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Showing posts from August, 2014

But Can You Tell Me What This Is and Why I Should Care in 80 Characters or Less?

In recent weeks, I have posted a fair number of articles to Hacker News. Some of them ended up on the front page, some got a few upvotes, and some got seemingly completely ignored. There are a lot of factors that influence how well a piece does and it is clear to me that many of those factors are basically a mystery to me. One thing that has become crystal clear: The title has a huge impact on its performance.

When I submitted a really well-written, interesting piece called Rare Coin Found on Mars!, the click-baity title was all people could talk about (and not in a good way) and it was soon flagged to death. I deleted it after it died. I then tried to find another article on the same topic, but I couldn't find anything else of similar quality. So I wrote the moderator and asked if I could resubmit it with a different title.

He suggested the title Lincoln Penny on the Curiosity Rover. The result: In spite of yet more controversy (over having been resubmitted), it spent some time…

Links on Maryam Mirzakhani, The First Fields Medalist in Two Demographics

This was discussed a bit on Hacker News recently: 2014 Fields Medal Announced

I happened to put together a bunch of links that day. Today, I thought maybe other folks would like to see it all collected together. So here is what I have, with a small amount of commentary and quoting but mostly just the links and title:

The Quanta Profile of her: A Tenacious Explorer of Abstract Surfaces has the best laymen's explanation of her work that I could find:
Mirzakhani became fascinated with hyperbolic surfaces — doughnut-shaped surfaces with two or more holes that have a non-standard geometry which, roughly speaking, gives each point on the surface a saddle shape. Hyperbolic doughnuts can’t be constructed in ordinary space; they exist in an abstract sense, in which distances and angles are measured according to a particular set of equations. An imaginary creature living on a surface governed by such equations would experience each point as a saddle point.

It turns out that each many-holed…