Space pianos, Standard Models and Algos
An abridged and delayed edition this week - work and life got in the way - but back to normal come Sunday!
Hi, I’m Gavin. This is my experimental newsletter that explores thinking - how we might think better and learn together as we do so.
I explore several key topics through the lens of several core themes: systems thinking, scenario planning, trends, and cross-disciplinary innovation. These often relate to key issues: climate change, pandemics, astronomy, physics, health, history, philosophy, culture, rocketry, conflict, the impact of technology on society and more (lol!). With a larger question behind it all: how do we progress and how do we progress better?
I hope you like where we go. (650 - nope - 666 of us now! - welcome all new arrivals)
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Reading list - the best stuff to read
🌏 Climate change
Sharma and her co-applicants won the case after a four-day trial in March. The mine created enough of a “risk of death” that the government minister had a duty of care. The judge gave a striking summary in his ruling: “The physical environment will be harsher, far more extreme and devastatingly brutal when angry. As for the human experience — quality of life, opportunities to partake in nature’s treasures, the capacity to grow and prosper — all will be greatly diminished. Lives will be cut short. Trauma will be far more common and good health harder to hold and maintain.”
The case is one among a broad global upswell of legal battles against the companies and governments responsible for global warming. Nearly 2,000 are currently underway around the world, according to a tracking project by the Sabin Center at Columbia University.
“Life doesn’t just deal with this. When I went up Glacier with my students a few weeks ago, the flowers were curling up. At some of the lower elevations, glacier lilies were shriveled, lupins didn’t even open. The flowers should extend for another three weeks and they’re already gone. Any insects or birds that depend upon them, like bees or hummingbirds are in trouble, their food is gone. Bird populations have just baked.
“There have been total losses of a lot of baby birds this year. You see these ospreys and eagles sitting on top of the trees in their nests and those young, they just can’t take the heat. Year after year of that and you lose your birds.
People seem to think of extinctions as some silent, painless statistic. It’s not. You look at birds that can no longer find fish because they’ve moved too far off shore. They’re emaciated, they’re starving to death. We are at the point that there’s nothing untouched.”
… the researchers report that virus was first detectable in people with the Delta variant four days after exposure, compared with an average of six days among people with the original strain, suggesting that Delta replicates much faster. Individuals infected with Delta also had viral loads up to 1,260 times higher than those in people infected with the original strain.
Ed Yong has a good piece on vaccine hesitancy. (6 mins by Ed Yong)
Now that vaccines aren’t novel, we’ve lost some of that early momentum when people would go to their local Walgreens. Now we have to do the heavy, high-touch work, making sure that we proactively reach out to everyone. And we can only go as fast as people are willing to go.
That’s concerning, and it’s why we need to reimplement mitigation strategies, like indoor masking, in addition to vaccination. That’ll give us the time to do the work. No form of mitigation will block transmission 100 percent, but we have to use them together. When the cavalry arrives, it’s not like all the other soldiers on the field just leave.
🇨🇳 China - Taiwan
An interesting assessment of when or if an invasion of Taiwan will occur. (5 mins by Supers)
💻 Computing - Quantum computing
A really good explainer here (it’s somewhat mind bending). (10 mins)
🪐 Physics - the Standard Model
Quanta also takes a look at The Standard Model. If you don’t know what it is, this is a very good primer! (16 mins)