Daniel Lemire's blog

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Science and Technology links (March 16th, 2018)

  1. From the beginning of the 20th century to 2010, the life expectancy at birth for females in the United States increased by more than 32 years. The 3 major causes of death for females in 1900 were pneumonia and influenza, tuberculosis, and enteritis and diarrhea. In 2010, the 3 major causes were heart disease, all cancers, and stroke.
  2. It looks like Dwarf stars could be orbited by habitable planets.
  3. More evidence that intelligence is genetic.
  4. Sugar and bread are killing you: Dietary Carbohydrates Impair Healthspan and Promote Mortality (in Cell).
  5. It turns out that people in organized crime are probably saner than you’d expect: “we were able to determine that in the sample analysed there was not one subject with a psychotic personality”.
  6. If you made it to Pluto and could somehow survive, would there be enough light to read? More than enough according to Cook.
  7. China has reduced fine particulates in the air by a third in four years.
  8. You can cure blindness (in mice) using small wires: “artificial photoreceptors based on gold nanoparticle-decorated titania nanowire arrays restored visual responses in the blind mice with degenerated photoreceptors”. (In Nature.)
  9. According to Nature, a science doctorate has high value in the UK and Canadian job markets. It sounds true to me. However, you should simply not expect to automatically become a professor: “Nearly 30% of those with full- or part-time jobs ended up in academia.”
  10. Brenda Milner is a professor at McGill University who is going to turn 100 this summer. She is still an active professor with an ongoing publication record. Here is what the New Times wrote about her last year:

People think because I’m 98 years old I must be emerita, she said. Well, not at all. I’m still nosy, you know, curious. (…) Dr. Milner continues working, because she sees no reason not to. Neither McGill nor the affiliated Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital has asked her to step aside. She has funding: In 2014 she won three prominent achievement awards, which came with money for research.

  1. Mozilla has released an open source speech recognition model “so that anyone can develop compelling speech experiences” (via Leonid Boytsov).
  2. One of my favorite authors, Brian Martin, has published a new book: Vaccination panic in Australia. We all know that vaccination can be an effective public health policy. So you think that it is crazy to question vaccination policies? Not so fast. Brian explains carefully that there is room for reasonable disagreement on how exactly vaccination is to be used. But most importantly, the book reviews how authorities proceed to suppress dissent, even reasonable well-founded dissent. The book can be freely accessed online.
  3. As we get older, our muscles tend to disappear. It is a condition called Sarcopenia, first coined in 1988. It still unclear what causes it, but there is now evidence that it has to do with the disappearance of nerves. Even if we did nothing to cure cancer and heart diseases, simply keeping the muscles of older people strong would make a huge difference. Sadly, we have barely begun to consider maybe doing something about it.