issue 014 2021-12-29


by Paolo Belcastro

👋 Hello Morftenighter!

Greetings from France!

In September, I started sending out this weekly note earlier this year to 22 Morfternighters. As we wrap up the year with a grade of "Slightly better than the last one but could do better," I am incredibly excited that over 14 issues, we have become 170 Morfternighters!

It is only the beginning, and this space is as much yours as it is mine, so please do not hesitate even one second before hitting the "reply" button to let me know if there's anything I could do to make Marfternight better.

Or even just to say "Hi!"...

I recently shared a link to The Sample (which many of you probably already knew as that's where you found me). Today I'd like to share a link to Refind, a tool I use daily to discover new content aligned with my interests.

These are not sponsored links, I do not receive any payment for them, but traffic exchanges: they'll show Morfternight as y'all click on these links. They are also tools I personally use and recommend.
The essence of the web, every morning in your inbox. Tens of thousands of busy people start their day with their personalized digest by Refind. Sign up for free and pick your favorite topics and thought leaders.

After this long intro, let's dive together into the last issue of this year (if you use the Gregorian calendar, that is) and raise a glass of your favorite beverage to many more to come!

Happy Morfternight!



I always find the relationship between birds and humans in cities intriguing. We, humans, mostly spend our lives in a two-dimensional space, occasionally venturing through the third. So we built these cities where we live in a sort of 2D+ environment, where we can move up and down in a limited fashion. Meanwhile, birds own the space and the city; they are not really part of it and can see it as a whole.
More Photos...


We are not ready

I might have mentioned last week that I was flying to France, which happened to be my first time on a plane since March 2020.

I have to report that we are not ready to stop this pandemic. I somehow managed to fly across countries without anyone even glancing at my Passport, Green Pass, vaccination certificate, or anything like that. I don't recall having ever traveled with such freedom since before 2001.

I am not generally complaining about freedom, and I sincerely appreciate the comfort of traveling without lining for hours at security.

I just can't see how this will get us out of the current mess.


A glimpse into the past

On December 25th, an Ariane 5 rocket carried the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)up into the sky, to a month-long journey to a point called "L2" or Lagrange point 2, about one million miles (1.5 million kilometers) away from Earth.

There is so much to unpack in that sentence that I don't even know where to begin.

You can, of course, read all about the JWST on Wikipedia, and you can track the telescope on its journey on the NASA website.

Even more fascinating is this animation showing the complex orbit the JWST will follow to remain relatively stable in relation to Earth and the Sun.
This leads us to Lagrange, Euler, and the restricted three-body problem. Calculating the movements of three bodies in space is a pretty tricky feat. Still, if one of the two is considered so tiny that its mass is negligible, and the other two are massive, the problem is highly simplified (hence "restricted"). Euler and Lagrange, in the 18th century, found that there are five points where a small object can remain in a stable position, seen from Earth, using our planet and the Sun as the two massive bodies.
The culmination of a 24 year-long project, delayed many times, with a budget growing tenfold since its inception, the James Webb Space Telescope is more than just Hubble's successor. It is meant to show us a past we have never been able to access before.
Screen Shot 2021-12-29 at 12.52.02


That's it for today! You can find more of my stuff on, and if you think that someone you know could enjoy Morfternight, the newsletter to share, please forward it to them or send them this link to subscribe.


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