Science and Technology links (July 7th, 2017)

People magazine recently named Julia Roberts, who is 49, as the World’s Most Beautiful Woman.

Volvo plans to commercialize self-driving cars in 2020, and all electric by 2019. France will ban petrol cars in 2040.

The Fermi paradox is the idea that we ought to see intelligent life in the universe, since it is so vast… yet we have no evidence for it. Sandberg et al. claims that there is no paradox because the probability of life is simply too small: we might be a unique or nearly unique case.

According to an article in Nature, caffeine helps to fight obesity in mice.

The New York Times has an article about how tech companies have successfully lobbied schools to include computer science in their curriculum. I have mixed feelings about this entire story. I think we should resist the temptation to think that because learning to program can be highly beneficial for some, then many people should learn it. It is just not true that we will have millions of programmers in 20 years. Programming is and will remain a specialized activity.

There is a lot of talk about cancer vaccines, where your immune system is geared up to fight the specific kind of cancer you have. It is worth repeating that we are nowhere near a cure for cancer.
Scientists claim to have cured Alzheimer’s (in mice): “The drug completely erased evidence of Alzheimer’s synapse damage and memory loss in mouse models of the disease.”

Concerned with the poor quality of modern-day science, Vazire writes that “the drive for eminence is inherently at odds with scientific values”.

2 thoughts on “Science and Technology links (July 7th, 2017)”

  1. The Fermi paradox makes the unwarranted assumption that life “necessarily” brings technology, there could be indeed many, many planets with some kind of life but no outwardly visible signs.
    What about the Earth history itself?
    Several hundred millions years with life and not even 2 centuries with detectable technological artifacts (radio…)

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