Science and technology links (January 15 2023)

    1. For under $600, one can buy a 20-terabyte disk on Amazon. Unless you work professionally in multimedia, it is more storage than you need. However, having much storage it, by itself, of little use if you cannot access it. Thankfully, you can buy a 1-terabyte “disk” for $200 that provides over 6 GB/s of bandwidth. I have a similar disk in my game console. Is this as good as it gets? Researchers show that we can transmit data over a distance at more than a petabit per second. According to some estimates, that is more than the total data size of the books in the library of congress, per second.
    2. Transplanting rejuvenated blood stem cells extends lifespan of aged immunocompromised mice.
    3. Amazon is using drones for deliveries in California and Texas.
    4. People who think themselves as less attractive are more likely willing to wear surgical masks.
    5. Conversations rarely end when they should.
    6. Using legal restrictions, manufacturers are able to prevent their customers from repairing their own products. There may be hope. Farmers in the US will be allowed to repair John Deere tractors.
    7. For most of my life, nuclear power has been viewed with suspicion, and little effort has been done to exploit it further. The tide might be finally turning. The UK government plans to authorize small modular nuclear reactors, and other nuclear-power innovations.
    8. Cancer rates are falling rapidly in both men and women.
    9. There is evidence that vitamin D supplements might help your immune system if your levels are too low. However, you may also require magnesium supplements to benefit from the vitamin D.
    10. In the post-pandemic era, people work fewer hours.
    11. There is evidence that viruses dormant in our genomes can wake up when we are older and harm us.
    12. Research papers and patents are becoming less disruptive over time. However, we are producing many more research papers and patents.
    13. Genetically modified immune cells are used to fight cancer in a patient.
    14. Increasing house insulation may not lead to lower energy usage on the long run. It is not, per se, an argument against better insulation. Yet it suggests that we should plan for increase power production.
    15. In a paper published by Nature, Kleinherenbrink et al. find that global mean sea levels are likely rising according to a linear curve, as opposed to an accelerating curve. The current rate is estimated to be between 3 and 4 millimeters per year. Meanwhile, the most low-lying island nations on the planet are growing.
    16. Antartica might be getting cooler.
    17. People prefer to stay away from promiscuous men.
    18. Cold temperatures harm the antiviral immunity of your nose. Thus cold weather may make you more prone to catching a virus.
    19. Replacing grades with pass/fail scores in courses lead students to make less effort. In my view, it does not imply that we should not adopt pass/fail scores because there are diminish returns to more efforts. E.g., if the kids in a country spend much more time perfecting their knowledge of trigonometry, you may not end up with a more prosperous country. In some sense, intense competition may be a net loss.
    20. Using solar power generation in countries such as Switzerland results in a net energy loss: though the solar panels produce energy, they never recoup the energy investment needed to make them and deploy them.

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Daniel Lemire

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

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