Written by

Chris Gonzales


Roman Kraft

Welcome to this week’s edition of our Friday Quality Linkage column. Please enjoy this week’s collection of interesting and entertaining links. Brew a fresh cup of coffee, find a comfortable place, and relax.

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Stephen Hawking Dies at 76; His Mind Roamed the Cosmos »

This week the world mourned the loss of Stephen Hawking, famed theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author of the best-selling book, A Brief History of Time. His contributions to the study of black holes and overall popularization of science — not to mention his personal triumphs of indomitable spirit and unerring enthusiasm — are far too numerous to list here, so I’ll point you to his New York Times obituary:

Nobody, including Dr. Hawking, believed it at first — that particles could be coming out of a black hole. “I wasn’t looking for them at all,” he recalled in 1978. “I merely tripped over them. I was rather annoyed.”

That calculation, in a thesis published in 1974 in the journal Nature under the title “Black Hole Explosions?”, is hailed by scientists as the first great landmark in the struggle to find a single theory of nature — to connect gravity and quantum mechanics, those warring descriptions of the large and the small, to explain a universe that seems stranger than anybody had thought.

The discovery of Hawking radiation, as it is known, turned black holes upside down. It transformed them from destroyers to creators — or at least to recyclers — and wrenched the dream of a final theory in a strange, new direction.

…and likewise, the one published at The Guardian:

Those who live in the shadow of death are often those who live most. For Hawking, the early diagnosis of his terminal disease, and witnessing the death from leukaemia of a boy he knew in hospital, ignited a fresh sense of purpose. “Although there was a cloud hanging over my future, I found, to my surprise, that I was enjoying life in the present more than before. I began to make progress with my research,” he once said. Embarking on his career in earnest, he declared: “My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”

What a life. Rest in peace, Dr. Hawking.

Only Slightly Exaggerated »

A few days ago, the Travel Oregon agency unveiled “Only Slightly Exaggerated”, a short, animated travel ad heavily inspired by Studio Ghibli films. Here are the credits:

Just about every frame of this thing is wonderfully wallpaper-able, so I made an Imgur album of screenshots for that very purpose. Enjoy.

Photo: Samantha Reinders, NPR

Photo: Samantha Reinders, NPR

Lost Art Of Bending Over: How Other Cultures Spare Their Spines »

Filed under “You’re Doing Posture Wrong”: Michaeleen Doucleff of NPR discovered how people from non-Western countries are sparing their spines:

But in many parts of the world, people don’t look like cashews when they bend over. Instead, you see something very different.

I first noticed this mysterious bending style in 2014 while covering the Ebola outbreak. We were driving on a back road in the rain forest of Liberia and every now and then, we would pass women working in their gardens. The women had striking silhouettes: They were bent over with their backs nearly straight. But they weren’t squatting with a vertical back. Instead, their backs were parallel to the ground. They looked like tables.

After returning home, I started seeing this “table” bending in photos all around the world — an older woman planting rice in Madagascar, a Mayan woman bending over at a market in Guatemala and women farming grass in northern India. This bending seemed to be common in many places, except in Western societies.

Basically, stop bending at the waist (curved back) and do it at the hip (straight back) instead.

Baker Prepares for an Indoor Market »

Another week, another Reddit rabbit hole I’ve gone down. I’ve already mentioned r/OddlySatisfying in the past, and now I’ll point your attention to r/ArtisanVideos, which features videos of tradesmen performing their work, like this one:

Baker prepares for an indoor market. No narrating or music. Just baking.

I find this deeply relaxing to watch. Maybe I should take up baking; it looks very meditative.

Snowy owl, CanadaPhoto: Markus Varesvuo

Snowy owl, Canada

Photo: Markus Varesvuo

Kingfisher diving, SpainPhoto: Mario Cea Sanchez

Kingfisher diving, Spain

Photo: Mario Cea Sanchez

Finalists for Bird Photographer of the Year 2018 »

The Guardian shared just a small sampling of the outstanding images from the BPOTY 2018 awards shortlist, which I recommend browsing through when you get a chance. Winners will be announced in Augus 2018.

You’re Doing Your Weekend Wrong »

Katrina Onstad of Quartz writes that the best weekend activities are most likely not the ones you’re currently doing:

Here’s what The Bad-Good Weekend looks like. After a week of long hours and late nights, Friday comes at last. You shift into indulgent me-time mode, collapsing on the couch for a marathon of sports watching or Netflix. Add in some shopping, Facebooking, spa-ing, a bout of hard partying, and you the man, right?

No, you not. Positive psychologists advise that the path toward fulfillment lies in leisure of a different, and higher, order. […] In other words, getting self-actualized is the whole point of life, and passive, hedonistic leisure (fun and occasionally necessary as it might be) won’t get you there.

Some useful ideas in here.


Neat Stuff We Published This Week

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Got any suggestions for articles, videos, stories, photographs, and any other links you think we should be posting in our weekly Quality Linkage? Please do let us know on Twitter.