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Nov 17, 2018

Sun’s closest solo star may have company

Posted by in category: space

This week’s announcement? One of the closest stars to Earth has a super-Earth companion—Barnard’s star is a red dwarf that is only six light years from our Solar System. Only the three stars of the Centauri system are closer.

A large planet appears to be orbiting out near the system’s snow line.

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Nov 17, 2018

I’ve recently finished drafting two more chapters of my forthcoming book “Sustainable Superabundance” — the chapters on “Abundant Health” and “Abundant Intelligence”

Posted by in categories: health, sustainability

At this rate of progress, the book could be published by year end. Feedback welcome!

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Nov 17, 2018

How ‘miniature suns’ could provide cheap, clean energy

Posted by in category: nuclear energy

Are we just five years away from harnessing almost unlimited power from nuclear fusion? ☀️.

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Nov 17, 2018

Andrew Ng — The State of Artificial Intelligence

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

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Nov 17, 2018

Fisetin—a new senolytic

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, genetics, life extension

More information on the search for natural senolytics (that clear the senescent cells and potentially make us younger)- on ficetin, found in abundance for example in strawberries, a newly published study and discussion in the blog of Josh Mitteldorf. But we still would have to consume around 20 kg strawberries for two consecutive days to reach the dose used in the happy longer living mice!

Senolytic drugs have been the most promising near-term anti-aging therapy since the ground-breaking paper by van Deursen of Mayo Clinic published in 2011 . The body accumulates senescent cells as we age, damaged cells that send out signal molecules that in turn modify our biochemistry in a toxic, pro-inflammatory direction. Though the number of such cells is small, the damage they do is great. Van Deursen showed that just getting rid of these cells could increase lifespan of mice by ~25%. But he did it with a trick, using genetically engineered mice in which the senescent cells had a built-in self-destruct switch.

After that, the race was on to find chemical agents that would do the same thing without the genetically engineered self-destruct. They must selectively kill senescent cells, while leaving all other cells unharmed. It’s a tall order, because even a little residual toxicity to normal cells can be quite damaging. Before last week, the two best candidates were FOXO4-DRI and a combination of quercetin with dasatinib .

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Nov 17, 2018

Is there any hope for resolving society’s deep disagreements?

Posted by in category: neuroscience

‘’Examining how deep disagreements arise will demonstrate the gravity of the issue. Why do we disagree with valid, knowable facts when we all live in the same world, we have roughly the same cognitive abilities and, in the Western world at least, most people have fairly easy access to roughly the same information?

What happens when you can’t agree on the facts?

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Nov 17, 2018

Science Is Getting Less Bang for Its Buck

Posted by in categories: policy, science

Perhaps this lack of response is in part because some scientists see acknowledging diminishing returns as betraying scientists’ collective self-interest. Most scientists strongly favor more research funding. They like to portray science in a positive light, emphasizing benefits and minimizing negatives. While understandable, the evidence is that science has slowed enormously per dollar or hour spent. That evidence demands a large-scale institutional response. It should be a major subject in public policy, and at grant agencies and universities. Better understanding the cause of this phenomenon is important, and identifying ways to reverse it is one of the greatest opportunities to improve our future.

Despite vast increases in the time and money spent on research, progress is barely keeping pace with the past. What went wrong?

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Nov 17, 2018

Home DNA tests mean sperm, egg donors can no longer hide their identities

Posted by in category: genetics

Thirteen years later, home DNA test kits have opened the floodgates for people who were born from sperm or egg donations to reveal the identities of their donors.

Donors used to be guaranteed anonymity, but things have changed, according to genetic genealogist CeCe Moore, founder of DNADetectives.

“It would be naive to think that a person could donate sperm or eggs and stay anonymous,” said Moore. “It isn’t going to happen.”

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Nov 17, 2018

CDC Doctors Say Mysterious Polio-Like Illness Is on the Rise

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

For now, the best advice that doctors have is to wash your hands to avoid transmitting infections — a small precaution to avoid the long-term after-effects of AFM.

“We have had a couple people who’ve had some pretty good recovery,” Marcus says. “Most people have had a little bit of recovery, but unfortunately, we haven’t seen anybody who’s had a full recovery from this. It’s really discouraging.”

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Nov 17, 2018

Researchers Create ‘Master Fingerprints’ to Unlock Phones

Posted by in categories: mobile phones, privacy, robotics/AI

Biometric features like fingerprint sensors and iris scanners have made it easier to securely unlock phones, but they may never be as secure as a good old-fashioned password. Researchers have repeatedly worked out methods to impersonate registered users of biometric devices, but now a team from New York University and the University of Michigan has gone further. The team managed to create so-called “DeepMasterPrints” that can fool a sensor without a sample of the real user’s fingerprints.

Past attempts to bypass biometric systems usually involve getting access to a registered individual’s data — that could be a copy of their fingerprint or a 3D scan of their face. DeepMasterPrints involves generating an entirely new fingerprint from a mountain of data that’s close enough to fool the sensor. Like so many research projects these days, the team used neural networks to do the heavy lifting.

The process started with feeding fingerprints from 6,000 people into a neural network in order to train it on what a human fingerprint looks like. A neural network is composed of a series of nodes that process data. It feeds forward into additional “layers” of nodes if the output meets a certain threshold. Thus, you can train the network to get the desired output. In this case, the researchers used a “generative adversarial network” to tune the system’s ability to generate believable fingerprints. The network used its understanding of prints to make one from scratch, and then a second network would determine if they were real or fake. If the fingerprints didn’t pass muster, the network could be re-tuned to try again.

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