It is remarkable how closely the history of the apple tree is connected with that of man.-- Henry David Thoreau
I’m not judging but I am not typically a binge-watcher of TV. A few notable exceptions would be Better Things (I watch it on a loop) and a new Netflix series, Connected. Latif Nasser is a science journalist with a likable foppish personality that intentionally or unintentionally hides a complex and thinking human.
Okay maybe “hide” is the wrong word. He is definitely packaging knowledge by distracting us from the "veggies in the sauce". You aren’t aware of how important and technical these topics are because they are seasoned with a bit of graphic artistry and film noir. All of the episodes will draw you in. The 3rd episode about “Dust” explains how the archaeologic remains in a dried lake in the Sahara desert replenishes phosphorus washed away by the rains in the Amazon basin. And other fun facts I had no idea about. These dust storms are visible from space and influence weather systems as well as our health and wellness.
Connected: Digits (episode 4 in series)
The connection running throughout the series is attributed to the “Hidden Science of Everything”. If you work in science or with data you likely are familiar. We know that skills in data science or research findings for example are not homogenized and isolated bits of information. But too often we create silos of knowledge any way. Instead of thinking cinematic we think linear. Learn this skill. Now this one. Okay here is another. A piecemeal attempt to understand the chaos and intersectionality of everything. I am a big advocate of pushing around the edges of seemingly disparate ideas until we detect a slight alignment.
The episode about digits introduces us to Benford’s Law. Back in the day before calculators, books of logarithms were published. Observation of a wide variety of data sets yielded something interesting. The random numbers were not random after all. Their distribution was following an unknown pattern. Unknown--but quietly present in all of the data. Impossible to not see once you become aware of its presence.
You can read more about the history of Benford’s law over at The Conversation. Or explore by visiting the page below (simply click on the image). There is a wide variety of datasets available for you to apply the law and see what happens.
You can dig deeply over on Wikipedia as well. Benford's law, also called the Newcomb–Benford law, the law of anomalous numbers, or the first-digit law.
Thinking outside of our specific box not only broadens our awareness but allows us to see the vast number of “boxes” on the horizon.