The man who grew eyes

On the pioneering research team growing eyes and brain cells

“On the other side of the door, scientists in the Laboratory for Organogenesis and Neurogenesis are working on something that has fired the imagination of science fiction authors for many years. They are at the cutting edge of an emerging field: rebuilding the body by growing tissues and organs from stem cells. They hope to develop the next generation of therapies for a variety of debilitating human diseases…” Image Credit

Moheb Costandi | Mosaic

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Sandhurst’s sheikhs

The long history of Gulf royals receiving military training in the UK

“In March 2013, Sandhurst’s Mons Hall – a sports centre – was reopened as the King Hamad Hall, following a £3m donation from the monarch of Bahrain, who was educated at one of Sandhurst’s affiliated colleges. The renaming proved controversial…partly because of how Hamad and his government have dealt with political protest in Bahrain over the last three years.” Image Credit

Matthew Teller | BBC Magazine

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The troll slayer

Profile of Cambridge classicist Mary Beard

“In another highly publicized incident, Beard retweeted a message that she had received from a twenty-year-old university student: “You filthy old slut. I bet your vagina is disgusting.” One of Beard’s followers offered to inform the student’s mother of his online behavior; meanwhile, he apologized. Beard’s object is not simply to embarrass offenders; it is to educate women.” Image Credit

Rebecca Mead | The New Yorker

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How neuroscience is being used to spread quackery

On the popularity of ‘cargo-cult’ neuroscience in business and education

“The cargo cult’s air-strips had the appearance of the real thing, but they were not functional. Likewise, Feynman used the term “cargo-cult science” to mean something that has the appearance of science, but is actually missing key elements. The phrase has since been used to refer to various pseudo-scientific fields such as phrenology, neuro-linguistic programming, and the various kinds of alternative therapies.” Image Credit

Matt Wall | The Conversation

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Who reads ‘Mein Kampf’?

Amazon reviews can tell you a lot 

“To others, Obama is actually worse. “I read this book to see if we are repeating history in any way at all. And YES we are. The one difference is that we now have a leader in America that has accellerated the pace of the Nazi’s. Hitler had his brown shirts where Obama has his purple shirts…The parellels can go on and on. But what I found terrifying is that our president is moving at light speed in comparison while following a very simular road map.”” Image Credit

Andrew Heisel | The Awl

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The Afghan death list

Finding those responsible for 5,000 deaths after a communist coup d’etat in 1978

“”Every midnight they would come, call the names and kill them. From midnight, if your name was not on the list, you had a chance to live for another 24 hours,” he says. Those named were taken out and shot on a patch of waste ground outside the prison known as the “polygon”, their bodies bulldozed into mass graves. From inside, the other prisoners could clearly hear the shots.” Image Credit

David Loyn | BBC Magazine

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The rise and fall and rise of virtual reality

Ambitious multimedia production on the history and future of virtual reality

“Then, two years ago, Palmer Luckey, a kid born during the waning days of VR’s late-20th-century golden era, put the pieces together using improved technology. He raised some money and soon developed the Oculus Rift, his own version of a clunky headset…Someone at Facebook got the memo, and they purchased Oculus wholesale for $2 billion, signaling a promising, if unclear, future for virtual reality.” Image Credit

Verge Staff | The Verge

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The surveillance engine

How the US National Security Agency built its own ‘secret Google’

“The mastermind behind ICREACH was recently retired NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander, who outlined his vision for the system in a classified 2006 letter to the then-Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte. The search tool, Alexander wrote, would “allow unprecedented volumes of communications metadata to be shared and analyzed,” opening up a “vast, rich source of information” for other agencies to exploit.” Image Credit

Ryan Gallagher | The Intercept

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The aftershocks

The story of the scientists convicted of manslaughter over Italy’s L’Aquila earthquake

“On a gate outside, someone had made a sign: “To punish those who killed our children is not revenge. It is a way to let our children die a little less.” Picuti’s case against the scientists built a pattern: Residents resisted their established habit of fleeing their homes during tremors because of an overly calming message from the distinguished commission. It was “disastrous reassurance,” as Picuti likes to put it.” Image Credit

David Wolman | Matter

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Friends of Israel

On the US lobbying group AIPAC, and the question of whether its influence is waning

“Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s previous President, had been a kind of ideal adversary…Danny Ayalon, a former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., once described Ahmadinejad’s hateful rhetoric to me as “the gift that keeps on giving.” But Iran’s new President, Hassan Rouhani, was carefully presenting himself as a relative moderate. Netanyahu would have none of it, calling Rouhani “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” AIPAC worked to mobilize its friends in Congress.” Image Credit

Connie Bruck | The New Yorker

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