What it means to lose, and to find

+ Artificial wombs, Explaining things, Mushroom Color Atlas (#379)

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1. Lost & Found

This week, I fell in love with a new memoir by Kathryn Schulz. Centered around the death of her father and meeting her future wife, she explores the universal themes of losing and finding. Profound and beautifully written, making me pause and admire a sentence every few pages. Some of my favourites:

  • We are never smaller and the world never larger than when something important goes missing.
  • In the microdrama of loss, we are nearly always both villain and victim.
  • To be bereft is to live with the constant presence of absence.
  • My happiness was so enormous it was like an entire third person standing there.
Lost & Found by Kathryn Schulz
Find out more about Lost & Found by Kathryn Schulz

2. Computer Scientist Explains One Concept in 5 Levels of Difficulty

You only truly understand something if you can explain it to a child, they say. Our inquisitive daughter now makes me painfully aware of this almost daily. Wired is taking this challenge one step further, in their long-standing series «5 Levels of Difficulty». In this recent episode, a computer scientist explains the concept of a zero-knowledge proof to five people, from a 10-year-old all the way to a fellow expert. Fascinating.

Everything below is usually for Premium members only. This month, it's free for everyone to read. Enjoy!

3. Womb for improvement

What if bearing a child became optional, with artificial wombs as an alternative? Don't expect any definitive answers from this article, but rather food for thought on the many layers of questions the topic provokes.

Womb for improvement - Works in Progress
Pregnancy can be arduous, painful and for some women impossible. New technology may allow more women to have children, and save the lives of more prematurely born infants. How do we get there?

4. Animals That Infect Humans Are Scary. It’s Worse When We Infect Them Back.

It's long been known that the way humans treat animals is an invitation for viruses to come haunt us. This story on the looming threat from Mink farms makes it as tangible as it can be. If you don't feel like reading any more stories about deadly viruses — still click and have a look at the illustrations throughout the story, they are gorgeous. (If, on the other hand, you can't get enough of deadly viruses, Mike Davis' «The Monster at Our Door» is the book to read).

Animals That Infect Humans Are Scary. It’s Worse When We Infect Them Back.
Mink farms threaten to become a source of new coronavirus variants — and an object lesson in how ‘spillback’ can make deadly diseases even deadlier.

5. Sul Sul — the story of the Simlish language

Remember Sims, that computer game from the early 2000s that let you create virtual human beings and follow their everyday lives? Here's a podcast episode on one aspect of the game I wasn't aware of: Sims had their own made-up language, which soon turned into a phenomenon of its own, with pop songs being re-recorded in Simlish. What makes it especially interesting: Nobody has control over the rules of the language, it's «a language from no one for everyone».

Sul Sul — Twenty Thousand Hertz
When The Sims was first being developed, the creators faced a problem. They knew they wanted these characters to talk and interact, but they were worried that using a real language would quickly get repetitive and annoying. So, they decided to make one up. This is the story of Simlish: How it was cr

What else?

Thanks for your time, I hope you found something to spend even more of your time with. Have a nice weekend. See you next Friday!

— David 👋

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