Weekend Reads

Do you want some­thing to read on the week­end? Here is a small coll­ec­tion of interesting links I’ve gath­ered in the last few days:

→ To improve today’s concrete, do as the Romans did

In a quest to make concrete more durable and sustainable, an international team of geologists and engineers has found inspiration in the ancient Romans, whose massive concrete structures have withstood the elements for more than 2,000 years.


→ Outfoxing Beats Outgunning

A briefcase seeded with sensitive papers was chained to the wrist of a dead man carefully selected from a British morgue, dressed as a Royal Marine, and taken by submarine and floated ashore on the coast of Spain where Nazi spies were known to have links to local officials. The papers included indications that the next Allied invasion — after Operation Torch had helped liberate North Africa — would be in the Balkans. A jovial reference to sardines in a letter from one senior leader to another led the Germans to believe that a landing on Sardinia was also possible.

And that, was Operation Mincemeat.


→ Layoffs Taboo, Japan Workers Are Sent to the Boredom Room

Shusaku Tani is employed at the Sony plant here, but he doesn’t really work.

For more than two years, he has come to a small room, taken a seat and then passed the time reading newspapers, browsing the Web and poring over engineering textbooks from his college days. He files a report on his activities at the end of each day.

Sony, Mr. Tani’s employer of 32 years, consigned him to this room because they can’t get rid of him. Sony had eliminated his position at the Sony Sendai Technology Center, which in better times produced magnetic tapes for videos and cassettes. But Mr. Tani, 51, refused to take an early retirement offer from Sony in late 2010 — his prerogative under Japanese labor law.


→ The Ultimate Spaceship Face-off

At last, you can find out what has been bugging you for so long: whitch ship is faster? Star Trek’s Enterprise or Star Wars’ Millennium Falcon? Or perhaps the Battlestar Galactica? I can tell you it’s definitely NOT NASA’s Voyager 1.


→ Are You Using the Wrong Knife to Slice Tomatoes?

How do you effortlessly slice tomatoes? In two words, with a serrated knife (like the one you use to slice bread).


Next week – finally – we ‘ll be gone for a couple of days. So, have a great summer!