Big if True: Nuclear Fusion

The NY Times reports about Sparc, a nuclear fusion reactor designed by the private company Comonwealth Fusion Systems. The reactor design is called Tokamak and is the same one that is used in the ITER reactor as well. Hot plasma is kept in a donut-shape by powerful magnets. Hot means really hot: Temperatures needed are around 50-100 millions degree Celsisus. What makes Sparc different from ITER is a new magnet design that allows for much stronger magnets. This … more

Data is Not the New Oil

I have argued before and linked to articles suggesting that advertising is less useful than is commonly thought and that targeted advertising is largely ineffective. Here is another article I found interesting, titled “Why Data Is Not the New Oil“.

The article nicely confirms what I thought before. Don’t we all like that?

I knew it!
From J. Burello at biginsanehappy.com/

It explains that data is very different from oil from an economic perspective. Most of the facts it highlights … more

The Economics of Interstellar Trade

In 1978 economist Paul Krugman wrote a paper titled The Theory of Interstellar Trade that was published in 2010. It is pure genius:

while the subject of this paper is silly, the analysis actually does make sense. This paper, then, is a serious analysis of a ridiculous subject, which is of course the opposite of what is usual in economics.

In the paper Krugman analyzes the effect of travel near the speed of light on interest rates and interstellar … more

More Evidence for Vitamin D and Covid

Vitamin D has been among the supplements researchers suggested may be helpful against Covid-19 for a long time. Now we have the results from a first randomized control trial and a summary of the findings in this article. Vitamin D seems to be very effective in the treatment of Covid-19 patients.

What to do with that knowledge? Doses given to patients are higher than a regular daily dose taken by an ordinary person. It was also not investigated whether … more

Debate Motions I Would Have Liked to Set

Over the last years I spent a lot of time doing competitive debating. As part of that hobby, I also served as Chief Adjudicator (CA) at a lot of tournaments. CAs, among other things, set the motions that the teams will debate throughout the tournament. For years I therefore kept track of things that would make an interesting topic for a debate. I will (probably) not be a CA again in the near future. I’m therefore releasing my list of … more

A First Step Towards Getting Rid of Universities

man in academic dress wearing mortar cap

Universities are a weird thing. The vast majority of things you learn are either completely irrelevant or quickly forgotten. This is of course not true for all subjects. But at least from personal experience I can say that most of what I learned in university is not relevant for my future career.

To a large extent, university is about holding a degree, not about the things you learned along the way. Someone who just graduated from college can expect a … more

In Support of Super-Rich Philanthropy

person showing both hands with make a change note and coins

The Guardian published an article titled “How philanthropy benefits the super-rich”. And parts of it are making me really really angry. I have seen similar articles (they made me really really angry), and the Guardian article is one of the better ones (but still made me really really angry). The most important points it makes are:

  • Most donations go to institutions like Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, or to the Arts – not to poor people.
  • People who donate have too much
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The Secular Religious State

woman sitting on brown concrete chair

I came across another interesting article about Iran (you may also like the one about how Iran is the only country in the world where you can legally sell your kidneys). The article argues that even though the state claims to be 99.9% Muslim, only around 40% actually identify as Muslims. The interesting thing about it is that these numbers seem to be actually lower than those before the Islamic Revolution in 1979:

68% agreed that religious prescriptions should

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Get Fit and do Good

men's black leggings

Back in June I made a bet with a friend, Franzi: she had to do 10 pull-ups by September 1st, I had to do 15. For every pull-up less than that target, we would have to donate 10€. For every pull-up more, the other one would have to donate 10€ .

That was a lot of pull-ups. Eventually we both hit our target, (she did 11, I did 17) so it’s time for a new bet. This time it’s 40 … more

Coal Produces More Radioactive Contamination Than Nuclear Energy

four brown concrete towers

The Scientific American has an interesting article: “Coal Ash Is More Radioactive Than Nuclear Waste“. Coal is known to kill thousands of people a year. Workers die in coal mines and many people die and get sick from air pollution. But few people are aware that coal produces a lot more radioactive contamination than even nuclear energy. Time to finally stop coal.

If you intend to switch your energy provider, also have a look at this article I … more