217: Vince Beiser | How Sand Served As A Natural Resource That Transformed Civilization

Sand is one of the overlooked natural resources of the world, and is a huge part of the cities that we live and transport around in. In his book The World in a Grain: The Story of Sand and How it Transformed Civilization, journalist Vince Beiser speaks to the importance of this resource, as well as the stories related to its acquisition and usage.

Vince has served as a journalist in over 100 countries, reported from California’s harshest prisons, ridden with first responders, and contributed to Wired, The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, the LA Times, and more. He continues to work as an award-winning journalist based in Los Angeles.

Show notes:

  • why sand on beaches is at risk of being reduced all around the world
  • how violence is attached to battles for sand in some parts of India and elsewhere
  • where sand operations have allowed for building of whole cities
  • what sand is used to build, and what other substances come from sand
  • how reinforced concrete became the main element for strong buildings
  • how more cars leads to more paved road, which led to more cars
  • why is it worthwhile to look at sustainability and personal usage of cars and fuel sources in relation to sand limits and violence related to it

I was glad to have Vince on the show. You can check out his book The World in a Grain on Amazon, or check out his website.

202: Dr. Robin Hanson | Career, Viewpoints And Articles From His Blog “Overcoming Bias”

Welcome to episode number 202, with Dr. Robin Hanson, co-author of The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life.

Robin Hanson is associate professor of economics at George Mason University, and research associate at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University. He has a doctorate in social science from California Institute of Technology, master’s degrees in physics and philosophy from the University of Chicago, and nine years experience as a research programmer, at Lockheed and NASA.

On my episode with Dr. Hanson, we discussed topics and tangents connecting off of his blog articles and book messages, including:

  • having a thing, whether it be a viewpoint or something you stand for
  • hidden motives and the ways they can be look at more rationally
  • the concept of the Great Filter, which is a viewpoint about the universe and lack of activity beyond our planet
  • viewquakes, and the ability to bring individuals to growth through change of their thinking that is not rigid
  • a message to young eccentrics, the value and efficiencies that they have, and how they can look at themselves
  • the way that Edward Snowden was a form of hero, and what kinds of traits Dr. Hanson might look for in relevant individuals
  • Black Mirror translating some of the scientific messages available to a broader audience
  • how stories are used by people, and if they are somewhat religious in the way that they function
  • more topics on the mindset that you take to a difficulty

You can check out Dr. Robin Hanson’s blog at Overcoming Bias, look at his faculty page, or check out his biography. You can also take a look at my past text interview with Dr. Hanson and his The Elephant in the Brain  co-author Kevin Simler.