Daniel Lemire's blog

, 2 min read

Science and Technology links (May 5th, 2018)

  1. Oculus, a subsidiary of Facebook, has released its $200 VR headset (the Oculus Go). You can order it on Amazon. The reviews are good. It is standalone and wireless which is excellent. The higher-quality Oculus Rift and its nifty controllers are down to only $400, with the caveat that it needs a cable back to a powerful PC.

Some analysts are predicting massive growth for virtual reality headsets this year: IDC anticipates sales to reach 12.4 million units.
To me, the killer application has to be conferencing in virtual reality. Who wouldn’t like to go chat with a friend in some virtual world? But it is unclear whether we have the hardware to do it: you’d need good eye tracking as it is needed if you are going to be able to look at people in the eyes.

  1. Consuming glucose (sugar) impairs memory (in rats). The theory is that glucose reduces neurogenesis: you are making fewer new neurons when eating sugar.1. At age 20, the life expectancy was another 47 years (age 67/68) in 1930. This means that when the retirement age of 65 was enacted in the US and other countries, we expected people to have reached the very end of their life by then.
  2. Some coffee drinkers, me included, report side-effects when abstaining from coffee. Yet the belief that one has ingested caffeine is sufficient to reduce caffeine withdrawal symptoms and cravings.1. A private charity, the Charity Open Access Fund, pays publishers to ensure that research papers are available freely (under open access). Oxford University Press was apparently happy to take the money, but failed to deliver: a total of 34 per cent of articles paid for by the Charity Open Access Fund in 2016-17 were not made available as promised. The Oxford University Press is treated as a tax-exempt non-profit.
  3. It is believed that part of the biological aging process can be attributed to a reduction in nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) in our cells. A new paper in Cell Metabolism shows that this reduction can be reversed with some drug called 78c. It improves muscle function, exercise capacity, and cardiac function in mice.
  4. In Singapore, the number of people aged 65 and above is projected to double to 900,000 or 25% of the population by 2030. In Japan, 27% of the population was 65 years or older in 2016, it will be over 33% by 2030.