← Other newsletters issues

#20: Brain Power, CPR in Space, Life on Venus, Long COVID, Cars are Insanely Expensive, and more!

Hi everyone!

This month I'd like to talk about reading. While I'm not a fast reader, I try to read at least one book a month. I find it a great way to disconnect from the internet and train myself to spend more time in a focussed state.

I recently came across a summary of Tyler Cowen's interview on the Tim Ferris Show where he talked about reading. Here are some takeaways:

  • Be ruthless. Stop reading if a book isn't good. Throw it away. Don't give the book to someone else because that harms them.
  • Nobody reads fast. By reading more, you'll compound knowledge and that will improve your reading speed. You'll think: "I know that, I know that, ..."
  • Read multiple books on the same topic. Every author has a different point of view. There's not a "best book" on a given topic.
  • People don't read enough, and the reason for that is we feel obliged to finish books we start, which puts a burden on us. But that makes little sense. Imagine being obliged to go to the same restaurant for days or weeks. You would hate it!

I’m personally one of those people who doesn’t want to quit on a book. And while I love reading, I sometimes become frustrated and stop reading because of a terrible book.

What are your reading habits? I'm curious to know what your reading habits are. Reply to this email and let me know.

Take care,

🤓 Cool Stuff I Found on the Internet

Design the next iPhone

Tired of waiting for Apple to release a new iPhone? Design one yourself with this funny tool. You get a blank slate and you can add an old-school antenna, click wheel, handle, googly eyes, a steering wheel, and even helicopter blades.

Why thinking hard makes us feel tired

We all know that physical work makes us tired. But why do we get tired from working behind a desk all day? This isn’t fully understood, but one theory suggests it’s caused by a buildup of glutamate in our brains. Researchers now hope to understand how glutamate levels are restored (probably by sleeping) and how to apply that to high-stakes mental workers, where a brief loss of focus could cost lives.

Always rinse three times

Chemists always rinse their glassware three times to remove the residue of dangerous chemicals. Why? Each rinse removes 90% of the residue, so after 3 rinses, you’ve removed 99.9% of it. It’s a bit overkill for our daily lives as we don’t work with chemicals, except for when you’re dealing with beer! Dirty glass can interfere with the foam head, so better rinse three times before pouring yourself a beer.

👽 Space

Let's blow up a rocket to see what happens

In the early sixties, NASA was getting ready for spaceflight. But it had some questions about what would happen with the fuel of a rocket if it exploded in the upper atmosphere. Computing power was too limited to simulate this, so NASA decided to just test it. They loaded 87.000 liters of water onto a Saturn 1 rocket, and blow it up at an altitude of 105km. The water created a cloud with a diameter of 8 kilometers and it caused lightning-like radio disturbances.

How to perform CPR in zero gravity

In this video, astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti shows how to perform CPR in the ISS|International Space Station. This is tricky, because pushing down on someone's chest in zero gravity will send you flying away from them. The solution? Simply float upside down and put your feet against the roof for support.

Private mission wants to find life on Venus

Rocket Lab wants to send three missions to Venus, hoping to find extraterrestrial life there. The first mission is scheduled for 2023 (or 2025 if delayed), and will focus on analyzing droplets in the atmosphere. The second mission will be a balloon that’ll float in the clouds, and the third mission will collect a sample of the atmosphere and return it to Earth. But why Venus? Well, it once might have had oceans, who then evaporated because of the runaway greenhouse effect. The theory is that life could’ve started in these oceans and then migrated into the clouds, where conditions are fairly okay.

⚡️ Energy & Environment

Software could boost wind farm output

Wind turbines produce about 5% of world’s electricity. However, all turbines are “greedily” controlled with each unit trying to maximize its own power production. Now, MIT engineers found that when you optimize for the entire wind farm, you can boost the total output by 1 to 3%! Their algorithm might angle some turbines slightly away from the wind to boost power output in one or more downwind units.

A 1 to 3% improvement doesn't seem like much, but if deployed everywhere, it would be the equivalent of 3,600 new turbines and could power an additional 3 million homes!

The Insane Cost of Cars

This YouTuber did the math: owning a Volkswagen Golf in Germany costs you almost €8000 per year (includes deprecation, gas, taxes, and maintenance). Owning a car of this size for 60 years would cost you €1.5 million!! For that price, you could buy a brand new e-bike every year and get unlimited access to public transport in Berlin and the whole of Germany. Not everyone lives in a city or country with great public transport, but the takeaway is simple: we underestimate the cost of owning a car.

🦠 SARS-CoV-2

A universal coronavirus vaccine?

The family of coronaviruses causes 26% of all common colds in adults. Most of these viruses are pretty harmless, but like with people, you have the occasional asshole (looking at you SARS-CoV-1 and 2). Anyway, scientists now believe they have created a universal vaccine for the entire coronavirus family! However, it probably won't be available for quite a while.

What causes Long COVID?

Long COVID refers to mysterious symptoms that persist after having recovered from COVID-19. Mainly fatigue and brain fog. A new study followed 99 people with the condition and looked at their hormone levels and T-cells. Researchers found some people had low levels of cortisol and exhausted T-cells, a sign that their immune system was still in battle mode. Either fighting a reservoir of SARS-CoV-2 or other reactivated viruses that can sit dormant for extended periods of time. The researchers also noted that it was challenging to find people who fully recovered. Many said they were healthy, but admitted that certain workouts were too exhausting now.

Sent on

💌 Subscribe to my newsletter

Monthly newsletter with cool stuff I found on the internet
(related to science, technology, biology, and other nerdy things)!
Check out past editions.