Things I learned this week #9 (Nobel Prize edition)

In honour of the announcement of (some of) the 2020 Nobel Prizes, this week's edition contains entirely things I learned when reading about the people and work announced so far. Note that this doesn't include anything about the Peace or Economics prizes, which had not been announced at the time of writing.

I also started a new job this week so I'm running at 5-10% mental capacity so we're in for another short edition this week!

  • This line of poetry: from Louise Glück's Lullaby "The Soul's like all matter: / why would it stay intact, stay faithful to its one form / when it could be free?". Glück is an American poet who has been publishing poetry since the 1960s. She has also taught at various American colleges. Her work carries various first-person narratives, often looking at intimate human relationships.
  • This weird name: Before we discovered Hepatitis C, we had only discovered Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. The thing about Hepatitis C, is that it's chronic and it doesn't present many immediate symptoms (but it'll still kill ya) and we just hadn't isolated the virus yet. Around the 1960s, doctors started noticing something Hepatitis-y in patients who had received blood transfusions, or therapies derived from blood. So for a while, actually about a decade, we called this new virus Non-A, Non-B Hepatitis (NANBH) when really maybe we should have just called it Hepatitis C from the beginning. This year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded jointly to Harvey J. Alter, Charles M. Rice, and Michael Houghton for their work in discovering Hepatitis.
  • This use-case for genetic modification: The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna for their work on Crispr-Cas9, a tool for gene editing. The Revive & Restore project (link) is trying to use this technology to create a mammoth-like animal, using the Asian Elephant as a baseline. If this is successful, I put good money on someone farming these animals for food and selling Wooly Mammoth Burgers from a food van. Bonus points to that van being Flintstones themed.
  • This family: The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Roger Penrose, Reinhard Genzel, and Andrea Ghez for their work on Black Holes. As a child Dr. Penrose, now a maths professor at Oxford, would go for walks with his family. During these walks, his brother and father would play chess entirely in their heads, and Dr. Penrose would run back and forth between them, relaying one's next move to the other.

What I've had on Rotation

  • Something New DEMOTAPE/VEGA by BERWYN (Hip Hop/Genre-Queer). This is a personal album, BERWYN puts a lot of himself and his situation into it. It flits between genres but still makes a consistent rap-ish sound and story. This is a good album from a relatively new artist who's obviously got things to say and the ability to say them. (links)
  • Something Old Wild Rivers by Wild Rivers (Folk). With the shift of seasons from summer to autumn, it's a great time to be pensive. I've always found folk music to fit this mood well, and this album has gentle vibes by the bucket. (links)

Cool Articles

  • Meet the Bears of Fat Bear Week on Did you know about Fat Bear Week? You should, it's great. You can read all about your new best bear friends, or you can just look at the pictures of chubby bears.
  • The Widening Responsibility for Front-End Developers by Chris Coyier for CSS Tricks. Every year or so, Coyier, puts out a really great essay on the state of modern web development, without bending to trends, companies, frameworks, or click-baity titles. If you work in web, this piece is definitely worth reading.
  • Why Life Can't be Simpler on the Farnam Street blog. This article is filled with tiny nuggets worth making a note of, especially if you're in the business of making anything. One of my favourite such nuggets is is that "complexity is like energy. It cannot be created or destroyed, only moved somewhere else. When a product or service becomes simpler for users, engineers and designers have to work harder."