Nautilus

Paper Versus Pixel

On the occasion of the inaugural Nautilus Quarterly, we asked Nicholas Carr to survey the prospects for a print publication. Here he shows why asking if digital publications will supplant printed ones is the wrong question.  


Gutenberg we know. But what of the eunuch Cai Lun?

A well-educated, studious young man, a close aide to the Emperor Hedi in the Chinese imperial court of the Eastern Han Dynasty, Cai invented paper one fateful day in the year 105 A.D. At the time, writing and drawing were done primarily on silk, which was elegant but expensive, or on bamboo, which was sturdy but cumbersome. Seeking a more practical alternative, Cai came up with the idea of mashing bits of tree bark and hemp fiber together in a little water, pounding the resulting paste flat with a stone mortar, and then letting it dry into sheets in the sun. The experiment was a success. Allowing for a few industrial tweaks, Cai’s method is still pretty much the way paper gets made today.

Cai killed himself some years later, having become entangled in a palace scandal from which he saw no exit. But his invention took on a life of its own. The craft of papermaking spread quickly throughout China and then, following the

Vous lisez un aperçu, inscrivez-vous pour en lire plus.

Plus de Nautilus

Nautilus8 min de lecturePhysics
This Tenet Shows Time Travel May Be Possible: Director Christopher Nolan could take a tip from new research into “closed timelike curves.”
Time travel has been a beloved science-fiction idea at least since H.G. Wells wrote The Time Machine in 1895. The concept continues to fascinate and fictional approaches keep coming, prodding us to wonder whether time travel is physically possible an
Nautilus8 min de lecture
Gaia, the Scientist: What if the first woman scientist was simply the first woman?
There exists a social hierarchy within science that strikes people who are not mixed up in it as ridiculous. It goes like this: Mathematicians are superior to Physicists, who are, in turn, superior to Chemists, who are of course, superior to Biologis
Nautilus10 min de lectureBiology
How Intelligent Could Life Be Without Natural Selection?: Don’t be surprised if alien life forms are a lot like us.
I could stridently insist that natural selection is the only way that complex life can evolve, but that’s not strictly true. We can already design computers that can learn and reason and—almost—convince an observer that their behavior might be human.