Nerd Corner #68

Point Reyes, Biographies, power naps, Bitcoin...

Hello from San Francisco where it suddenly feels like winter 🥶.

After weeks without leaving the city, we managed to get away even if for just a single day and explore Abbot's Lagoon in the Point Reyes peninsula. The area is interesting from a geological point of view because it sits on the Pacific tectonic plate just west of the San Andrea's fault which separates it from the continent. Abbott's Lagoon in turn is known by ornithologists and birds aficionados because it is home to more than 34 bird species! I have to confess that I didn't know much about it when we went there but I really enjoyed the sand dunes and the lagoon just next to the ocean:


What I am Reading 📚

I've been slowly reading and enjoying Edison, Edmund Morris' biography of Thomas Alva Edison. Rather than being a chronological, top-down, account of Edison's life, Morris does a great job in dividing the story based on Edison's interests over the course of his life.

In total there are eight themes—Botany, Defense, Chemistry, Magnetism, Light, Sound, Telegraphy, and Natural Philosophy—that shaped Edison's life and research interests at different points of his life. From these, one thing is clear Edison was a polymath and had what David Epstein calls Range: enough experience in different areas so as to be able to connect the dots and draw from one science into another. Certainly, these interests and range helped him file more than a thousand patents throughout his life!


Nerd Corner 🤓

Speaking of biographies, a friend of mine recently wrote to asking for biographies' recommendations and it was while replying to her that I realized they're one of my favorite genres to read.

Reading a biography is to read History from the perspective of a character that in one way or another shaped its course. Take for example Leonardo Da Vinci, to read his story (as told by Walter Isaacson for example) is to trace the story of the city-states of the Italian peninsula while he was busy studying (amongst others) anatomy, art, engineering, ballistics, and painting masterpieces such as the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper.

But, biographies are not easy to write. Sometimes they can feel like long lists of facts and anecdotes (like Ron Chernow's story of John Rockefeller). But if carefully executed they can be as entertaining as the best novels and great teachers since we can learn by the examples (good or bad) these people set through their lives.

What do you think? Do you have any favorite biographers?
Let me know, just hit reply!


Cool Finds 🤯

  • If you want to dive deeper into last week's sleep hacks this sleeping encyclopedia will keep you busy for a long while. I've been reading it surgically and have learned some surprising things: it's best to take a single nap around your circadian midday rather than having smaller power naps throughout the day (unless you're in a polyphasic sleep regime).

  • As the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan rages on I found this BBC article a good introduction to the issue between these two countries. But I have to say, I remain ignorant about the issue and I'm trying to read more and understand it.

  • Now that Bitcoin is flying high again and with many proponents claiming this time is different and that a crash like the one from a few years ago is less probable, I started reading more about the subject and found this 2017 article a compelling case for it. This said, I'm still very skeptical about BTC as a sound investing asset but understand its potentials as a decentralizing technology. Blockchain will become a core technology for most of us sooner than we realize it.


Before you go 😎

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Have an awesome week!

Alberto