The Almanack of Amazing Things (#2)

In this category of Innumerabilibus I will regularly share some quick ideas, insights and facts that I have recently discovered while listening to podcasts, reading books, newsletters etc. Posts in this series have the tag “The Almanack of Amazing Things”. Links to sources are included!

  • Ancient Earth’s… Google Earth: fascinating website showing a navigable map of our planet at different periods of its history, starting from 750 million years ago. I enjoyed seeing how Europe was a huge archipelago connecting America to Asia and Africa circa 100M years ago, as well as the supercontinents that preceded Pangea.
  • A naming trivia: the word “minute” comes from the Latin pars minuta prima, meaning “first small part” because it’s the first division of the hour. The “second small part” of the hour (Latin: pars minuta secunda) became the word “second”.
  • No one knows how much governments can borrow: economist Noah Smith explains how one of the biggest questions of today’s Economics (how much public debt can a country afford before hyperinflation kicks in?) is fundamentally unresolved and strangely under-researched. That’s quite ironic for a topic where confident opinions abound across the political spectrum.
  • Lichtenberg figures: the pattern created by lightning in the sky is a particular case of a more general phenomenon (Lichtenberg figures) that occurs every time electricity discharges through an insulating material. Lichtenberg figures can appear on wood, glass or even human beings…
Lichtenberg figures on wood

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