Filtered for change

12.38, Tuesday 10 Mar 2015


Who will babysit my sourdough starter?

Does yeast count as domesticated? Or is it more like un-manmade nanotech?

We pour yeast on something, and it acts as a mutagen on sugars to CO2, carefully killing itself off afterwards. It is impenetrable: no user-servicable parts inside. It is a component, like a resistor from a factory. But it can be bred: the system that produces it can be induced to change the produced population. With yeast we would use selection; with resistors we would use market forces. And then it operates, below human scale, to affect at human scales. Sounds like nanotech to me, though it has been captured and not created. More like finding an alien technology from a crashed flying saucer. Roswell, but 6,000 years ago.

A switchable light-input, light-output system modelled and constructed in yeast.


The UK has become a four-party country… between Labour, the Conservative, the Lib Dems and the Scottish National Party, the General Election in May throws up all kinds of interesting configurations for the House of Commons.

Electoral Calculus has a coalition scenario map. Lovely, complicated fracturing. Neat graphical representation.

There’s a 50% chance of a hung parliament; negotiations should be fascinating.


Look up at the Moon… hold out your arm, the Moon is about one finger across. From the Moon, the Earth is bigger: about four fingers across.

And it looks pretty strange.

If you were standing on the Moon, looking up, you’d see the Earth, hanging in the sky forever

The Moon is tidally locked to the Earth, the near side always faces us.

It would go through phases, like the Moon, moving from total darkness, though quarter illumination, Full Earth, and back again. But the features on the Earth would be changing. The face of the Earth would be illuminated, and you’d see the entire planet turning throughout the day


Feudal transformations and the spread of the three field system.

over the eighth to tenth centuries the system of using three fields in rotation, one for sowing a winter crop to be harvested in spring, one for a summer crop to be harvested in the autumn and one lying fallow to get the next winter crop, became fairly widely established, whereas it had been largely missing before that.

But why? This series on feudal transformations looks like a fascinating exploration in what causation is, and how to see it.

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