I aspire to be a lifelong learner. I do read a lot — books and online — and I find increasingly that if I don’t take a few moments to write down and reflect on what I learned, then I don’t really learn it. So am starting a new attempt to document interesting things I learned each week. Inspired in part by Tom Whitwell, referred to by Mark Frauenfelder.
- Warsaw uses clams to monitor its water supply. We would need a vast array of sensors and AI machinery to do the same with computers, and we probably don’t know what all things to sense or what models to build. Instead, we just rely on some clams to be clams. Fascinating collaboration with nature and thought-provoking, can we collaborate similarly in other areas?
- There are cultures that do not discriminate between the colors blue and green, including Japan historically. I’ve read other pieces on the history of color perception, very interesting that this is somewhat variable across human cultures, it seems so foundational. What else is not as foundational as we think?
- There is a large tuned mass damper inside the Taipei 101 building and other large skyscrapers. Which makes sense and at some level I probably knew this, but interesting to see in action.
- Sea urchins have 5-fold symmetry. I am still trying to parse the explanation for why this evolved, it doesn’t seem obvious.
- Lizards have 2 penises. I guess this is no more unnatural than having two arms, legs, eyes, ears, kidneys, etc. Bilateral symmetry is easier to understand in animals than 5-fold symmetry.
Oh, and how fragile our democracy is, and how inspiring it is to see a large cross section of our society rise and start to defend it.