Science and Technology links (March 30th 2019)

  1. As we age, we accumulate old and useless (senescent) cells. These cells should die, but they do not. Palmer et al. removed senescent cells in obese mice. They found that these mice were less diabetic and just generally healthier. That is, it appears that many of the health problems due to obesity might have to do with the accumulation of senescent cells.
  2. Europe is changing its copyright laws to force websites to be legally responsible for the content that users upload. In my opinion, copyright laws tend to restrict innovation. I also think that Europe is generally not interesting in innovating: where is Europe’s Google or Europe’s Samsung?
  3. China is cloning police dogs.
  4. Do we create new neurons throughout life, or not? It remains a controversial question, but a recent article in Nature seems to indicate that neurogenesis in adult human beings is tangible:

    By combining human brain samples obtained under tightly controlled conditions and state-of-the-art tissue processing methods, we identified thousands of immature neurons in (…) neurologically healthy human subjects up to the ninth decade of life. These neurons exhibited variable degrees of maturation (…) In sharp contrast, the number and maturation of these neurons progressively declined as Alzheimer’s Disease advanced.

  5. Generally speaking, the overall evidence is that fit and healty people tend to be smarter. It is a myth unsupported by science that the gym rat is dumb whereas the pale out-of-shape guy is smart.If you want to be smart, you better stay fit and healthy. Evidently, this suggests that as you age, you may become lose some of your intellectual sharpness.Cornelis et al. processed a large dataset of cognitive tests and they conclude that you are not losing your intelligence very much, at least until you reach a typical retirement age:

    declines in cognitive abilities between the end of the fourth decade and age 65 are small.

    In their experiments, fluid intelligence (basically our reasoning ability) did not change very much and sometimes increased over time. This apparently contradict other studies based on smaller samples, and the authors discuss this apparent contradiction. Reaction time increased with age: older people are slower, everything else being equal.

Published by

Daniel Lemire

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

6 thoughts on “Science and Technology links (March 30th 2019)”

    1. BWM was founded in 1916, Mercedes in 1926. Whether these companies are a sign of a focus on innovation is up to debate.

      Though Novartis is a Swiss holding company, they are part of the Boston biotech hub. That is, as far as technology goes, it is an American company.

      That is not to say that there is no innovation in Europe, but my impression is that Europe is happy to have banks, holdings, wineries…

  1. Yeah, not only you have to be in shape if you want to stay sharp, but high-profile intellectual work is akin to sports and athleticism. High intelligence really should be associated with high physical fitness in the common mindset instead of being antithetical.

  2. where is Europe’s Google or Europe’s Samsung?

    With grain of salt and pepper:

    There used to be Nokia but it collapsed under American leadership.

    There is Bosch “defeat device”, which is at least Enron-like innovative.

    Yandex is not as big as Google so one would need to search for East India Company to find such an immense innovative power of monopoly.

  3. Some companies: Airbus, Air Liquide, ASML, BP, Nokia, Philips, Sap, Schlumberger, Shell, Spotify, Vivendi.

    Then there is Formula One f.e. (as a Canadian must be familiar to you), tyre-changes in little over 2 Secs (instead of 2 Mins, like in NASCAR). Hives [social media, before the word was invented] was highly innovative.

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