Amby Burfoot winning the 1968 Boston Marathon. Photo courtesy of Jeff Johnson.

What we’re reading: Aren’t humans amazing sometimes?

A few stories you may have missed this week

Humans are amazing sometimes. In the midst of *gestures broadly* everything happening in the world right now, it’s worth coming back to this simple truth from time to time, and I wanted to share two stories from Medium this week that illustrate the point in two very different ways.

The first is from Amby Burfoot, writing about the Boston Marathon (which will be held this year on April 17). Burfoot won the marathon in 1968, a massive achievement in itself, but his story is about the many times he ran it afterwards, and especially how the race changed after the 2013 bombing. He ends with the hard won wisdom that every mile is a gift: “After all, I don’t know if I’ll ever be here again. Life gives us no guarantees. But I do know for sure that right now there is no other place in the world I would rather be.”

The second story takes us from the realm of sports to mathematics, from the body to the mind. “Here’s How Two New Orleans Teenagers Found a New Proof of the Pythagorean Theorem” outlines how Calcea Johnson and Ne’Kiya Jackson may have found a novel way to use trigonometry to prove the 2,500+ year old theorem. There’s still more to come — Johnson and Jackson have yet to publish their proof — but as writer Keith McNulty points out, it “could well be the most beautiful and simplest trigonometric proof we have seen to date, and is clearly the work of young, sharp minds uncomplicated by the years of deep research that characterize the work of many experienced mathematicians.”

Also: We’re constantly working on making Medium membership better, and have added audio to the growing list of member-only features — read more over on our blog about how we’re working to make membership better. And while you’re there, check out our interview with entrepreneur Thomas Smith about his approach to publishing and writing on Medium.

As always, thank you for reading.
Scott Lamb
VP, Content @ Medium

Here’s what we’re reading this week…

Resisting Deterministic Thinking” by danah boyd, partner researcher at Microsoft and distinguished visiting professor at Georgetown University

Deterministic thinking is a blinkering force, the very opposite of rationality even though many people who espouse deterministic thinking believe themselves to be hyper rational.

Joshua Tamayo-Sarver

I’m an ER Doctor: Here’s What Happened When I Asked ChatGPT to Diagnose My Patients” by Joshua Tamayo-Sarver, doctor and executive at Inflect Health

We urgently need a much more realistic view from Silicon Valley and the public at large of what AI can do now — and its many, often dangerous, limitations. We must be very careful to avoid inflated expectations with programs like ChatGPT, because in the context of human health, they can literally be life-threatening.

What It Takes to Make 165 Years of Journalism Available Online” by Aldana Vales, manager for research and product insights at The Atlantic

Digitizing The Atlantic’s archive and turning it into a product for readers are two different things. Here’s how we did both.

Aldana Vales and the team at The Atlantic

Seven Young Black Women Writers to Celebrate and Support During National Poetry Month” by Maia Niguel Hoskin, Ph.D., professor and writer

There is a new cohort of young Black women poets and writers who are unapologetically taking the world of poetry by storm through innovation, creativity, activism, and pure, raw, unadulterated talent, brilliance, and courageous critical circumspection of Blackness, Black womanhood, and the experiences that shape them — and here are seven of them.

How to Choose the Right Amount of Exercise to Improve Muscle and Strength” by Zachary Walston, PT, DPT, OCS, physical therapist

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to optimizing training. We can provide universal recommendations for baseline fitness, but even that likely needs some adjustment considering training history, age, and current health status.

Closers to End Your Meetings With” by Jackie Colburn, facilitator and strategist

If you’re looking for a more meaningful and actionable way to wrap up meetings, take a look at these 5 options for closing your next session.

Connecting Math Skills to Income and Satisfaction” by Pär Bjälkebring & Ellen Peters, psychology and communication researchers, in The Conversation U.S.

Many researchers have suggested that more money only increases life satisfaction and happiness up to a certain point. Our research modifies this idea by showing that satisfaction derived from income relates strongly to how good a person is at math.

France Is Number One in Europe” by Kit Desjacques, writer and American expat in France

Recommended by Debra Groves Harman, MEd in response to our last roundup: “Plan on living to 100? You may want to consider what this country is doing to achieve its amazing rates for longevity.”

News footage featured a woman of 108 playing the piano. Her hands looked a bit arthritic, but she still manages. Remarkably, she still lives at home. Another younger woman (a mere 100 years old) still drives and teaches yoga.

Holly Lyn Walrath

Creating a Blackout Poetry Art Show” by Holly Lyn Walrath, writer, editor, publisher, and poet

Making 22 giant erasure poems in fewer than three weeks taught me much about myself as a creative person. Sure, I was exhausted at the end. I was nervous about what I had created. But I was also deliriously happy.

What have you been reading lately? Drop a line in the responses.

What We’re Reading” is a weekly roundup of insightful stories and perspectives from across Medium. Browse previous editions here.

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