On September 17, 1991, Linus Torvalds released Linux kernel (version 0.01) for the first time. Here’s a brief look at how a small hobby project grew up and enveloped the world—and what has made Linux endure for so long.
Paleolithic hunters built mammoth traps in what is now Mexico some 14,700 years ago. An unknown sea creature left footprints in sand some 550 million years ago, making them the oldest known footprints on Earth. The mysterious Denisovan humans reached southeast Asia 160,000 years ago, as evidenced by a jawbone found on…
Forty years ago today—on August 12, 1981—IBM introduced the very first IBM Personal Computer, also known as the IBM PC (Model 5150). It sold well and set standards that are still with us today. Here’s what it was like to buy and use one in the early 1980s.
At Slate, Dan Kois offers a brief history of Segway, the ingenious but too-hyped and too-dorky electric ride that became a joke upon its release. Twenty years on the current owner is a Chinese go kart company that sells actual Segways online (you can buy them from Amazon for about $500!) — Read the rest
It would appear that we’re a bit closer to the source of the asteroid that killed all the dinosaurs on Earth. Researchers from Southwest Research Institute published a paper this week with research on material samples harvested from the crater dated back to the event that changed the course of life on Earth. Perhaps most surprising among the details shared … Continue reading
Walter Freeman was ambidextrous, so he could do two lobotomies at the same time. These involved jabbing two icepicks from the junk drawer in his kitchen into the eye sockets of two different patients until he felt the thin orbital bones behind their eyes crack. Swishing the picks back and forth was then all it took to sever each patient’s frontal lobe from her limbic system, unhooking her executive function and judgement from her emotions and appetites. Yes, it was usually a her.
Although he got the dubious honor of having this nifty book named for him, Dr. Freeman is not even the worst among the gallery of rogues profiled by Sam Kean in his new book The Icepick Surgeon. Freeman wasn’t a Nazi, and he wasn’t a slaver. It’s hard to beat those populations for bad guys.
Sam Kean has a thing for scientific malfeasance. His previous books have touched on it, but this one is entirely dedicated to mad scientists—monomaniacs who kept their eye on the prize to the exclusion of all else, like pain, suffering, and morals. Occasionally, the prize was data; more often it was fame and fortune. But regardless of their motives, these guys (yes, it was usually a him) brushed aside any ethical qualms they may have had if those qualms interfered with their research program or whatever hypothesis they were chasing down. This book addresses why and how they did so.
An excellent animated explainer covering the first fighter jet, Nazi Germany’s Me-262, the revered long-range fighter escort of the European theater, the P-51D Mustang, and some of their known engagements.
Airplanes back then were generally beautiful things, especially for war machines. — Read the rest
Over the past 35 years, Microsoft has released at least 30 major versions of the Windows operating system. But they weren’t all created equal, so we thought it would be fun to rank the 10 greatest desktop versions of this essential OS.
In the 1990s, Microsoft produced a wide range of multimedia CD-ROM educational and entertainment titles under the brand “Microsoft Home.” These guides covered topics as diverse as dogs, dinosaurs, wine, and gardening. We take a look at some of these forgotten classics.
Researchers have recently conducted CT scans on the mummified remains of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh called Seqenenre-Taa-II. The pharaoh ruled over southern Egypt when the Hyksos occupied the country from 1650-1550 BCE. Seqenenre-Taa-II was killed while trying to wrestle his country from foreign control. The mummified remains were first discovered and studied in the 1880s. Since the discovery of the … Continue reading