Daniel Lemire's blog

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Science and Technology links (June 12th 2021)

    1. We completed the sequencing of the human genome.
    2. AstraZeneca’s drug Lynparza cut combined risk of recurrence of breast cancer or death by 42% among women in study.
    3. Glycine and N-acetylcysteine supplementation improves muscle strength and cognition.
    4. We found Egypt’s ancient capital. It has been lost of 3,400 years. It is unclear why it was abandoned.
    5. We estimate that over 6 million Americans have Alzheimer’s. Currently, Alzheimer’s is effectively incurable and no drug is known to reverse or halt it. Once you have Alzheimer’s, you start an irreversible and drastic cognitive decline. The USA has approved the first Alzheimer’s new drug in 20 years. The American government decided to approve the new drug, aducanumab, even though it is unclear whether it genuinely stops Alzheimer’s. It clears the brain from accumulated proteins and might slow the cognitive decline, but that latter claim is uncertain. The approval is controversial as the company producing aducanumab stands to make a lot of money while, possibly, providing no value whatsoever to the patient (and the drug might even have negative side-effects). Yet by deploying the drug today, we stand to learn much about its potential benefits and, if you are affected by Alzheimer’s, you may feel that you do not have much to lose.
    6. Trials begin on lozenge that rebuilds tooth enamel.
    7. The Google folks founded an anti-aging company called Calico a few years ago. One of the star employee is Cynthia Kenyon who is famous for showing that aging is malleable. Their latest paper suggests that we might be able to rejuvenate individual cells within the body safely.
    8. The incoming new disks (SSD) have a sequential read speed of up to 14 GB/s (PCIe 5.0).
    9. We are curing the blinds: “researchers added light-sensitive proteins to the man’s retina, giving him a blurry view of objects”. (Source: New York Times)
    10. You might think that government research grants are given on merit. Maybe not always. Applicants who shared both a home and a host organization with one panellist received a grant 40% more often than average. (Source: Nature)
    11. The Roman Empire thrived under a climate that was much warmer. The Empire declined when the temperature got colder:

    This record comparison consistently shows the Roman as the warmest period of the last 2 kyr, about 2 °C warmer than average values for the late centuries for the Sicily and Western Mediterranean regions. After the Roman Period a general cooling trend developed in the region with several minor oscillations. We hypothesis the potential link between this Roman Climatic Optimum and the expansion and subsequent decline of the Roman Empire.

    (Source: Nature)

    1. Reportedly, China is increasing its coal power capacity at a rate of 21% per year. Its yearly increase alone is six time Germanyʼs entire coal-fired capacity.