Not fighting with commenters, talking about SPR instead

I wanted to fight with some YouTube commenters, but that’s dumb. Hence the comic. But I need to remember that most of the comments I get are very kind. It’s easy to focus on the negative.

Thing 1. Someone said I have lesbian hair. I imagine this person thinks they were trolling me? But I take it as a complement. From what little I know, lesbians have really cool hair.

Thing 2. Someone compared climate science to a house of cards. I think his idea was “the pandemic caused a slowdown in CO2 production and we didn’t see a proportional change in climate! Checkmate, athe- climatologists!”

This bothered me because it’s wrong, but also it supposes that the work of thousands of scientists in multiple fields all depend on a simple linear relationship between emissions in 2020-2022 and the temperature in 2020-2022.

It’s complex (obviously). Interpreting the data from these pandemic years will require some actual knowledge and expertise (see this article from JPL and NASA). It will be interesting to see which models best match the new and somewhat unexpected data, but pandemic CO2 emissions were not actually very different from pre-pandemic emissions.

In 2020, the world CO2 output went down by about 5% due to the pandemic. It returned to ~2011 emission levels. It’s good that emissions went down, of course. But that’s not a very big change. See CO2 emissions at Our World in Data 

Humans were still increasing the total concentration of CO2, at a rate 95% as fast as the year before. If you look at the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, the slope is not visibly changed. The effect of the 2020 pandemic is not even visible compared to the noise of the natural carbon cycle. The trend is basically the same. See Climate Change: Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide at NOAA 

Climate science is not a house of cards or big software project with vulnerable dependencies. It’s the opposite of a house of cards where every part is dependent on every other. It’s a bunch of independent scientists with many different strategies to approach data analysis and prediction. And it’s many independent fields of research that corroborate the conclusions. If you dispute the magnitude of CO2 forcing on the system then you need to account for many observations from many different sources that all point to CO2 forcing being an issue.

And it’s even more complex than that. Like, take the relationship between methane and NOX. It turns out that both are pollution, but NOX emissions help break down methane emissions. So if you slow down both, you don’t get much of a change in the total amount of methane in the atmosphere. Weird, right? See NASA Climate here: Emission Reductions From Pandemic Had Unexpected Effects on Atmosphere.


I made a video about surface plasmon resonance and how it’s used to measure biochemical interactions with coronavirus spike protein as an example. It was a way to try to put something out there in the hopes of reminding some people that science is real and also cool.



Artist paints White Republican Mormon Jesus

This article talks about the artist Jon McNaughton. I’ve been vaguely aware of him since he painted – essentially – political cartoons in the Obama era. He would paint a sinister looking Obama burning the constitution, or Jesus holding the constitution, or other SuBtLe politico-religious messages. But it comes down to this very foreign (to me) idea that government and religion are (or should be) linked. But who knows, maybe he’s just trolling.

Nature article about some up-and-coming technologies in 2022

One I’m very excited about is the The AlphaFold2 structure-prediction algorithm. It can “extrapolate the shape of a folded protein from its amino acid sequence.” This has been the holy grail of biochemistry since I was aware of biochemistry. This is a huge deal for biologists, but I hope it’s a big deal for nanotechnologists, too. There have been amazing demonstrations of nanotechnology with a robust DNA sequence-to-3D-structure design software. I have a feeling that the equivalent with protein will make amazing things possible.

Fusion is hot again!

I’m excited about a bunch of new fusion developments. This one uses extremely small and powerful magnets to miniaturize a fusion reactor (as compared to the ITER, for example). Records have been set. And there’s still the relatively small players trying to build their private reactors like Tri-Alpha, Helion, and General Fusion. And there’s Lockheed Martin and Focus Fusion as well, all trying to build a pulsed reactor instead of trying to achieve continuous confinement. All very cool.


Robby the robot – most expensive movie prop to date in 1955

I didn’t even know I would think this was interesting, but what a cool prop. I had a VERBOT when I was a kid and it is easy to see the resemblance in a toy made 30 years after this robot’s debut. The clear dome head and the barrel body are all there. Those are practical choices to make a prop or a toy that looks vaguely humanoid but conceals lots of working bits inside.

Iceland fish and chips maritime conflict

I like fish-n-chips as much as the next guy, but the idea of deploying the Navy to secure the cod is a little absurd.

“If online tax filing services were honest”

To my shame, I use Intuit’s software to file taxes. They lobby heavily to avoid simplifying the tax system. Why? They have a very lucrative toll booth on the road away from accidental tax crime.

Lefie is back!

She does minimalism and self-development and is doing a series of daily-ish videos about her progress toward making a graphic novel. I look forward to the finished work, but I also love the behind-the-scenes vlog. I prefer to see someone make something rather than talk about “productivity” in the abstract. There’s always a market for productivity videos, but they can feel a little hollow coming from people whose major ‘product’ is productivity videos.