Nerd Corner #56

Vulcanoes, The Great Filter, and more!

Hi All!

I spent the weekend at Lassen Vulcanic National Park. I’m always impressed by the diversity of California’s nature and parks. This one became an instant favorite!

I haven’t found a decent writing cadence but last week I managed to publish a few things I hope you’ll enjoy:

What I am reading 📚

I’m now reading “Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk” by Peter Bernstein. I choose this book to learn about the history of modern investment theory and Bernstein—one of the biggest popularizers of the efficient-market hypothesis—seemed a good option.

The book traces the history of probability theory and risk management since the ancient Greeks and describes investment and management practices along the way. So far, nothing that I’ve read is novel or surprising but it has been enjoyable to read.

As I read though I’ll be jumping online to verify anecdotal information. The book seems a bit outdated. Nassim Taleb says that the book is “not even wrong about the notion of probability”.

If you’re looking for a great summary of the book check Ribbonfarm’s summary and commentary on it. It doesn’t give me too much hope that they flag the book as “age-of-innocence” quality 😅.

Nerd Corner 🤓

Being surrounded by Nature by day and awesome skies by night set the perfect environment to wonder with my friend about space, aliens, and the origins of life. 

While there is something deeply humbling when you ponder over the vastness of the Universe, I was reminded of “The Great Filter” (the concept that there exists a probability threshold past which intelligent life—such as humans—can be sustained indefinitely) and how it relates to the current space race.

On one side there’s Elon Musk, the theorist and romantic, who believes we haven’t passed The Filter yet and is working hard with SpaceX to colonize Mars and guarantee the future of humanity in the process.

On the other, there’s Jeff Bezos, the pragmatist, and his Blue Origin company working hard to colonize other planets because as he argues, there’s no plan B for Earth, and the only way to avoid humanity's stasis is to find new planets to colonize. 

I’m not keen to move to Mars any time soon but I’m humbled by how big a vision these two characters have and I hope I’ll be alive for when space travel becomes as common as air travel is today! 🚀


To dig deeper, the Wait But Why piece on the Fermi Paradox is a must-read.


Cool Finds 🤯

  • This great piece from Ars Technica gets deep into Apple’s AI strategy and tries to debunk the myth that Apple is not an AI-focused company.

  • Let your mind explode with this “stabilized” sky time-lapse. Remember, it’s the Earth that rotates, not the sky!

  • I’ve been slowly making my way through this great list of speeches compiled by James Clear. The most surprising ones so far have been “Seeking New Laws” by Richard Feynman and “Creative Thinking” by Claude Shannon.

I have questions for you! 😎

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Have an awesome week,