Daniel Lemire's blog

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Science and Technology links (February 9th, 2018)

  1. We shed 50 million skin cells every day.
  2. A mutant crayfish reproduces by cloning. To my knowledge, this might be the largest animal to reproduce by cloning.

Before about 25 years ago, the species simply did not exist (…) it has spread across much of Europe and gained a toehold on other continents. In Madagascar, where it arrived about 2007, it now numbers in the millions (…)

I note two interesting aspects to this story. The first one is that it shows that, contrary to a common belief, new species are created even today. The second one is that it brings us back to an interesting puzzle. Cloning is a lot more efficient that sex, for procreation. So why do most large animals use sex? See The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature.

  1. Some evidence that moderate (but not heavy) alcohol consumption might be good for your brain. I still would not recommend you start drinking if you aren’t drinking right now.
  2. While the average is 106 boys born to every 100 girls, for vegetarian mothers the ratio is just 85 boys to 100 girls. In other words, being a vegetarian makes it much more likely that you will give birth to girls.
  3. Researchers can simulate a worm’s brain with a few artificial neurons.1. Elon Musk’s SpaceX company launched the most powerful rocket in the world:

The Falcon Heavy is the world’s 4th highest capacity rocket ever to be built (…) Falcon Heavy was designed from the outset to carry humans into space, including the Moon and Mars (…) The Falcon Heavy was developed with private capital with Musk stating that the cost was more than $500 million. No government financing was provided for its development.

The Verge has a nice documentary on YouTube.

  1. Mitochondria are the “power stations” of our cells. As we age, we tend to accumulate malfunctioning mitochondria which might lead to various medical conditions. Researchers have found that a drug targetting mitochondria could improve cognition in old mice.1. Graphics processors are in high demand. Some of the best ones are made by NVIDIA. Year-over-year, NVIDIA’s full-year revenue increased 41% to finish at $9.71 billion in 2017.1. Using lasers, we found whole new Mayan settlements:

The data reveals that the area was three or four times more densely populated than originally thought. “I mean, we’re talking about millions of people, conservatively,” says Garrison. “Probably more than 10 million people.”

  1. According to a recent research article, vitamin D-3 has the potential to significantly reverse the damage that high blood pressure, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and other diseases inflict on the cardiovascular system.
  2. A vaccine entirely cleared mice from cancer.