Underlinings (#63)

Bezos and his enemies:

“Competition is super healthy … Great industries are never made by single companies. And space is really big. There is room for a lot of winners … At Blue Origin, our biggest opponent is gravity. The physics of this problem are challenging enough … Gravity is not watching us and saying, ‘Uh-oh those Blue Origin guys are getting really good, I’m going to have increase my gravitational constant.’ Gravity doesn’t care about us at all.”


Ring Tones

Bartholomäus Traubeck created equipment that would translate tree rings into music by playing them on a turntable. Rather than use a needle like a record, sensors gather information about the wood’s color and texture and use an algorithm that translates variations into piano notes. The breadth of variation between individual trees results in a individualized tune. The album, appropriately titled “Years,” features spruce, ash, oak, maple, alder, walnut, and beech trees.

Source, with audio, here.

Superconductor Sonics

A new experimental sound-source:

… in 1987, a totally unexpected revolution took place: a new family of superconductors based on copper and oxygen smashed all records, taking the highest known superconducting temperatures up to a balmy −150C. BCS theory, which worked so well for simple, elemental superconductors, couldn’t explain the behaviour of these new materials. […] A paper published last week brings us a step closer to understanding how these new superconductors work. Physicists, including my old officemate Paul, used some of the biggest magnetic fields on Earth to try to work out what’s happening inside these materials. In fact, the pulsed magnets used burn through enough energy to melt a tonne of steel every second. […] … the mechanism that underlies this advanced physics apparatus for measuring materials in massive magnets is almost identical to a theremin. …

Audio at the main link.


Underlinings (#51)

The master’s eyes darted around, and he continued in a low voice:

When we do our work poorly, we are replaced with our betters. When we do our work well, the thing we have built grows larger, faster, more powerful, more entrenched, more hungry. Sometimes I lie awake in a cold sweat, unable to decide if we are still building it, or if it has begun using us to build itself

(Link received with gratitude from JF — a more precise attribution might be unwelcome.)