Science and Technology links (June 26th 2021)

  1. Reportedly, half of us own a smartphone.
  2. It is often reported that women or visible minority earn less money. However, ugly people are doing comparatively even more poorly.
  3. We have highly efficient and cheap solar panels. However, we must also quickly dispose of them after a few years which leads to trash. Handling an increasing volume of trash is not cheap:

    The totality of these unforeseen costs could crush industry competitiveness. (…) By 2035, discarded panels would outweigh new units sold by 2.56 times. In turn, this would catapult the [cost] to four times the current projection. The economics of solar — so bright-seeming from the vantage point of 2021 — would darken quickly as the industry sinks under the weight of its own trash.

  4. Ultrasounds may be a viable therapy against Alzheimer’s.
  5. Axolotls regenerate any part of their body, including their spinal cord. Though they only weight between 60g and 110g, they may live 20 years.
  6. Some dinosaurs once thrived in the Arctic.
  7. It was once believed that hair greying was essentially an irreversible process. Researchers looked at actual hair samples and found that in many cases, a hair that once turned gray could regain its colour.
  8. At least as far as your muscles go, you can remain fit up to an advanced age. As supportive evidence, researchers found that human muscle stem cells are refractory to aging:

    We find no measurable difference in regeneration across the range of ages investigated up to 78 years of age.

    Further work shows that you can promote muscle regeneration by reprogramming the cells in muscle fibers, thus potentially activating these muscle stem cells.

  9. Many people who are overweight suffer from the metabolic syndrome which includes abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar. It affects about 25% of us worldwide. Researchers have found that a particular hormone, Asprosin, is elevated in people suffering for the metabolic syndrome. Suppressing asprosin in animal models reduced appetite and increased leanness, maybe curing the metabolic syndrome. We may hope that this work will quickly lead to human trials.
  10. During the current decade, the share of Canadians that are 65 years and older  will rise from 17.4 per cent to 22.5 per cent of the population.
  11. The Internet probably use less energy than you think and most projections are pessimistic.

Published by

Daniel Lemire

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

One thought on “Science and Technology links (June 26th 2021)”

  1. Solar panels: The article uses the common “dark patterns”:

    Emotional terms such as “Dark Side” right in the title. (btw most new solar panels are “bifacial”, so they actually have two dark sides). Then “massive caveat” and “large amounts of annual waste”, “alarming” and so on. Why is this waste alarming, and why is other waste not alarming? Are solar panels particularly dangerous? If yes, how is that compared to nuclear plants that are decommissioned, and spent nuclear fuel? Brine for fossil fuel?
    Usage of absolute numbers like “78 million tonnes by the year 2050” without putting that into a relation of any kind. How is this compared to other things like fossil fuel, nuclear, and so on? Building are also teared down and new ones are build, what about that?
    “discarded panels would outweigh new units sold by 2.56 times” – so more panels are discarded than new ones are added. Why would that be the case? Will solar panels not be competitive in the future so people will tear them down (not replace most of them)? Does it mean older panels are somehow heavier? That might actually be true (older panels typically have an aluminium frame, newer ones don’t have that). But aluminium is easy to recycle; and 2.56 times is a lot. For a technology that really just begun taking off, I have a hard time believing that it’s already in decline. I would be more worried about old (gasoline) cars…
    “who will bear the cleanup costs” If some government didn’t think about cost of some waste then that’s a problem of course. What about cleanup cost of oil spills, and leaky / decommissioned pipelines?
    “The same problem is looming for other renewable-energy technologies.” To only renewable-energy have a “looming problem”? What would that be?
    “wind turbine blades will end up in U.S. landfills” Why is it a problem exactly? Are turbine blades dangerous? How much is it compared to waste?
    “According to prevailing estimates, only five percent of electric-vehicle batteries are currently recycled” That’s probably because it’s not economic to do so. That’s normal. Why is it a problem? It will change once it makes sense.

    That all reminds me of the Nirvana fallacy.

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