Frank W. Buckles, The Last U.S. Veteran of World War I

Frank Woodruff Buck­les was born on Feb­ru­ary 1st, 1901. At the age of 16, he enlist­ed in the U.S. Army by con­vinc­ing recruit­ing offi­cers that he was, in fact, 21. In this short film, Buck­les recalls this time so long ago and the last year of the Great War. There are two par­tic­u­lar­ly mov­ing pas­sages in this doc­u­men­tary: when he talks about the dif­fi­cul­ties vet­er­ans expe­ri­enced after return­ing home, and when Buck­les voic­es his opin­ions on war in gen­er­al, and par­tic­u­lar­ly war today (“How did we get involved in this thing, Iraq? It was crazy, we have no damn busi­ness in there.”)

Frank died on Feb­ru­ary 27th, 2011, at the age of 110. The last sur­viv­ing U.S. vet­er­an of World War I, he was prop­er­ly laid to rest at Arling­ton Nation­al Ceme­tery (find video of the cer­e­mo­ny here). There are two trib­utes to Mr Buck­les that offer more insight into his life: a short video by the Unit­ed States Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Affairs and an obit­u­ary in the Wash­ing­ton Post.

By pro­fes­sion, Matthias Rasch­er teach­es Eng­lish and His­to­ry at a High School in north­ern Bavaria, Ger­many. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twit­ter.

How Large is the Universe?

For cen­turies, human­i­ty has been utter­ly trans­fixed by the cos­mos, with gen­er­a­tions of astronomers, philoso­phers and every­day pon­der­ers striv­ing to bet­ter under­stand the grand cap­sule of our exis­tence. And yet to this day, some of the most basic, fun­da­men­tal qual­i­ties of the uni­verse remain a mys­tery. How Large is the Uni­verse? is a fas­ci­nat­ing 20-minute doc­u­men­tary by Thomas Lucas and Dave Brody explor­ing the uni­verse’s immense scale of dis­tance and time.

“Recent pre­ci­sion mea­sure­ments gath­ered by the Hub­ble space tele­scope and oth­er instru­ments have brought a con­sen­sus that the uni­verse dates back 13.7 bil­lion years. Its radius, then, is the dis­tance a beam of light would have trav­eled in that time – 13.7 bil­lion light years. That works out to about 1.3 quadrillion kilo­me­ters. In fact, it’s even big­ger – much big­ger. How it got so large, so fast, was until recent­ly a deep mys­tery.”

For more on the sub­ject, see these five fas­ci­nat­ing ways to grasp the size and scale of the uni­verse.

Maria Popo­va is the founder and edi­tor in chief of Brain Pick­ings, a curat­ed inven­to­ry of cross-dis­ci­pli­nary inter­est­ing­ness. She writes for Wired UK, GOOD Mag­a­zine and Desig­nOb­serv­er, and spends a great deal of time on Twit­ter.

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.