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Mark Twain playing with electricity in Nikola Tesla's lab in 1894 (2013) (openculture.com)
117 points by bookofjoe 3 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 18 comments

Please read the century article it comes from! It is so beautifully written and really gives a sense of the future vision of the times: http://www.tfcbooks.com/tesla/1895-04-00.htm

Articles and books like this are so detailed and descriptive, they're like the 4K Youtube of the 19th century...

Mark Twain invested in all sorts of crazy startups. If he was alive today, he'd probably be a billionaire, but he was way ahead of his time.


He also talked a struggling U.S. Grant into writing an autobiography which Twain then published. This basically saved Grant's family economically. (Grant's autobiography is a great book, btw)

He was also an anti-imperialist and protested eg the US occupation of Philippines. (These writings aren’t well known). I’d like to think if he was alive today he’d be a dissident.

The original masayoshi son. Anyway, I thought he invested a ton in this startup for movable type though.I wasn't aware that he invested in other startups as well

He was financially ruined by his investments. Are you saying it’s a lot easier today to fail upwards as an investor?

1894 was just 125 years ago.

just in 125 years how far we've come technologically...it's crazy.

Makes one wonder how drastic the technology landscape might be 125 years from today.

is it still the same trend?

There seems to be a rough rule that new fundamental discoveries (e.g. new theories like thermodynamics, QM, GRT) are turned into auccessful applications for the masses some 50 to 70 years later. It's a rule of thumb at best, but it holds for quite a few cases.

The trouble then is: what were the major new discoveries of the last 50 years? Science has mostly confirmed and fleshed out existing knowledge. So engineers are mostly stuck with optimizing what we have instead of coming up with things that are fundamentally new and foreign.

Isn’t the claim that the rate of change is increasing? That same amount of change in the past 125 years should occur in half or quarter of the time, for example.

Where do we stand on the singularity these days?

rate of change may actually be decreasing, as the low hanging fruit isn't there anymore.

it may be that big breakthroughs like the last century will be fewer and further apart, especially with lots of energy (physical and intelectual) spent on bitcoin, social media and consuming in general

Is there a way to use the Bitcoin hash rate to solve more meaningful problems than SHA-256 while still being cryptographically secure? Imagine if we could send math problems to the Bitcoin network, is this possible?

The closest anyone has found is PrimeCoin, which might have a slight usability to it.

Mark Twain demonstrates the difference between “the lightning and the lightning bug”.

Aw man, this doesn't include the time Nikola Tesla literally made Mark Twain shit himself!


That was amusing, but is there a primary source[1] for that? I think it'd be far more interesting to read an account of it in 19th century English.

[1] Electrical pun not intended.

I originally read it in a biography I read many years ago. I assume that biography was well cited and that a primary source exists, but I do not know where it is (I have spent literally zero seconds searching though).

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