A new AmericanSongbook.org

We launched a new AmericanSongbook.org this week. It’s the first site built entirely in house at Lincoln Center, made possible by our new crackerjack design-development team of Mark Ho-Kane and Becky Soll.

I particularly enjoy looking at the before and after.

The way life should be: E.B. White’s Maine

“I would really rather feel bad in Maine than feel good anywhere else.” So said E.B. White, a man who deserves to be anyone’s hero. Here’s a great read on a visit to the man’s chosen home of Brooklin, Maine.

A temporal signature

It’s stuff like this that makes me feel like we’re living in the future.

You can’t usually hear it with your own ears, but the electrical grid hums at a frequency around 50Hz, with minute fluctuations here and there. Any audio recording made within earshot of a wall outlet or a lightbulb can pick it up, however minutely – ask any audio engineer to hear a lament about this.

It turns out that for the past seven years, at a forensic lab in south London, the Metropolitan Police have been continuously recording of this hum and its fluctuations. Why? So they can determine with absolute certainty whether an audio recording has been edited.

If an audio recording made in London during the past seven years is intact (and if it wasn’t taken in the wilderness, away from electrical mains), the police will be able to match up the fluctuations in its electrical hum with the ones they recorded on a particular date and time, precisely indicating when the recording was made. And if the hum doesn’t sync up exactly with the police’s version, it’s a sure bet that someone has tampered with it.

If life were like it is on Star Trek: The Next Generation, I think they’d be calling this a “temporal signature.”

Nasa is working on faster-than-light travel (seriously)

A few months ago, physicist Harold White stunned the aeronautics world when he announced that he and his team at NASA had begun work on the development of a faster-than-light warp drive. His proposed design, an ingenious re-imagining of an Alcubierre Drive, may eventually result in an engine that can transport a spacecraft to the nearest star in a matter of weeks – and all without violating Einstein’s law of relativity.

I think I read this article five times today. It blows my mind.

What really gets me: It now looks entirely plausible – even likely – that one day, people will smirk at how we thought this faster-than-light business was impossible. “Einsteinian” might never sound as derisive as “Lamarckian” does to us today, but you never know.

The world’s front pages

The president was reelected last night. Here are the front pages of the newspapers waiting on the world’s doorsteps.