Wingsuits! They’re amazing! They’re like those jetpacks everyone wanted, but they work with physics!
And we’re fans of them here at The Atlantic. We’ve covered documentaries about them, stunt Chinese mountain jumps, and even wingsuiters doing non-wingsuit things (like, y’know, tightrope walking between hot air balloons). We just generally like watching people use the 21st-century devices, which are—essentially—parachutes that fill the gaps between the wearer’s limbs.
And now, you’ll see, we’ve added this particularly fine wingsuit video up above. Why is it so cool?
Because it’s one wingsuit jumper… filmed by another.
Yesterday, a NASA test vehicle lifted off from the ground in Florida, flew freely through the air, and landed about 650 feet away. It landed, crucially, in the same position it launched—upright—and that makes it look kind of like a science fiction film.
Read more. [Image: NASA]
Not every neolithic site can claim its own ’70s pop classic, but, hey: That’s Stonehenge. Countless theories and tools have attempted to make sense of the set of raised stones and earthworks in the south of England, categorizing it as an astronomical calendar, a healing site, a burial ground, or all of them at once.
Now, a study from the Royal College of Art in London has suggested a new possibility: The monument might make music.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
A search for a photo of a miniature submarine took me to a government website, and as I browsed the tiny thumbnails, I saw something better than a tiny sub in the water. I found a picture of a man standing on the bottom of the ocean. And I’ve been staring at it for a week.
The belief that every human problem can be solved with software forgets the human element inside all software.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
“Twitter is the best and Twitter is the worst.”
This was the response Dr. Marion Underwood, clinical psychologist and University of Texas at Dallas psychology professor, received from one of her 15-year-old daughter’s friends when she asked what the girl thought of the social networking juggernaut.
“I can’t get off of it,” the girl elaborated. “I can’t stop getting on Twitter.”
If these sound like the words of an “addict,” it’s because they (at least kind of) are. Underwood was inspired to take her informal poll after watching the teen in question spend the entirety of her daughter’s birthday party glued to her phone, reading and sending tweets. What’s more, she says that social media can be highly addictive. Millennials are perpetually accused of self-centeredness, but it isn’t self-promotion, in and of itself, that they’re addicted to, Underwood says. It’s the positive reinforcement they receive from peers for doing it. For some teens, however, there’s a source of reinforcement even more addictive—and elusive—than their peers: their favorite celebrities.
Read more. [Image: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP]
Very religious communities tend to have a fraught relationship with technology. The Amish’s eschewal of electrical power and cars is merely shorthand for the conflicts and compromises that arise when new human things test the oldest human things.
And so it is written in the The Jewish Daily Forward that WhatsApp is the latest scourge among ultra-orthodox Jews, picking up on a story in Der Blatt, a Yiddish-language newspaper with the headline, “The rabbis overseeing divorces say WhatsApp is the No. 1 cause of destruction of Jewish homes and business.”
Even before Facebook bought the company for $19 billion, the Satmar Hasids of New York were struggling to come to terms with what WhatsApp is. Is it a messaging service, which might be allowed within the community norms of technological adoption, or is it something more forbidden, like Facebook itself?
A June 2012 ban on Facebook and other social-media sites by community leaders drew attention to the various attitudes that orthodox Jews have toward Internet use. Some clearly support the bans, and Satmar Hasidic schools “require that parents use Web filters on their smartphones.” But others find ways around the restrictions, according to the Forward. This latter group argues that WhatsApp does not have the deleterious social features that other social tools do.
"It’s self-created media, it’s not the outside media,” one member of the community told the newspaper. “[It’s] an inside ghetto media, not outside.”
Print media evolved into its present forms.
In, say, 1469, there were no page numbers. This obvious and now necessary part of the book’s user interface simply did not exist.
The earliest extant example of sequential numbering in a book (this time of ‘leaves’ rather than pages, per se) is the document you see at the top of this page, Sermo in festo praesentationis beatissimae Mariae virginis, which was printed in Cologne in 1470. The practice didn’t become standard, the wonderful I Love Typography tells us, for another half century.
The page number is particularly interesting, I think, because it is a pointer, a kind of metadata that breaks apart a work into constituent parts. The existence of page numbers creates a set of miniature sub-publications to which someone can refer.
Read more. [Image: Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf]
How do you find reliable information?
Back in 2005, a study in Nature concluded that Wikipedia—at the time, a free upstart just eking its way into the Google results—was about as good a source as the venerable Encyclopedia Britannica. Though it found Wikipedia had slightly more factual errors than the older reference, the study gave the website a major commendation when it needed one.
OpenStreetMap, a free-to-edit and free-to-use world map often compared with Wikipedia, received a similar—though less validated—commendation last week, when the reporter Greg Miller at Wired found that its maps exceeded Google’s at describing Sochi, the home of the 2014 winter Olympics.
Miller compared not only the city but also its Olympic surroundings in the two maps. OSM, he found, often contained far more information than Google Maps, especially on features like ski slopes.
Read more. [Image: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters]
If you’re looking to add a digital spark to your relationship this Valentine’s Day, you can download the new app Romantimatic.
Romantimatic will send you scheduled reminders to contact your significant other and give you pre-set messages to fire off. The pre-set messages include simple, straightforward classics like “I love you” and “I miss you.”
Or maybe that doesn’t sound appealing. It sure doesn’t to me. In that case, I recommend you follow my lead: Take a solemn oath before the Greek god Eros and vow to never, ever go this far down the outsourced sentiment rabbit hole.
If my warning rings hollow and you believe—like a writer over at Wired does—that the app is a valid “last resort,” keep in mind Romantimatic offers its own recommendation. It comes loaded with a single but highly revealing “pro-tip”: “Maybe don’t mention that you’re using an app to remind you to express your affection.”
Read more. [Image: Robinson Meyer]