(Audio) Material World, by Conway

Saturday April 13, 2024

Conway offers glimpses into a material world of sand, salt, iron, copper, oil, and lithium for inhabitants of the aetherial world of knowledge, software, and office blocks. It's often fascinating, and delivers a thesis of global interconnection: we all depend on everyone.

The Chloralkali process is electrolysis of very salty water. It produces chlroine gas, which will kill you, and sodium hydroxide aka lye, which isn't healthy either and which you can use to pulp wood and make paper. This is very cool, and something you could probably do at home. It's a little dangerous. I wonder if this is part of how we lose education about the material world, by avoiding parts that are both interesting and risky.

Maybe it's just my perspective as a computer guy, but I feel like the work of the physical world is too often ignored and undervalued. Something like Hammerbacher has said, it feels like everyone wants to get rich at a keyboard while the lab benches are empty.

The book in a couple places recommends going to YouTube to see a video, with search terms to use. I feel like I've heard this kind of thing in a few books recently. Is this what books do now? They can't embed video, so they tell you to go find the video yourself on YouTube? I'm not 100% opposed, but this feels a little gross to me.