33 Things, How to Break a Theory, Mosquito Factory and Segmented Displays
#38 of 10+1 Things| 📍Kerala |⛅️26° C
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Here are 10+1 Things that I thought were worth sharing this week:
📱 Single Purpose Device
When Steve Jobs announced the first iPhone in 2005, he called it as a phone, an iPod and an internet communicator. Over the years, the smartphone has evolved to become a multipurpose device having an influence on every aspect of our lives. But did this come at a cost and are these multipurpose devices distracting us? In this article, I look at the importance of single-purpose devices in a connected distracted world and how we can utilize them to stay focused.
💸 Prison Earnings
Have you ever wondered why prisoners need money when they are provided food and a bed to sleep in? The Marshall Project is an interesting investigation that has provided some interesting insights into the lives of prisoners and their finances. To start with, prisons provide only the bare minimum and other necessities like shampoo, extra shoes, thermal clothes, etc are only available to those who can pay. On an average prison, the wage stands around 52 cents an hour and it takes weeks of grinding to even purchase s toothpaste. Also in six states in the US, prisoners are not paid, thus forcing them to do side hustles in the underground economy. Some work as sports bookies, soap makers, washermen, hair stylists and more.
🦟️ Mosquito Factory
In a two-story factory in Medellin, Colombia, scientists work around the clock for breeding millions and millions of mosquitoes. These breeding grounds maintain an ideal environment for mosquitoes to breed by keeping the right temperature and feeding mosquitoes with sugar water, blood and fishmeal. These mosquitoes are later released outdoors to breed with the wild ones that carry dengue and other viruses threatening the lives of people in Colombia. These mosquitoes bred in these factories contain a bacteria called Wolbachia, that prevents them from transmitting dengue and other viruses. When released into the wild, these mosquitoes mate with the wild mosquitoes that are harmful and spread the bacteria thereby reducing virus transmission. Ever since the start of the program in 2015, the dengue rates in Medellin have declined by 89%, proving the method to be effective.
🧵 33 Things
I came across yet another interesting thread by Cultural Tutor exploring 33 things that you might not know, but are interesting. The major theme in the thread is history but covers a range of topics like Ancient Greece, Shakespeare, classical music and more. I didn't know that Pakistan was an acronym for Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir, Sindh, and Baluchistan!
Nothing groundbreaking, yet an interesting thread to read and bookmark!
🔓 Unpickable Lock
I'm no expert with locks but was fascinated by this 'Unpickable Lock' by Andrew Magill. Every lock in the world accepts input from the outside world(key or a pick) and tests whether it is correct at the same time. This flaw makes all locks vulnerable and leaks information to a skilled attacker about its key. Andrew's solution to this fundamental flaw was to isolate the input and testing phases in the lock. In his lock, any key right or wrong passes through the hole and can be turned. In this isolated state, as the key turns, a top bar mechanism verifies for the correct key. It's very hard to explain the concept in a few words, but is an interesting read if you care about locks and lock picking!
🐂 When Solar meets Agriculture
As more and more solar projects are installed in rural areas, it is important to use the rural land wisely for solar development. Agrivoltaics is an interesting concept where solar panels are used to produce food and electricity. The concept is simple, yet effective. In Agrivoltaics, solar panels are mounted at a greater height than the usual installations, leaving the soil underneath for agricultural purposes. The panels provide electricity to the farm and the shade formed under the structure can be used for growing crops or raising farm animals. This is quite effective as agriculture is happening on the land that otherwise would have gone waste due to solar installations. This also ensures that more and more people feel incentivized to install solar panels in their rural lands.
⚛️ How to Break a Theory
In 1859, a French astronomer noticed a shift in the orbit of Mercury that couldn't be explained by Newtonian physics. Till that observation, Newton's law had worked perfectly in the entirety of the solar system except for this discrepancy. Fast forward a few decades, scientists found an answer to this anomaly and it was caused by Sun's gravity, which stretched space-time. This revelation pushed Newton's laws to their limits and paved the way for Einstein's theory of relativity. In this interesting article, Symmetry magazine has explained how to break a theory and why it is important. In a nutshell, to break a theory ask weird questions, check the math behind the theory and push it to extremes.
“When a theory breaks, you learn how to build it better.”
📚 The Elephant in the Brain
I'm currently reading the book titled 'Elephant in the Brain' by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson. The book revolves around the thesis that we are not really aware of the reasons behind most of our behaviours. As humans are social primate animals, our brains are designed to not only hunt but also to get us ahead socially through deception that we are not even aware of. In the first part, the authors discuss the hidden motives behind our actions and in the second part they further illustrate hidden motives in everyday lives through concrete examples. This book was really an eye opener for me and would definitely recommend it to anyone who is curious about questions like 'Why do we brag about travel?' or 'Why do people buy luxury goods?'.
An interesting highlight from the book:
"When consumers are asked why they bought an expensive watch or high-end handbag, they often cite material factors like comfort, aesthetics, and functionality. But Veblen argued that, in fact, the demand for luxury goods is driven largely by a social motive: flaunting one’s wealth."
~ Resurfaced using ReadWise(FREE!)
Last week's read: Personal MBA
📷 Art of Disassembly
This week I've enjoyed exploring an art project titled 'Things come Apart' by Todd McLellan. The project features the teardown of everyday objects and features the art of meticulous disassembly. He takes apart stuff, carefully breaking down the parts and grouping them together. All the pieces that form an object are carefully arranged on a white background in an aesthetic manner. A photograph of this arrangement is taken to show the viewers the inner mechanisms and working of these objects. This art project is a great example of artistic vision and how artists can convert an ordinary object into works of art.
🎬 Segmented Displays
This week, I've enjoyed watching this video on Segmented Displays by Posy. Segmented displays started to appear in our world in the 70s and even today we can see them in applications like watches, display boards, machine interfaces, etc. The 7 segment display that is most common has been reinvented and redesigned by many over the years, but the first patent on segmented display was filed in 1903! The video explores the history and the iterations of these displays over the years along with some innovative designs by the video creator himself. This is an excellent video to watch and the great thing is that no stock footage was used for filming this video!
❓ Economies of Scale
This last section of the newsletter explores a thought I had, an idea I'm exploring, a dream I experienced or something interesting that I observed:
I picked up endurance cycling as a serious hobby this year but was astonished by the prices of everything surrounding that hobby. I knew cycling was an expensive hobby, but some of the prices of the accessories or apparel are ridiculously expensive atleast in the Indian context. To give you a perspective my cycling shorts cost me ₹4800(~$60) and a specialized bar tape for road bike handle costs around ₹3295(~$40). These might not sound a lot in the American context, but for India, these are super expensive. The answer to this is economies of scale. Since the target market is very small, the end user ends up paying more as manufacturers are not able to spend their expenses on a large number of customers. Also since cycling is a specialized market, the market is small, yet the desirability is high. Customers tend to spend more owing to their interest in sport, driving the prices further. Thus when 100 million people start around the globe start to buy say bar tape, the prices will go down!
If you're into cycling, what do you think of the cost of cycling accessories in your country?
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“It’s ok if you fall and lose your spark. Just make sure that when you get back up, you rise as the whole damn fire.”
That segmented display video is so cool. Thanks for sharing!
That segmented display video is so cool. Thanks for sharing!