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#30: Naps, Killing Life on Mars, Stuart Little, Space Factory, Tilting Earth, and more!

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Hi everyone!

It finally happened. After 742 days, I finally uploaded a new video on YouTube! It’s about dark mode and how it can have a positive and negative impact on your productivity.

Why did it take me this long to post a new video? Well, I became a father twice in the last 2 years, so that means my life is a bit busy hectic. I love to spend time with my kids, and I use them as an excuse to not work on videos. Procrastinating is one of my super powers.

But here we are. A new Simply Explained video. I was actually nervous about publishing this one. It almost felt like publishing a video for the first time. I have some doubt about whether I “still got it”. Anyway, I had fun making this one, and that’s all that matters.

I hope you like the rest of this newsletter. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts about it. So, hit reply, and let me know!

Take care,

🤓 Cool Stuff I Found on the Internet

Visualisation: The Deep Sea

This cool interactive website allows you to explore the depths of the ocean. As you scroll down, you'll get interesting facts about marine life at various depths. The deeper you go, the fewer animals there are. It's amazing to see how life has adapted to live in this harsh environment: enormous pressure, perpetual darkness, and freezing water. It also makes me wonder how much life is out there that we haven't discovered. Film director (and expert diver) James Cameron said that every time you dive, you find something new.

Nap your way to a bigger brain

Nappers rejoice! A recent study found that the brain of daytime napper is 15 cubic centimeters larger. That’s the equivalent of delaying aging by 3-6 years. As we age, our brain shrinks, which is a progress called neurodegeneration. Napping protects against this, but is often frowned upon by society and not accepted in most work cultures. I’ll use this scientific proof to justify my naps!

Stuart Little & the lost Hungarian masterpiece

In 2008, a Hungarian art historian was watching Stuart Little with his young daughter when he noticed a painting in the background. The painting was the long-lost “Sleeping Lady with Black Vase” by Robert Bereny. It had been missing for almost a century. The historian contacted the studio, who put him in touch with a former set designer for the film. She bought the painting for next to nothing in an antiques shop and thought it was perfect for Stuart’s living room. The painting was returned to Hungary and sold at an auction.

We pumped enough groundwater to tilt Earth

Between 1993 and 2010, humans have pumped an estimate 2 trillion tons of groundwater. This water flows to cities and farms before ending up in the sea. We are effectively redistributing Earth’s mass, and that isn’t without consequences. By moving all this mass, we have tilted Earth’s axis by 80 cm. Yet another way in which humans have a big impact on our planet.

The Unsolved Mystery of SS Waratah

After OceanGate's submersible imploded, I read the Wikipedia pages about the Titanic and its sinking. A few minutes later, I was reading an article about the SS Waratah, often referred to as the "Titanic of the South". The ship operated trips between Europe and Australia and disappeared on its second voyage with 211 passenger on board. It's still missing to this day. Most likely explanation is that the ship encountered a "freak wave" which rolled the ship over.

👽 Space

NASA recovers 98% of wastewater in ISS

Aboard the International Space Station, every resource is precious, even if it doesn’t seem that way. For instance, the ECLS system recycles waste water into drinkable water. It distills sweat, urine, and moisture from the air into clean water, and with recent upgrades, it can recycle 98% of all wastewater! This is important for future deep space missions, because every bit of water you don’t have to carry is a bonus. Oh, and don’t think that drinking recycled urine is gross. NASA claims the recycled water is cleaner than the water we drink on Earth!

Did we kill life on Mars?

In 1976, NASA sent two Viking landers to Mars to search for signs of life. They equipped the landers with life detection experiments, and the results were very confusing (until this day). The experiments involved adding water to Martian soil to see if any organisms would grow. According to the article's author, the addition of water could have killed potential microbial life. The argument is that life on Mars may have evolved to draw water from the atmosphere, and that by adding a lot of water to the samples, we “drowned” them. Whatever the case may be, the author calls for new missions to Mars with new life detection tests.

SpaceX launches first "space factory"

Startup Varda Space Industries aims to manufacture pharmaceuticals and other products in space. Certain production processes can benefit from being in microgravity. The company has launched its first test module on board a SpaceX rocket. The module will look at how an old HIV-AIDS drug responds to being in microgravity and will then attempt to bring the module back to Earth.

⚡️ Energy & Environment

Space-based solar power works!

Renewable energy sources are mostly intermittent. One solution: capture solar power in space and beam it down to Earth. While theoretically possible, it was never tested. Until now! Caltech built a prototype satellite that captures sunlight, converts it to microwaves and beams it down to Earth where it’s converted back into electricity. The technology is still premature, but this is an amazing achievement. Meanwhile, the UK announced 4 million pound funding for researching this technology.

🧠🤖 Artificial intelligence

Lawyer who used ChatGPT fined

In the last edition of the newsletter, I shared an article about a lawyer who submitted ChatGPT hallucinations to a court. He has now been fined $5000. He told reporters he feels humiliated and that he assumed ChatGPT was a new “super search engine”. Interestingly, the court noted that it’s not prohibited to use AI, but that we should consider it as an additional tool.

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