Curious Thoughts (7/22/17)

The world is an interesting place—packed with information and inspiring people—and none of us has time to experience all of it. Inspired by series such as Physician on Fire’s The Sunday Best, Curious Thoughts is a window into what I have been reading and thinking about in recent days.

I hope you enjoy what you find here as much as I have.



I don’t get nearly as much time to read as I would like, but a few months ago I finished Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom—a cautionary assessment of humanity’s foray into the development of artificial intelligence. All I can say is: Yikes!

You may have heard the likes of Bill Gates and Elon Musk sounding the alarm on the dangers of artificial intelligence; this book was a strong influence on their perspectives. It’s not a beach book, so be prepared to re-read passages and (at least in my case) look up philosophy terminology.

The effort will reward you with new lens through which to view the challenges and possibilities that lie ahead in the field of artificial intelligence. It may also send you to the hills to live in a cave, far from the evil robots.


If I had to pick a celebrity chef idol, it would have to be the lovely, chill AF Ina Garten. She lives a charmed life in her beautiful home in the Hamptons, whips up delectable dishes for her fashionable and celebrity friends, and generally puts Martha Stewart to shame. My wife and I have also found her recipes to be on point, almost without exception.

Here is a favorite summer recipe of hers. Bon appétit!


All mammals—from the tiniest shrew to the largest blue whale—are allotted an average of 1.5 billion heartbeats in their lives (humans, with our sanitation and modern medicine, are an exception at 2 billion heartbeats). Shrew’s hearts, of course, beat much faster and use up those beats in about 14 months, while blue whales stretch their slower heartbeats over about 100 years.

I learned these fascinating facts in an recent interview with theoretical physicist Geoffrey West, in which he discussed at length the concept of biological scaling. Biological scaling attempts to explain how certain characteristics—heart rate, life expectancy, metabolic rate—change with size of the organism, and how they relate mathematically among species.

It turns out these physical characteristics and biological phenomena vary based on an organism’s mass according to the principle of 1/4 power scaling. A cat, for example, is 100 times more massive than a mouse, and lives 100 raised to the 1/4 power (=3.2) times longer. A mouse’s heart rate, in turn, is 3.2 times faster than a cat’s. Metabolism across species changes in a different but predictable ratio: 3/4 power scaling.

All this might make one consider starting a cult dedicated to the magical number of 4.

Rules of the Pythagorean order

Finally, a few words of wisdom from triangle enthusiasts of past millennia.

rules of pythagorean order
Number 3 gets me every time.

Thanks for reading, and stay curious!

Dr. C

8 Replies to “Curious Thoughts (7/22/17)”

  1. Thanks for including me in your curious thoughts.
    I was wondering if this would be like an SNL skit in there somewhere like Deep Thoughts with Jack Handy.

    Instead it would be:

    Curios Thoughts with Dr. C.

    Don’t touch a white cock. 🙂

    Tom @ HIP

    1. If only I had the skill (and time) to produce a SNL-type skit. There are not many videos on these personal finance blogs, so maybe it’s an unexploited niche.

      Thanks for the great post!
      Dr. C

  2. Physician on FIRE says: Reply

    I like your take on the weekly roundup, Dr. C.

    Mostly because it included me, but also for the additional curiosities included like the AI book, recipe, and rules about white roosters. I believe he was talking about roosters.


    1. Thanks, PoF!

      If he is not talking about roosters, then I am afraid I violate rule #3 on a daily basis.*

      Take care,
      Dr. C

      *I am Causasian

  3. Appreciate the shout out! It’s an honor to be in such great company.

    1. Great post as always, Steve! It was a no-brainer for me to include it here.

      Have a nice weekend,
      Dr. C

  4. Solitary Diner says: Reply

    Great list! I personally love Ina Garten’s greek salad recipe ( Mmmmm.

    1. Thanks for sharing! Ina is a culinary goddess!

Comments please!