Newley's Notes

🎇 Newley’s Notes 110: Delhi Diwali, Killer Kilonova, Pants on Trees


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Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes. If you like this newsletter, please invite others to sign up.

First, a programming note: There will be no NN for the next couple of weeks. Normal programming will resume the week of November 6.

Meanwhile, this week we celebrated the Diwali holiday, or the festival of lights. In addition to candles, sweets and parties, there have been fireworks.

The use of such pyrotechnics has been in the public eye this year, because they are thought to contribute to Delhi’s already poor air quality. The Supreme Court even issued a temporary ban on the sale of firecrackers this year.

The city’s air pollution is caused by factors like farmers outside the city burning their fields this time of year, along with ever-present issues like car emissions, dust from construction sites and more.

When the temperatures drop in late fall, it means the pollutants can’t disperse as much as they normally would.

The result: On Friday mid-morning, the day after the nighttime Diwali celebrations, the PMI 2.5 reading hit hazardously high levels in the 900s. That’s astronomically high when you consider that the WHO says the reading should be kept below 10 as an annual average. Anything above 300 is considered unhealthy.

Fortunately, the air quality seems to have improved since Diwali night. It’s impossible to know if the firecracker ban had much of an effect since there are so many factors at play, but at least the general public seems to be more aware about the issue now.

✏️ What I Wrote at

Photo: the Most Laid-Back Delhi Street Dog Ever. This canine was seriously chilled out. The latest in my series of short posts documenting the metropolis’s quirky street pooches.

📲 5 Cool Tech-ish Reads This Week

  • 1. Scientists recorded two neutron stars colliding. The event, captured for the first time, occurred some 130 million light years away, creating a “telltale ripple through space-time,” writes Katia Moskvitch at Quanta Magazine. The event, as a WSJ colleague wrote, is called a “kilonova.”
  • 2. In other cool space-related news, Lego is coming out with a “Women of Space” set, featuring the astronauts Sally Ride and Mae Jemison, along with Margaret Hamilton, a computer scientist, and Nancy Grace Roman, an astronomer.
  • 3. What happens with robots take over manufacturing jobs?” The answer, as the New Yorker‘s Sheelah Kolhatkar writes in this #longread, is complicated.
  • 4. Interesting trend: Roaming bands of retirees are taking to camper vans and working seasonal warehouse jobs for Amazon, Wired reports.
  • 5. Cheatography is a new-to-me website that lets you make your own cheat-sheets. Some of the thousands on offer publicly span topics like history, search engine optimization, and coffee drinks.

💫 1 Silly Thing

💬 Quote of the week

“We were surrounded by these serene woods, and I thought it’d be fun to do something silly in that context.”

That’s from artist Peter Coffin, who adorns trees with blue jeans.

Thanks for reading, amigos. Please share this newsletter on Facebook or Twitter if you like it.

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,