This is an excerpt from WaitButWhy, a super interesting and mind-boggling well-done blog about things that matter and others that are just plain… interesting. Please check out the site and particularly, this series about Elon Musk, Tesla, and Space Exploration!
Anyway, it may sound silly but I have always wondered: what is fire really? I know it’s just super-heated gas, but this is the best description I’ve ever heard. It also serves the double purpose of explaining carbon emissions in dead simple terms:
“When a plant grows, it makes its own food through photosynthesis. At its most oversimplified, during photosynthesis, the plant takes CO2 from the air [Interesting that we all think plants grow up from the ground, when in fact the stuff of the plant—carbon—actually comes from the air] and absorbs light energy from the sun to split the CO2 into carbon (C) and oxygen (O2). The plant keeps the carbon and emits the oxygen as a waste product. The sun’s light energy stays in the plant as chemical energy the plant can use.
“So wood is essentially a block of carbon and stored chemical energy.
“When you burn a log, all you’re doing is reversing the photosynthesis. Normally, oxygen in the air just bounces off carbon molecules in wood—that’s why trees aren’t constantly on fire. But when an oxygen molecule gets moving fast enough and smashes into a log’s carbon molecule, they snap together and the oxygen and carbon are reunited again as CO2. This snapping releases chemical energy, which knocks into other nearby oxygen molecules, causing them to get going fast—and if they get going fast enough, they’ll snap together with another of the log’s carbon molecules, which releases more chemical energy. This causes a chain reaction, and the log is now on fire. So a log burning is the process of the carbon in the log combining with oxygen in the air and floating off as CO2.”
Some highlights include:
Chinese culture doesn’t make a big deal of meeting strangers nearby through social apps.
CAPTCHA utilized on login screens (not just signup flows).
People really do use QR codes!
Moments – Just scroll to this part. I really dig the philosophy.
This might be something unique to see (out of endless uniqueness) in Japan. Pulled from an article, but follow the link at the end if you want to see all the pictures.
“The Maneki Neko, or “Beckoning Cat”, is one of Japan’s most iconic images. Thought to bring luck and prosperity to its owner, these cats are frequently found outside businesses and within homes. And in the neighborhood of Setagaya, we found the Gotoku-ji temple, where the Maneki Neko plays a starring role.”
I don’t necessarily agree with everything said in the following, but I stumbled upon this question in Quora, which was by pure chance that I didn’t instantly delete the newsletter from my email, and found it refreshingly plain, yet (mostly) accurate. My reservations are on the part of social performance and skills of entertaining – i.e. playing the guitar – but I get the main idea. I suppose some of these aren’t interesting to me, but they would apply to someone far more successful than I. Either way… just sharing:
Q: What can I start doing now that will help me a lot in about five years?
I will appreciate any suggestion. You might want to know that I’m 23 years old and currently a physics student with large desire for progress, not only in my profession but also in all aspects of life.
A: Want to see your personal stock double or more in five years? Here’s the prescription.
We are all evaluated and judged in social and work settings all the time and usually in a brief instant. We are not judged on education. We are not judged on grades. We are not judged on IQ.
We are judged on skills, pretty much solely. People prefer the company of those who are physically handy and socially adept. Competence counts. In fact, people with high IQ or lots of schooling but low skill levels can be judged quite negatively.
Can you change a flat tire or swap out a dead car battery?
Can you pick up a guitar and entertain a room?
Are you handy at crafts?
Even more important are the social skills, particularly…
Are you an excellent listener?
Can you instantly make people at ease in your presence?
Can you control the atmosphere in a room, making it light or serious as appropriate?
Do you have moral courage? Are you willing to say and do the necessary in any circumstance rather than shrink back?
Other social skills are important…
Can you speak from the heart?
Are you free from glib, gratuitous, offensive and non-productive remarks?
Can you compete when necessary, collaborate when necessary?
The social graces are also important…
Can you dance? play the piano? sing? tell rousing stories? etc.
There are bonus points for gender cross-over skills. When a woman can…
Use common tools competently.
Not shrink in the company of males.
Roll up her sleeves and do hard physical work when necessary.
Or a man can…
Comfort an upset child.
Cook, sew, do laundry.
Feel at home in the company of women.
Such cross-over skills indicate androgyny, or high skills across the masculine and feminine range. The highest slots in society are usually home to the androgynous.
Figure out the skills you’d like to possess. Take classes. Read books. Practice every day. Push yourself. Build on your strengths and eliminate your weaknesses. It’s fun, a great way to make friends, and your stock will rise quickly.