Mazes, Intel 4004, and Mind Reading: Lux Recommends #305

3 min readDec 3, 2021

By Sam Arbesman, PhD

Welcome to Lux Recommends #305, this week’s edition of what we at Lux are reading and thinking about (want to receive this by email? Sign up here).


The Chip That Changed the World: “Most of the wealth created since 1971 is a result of Intel’s 4004 microprocessor.” — Ankeeta

How the World’s Foremost Maze-Maker Leads People Astray: “Adrian Fisher has devoted the past four decades to bringing back mazes, long regarded as historical curiosities. He has created more than seven hundred — including one on a skyscraper in Dubai and another that’s now reproduced on Britain’s five-pound note.” — Sam

Artificial intelligence powers protein-folding predictions: “Deep-learning algorithms such as AlphaFold2 and RoseTTAFold can now predict a protein’s 3D shape from its linear sequence — a huge boon to structural biologists.” — Adam G

The Gene-Synthesis Revolution: “Researchers can now design and mass-produce genetic material — a technique that helped build the mRNA vaccines. What could it give us next?” — Ankeeta

Researchers recover ancient mammoth tusk during deep-sea expeditionAdam K

An AI Finds Superbug-Killing Potential in Human Proteins: “A team scoured the human proteome for antimicrobial molecules and found thousands, plus a surprise about how animals evolved to fight infections.” — Shaq

Badwater ultramarathon: What I lost and found during 135 miles of the world’s most impossible run Adam G

Stephen Curry’s Scientific Quest for the Perfect Shot: “The NBA’s best shooter decided the basket was too big. He used technology to make it smaller. The goal: ‘swishes within swishes.’” — Adam K

Founder-led biotech is making space for ideas — and diverse leaders — where it didn’t exist before Ankeeta

A Cure for Type 1 Diabetes? For One Man, It Seems to Have Worked: “A new treatment using stem cells that produce insulin has surprised experts and given them hope for the 1.5 million Americans living with the disease.” — Adam K

The Science of Mind Reading: “Researchers are pursuing age-old questions about the nature of thoughts — and learning how to read them.” — Sam

Why Does Coffee Make Me Poop? “It’s not clear why coffee can stimulate a bowel movement, but the speed of this effect suggests it’s mediated by the brain.” — Adam G

Team builds first living robots — that can reproduce: “AI-designed Xenobots reveal entirely new form of biological self-replication — promising for regenerative medicine” — Lux Recommends reader Randy Castleman

The fry universeSam


The Harder They Fall: “When an outlaw discovers his enemy is being released from prison, he reunites his gang to seek revenge in this Western.” — Adam G


Engineering a Capable Climbing Lego CarSam

Want to receive this by email? Sign up here.

And have a suggestion? Let us know.