- The Day the Dinosaurs Died
Half of this article is very interesting, where they talk about what they think happened the day the asteroid that caused a mass extinction hit the earth. The other half, about the ins-and-outs of fossil hunting is not so interesting, but I’m willing to sit through more of it just to hear the crazy hypothesis.
When DePalma took out the fossil, he found underneath it a tooth from a mosasaur, a giant carnivorous marine reptile. He wondered how a freshwater fish and a marine reptile could have ended up in the same place, on a riverbank at least several miles inland from the nearest sea. (At the time, a shallow body of water, called the Western Interior Seaway, ran from the proto-Gulf of Mexico up through part of North America.) The next day, he found a two-foot-wide tail from another marine fish; it looked as if it had been violently ripped from the fish’s body. “If the fish is dead for any length of time, those tails decay and fall apart,” DePalma said. But this one was perfectly intact, “so I knew that it was transported at the time of death or around then.” Like the mosasaur tooth, it had somehow ended up miles inland from the sea of its origin. “When I found that, I thought, There’s no way, this can’t be right,” DePalma said. The discoveries hinted at an extraordinary conclusion that he wasn’t quite ready to accept. “I was ninety-eight per cent convinced at that point,” he said.
- The most powerful person in Silicon Valley
I’m skeptical at this headline. Maybe I don’t know enough about the VC world, but does one person who heads a massive fund really yield that much influence? How much can he shift the direction of all of these huge companies that he is funding?
His big-money bets agitate the venture capitalists who have long inhabited the dry stretch of lowlands between San Francisco and San Jose, a place where any fund over $1 billion was head-turning as recently as three years ago. Turns out, nobody likes competing with a bottomless-pocketed behemoth. “Have you seen the movie Ghostbusters? It’s like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man tramping around,” one VC tells me before I visit SoftBank. Then he asks me to ask Misra the question everyone in town wants to know: Who is Son investing in next?
- Heaven or Highwater
From a schadenfreude again, I’m fascinated with Miami. This article has some interesting perspective on how global warming and flooding won’t affect Miami.
Another agent came in to look at the apartment and joined our conversation. She was young. If indeed we are talking thirty years before Miami Beachpocolypse, the first realtor and I will very possibly be dead, or close to it, when the shit really hits the fan here, but this woman will still be relatively young. Still, she did not seem to be losing a great deal of sleep over sunny day flooding, sea level rise, any of it.
“From what I understand,” she said as she took in a turn in the apartment, her heels clacking across the pale floors, “Everybody has done these, like, research, and they have these like—like…” she was back, posed behind the kitchen island, her pastel nails splayed out on the varnished counter top. “I can’t think of the word now.”
“Studies?” said the first realtor helpfully.
“Yeah,” the younger woman. She said she knew about a guy that had “paid for like, a study. And basically it said, we shouldn’t be concerned . . . because it’s being figured out, and we shouldn’t be concerned. Unless you have a family, and you’re planning on staying here.”
- The Coming Obsolescence of Animal Meat
Wow, another food science/tech article. I guess this is an up and coming industry – and it is something I’m curious about too. This one is about lab grown meat. Seems a bit far off still, and I’m not sure whether it will ever get up to the scale/efficiency of the old fashioned way.
For Finless Foods, a major hurdle is texture. It aims to make cultured bluefin tuna, which in animal form glistens like raspberry jam and springs back like a wet sponge. “I will not say we’ve fully solved that problem, because I’d be totally lying,” Selden said. The few journalists who have tasted the product were served a carp croquette that one reporter described as having “a pleasant aftertaste of the sea, though not fish as such.” Selden is looking into 3-D printing as a potential path to creating a sashimi-like simulacrum.
- The professor who beat roulette
Quick little story from the 60s about a professor who was able to game the system and win a bunch of money from casinos. Nothing illegal in here, just noticing some patterns. However, given that roulette is not a predictable game, I bet it wasn’t a rocketship to his prize money.
European roulette wheels offered better odds than American wheels: They had 37 slots instead of 38, reducing the casino’s edge over the player from 5.26% to 2.7%. And, as Jarecki would discover, they were just his type of machine — old, janky, and full of physical defects.
With his wife, Carol, he scouted dozens of wheels at casinos around Europe, from Monte Carlo (Monaco), to Divonne-les-Bains (France), to Baden-Baden (Germany). The pair recruited a team of 8 “clockers” who posted up at these venues, sometimes recording as many as 20,000 spins over a month-long period.
Then, in 1964, he made his first strike.
After establishing which wheels were biased, he secured a £25,000 loan from a Swiss financier and spent 6 months candidly exacting his strategy. By the end of the run, he’d netted £625,000 (roughly $6,700,000 today).