Prescient predictions

“I can only say that I am astonished and somewhat terrified at the result of this evening’s experiments: astonished at the wonderful power you have developed, and terrified at the thought that so much hideous and bad music may be put on record for ever.”

– Sir Arthur Sullivan to Thomas Edison on his invention of the phonograph cylinder.


The speech starts at around 2:06



what i learned last week

1. hitler thought that berlin would become the world capital re-named germania. he planned a massive architectural project for this transformation that included a triumphal arch based on (but much bigger than) the one in paris, and a volkshalle (or “people’s hall”) that was a dome based on (but much, much bigger than) the pantheon in rome. hitler’s architect, albert speer, wasn’t convinced that the swampland that berlin was built on could withstand the weight of the triumphal arch, so he devised an experiment to find out. this consisted of a large block of concrete (called the schwerbelastungskörper) that was constructed on the proposed site of the arch to measure how much, and how quickly, it would sink. turned out that it sank too fast, so the conclusion was that the arch wouldn’t work – it was just too heavy. interestingly, the block is still sitting there, and is now a historic site.

2. there was a little ice age that consisted of three dips in temperature world-wide between the 16th and the 19th centuries.

3. global warming might result in global cooling. if we have enough global warning, then the polar ice caps melt. this causes an increase in fresh water in the north atlantic ocean, which could result in a re-routing of ocean currents, potentially resulting in a repeat of the little ice age (see above…).

4. people who are raised from birth in bilingual environments are better able to shift attention, organise, prioritise and avoid falling into habitual responses. see here.

5. maurice jarre died.