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The Truth About Google X

Space elevators, teleportation, hoverboards, and driverless cars: The top-secret Google X innovation lab opens up about what it does—and how it thinks.

If there's a master plan behind X, it's that a frictional arrangement of ragtag intellects is the best hope for creating products that can solve the world's most intractable issues. Yet Google X, as Teller describes it, is an experiment in itself--an effort to reconfigure the process by which a corporate lab functions, in this case by taking incredible risks across a wide variety of technological domains, and by not hesitating to stray far from its parent company's business. We don't yet know if this will prove to be genius or folly. There's actually no historical model, no ­precedent, for what these people are doing.

PUBLISHED: April 15, 2014
LENGTH: 24 minutes (6150 words)

Lessons of Immortality and Mortality From My Father, Carl Sagan

Sasha Sagan on the life lessons given to her by her father, astronomer and author Carl Sagan:

After days at elementary school, I came home to immersive tutorials on skeptical thought and secular history lessons of the universe, one dinner table conversation at a time. My parents would patiently entertain an endless series of "why?" questions, never meeting a single one with a “because I said so” or “that’s just how it is.” Each query was met with a thoughtful, and honest, response — even the ones for which there are no answers.

PUBLISHED: April 15, 2014
LENGTH: 5 minutes (1475 words)

It's Adventure Time

The writer spends some time with the creators of "Adventure Time"—a wildly popular animated TV series on the Cartoon Network—to discuss what makes the show so magical:

We began by talking about humor. Children’s humor, I suggested, is commonly thought of as a kind of “diversion” from fear or sadness. But Adventure Time confronts very dark themes head on: The apocalypse, the possibility of loss and pain, grief and mortality. Yet somehow it makes these grave things seem so simple, unthreatening, even hilarious.

“It’s funnier when you’re sad, I think,” he said. “I’ve heard laughter is releasing stress from your body, like when you go, ’HA! Haaaa!’—you know, you get it out of you. My favorite kind of humor is dark comedies, because I think, mmm… I guess that’s my personality, maybe I’m more cynical about things, so I laugh stuff off easily, and life is really scary?"

SOURCE:The Awl
PUBLISHED: April 15, 2014
LENGTH: 45 minutes (11383 words)