A Short History of the US Economy 1945-2019
Matthew Stewart’s article in The Atlantic, “The 9.9 Percent is the New American Aristocracy“, has to be one of the most engrossing articles I have read recently. Anyone who has been seduced by the notion of American meritocracy, will, if they have open mind, see this for the collective delusion that it is, after reading it. The following 3-minute video is a nice visual summation, but really just go read the article.
Tip: Start Collecting Gift Ideas for the Holidays Now
You can save yourself a lot of grief searching for the perfect gift next December by starting a list now. Make a Google doc, Amazon shopping list, iOS Reminders list, or whatever and start jotting down ideas as you see them. You’ll gift more thoughtfully and be way less stressed out when the time comes to start shopping.
Fusion Power Technology is Coming
The non-reproducible results of the Fleischmann–Pons experiment in the 1980s soured the world on cold fusion for decades and the joke ever since has been that fusion will always be 50 years away. But recent breakthroughs seem to indicate that the insurmountable problems with the technology keeping us from an abundant supply of cheap, clean energy may be surmountable after all.
From Brian Bergstein’s article on Medium Science:
An Italian oil company and private investors — including a firm funded by Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos — put at least $75 million into the company, known as Commonwealth Fusion Systems [CFS]. The startup intends to demonstrate the workings of fusion power by 2025.
Real, live, economically viable power plants could then follow in the 2030s. No joke. When I ask Whyte, who is 54, to compare his level of optimism now to any other point in his career, he says, simply: “It is at the maximum.”
But it’s not just MIT. At least 10 other startups also are trying new approaches to fusion power. All of them contend that it’s no longer a tantalizingly tricky science experiment, and is becoming a matter of engineering. If even just one of these ventures can pull it off, the energy source of the future is closer than it seems.
“It’s remarkable,” says David Kingham, executive vice chairman of Tokamak Energy, a British company whose goal is to put fusion power on the grid by 2030. “The world has been waiting for fusion for a long time.”
The Remarkable Amount of Weight Christian Bale Has Lost and Gained For Film Roles
Vulture put together a fascinating montage that shows the remarkable amount of weight Christian Bale has lost and gained over the years for 12 specific roles. The most extreme weight loss was for the 2004 film The Machinist for which Bale lost 62 pounds. His bounce from that role to Batman has always been incredible to me. Even with a Hollywood trainer, diet, injectibles that’s quite the turnaround.
New Horizons Glimpses the Surface of Ultima Thule
Remember the Pluto flyby and resulting photos from the summer of 2015?
New Horizons, the spacecraft that took those photos, kept on flying and now it’s sending back images of another very distant object. Ultima Thule is an object in the Kuiper Belt which is 4 billion miles from the sun, pretty much inconceivably distant, though on the universal scale essentially in our backyard. It’s an object in the Kuiper Belt:
Kenneth Chang of The New York Times:
The lack of sharp corners and apparently smooth surface of Ultima Thule suggests that it has not changed much in the last 4.5 billion years. What the scientists find there could tell them a lot about how the sun and planets formed.
Coffer — A Puzzle Box Made from Scratch
This project blows my mind. It’s absolutely incredible craftsmanship. For a full two years, from 2016 to 2018, metalsmith Seth Gould machined Coffer, a puzzle box that is not immaculately crafted. Every piece of the box, keys and locking mechanisms were created by himself by hand from recycled wrought iron. To see such precision work from forged and file finished iron is truly something to behold.
The Coffer was made primarily through handwork at the forge and at the bench. The majority of pieces, including the bolts, levers, and staples, are made from wrought iron, a material I use primarily for its working properties (enjoyable to forge and file). Wrought iron is no longer manufactured, so each piece needed to be forged from salvaged material. The forging is done using a coal forge, hammer, anvil, and power hammer. Once the pieces are forged as close to their finished shape as possible, I move to the bench to refine the surface and shape with a file. The final touch is a bit of file embellishment.