Links for Tuesday, April 7, 2015

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Hybrid Air Vehicles

  • A company called Hybrid Air Vehicles is raising money for a humongous vehicle called the Airlander 10, a combination of airship and powered plane that can stay aloft for weeks. Related concepts have been around a long time—in the U.S., since at least 1863. In the U.S., it's been sustained by the Aereon Corporation: a small group of engineers, pilots, and aircraft builders around Princeton, N.J., which is where the New Yorker's John McPhee found out about it. With his typically wonderful style, McPhee wrote about Aereon's efforts in his 1973 book The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed. (Go buy the book; it's one of McPhee's best.) Aereon was still around in 2010, when Flying Magazine wrote about it. (The Airlander first flew in Lakehurst; is the Garden State the airship capital of the world?)
  • Fukushima and Bhopal were highly visible tragedies. But how do you dramatize a brownfield? Scholar-artist Max Liboiron writes on environmental slow disasters.
  • Kids: keep reading your critical theory, and you, too, can become an online billionaire. The techno-Marxist vision behind Buzzfeed.
  • The Explorers Club, an international organization that strives to promote field research and "preserve the instinct to explore," grapples with what it means to be an explorer in the GPS age. 
  • Steven Keating, a graduate student at MIT, saved his own life. By collecting and analyzing his medical data (including a scan of his brain), Keating correctly diagnosed himself with a brain tumor. Physicians hold Keating up as a model of the patient of the future, who will demand better data (and will also become an active participant in medical research).

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