One Year of Learning 2023

Posted on 1 minute read

Inspired by Tom Whitwell’s 52 things I learned in 2022, I started my own list of things I learned in 2023. I got well into 2024 before I realized I hadn’t published it! So, in no particular order:

  1. In the summer of 2011, a lab technician at Los Alamos National Laboratory carefully laid 8 rods of plutonium on a bench to take a picture. The rods were almost close enough to cause an uncontrolled fission event. AAAS Science
  2. Runways are named by their magnetic compass heading value divided by 10 (e.g. a runway heading due east—90°—is named “runway 9”). Variations in the Earth’s magnetic fields means that sometimes runways have to be renamed. National Centers for Environmental Information
  3. The impetus behind Google Image Search came from people searching for pictures of Jennifer Lopez in her blue/green dress at the 2000 Grammy Awards. CNN
  4. The eucalypts tree drops oily leaves that eventually burn down the forest, but that kills off surface vegetation and is needed to open the eucalypt seed pods. Cory Doctorow’s Pluralistic
  5. The origins of the nautical terms “port” side (because it was the side of the ship used for loading/unloading) and “starboard” side (from Old English for “steer” and “side of the boat”). NOAA National Ocean Service

Not much in this first year, but I’ve already started a running list for 2024.