top Shift Work Dulls Brain Performance
I wonder how long until we realize that shift work is a public health issue, like clean water and vaccination and smoking.
top Lost Sense of Smell Is a Strong Predictor of Death Within 5 Years
Olfactory genes have a higher rate of mutation than most other genes because the DNA they are in gets packed more tightly and gets replicated later than other genes. As a result, they often show up as false positive in cancer gene searches. Read more here:
This might mean that they're a canary-in-the-coal-mine: If someone's DNA replication is starting to suffer in general, olfactory genes might be where the breakdown shows up first and most dramatically.
about a month and a half ago
top CDC: Ebola Cases Could Reach 1.4 Million In 4 Months
Antibiotic resistance? Isn't this a virus?
top The Grassroots Future of Biohacking
I'm doing a biohacking-ish workshop next week, as it happens. The
Synbiota people are taking care of all the bureaucracy so that I can play with DNA. It's part of a bigger experiment, so it's not like I'm going full-mad-scientist, but it's a fun way for an IT guy with an interest in biology like me to do some experiments.
top Microsoft Releases Replacement Patch With Two Known Bugs
Is this mess possibly the long-term result of Microsoft's previous embrace of stack ranking? Too much cultural focus on back-stabbing and ladder-climbing instead of writing solid code and testing it properly?
top New Research Suggests Cancer May Be an Intrinsic Property of Cells
It's too bad that this very interesting research - cancer in hydra! - is being overshadowed by sweeping statements about cancer. There are a number of species which experience little to no cancer, from naked mole rats to some whale species. There are a number of different ways that different species reduce or prevent cancer, from additional cell-death signalling via
hyaluronan in naked mole rats to additional cell-death signalling via p53 pathways in blind mole rats to replicative senescence in many large mammals, to who-knows-what in eastern grey squirrels and elephants and whales.
The cancer-fighting idea in each case is something that should be near and dear to systems administrators: Redundancy. The more cell-death pathways there are, the harder it is for a series of mutations to result in immortal cancer cells. Redundant Arrays of Immortality Suppression, if you will.
This doesn't mean that we'll ever get rid of cancer in
humans, mind you, because evolving a new cancer-prevention signalling pathway takes a couple of million years. But the fact that hydra get cancer doesn't have anything to do with whether we'll ever get rid of cancer in humans, either.
top The Daily Harassment of Women In the Game Industry
It's easy to pretend you're a woman online. You should try it, as an experiment. It'll get you a sample of the actual numbers that you're looking for. After you do, your opinion on the subject will be a lot more interesting, whatever it is that you discover.
top Researchers Successfully Cut HIV DNA Out of Human Cells
Look into Gleevec and other tyrosine kinase inhibitors for examples of a few highly specific cancer treatments that we've managed to developed for a few of the "whole bunch of diseases" that cancer is.
top Pixar To Give Away 3D RenderMan Software
It might be that Pixar considers rendering old news, considering what they've come up with for animators:
If you're not familiar with computer animation, that might not seem like much. To the animators where I work, though, it induced a weird combination of frenzy (as they lusted after it) and depression (once they re-opened the scenes they were working on in Maya). The rest of the industry has to spend hours rendering (in Renderman, or Vray, or whatever) to get a result that Pixar is now creating in-house in real time.
top Your Old CD Collection Is Dying
The only energy that has "gone into preserving them" is the energy wasted when they mutate and result in a lifeform that doesn't survive long enough to reproduce.
Incorrect. Every day, your body corrects fifty quadrillion or more DNA mutations that happen as the result of random bumping around inside the cell. See, for example
DNA Repair. 5000 purine bases lost every day from every cell in the human body that have to be repaired, and that's only one type of mutation which has to be constantly corrected.
top Your Old CD Collection Is Dying
I have a half-baked theory that, to a rough approximation, the physical size of a bit and the amount of energy put into creating it is roughly correlated to the length of time it will last. Stone inscriptions, or baked clay cuneiform? Big bits, high energy, long life. CDs, or 148 Gb/in^2 tape media? Small bits, low energy, short life. There are ways to create big bits that are short-lived (e.g. drawing figures in the sand on a beach), but in general, a small bit cannot be made to last longer than a big bit given the same process and energy inputs.
You might say, "but look at highly-conserved DNA sequences!", to which I would answer, think about how much energy has gone into preserving them over hundreds of millions of years.
top Study: Happiness Improves Developers' Problem Solving Skills
This is reminiscent of another study which found that asking people how they'd deal with a big car repair bill - just getting them to
think about it - lowered their IQ by an average of 13 points, "comparable to the cognitive difference that’s been observed between chronic alcoholics and normal adults".
The advantage of the car-repair-bill study is that people were randomly assigned to the control and experimental groups, as opposed to being an observational study like the one in the story (with all the complications that brings). Same basic conclusion, though.
top Turing's Theory of Chemical Morphogenesis Validated 60 Years After His Death
Coincidentally, I was reading Chapter 21 of Molecular Biology of the Cell by Alberts et al last night, which discusses some of the many experiments which have been done to demonstrate the effect. Intercellular chemical gradients involving counteracting exciters and inhibitors are only one of many effects that control differentiation, however. There are also:
- intracellular gradients leading to asymmetric cell division (e.g. the place where the sperm enters the egg creates a protein gradient across the egg that determines the future head/ass orientation of the body) - timing mechanisms (e.g. the on-off cycle that appears to be responsible for the development of vertebrae) - cell-to-cell contact, either directly with neighbours or over longer distances through tubes or spikes
So Turing figured out one of the mechanisms, and it was certainly an important accomplishment. If Google Scholar is telling the truth, his paper has over 8000 citations, including around 1,500 that mention "embryo", so his accomplishment hasn't been ignored. The claims of this new paper for novelty, though, seem a bit weaker.
top Ask Slashdot: Interviewing Your Boss?
If a candidate finds technical questions threatening or condescending, you probably don't want them as your boss. You want someone who's okay with the fact that you have more technical knowledge than they do, but is still able to speak (and listen) intelligently about technical subjects.
top Are Teachers Headed For Obsolescence?
According to the Gates Foundation Student Survey, the best predictors of a teacher's success are a) keeping control of the classroom and b) continuously challenging the students, keeping them focused and busy.
As you say, good luck with a video (or even a reasonably sophisticated computer program) doing either of those things.
top Global Christianity and the Rise of the Cellphone
You've slandered the Romans, I'm afraid. Even at their most expansionist, they insisted that their wars have a strong moral underpinning, based on the idea of self-defense and/or defense of an ally. Each new war was passionately debated in those terms in the Roman republic.
Not that they weren't sometimes (often? always?) hypocritical in their moralizing and warmaking, just like the Crusaders and modern Americans were and are. Gibbon had his famous sarcastic quip about the Romans and their moralizing, that they "conquered the world in self-defense." But, hypocrisy acknowledged, St. Augustine wasn't working from a blank slate when he codified things for Christians.
top Big Brother In the Home Office
I'd like to read the article, too. Link?
top Human Powered Helicopter Aims To Break Records
If the Yuri I is anything to go by - and this craft looks almost identical to the Yuri I - the ground effect at these low power levels - even for this size of rotor - don't extend much above 1 meter or so. They're going to have a hard time climbing above that.
top Human Powered Helicopter Aims To Break Records
This looks like a near-clone of the Yuri I (the last successful human-powered helicopter), but slightly bigger and heavier:
My quick back-of-the-envelope calculations say that it won't get more than 1 meter off the ground for any significant length of time. If it was much bigger (2 or 3 times) it might have a chance, but at this small size it will be depending too much on ground effect for extra lift, just like the Yuri I did. Fly too high - over 1 meter or so, if the Yuri I is our guide - and that effect disappears.
They also haven't added any twist or taper to the rotors, so they're not getting any extra efficiency gains there, either.
top Senate Votes To Replace Aviation Radar With GPS
Name one this century, or last.
I'm afraid I won't be able to limit myself to just one. Remember, we're talking absolute monarchs, otherwise what I said makes no sense. Here's a quote about the Empress Dowager Cixi, who was the supreme ruler of China until 1908:
"During Cixi's time, she used her power to accumulate vast quantities of money, bullion, antiques and jewelry, using the revenues of the state as her own. By the end of her reign she had amassed a huge personal fortune, stashing away some eight and a half million pounds sterling in London banks. The lavish palaces, gardens and lakes built by Cixi were hugely extravagant at a time when China was verging on bankruptcy."
If you want a more contemporary example, do some reading on the only absolute monarch left: His Royal Highness,
King Mswati III of Swaziland.
If we go further back in history, when absolute monarchs were more common, the examples come a'tumblin'. Under Phillip II, Spain went bankrupt multiple times. Louis XIV drained the treasury of France: "Some estimates suggest that by the end of Louis' reign half of France's annual revenue went to maintaining Versailles." The Emperors of Russia and Austria bankrupted their respective empires - and ultimately lost their empires - by entering WWI. I'm sure if I knew more history, I could dredge up more examples. If you want, I'll make the attempt.
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