The week’s best Reddit Q&As

Have you ever wanted to talk with a former identity thief or a CERN scientist? Well, you missed the boat on Reddit, but this curated guide pulls the highlights from those interview sessions. 


Kevin Morris


Posted on Dec 6, 2011   Updated on Jun 3, 2021, 12:35 am CDT

On Reddit, old age and science are a recipe for celebrity.

In a week of live question-and-answer sessions on the social news site, the most popular was an 84-year-old scientist who worked on some of the world’s first computers. Other hits included a CERN scientist, a former identity theft fraudster, and Hillary Adams, whose father was seen beating her in an infamous video that went viral last month.

Below, we’ve compiled the top seven posts (seven being our lucky number) from Reddit’s r/IAmA this week, as voted by redditors themselves. We’ve also included a sample question and answer from each. For the complete list, check here.

A note on terminology: AMA stands for “ask me anything,” while “IAmA” is simply “I am a;” AMAA means “ask me almost anything.”

1. IAmA an 84-year-old scientist who worked on some of the first computers, classified projects for the gov’t during the cold war, early computer speech synthesis and analysis, and robotics. AMA. 

(The man’s grandson typed the answers for him)

Q: What was it like working on early computers?

A: By today’s standards it was unbelievably sluggish and frustrating…and if you ever go them out of order it wouldn’t load. You had to draw a diagonal line down the top of the cards in order to see if any of them were out of line. But that’s all way in the past…never to be seen again.

2. I’m Hillary Adams, the girl in the Judge William Adams beating video. Reddit rescued me. AMA

Q: This may be a hard question to answer, but what is your favorite memory of your dad? (jin357)

A: There was one day … when the three of us were in New York when I was 12 or so, and the Dreamcast was on display in GameStop. I turned around and saw that my parents had each grabbed a controller … and laughing and freaking out over the leap forward in game technology, button mashing and shrieking out loud. That was the first and last time I ever saw them do something like that together, just for pure fun, just for a few seconds, and thinking about it now makes me want to cry.

3. I run Digital Blasphemy. AMAA

“I’m a self-taught 3D artist and have supported myself (and now my family) for the past 12 years by selling subscriptions to my hi-res wallpaper gallery. A few of my Members have asked that I do an AMA here”

Q: How do you come up with the ideas? Are any based on real life places? (ewooding)

A: That is probably my most frequently asked question. Inspiration is sort of like the Pleiades star cluster. You can see it out of the corner of your eye but it fades away if you try to examine it directly. I can say that I rarely use references in my work (sometimes to my detriment) and almost all of my images are directly out of my brain.

4. I Am Lucas’ Dad Luis. AMAA

(Reddit raised $50,000 for Lucas Gonzalez, a 3-year-old with a rare blood disease)

Q: For Lucas: Would he rather have Super Strength or be able to become invisible and why? (Ocrasrom)

A: Lucas: “Super Strong” and he flexed his muscles. He didnt have an answer for why, just keeps flexing :)

5. By request: I work at CERN. AMA!

Q: What is it like waking up every day knowing your job is to look for a hypothetical particle that could resolve the inconsistencies in the Standard Model of particle physics? I wake up, go to class, then make pizzas every day. I couldn’t imagine being trusted to be part of conducting one of the most important experiments in human history. (ActuleyObstuse)

A: I think you get used to it, most of your job is doing slightly-more-interesting-than-average programming. But you’re coding up plots that are trying to answer interesting questions, and those moments when you really get something cool running–those are unforgettable. Even if it’s something a little lower-profile than the Higgs, like studying some subatomic interaction or particle decay pattern, it’s really cool to know you’re the first person to see something so tiny and complicated (and potentially important, who knows, right?)

6. By request: I’m the owner of a small cardboard box company. AMA.

Q: Have you ever thought of getting into the large cardboard box industry? I hear it’s big these days. (Huskyfan23)

A: Well, it is very, very expensive to buy the corrugating machine that allows you to produce the cardboard boards … I buy the cardboard boards from the big companies and only print them and shape them into boxes. The machinery required for that kind of process is much simpler and therefore much cheaper too.

Anyways, my company sells approximately 10 million dollars worth of boxes per year. As of right now, I’m pretty satisfied with the size of it and not really planning on expanding aggressively any time soon.

7. IAmA former identity thief, credit card fraudster, blackhat hacker, document forger. AMA

Q: How much money did you make? (driverdan)

A: Everyone asks me this but I honestly don’t know … For cash income, I generally made $500-2000 per week. There were times I made $1,000 to 5,000+ in a day, such as cashing out hacked ATM cards (supplied by others) or carding Western Union.

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*First Published: Dec 6, 2011, 7:01 pm CST