About Plankton Valhalla


I now have a second website in parallel, Aether Mug! I'll post shorter, rougher pieces there, but more frequently. Why two websites? It's all explained on the About page over there.

About this Site

There is much more that science can do for humanity beyond technological progress and interesting trivia. This site is about that “much more” part.

Most of us tend to treat science as a commodity, and sometimes as entertainment. We hear the news of nanotech advancements and Higgs’s boson discoveries, and think: “cool story; and if it ever becomes a new consumer technology I’ll give it a spin.”

Then we go on with our daily lives.

That’s alright! But there is a lot of recent science that is neither well-known to the public, nor something that will (only) take the form of new tech. This kind of “black sheep” science brings value in the way it transforms our worldview: concepts with fancy names like dynamical systems, complexity, emergence, homeostasis, feedback loops.

Very few non-scientists have heard of them, and even when these topics are briefly mentioned in the news, they remain obscure and remote for most (what does the “interplay of disorder and fluctuations” have to do with your job and relationships?).

The thing is, these obscure topics have everything to do with our daily lives, and with how we take any decision, and with how societies work, and with lots of other very concrete things in our day-to-day.

Most of us don’t know about all that, not because the concepts are impossibly difficult—they aren’t!—but because they are new and not enough scientists have made a real effort to explain them in layman’s terms.

I write here to add to that effort.

About Me

Hi! I’m Marco and I write essays on this site. In fact, I’ve recently quit my full-time job to step up my effort researching and writing these topics.

As a kid I liked nothing better than reading fantasy and SciFi books and writing poems. Then, in high school, I realized that science is a kind of poetry in itself. I took a graduate curriculum in astronomy and astrophysics, then I spent a few years in a PhD trying to tame space chaos theory at the School of Aerospace Engineering of Rome and at JAXA. I did most of my research in the lab that led the Hayabusa and Hayabusa 2 missions to near-earth asteroids and back. I was one of the first employees of Axelspace, the first startup in Japan to make and sell commercial micro-satellites, then one of the first employees of Gojo & Company, a company designed to systematically tackle the global social issue of financial exclusion.

These experiences, and the people involved, taught me that the world is a messy place in very many ways. But they also taught me that in the mess we can find patterns and dynamics that are universal. A thread runs from the internal evolution of stars to the coordination of an engineering product team, from the optimal route to Jupiter’s moons to the ingenious ways low-income households in Cambodia use to manage their finances, and through almost everything in the world. That thread—I’ll call it Plankton Valhalla, for lack of a better name—is the poetry, it’s a source of wonder and insight, and it’s something worth for everyone to understand very well.

There are so many topics and fields to cover, so much to learn as I go, and the challenge is laying it all out coherently. This site is where I take that challenge, and it may get pretty messy while I try! But I hope to make the thread emerge clearly for anyone willing to read it.

I’d love to hear from you. For any comment or question, or just for a good chat, you can find me on Twitter, or you can reply to any of the emails from the newsletter.

"The Gates to the Plankton Valhalla"

The Gates to the Plankton Valhalla, as imagined by Midjourney.