Science and Technology links (April 11th 2020)

  1. Greenland sharks reach their sexual maturity when they are 150 years old and they live hundreds of years. Some living sharks today were born in the 16th century.
  2. Only 5% of the general population rates themselves as below average in intelligence. And they overestimate the intelligence of their mate even more.
  3. Fresh soil has a distinctive smell which may be caused by bacteria that are trying to attract specific animals.
  4. Earth’s mantle is kept warm due to radioactivity. So we are basically living on a warm radioactive rock.
  5. Employees who work from home can be noticeably more productive. My own estimate is that I am about 20% more productive when working from home. However, social interactions are easier in person.
  6. We had the coldest Artic winter since 1979. It caused the first genuine ozone hole in the Artic. The ozone layer protects the Earth from radiations.
  7. According a recent research paper in Nature, Fermented foods (cheese, butter, alcoholic beverages, yogurt) as well as fibers may have anti-obesity properties due to the production of short-chain fatty acids (acetate, propionate, and butyrate). Propionate is also used as a food preservative as well as being produced by our own gut bacteria when digesting fibers, or by bacteria in the process of fermentation.  There is much evidence that propionate may helpful for obesity: Lin et al. (2012), Chambers et al. (2019), Arora et al. (2011) . In contrast, a widely reported previous work by Tirosh et al. suggest that propionate leads to weight gain in mice and might promote obesity and metabolic abnormalities. The press reported the idea that propionate could make use fat by presenting it as a food preservative:

    My take? The science is probably “complicated” and we do not have all the answers. This being said, while it is true that there may be propionate in your bread and pizza, to prevent it from moulding, and while it is also true that pizza and bread may make you fat, I’d worry a lot more about the calories in bread and pizza rather than the effect of propionate itself.

  8. The current pandemics might be the start of a revolution in peer review.

Published by

Daniel Lemire

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

One thought on “Science and Technology links (April 11th 2020)”

  1. Hi sir,

    I just wanted to say that I really appreciate your science blogs. I find it hard to obtain good, relatively-unbiased information about recent research, and your blog fills that gap for me.

    Be well.

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