This week in Tech Reads: experimental energy, polar bears on Google Street View, how movies and TV portray tech, and lots—tons!—more.

  • Tara Isabella Burton contemplates the real originators of the selfie: "the silk-waistcoated dandies of nineteenth-century Paris." [The Paris Review Daily]
  • Derek Thompson peers into the mysterious numbers surrounding House of Cards. Based on number of viewers, and compared to the biggest shows on cable or broadcast TV, is it really a hit? [The Atlantic]
  • Tim Wu looks at how technology helps simplify our lives, and asks a perplexing, but important question: is there a point when using technology becomes too easy? [The New Yorker]
  • The folks at Dolby explain how seven of the most iconic sound effects in cinema were made, including the Star Wars lightsaber sound and Bane's voice in The Dark Night Rises. [Dolby official blog]
  • Lee Hutchinson tells the gut-wrenching story of the theoretical outer space rescue missions devised by the NASA investigation panel after the space shuttle Columbia disaster. The plans were meant to quantify the likelihood that the Columbia crew could have survived the mission, but as Hutchinson says, if enacted, it could have been NASA's finest hour. [Ars Technica]
  • Emma Green looks at the strangely cliched world of stock photography. [The Atlantic]
  • David Peisner gives an oral history of the first 20 years of SXSW. [FastCo]
  • Raffi Khatchadourian talks about the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, a highly controversial power generator that might potentially provide low-emissions electricity to the world by harnessing the reactions responsible for creating stars. [The New Yorker]
  • Jennifer Bogo gives an exclusive inside look at how Google Street View managed to give the internet world a close-up look at polar bears migrating across the tundra. [PopSci]
  • Casey Johnston looks at how movies and TV turn the flat, mundane text message into a visually exciting plot device. [Ars Technica]
  • Jeff Elder investigates how—and why—adult-themed websites are advertising to teens on Facebook. [The Wall Street Journal]

Image: On Feb. 19, 2014 the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA's Aqua satellite flew over the Great Lakes and captured this striking false-colored image of the heavily frozen Great Lakes – one of the hardest freeze-ups in four decades. Image credit: NASA/Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC