Welcome to Reading List, our Saturday afternoon collection of tech, design, urbanism, and landscape reads from around the web. This week, we've got great pieces from The American Prospect, Modern Farmer, Ars Technica, Pacific Standard, and more. It's like crossfit for your brain.
- American hero Sally Ride fought gender stereotypes and outright lack of understanding in the career that made her the first American woman in space. (NASA engineers once asked her if 100 tampons was the right number for a one-week mission). Those challenges persisted for Ride even long after her NASA career was over. As Ann Friedman puts it in this touching and insightful portrait of Ride, "to be first is to relinquish the complicated specifics of your story and become a caricature, a stand-in for the ideals of a movement or for the hope and pain of a moment in history." [The American Prospect]
- Around 700 bicyclists are hit and killed by drivers every year in the U.S. Yet only one in five of those drivers will ever face charges. That startling statistic made M. Sophia Newman wonder: is hitting a cyclist with a car a low-risk way to commit homicide? [VICE]
- California is experiencing yet another record-breaking drought season. That state just happens to be the cultural center of the U.S.'s startup culture, which, as Andy Wright reports, has led some entrepreneurs to pursue design and engineering solutions to the Golden State's water woes. [Modern Farmer]
- You may not think of prisons as architectural items of study. But as Andy Wright explains, a prison's layout can change the lives of the prisoners it houses—good design can make safer, more secure, and more peaceful prisons that keep both inmates and staff happier and safer. [Pacific Standard]
- The Android operating system for mobile devices has been around for more than six years. That may not sound like much, but in that span of time Android has gone through an astounding number of different design iterations. Ron Amadeo chronicles them all, from Android's nascent beginnings to its current status as the world's most popular mobile platform. It's an important exercise, because unlike old physical copies of software, early versions of Android disappear with every update. [Ars Technica]
- Spoilers suck, especially now that there are so many ways to stream, download, and cast episodes of the most wildly popular shows, whenever and wherever you want. But what actually counts as a spoiler? Laura Hudson tries to nail down this slippery term, in the process examining why we care about them, and why we think spoiling a story is so damed rude. [Wired]
- Whenever a new discovery comes out of a particle accelerator facility like CERN, science novices always ask the same question: Who cares? But the things we learn from these huge-budget facilities impact our everyday lives in some amazingly basic and unexpected ways. Linda Zeldovich breaks them down with "10 Reasons Why You Can't Live Without a Particle Accelerator." [Nautilus]
Image: Sally Ride's NASA portrait from 1983, from AP Images.