Gender-Swapped World

You are a young boy in the modern world. When you go to the toy store, you notice that all of the toys in the boys' section are disproportionate male dolls, with impossibly huge biceps and scanty, flashy clothes. A lot of them are wearing bright colors and frills. There are also pink cooking sets, dress-up sets, tea sets, makeup sets, and some pink Legos to build dollhouses. You also look through the girls' section, which is full of Nerf guns, action figures, sports equipment, and multicolored Legos sets to build robots and ships. You ask your dad if someday you could have a tea set and a Lego robot set. He says that maybe he can get them for you on your birthday next week. You think of how lucky you are that he might buy you a robot Lego set, since you know that some parents of your friends in school refuse to buy their kids any toys from the girls' section, but you'd rather build robots than houses. Why should robots only be for girls?

You're taught that the worl…

New World Take II

I’m following up the post I wrote months ago about leaving Mormonism. I realized a few days after writing that post that part of my motivation for writing it was to try and mentally wrap up the whole experience in a box. I have since realized that this experience will NEVER be put in a box. It is a writhing, angry mess that I will never fully contain. And you know what? I’ve decided that it shouldn’t be “contained.” It’s a part of who I am. Here are some disjointed follow-up thoughts on the writhing mass, in no particular order:
Talking to Someone Else I decided I wanted an outsider’s perspective. I wanted to talk to someone who didn’t know me, didn’t know my family, and WASN’T a friend/family member…I decided to talk to a Christian pastor I had never met before and who wasn’t affiliated with any churches I might ever consider attending. (Yes, some people will jump on me and say “why didn’t you talk to an atheist because that’s more neutral” but the fact is, atheists are just as opini…

AI augmentation is coming

You like carrying your phone around and taking pictures. You like looking through the pictures stored on your phone, and you like showing your friends and family members pictures that you took on your phone.
Wouldn't it be convenient if you didn't have to look down all the time at that tiny screen? Wouldn't it be cool if you could just pull up a picture across your full field of view? Researchers develop an interface between your phone and your eyes, so that you can browse pictures without needing a phone screen. Maybe it's a set of contact lenses that display pictures in front of your pupils; maybe it's some fine wires interfacing with your optic nerve. Your friends and family get the same interface, so you can send them pictures that they can see with their own eyes too.
But what if your phone gets stolen? Nobody wants to lose all their pictures. That's why people are already using cloud storage to back up their pictures. Pretty soon there's not much poin…

Idea: Wiki for biographies

A person has to be decently famous to have their own Wikipedia page. But everyone has an interesting life story, regardless of how famous they are. Someone should build a website where ordinary people can write summaries of their own lives, or where they can put up summaries of family members' lives after they have passed away. The site could even be linked up with a genealogy website like, so that you could see a full family tree and then click on an individual person to read a brief synopsis of their life.


Your genome is approximately 825 megabytes of information1. That’s about the size of an operating system like Windows 8, or about 6 million pages of text containing 250 words per page – and it codes for an entire human body. The full text of “How to Make a Human” fits into a volume a hundred times smaller than a grain of rice.2
The fertilized egg you came from contained 2 meters of DNA total, and developed into you through approximately 5 trillion cell divisions. For that cell division to occur, interphase DNA molecules as long as 3-4 centimeters condensed into chromosomes whose length is measured in millionths of a meter. This is equivalent to squashing a string as long as two football fields into a case the size of a piece of mechanical pencil lead.3
football fieldslead

So here you are…made up of 10^14 (a hundred trillion: 100,000,000,000,000) specialized cells capable of carrying out all your body’s functions. Together, your cells contain 10 trillion meters of DNA, which is approxi…

A beautiful painting


Save the spiders!

Spiders are cool. There are over 45,000 species of spiders, ranging from the tiny 0.37 mm Patu digua from Colombia, to dinner-plate-sized Goliath "bird-eaters" (ref). Spider silk is an amazing substance - super-light, super-strong, and biodegradable - so scientists have been trying to copy it for years. Even spider bodies are a source of inspiration -  can you imagine how excited DARPA would be if they had a robot as small, inexpensive, and agile as a single spider? If you're still not convinced that spiders are inherently cool and inspiring, watch this video.
Patu digua
David holding Goliath
But it doesn't matter if spiders are cool - don't they bite people?! Spider bites are actually extremely rare. Almost none of the spider species around the world bite humans, and many are not even capable of piercing human skin. The major exceptions are black widow spiders, recluse spiders, Australian funnel web spiders, and Phoneutria spiders (this website can help you ident…