How an archaeologist viewed the Capitol riot
Understanding historic context on a wider timeframe than most.
If the name “Intel 80286” doesn't bring forth a wellspring of memories, that's ok. It was a 16-bit microprocessor that debuted today in 1982 that helped power the modern computer revolution. Although it wasn't made with personal computers in mind, Intel quietly broke ground. The 80286 had memory management, meaning it could allocate memory at the user's request to multitask.
Along with providing a massive performance increase, the 80286 was durable enough to last into the next decade, finally discontinued in 1991. But it didn't impress everyone. Bill Gates notoriously referred to the chip as “brain-damaged” when it became clear it couldn't run multiple MS/DOS programs, and the insult likely factored into a split between Intel and Microsoft.
Our question of the week: Elon Musk wants it. Kim Stanley Robinson wrote about it. Would you live in a city on Mars? For the sake of the question, this city can look like whatever you want: aboveground, underground, domed, or terraformed. But would you make the big jump? Respond on our Google Form and we'll publish our favorite answers next week!
Our last question about a Covid response got an overwhelming response, with over 200 very strong opinions. We've done our best to highlight the varied responses at the end of this email. And, if you wrote in for our 2021 predictions, check out our post detailing our reader responses.
Life. It keeps happening, despite Covid-19, economic freefall, climate change, and everything else. Somebody should look into that, but until then, it falls to us to do our best at improving ourselves and working on our problems. This is known as the art of self-improvement, and even if you've heard of it before, it can remain a challenge.
In the never-ending quest for self-improvement, external factors sometimes interfere with achieving goals. A bad boss, a health problem, or a loved one's setback can hijack our personal upward trajectories.
But more often than not, key stumbling blocks to optimization are internal. With self-limiting beliefs, we actually stand in our own way without ever realizing it.
Fulfilling our full potential is, at its core, an inside job.
What they're saying: “Capacity building is not about doing more. It's about doing more of the right things.” —Robert Glazer, author of Elevate
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Must watch — 5 Netflix documentaries that fulfill an essential human need
Green space and blue space are crucial to mental health. But quarantine has meant having to leave many of your favorite tree-filled and watery spaces behind because of the complications of travel. But that need is still there. And while it's not perfect, nature documentaries can be a huge help.
A recent review of scientific literature found as little as 10 minutes a day of exposure to nature could be beneficial to students. Other experts say the ideal dose for mental and physical health is 120 minutes per week. But what to do during a Covid winter?
Here are five nature documentaries on Netflix that help people fulfill their biophilia and virtually travel to parts unknown. The docs will blow you away — and leave you with a deeper love for the natural world.
What they're saying: “I’ve had the most extraordinary life. It’s only now that I appreciate how extraordinary.” —Sir David Attenborough, describing his documentary A Life On Our Planet .
These documentaries will take your mind out of quarantine →
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Scouring the cosmos — Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope: How NASA will build on Hubble's legacy
Very few things that fly into space become household names. Sputnik. The Eagle that landed. Hubble. The Hubble telescope has reshaped our vision of the universe. How do you top that?
Of course, it hasn't been alone. In the last century, we have observed the infinite universe using massive lenses suspended in space. Together, these telescopes — Hubble, Chandra, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, and others — have shed light on our place in the cosmos beyond the wildest imaginations of the ancient astronomers who inspired their missions.
The more our modern technology progresses, the better we can see millions of light-years away and discover these hidden mysteries. But there is perhaps no mystery so great as that of dark matter. Thought to make up some 85 percent of the universe's total mass, dark matter has eluded our gaze. Soon, however, we may have answers.
What they're saying: “One of my favorite moments in my career was when I realized that I had discovered something important that no one had ever suspected.” —Nancy Grace Roman, the so-called “Mother of Hubble.”
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Coming soon ...
This month, the United Arab Emirates is about to make history in the solar system. If all goes well, on February 9, the country's Hope Probe will land on Martian soil, making the UAE just the fifth country to touch down on the Red Planet. This will also mark the first time that scientists get a chance to study the Martian climate in full, an exciting moment to understand the planet's mysterious past.
Coming soon on Inverse, a preview of the Hope Probe's mission.
Stars might seem out of touch, but they're actually closer than you think.
Chuck Ayoub bought his first telescope as a teenager. Decades later, the retired 53-year-old has turned his attention back to the cosmos.
Ayoub restarted his passion by taking photos of celestial objects using his iPhone from his backyard in Detroit. As his interest in the universe blossomed, Ayoub began investing in more specialized equipment to capture planets, nebulae, and galaxies in ever-higher resolution to reveal the majestic details of the cosmos.
During this incisive Q&A, he shares some of his best tips for trying out the hobby for yourself.
What they're saying: “I never thought I'd be able to do this from my backyard.” —Chuck Ayoub, astrophotographer extraordinaire, to Inverse.
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We'll probably never forget where we were when the riot at the U.S. Capitol broke out. An astonishing moment to say the least, and it left many Americans grasping for context. But not Sarah Parcak, who has been studying the rise and fall of life for some time. You see, she's an archaeologist.
More accurately, Parcak is the world's foremost space archaeologist, known as a “modern-day Indiana Jones.” She uses satellites to find ancient cities, tombs, and archaeological sites. Her discoveries include 17 pyramids, 3,100 potential settlements, and 1,000 tombs in Egypt. She's found fingerprints of the Viking world and the former Roman Empire.
Parcak is also a founder of and a professor at the Laboratory for Global Observation at the University of Alabama Birmingham, the author of Archaeology from Space, a 2013 Senior Ted Fellow, and the recipient of the 2016 Ted Prize. That entails a $1 million dollar grant she used to construct a citizen science platform called GlobalXplorer.org, where anyone can search for archaeological sites using satellite images.
The day after the riot in Washington, Inverse had a fascinating conversation with Parcak. You'll want to set aside time for this one.
What they're saying: “What we find in archaeology is broken, and we have to make it whole again. We are breaking, as a society, but also we've been broken for 400 years. We were never whole.” —Sarah Parcak, to Inverse.
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- 4 new technologies that are driving archaeology into the future
- 45,000-year-old pig painting may be world's most ancient figurative artwork
And now, a selection of answers to our question about the idea of a memorial for Covid-19:
“Yes, I support a day of remembrance. We already have a model based on 9-11 with a somber moment of silence at the time the first plane hit the tower. I think for COVID, we could just pick a time (maybe noon, when all mainland coasts are awake?) and collectively pause.” — Shanda
“Yes. Having lost a very close family friend after a long battle with Covid, just having this terrible disease that close was devastating. To then think of our loss multiplied so many times was almost impossible to understand. And then, we have thousands of courageous, selfless health care workers who continue to walk directly into the pandemic to save lives, and to make the end of life less tragic for all those who had to die alone.
What a light to shine at our darkest hour. My thought is that if each person who lost someone lights a candle, at the same time, those candles would burn for each person lost, and also shine as a beacon of gratitude for all of our health care workers.” — Nanette De Cillis
“NO. Unless victims of police violence, victims of racist police violence are given a national day of remembrance, I say NO. We didn't create a national AIDS Remembrance, how does Covid merit remembrance? No.” — LaDene Bean
“NO. There is no date for Spanish flu, Polio or SARS. Yes, this is today but no need to have a remembrance day. It will be in the history books.” — J
“Absolutely 100%. This pandemic has cost the USA more lives than even a world war! These lives deserve to be at least recognized so that the current survivors and future generations NEVER forget about all the preventable mistakes that were made that led to this catastrophe so they AREN'T repeated in the future!” — Robert Summey
“No, we don’t have a National Day of Remembrance for all the victims of AIDS or those who died from influenza or the Spanish Flu, why would we for this? This was ineptitude and mishandling on the part of our government, the CDC and the WHO. Even if the last two were simply bullied into their lapses.” — Ria H
“I support the idea for a day of remembrance. However, in the execution I believe there must be a way to reckon with the fact that so many died unnecessarily due to inadequate response.” — Patrick Burden
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