Nerd Corner #43

podcasts, vitamin c, and more!

Hi All!

I hope you’re well and safe. Finally, it seems that lockdowns are being lifted in many countries but the way back to “normal” is still pretty long and slow. Stay sane :)


What I am listening 🎙

This week I decided to slow down on my reading and catch up with a few podcasts:

  •  Robert Greene on Farnam Street’s “The Knowledge Project”. Greene is one of my favorite authors! The interview dived deep into Robert’s research and writing process. He also shared his thoughts on “alive time vs. dead time” a principle that has helped me tremendously navigate difficult and boring periods of my life. Another interesting point surrounded books and why Robert thinks the quality of new books has degraded but the quality of biographies has increased. If you want to know more I recommend you give “48 Laws of Power” and “Mastery” a read. In my library the belong to my “life-changing” books!.

  • Stephen Wolfram is one of the most interesting people in the world. He’s not only one of the most accomplished physicists of our time but also a CEO, a prolific blogger, and an author. I was gladly surprised when I discovered he appeared on Guy Kawasaki’s “Remarkable People” podcast. I really enjoyed listening to this episode.

    If you’re interested in Wolfram’s writings I recommend his “Idea Makers” book. 


Nerd Corner 🤓 

For a change, let’s talk about vitamin and supplements, a topic I’ve been obsessed with recently.

On one hand, there’s plenty of evidence that suggests that most supplements we take don’t provide us any real benefit. But on the other, there’s also evidence suggesting that in certain dosages and combinations they can be beneficial and powerful for boosting your immune system and cognitive function.

(I’m not a doctor, so take everything I say on these topics with a grain of salt. I’m not giving any medical advice.)

One of these supplements is vitamin C. Ever since Nobel laureate Linus Pauling championed its use to prevent colds and even help with certain cancer issues, vitamin C has become the center of much controversy. This vitamin plays so many important and different roles in our bodies that assessing its benefits is very hard and takes time. 

So I was very pleased when last week Rhonda Patrick’s team published a ~20-page literature review article on this vitamin. Needless to say, I digested it all. Here’s what stood out to me:

  • "Vitamin C participates in immune function, wound healing, fatty acid metabolism, neurotransmitter production, and blood vessel formation, as well as other key processes and pathways”.

    Its immune function is clear by the large amounts of the vitamin that are found in our blood cells. Surprising to me though is that it is also found in large quantities in our brains. Both the hippocampus and the pre-frontal cortex make use of it, suggesting that it plays an important role in brain development.

  • Humans can’t synthesize vitamin C so we must obtain it through our diets. 

    Rhonda’s team surveyed data from the USDA and found that the guavas, kiwis, and bell peppers have the highest concentration of Vitamin C amongst fruits. Also surprising is that “cooking foods destroys approximately 25 percent (or more) of the vitamin C present in them.” My take on this is that if you’re getting your vitamin C through foods alone you should not process the fruit in any way (no juice, smoothie, etc.).

  • The review shows there’s ample evidence for the immune-boosting capabilities of the vitamin. So, given its low toxicity—your kidneys filter any excess vitamin C that might be wandering around— there’s really no risk in supplementing with it. At worst it will do nothing to improve your condition but everything suggests that you’ll have a stronger immune system. 

    Personally I’ve been supplementing with 2-3 grams per day and when I feel like I’m about to get a cold I increase my intake to 3 grams 3 times per day, just in case 💊.


Cool Finds 🤯

  • Toyota War is the name given to the last phases of the Chad vs Libya war in the late 1980s because the Chad forces used lots of Toyota Hilux and Land Cruisers to move fast and swiftly through the desert. If you’ve ever owned a Toyota you know how resilient, durable, and low-maintenance they are.

  • OpenAI recently released a report detailing how algorithmic improvements are impacting the speed at which we can train new neural networks. This means that today we can train a neural network 44 times faster than in 2012. This is huge news as we approach the limits of hardware improvements (Moore’s Law). Welcome to the era of software efficiency. 

  • Benedict Evans’ latest report makes for a great read if you’re interested in how markets get disrupted and collapse. He argues that we’re in a similar situation than in the 2008-2009 market crash, an external shock that accelerated the collapse of certain industries and markets.


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Until next week, 

Alberto