Daily Briefing

Deep buzz for the content-deprived

Every weekday, while you get showered and dressed, we pluck these dewy- fresh, breaking stories from the info-clogged byways of the datasphere. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and stoke up on everything you need to know, or at least enough to fake it.

'Huge' Physics Finding Supports Big Bang Theory
Douglas Main, Popular Science | Cosmic Inflation Finding | March 17, 2014

Scientists announced today (March 17) that they had found the first direct evidence of the dramatic expansion that created the known universe, known as cosmic inflation, or the "bang" in the Big Bang. This dramatic expansion is thought to have occurred in the first instants of existence, nearly 14 billion years ago, causing the universe to expand beyond the reach of the most powerful telescopes...

My Life As A Writer
Philip Roth, The New York Times Book Review | My Life As A Writer | March 15, 2014

The following is an interview Philip Roth gave to Daniel Sandstrom, the cultural editor at Svenska Dagbladet, for publication in Swedish translation in that newspaper and in its original English in the Book Review...

Silicon Valley's Youth Problem
Yiren Lu, The New York Times Magazine | Silicon Valley's Youth Problem | March 13, 2014

In start-up land, the young barely talk to the old (and vice versa). That makes for a lot of cool apps. But great technology? Not so much...

The Rise Of Back-To-The-Basics Funerals
Susan Chumsky, The New York Times | Back-To-The-Basics Funerals | March 13, 2014

First there was Slow Food. Now come slow funerals. On a recent frigid Sunday at the Park Slope Food Coop, Amy Cunningham was giving a PowerPoint talk on green funerals to a graying crowd of about two dozen, many of them note-takers. “I think when the baby boom is of age and we’re actively leaving this world, the environmentally friendly approach will be business as usual,” she said. “It will not be the odd thing.”...

Japan's Radioactive Nightmare
Roland Kelts, The New Yorker | Japan's Radioactive Nightmare | March 12, 2014

I first saw “Nuclear Nation,” a haunting documentary about the Fukushima meltdown, at its New York première, late last year. It felt very Japanese to me. Instead of looping the most sensational footage—frothy waves demolishing harbors and main streets, exasperated talking heads—“Nuclear Nation” chronicles, through three seasons, the post-disaster struggles faced by so-called nuclear refugees from the tiny town of Futaba, one of several officially condemned and abandoned communities near the site of the disaster...

My Life As A Retail Worker: Nasty, Brutish, And Cheap
Joseph Williams, The Atlantic | My Life As A Retail Worker | March 11, 2014

My plunge into poverty happened in an instant. I never saw it coming.

Then again, there was no reason to feel particularly vulnerable. Two years ago, I was a political reporter at Politico, and I spent my days covering the back-and-forth of presidential politics. I had access to the White House because of my reporting beat, and I was a regular commentator on MSNBC. My career had been on an upward trajectory for 30 years, and at age 50 I still anticipated a long career...

Curiosity Rover Sees Earth From Mars For First Time
Tariq Malik, Space.com | Earth From Mars | March 11, 2014

NASA's Curiosity rover on Mars has captured its first view of Earth from the surface of the Red Planet -- a striking image that shows our home planet as a bright light in the Martian sky, with the moon shining nearby...


'He Knew That Death Was Coming': Survivors Mourn After A Massacre By Syrian Rebels
Joshua Hersh, The Huffington Post | Massacre In Syria | March 11, 2014

The rebel fighters arrived in the early hours of the night, moving swiftly and aggressively from village to village across the mountainous terrain 15 miles from the border with Turkey.

Issam Darwish, a 33-year-old farmer, was asleep in his small, ramshackle home when he heard the cries of warning from neighbors. Jumping out of bed, he roused his family, including his 90-year-old grandfather, and hastily shepherded them out onto the road, where some jumped into available pickup trucks and others ran away through the wooded valleys below.

But Darwish’s grandfather refused to leave...

What You Think You Know About The Web Is Wrong
Tonny Haile, Time | Web Myths | March 10, 2014

If you’re an average reader, I’ve got your attention for 15 seconds, so here goes: We are getting a lot wrong about the web these days. We confuse what people have clicked on for what they’ve read. We mistake sharing for reading. We race towards new trends like native advertising without fixing what was wrong with the old ones and make the same mistakes all over again.

Not an average reader? Maybe you’ll give me more than 15 seconds then...

The New 'Cosmos' Reboot Marks A Promising New Era For Science
Lawrence M. Krauss | 'Cosmos' Reboot | March 9, 2014

The new reboot of the classic Carl Sagan series, now starring Neil deGrasse Tyson, needs our support -- seeing more science on mainstream TV may depend on it...