A weekly selection of what I explored last week.
Book excerpt I was thinking about:
Why it might be important to leave some things exclusive and maybe even inaccessible to some.
“The inaccessibility of this loch is part of its power. Silence belongs to it. If jeeps find it out, or a funicular railway disfigures it, part of its meaning will be gone. The good of the greatest number is not here relevant. It is necessary to be sometimes exclusive, not on behalf of rank or wealth, but of those human qualities that can apprehend loneliness.” (Nan Shepherd, The Living Mountain)
Where will the music go?
In previous eras of listening, choosing what to spend money on made each musical acquisition feel weightier than it does now, when you can costlessly drag and drop a song into a playlist. “If somebody buys an album, they’re going to invest the time to listen to it [in order to] try to get their money’s worth,” says Mark Mulligan, a music-industry analyst at the consultancy MIDiA Research. “Sometimes that results in albums that might be a difficult listen the first couple of times turning out to be all-time great albums.”
What Will Happen to My Music Library When Spotify Dies? https://www.theatlantic.com/culture/archive/2021/07/spotify-streaming-music-library/619453/
Also, I was revisiting DJ Jazzy Jeff’s The Magnificent last week, and it reminds me of my old mp3 player, the Digital Nomad. I loved that thing. ♥️
Big ideas happen as a result of a lot of work:
Be easy on yourself. Also, go running more.
He was working with his colleagues to try to find a more efficient method for solving a large class of wave equations. “We spent every day drawing on blackboards and chasing one wrong idea after another,” he writes. Frustrated, he left the session to go for a run on a tree-lined path. Then it happened.
“As I crested the last hill, I saw it all at once: the key to modifying the algorithm we’d been puzzling over was to flip it around, to run it backward.
On the Myth of Big Ideas: https://www.calnewport.com/blog/2021/07/16/on-the-myth-of-big-ideas
The timeline for the big bang scientific theory:
We understand, in principle, how matter can come from “nothing”. This is sometimes presented as the most mysterious part of the Big Bang, the idea that matter could spontaneously emerge from an “empty” universe. But to a physicist, this isn’t very mysterious. Matter isn’t actually conserved, mass is just energy you haven’t met yet. Deep down, the universe is just a bunch of rippling quantum fields, with different ones more or less active at different times. Space-time itself is just another field, the gravitational field. When people say that in the Big Bang matter emerged from nothing, all they mean is that energy moved from the gravitational field to fields like the electron and quark, giving rise to particles. As we wind the model back, we can pretty well understand how this could happen.
The Big Bang: What We Know and How We Know It: https://4gravitons.com/2021/07/09/the-big-bang-what-we-know-and-how-we-know-it/
We have a beautiful spaceship already:
I’m a fan of going to space but maybe more so of the belief that we already have the best spaceship we’ll get:
“Our spaceship is peopled with more than eight million different alien life forms for us to study, whose behaviours and languages and intelligences we’re only beginning to understand. These other-species friends provide us with air, food, medicines, water filtration – some even sing for us, perfume our air, and make our ship breathtakingly beautiful.”
If our descendants in the future were to agree, this is known as the “The Bullerby scenario”, named after the idyllic rural life of Sweden in children’s books by Astrid Lindgren. It imagines that humanity eventually decides to ignore space, and instead focus on Earth, building a steady-state society with green energy, sustainable agriculture and so on. If intelligent extra-terrestrial civilisations have made this choice too, this could explain why we haven’t seen any yet: perhaps they’re living the life of Bullerby instead.
Still, we need someone to push us into new areas.
“Becoming multi-planetary is a great vision and a good thing in the long run, but it might never really be a rational thing to do,” says Sandberg. “I think there might even be a weird kind of selection for the slightly exuberant and the irrational.” He cites the dictum that “all progress depends on the unreasonable man”. “It might be that it’s actually unreasonable what Bezos or Musk are doing, but it might still be a good thing.” (In the long-run, at least.)
The long-term quest to build a ‘galactic civilisation’: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210721-the-quest-for-a-galactic-civilisation-that-saves-humanity
Stuff I wrote and drew about this week:
Other things I was reminded of, or thankful for, last week:
- We’ve been having some late nights with the kids in the garden this week. One night I sat drawing while Vivi sat next to me and played with Rubee until it got a bit too dark and cool for all of us (which was after 10pm). It was a perfect way to savor the night.
- After thinking about it off and on for many yeas, we got a robot vacuum for the house (Roomba i3). This thing feels almost like a new member of the family and now that we own one robot we want more. (Writing that reminds me of a short scifi story I read about robot independence and robot rights, and I can imagine the Roomba objecting to us “owning it” right now). Anyways, this little vacuum is great! ♥️🤖 ❤️
- I received a surprise birthday gift in the mail this week in the form a full-size skateboard. After my fall and subsequent injury last month the site of the thing strikes fear into my heart. This is probably the point though. Here is what also accompanied it:
Well played Scott. 🛹 💥 🤕
Last but not least, check out what I’m up to now.