The Now I Know Weekender, October 27, 2023


I’m going to get to the Week in Review quickly this week — the newsletter has been rather uneventful this week, so I don’t have much to share. (That’s probably a good thing; it means my typos were not of the egregious variety!) But first, there’s something random that’s been bugging me for a long time, and I’d love any thoughts you have on it. Warning: it’s super nerdy.

I’ve watched a lot of Star Trek and Star Wars (see, super nerdy!) and, almost without fail, the spaceships they use are streamlined to look aerodynamic. The Enterprise, the Millenium Falcon, the Protector from Galaxy Quest, the Orville, the Avenue 5 cruise ship, etc. are all something you’d kind of see if it were flying through air, not space. The reason, I’m sure, is because these are fictional ships from fictional universes, and it makes it easier for our real-world brains to see something that looks like it can fly. (In some cases, the physics kind of makes sense, too; the Falcon, for example, takes off from planets, so it needs that design in order to get through the sky. But other ships, like the Enterprise, are built in space, so I don’t think that’s an issue. Right?)

This doesn’t bug me at all, but I’ve always wondered: if you were building a spaceship in space, wouldn’t a cube or sphere make a lot more sense? For the cube, we have the same benefits of any on-ground building — it’s just an efficient use of space. For the cube, if you can find a material with extremely high density to put at the core, you’d even get some gravitational effects, right? That seems like a good thing. Plus, there is no “up” or “down” in space, so you don’t need a design that forces that perspective on the passengers. Am I missing something here? 

(And if I am not: does that mean the Borg have one of the most efficient ship designs out there? Huh.)

Anyway, email me your thoughts, thanks!

The Now I Know Week In Review

MondayThe Giant Pink Bunny in the Middle of Nowhere: Art is weird sometimes.

TuesdayEverybody Was Kung Fu Panda Fighting: There are stupider reasons to go to prison, but not many.

Wednesday: Paved with Good Intentions: But still, a bad idea!

ThursdayWhy Dorothy Couldn’t Surrender: The fact that this happened is ridiculous on many levels.

And some other things you should check out:

Some long reads for the weekend:

1) “‘Bury them in fruit jars.’ A gay mass murder and the cover-up that followed” (LGBTQ Nation, 20 minutes, October 2023). After sharing yesterday’s newsletter, a few people wrote in to let me know about this — it was on the front page of one of the source sites I linked to. It’s an awful story of an unsolved murder that wasn’t really unsolved, as you’ll see. Thanks to the readers who shared this with me.

2) “They Cracked the Code to a Locked USB Drive Worth $235 Million in Bitcoin. Then It Got Weird” (Wired, October 2023). I really liked this quote:

That has left [the code crackers] in a strange situation: It holds what is potentially one of the most valuable lockpicking tools in the cryptocurrency world, but with no lock to pick.

When I first read that, I thought it was unique. But I guess that’s often the case — if you’re a safecracker who wants to rob a bank, having the tools to pick the lock isn’t the hard part; getting access to the lock is. But in the article’s context, it’s definitely an odd place to be.

3) “The Ethics and Tech of Dream Seeding” (Discover Magazine, 6 minutes, June 2023). I’ll pass on this innovation, thanks.

Have a great weekend!