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Friday, July 8, 2016

Dude: Amazon Prime members get a $10 Amazon credit just for starting an Audible 3 month free trial

I've been meaning to try Amazon's audio book service, but the free trial was only for a month and I had no intention of paying for it after the month is over, so it barley seemed worthwhile. Now, though, they've upped the free trial to three months, and thrown in a $10 credit.

Note: This is only available for first-time Audible members.

During the trial, you’ll get one book credit per month to use on any of Audible’s 180,000 titles. Even if you cancel your trial later on (as I plan to do), those books are yours to keep. And if you do stay a member, you’ll be charged $15 per month for a single book credit. But hey, even if you have zero intention of becoming a paying member, or even using your three book credits, this is basically $10 for free.

Friday links

July 9 is Nikola Tesla's birthday: bio, Tesla coil music, Tesla vs Edison rap battle, infographic from The Oatmeal.

John T. Scopes, the defendant in the 1925 anti-evolution “monkey trial,” appeared on “To Tell the Truth” in 1960.

Ancient Minoan Culture Illustrated with Scantily-Clad Barbies, bonus 1961 video: When Barbie Met Ken.

An Archive of 3,000 Vintage Cookbooks.

ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and consist entirely of lots of July 4th stuff.

July 9 is Nikola Tesla's birthday: bio, Tesla coil music, Tesla vs Edison rap battle, infographic from The Oatmeal

Want a quick explanation of everything Tesla? Check out this infographic at The Oatmeal.

Epic Rap Battles of History — Nikola Tesla vs Thomas Edison:

The video below is based on stories about Tesla's lost papers and documents, about how the government secreted them away somewhere: The Missing Secrets Of Nikola Tesla from The Phenomenon Archives (described as "A documentary series that takes an in-depth look at the topics found in recently de-classified government documents. It explores well-known issues with new information that has been sequestered from the public"):

Wardenclyffe, Tesla's Long Island estate, was originally intended to be “a vector for trans-Atlantic wireless communications, broadcasting, and wireless power. The site consisted of an (incomplete) 18-story-high transmission tower that topped off a laboratory surrounded by 16 acres of land in Shoreham, Long Island in 1903. 

By 1917, Tesla had sold the site for $20,000 to pay bills at the Waldorf. That same year, the transmission tower was blown up by the buyers and sold for scrap. 

Today is the anniversary of the birth of Serbian-American electrical-engineering genius and futurist Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) (wiki), to a Serbian-Orthodox priest in Croatia. Tesla displayed remarkable intuition for mechanical and electrical phenomena while still a youth, and although he studied physics sporadically in Graz and Prague, he was largely self-taught in scientific and engineering subjects. 

In 1881. he began working at the Budapest Telephone Exchange as a technician, but within a year he transferred to an Edison subsidiary in France, designing electrical equipment. Two years later, he relocated to New York City, where he worked directly for Thomas Edison but resigned several years later in a dispute over pay. 

Subsequently, Tesla moved out on his own, eventually forming a company to commercialize his own inventions for the improvement of electric motors and generators operating largely on alternating current (vice Edison's direct current). Most importantly, he invented the concept of polyphase alternating-current power systems and the AC induction motor, which used a rotating magnetic field to propel the rotor. 

In 1888, Tesla licensed his patents to George Westinghouse, who used them to devise alternating-current alternatives to Edison's DC systems for generating and distributing electrical power, and eventually alternating current prevailed as the national standard.* 

In 1891, Tesla became an American citizen and established his own laboratory in New York City to work on a wide variety of electrical developments, including X-ray technology, radio, and high-voltage/high-frequency apparatus. Among the latter was the "Tesla coil," a device for developing extremely high voltages and creating spectacular displays of artificial lightning. 

In 1899, he moved his operations to Colorado Springs and concentrated on devising a system for the wireless transmission of electrical power through the atmosphere (but never realized it at a practical level). He also developed concepts for vertical takeoff/landing aircraft, remote controlled vehicles, and an early directed energy weapon. He ultimately received nearly 300 patents for his discoveries. 

Since Tesla had sold his most lucrative patents to Westinghouse and plowed what money he earned later into further experimentation, he died in relative poverty in 1943. Although vastly overshadowed by Edison in the popular imagination, it was Tesla who was primarily responsible for the concepts underlying the electrical power grids used world-wide today.

*The great advantage of alternating over direct current in power distribution is that the former can make use of transformers to step the voltage up and down, and high voltage is much more efficient for sending electrical power over long distances.

Monday, July 4, 2016

4th of July links

Large set of Independence Day links: the full text of the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln's 1858 speech on the meaning of Independence Day ("Let us stick to it then. Let us stand firmly by it then.") and more inspirational speeches from Coolidge (1926) and Reagan (1986), the most bad-ass founding fathers, Dave Barry's 1998 column for the 4th of July. the science of fireworks and of barbecue, SciFi Independence Days, more.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include the Night of the Long Knives (Hitler's purge of those standing in his way), a gallery of beautiful combs made for lice removal, why monkey butts are so colorful, and a video compilation: 100 years of Holmes and Watson (1916 - 2016).

June 1960 Saturday Evening Post: Seamstresses rush to complete the new 50-star flag

Stars in their eyes: Seamstresses rush to complete the new 50-star flag in 1960.
(Photo by Larry Keighley, © SEPS)
From the June 4, 1960 issue of the Saturday Evening Post (wiki):
One more month and the proud new 50-star flags you see being sewn together by the busy Betsy Rosses at left will become officially ensigns of the United States. It has been a hard two years on manufacturers such as the Dettra Flag Company of Oaks, Pennsylvania.
After 47 years of an unchanging 48-star design, two newcomer states forced the rearrangement of the flag’s union, or starred blue field, twice within a year. On the double change-over, Dettra lost about $150,000 in canceled orders and unsalable inventory. The short-lived 49-star flag started the biggest boom the flag business had ever known. This boom collapsed utterly when Hawaii’s admission to the Union was voted by Congress in March 1959.
However, when President Eisenhower announced on August 21 which 50-star design was to be used, the boom revived, and by the Fourth of July Dettra will have made 2 million bright new banners — twice as many as it ever made before in a single year, and about 40 percent of the year’s total for the country.
Related: Saturday Evening Post's Fourth of July Covers Throughout the Decades.