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.