The Russell problem

Written on 18 February 2020, 12:16pm

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The Russell problem is one of the most difficult problems that the humankind needs to solve soon:

How one can convince humanity to consent to their own survival.

Bertrand Russell

We are slowly, but surely destroying our planet. And with it, since we don’t yet have a planet B, we are destroying our species. The effects are already here. While there is a large consensus that the consequences of our behavior are irreversible, we can still slow down the whole process. It might be just enough to find a last-minute solution (sometimes pressure helps) or simply to find another home and ensure the survival of the humankind.

Here are a few types of people that have to be convinced:

  1. The denialists: They argue there is no climate change. Essentially flat-earthers, or anti-vaxers. Can’t and (unfortunately) won’t be convinced.
    Passive and uneducated.
  2. The hangoners: Yes, the climate change is probably real. But hang on, hang on, we don’t have to rush into doing anything. There’s still plenty of time left, and we might make things worse if we actually do something. So let’s wait. And then let’s wait more.
    Passive; consider themselves educated.
  3. The defetists: we’re screwed anyway. So let’s party like it’s 1999…
    Passive. More educated.
  4. The youfirsters. Sure, we’re going down, but you do something first.
    Passive. Education irrelevant.
  5. The trolls. I don’t care if we’re going down, I just want to make fun of Greta.
    Passive and uneducated.
  6. The ostriches. Right, we know that the birds don’t actually bury their head into the sand, but their human equivalent do. They hope that the climate change is just a bad dream and probably believe in Captain Planet.
  7. The average Joes. Vaguely aware about the climate change, but their efforts are limited to recycling paper and glass.
    Hardly active, mildly educated.
Made with ❤ in

Random links #19

Written on 12 February 2020, 04:22pm

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3 reasons to go vegetarian/vegan/flexitarian

Why do the helicopters crash more often?

  • they are used in risky situations: search and rescue operations, military, medical evacuation, etc
  • more vulnerable than planes to bad weather
  • they fly at lower altitudes, so higher risk to hit obstacles and less time to recover in case things go wrong
  • they take off and land more often than the planes (shorter routes)
  • more moving parts, so more possibilities to fail
  • can’t glide
  • a bit more difficult to control than planes

Why the commercial aircraft do not have a parachute?

Well, some of the small planes do. But the commercial aircraft don’t and are unlikely to have in the future because of how physics works:

  • if there would be a single parachute, the shock when it will be engaged will simply destroy the aircraft structure
  • multiple parachutes make things impractical: they would have to be deployed in the same time, would increase the total weight and significantly decrease the payload
  • a parachute system would require a very complex maintenance process (periodic tests, replacements, etc).
  • it would also require a complex safety system to prevent accidental deployment
  • a parachute system for a large airplane (like the Airbus A380 – 850 people or Boeing 747 – 500 people) will have to ditch everything except for the pressurized passenger cabin. Again, not practical, and how do you control where the rest of plane ends when the pilot engages this system?

OK, then why don’t the airlines give parachutes to the passengers?

Simply put, they are unlikely to save lives.

  • first problem: at which stage of the flight do you tell the passengers to use the parachutes? Life vests are simple, everybody knows when to use them. But parachutes?
  • the physics laws prevent the hatch to be opened at high altitudes. So an explosives system would be needed if you want to jump at 35000 feet (10700m)
  • if you still want to jump at that altitude, you would likely enter a thermal shock (negative 60 degrees Celsius) and lose conscience in a few seconds due to the lack of oxygen. Unlikely to land alive.
  • so you will have to blast the door and jump somewhere lower, maybe 15000 feet (4500m). Except – you’re not alone. A few hundreds passengers will try to do the same thing before the plane hits the ground.
  • assuming that the passengers can jump in an orderly manner, and allocating 10 seconds per jump, you would still need around 40 minutes for a 250 passenger plane to be evacuated in mid-air. Only 20 minutes if you open 2 doors.
  • if you manage to jump, you will hope to avoid being sucked into the engines (if you use the front doors) or sliced by the horizontal stabilizers (if you use the back doors). More importantly, you will pray to avoid fatal injuries when the parachute deploys: your plane will probably fly way past the safety jump speed limit
  • BTW, did you ever strap your parachute and actually jump from a plane? And did you ever land by yourself?
  • You see, the chances of coming down alive using a parachute are becoming increasingly small. Not to mention that you might land in the middle of a freezing ocean, with the parachute coming down on you.
  • Also, most of the aircraft accidents happen during takeoff and landing, when the parachutes simply won’t work


The perception of time

Written on 21 January 2020, 04:03pm

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The perception of time changes constantly, depending on our age or on the activities we’re engaged in. Old people tend to perceive time as moving faster.

The reason? Our brain encodes new experiences, but not familiar ones, into memory, and our retrospective judgment of time is based on how many new memories we create over a certain period. In other words, the more new memories we build on a weekend getaway, the longer that trip will seem in hindsight.

Why Does Time Seem to Speed Up with Age?

Most of the memories that we carry with us are from the age 15 to 30. That’s because there are more ‘firsts’ at that age compared to the late fifties, for instance. This effect is known as the reminiscence effect, or reminiscence bump.

If we want life to slow down, to make moments memorable and our lives unforgettable, we may want to remember to harness the power of firsts.
If you always eat in front of the TV, it might make the day feel a little more extraordinary if you gather for a family dinner around a candlelit table.

There’s an art to happy memories — you can make more by experiencing more “first”s

There is also the common feeling that you have less and less time. While this can be often explained by bad planning, the situation is more complex. One of the activities that are taking up our time is the household work. The technological progress gave us the impression that they should be a thing of the past. After all, we now have washing machines, dryers, vacuum robots, better cooking devices, and so on. Yet, we spend more or less the same time around the house. “New home tech also created new kinds of work that absorbed the extra time”: see the refrigerator + supermarket cycle.

In the 1950s, a British civil servant coined the term Parkinson’s Law to explain the phenomenon that “work expands to fill the available time.” The rule first described the seemingly infinite busywork of government bureaucracies. But it might also apply to housework. Expectations rose, and work expanded to fill the available time.

Three Theories for Why You Have No Time

(somehow related, it’s the Jevons paradox: Increases in energy efficiency generate savings. History shows all savings are spent).

Then, there are the children. According to a recent study, the amount of time spent by parents on childcare in the United States began to rise dramatically in the mid1990s. The fact that the college tuition keeps rising certainly doesn’t help.

There’s so much of “place” in the world. There’s less time because the time has to be spread extra thin over all the places, like butter.

The Room movie