Tag Archives: strange

Killifish, aging, and carbon-silicon composite batteries

Genetic study uncovers clues to explain how killifish stop aging during diapause

Killifish are really interesting organisms for scientific experiments. They are vertebrates, so they are closer to us genetically than insects or worms. But they are a lot easier to grow and care for then mice or rats. Some killifish have life spans of only three months. This makes them very attractive as aging model animals. If treatment extends their lifespan, you only have to wait 3 months to find out. With mice, you have to wait for several years.  This paper discusses another cool feature of the killifish model animal. Some kinds of killifish can go into a kind of suspended animation. I did not know that and it is fascinating.


Nano/Microstructured Silicon–Carbon Hybrid Composite Particles Fabricated with Corn Starch Biowaste as Anode Materials for Li-Ion Batteries | Nano Letters

Researchers develop high-capacity EV battery materials that double driving range

This article discusses a new composite silicon/carbon material for hosting lithium ions. Cramming lithium ions into a silicon matrix makes for an even higher energy battery than a standard lithium-ion battery. unfortunately, silicon expands under these conditions and can destroy the battery. By incorporating the silicon into a carbon matrix, these researchers increase the conductivity and the resilience of the battery to multiple charger Cycles. The result was a very nice paper. I love that they tried to make their composite material from readily available substances.


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Innervated follicles and spider-moms


Hyperactivation of sympathetic nerves drives depletion of melanocyte stem cells | Nature

Why do we go gray after stress? Linkages between nerves and stem cells in our hair follicles! This happened to me in the month before my dissertation: I got gray in my beard. So strange.


Have the Boomers Pinched Their Children’s Futures? – with Lord David Willetts – YouTube

I am not an economist, but I think this talk articulates important issues. Larger cohorts have a strange weight in democracies.


Gregor Czaykowski on Twitter: “ha ha happy new year https://t.co/29c2r0hrBk” / Twitter


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New Printable RFID

According to Wired, a new nanotube-based ink allows RFID tags to be printed directly onto packaging materials. The end result would be that no bar-code scanning, just wheel a cart of gorceries through the exit, and you’re good. Plus, if your credit card is RFID enabled, then you could, in principle, have your account debited at the same time! No human interaction required at all. Pretty sweet. I can’t wait to see what the Fringe has to say about this.


Girl Power Economics

The Libertarian Blog over at Reason.com had a delightful piece today on the correlation between girl band popularity and economic growth. I’m actually not sure if it is satire or not.

“Why didn’t the United States see [strong] growth during the ’60s boom? America… lost interest in [girl bands] in favor of a self-styled “invasion” of boy groups… We went off the girl standard before France did… The Go-Go’s fueled the recovery from the early 1980s recession… The effect was strongest in the 1990s… NAFTA allowed the free exchange of angry Canuck songstress Alanis Morissette. Britain maintained low inflation and low unemployment… thanks both to economic liberalization and to the rise of the Spice Girls.

Just as the decrease in piracy is correlated with the increase in global temperatures, the economic tide seems to be correlated with girl bands. Thus, we need more pirates and more girl bands, then we will have economic prosperity and stable temperatures. As satire, this is good stuff. If gender balance in music is as good a predictor as anything else, it calls into question the validity of “real” economic predictors.

But, as I said above, I’m not sure if this is satire or not.


Amazing first decade, futurists, and suffering

The Jester has has his time for long enough. Once he crosses the line into flagrant paranoia, I have to step in.

It’s a new year and a new decade. The decade might have been better for Science (still no flying cars) but all-in-all, I’m pretty happy. We’ve seen tissue engineering come a long way including grow-your-own skin and grow-your-own hearts. We’ve seen metamaterials with negative index of refraction and a lower thermal conductivity than vacuum, both of which I grew up believing were physically impossible. We seen bona fide proof of evolution (as if we needed more).

Basically I can’t even begin to touch on all the cool things in that happened in the last ten years. It’s enough to have give me a glimmer of faith in the vision of the futurists’ utopia: we may conquer death and scarcity and create a world of never-ending exploration. But maybe human nature needs scarcity and death to be whole. Maybe ten years is a good time for reflection on what we all want for ourselves and for each other. Facile suggestions that ‘happiness’ is what we want miss the point: If we knew what would make us happy, we would have it by now.

Ultimately, and strangely, I’m not sure that conquering death and scarcity will make us any kinder. I think we’ve made some real progress toward doing those things, and I’m not alone in that thought.

Yet, even so, I think a lot of otherwise crazy-seeming people might be sane in the light of this statement: abundance does not necessarily engender generosity. People who think we’re better off without public healthcare may be right up to a point: the threat of true suffering can be motivation for good. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t hold with people who would sell others’ welfare for the sake of an abstraction. The Free Market is all well and good until Henry Frick has you killed because you want fair pay. Yet, we only have the opportunity to be truly charitable in the face of true misfortune. Would we cheat ourselves of this sorrow?

If we could truly alleviate human suffering on a large scale, would we be neutering humanity?