My wife and I have the weirdest conversations, and I absolutely love that. I am a lucky man. I found someone who can turn her magical perspective into a set of tiny numbers in a computer that we perceive as colors that are then assembled into a picture that makes me laugh. This person is called an “artist.” The result is this week’s comic. There’s a video version of this post available, too.
I was still thinking about the pernicious effects of smartphones on attention when I wrote the comic. I have been trying to listen to more audio books instead of doomscrolling. I listened to “Deep Work” by Cal Newport and “Effortless” by Greg Mckeown over the last few weeks. There is an interesting tension between them. I agree with both. It takes deep work to make progress. It takes real, effortless recreation to recover from that deep work. Maybe I’ll write something about that at some point.
I posted a video this week about the Drexler-Smalley debate. The big question was “Can we make a nano-3D printer that can fabricate literally anything?” My PhD is in chemistry, and I have experience with using photolithography for microfabrication as well as building simple bio-inspired nano-machines. So I have some of the relevant background and context to explain this. I put the edited text-version at the end of this post.
I’ve collected a bunch of cool articles and links, too.
Neal Stephenson published the Diamond Age in 1996. I read it while I was in high school (about 1997). I was hooked on the ideas of nanotechnology and post-scarcity presented in the novel. I earned my PhD in bioanalytical chemistry in 2008. I went into my field in some ways because of this science fiction novel. I wanted to learn how to analyze and then build the kinds of nano-machines that life is made of.
I made a vlog today about how I address the Sad Gap. If you’re not a part of the nerdfighteria youtube sphere, I will explain. The Vlogbrothers have both talked about it recently (see Hank’s video or John’s video). The sad gap is the place between finding out about a problem and being in a position to do something – anything – about it. It’s possible to fall right into the sad gap and end up not actually doing anything at all.
Whelp, my wife has COVID and I’m isolating to see whether I show symptoms. We relaxed the distancing/masking in my region and, predictably, cases are going up. We’re vaccinated and boosted, but Mrs. Allen still feels very sick. I’m fine so far, and I hope we can go back to being a happy couple of pigeons soon.