help of his own mother, and colleagues Beatrice Wellington, Doreen Warriner, Trevor Chadwick and others in Prague, managed to organize the rescue of several trainloads totaling 669 children destined for Nazi concentration camps. A last train was stopped by the next escalation in fighting -- most (if not all) those ~200+ children died. No one knew any of this until pretty recently. Beyond his WWII efforts, he also cared about the elderly and infirm, setting up homes to support those in need. And most recently, his story has been shared widely. All together, Winton was a truly extraordinary and epic hero!
28 June 2015
Check out Fairy Lights, a technique for projecting plasma voxels!
"We present a method of rendering aerial and volumetric graphics using femtosecond lasers. A high-intensity laser excites a physical matter to emit light at an arbitrary 3D position. Popular applications can then be explored especially since plasma induced by a femtosecond laser is safer than that generated by a nanosecond laser. There are two methods of rendering graphics with a femtosecond laser in air: Producing holograms using spatial light modulation technology, and scanning of a laser beam by a galvano mirror. The holograms and workspace of the system proposed here occupy a volume of up to 1 cm^3; however, this size is scalable depending on the optical devices and their setup. [...] Although we focus on laser-induced plasma in air, the discussion presented here is also applicable to other rendering principles such as fluorescence and microbubble in solid/liquid materials."
26 June 2015
22 June 2015
Many thanks to New America Foundation's Ted Widmer, Boston Globe Ideas columnist and BU Presidential assistant, for reminding us all about Justin Morrill, the man behind America’s higher education -- including MIT, UCBerkeley, and a hundred more...
"Morrill is hardly a household name today, but his legacy is immense, felt in every single state. That’s because of a single bill he proposed, the Morrill Land-Grant College Act of 1862. In the midst of some of the worst fighting of the Civil War, Congress passed a visionary piece of legislation that created more than 100 universities and reshaped the way Americans thought about higher education. [...] The result was nothing less than the creation of a new educational order for the United States. Older institutions did not lose their preeminence, of course. But new kinds of universities came into existence, with a broad reach and a public purpose. Both the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were born of the Morrill Act, a fact of no small relevance to the state’s future economic development. [...] Many of the most eminent African-American colleges, including Hampton and Tuskegee, also owe their origins to Morrill’s bill. Native American schools would also be added. In other ways, the Land-Grant Act became better over time. Many of the land-grant schools were early advocates of co-education and advanced the cause of educating women. Morrill added new legislation to fine-tune the program and secure additional funding. [...] Morrill’s is a legacy that is simply too large to calculate and expands every spring as millions of future Americans [and untold International students too] graduate from public universities."Wow! Epic and extraordinary. Truly heroic in the best sense! Check out Uni map...
21 June 2015
15 June 2015
BBC on the anniversary fest for the Magna Carta at...
"Runnymede in Surrey, close to the River Thames, where King John of England sealed the original document in 1215. The Queen also attended the ceremony. The charter first protected the rights and freedoms of society and established that the king was subject to the law."Clive Coleman, BBC legal correspondent answers Why is Magna Carta so important?
"At its heart is the idea that the law is not simply the whim of the king, or the government. It is the great egalitarian legacy of Magna Carta, that all are equal under the law, and all can be held to account. It is that idea that gave birth to so many of our rights and freedoms, to parliamentary democracy, fair trial, and a series of controls on the abuse of arbitrary power."
30 May 2015
David Goldenberg at FiveThirtyEight writes Why The Oldest Person In The World Keeps Dying...
"The cutoff for mortality has remained relatively firm. Robert Young, a guy with a remarkable name considering he’s the senior claims researcher for the Gerontology Research Group and the senior gerontology consultant for Guinness World Records, refers to this phenomenon as the “rectangularization of the mortality curve.” People are getting older on average, but the oldest are still dying around the same age as ever. Thus, when one of them does take over as the oldest, she doesn’t have much time left. The average age of the oldest-ever people has increased over the past 40 years from around 112 to around 114."Plus lovely ageless infographic... Of course, that plot doesn't show "rectangularization" -- for this we need the actual Mortality Curve which is discernibly rectifying...
27 May 2015
26 May 2015
NPR's Elizabeth Blair spotlights photographer David Jay's Unknown Soldier series of images of severely injured warriors...
"Jay believes these wounds belong to all of us: "You can imagine how many times each of these men and women have heard a parent tell their child, 'Don't look. Don't stare at him. That's rude.' I take these pictures so that we can look; we can see what we're not supposed to see. And we need to see them because we created them." Jay believes seeing is one step closer to understanding."
25 May 2015
Americans gave their lives to defeat the Nazis. The Dutch have never forgotten...
"The U.S. military needed a place to bury its fallen. The Americans ultimately picked a fruit orchard just outside Margraten. [...] Right from the start, Margraten embraced the Americans. The town’s mayor invited the company’s commanders to sleep in his home, while the enlisted men slept in the schools -- welcome protection against rain and buzz bombs. Later, villagers hosted U.S. troops when the men were given rest-and-recuperation breaks from trying to breach the German frontier defenses, known as the Siegfried Line. "After four dark years of occupation, suddenly [the Dutch] people were free from the Nazis, and they could go back to their normal lives and enjoy all the freedoms they were used to,” explained Frenk Lahaye, an associate at the cemetery. “They knew they had to thank the American allies for that. [...] To the Dutch, the Americans were liberators.”Liberation is the essence and enduring ethos of the US of A and why we Dutch, both locals and expats, remember those who paid for our freedoms with their lives today on Memorial Day since 1945...
23 May 2015
22 May 2015
12 May 2015
MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition LAUNCH Finale! This marks a quarter century of MIT student-led entrepreneurial venturing Tickets are going fast and I expect Kresge to be fully packed, so I highly recommend signing up via the mechanism below! Plus check out the 8 Finalist mini-descriptions. Excellent tag-team keynote w/ Langer & Fuller plus multi-year winner Z Holly as MC! This is going to be great!