Linux, the operating system driving cloud computing and the web, was developed using an open source model. For a time, Linux was seen as a direct competitor to Microsoft, but things have changed and Microsoft is happy to see Linux as just a piece of technology. Because of how large and complicated the software got, the Linux project manager, Linus Torvalds, ended up writing its own source control tool, Git. It quickly became a standard. Today, Windows is built on Git. This shows the power of open source. “Open source” is a concept just as powerful and important for our civilization as “the scientific method”. Though both science and open source can wipe out business models, they are also engines of innovation making us all richer. Microsoft does not use Linux and Git because it gave up on having viable competitors, but rather because it understands that fighting open source is about as useful as fighting the scientific method. (As an aside, modern implementations of Git are accelerated with compressed bitmaps called EWAH, something I personally worked on.)
Organic food is better for you, right? Galgano et al. (2016) find no evidence of such benefits:
The organic food market is growing in response to an ever increasing demand for organic products. They are often
considered more nutritious, healthier, and free from pesticides than conventional foods. However, the results of scientific studies do not show that organic products are more nutritious and safer than conventional foods.
Ok but organic food is better for the environment, right? Maybe not because organic farming requires more land and more animals:
Furthermore, higher on-farm acidification potential and global warming potential per kilogram organic milk implies that higher ammonia, methane, and nitrous oxide emissions occur on farm per kilogram organic milk than for conventional milk. Total acidification potential and global warming potential per kilogram milk did not differ between the selected conventional and organic farms.
A company called Warby Parker has a mobile app you can use to sidestep entirely optometrists and opticians in some cases. The main point seem to be that a lot of what opticians do can be computerized easily and that it is not hard to check your prescription.
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids reduce mitochondrial oxidant emissions, increase postabsorptive muscle protein synthesis, and enhance anabolic responses to exercise in older adults.
We found a positive association between intake of skim milk and acne. This finding suggests that skim milk contains hormonal constituents, or factors that influence endogenous hormones, in sufficient quantities to have biological effects in consumers.
The epidemic incidence of adolescent acne in Western milk-consuming societies can be explained by the increased insulin- and IGF-1-stimulation of sebaceous glands mediated by milk consumption.
We found a positive association with acne for intake of total milk and skim milk. We hypothesize that the association with milk may be because of the presence of hormones and bioactive molecules in milk.
Keytruda is the first cancer drug that targets a genetic dysfunction rather than specific cancer type. This type of drug might open the door to cheap and effective genetic cancer therapies. Note that Keytruda is actually approved for use in the US, so this is not purely speculative.
Volvo makes self-driving garbage-collecting trucks. A report from Goldman Sachs suggests that self-driving cars could destroy 25,000 jobs per month in the US. That sounds like a lot, but I don’t think it is anything dramatic, if true. See also the Sector Disruption Report (May 2017) by James Arbib and Tony Seba that sees the effect of self-driving car as enormous:
This will keep an additional $1 trillion per year in Americans’ pockets by 2030, potentially generating the largest infusion of consumer spending in history
Arthritis is a terrible disease where some people end up living in near constant pain. Yet it could be prevented with good diet and exercise, according to an article in Nature.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, wants us to build permanent settlements on the Moon. This is the same man who wants to deliver us goods using drones, and help cure aging through the clearance of senescent cells.
Scientists have linked 52 genes to intelligence. Let me caution you: no we cannot build super smart babies by manipulating genes. Not yet at least.