Disney Robots, Magic Windows, and Earth’s Biomass: Lux Recommends #292

2 min readAug 27, 2021


By Sam Arbesman, PhD

Welcome to Lux Recommends #292, this week’s edition of what we at Lux are reading and thinking about (want to receive this by email? Sign up here).


Are You Ready for Sentient Disney Robots? “Some of the animatronics at Disney’s parks have been doing their herky-jerky thing since the Nixon administration. The company knows that nostalgia won’t cut it with today’s children.” — Adam K

Social physics: Are we at a tipping point in world history? “Does history have a grand narrative, or is it just a random walk to no place in particular? And is the world as we know it about to change?” — Sam

The secret of the Stradivari violin confirmed — friend of Lux Bryan White

NASA Mars helicopter nails 12th flight, scouts ahead for Perseverance rover: ‘“A dozen for the books!” tweets NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory after Ingenuity overcomes its latest challenge.’ — Sam

Where Do Eels Come From? “There is much to be learned from how little we know about them.” — Zack

Hiding Images in Plain Sight: The Physics Of Magic WindowsSam

How astronaut Chris Hadfield showed Berlin’s ongoing struggle for unification: “Hadfield’s photograph, taken from the International Space Station, showed a divide between the east and west of the German capital” — Adam K

Tolkien and Amazon’s Fight for a Franchise: “The Lord of the Rings prequel is a play for prestige, popularity, and return customers” — Sam

Why Is It So Hard to Be Rational? “The real challenge isn’t being right but knowing how wrong you might be.” — Nelson

All the Biomass of Earth, in One GraphicWill

How Two Bored 1970s Housewives Helped Create The PC Industry: “Vector Graphic became one of the best-known computer manufacturers of its era. It went public. Then the IBM PC changed everything.” — Sam


The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion by Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell: “The definitive inside story of WeWork, its audacious founder, and what its epic unraveling says about a financial system drunk on the elixir of Silicon Valley innovation — from the Wall Street Journal correspondents (recently featured in the WeWork Hulu documentary) whose scoop-filled reporting hastened the company’s downfall.” — Lux Recommends reader Dan Katz

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