Thursday 3 November, 2022

Lou Gourmandises

A nice reminder of a hot Summer.

Quote of the Day

”It’s a little ironic that there is a certain kind of tech founder/investor/exec who happily talks about San Francisco as a dysfunctional mess because it lacks assertive and rigorous governance, but also claims Twitter would work better without any rules.”

  • Benedict Evans

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Chopin | Waltz in C Sharp Minor (Op. 64 No. 2)


Long Read of the Day

Legacy Cities

Great essay by Ethan Zuckerman, one of the most thoughtful scholars of the networked world. Other people (like this blogger) go on holidays and come back with photographs. Ethan comes back with photographs too, but also with an insightful meditation on what he’s found.

An unmissable Long Read, IMHO.

More on pillars of creation

The Universe is a start-up

Doc Searls (Whom God Preserve) saw the post yesterday about the James Webb telescope photograph and pointed me to a blog post of his from 2020 about the pillars as seen by the Hubble telescope. In typical Doc style, he tells the wider story. For example:

Life appeared on earth at least 4.1 billion years ago. Oxygenation sufficient to support life as we know it happened at the start of proterozoic era, about 2.5 billion years ago. The phanerozoic eon, characterized by an abundance of plants and animals, began 0.541 billion years ago and will continue until the Sun gets so large and hot that photosynthesis as we know it becomes impossible. A rough consensus within science is that this will likely happen in just 600 million years, meaning we’re about 80% of our way through the time window for life on Earth.


In another 4.5 billion years, our galaxy, the Milky Way, will become one with Andromeda, which is currently 2.5 million light-years distant but headed our way on a collision course, looking for now like a thrown frisbee, four moons wide. (It’s actually much larger.) The two will begin merging (not colliding, because nearly all stars are too far apart for that) around 4 billion years from now, and in about 7 billion years will complete a new galaxy resembling an elliptical haze. Here is a video simulation of that future. And here are still panels for the same:

Our Sun will likely be around for all of that future, though by the end it will have become a red giant with a diameter wider than Earth’s orbit, or perhaps will have gone nova, surviving as a white dwarf. (Also—I’m adding this later—Andromeda is weird and scary.)

He goes on to reprise Freeman Dyson’s estimates of the possible age of the universe, and concludes that:

The best guess here is that Universe is about 1% into its lifespan, which has a great many zeros in its number of birthdays. In biological terms, that means it’s not even a baby, or a fetus. It’s more like a zygote, or a blastula.

In other words… it’s a start-up.

Some start-up.

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