Gists V


  • The term Thomassons was coined by Japanese artist Genpei Akasegawa, and is used to describe any architectural feature that serves no purpose but is still maintained (such as stairs leading nowhere). The word itself can be traced back to Gary Thomasson, an American baseball player who traded to Tokyo’s Yomiuri Giants in 1980 — spending most of his contract on the bench yet highly paid; both “useless” and “maintained.”

The Health of a Nation


“I was convinced that the logic of health-care reform was so obvious that even in the face of well-organized opposition I could rally the American people’s support.” — Barack Obama

Personal note: Read this while waiting in a OneMedical line (after trying several locations) to get a Covid-19 test.

  • In 1912, first universal healthcare proposal by Roosevelt (lost the election). In 1945 and 1949, Truman proposed national healthcare but was defeated by the American Medical Association and lobbyists — convincing the public that socialized medicine would lead to rationing, loss of family doctors, and loss of freedom! In 1965, Johnson’s “Great Society” Social Security Amendments introduced Medicare (seniors) and Medicaid (poor). In 1994, Hillary Clinton pushed for universal healthcare was defeated (and led to the loss of the House in the midterms). In 2010, Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) with exactly 60 votes (and first Christmas Eve vote since 1985) to avoid a filibuster.
  • In the early 20th century private health insurance was rare — most Americans paid per-visit, but as medicine grew more sophisticated costs began to rise.
  • FDR froze wages during WWII to stem inflation, so may companies began offering private health insurance to compete for the remaining (limited) workers.
  • After the war, employer-based system remained because of labor unions — who used collective-bargaining health insurance benefits as a selling point to recruit new members. The incentive for these unions was not to push for government-sponsored health programs, which would have helped everyone else but devalued themselves.
  • Because costs were covered by insurers, patients have little incentive to question whether treatments were unnecessary or overcharged. Uninsured people don’t get preventative care (i.e. regular checkups), going to hospital when very sick — resulting in more expensive treatments.
  • In order to offset these uncompensated treatments, hospitals increased prices for insured customers. Insurance companies passed on the cost by increasing premiums.
  • Rising insurance costs burn businesses, who compete with foreign companies that don’t pay for health insurance (e.g. a Detroit car cost an additional $1,500). In response during the 1980s and 90s, companies replaced health insurance with cheaper alternatives that included out-of-pocket costs (co-pay, lifetime limits, high deductibles). Many smaller business can’t provide health benefits at all.
  • Ironically, unions now had to forgo wage increases to preserve existing benefit plans
  • Around 20% of Americans live an illness or accident away from potential financial ruin. Insurance companies perfected the art of rejecting customers who are more likely to need care (e.g. preexisting conditions) to maximize profits.
  • During the 1970s and 80s, around 80% of Americans were covered. From 2000 to 2008, premiums on family coverage increased 97%! In 2008, 43 million (14%) were uninsured.

“Heartbreaking and maddening, an indictment of a wealthy nation that failed too many of its citizens.”

  • The US spends more (87% over Canada, 102% over France, 182% over Japan) on healthcare per person than any other first-world economy — for similar or worse outcomes! Amounts to hundreds of billions each year.
  • Doctors and Republicans (Koch brothers, Americans for Prosperity, Tea Party) oppose government healthcare as a “liberal spending binge” that help others at their expense. That the game is rigged. The reality is many Republican-state people would benefit — but the power (re: fear) to convince people to vote against their own interests.
  • For-profit medicine has led to innovations such as MRI and lifesaving drugs, but vaccines aren’t big moneymakers for drug companies. Canadian and European government-run healthcare uses their immense bargaining power to negotiate much lower prices than Big Pharma charges the US.
  • Obamacare attempted to “bend the cost curve” by establishing an independent board to set reimbursement rates for Medicare, but Democrats hated the idea of giving away power to determine what was covered — and the fund-raising opportunities that come with that power. Another proposal to cap deductibility of high-cost “Cadillac” plans that offered premium services but didn’t improve health outcomes (the most important metric).
  • Obama worked on US pandemic preparedness in the Senate. Trump attempted to remove Obamacare during the pandemic!!

British Empire

A collective amnesia about the legacy of the colonial past. Hostage to myth.

  • The Rhodes Trust was established by a white supremacist . The British Museum founding collection funded from Jamaican plantations worked by slaves. The Booker Prize launched by a food company that exploited cane field workers in British Guiana.
  • In 1817, History of British India published as the philosophical textbook for colonization with the basic premise that imperialism brings progress. It stated civilizations evolved in stages and Britain, which was more advances, had a moral duty to lift the colonies up — presumably by force.
  • In 1807, abolished transatlantic slavery as proof of progress (after being the largest 18th century slave trader). Colonial independence in the 20th century a selfless mission to “give” democracy (rather than requested).

“In the end, the British sacrificed her Empire to stop the Germans, Japanese and Italians from keeping theirs… Did not that sacrifice alone expunge all the Empire’s other sins?” — Niall Ferguson

  • WWII became the British Empire’s triumphant last stand as the leader of global liberty in the face of fascism; America took over.
  • In 1963, The Making of the English Working Class — on Britain between 1780 to 1832 — is one of the most influential works in modern history

“The British went down in a blaze of documents.”

  • Before colonial independence the British would destroy all records. In 1947, burning documents en masse in New Delhi. In 1957, drove records from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore for incineration. In 1961, sank crates of records in the sea in Trinidad and Tobago. In 1963, files were flown to London from Kenya. In 1965, burned in drums in Guiana.

How Aristotle Created the Computer


“Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about.” — Bertrand Russell

  • The evolution of computer science from mathematical logic culminated in the 1930s, with two landmark papers: Claude Shannon’s A Symbolic Analysis of Switching and Relay Circuits and Alan Turing’s On Computable Numbers, With an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem.

“The work in which pure mathematics was discovered.” — Bertrand Russell on the Laws of Thought

  • Shannon’s primary reference was reference was the 90-year-old work of mathematical philosophy, George Boole’s (to whom boolean is named) The Laws of Thought, which in-turn pays tribute to Aristotle’s The Organon. Boole’s goal was to do for Aristotelean logic what Descartes had done for Euclidean geometry: free it from the limits of human intuition by giving it a precise algebraic notation. It created the new scholarly field of mathematical logic.
  • The Organon’s most famous argument is the syllogism: All men are mortal / Socrates is a man / Therefore, Socrates is mortal. It also defined a set of axioms: An object is what it is (Law of Identity) / No statement can be both true and false (Law of Non-contradiction) / Every statement is either true or false (Law of the Excluded Middle).
  • Shannon’s insight was that Boole’s system could be mapped directly onto electrical circuits, leveraging decades of work in logic and mathematics by Boole and subsequent logicians. He was first to distinguish between the logical and the physical layer of computers.
  • Aristotle’s axiomatic method influenced Euclid’s Elements, which is estimated to be second only to the Bible in the number of editions printed.
  • Ostensibly about geometry, it became a standard textbook for teaching rigorous deductive reasoning. (Abraham Lincoln once said that he learned sound legal argumentation from studying Euclid.) Geometric ideas were represented as spatial diagrams until René Descartes published Discourse on Method in the 1630s, representing geometry as formulas and first maths text in the West to popularize standard algebraic notation.
  • Algebra allowed mathematicians to move beyond spatial intuitions, shifting the dominant mode of mathematics from diagrams to formulas and leading to the development of calculus — invented roughly 30 years later by, independently, Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz.
  • Shannon’s adviser, Vannevar Bush, built a prototype computer known as the Differential Analyzer.
  • Turing showed how to design computers in the language of mathematical logic while trying to solve “the decision problem” for an algorithm that could determine whether an arbitrary mathematical statement is true or false.
  • Leibniz postulated an (undeveloped) “universal characteristic” that could represent all possible mathematical and scientific knowledge, inspired in part by the 13th-century religious philosopher Ramon Llull. It would be ideographic (like Egyptian hieroglyphics), except characters would correspond to “atomic” concepts of math and science. He imagined a machine to process this language called the calculus ratiocinator.
  • In 1879, German philosopher Gottlob Frege published a more advanced logical system in Begriffsschrift called “concept-script.” The logic taught in philosophy and computer-science classes today — first-order or predicate logic — is only a slight modification. Credited with the “linguistic turn” in philosophy — from questions of knowledge to questions of language. His disciples included two of the most important philosophers of the 20th century — Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein.
  • Frege’s logic is that it much more accurately represented the logical structure of ordinary language. He was the first to use quantifiers (“for every,” “there exists”), to separate objects from predicates — and develop fundamental concepts such as recursive functions, and variables with scope and binding.
  • Concept-script is comprised of meaningless symbols that are manipulated by well-defined rules — and only given meaning by an interpretation, which is specified separately (syntax versus semantics). “The symbol game…played with meaningless tokens according to certain purely syntactic rules.”

This sentence is false. — The Liar’s Paradox

  • An unexpected consequence of Begriffsschrift was the discovery of weaknesses in the foundations of mathematics (e.g. logical mistakes in Elements). The same logical methods used to uncover these errors were used to correct them and rebuilding the foundations of mathematics (dubbed “Hilbert’s program”). In 1889, Giuseppe Peano developed axioms for arithmetic, and in 1899, David Hilbert did the same for geometry.
  • Between 1910 and 1913, Russell and Alfred North Whitehead published Principia Mathematica, which was so detailed that it took over 300 pages to get to the proof that 1+1=2! It resolved paradoxes with type theory — the partition of formal languages into multiple levels (or types) that can only reference lower levels which, in effect, banned self-reference. Most modern computer languages have features inspired by type theory.
  • In 1931, Gödel published his incompleteness theorem, which proved that any consistent logical system powerful enough to encompass arithmetic must also contain statements that are true but cannot be proven to be true.
  • Turing and Alonzo Church independently proved that no algorithm could exist that determined whether an arbitrary mathematical statement was true or false. Church did this by inventing an entirely different system called the lambda calculus, which inspired computer languages such as Lisp. No algorithm for the Entscheidungsproblem exists.
  • Turing also did the first rigorous demonstration that any computing logic that could be encoded in hardware could also be encoded in software. Dubbed “Von Neumann architecture” — but modern historians generally agree it came from Turing, as, apparently, did Von Neumann himself. He invented the “stored-program” architecture.
  • During WWII, Von Neumann joined the atomic bomb project at Los Alamos and wrote the first stored-program, logic-based computer — EDVAC — which is generally considered the definitive source guide for modern computer design. Turing joined a secret unit at Bletchley Park where he designed ACE (Automatic Computing Engine) computers instrumental in breaking German codes.
  • As the first computers to be based on Boolean logic and stored-program architectures, the ACE and the EDVAC were similar in many ways — but Von Neumann’s designs were similar to modern CISC (“complex”) processors, baking rich functionality into hardware, while Turing’s design was more like modern RISC (“reduced”) processors, minimizing hardware complexity and pushing more work to software.

“In philosophical terms, we’d say that computer programming has followed in the tradition of deductive logic, the branch of logic discussed above, which deals with the manipulation of symbols according to formal rules.”

  • Neural networks were first invented in 1940s by Warren McCulloch and Walter Pitts, whose idea was to develop a calculus for neurons that could, like Boolean logic, be used to construct computer circuits. Neural networks remained esoteric until decades later when they were combined with statistical techniques, which allowed them to improve as they were fed more data. Recently, as computers have become increasingly adept at handling large data sets, these techniques have produced remarkable results. Programming in the future will likely mean exposing neural networks to the world and letting them learn.

“Logic began as a way to understand the laws of thought. It then helped create machines that could reason according to the rules of deductive logic. Today, deductive and inductive logic are being combined to create machines that both reason and learn. What began, in Boole’s words, with an investigation “concerning the nature and constitution of the human mind,” could result in the creation of new minds — artificial minds — that might someday match or even exceed our own.”

The Problem with Facts


In the war of ideas, boredom and distraction are powerful weapons.

  • “Despite the fact that its product was addictive and deadly, the tobacco industry was able to fend off regulation, litigation and the idea in the minds of many smokers that its products were fatal for decades.”
  • “So successful was Big Tobacco in postponing that day of reckoning that their tactics have been widely imitated ever since. They have also inspired a thriving corner of academia exploring how the trick was achieved. In 1995, Robert Proctor, a historian at Stanford University who has studied the tobacco case closely, coined the word “agnotology”. This is the study of how ignorance is deliberately produced; the entire field was started by Proctor’s observation of the tobacco industry. The facts about smoking — indisputable facts, from unquestionable sources — did not carry the day. The indisputable facts were disputed. The unquestionable sources were questioned. Facts, it turns out, are important, but facts are not enough to win this kind of argument.”
  • The link between cigarettes and cancer was supported by the world’s leading medical scientists and, in 1964, the US surgeon general himself. According to the US Centers for Disease Control, smoking kills almost half a million Americans a year; more than 50 deaths an hour!
  • The tobacco industry’s tactics were clever, complex and new. First, appear to engage by promising high-quality research. Second, sow doubt. Thirdly, undermine serious research and expertise. Lastly, normalization (i.e. dismissed as old news).
  • In 1969, a Brown & Williamson tobacco company memo stated: “Doubt is our product.” Why? Because doubt “is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.” Big Tobacco’s mantra: keep the controversy alive.
  • Tobacco funded medical research (an estimated 10 Nobel Prize laureates) to produce interesting new science to compete for attention with smoking-related studies. The opposite of terrorism: trivialism.

Practical reasoning is often less about figuring out what’s true, and more about staying in the right tribe.

  • Five problems with fighting lies with facts: Firstly, a simple untruth is easier to understand and remember than a complicated fact. Several studies have shown that repeating a false claim, even in the context of debunking that claim, can make it stick. The myth-busting seems to work but then our memories fade and we remember only the myth. Grandiose false claims are better because people keep talking about them. Second, facts can be tedious and boring. Thirdly, the truth can be threatening (I like smoking) causing a “backfire effect” (defensive overreaction). Fourthly, people are biased and perceive the same information differently (selectively amplify what suits , ignore what does not, reinterpret). Lastly, the distraction of constant fact-checking puts opponents on the defensive and takes time and effort.
  • “We live in a golden age of ignorance. And Trump and Brexit are part of that. It’s as if the president’s team were using the tobacco industry’s playbook.”
  • The Brexit campaign used the false claim that the UK sent £350 million a week to the EU — maintaining it when refuted by independent experts, and going on to win. “The performance was soon to be eclipsed by Donald Trump, who offered wave upon shameless wave of demonstrable falsehood, only to be rewarded with the presidency. The Oxford Dictionaries declared ‘post-truth’ the word of 2016. Facts just didn’t seem to matter any more.” Same for fossil fuel interests against Climate change.
  • Trump knows the value of entertainment to attract attention
  • “The instinctive reaction from those of us who still care about the truth — journalists, academics and many ordinary citizens — has been to double down on the facts.”
  • In 2016, a study on online news found only 4% read enough serious (ten articles and two opinion pieces over three months) news.
  • “Groups with opposing values often become more polarized, not less, when exposed to scientifically sound information.”
  • Scientifically curious people are more likely to consider opposing views and seek out the facts for the delight in insights into the world. Curiosity is the seed from which sensible democratic decisions can grow.

Blockchain 101

Graphs (Computer Science)

  • Mathematical concepts often used to represent physical entities (a network of roads, the relationship between people, etc) inside a computer
  • Made up of two sets: Vertices (i.e. set of nodes) and Edges (i.e. set of pairs connecting two vertices, joining lines, a adjacent to b or a~b)
  • Examples include simple, directed (edge direction matters), undirected (edge direction does not matter), cyclic (at least one cycle e.g. a>b>a), acyclic (no cycles), labeled (each vertex contains additional information), edge labeled (edges contain additional info), weighted (labeled with numbers), infinite, disconnected (orphaned vertices and/or edges), and many more.
  • DAG (Directed Acyclic Graph) are very common in computer science
  • Represented as sets (difficult to efficiently compute adjacency), adjacency arrays (single or multi-dimensional, simple and efficient, graphs can be built at runtime), trees, hash tables, or functions where vertex = vertex -> [array of vertices](i.e. each node returns the list of connected nodes, simple but rigid and must be known at compile-time).
  • Common graph algorithms include searching (e.g. friends in common), detecting cycles (to avoid infinite loops), and shortest path (e.g. driving route)

Amazon High-Speed Trading


  • In 2000, gave people and companies the ability to sell on Amazon and now represents 49% of sales. From over two million registered sellers, 100,000 each sold more than $100,000 in goods in the past year.
  • These vendors are sophisticated retailers in their own right, battle each other for the coveted default seller “Buy Box” — Amazon’s equivalent of a top-ranked Google search (or ad) result
  • Operates like a stock exchange where market dynamics are at work: sellers entering and leaving the market, temporary scarcity when someone runs out of stock or a manufacturer falls behind, and sellers testing consumers and each other with high and low prices. Commodity sellers are constantly monitoring and updating their prices, and automated systems can enter bidding wars and sometimes collapse prices.
  • Keepa browser extension will show the price history of any item

“The result…is that the customer isn’t always getting the absolute best price, especially compared with in-store retail. But the point of Amazon, he adds, isn’t to offer a consumer the absolute lowest price possible; it’s to offer the lowest price possible given the convenience that Amazon offers. Free shipping, after all, isn’t free for the seller.”

  • The most vigorous competitor to sellers on Amazon is Amazon itself. It’s common for Amazon to enter a product market that sells well; even sometimes developing a home-branded version. Supermarkets employ the same strategy.

Homomorphic Encryption

“Once you have a model in finance that works, you hide it. You hide the techniques you used to build it. You hide the methods you used to improve your data. And most importantly, you hide the data. The financial incentive for secrecy is strong.”

  • Form of encryption allowing one to perform calculations on encrypted data without decrypting it first. The result of the computation is in an encrypted form, when decrypted the output is the same as if the operations had been performed on the unencrypted data.
  • Fan and Vercauteren scheme (addition and multiplication operations on high degree polynomial ciphertexts in an algebraic ring)
  • Structure is preserved, allowing machine learning algorithms on encrypted data
  • Numerai is the first hedge fund that gives its data away for free with structure-preserving encryption, and allows open participation by data scientists around the world in the hopes of training better models

Alternative Programming Paradigms

  • Concurrent by default. All lines are executed simultaneously! Control flow is merely a dependency side-effect (e.g. B references A, executes after A). Examples: ANI, Plaid
  • Dependent types. Specify types that can check the value (e.g. positive integer, list of length 2) of your variables at compile time. Dramatically increase the power of the type system in catching errors similar to formal verification methods. Examples: Idris, Agda, Coq
  • Concatenative. Everything in the language is a function that pushes data onto a stack or pops data off the stack; programs are built up almost exclusively through functional composition (concatenation is composition). No variables! Minimal syntax, concise programs and strong meta-programming support — but hard to reason about. Examples: Forth, cat, joy
  • Declarative. Instead of describing how to solve a problem, describe the result you want and let the language figure out how to get there! Allows a higher level of abstraction, but can have unintended routines and/or sub-optimal performance. Examples: Prolog, SQL
  • Symbolic. “Code” can also include images, math equations, graphs, charts, and more. Allows manipulation on a large variety of data in a format native. Goals are to make programming more observable, direct, and reduce incidental complexity. Examples: Aurora
  • Knowledge-based. Built into the language is a vast array of libraries, algorithms, and data to perform symbolic programming on. Almost like an IDE where the auto-complete function does a Google search! Examples: Wolfram Language

Inventing on Principle


“Writing algorithms without a blindfold on.”

  • Software engineers look at code and visualize what the computer would do…but on a computer so why not have the computer execute the program?
  • Creators need an immediate connection (no compile and run, changes reflected instantly). Code and result side-by-side. Mouse wheel up/down to preview changes (e.g. CSS in DevTools) — including variables in for loops (i.e. animation) and autocomplete suggestions.
  • Allows ideas to develop that would be impossible to discover traditionally. Ability to quickly try ideas is paramount to creativity.
  • Inspect lines to see what the resulting changes are. Same for inspecting result to see what code generated it.
  • Pause the game (i.e. debug breakpoint) and use a slider to replay inputs, see past/future, and change code to quickly preview different outcomes! Control time and state. Easily test out and discover new ideas (e.g. gameplay).
  • Give the state, as coding outputs the variable state for any line! Visualization. Develop an intuition for how a program works, without the effort of unit tests.
  • Past innovation such as real-time interaction, GUI, WYSIWYG interfaces, the mouse, touchscreen. Intuitive.

Think like a 21st century economist


  • The current economic mindset is rooted in the textbooks of 1950, which in turn is grounded in the theories of 1850
  1. Change the goal: from GDP growth to the Doughnut. Meeting the needs of all (food, shelter, healthcare, voting) within the means of the planet (ozone, climate, oceans).
  2. See the big picture: from self-contained market to embedded economy. Move away from neoliberalism.
  3. Nurture human nature: from rational economic man to social adaptable humans.
  4. Get savvy with systems: from mechanical equilibrium to dynamic complexity. Embrace complexity and evolutionary thinking at the heart of economics to open up new insights for understanding the rise of the one percent and the boom and bust of financial markets. Stop searching for the economy’s elusive control levers (they don’t exist), and instead steward the economy as an ever-evolving system.
  5. Design to distribute: from ‘growth will even it up again’ to distributive by design. Extreme inequality is not an economic law or necessity: it is a design failure. Design economies to be far more distributive of value among those who help to generate it; beyond redistributing income to pre-distributing wealth (controlling land, enterprise, and the power to create money).
  6. Create to regenerate: from ‘growth will clean it up again’ to regenerative by design. A clean environment is not a luxury good, pollution does not need to increase before it can decline. Environmental degradation is the result of degenerative industrial design.
  7. Be Agnostic about Growth: from growth-addicted to growth-agnostic. Nothing in nature grows forever. Instead of economies addicted to growth, whether or not they make us thrive, create economies that make us thrive whether or not they grow. That radical flip in perspective invites us to become agnostic about growth and to explore how our economies can learn to live with or without it.

Mutation Testing

  • Mutation testing is not an alternative to line coverage, which asks “what percentage of our code is run by our tests?” Mutation testing asks “what code can I change without breaking your tests?”
  • Mutation testing tools answer this question by applying and testing small modifications to your application. Similar to fuzzing? Example: Mutant
First photo.

Solar Eclipses

  • A total solar eclipse is visible somewhere on Earth on average every 18 months
  • In South America, a celestial jaguar was thought to have eaten the Sun. The ancient Chinese believed a dragon was responsible for devouring the bright yellow ball in the sky (the Chinese word for solar eclipse is chih meaning “to eat”). In Scandinavia, a demon sky wolf named Skoll who wanted the Sun for his next meal and it was up to those on Earth to make noise to scare him off. Ancient Mesopotamians saw it as a sign that the king was nearing death. In Indian mythology, the Hindu demon Rahu spent his days chasing the Moon and Sun and every once in a while, caught and swallowed them. In other civilizations, a solar eclipse meant evil was close by, or the end of times was approaching.
  • In 2100BC, a Chinese myth that court astrologers Xi and He were beheaded for being unable to explain why the sun had suddenly disappeared (possibly because they were always drunk). In 1223BC, the first written record found in the Syrian city of Ugarit. In 763BC, an Assyrian (Iraq) eclipse is referenced (Amos 8:9) in the King James Bible. Around 600BC, the Chaldeans (reigned over Babylon) kept daily astronomical diaries and discovered eclipses followed what they called the “Saros cycle” — a period of approximately 18 years.
  • In 585BE, the first accurate prediction by the Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus. In 478BC, Anaxagoras of Clazomenae the first to roughly calculate the size of object and determine it as the moon. Around 200BC, the “Antikythera Mechanism” is the oldest device ever found that tracks the paths of celestial bodies for calculating the date and times of future eclipses (found in a Greek shipwreck). In 150BC, Egyptian mathematician Ptolemy accurately describes 19 solar eclipses going back centuries; the writings and math of The Almagest remain the definitive tome for predicting the positions of celestial bodies and eclipses up until the time of Galileo (1,500 years)!
  • Around 1000, Islamic scholar Alhazen the first to build and use camera obscura to safely observing solar eclipses. In 1543, Copernicus revealed the sun, not the Earth, that was the center of our solar system. In 1695, Edmund Halley produced the oldest eclipse map in existence and discovered that the Earth’s rotation rate is gradually slowing down, while the Moon’s orbit is gradually accelerating. In 1836, English astronomer Francis Baily named the phenomenon of sun rays through lunar topography (right before the moment of totality) Baily’s Beads; he travels the world to witness solar eclipses and began “the golden age of solar eclipse chasing.”
  • In 1851, Johann Julius Friedrich Berkowski was commissioned by the Royal Prussian Observatory to take the first eclipse photo. In 1919, eclipse used to prove Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity by and accurately measure the gravity-shifted positions of starlight as it made its way through the sun’s gravitational field on the way to Earth. In 1973, a group of astronomers chased the eclipse using a prototype Concorde (twice the speed of sound) to observe a record-breaking 74 minutes of dark totality!





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