The Ocean, Oppenheimer, and Old Devices

"Why is Desalination So Difficult?" "Why Oppenheimer Deserves His Own Movie," the "Hadestown" Tiny Desk Concert, and more

Hello, welcome back to my newsletter! I found so many cool things this week we can't get through all of them but we can certainly try!

As the climate heats up and as parts of the U.S. continue to face devastating droughts, many are looking to alternative water sources of drinking to ease the ensuing shortages. One of the most obvious opportunities is the oceans: they contain 96.5% of all water on Earth – a practically limitless amount – so why don't we just use that instead?

Well as it turns out, removing salt from water is incredibly energy intensive – desalination plants use 25% of the all the energy used by all water treatment plants while only producing 1% of the world's drinking water. But why is this process so energy intensive?

Runtime: 20:31

Remember the volcano in the Pacific that erupted early last year? It was one of the largest eruptions ever recorded – sending pressure waves through the atmosphere that circled the globe multiple times and blasting a cloud of ash 35 miles high. But under the surface of the ocean, things were quite different: despite destroying a nearby Internet cable, further away the sound was much quieter in the water than it should have been for an explosion of this size. Why?

The Tonga volcano blasted sound waves through the atmosphere for days. But why was it so quiet in the ocean?
Underwater acoustics expert Gil Averbuch teases apart a mystery

One of the most prevalent news stories this whole week: Christopher Nolan's "Oppenheimer" was finally released on Friday (get ready, I have three separate items about this). But who was Robert J. Oppenheimer, the film's namesake? Veritasium's latest video takes a look back at who this man was, how he got put in charge of the top-secret Manhattan Project, and how to build a nuclear bomb.

Runtime: 32:51

Most movies these days are shot entirely on digital cameras and are augmented with unbelievable amounts of computer graphics. But Christopher Nolan, the director of Oppenheimer, is obsessed with filming as much as possible in-camera with limited computer-generated imagery. He also takes it a step further by shooting – and releasing – on IMAX 70mm film. IMAX film is absolutely enormous and requires lots of attention to set it up in a projector properly, but the resulting image - estimated 16K resolution (64 times the number of pixels of a standard 1080p screen) - is incredibly detailed. This film – the longest IMAX runtime ever, requiring additions to the platters that the film sits on - weighs 600 pounds!

With such impressive specs, you would imagine that it requires the most sophisticated systems to keep everything running smoothly, right? Well not really. IMAX themselves posted some videos showing those additions they had to make to accommodate this enormous reel and in the background was a Palm Pilot. Why would the most overkill theater experience still rely on technology from the early 2000s?

Here’s why the best IMAX movies still need a Palm Pilot to work
It takes a surprising amount of really old tech to show you brand-new movies.

This is the last Oppenheimer-related link, I promise.

Counterprogramming is the phenomenon of studios releasing seemingly drastically different movies on the same day. And once again, Oppenheimer shows up here too. It wasn't the only new film released yesterday - the new Barbie movie was as well. Of course, the Internet did what it did best and mashed the two together: Barbenheimer. But these two movies, which at first glance seem complete opposites, share a lot more the closer you look.

Runtime: 15:15

I found this channel a while ago and just keep going back because everything about his videos is just stunning. Posy looks at the first type of liquid crystal displays ever made and explores how they work and why they are no longer used.

Runtime: 12:43

And finally, NPR's Tiny Desk Concert series doesn't just host musicians and bands: they occasionally host the cast of Broadway musicals. Presenting: selections from Hadestown.

Runtime: 26:23

Whew, that was a lot!

I'm realizing all of the videos I linked to are pretty long; I'll try to include some shorter ones as well going forward.