Alberto's weekly email: Wolfram, book summaries and more! 🚀

Hi All,

What I am reading 📚

I just finished reading Stephen Wolfram’s “Idea Makers”. By far the best book I’ve read this year.

Wolfram is one of the most influential scientists of our era and the book is a collection of essays of figures that had, in one way or another, an influence over him. The list of characters is impressive and wide-ranging. He recounts his interactions with Richard Feynman and Steve Jobs. He dives deep into the life of Ada Lovelace—arguably the world’s first programmer. He also devotes an entire essay to less well-known characters that marked his life. One such example is Russell Towle.

I always feel that one can appreciate people’s work better if one understands the people themselves better.

Most of all, what I really enjoyed was Wolfram’s exposition. He does a great job to tell his side of the story and relates the works of these famous people to his own research. I had a lot of fun reading it, I can’t recommend it enough.

More Books!

I just published my notes on two recent reads:

  • Stillness Is The Key. I talked about this one and about Ryan Holiday in the past. I enjoy everything he writes. This book is very practical.

  • Extreme Ownership. Jocko is one of my recent favorite characters. He’s all about discipline and results. Although I’m not in a leadership position I found a lot of useful insights in the book and it also served as a sneak peek into the lives of SEALs in combat. If you want to laugh for a bit and get inspired, watch this short video.

Nerd Corner 🤓

The end of the year is fast approaching. I always like to take the time to review what I managed to do in the last 12 months. I really like doing these reviews because it helps me put things in perspective and be grateful for all the experiences and opportunities that I’ve had.

While a lot of this review is deeply personal and wouldn’t make for a nice story, there are a few statistics that I keep track of and that I’m always surprised by. Here are some of them:

  • I’ve written roughly 13,000 words on these weekly emails. That’s almost half a book!

  • Combining the books I’ve read this year (25 so far) that amounts to around 750,000 words (this assumes an average length of 30,000 words per book). I’ll try to get a more accurate number, or maybe I’ll try to read more on my Kindle next year and let a computer count for me 😉.

  • I’ve typed 4,735,072 keys on my keyboard this past year. Assuming an average length of 5 characters per word that’s almost 1 million words 🤪.

Finally, since I already talked about Stephen Wolfram, he has a super cool (and nerdy) essay on personal analytics, you might enjoy it. I certainly did and even ended up taking some tips from him to enhance my personal filesystem.

Also interesting 🤯

  • An article on Wired explains why planting a trillion trees might not be enough to combat climate change. The takeaway is that we not only need better ways to capture carbon but we also need to reduce our emissions. Full stop.

  • Related to the above article, I found these notes from Michael Nielsen about “direct air carbon capture” very compelling. Climate change is a complex challenge and the best solutions might also be complex.

  • “The banana as we know it may also be on the verge of extinction”. This article. Almost all the bananas that we eat are of the same crop. This makes the banana economy very fragile since a single disease can wipe out the entire population of banana trees. This is exactly what is happening.

Before you go 🦃🍗

This will be my third Thanksgiving. It is fast becoming one of my favorite parts of the year. Take the time to be grateful, reflect on your year and get pumped for what's next!

I hope you all get plenty of food and family time. For my part, I won't hold back, I'm already drooling at the thought of the food 🤤.

Until next week!

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