Links for September: Fusion, Pollution, the Future, and more!

The private fusion industry has been heating up for a few years now, and people are saying that by the 2030s we might expect fusion power contributing to the grid. Commonwealth Fusion Systems and their SPARC reactor, exciting because of the new electromagnet materials which have already demonstrated being able to generate a 20 Tesla field (this is very large as far as high power magnets go). For an intro to fusion, I found this video really informative. Energy is the most fundamental input for civilization, and we’ll need to generate more of it to give the rest of the world the kind of reasonable quality of life that middle class europeans can expect. Experts remain skeptical, probably so should we.

For solar, tax-credit carrots instead of tariff sticks. The IRA could revitalize domestic solar panel production in the US. Hopeful.

Battery powered knife throwing machine. Hilarious project, and cool that the dad and 13-year-old son are working on it together.

Let’s build the car out of the batteries

On longevity as a professional programmer. A lot of this stuff has been said before, but this essay is a good example. Programming is a young field. Languages and frameworks come and go. Try different things. We as programmers can all stand to learn ways of doing things better. Being a programmer is like being a musician. Learn at least one functional programming language like you’d learn at least one Mozart piece if you were a lifelong pianist. Different tools teach us different skills, breadth and depth are both important.

Plankalkül , the first higher-than-assembly programming language. Predates COBOL and ALGOL and FORTRAN. I’d never heard of this.

A really optimistic write up about futuristic new biomaterials

Language is the new sex. The rise of garden empires. A simultaneously grim and hopeful humanistic look at the future of life on this planet. We’re growing to be masters of our gardens, and our gardens are growing to be the whole planet

It’s often said that the whole universe we can now observe was once compressed into a volume the size of a golf ball, but we should imagine that the golf ball is only a tiny piece of a universe that was infinite even then. The unending infinite universe is expanding into itself.

Russell conjugation.

Young people are choosing sobriety. One of the biggest cultural shifts that’s come with millennials has been the normalization of talking about mental health, seeing a therapist, and so on. I think this kind of awareness of why we take the drugs we take (alcohol is of course a drug) is a downstream effect of that, and a good one. The article’s not particularly substantial but points in the right direction.

Series of blog posts about the Unisys Dorado OS2200 mainframe. Having grown up in the era of personal computers, commodity hardware server racks, and cloud VMs, I don’t really understand mainframes. This is helping. Coda.

The California Central Valley is extremely impoverished and polluted too. This was a bit of an eye-opener for me. The central valley counties are in the same league as the poorest regions of Mississippi, and right in the backyard of extremely wealthy urban regions. Though, San Francisco’s salary boom has failed to translate into improved infrastructure and amenities in the city, so perhaps it’s not that surprising. Seems dire, especially as drought conditions will continue to worsen.

US import demand is dropping to prepandemic levels Bodes well for supply chain related inflation, but you’ll see people pearl clutching about how this portends the end of The West as well.

A bunch of predictions about the future of computing over the next century and the ripples of effects on all sorts of things. I found this futuristic, humanistic, hopeful, and intriguing in that it touches on a lot of things I haven’t heard anyone talk about elsewhere.

Interview with Masha Gessen

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