Insights

A Brief Explanation of Protein Folding

Today Google DeepMind announced that their deep learning system AlphaFold has achieved unprecedented levels of accuracy on the “protein folding problem”, a grand challenge problem in computational biochemistry. What is this problem, and why is it hard? I don’t usually do science reporting here at The Roots of Progress, but I spent a couple years on this problem…
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Advocating for Play

Play has significant cognitive, emotional, and social benefits for elementary school children. Periods of play at school help students to focus, build friendships, improve mood, work cooperatively, and work through conflict without adult intervention. Advocating for Play (starts on page 229)  

Shopify’s Memo

As a new partner at Bessemer in 2010, Alex Ferrara’s first investment recommendation raised eyebrows when he led the Series A round for a young, first-time CEO in Ottawa selling SaaS to tiny online storefronts. Ten years later, Shopify is the infrastructure for millions of entrepreneurs and major brands with a market capitalization worth more than $130…
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Giving Up Screens One Day a Week

Ten years ago, within days, my father died and my daughter was born, and all I wanted to do was end the nonstop distractions and slow time down. I needed a revolution to transform the situation, and remarkably, I found it. My husband, Ken, and I started a practice of turning off all screens and…
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Jerry Seinfeld on Making Something Great

If you’re efficient, you’re doing it the wrong way. The right way is the hard way. The show was successful because I micromanaged it — every word, every line, every take, every edit, every casting. That’s my way of life. Jerry Seinfeld https://hbr.org/2017/01/lifes-work-jerry-seinfeld%E2%80%8B

Arthur Jensen on Giftedness and Genius

Genius requires giftedness (consisting essentially of some special aptitude or talent, such as mathematical, spatial, musical, or artistic talent). But obviously there are other antecedents that are elusive to us. Nonetheless, we do know of at least two key attributes, beyond ability, that appear to function as catalysts for the creation of that special class…
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Rapid Innovation

When people ask me why I prefer to invest in software-based innovation vs other important areas like biotech, hardware, energy, etc, I always point to the speed at which software can be built, released, and iterated on.  This is a personal comfort thing for me. I am not saying that these other areas are not…
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The End of Physics

In the 20th century, scientists sought out the building blocks of reality: the molecules, atoms and elementary particles out of which all matter is made; the cells, proteins and genes that make life possible; the bits, algorithms and networks that form the foundation of information and intelligence, both human and artificial. This century, instead, we…
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How To Think For Yourself

There are some kinds of work that you can’t do well without thinking differently from your peers. To be a successful scientist, for example, it’s not enough just to be correct. Your ideas have to be both correct and novel. You can’t publish papers saying things other people already know. You need to say things…
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You’re Only As Good As Your Worst Day

We tend to measure performance by what happens when things are going well. Yet how people, organizations, companies, leaders, and other things do on their best day isn’t all that instructive. To find the truth, we need to look at what happens on the worst day.  Farnam Street