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#9: CO2 sensor, Beethoven's new single, Facebook down, Microplastics, and more

Hi everyone!

It's been a tumultuous week. Facebook went down, leaving many people disconnected from the world and their steady source of (mis)information. I'm not a huge social media person myself, so I barely noticed it. How about you?

Why are we curious? Why I write this newsletter.

Back to the newsletter. When I started this newsletter, I had two goals: share my latest work and tickle the curiosity of others. This made me think about why we're curious in the first place.

As soon as we're born, we're curious about the world. Children want to explore and understand how things work, which is vital for their development.

But curiosity also has downsides. Babies who learn how to walk fall 17 times per hour. Why do they continue to torture themselves? Because the benefits outweigh the risks. Walking is faster than crawling, so they get back up and try again until they succeed.

The point I'm trying to make is that being curious is important, not only for children. Studies found that curiosity makes us happier, boosts our performance at work/school, makes us better human beings, and boosts our creativity.

So that brings me back to the goal for this newsletter: I hope it can tickle your curiosity and (by extension) have a positive impact on your life.

Take care and enjoy your weekend!
Xavier

👨‍🏫 Simply Explained

I Built a CO2 Sensor and It Terrifies Me

Many governments are pushing CO2 sensors as a way to fight the pandemic. This made me interested in measuring CO2 in my house. So I bought a cheap sensor kit, and... It terrified me!

🤓 Cool Stuff I Found on the Internet

When Facebook went down, traffic to news sites went up

The biggest bit of news was Facebook going down for 5 hours last week. This left many people uncomfortable with themselves and looking for alternatives, such as... Regular news websites! They saw visitor counts increase as people re-discovered that newspapers exist.

Cloudflare also posted some insights into what people did while the social network was down. The downtime was caused by an error in BGP configuration and DNS problems. Watch the Simply Explained episode about DNS here.

Babies are full of microplastics, new research shows

As mentioned in the last issue: I'm a father now and super interested in how babies "work" (in a nutshell: 🍽, 😴,💩, 🔁) This was a bit more worrying: babies have 10-15 times more microplastics in their bodies compared to adults. This is mostly caused by synthetic clothes, chewing toys, carpets, ...

Intermittent Fasting in mice demonstrably more effective at promoting long term memory retention

I started intermittent fasting when someone explained to me it's a natural thing to do. Cavemen couldn't have breakfast. They needed to hunt first. So I started living like a caveman and skip breakfast, effectively following a 16/8 fasting routine.

Turns out that it could also boost long-term memory. At least in mice...

Scientists May Have Uncovered 'Life's Missing Link' in a New Experiment

We don't know how life was "born" out of non-living matter. Scientists from the University of Hiroshima have now created macromolecules that can grow and replicate, and they believe that this is how life started on Earth. But this is just one theory. Others believe that life started as replicating RNA molecules or that asteroids brought life here.

Artificial Intelligence finishes Beethoven's 10th Symphony

Ludwig van Beethoven has just released a new single! During his lifetime, he wrote 9 symphonies and had some musical notes and ideas for a tenth. Over the years, many have attempted to use his scribbles to complete his last piece and now a computer had a shot at it! An AI was trained on Beethoven's complete work and then given the unfinished symphony for completion. You can listen to the AI's take on it here.

📹 Cool videos

VFX Artist Reveals how Much Solar is Needed to Power the ENTIRE World

How much solar panels are needed to power the entire world? It's a simple question, but incredible complicated to answer. This video explains the challenges that renewable energy brings. The video was made by a VFX artists and is full of stunning visuals that help you get grasp.

Witness the majesty of moths taking flight at 6,000 frames per second

I honestly don't remember how I stumbled across this one... But here's a video of moths taking flight in slow motion. They're clumsy, very fluffy, and almost cute!

Ocean drone captures video from inside a hurricane

What's it like to be inside a hurricane? To find out, Saildrone and the NOAA built an "uncrewed surface vehicle" and let it capture video from within hurricane Sam.

🦠 SARS-CoV-2

Intravenous injection of COVID-19 mRNA vaccine can induce acute myopericarditis in mouse model

Most vaccines have to be delivered "intramuscular", which is a fancy term for "straight in the muscle". A health worker has to put the needle in your arm, withdraw the plunger slightly, and make sure that no blood enters the syringe. If there's blood, the needle is in a vein (intravenous), and the vaccine must not be administered. Injecting the mRNA vaccine into the bloodstream is now being associated with inflammation of the heart. I'm wondering if people who experienced side effects from the vaccines had theirs administrated in the wrong way.

Southwest is latest airline to mandate vaccines for workers

Quite a few companies and organizations are mandating their staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19. I got vaccinated myself, and I'm a proponent of vaccination. But this raises some concerns. Should we force people to get vaccinated even if it's against their will?

A year later, 45% of COVID patients in Wuhan still have symptoms

Many patients that have recovered from COVID-19 experience long-term side effects such as loss of taste or smell, tiredness, shortness of breath, and brain fog. We refer to this as "long Covid" and it's more common than first thought. In Wuhan, almost half of all recovered patients still have symptoms!

Influenza lineage extinction during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Thanks to COVID-19 (and social distancing), we might have eradicated a strain of the Influenza virus B/Yamagata. It hasn't been isolated/seen from April 2020 to August 2021, indicating that it might have gone extinct.

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