Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 9.49.44 AM
2

What Causes the Smell of New & Old Books?

Generally, it is the chemical breakdown of compounds within paper that leads to the production of ‘old book smell’. Paper contains, amongst other chemicals, cellulose, and smaller amounts of lignin. Both of these originate from the trees the paper is made from; finer papers will contain less lignin than, for example, newsprint. In trees, lignin helps bind cellulose fibres together, keeping the wood stiff; it’s also responsible for paper yellowing…

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 2.54.32 PM
4

DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous (DASER)

Live in the DC area? June 19 I’ll be speaking about the play Rossum’s Universal Robots for a panel on “robots and theater,” sponsored by Cultural Programs of National Academy of Sciences. (The event will also be webcast.) D.C. Art Science Evening Rendezvous (DASER) is a monthly discussion forum on art science projects providing a snapshot of the cultural environment of the region and fostering interdisciplinary networking. This month, DASER explores…

image

We are in a golden age for journalism

Most handwringing about the state of journalism is done by journalists. They are worried about losing their jobs, so it’s not surprising that they tend to be fretful. But turn the issue upside down for a second, and think about the state of journalism from journalism’s audience. The real purpose of journalism, after all, is not to provide me a job, but to inform and entertain the public. And by…

image
1

Star Wars: TIE Fighter 20th Anniversary Retrospective

In the Star Wars films, the empire is evil to the core. But TIE Fighter let you see the empire from a new perspective. The game didn’t make you feel like a bad person doing bad things, but like a pilot who might reasonably have believed that what he was doing was in the galaxy’s best interests. | Now, some 20 years later, it’s extremely common for games to let…

image

The Great Works of Software

I realized that each one of these technologies set out to help people do something but consequently grew and changed over time. Each ultimately provided a way for large groups of people to talk about and think about very difficult problems: Microsoft Office: How do we communicate about work? Photoshop: How do we create and manipulate images? Pac-Man: How do we play? Unix: How do we connect abstractions together to…