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Author Archive

An Animated Atlas of The Known World

by Charlotte Hajer on January 28th, 02014

In 01830, English journalist Edward Quin created a historical atlas that illustrated our expanding knowledge of the world. Depicting a time span that stretched from 02348 BC to 01828 AD, or more than four millennia, each successive map showed a slightly larger piece of bright, colorful land, surrounded by the ominous clouds of the unknown. . .   Read More

The Oldest Telephone in the Western Hemisphere

by Charlotte Hajer on January 23rd, 02014

Among its collection of some 137 million artifacts, the Smithsonian houses a unique piece of technology. Made of two hollowed-out gourds and a 75-foot length of twine, it’s the oldest example of telephone technology from the Western hemisphere – and it’s about 1,300 years old.

The object, featured recently in an. . .   Read More

Nature, Cities, and Long-term Thinking

by Charlotte Hajer on January 21st, 02014

photo by Tanya Hart
In 01995, Brian Eno surmised that the fast-paced uncertainty of life in New York City led people to retreat into the immediacy of their own private worlds. As a counterweight to this preoccupation with the “short now,” he posited the idea of “The Long Now” – and thus the name of. . .   Read More

Edge Question 02014

by Charlotte Hajer on January 16th, 02014

With a new year, of course, comes a new Edge question.

Every January since 01998, John Brockman has presented the members of his online salon with a question that elicits some thinking about the biggest social and intellectual issues of our time. Previous iterations have included prompts such as “What will change everything?” and “What. . .   Read More

David Rumsey’s Historic Maps of San Francisco on Display at SFO

by Charlotte Hajer on December 20th, 02013

There’s no place like an airport to ponder the notion of place in both its microscopic and macroscopic manifestations – in its continuities, and its evolutions.
Next time you fly in or out of San Francisco’s International Airport, take a stroll down to Terminal 2 (post-security), where a series of historic local maps. . .   Read More

3,700-Year Old Palatial Wine

by Charlotte Hajer on December 11th, 02013

The history of wine spans millennia: the ancient Romans considered the beverage a daily necessity, Phoenicians wrote the first textbooks on viticulture, and Egyptian pharaohs had wine cellars built into their burial tombs.

Now, recent archaeological findings from Israel promise to add new insights to our knowledge of wine drinking practices throughout the ages.

A. . .   Read More

A 75-year Study on the Secrets to Happiness

by Charlotte Hajer on November 27th, 02013

The credit for growing old with grace and vitality, it seems, goes more to ourselves than to our stellar genetic make-up. So concludes the synopsis of Triumphs of Experience, the latest book to come out of the Harvard Grant Study, an ambitious and comprehensive project that has tracked the life course of 268 male members […]

The Evolution of Little Red Riding Hood

by Charlotte Hajer on November 20th, 02013

We in the Western world are not the only ones who grow up with the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood.

Stories about young children who face off with a trickster wild animal are told around the world. In East Asia, for example, there is the tale of a tiger who masquerades as an. . .   Read More

A 240-Year Old Programmable Computer Boy

by Charlotte Hajer on November 14th, 02013

In the late 18th century, Swiss clock- and watchmaker Pierre Jaquet Droz decided to advertise his business by building three automata, or mechanical robots, in the shape of young children. Still functional after almost 240 years, the machines are a marvel of mechanical engineering. “The Musician” is a girl who plays an organ – her eyes. . .   Read More

Human Self-Interest and the Problem of Solving Long-Term Issues

by Charlotte Hajer on November 8th, 02013

We are a selfish, short-sighted lot. As many a game theory experiment has shown, we simply aren’t as motivated by the promise of collective future benefits as we are by the gratification of instant private rewards.

A group of researchers based at NYU now argues that this kind of self-interest can throw. . .   Read More