The best answer to any question.

Oct. 31 2014 8:06 AM

What Made the U.S. So Powerful?

Answer by Balaji Viswanathan, history buff:

Here is my three-by-three take on the U.S.:

Geography

Size: It is the fourth-largest in area and third-largest in population. Countries with greater area than the U.S., such as Russia, have way too much unusable land. The two countries bigger than the U.S. in population, India and China, are still climbing up from the colossal destruction faced in the 19th and  20th centuries and also face severe resource constraints. Russia has still not settled in terms of governance. Brazil and Canada have too few people. That leaves the U.S. in a nice sweet spot.

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Oct. 28 2014 10:04 AM

Will Textspeak Ever Replace Standard English?

Answer by Balaji Viswanathan, product manager at a venture-funded startup creating new markets:

When someone writes in standard English, I can use just my eyes to read without any vocalization. My eyes will quickly scan the text and will stop only at unfamiliar words, errors, or new information. This way, we can quickly read at 400 words per minute to focus on just the new information and can be more efficient at what we are doing.

Oct. 22 2014 9:51 AM

What Was It Like to Work at NASA During the Challenger and Columbia Disasters?

Answer by Clayton C. Anderson, U.S. astronaut, retired, AstroClay.com:

I witnessed both of these disasters live but in very different contexts.

For Challenger, I was not yet an astronaut. I was still an aerospace engineer, working in the mission planning and analysis division. We were devising ways for space shuttles to approach and dock with some of the new (and quite varied) space station configurations (Power Tower, Delta, SOC, etc.). I was seated in a meeting—discussing various aspects of how to safely approach and dock while using minimal fuel—on the sixth floor of NASA Johnson Space Center's Building 1, the administration and management building, on launch morning. 

Oct. 21 2014 11:37 AM

What Was It Like to Work at the Original Napster?

Answer by Ali Aydar, first nonfounding employee of Napster:

There were three distinct phases of Napster, and working there was different in each one.

Phase 1Preinvestment from Hummer Winblad (before Q1 2000): At this point we were a small team, made up mostly of engineers. Our CEO was an energetic former venture capitalist named Eileen Richardson, who was primarily working on raising money. A successful money raise was predicated on growth of the service. At the time I joined in September 1999, there were only 40,000 registered users and only a few hundred connected simultaneously at any given time.

Oct. 16 2014 10:12 AM

What Is It Like to Film Scandal?

 

Answer by Darby Stanchfield, plays Abby Whelan on Scandal:

 

 

The schedule is a crazy-grueling for Scandal. That being said, we all love working on the show so much, the material is so fun, and the crew so great that it's much more manageable than if we were a miserable bunch.

 

Oct. 15 2014 9:21 AM

How Do People on the Autism Spectrum Navigate Long-Term Relationships?

Answer by Marcus Geduld, former dateless nerd, now 20 years into a relationship:

In a relationship, both members must collaborate on coping.

It's true that I can't multitask. So, for instance, if I'm writing a Quora post, I can't listen to my wife at the same time. I'm either 100 percent absorbed in writing or 100 percent absorbed in listening. Half-listening is something I've never experienced and can't even imagine.

Oct. 14 2014 1:46 PM

Why Do People Love Frasier?

Answer by Ellen Vrana, writer, The Runcible Goose:

Frasier is one of my all-time favorite TV comedies. It aired in 1993 as a spinoff fromCheers (another good show), but it is completely different from Cheers—almost incomparable. Kelsey Grammer's character Frasier is the longest-running (noncartoon) character in prime time.

Oct. 7 2014 11:18 AM

How Difficult Is It to Make a Film About a Person Who Is Still Alive?

Answer by Anthony McCarten, producer and screenwriter, The Theory of Everything:

I would liken it to walking down the street and looking into the window of a house that’s illuminated. You see two people dancing, but you don’t know what music they’re dancing to. The process of script writing, whether it’s about real people or not, is about imaging what music they’re dancing to.

Oct. 5 2014 7:12 AM

How Did The Hobbit’s Smaug Get His Weak Spot?

Answer by Thomas Snerdley:

I don't know exactly how Smaug got his weak spot. But I'm more than happy to speculate.

Tolkien faithfully continued the time-honored tradition of ancient European myth and legend in assigning his nearly invulnerable dragons with a single weak spot: “the underbelly.”

Oct. 2 2014 8:27 AM

How Do Teachers Kill the Joy of Reading for Students?

Answer by Peter Kruger, high school English teacher:

Here are 10 easy steps for destroying all love of reading and instead instilling a lifelong hatred of otherwise amazing literature (even books the kids would enjoy reading on their own):

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