We runners have a complicated relationship with portable toilets. We’re happy to see them before (and sometimes during and often after) a race, especially when we’ve been shot-gunning liquids and glucose. But that minute-plus (on average) we spend in their odiferous confines tends to yield some memorable-and-not-in-a-good-way moments. However, instead of shaking your fist at them, we suggest cutting the portable toilet some slack. Everything from the mysterious blue liquid to the height of the drop to the placement of the urinal has been studied and calibrated to make the best of a crappy situation. Which intrigued us—there’s a lot more to these things than we thought.
To explore the rest of the 5-page feature on the toilets we love to hate, check out the story in Runner’s World’s September issue. There’s a snippet version here.
Yes, we know, Marie Curie discovered radium. That’s awesome. But there are so many other brilliant scientists to look up to. Check out my essay in the April issue of Wired.
It took the journey runner Tom Denniss 622 days to run around the world. It took the excellent team at Runner’s World and I ten months to put together this (frankly kinda amazing) data-driven feature documenting the trip. It was a three-page spread in the magazine, but the online version is bananas. Check it out. (Screen shot below).
Pop-quiz: Who discovered Earth’s inner core? Who mapped the bottom of the ocean? Who was the first American to spot a comet? Headstrong delivers 52 surprising and entertaining profiles of extraordinary scientists who’ve shaped our understanding of the world.
Headstrong (written by me!) is out April 7th, 2015. Get it. Learn it. Be a better person for it.
It is April 27th, and James Nielsen assumes his starting position on the track at the College of Marin in Northern California. His wife, Mimi, is filming him with a Flip video camera. She raises her iPhone to the camera, and focuses on the phone’s timer. “On your mark, get set…” On “Go!” she starts the timer, and Nielsen springs into action. He cracks open a room-temperature Budweiser–because warm beer retains less carbonation than cold–tilts his head back 45 degrees–an angle he knows through studying fluid dynamics will best usher the brew down his gullet–and seals his lips onto the can. It takes him five seconds to drain the can, three seconds faster than if its contents had been simply poured onto the ground. Then–this is very important–Nielsen starts running and tosses the can in the trash.
Find the rest of the story in the October 2014 issue of Runner’s World or online here.
Naturally, it’s embarrassing in such company and to be failing the first lesson.
Check out the rest at Tested.com
Nathan Myhrvold, the former chief technology officer of Microsoft and cofounder of the patent holdings company Intellectual Ventures, has a cutaway illustration of a “Type-Writing Machine” hanging in a clear plastic frame on his office wall. It is a lithograph of the original patent, produced a hundred and twenty-four years ago, when the United States Patent and Trademark Office first approved the idea. The paper is now the color of flan.
The lithograph, a sheet describing United States Patent No. 416,257, was a reference document that had once been stationed in the P.T.O.’s vast library of intellectual-property records; it had banked more than a century of service and, like many of the library’s oldest documents, may have passed through thousands of hands. It also did a short stint in another location: the recycling bin. In 1994, the P.T.O. began digitizing its records. In August of 2001, the office announced it would stop maintaining its traditional libraries. Its paper records, aside from those destined for the National Archives or examiners’ offices, were doomed, bound for a recycling facility.
Read the rest over at The New Yorker.
It’s Friday, and PayTango cofounders Brian Groudan and Umang Patel are pitching. Over the next two and half hours they’ll hit nine cafés, three gyms, two corner stores, and a music center in San Francisco, from its tony Laurel Heights district to the sometimes-seamy Upper Haight. The goal: To interest small businesses in PayTango’s big idea, a biometric reader that will allow customers to make payments, or verify their ID or gym membership, with a quick scan of their index and middle fingers.
Groudan is wearing a yellow polo shirt and shorts that hit just above the knee. Patel is in a blue-and-white checked button-down shirt and a pair of Levi’s. “We don’t have any empirical data, but if you walk in to a fitness club with a suit on, people are going to look at you funny,” notes Patel.
“You have to be careful,” Groudan adds, then pauses for a beat before finishing, his voice lowered slightly: “not to sound like a salesman.”
Local urban problems and the needs of small businesses are increasingly becoming inspiration for start-ups, and selling door-to-door — that icon of 1950s entrepreneurialism — is back with a new, digital face. Putting on a show for investors is one thing; facing off with an endless stream of bartenders and cash-register attendants over the shop counter is an entirely different proposition. Yet that’s exactly where many members of the newest crop of innovators are winding up as they try to bootstrap their billion-dollar ideas, one customer at a time.
In San Francisco, ground zero for the lean start-up movement, the competition is already pretty stiff. Even the tiniest mom-and-pop shops might already be outfitted with an all-in-one loyalty card and several mobile-payment solutions. Breaking through requires more than just a good in-person pitch; it means finding a way to set your business apart from the flood of other ones trying to get the little guys onboard. And it takes lots of shoe leather.
Read the conclusion over at Medium.
Thirteen years ago, Roz Savage thought she had everything she needed to live happily—a successful career as a management consultant, a husband, a home in London, and a little red sports car to boot. But in her day-to-day life, Savage routinely felt unfulfilled and much older than her 33 years.
So one evening she sat down and came up with two alternate versions of her future: The first continued from the life she’d already built; the second was inspired by her long-buried desire for adventure. The exercise kicked off small moves—like a trip to South America—that led to bigger challenges. By 2005 Savage had left her job behind and set out to pilot a 23-foot-long ocean rowboat across the Atlantic alone.
Today, at age 45, she’s also traversed the Pacific and Indian Oceans solo, and is feeling happier, more attractive, and more self-confident than ever—all thanks to her dual reality check. Even if you don’t think your future holds sweeping changes, Savage warns, taking the following steps “could have fairly dramatic consequences.”
Read the rest of Roz’s advice over at O, The Oprah Magazine.