Let's Put on a Video, Shall We?

Most of us have seen it happen. An exhausted school teacher, sometimes suffering from what we recognize in hindsight as a hangover, announces to the class that instead of the usual lesson plan, we’re all going to watch a video.

That’s what I’m doing today, in effect. Last week’s post about factors facilitating collapse was of beastly proportions. This week, I’m taking a breather and pointing you to a five-minute video and a write-up of an interview relating to my recent book.

The pieces were put together by the UC San Diego Division of Physical Sciences (Mario Aguilera and Sherry Seethaler coordinating the interview and Debbie Meyer constructing a quality video). I’m sporting the outgrown late-COVID haircut that lopped off my ponytail of 28 years (performed by my terrified wife). It also appears that I failed to prioritize shaving for the interview day, which was scheduled weeks in advance, so did not exactly catch me by surprise. Oh well. Appearances only count for so much.

And since this video is short, I would hate for you to feel ripped off. I might, therefore, recommend another recent video by Nate Hagens that has a slightly longer run time (approaching three hours; I suggest taking it in doses). In an approach somewhat similar to the collapse post, Nate has put together a long list of factors, cast as societal myths, that contribute to our collective miscalibration about how we might expect the future to go. Many of the themes will be familiar to and resonant with Do the Math readers, but from a usefully alternate angle.

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7 thoughts on “Let's Put on a Video, Shall We?

  1. That was a great video. I'll get the book. I hope I have a good chance at understanding what's in it.

    UC San Diego must be a great school. I watch Rod Garratt's stuff too and he's from there. Different field from yours though.

    Thanks for all this work Tom. It must have been quite an effort.

    Take care.

  2. I worry about calling it a 'textbook'. I know it's meant as a student resource, but I think that description will put a lot of people off. I loved it though, especially the side margin notes. I'm on my second read. There's so much to take in. Thanks for doing it.

  3. Thanks Tom, your views and clear exposition are welcomed: a great help in clearing the "noise" in my head.
    One small point:-
    Just suggesting that your "bacteria in a jar" (page 4 & 5) example needs revision. 12.00 = 1 jar, 12.10 = 2 jars, 12.20 = 4 jars. Or have I missed something?

    • The text says:

      The population doubles every ten minutes. If the original jar is filled at 12:00, the population doubles to fill the second jar by 12:10. Another doubling fills all four by 12:20. The celebration is short-lived.

      Are we not saying the same thing?

      • Thoughtful member goes off and finds three other jars.
        Original single jar fills at 12.00, doubles to fill two new jars at 12,10, and would need four new jars to double again by 12,20. Six extra jars needed, seven jars in total.

        Please, not wanting to make an issue of this: our earthly quandary is dire enough already! We surely cannot double ourselves again, in fact we have probably already overtopped our single jar which is the core message you present so well.

        • Ah: I see the issue. When the population doubles in ten minutes, it means what took one jar to accommodate will require a total of two jars ten minutes later (so one extra jar). After another ten minutes, the population doubles again, now filling a total of four jars (two new ones).

          But yes, either way the overall message is the same.

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