Science and Technology links (December 29th, 2017)

  1. It is often believed that, in the developed world, more land is used to host human beings as time goes by, reducing space for forest and wildlife. That is not true:

    Forests are spreading in almost all Western countries, with the fastest growth in places that historically had rather few trees. In 1990 28% of Spain was forested; now the proportion is 37%. In both Greece and Italy, the growth was from 26% to 32% over the same period. Forests are gradually taking more land in America and Australia. Perhaps most astonishing is the trend in Ireland. Roughly 1% of that country was forested when it became independent in 1922. Now forests cover 11% of the land, and the government wants to push the proportion to 18% by the 2040s.

  2. Having older brothers makes you more likely to be gay (assuming you are man). The evidence appears to be overwhelming. I have not yet read an explanation for why this would be true.
  3. Envy served us well in the past when someone taking more food that needed could kill the rest of the tribe. Today, being envious of others is a disease:

    No evidence is found for the idea that envy acts as a useful motivator. Greater envy is associated with slower — not higher — growth of psychological well-being in the future. Nor is envy a predictor of later economic success.

    If you find yourself being envious of people having more success than you do, seek help… try to calm your envy. It is not good for you.

  4. Vitamin K is an anticalcification, anticancer, bone-forming and insulin-sensitising molecule. It is not uncommon to be vitamin-K deficient.
  5. Due to parabiosis, we know that there are “aging factors” in the blood of old people that reduce their fitness. As we age, we tend to have more Eotaxin-1 and it gets passed in blood plasma. Eotaxin-1 is associated with poorer mental abilities. What would happen if we removed Eotaxin-1 from the blood of older people? We do not know.

Published by

Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the Université du Québec (TELUQ).

6 thoughts on “Science and Technology links (December 29th, 2017)”

  1. I hear the older brother’s statistic some time ago. I recall it having to do with some cumulative increase of a hormone. It also perhaps make’s evolutionary sense. You have enough sons. Time for a more focused creative offspring.

  2. One theory for the genetic component of male homosexuality, i.e. why it hasn’t disappeared as it is not exactly self-reproducing, is that in women it expresses as more fecundity because they are more attracted to men. If true, you would expect to see a higher prevalence of the genes among women with more children.

  3. Note that just because the land is now forest, doesn’t mean it is not used for human beings. In Sweden for example about 80% of all forest is so-called productive forest, used for forestry and such.

  4. I noticed that the mentioned research of homosexuality attracted an unusual number of commenting papers. Most of them state that this research has significant flaws. As I can understand from some comments, there is no consensus about FBOE effect on homosexuality.

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