What if humans never had a sense of taste?

Some possible first-order effects:

  1. We’d be consuming food just for its calorific value, so that we have energy for all the biological processes for survival.
  2. The food industry would consist of a few companies that produce “fuel” (edible food with the highest energy density) for humans, just like there are a handful of companies that produce a specific kind of battery and a few companies that run power plants for electricity generation. The nutrition required for survival can be processed in a liquid or some solid that can be consumed orally and manufactured in a factory easily at scale. The image in my head is similar to that of Soylent, except its taste is irrelevant.
  3. As a result of (2), the world would spend a lot less land on food production. Currently, more than 1/3rd of land worldwide is used for livestock and crops. We continue to use all that land instead of figuring out more land-efficient techniques for growing food because we like the taste of meat. We’d have more land for housing and other things!
Source: https://ourworldindata.org/land-use

4. Greenhouse gas emissions would go down since meat production is responsible for about ~10-18% of all the greenhouse gas emissions [1].

5. No need for restaurants, grocery stores, etc.; people would just order and buy the same thing, like they buy the same batteries for their devices. This fuel that we manufacture would require no refrigeration, so we would not spend billions every year on refrigeration related logistics.

6. It’d be less of a hassle to shop and cook food every day, multiples times a day. You can just carry your recharging fuel anywhere in your backpack. 

7. Maybe the world would be less fun without a sense of taste, which allows people to enjoy the experience of eating food while bonding with others.

Are there any benefits (e.g., evolutionary) to having a sense of taste? I suppose taste, in addition to sight and smell, helped with detecting potentially harmful food that could be spit out once a poor taste (indicative of its poison or staleness) is detected by the sense. Additionally, something sweet is rich in saccharides, which provides more energy — so a good idea to eat more of it.

Which second order effects would exist without a sense of taste?



AP Calculus AB cheatsheet

Hello readers! I’m sorry that I haven’t blogged in a while. I’d been busy self-studying for the AP Calculus and AP Chemistry in the last few months. I just did the Calculus AB exam 2 days ago! I’m now doing lots of practice for the Chemistry exam in a week (I’m doing the late-test on 22nd May).

When I was studying, I maintained a note where I’d add a summary of every major concept I’d learned. I found it quite useful towards the end of my studying as a way to quickly revise major concepts and equations. I’m happy to share the PDF publicly so that it helps other self-learners!

Here is the link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1bRUPEHv2n2qyX2ZUrvzc4duDLebpCnKz/view?usp=sharing

Until soon!

List of opportunities, grants, fellowship programs, contests and things like that for young ambitious people

When I was in middle school, I used to spend a lot of time on Quora, where I learned about grants, fellowships, science fairs, contests, summer programs, internships, and so many other interesting and exciting opportunities. I did go on to pursue some of them — I’ve applied for grants for my project (and received Emergent Ventures and Helium Grant!), attended MIT Launch summer program, and did two engineering internships.

I believe that opportunities like the ones I’ve mentioned below can be a fantastic way to meet other smart and ambitious people, find mentorship, get funding for projects, get new ideas, learn lots, and get recognition for your work!


  1. Pioneer grant
  2. Emergent Ventures
  3. Thiel Fellowship ($100k for 2 years)
  4. 1517fund grant
  5. Davidson Fellowship. Note: You need to be a US citizen or green card holder.
  6. Helium Grant ($1k)
  7. Cards against humanity STEM scholarship for a woman
  8. Cisco $300k Global Problem Solver Challenge
  9. 8VC Social Innovators Cup
  10. Palantir Women in Technology Scholarship
  11. Y Combinator startup incubator
  12. Einstein Fellowship

Science Fairs:

  1. Google Science Fair
  2. 3M Young Scientist Challenge
  3. Intel ISEF
  4. Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition
  5. EU Contest for Young Scientists


  1. Paradigm Challenge
  2. IOI, IMO, IPhO, IChO, IBO, and other International Science Olympiads
  3. Breakthrough Junior Challenge
  4. The Diamond Challenge
  5. Google Code-in
  6. CES Young Innovators to Watch
  7. World of 7 billion student video contest

Summer Programs:

  1. RSI
  2. Wolfram Summer School
  3. SPARC (summer program on applied rationality and cognition)
  4. LaunchX (I went there in 2017 summer!)
  5. CSNE Young Scholars Program in Neuroengineering (I’m applying for it in 2019!)
  6. YYGS
  7. Stanford Pre-Collegiate
  8. Harvard Summer School
  9. Center for Talented Youth
  10. Northwestern Center for Talent Development
  11. Google Summer of Code


  1. Hackathons! Online and in-person both. Find them on Devpost.
  2. NCWIT
  3. WWDC scholarship
  4. NVIDIA AI residency program
  5. The Recurse Center

Got any other ideas? Drop me a line at harshita@harshitaapps.com!

2018: Thoughts and reflections

2018 was my best year yet!

It was the year of I coded the most, sold my app, picked up new interests (brain-computer interfaces and electronics!), started learning Python and Machine learning, moved to San Francisco in a wonderful intellectual group house, got the O-1 visa, interned at DoNotPay, started working on a mind-controlled drone robot project, and most importantly changed and improved a lot as an engineer and thinker.

I started this blog about 3 months and only published four posts, which I feel bad about because I have a lot to say! So I spent a few hours on 31st December 2018 and today (2nd Jan 2019) reflecting on writing posts about things that happened to me this year. I’ve already published 6 posts and I’ll link to them here. I hope you enjoy reading them!

  1. Favorite places and restaurants in the Bay Area 
  2. Best books I read all year
  3. Hackathons I went to and what I built
  4. Best movies, TV shows, YouTube channels, blogs, comics, podcasts, Twitter people, and Quora writers
  5. Conferences and events I attended and what I learned  
  6. Projects I built this year

I’m very excited about 2019! I’m planning to do the AP exams in May and apply for undergrad college in the fall. I hope to finish developing a working prototype of my mind-controlled drone robot project and start testing it with my target audience (physically disabled people). And lastly, I hope to read more books, learn more, become a better engineer, and mature as a person. 

Since I came to San Francisco and started living in the Topos house, I’ve become so much more optimistic about my future! 🙂

Happy New Year to all the readers and their families and friends! I hope 2018 was as educational and entertaining for you as it was for me. If not, I hope things get better for you in 2019.

Feedback, comments, suggestions, and advice are all welcome: harshita@harshitaapps.com

2018: Projects I built this year


  1. Crypto Price Tracker (started working on it in late-2017 though; launched it this year)
  2. Food AI
  3. CellCount at YC hackathon
  4. DoNotPay iOS app as a summer intern
  5. Alice in codeLand for WWDC 2018 scholarship


  1. Arduino-controlled cockroach (failed)
  2. Digital voltmeter using Arduino
  3. Autonomous RC car at Science Hack Day!


  1. Making an autonomous robot car using Raspberry Pi
  2. A mind-controlled drone robot

2018: Conferences and events I attended and what I learned

Moving to San Francisco in May 2018 made it possible for me to go to a lot of amazing and educational events and conferences. In order of quality of the conferences, I’ll list the conferences and events I went to and the highlights from them:

  1. BrainMind Summit 2018. A wonderful event with talks from pioneers in the field. I learned so much and made new friends. 
  2. SynBioBeta 2018. I attended it during my birthday to learn more about synthetic biology. I learned about a few biotech companies, researchers in the field, and more, but didn’t go in-depth on anything. 
  3. SF Debate Club. Started by Saku and Zak. The first debate topic was whether China’s technology is a threat to Silicon Valley and the US (I think it’s not). The second debate was whether the great stagnation is real (I think it is). 
  4.  1517fund workshop. One day long discussion group on some readings from Peter Thiel’s Stanford class on globalization
  5. Modern Microscopy: 20th and 21st-century breakthroughs in biology. Interesting topic; unengaging speaker.
  6. TechCrunch Disrupt 2018. Got a free ticket from my friend, Amulya who won the Disrupt hackathon! I could only attend one of the days and it was a big “meh”. I didn’t learn anything substantial from the various talks, didn’t meet anyone interesting, and just went home after 6 hours of rushing around to attend talks and workshops and getting lots of swag from Startup Alley (:P). I think TC Disrupt is like the Times Square in NYC — a platform that gets people to pay for companies to market themselves under the veil of entertainment (in case of Times Square) or education (in case of Disrupt). I’m sure I’d have gotten a lot of value if I had a startup and was presenting at the Startup Alley. But if you’re going to TC Disrupt to learn something, prepare to be disappointed. Most talks are just founders promoting their startups with a buzzword every few seconds.

In addition to the conferences and events mentioned above, the group house I live in, Topos, organizes a dinner every Sunday where we learn from each other. We also invite experts to give a talk and host Q/A with them. We had Glen Weyl who gave a talk before the launch of his book, Radical Markets, Hollis Robbins who led a wonderful dinner on poetry, etc. I personally invited Tyler Cowen and Ron Schnell to give talks at Topos! 

2018: Best movies, TV shows, YouTube channels, blogs, comics, podcasts, Twitter people, and Quora writers

Inspired by Alexey Guzey’s post about his favorite movies, TV shows, books, podcasts, and music

In order of how much I enjoyed/learned from them:


  1. Back to the Future trilogy (yes, I watched it for the first time in 2018)
  2. Ready Player One
  3. The Imitation Game
  4. Stand and Deliver
  5. Hidden Figures
  6. The Matrix trilogy (yes, I watched it for the first time in 2018)
  7. The Man who knew infinity
  8. Idiocracy
  9. A beautiful mind


  1. Genius TV show Season 1
  2. Halt and Catch Fire Season 1
  3. Silicon Valley Season 5

YouTube channels:

  1. Bill Wurtz. Recently discovered this channel and absolutely love it. It’s very weird and eccentric. The History of the entire world video is one of my favorites. 
  2. CrashCourse. Chemistry and Biology playlists are amazing. 
  3. MIT OCW
  4. freeCodeCamp. Nice Python video.
  5. 3blue1brown 
  6. acapellascience. Molecular Shape of you is my favorite.
  7. Julia Galef. Love her videos explaining rationality and different paradoxes. 
  8. Simone Giertz
  9. The Organic Chemistry Tutor. Helped me practice for the SAT. 
  10. Domain of Science
  11. Breakthrough 
  12. Ray Wenderlich
  13. Deanna See
  14. Raspberry Pi YouTube channel
  15. Marginal University
  16. engineerguy. I watched The Chemical History of Candle series when making candles for Christmas with my friend. 
  17. TED, TEDx, and TEDEd channels are pretty good


  1. Marginal Revolution
  2. Uri Shaked’s 
  3. Aaron Swartz. Fav post: Be more productive. 
  4. Logan Collins 
  5. freeCodeCamp Medium publication 
  6. Alexey Guzey. Fav posts: What should you do with your life?, Research Ideas, and Where does talent come from
  7. NeuroTechX
  8. Nadia Eghbal 
  9. Peter Norvig. Teach yourself programming in 10 years. 
  10. CoMotion
  11. Devon Zuegel
  12. Michael Nielsen
  13. Quanta Magazine
  14. Nintil
  15. WaitButWhy. Fav posts: Neuralink, Elon Musk series, and Cryonics
  16. LessWrong 
  17. Spencer Greenberg. Fav post: Making hard decisions. 
  18. Jake Seliger
  19. Medium’s personalized weekly newsletter. 
  20. Benjamin Reinhardt 


  1. Existential Comics
  2. Saturday Morning Breakfast Comics
  3. xkcd
  4. Hyperbole and a half 
  5. Dilbert


I love listening to podcasts when commuting or in flights or eating. Learning is so much fun!

  1. Neural Implant podcast. 
  2. Conversations with Tyler. Fav episodes: Peter Thiel and Patrick Collison
  3. a16z 
  4. Rationally Speaking. Fav episodes: Ed Boyden and Spencer Greenberg
  5. David Perell. Fav episodes: Daniel Gross, Tyler Cowen, and Michael Nielsen
  6. Anatomy of Next. Fav episodes: Biotech 

Twitter people:

People on Twitter whose tweets I learned the most from: 

  1. Patrick Collison
  2. Tyler Cowen
  3. Saku P
  4. Michael Nielsen
  5. Alexey Guzey 
  6. Ed Boyden
  7. Daniel Gross
  8. Laura Deming
  9. Noah Tye
  10. Star Simpson
  11. Adam Marblestone 
  12. Nick Arner
  13. Joshua Browder
  14. Athena Kan
  15. Will Manidis
  16. Balaji Srinivasan
  17. Nadia Eghbal
  18. NASA
  20. Ishabazz
  21. Existential Comics (although most of the content is satire)
  22. CTRL Labs
  23. Jose Artir
  24. freeCodeCamp
  25. Florent Crivello
  26. Nat Friedman

Quora Writers:

  1. Yohan John
  2. David Seidman
  3. Travis Addair
  4. Kay Aull
  5. Vladimir Novakovski
  6. Dima Korolev
  7. Tom Higgins
  8. Tikhon Jelvis
  9. Geffen Avraham
  10. Yishan Wong
  11. Brian Bi
  12. Chomba Bupe