Vol. 2.43 | 11.15.19

Read time: 4 minutes
How the Ancient Greeks Calculated the Earth’s Circumference

2:14 of explanatory gold from the late Carl Sagan. Not only is it an elegant example of how geometry at planetary scale could be derived accurately long before even rudimentary telescopes — let alone satellite imagery and computing; it’s also a fabulous example of how communicating expertise in ways that make it accessible to the non-expert is never about “dumbing it down.” Rather, it as about clarity and translation, and requires as much (if not more) intelligence as the original expertise.

From the NBA to Opiod Addict to Memelord

The story of Rex Chapman is an all-too-common tragic tale: athletic talent good enough to take him to the pinnacle of his sport and earn him millions en route … only to be lost to a post-career addiction. We tend to think of stories like his as more tragic than that of the unknown addict bouncing off rock bottom because of how much gets lost in the process. But the worst part of the story is how horribly common his story of opiod addiction and near ruin as a result it. That said, the best part of his story is how he’s rebounded: not to the sports world as a basketball analyst, but as a presence on Twitter that is gaining a cult-like following. Why? Because somehow Chapman has become The Man on Twitter for obscure but hilarious (sometimes painful or precious) videos that he shares. His mission in sobriety: spread some laughs on a platform fast becoming known for the opposite. Just google “block or charge?” or “dogs, bruh.” 

SoftBank and the Peril of Too Much VC Cash

Honest to goodness, I’m not setting out to put the world’s largest VC fund in the cross-hairs on a weekly basis, but the continuingly unfolding story of Softbank and its Vision Fund ($100B) is impossible to ignore. As necessary as oxygen is to life, too much of it can kill you no less than too much food or too much water. That same principle applies to VC funding, which Softbank has been flooding startups with in an effort to create exponential growth through sheer brute force of cash. The damage this gluttonous approach to finance is causing all around the world is telling. Softbank isn’t worried, though. Despite losing nearly $10B just last quarter from former unicon darlings Uber and WeWork, here’s a few of the slides from the Vision Fund’s most recent quarterly earnings presentation to its investors:

(No, I’m not kidding. I wish I were.)

Using Bacteria to Build a NextGen IoT

Last week, it was a story about using the qubits of quantum computing to unlock computing capability that can only be talked about imaginatively. Two researchers over in the UK have a different idea: using E. coli bacteria (yes, THAT E. coli…) to store and process information the same way silicon chip-based Internet of Things (IoT) devices do currently.

A Decade for the Physics History Books

Here’s a short run-down of the game changing discoveries that have been made in the world of physics in the decade of the 2010’s:

  • finding the Higgs-Boson
  • detecting Einstein’s predicted gravitational waves
  • imaging a black hole for the first time
  • unlocking the capability of quantum computing