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May 15, 2019

The Future of Pensions

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, life extension

Nicola Bagalà and Michael Nuschke take a look at the future of pensions and how the possible defeat of age-related diseases will affect them.

If you work in social security, it’s possible that your nightmares are full of undying elderly people who keep knocking on your door for pensions that you have no way of paying out. Tossing and turning in your bed, you beg for mercy, explaining that there’s just too many old people who need pensions and not enough young people who could cover for it with their contributions; the money’s just not there to sustain a social security system that, when it was conceived in the mid-1930s, didn’t expect that many people would ever make it into their 80s and 90s. Your oneiric persecutors won’t listen: they gave the country the best years of their lives, and now it’s time for the country to pay them their due.

When you wake up, you’re relieved to realize that there can’t be any such thing as people who have ever-worsening degenerative diseases yet never die from them, but that doesn’t make your problem all that better; you still have quite a few old people, living longer than the pension system had anticipated, to pay pensions to, and the bad news is that in as little as about 30 years, the number of 65+ people worldwide will skyrocket to around 2.1 billion, growing faster than all younger groups put together [1]. Where in the world is your institution going to find the budget?

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May 15, 2019

How whales defy the cancer odds: Good genes

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical

But they don’t. Instead, they are less likely to develop or die of this enigmatic disease. The same is true of elephants and dinosaurs’ living relatives, birds. Marc Tollis, an assistant professor in the School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems at Northern Arizona University, wants to know why.

Tollis led a team of scientists from Arizona State University, the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, the Center for Coastal Studies in Massachusetts and nine other institutions worldwide to study potential cancer suppression mechanisms in cetaceans, the mammalian group that includes whales, dolphins and porpoises. Their findings, which picked apart the genome of the humpback whale, as well as the genomes of nine other cetaceans, in order to determine how their cancer defenses are so effective, were published today in Molecular Biology and Evolution.

The study is the first major contribution from the newly formed Arizona Cancer and Evolution Center or ACE, directed by Carlo Maley under an $8.5 million award from the National Cancer Institute. Maley, an evolutionary biologist, is a researcher at ASU’s Biodesign Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics and professor in the School of Life Sciences. He is a senior co-author of the new study.

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May 15, 2019

Two infants treated with universal immune cells have their cancer vanish

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

In a medical first, the children were treated with genetically engineered T-cells from another person.

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May 15, 2019

Cold fusion reactor independently verified, has 10,000 times the energy density of gas

Posted by in category: nuclear energy

Against all probability, a device that purports to use cold fusion to generate vast amounts of power has been verified by a panel of independent scientists. The research paper, which hasn’t yet undergone peer review, seems to confirm both the existence of cold fusion, and its potency: The cold fusion device being tested has roughly 10,000 times the energy density and 1,000 times the power density of gasoline. Even allowing for a massively conservative margin of error, the scientists say that the cold fusion device they tested is 10 times more powerful than gasoline — which is currently the best fuel readily available to mankind.

The device being tested, which is called the Energy Catalyzer (E-Cat for short), was created by Andrea Rossi has been claiming for the past two years that he had finally cracked cold fusion, but much to the chagrin of the scientific community he hasn’t allowed anyone to independently analyze the device — until now. While it sounds like the scientists had a fairly free rein while testing the E-Cat, we should stress that they still don’t know exactly what’s going on inside the sealed steel cylinder reactor. Still, the seven scientists, all from good European universities, obviously felt confident enough with their findings to publish the research paper.

LNER (cold fusion)  hydrogen/nickel lattice

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May 15, 2019

Gene editing: will it make rich people genetically superior?

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, genetics

There’s no doubt that genetic therapy won’t be cheap.

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May 15, 2019

Gene Hackers: The Young Biotech Entrepreneurs Looking To Make Billions

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

Entrepreneurs are taking genetic-editing technology from the lab to the clinic with grand ambitions. But who owns the patents?

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May 15, 2019

Chandra X-ray Observatory Photo 5

Posted by in category: space

Right now Chandra is gazing at a galaxy cluster in Draco. Nearby is the famous Tadpole Galaxy, seen here with thousands of galaxies in the background! The Tadpole’s tail of stars is over 280,000 light years long, stretched by gravity during a previous close encounter with another galaxy!

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May 15, 2019

Deep learning could reveal why the world works the way it does

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

Very nice article at MIT Tech Review explaining Leon Bottou’s invited talk at ICLR on causality through invariance.

At a major AI research conference, one researcher laid out how existing AI techniques might be used to analyze causal relationships in data.

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May 15, 2019

Chemical mixtures pose ‘underestimated’ risk to human health say scientists

Posted by in categories: food, health

This year, the European Union heavily restricted four types of phthalates in consumer products because of their possible health effects. Phthalates are plasticisers, ubiquitous chemicals that soften plastics in many consumer products. They are present in food wrappings, clothes, packaging, car parts, cosmetics and fragrances.

Over time, these plasticisers end up in the air, soil, water, food and household dust. They can also end up in our bodies. This is worrying because they are implicated in reproductive abnormalities in mammals. Studies of people have linked plasticisers to sperm damage, lower fertility, early puberty in girls and thyroid effects. The phthalates will be now legally be restricted to 0.1% in weight in articles used by consumers or in outdoor areas.

But scientists are increasingly concerned not just about single chemicals, which are found in people’s bodies at levels that are usually not toxic, but about what happens to toxicity when these chemicals mix.

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May 15, 2019

A Conversation with Jackie Ying

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, nanotechnology

Center Stage in the current issue of ACS Central Science: A Conversation with Prof. Jackie Ying, founding director of the A*STAR Institute NanoBio lab in Singapore. Using #nanomaterials to develop inexpensive medical technologies:

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