Best of Quora 2010-2012

Some time ago Quora sent its top writers a book titled “Best of Quora 2010-2012” to say thanks. Over a hundred answers and four hundred pages of the best answers across 18 different categories. Now Quora made the book available to the public as a free pdf. Here are a couple of great answers from the book as a teaser:

Why is it safe to eat the mold in bleu cheese?
Yoav Perry, Artisan cheesemaker answers: Generally speaking, the aversion from mold in foods comes from the cognition that mold on fresh foods clearly indicates that they are no longer fresh. We also assume that food would not taste the same because a fermentation has began to take place, usually accompanied by change in appearance, texture, and aroma of the food in question. Many molds simply taste unpleasant, yet are not problematic to our bodies. Dangerous molds are those which produce mycotoxins and aflatoxins. These toxins may effect our respiratory system and in some cases even act as carcinogens. not all molds produce these toxins...

If developing countries are growing faster than developed countries, why wouldn't you invest most of your money there?
Yair Livne, Econ PhD from Stanford GSB answers: Investing in developing countries carries some specific risks that may deter the average investor from allocating the majority of their portfolio to investments in those countries. These risks translate into lower risk-adjusted RoI than what the country's growth rate might suggest, which explain why these kind of assets do not make up majority of most recommended portfolios...

What are some stupid things that smart people do?
Lee Semel answers: Wow, there are so many. Here are but a few of my favorite stupid things smart people tend to do: 1. Ignoring the importance of design and style - When the iPod originally came out, technical people complained about its lack of features and perceived high price ("ooh, who cares about another MP3 player; I can go buy one at Best Buy for $50." In the meantime, it was so cool and easy to use that normal people went out in droves to buy it...

Does bouncing your leg improve cognition?
Nan Waldman, The education of children, people, and families is my calling answers: If you accept as evidence the testimony of someone who has worked as a 1:1 tutor, education consultant, and parent counsel for the past twenty plus years, the short answer is a qualified 'yes'...

Why do living things die?
Paul King, Computational Neuroscientist, Software Entrepreneur answers: It's not that living things die; it's that multicellular organisms die. But why? Every single-celled organism alive today has been in existence since life began over three billion years ago. This is because individual cells do not give birth, they divide. After cell division, the two cells that result are each as old as the single cell that preceded them. The cell does not become younger by dividing. Thus every cell in your body is over three billion years old. The strategy that multicellular organisms such as humans use to project themselves into the future is to create new cell colonies from a single undifferentiated cell rather than maintaining existing colonies indefinitely. The main reason is that reproduction is more flexible and robust than maintenance, and it provides a way of starting over with a "clean slate" and slightly different genes. Complex organisms accumulate billions of errors and problems over their lifetime. Most of these errors are fixed as fast as they happen, but life takes a toll and not all problems are reversible. Just as reinstalling Microsoft Windows every so often fixes accumulated system issues, so does generating a new organism every so often from a single cell...

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