The Digital Einstein Papers

in science on (#2VVE)
story imageLast week, the Princeton University Press published the Digital Einstein Papers, electronic versions of an enormous number of Albert Einstein's written works, including published papers, popular writings, and even personal correspondence with scientists and family.
The site presents all 13 volumes published to date by the editors of the Einstein Papers Project, covering the writings and correspondence of Albert Einstein (1879-1955) from his youth to 1923.

The volumes are presented in the original language version with in-depth English language annotation and other scholarly apparatus. In addition, the reader can toggle to an English language translation of most documents.
This is an incredible collection. An enormous amount of work has been put in by both projects to collect and translate the works. If you find any documents of particular interest, post a link in the comments!

Take vitamins or no? Controversy supercedes the studies

in science on (#2S5R)
story imageEmily Oster covers an old topic that's still controversial:
Many medical studies show positive health effects from higher vitamin levels. The only problem? These studies often can’t tease out the effect of the vitamins from the effect of other factors, such as generally healthy living. Studies that attempt to do this typically show no impact from vitamin use — or only a very tiny one on a small subset of people. The truth is that for most people, vitamin supplementation is simply a waste of time.
[Author note: The article avoids what I'd consider the main question: since these studies are not exactly new, why does my doctor still recommend a multivitamin every time I visit? And what other things does our society universally accept that might be pointless?]

The King of Scrabble

in games on (#2S4E)
story imageOliver Roeder gives competitive Scrabble a serious analysis in a recent pair of articles previewing and covering the 2014 National Scrabble Championship, with a focus on the man who is considered the world's best: Nigel Richards.
In a game in 1998, then-newcomer Richards had a rack of CDHLRN? (“?” denotes a blank tile). There was an E available on the board; Richards could have played CHILDREN for a bingo and a 50-point bonus. Instead, Richards played through two disconnected Os and an E. The word? The 10-letter CHLORODYNE.

If you’re wondering what the word means — well, it means Richards is the greatest Scrabble player to ever live.

September 10th is "Internet Slowdown" Day

in internet on (#2S2M)
story imageThe Guardian covers an upcoming Net Neutrality protest that already has some high-profile participants:
On 10 September, tech firms including Etsy, FourSquare, KickStarter, Mozilla, Reddit and Vimeo will install a widget on their sites to show how they believe the internet would look if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) overturns “net neutrality” rules. [...]

A similar campaign led to the FCC being flooded with comments on the net neutrality legislation – so many that at one point its systems collapsed under the strain.
The sites won't actually run slower; they'll simply display a spinning "loading" symbol that links to more information about net neutrality. Details about the campaign (and the code, if you want to participate!) can be found at the Battle for the Net site.

Will any of the tech news sites join the campaign?

Geograph - community-driven geography

in internet on (#2S2F)
story imageData journalist Carl Bialik profiles a fascinating user-driven website that combines photography, geography and big data:
Want to know what a website looked like in the past? The Internet Archive has you covered. But there’s no Wayback Machine for the world, and how it looked.

There is, however, one for the British Isles. It is called Geograph, and it contains photos of 97 percent of the 244,034 one-kilometer squares of Great Britain.
In the article he discusses Geograph's history and future plans, interviewing a dozen of the most prolific contributors along the way.

What do you think are some of the best uses for their data set? Would you contribute if Geograph expanded to your area?