“Personal is not the same as important.”

This juxtaposition of two news stories struck me today:

Upgraded LIGO detectors spot gravitational waves.

With Quartz’s App, You Don’t Read the News. You Chat With It.

On the one hand, a machine conceived of in 1972, built by 2002, showing results in 2015, proves a foundational theory 100 years old.

On the other, a novel way to get the news becomes news. Comparably, Circa was big news for a while when it released in 2012. In 2015 it shut down for financial reasons.

One small theme from Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves was that culturally we have become overly concerned with small, self-serving personal devices and insufficiently concerned with large, society-serving devices. I found the passage didactic and trite and the time, but it stuck with me. As we enter the year in which unicorns once again become mythological creatures, it is nice to see a huge win from one of these long-term societal-good projects.

If you have not read the preceding LIGO piece from Ars, I recommend it. After 100 years, scientists are finally closing in on Einstein’s ripples.

* Note on the headline: attribute that quote to the late great Terry Pratchett, whose books I am currently marathon-reading.

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