Written by

Chris Gonzales


Alexey Trofimov

Merry Christmas! Welcome to 2015’s final 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. See you next week year!

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SpaceX Successfully Lands Falcon 9 Rocket »

As a secondary test objective to delivering an 11-satellite payload to low-Earth orbit for a company called ORBCOMM, SpaceX successfully brought the first stage of their Falcon 9 rocket back to the ground at Space Launch Complex 40 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The cheers that begin erupting at 32:14 in the video above are infectious. I wish I could’ve been in the room for it, ruptured eardrums or no. My favorite part: The (SpaceX employee?) guy at 33:22 audibly yelling, “HOLY S*** WE DID IT!”

In case you missed why this is such a big deal (besides being super cool to begin with), reddit user Turbots summed it up nicely:

For anyone wondering what the real significance of this historic event is:

  • Rockets cost about 50-100 Million dollars
  • Propellant costs about 200,000 – 1 Million dollars

It currently costs about 2,500 dollar per pound of payload into LEO (Lower Earth Orbit) and SpaceX is the cheapest on the block

If you can reuse the rockets, this price can probably be brought down to one tenth of that (250 dollar per pound) which makes access to space tremendously cheap

So, basically: “MARS HERE WE COME”

Photos of Falcon 9’s launch and return can be found on SpaceX’s Flickr page. Another image worth mentioning is this comparison between Falcon 9’s flight/return and that of Blue Origin’s historic New Shepard rocket landing last month.



Color Photos of Paris Shot 100 Years Ago »

I’ve seen this collection pop up all over the internet in the past week or two, but for my money, PetaPixel has the one that’s easiest to peruse.

Back in 1909, a super-rich French banker named Albert Kahn decided to create a photographic record of the world using the new color photography process that had just appeared, the Autochrome Lumière. He commissioned 4 photographers to take their cameras to places all over the world. One of the cities they documented was Paris.

Starting in 1914, Kahn’s photographers (Leon Gimpel, Stephane Passet, Georges Chevalier and Auguste Leon) began to document life in Paris using the pioneering color process, which featured color filters made from dyed potato starch grains.

Wonderful photos here. As silly as it sounds, the colors make the past feel so much more…alive, you know?

How Technology Reveals the Ghost Cities in China and the West »

Geoff Manaugh, New Scientist:

It seems hard to lose track of an entire city. But that appears to be what’s taken place – and not just once, but over and over again. The infamous “ghost cities” of China have become a favourite internet meme of the past half-decade. These ghost cities are meant to be sprawling wastelands of empty streets and uninhabited megastructures, without a human being in sight. But for all the discussion, do these places really exist?

A Chinese ghost city should be easy to find. After all, it is not just a failed development, limited to one or two buildings in a quiet neighbourhood of an existing metropolis. It is an entire human settlement, built with government support, for a population of millions who – for whatever reason – have yet to arrive.

Fascinating and eerie. *shudders*

Recipe for Tonkatsu »

Tonkatsu is a favorite Japanese dish of mine — I mean, it’s literally a deep fried pork cutlet with its own sauce, what’s not to like? — and Marc Matsumoto of No Recipes shows how easy it is to make at home. He also provides a brief but interesting history lesson about the dish:

For Tonkatsu (豚カツ) , it’s not entirely clear where the journey started, but deep-frying is not a native method of preparing food in Japan. The first written account of the dish is in a cookbook published in 1872 called Seiyou Ryouritsu (literally “The Western World Cookbook”), which describes a breaded and fried dish called Hohru Katsuretsu (Whole Cutlet). The first recorded appearance on a restaurant menu was at Rengatei in Ginza around 1899 going by the name of Pohku Katsuretsu (Pork Cutlet).

The timing coincides with the Meiji Restoration which brought with it the opening of trade with the West along with a constitution that was modelled after the legal structures of the German Empire. The English name suggests it was introduced by the British or the Americans, but the true origin of the dish is most likely the Austrian Wiener Schnitzel, or the Italian Cotoletta alla Milanese.

If you try and enjoy Marc’s tonkatsu recipe, consider leaving him a tip.

Photo: Peter Bohler, Bloomberg Businessweek

Photo: Peter Bohler, Bloomberg Businessweek

The First Person to Hack the iPhone Built a Self-Driving Car. In His Garage. »

Ashlee Vance of Bloomberg Businessweek has the story on how George “geohot” Hotz has turned his homebrewing skills toward creating his own self-driving car. It’s insane but it (sort of) works:

“Hold this,” he says, dumping a wireless keyboard in my lap before backing out of the garage. “But don’t touch any buttons, or we’ll die.” Hotz explains that his self-driving setup, like the autopilot feature on a Tesla, is meant for highways, not chaotic city streets. He drives through San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood and then onto Interstate 280.

[…] After a couple miles, Hotz lets go of the wheel and pulls the trigger on the joystick, kicking the car into self-driving mode. He does this as we head into an S curve at 65 miles per hour. I say a silent prayer. Hotz shouts, “You got this, car! You got this!”

Going Pro »

On his Better Elevation blog, Dave Wiskus tells the personal story of his career progression and recent decision to become a professional musician:

Twenty one years ago I picked up a guitar for the first time and set out to learn something new, despite what the cool kids were listening to.

Ten years ago I let a single personal relationship define me, and tried too hard to be an adult while my band collapsed around me.

Six years ago I started work on a project I loved, and I was almost passive-aggressively bullied into giving it up by the cool kids, whose own dreams were limited to what seemed immediately attainable.

I’ve wasted too much time worrying about what other people think. I’m done conforming to someone else’s standard of “adult”, and I’m done trying to be one of the cool kids. This is my story, and I get to decide what happens next.

Where some may call such a dream silly or childish, for me it’s the opposite: I wish him the absolute best of luck. Life is far too short to not at least try something big and amazing. Two quotes come to mind here:

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Steve Jobs

“The greater danger, for most of us, lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”


Normally I’d fit at least one more link into this column, but I think this is a perfect place to stop. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone.

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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.