Science and Technology links (September 8th, 2018)

  1. Most research articles are not available for free to the public, even when the research was fully funded by the public. To legally access research articles, one typically needs to go through a college library which pays for access (often with public dollars). Major European agencies have thus decided that by 2020, research that they fund should be immediately accessible to the public, after it is published.

    It sounds very strict, doesn’t it?

    Here is the dirty little secret behind these mandates: they are not enforced. Funding agencies do not check that the work is actually made available. Past compliance with the mandate is simply not a criterion when applying for a new research grant. I have never heard of anyone losing a research grant for failing to abide by an open-access mandate.

    It does not mean, of course, that there is no impact from these mandates. But they need to be viewed more as encouragements than as requirements.

  2. Lysosomes are the components of our cells that a responsible for recycling the trash. In older cells, we believe that they do not work as well. Of particular importance is the health of our stem cells, as our bodies rely on stem cells to repair our tissues. Thankfully, enhancing lysosomal function is sufficient to restore healthy stem cell activity in the aged brain.
  3. To assess the value of medical therapies, we use clinical trials. It is important for researchers to report fully on the results of the trials, to not leave important data points out. Yet it seems that selective reporting is prevalent. In at least 30% of the clinical trials, researchers failed to report what they promised to report before the clinical trial started.
  4. Men with reduced testosterone levels (a common occurence for older men) would benefit from testosterone therapy. Yet this is uncommon. An article in Nature explains:

    (…) recent study has shown a decline in testosterone prescriptions since media reports of potential increased cardiovascular risk in 2014. The phenomenon of medical hysteria accounts for this reduced prescribing, as numerous subsequent studies provide substantial evidence of reduced cardiovascular risk and other important benefits with testosterone therapy for men with testosterone deficiency.

  5. We tend to think of evolution as a process that is limited to our genes. Yet if you have trouble losing weight, it might have to do with how active your mother and grand-mothers were while pregnant… Pregnant mice without access to exercise wheels produce offspring that have themselves have larger, fatter offspring:

    Without having to struggle for energy and nutrients, the fat cells in the fetus increase in both size and number, increasing the birth weight of the infant “ a factor strongly related to adult obesity and type II diabetes. This is passed on down the line, with future generations becoming fatter and increasingly inactive and unhealthy.

    (This is interesting but speculative.)

  6. Exercise-induced birth of new neurons in the brain (neurogenesis) might improve memory, and we could mimick this effect with drugs. It works in mice, according to an article in Science.
  7. The United States has the lowest life expectancy of developed countries, with reduction in life expectancy the past 2 years and by far the highest medical cost per person (source: Eric Topol).
  8. Though heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States, cancer has surpassed it in several states.
  9. Consuming a hypercaloric high protein diet does not result in an increase in body fat when accompanied with resistance training (weight lifting).
  10. Adjusting for other factors, low cholesterol is associated with increased criminal violence.

Published by

Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

2 thoughts on “Science and Technology links (September 8th, 2018)”

  1. Nothing gives confidence in the increased testosterone levels claim quite like “and other important benefits”, left vague and unspecified…

    I strongly suspect that those “other important benefits” are the supposed joys of increased sexual desire. Cephalus (or perhaps Sophocles, Socrates, or perhaps Plato) states this outright on page 1 of The Republic: “How well I remember the aged poet Sophocles, when in answer to the question, How does love suit with age, Sophocles, –are you still the man you were? Peace, he replied; most gladly have I escaped the thing of which you speak; I feel as if I had escaped from a mad and furious master. ”

    But there is money to be made in persuading people to go back to being slaves, to pay to have that mad and furious master once more control them. The fact that the US medical profession (I don’t know what it’s like in other countries, but it’s certainly this way in the US, across a variety of doctors of both sexes) is so insistent that the waning of sex drive with age is a problem, not a benefit, of growing old, is exhibit A in “why medicine knows many facts, but very little wisdom”.

    So that’s your choice. Listen to the guys who will happily sell you both testosterone and then viagra (and, what the hell, also a sports car and anything else you might feel you need, once you’re upset that you still can’t relive your twenties) OR listen to the wisdom of the ages and enjoy the fact that one fewer irrational masters now controls you.

  2. @1 It doesn’t sound very strict to me limiting access to information for economic gain puts those in less developed, i.e the majority of the world population, back and limits their potential development. It sustains and increases the gap between the well-of and the not so well-of, i.e. we make the rich richer and the poor poorer. This is what rich people tend to do, the majority of US policy makers and decision makers (Congress and the Senate) are multi-millionaires if not billionaires, how can we ever expect a fair and just society. that also reflects on the poor (and expensive) health-care system in the US, the rich just helicopter themselves from the gated community to the private clinic. The research, particularly in the EU, is funded with public money, the researchers have a job, because they are paid by tax-payers, the publications should (and will) be freely available (or, software patents (the hazard pointers patent will be running out soon 🙂 ) is another (US) abomination.

    @7 It’s all about “let’s sue the doctor” climate in the US, the doctor takes risk insurance (for alleged malpractice) and just passes on the cost to the clients/patients. In the UK you will not get treatment if you do not sign (before an operation f.e.) a paper stating that you know things could go wrong and that you accept that risk. The source does not have a link to it.

    @8 If you don’t care about the environment, drive cars that are highly inefficient, bulky and have 20th century tech (except Tesla of course), what does one expect. Money, money, money, the poor pay the price.

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