The name and the title caught my eye while browsing through Youtube learning videos. How can “Nobel” – a name I always associated with some grand accomplishment in science and peace – be named the merchant of death? After all, there are prizes annually given out under the Nobel name for notable individuals. In any case, I started looking into it and learned that Nobel was a workaholic inventor of some sort.
At seventeen, he was obsessed with making nitroglycerin safe to handle. One day during this endeavor, his brother died in an factory explosion accident. Thinking it would be an insult to his brother’s memory, Nobel continued the work on this, and eventually dynamite was born which was of great of value to the construction and mining industries. It seems that his goal was not to use it as a weapon of war (I haven’t read as much in other alternative sources) but as some sort of deterrent – but it seems have become instrumental in the Spanish-American war (which I will probably read more about when I have more time).
His love life was pretty interesting. He ran an ad in the papers: “Wealthy highly-educated elderly gentleman seeks lady of mature age, versed in languages, as secretary and supervisor of household”. Because of this, he met the Countess Bertha Kinsky. Nobel fell in love with her. Unfortunately, she ceased working with him (probably because of the difficulties of the working relationship), heading back to her home country and marrying someone else (awww). Nobel and Kinsky maintained a good correspondence though. After this, Nobel established a relationship with an incredibly younger woman, but who was said to be low breeding, and non intellectual – an opposite of Kinsky. This woman eventually cuckolded him later on and even demanded regular allowance as support. Key lesson: don’t go crazy after women.
Back to the work, eventually, another of Nobel’s brothers, Ludwig, died while visiting France – but the papers published Nobel’s obituary by mistake (“The Merchant of Death” is dead). Nobel was said to have been mortified and from this point on, focused efforts making a positive legacy. When he died in 1896, he left his wealth (worth approximately 500 billion dollars today) for a fund to establish the Nobel prizes:786-326-1866
Egyptians worshipping the human eye
“Paying attention to the things that shine forth!” WhenÂ we pursue the things that guide our interests, and more revelations are revealed, our goals become transformed (even if culturally conditioned) and we ourselves are transformed as well.
If you follow the thing that manifests itself to you as interesting, it will lead you through adversity but not beyond your capacity. As you hit yourself against the world, you’ll tap yourself into alignment like the internal structure of a jewel (which is something that reflects light) making you hard and durable – able to bear the terrible conditions of existence without being corrupt.
Intangible goods have a very different set of dynamics in terms of competition and risk. Intangible goods like software have: sunk cost, have spillover effects, significantly more scalable than physical goods, most likely have various synergies. These factors also determine the kind of value we tag companies that are built on creating and selling these goods. While pricing equilibrium assumptions seem to hold, the old linear supply-demand model does not account for these new dynamics. How do you make sense of this? (e.g measurement? IP laws? rules of engagement? taxation? etc.)
“What is the best way to stimulate an economy in a world where capitalism happens without the capital? We need really smart thinkers and brilliant economists digging into all of these questions. Capitalism Without Capital is the first book Iâve seen that tackles them in depth, and I think it should be required reading for policymakers.” – Bill Gates
I find his story extremely interesting to me personally as a character torn between different loyalties, a non-believer in extreme and radical approaches, but yet called to bring order to a very chaotic time across his country. His background is very relatable as well: born middle-class, enough to have a sturdy Protestant education, and because of this – a network to the future “nobles” of this time. History books say that in his 30s, he experienced a spiritual and psychological conversion, describing it as a transformation of darkness into light. Knowing his work later on, I believe this memory would sustain him and in his mission – a cornerstone of his belief with a hint of Messianic complex. It’s interesting to note that most great people of history (who I am at the least aware of) has experienced something similar.
In the beginning of his career in Parliament was due to his relationships with the Puritan community that were quite a bit on the radical side of the spectrum (I’d like to read up on the histories of how various religions spread in Europe). Primary issues of importance in those times were taxation, monopolies, and corrupt religious orders – he was an outspoken person in opposition to the king’s government but not enough to be a critical troublemaker (I don’t have a good education on the history of English government – it might also be good for me to take a good look).
Enter, in the English Civil Wars c 1642, Cromwell became involved in the military and proved himself a good leader of men with excellent organizational powers. Eventually, with gaining fame and credibility as a soldier, he rose through the ranks as a commander. He was known for and distinguishing himself by his strictness on how he handled his fighting men – and eventually his cavalry became a key unit in the wars. This combination of involvement in politics and military defined his time.
After the first civil war, Parliament intended to dissolve the army as cheap as possible which caused some disappointment (maybe extreme resentment) among the ranks. While this is happening, he was in the position of mediating between the king to submit to a constitutional settlement to Parliament – keeping morale as the general feeling in the army is that neither the king nor Parliament could be trusted. The balancing act between all these demonstrates his opposition to extremist measures but he (as we can see later on) always had a heart for the soldiers he served with. When the king escaped custody, Cromwell abandoned his balancing act. The king fleeing, led to the second English Civil Wars. After the Battle of Dunbar (September 1650) which marked the end of the wars, Cromwell became a mediator again between Parliament and the army but eventually concluded that the present members should be dissolved and replaced citing corruption (I would like to be privy to the content of such negotiations). Cromwell led his musketeers to expel the members from the House and two months later set up new members – the Assembly of Saints – to rule with a Puritan style government. He eventually also decided, to dissolve this – believing that they were far too radical (and also did not consult him) on matters of state.
In December 1653, he set up (it was said reluctantly) a different government where he became lord protector, ruling the three nations of England, Scotland, and Ireland with the advice and help of a council of state and a Parliament, which had to be called every three years. Cromwell’s story from a private station gaining a state is a master craft if examined through Machiavellian lens. Much remains to be said on how he sustained this gains. A story for a different time perhaps.
Game Theory: Backwards Induction
Think of the ideal outcomes that you would like to occur then reverse engineer the different paths towards this, assigning risk management principles on those different paths. Do this enough times to the present is a critical tool for forecasting and planning for any and all possible contingencies. Others will say this to be overthinking, but I believe otherwise. It is not very wise to predict things as Fortune has a way of bringing much trouble to the table – rather prepare for any and all probable scenarios, assign likelihoods, and put resources against these accordingly.
The Gene: An Intimate History (cont’, note that my notes below is reorganized excerpts of the book)
Throughout the narrative, the story of Mukherjee’s own family – with its tragic and bewildering history of mental illness – cuts like a bright, red line, reminding us of the many questions that hang over our ability to translate the science of genetics from the laboratory to the real world. In superb prose and with an instinct for the dramatic scene, he describes the centuries of research and experimentation – from Aristotle and Pythagoras to Mendel and Darwin, from Boveri and Morgan to Crick, Watson and Franklin, all the way through the revolutionary twenty-first century innovators who mapped the human genome.
I was able to complete reading the chapters “Truths and Reconciliations” and “Transformation”.
Scientists studying living organisms were far more preoccupied with other matters: embryology, cell biology, the origin of species, and evolution. Attempts to answer these questions had all
become mired at precisely the same juncture. The missing link, in all cases, was information. Every cell, and every organism, needs information to carry out its physiological functionâbut where does that information come from?Â Â The gene was offered a potential solution to all these problems in a single sweep – if the gene was the central currency of biological information, then major characteristics of the living worldânot just heredityâshould be explicable in terms of genes: (a) variation, (b) evolution, and (c) development.
By 1910, the greatest minds in biology had accepted that discrete particles of information carried on chromosomes were the carriers of hereditary information. Nineteenth-century biometriciansÂ had demonstrated that human traits were distributed in smooth, continuous, bell-shaped curves. Even the development of an organismâthe most obviously inherited chain of informationâseemed to progress through smooth, continuous stages, and not in discrete bursts.Â How could âparticles of informationââpixels of heredityâgive rise to the observed smoothness of the living world? Ronald Fisher realized that the careful mathematical modeling of hereditary traits might resolve this rift. “Mendel had discovered the discontinuous nature of genes, choosing highly discrete traits upon cross breeding plants. But what if real-world traitsÂ were the result of not a single gene, with just two states but of multiple genes?” Fisher came to the following conclusion: if you mixed the effects of three to five variant genes on any trait, you could generate nearly perfect continuity in phenotype. This idea extended Mendelian view of genetics to account for multiple genes factoring a trait.
Darwin had reasoned that evolution works viaÂ natural selectionâbut for natural selection to work, there had toÂ be something natural to select. A population of organisms inÂ the wild must have enough natural variation such that winnersÂ and losers can be picked.Â But what is the engine that generates natural variation in theÂ wild?Â HugoÂ deÂ VriesÂ hadÂ proposedÂ thatÂ mutationsÂ wereÂ responsible for variation: changes in genes created changes in formsÂ that could be selected by natural forces.Â WasÂ there experimental proof that identifiable mutations in realÂ genes were responsible for variation? Were mutations suddenÂ and spontaneous, or were abundant natural genetic variationsÂ already present in wild populations? And what happened toÂ genes upon natural selection?Â
Theodosius Dobzhansky, a Ukrainian biologist who had emigrated to the United States, set out to describe the extent of genetic variation in wild populations: hunt for wild flies.Â InÂ aÂ specific wildÂ flyÂ species, Dobzhansky found multiple gene variants that influenced complex traits,Â The most striking examples of variation involved flies collected from the same region that possessed two radically different configurations of the same genes.Â The distinction between the two âracesâ ofÂ flies by virtue of a single chromosomalÂ inversion was the mostÂ dramatic example of genetic variation that any geneticist hadÂ ever seen in a natural population.Â DobzhanskyÂ launched an attempt to demonstrate variation, selection, andÂ evolution in a single experiment. He inoculated two sealed, aerated cartons with a mixture of two fly strains inversed to each other in a one-to-one ratio.Â One carton was exposed to a cold temperature. The other,Â inoculated with the same mixture of strains, was left at roomÂ temperature. After four months, he found that the populations had changed dramatically. In the âcold carton,â theÂ flies with the first strain had nearly doubled, while the inverse had dwindled.Â In the carton kept at room temperature, the two strains had acquired the opposite ratio.Â He had captured all the critical ingredients of evolution.Â Starting with a population with natural variation in gene configurations, he had added a force of natural selection: temperature. The âfittestâ organismsâthose best adapted to low orÂ high temperaturesâhad survived. As new flies had been born,Â selected, and bred, the gene frequencies had changed, resultingÂ in populations with new genetic compositions.Â Dobzhansky resurrected two importantÂ wordsâgenotypeÂ andÂ phenotype.Â AÂ genotypeÂ isÂ anÂ organ-Â ismâs genetic composition. It can refer to one gene, a configuration of genes, or even an entire genome. A phenotype, inÂ contrast, refers to an organismâs physical or biological attributesÂ and characteristicsâthe color of an eye, the shape of a wing, orÂ resistance to hot or cold temperatures.
To summarize the formula of the framework that was discovered after these:Â genotypeÂ +Â environmentÂ +Â triggersÂ +Â chanceÂ =Â phenotype. There is noÂ such thing as perfection, only the relentless, thirsty matching ofÂ anÂ organismÂ toÂ itsÂ environment.Â ThatÂ isÂ theÂ engineÂ thatÂ drivesÂ evolution.Â
Dobzhanskyâs final flourish was to solve the âmystery of mysteriesâ that had preoccupied Darwin: the origin of species. IfÂ wildÂ populationsÂ withÂ variationsÂ inÂ genotypeÂ keepÂ interbreeding, Dobzhansky knew, a new species would never beÂ formed: a species, after all, is fundamentally defined by its in-Â ability to interbreed with another.Â For a new species to arise, then, some factor must arise thatÂ makes interbreeding impossible. Dobzhansky wondered if theÂ missing factor was geographic isolation.Â He mixedÂ flies from two âracesâ in the same cage. The flies mated, gaveÂ rise to progenyâbut the larvae grew into infertile adults. UsingÂ linkage analysis, geneticists could even trace an actual configuration of genes that evolved to make the progeny infertile. ThisÂ was the missing link in Darwinâs logic: reproductive incompatibility, ultimately derived from genetic incompatibility, droveÂ the origin of novel species.Â
Several studies suggest that it is a net positive to regularly articulate precisely: your understanding of where you come from, your view of yourself and your state in the world at the present, and the vision for the future – as a reaction to trauma. The various collected research literature quoted in the essay suggest writing gives positive impact and improvements in overall health, the execution of tasks, understanding of strategy, and overall cognitive ability than merely imagining them. I have no reason to believe the contrary for the moment. If writing is a formalized version of thinking, I think it is good to practice this on a regular basis. I will check out the Future Authoring program and evaluate it, possibly focusing on this in December while envisioning my goals for next year.