Science and Technology links (April 25th 2020)

  1. People’s muscles tends to become weaker with age, a process called sarcopenia. It appears that eating more fruits and vegetables is associated with far lower risks of sarcopenia. Unfortunately, it is merely an association: it does not mean that if you eat more fruits and vegetables, you are at lower risk for sarcopenia. We just do not know.
  2. In human beings, males are more diverse than female with respect to many attributes. Just look at height: it is common that, in a classroom, both the shortest and tallest individual are boys. In chimpanzees, researchers report that males have greater brain structure diversity.
  3. Scientists have created “healing patches” for hearts. They greatly accelerate heart repair following a heart attack, in mice and pigs. It is made out of heart pig tissue, with the pig cells removed. The patches are believed to be safe, they can be frozen for later use.
  4. Many people lose some of their hair over time. About half of all men go bald over time. We do not quite understand the process. New research suggests that hair loss may result from the loss of stem cells in the skin. Stem cells are “progenitor cells” able to produce new specialized cells. The research suggests that stem cell therapies could be beneficial to fight hair loss.
  5. It is commonly believed that evolution made us as fit as possible. In this model, aging is the inevitable result of entropy. I do not believe this entropic model. In simulations, researchers have shown that a population of worms might be fitter if its individuals age and die. This should not surprise us: annual plants have evolved out of perennial plants. Your garden flowers can often be easily be kept alive indefinitely even though they are annuals. Your plants age and die on schedule because it is advantageous for the species. Animals of a similar size have frequently vastly different lifespans… naked mole rats are rats that are not subject to Gompertz curves (they are effectively ageless).

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Daniel Lemire

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

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