Happy Independence Day

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Video: The rising apogee of the space economy

Video still from
Video still from "Will America Make It? Space Economy”

Happy Independence Day (and very long weekend)! No column from me this week, but we do have a brand new video and a whole pile of Lux Recommends below.

When it comes to reaching for new heights, America has been a striver since its very founding. Now, as the space economy reaches a new apogee, a critical question remains: Will America Make It? Can it lead in all aspects of the new space race just as it bested the Soviets in the 1960s?

In our new “Securities” video produced by Chris Gates, we explore the potential of the private sector-led space economy, chatting with Paul Seebacher, VP of Engineering at Impulse Space, and our own Shahin Farshchi.

🎬 Watch the video here

Lux Recommends

  • Many scientists and engineers are unassuming, and yet their inventions have transformed the world. This week, we lost one of the greats with the passing of John B. Goodenough, the inventor of the lithium-ion battery. The New York Times has a great obituary, and Chemistry World points out that “Then in 1986, with Goodenough’s retirement from Oxford anticipated, he accepted an offer to become chair of engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. In the US, retirement before age 67 was not required, so he kept working for another 32 years as a materials science and engineering professor.”
  • Our scientist-in-residence Sam Arbesman enjoyed this Nature news article reporting on the conclusion of a 25-year philosophical wager (but not Pascal’s) between David Chalmers and Christof Koch on whether we will understand the neural basis of consciousness. We don’t yet, and so the bet was settled in favor of Chalmers.
  • Lan Jiang recommends William J. Broad’s look at the three-body problem as applied to nuclear warfare between the U.S., China and Russia. “Experts say the tripolar age could put human survival at risk. But they also cite a number of three-body lessons from nature — starting with Newton’s — that illuminate the issue and suggest possible ways forward.” And for those excited for the 3 Body Problem sci-fi TV series (an adaptation of Liu Cixin’s book), Netflix has posted its official trailer.
  • Our summer associate Koko Xu selected three articles from Every, which has been producing some great work. The first is from Evan Armstrong in Napkin Math exploring how generative AI can be applied to algorithmic finance. His conclusion? Interns and entry-level jobs in finance are about to change radically. Koko’s second article is from our “Securities” friend Anna-Sofia Lesiv of Contrary Capital, who writes on “The Dawn of Spatial Computing.” Finally, Jamie Wong offers a detailed deep dive into the CO2 removal market, and all the innovation happening there as the world confronts climate disruption.
  • Our “Securities” summer associate Ken Bui recommends Nicholas Dockery’s analysis for the Modern War Institute at West Point on what has gone wrong for the Pentagon’s procurement of AI technologies. “DoD must remain cognizant of the lessons gleaned from the post-9/11 wars and the inefficacious efforts of the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO).” It’s a big issue: Politico this week reports on the latest Congressional proposal trying to improve AI procurement. “Pentagon leaders have acknowledged that the procurement rules that worked for acquiring traditional weapons like fighter jets do not translate well to buying new AI-enabled software technologies.”
  • Our summer associate Reha Mathur points to a brand-new Nature paper (co-written by our own Feng Zhang at Aera Therapeutics) that finds that eukaryotes (the cell family for humans and most complex lifeforms on Earth) have RNA-guided DNA endonucleases. The discovery means that our cells also have a programmable DNA mechanism, indicating that genetic engineering might be possible with our cells along the lines of CRISPR-Cas9 for prokaryotes.
  • On the same theme as our "Securities" video this week, Ken recommends Brian Balkus’s overview in Palladium on “The Golden Age of Aerospace.” "Aerospace is one of the deepest branches of humanity’s technological tree. It is a telling fact that more countries have produced a nuclear bomb than have mass-produced a jet engine.”
  • Koko recommends Eric Jang’s analysis in “Takeaways from DeepMind’s RoboCat Paper.” "While none of the ideas are really new, sometimes a lack of empirical surprise paired with a lot of rigor is what the community needs.”
  • Finally, Sam recommends Paul Ford’s retrospective in Wired on “My Father’s Death in 7 Gigabytes.” “The sum of Frank took two days and nights to upload to the Internet Archive, at a rate of a few files per minute. I wonder what the universe will make of this bundle of information. Who will care?”

That’s it, folks. Have questions, comments, or ideas? This newsletter is sent from my email, so you can just click reply.