Listened BBC Radio 1 – Radio 1 and 1Xtra’s Stories, 808s, 303s and 909s from BBC

Kutski discovers how the Roland 808, 303 and 909 helped sculpt the sound of modern music.

This BBC documentary walks through the history of music associated with the TR-808 and the replacement machines that followed. It captures various sections to highlight the sound.
Bookmarked How firms move to secret offices amid Covid-19 (

From 9/11 to coronavirus, big emergencies call for big responses – like how some firms move to secret empty offices in undisclosed locations to stay safe.

Charles Baraniuk talks about the organisations who have supplimentary spaces. I am amazed at the timelines outlined in this piece, especially as the organisation I work in has take a few weeks to work out if the infrastructure is good enough for staff to work offsite, let alone the months involved in setting up a whole new space as the various departments grow.
Liked The man who refused to freeze to death (

For the fishermen, the first few minutes after hitting the water were critical. Cold water takes heat away from the body quicker than air at the same temperature. Those that succumbed quickly were probably unable to control the cold shock response. Gasping and panicking, they inhaled water. Friðþórsson, by contrast, managed to control his breathing.

He later described remaining clear-headed throughout his swim. He even chose to get back in the sea to swim further along the shoreline after the cliffs at his first landing spot proved too difficult to climb. The presence of mind to do this probably saved his life.

Finally, Friðþórsson reached a village, and around 7am on Monday morning he knocked on someone’s door. He was later discharged from hospital having been treated for his cuts and dehydration. There was no sign that he had suffered from hypothermia at all.

Bookmarked Coronavirus: The psychology of panic buying (

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, people are flocking to supermarkets worldwide – but are they simply preparing, or irrationally panicking?

Bryan Lufkin explores the psychology behind panic buying. Whereas with other disasters it is clear what being prepared actually means, with the current crisis it is unclear what being prepared means with the current coronavirus outbreak.

In the case of a hurricane or flood, most people have a fair idea of the items they may need in the event of a blackout or a water shortage. But since it’s unclear at this stage just what effects Covid-19 will have, there’s a lot of uncertainty driving this spending.

Although washing hands and coughing hygiene are the most important things you can do, people feel the need to do more.

“Under circumstances like these, people feel the need to do something that’s proportionate to what they perceive is the level of the crisis,” Taylor says. “We know that washing your hands and practicing coughing hygiene is all you need to do at this point. “But for many people, hand-washing seems to be too ordinary. This is a dramatic event, therefore a dramatic response is required, so that leads to people throwing money at things in hopes of protecting themselves.”

The problem is that panic buying often reduces access to resources for those who really need them.

A better plan than panic buying would be to be prepared all year round for possible emergencies or crises. It’s also worth keeping everyone else’s needs in mind as these types of events unfold: stock up on what you and your family need, but avoid the urge to hoard enough supplies to fill a doomsday bunker. Because when individual panic buying plays out collectively, that’s what can lead to price gouging, or low supplies for high-risk individuals who need things like face masks more than the general population does.

This is interesting reading alongside the crash in the stock-market and the panic selling.

The coronavirus has a finite life, but the damage it does to the share market and the economy will take time to work through.

Bookmarked Can we heat buildings without burning fossil fuels? (

When it comes to the transitions towards zero carbon, heating is a promising target. Cutting edge technology could make the ingoing energy more renewable and less wasteful. And more broadly, these designs are about tailoring heating systems to the environment around them, from pulling ambient heat from the sewers below, to taking note of the precise angle of the sun in the winter sky.

Rather than pitting our heating systems against the environment, they can be redesigned to make the most of it.

Laura Cole investigates alternatives required to reach zero emmissions. These initiatives include utilising renewable heating and cooling from sewers and houses. This is something also explored by Richelle Hunt and Warwick Long in the Conversation Hour with the work being done at Cape Paterson.
Bookmarked How did the last Neanderthals live? (

In many ways, the last surviving Neanderthals are a mystery. But four caves in Gibraltar have given an unprecedented insight into what their lives might have been like.

It is interesting to read Melissa Hogenboom’s discussion of Neanderthals along side Peter Brannen’s reflection on the history of the earth.
Bookmarked The medications that change who we are (

They’ve been linked to road rage, pathological gambling, and complicated acts of fraud. It turns out many ordinary medications don’t just affect our bodies – they affect our brains.

It is interesting that culturally we are so willing to talk about the side effects of illegal drugs, however the fact that common drugs are ‘legal’ seems to make them somehow immune to criticism. This touches on the guessing game that is anaesthetics.

The BBC provide a succinct summary of the Australian Bushfire crisis.
Bookmarked Welcome to Jáchymov: the Czech town that invented the dollar (

When the town’s shiny silver deposits dwindled, miners began to encounter a mysterious pitch-black substance that led to an alarmingly high incidence of fatal lung diseases. They called the uraninite mineral “Pechblende” (“pech” means “bad luck” in German). While sifting through the town’s mines in 1898, a physicist named Marie Curie identified that the same ore that had produced the first dollars contained two new radioactive elements: radium and polonium. The discovery disfigured Curie’s hands, eventually killed her and led her to become the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. But it also set the stage for the town’s unlikely second act: the same mines that coined the world’s currency would now power the nuclear arms race.

Eliot Stein digs into the history of the tiny Czech town of Jáchymov that was recently named one of Unesco’s newest World Heritage sites. He discusses the silver deposits that helped create the first ‘thalors’ some 500 years ago, as well as the radioactive metals that helped fuel the Cold War.
Bookmarked Why the world is running out of sand (

Awareness of the damage caused by our addiction to sand is growing. A number of scientists are working on ways to replace sand in concrete with other materials, including fly ash, the material left over by coal-fired power stations; shredded plastic; and even crushed oil palm shells and rice husks. Others are developing concrete that requires less sand, while researchers are also looking at more effective ways to grind down and recycle concrete.

Vince Beiser digs into the world of sand. Interestingly, it is used in a number of different contexts, from the increase of land to the creation of glass. Also the mining of the resource is having both an environmental impact on rivers and people forced to work.
Bookmarked Friends: The show that changed our idea of family (

First broadcast 25 years ago, the hugely popular sitcom Friends gave us more than just a haircut – it brought a new type of domesticity into the mainstream, argues Clare Thorp.

It is always interesting to look back and judge a television show like Friends with the distance of time.
Bookmarked How plants reclaimed Chernobyl’s poisoned land (

Trees and other kinds of vegetation have proven to be remarkably resilient to the intense radiation around the nuclear disaster zone.

Stuart Thompson discusses the rewilding of the environment around Chernobyl. This reminds me of the discussion of radioactive blueberries on the Guardian’s Today in Focus podcast.
Bookmarked Are we on the road to civilisation collapse? (

Studying the demise of historic civilisations can tell us about the risk we face today, says collapse expert Luke Kemp. Worryingly, the signs are worsening.

In an article a part of a new BBC Future series about the long view of humanity, Luke Kemp unpacks the historical reasons that have contributed to the fall of past empires. These reasons include climate change, inequality, increasing complexity and demand on the environment. Although Kemp suggests there are reasons to be optimistic, he also warns that the connected nature of today’s civilization has made for a rungless ladder where any fall has the potential to be fatal.


Think of civilisation as a poorly-built ladder. As you climb, each step that you used falls away. A fall from a height of just a few rungs is fine. Yet the higher you climb, the larger the fall. Eventually, once you reach a sufficient height, any drop from the ladder is fatal.

With the proliferation of nuclear weapons, we may have already reached this point of civilisational “terminal velocity”. Any collapse – any fall from the ladder – risks being permanent. Nuclear war in itself could result in an existential risk: either the extinction of our species, or a permanent catapult back to the Stone Age.