I started the year in London, attending later in in early March a private conference in Jackson Hole. Near the end of the conference the travel ban UK->USA was announced but I continued without paying much attention to it. Other than advances in science and technology I tend to pay little attention to current events (noise that repeats itself) and Covid was just the last of them. In a few years I'll look back and see exactly what Covid did in its proper context. So instead of reading and thinking about the latest OWS, dexamethasone, T cell, and microcovid drama, I just kept blogging as usual. I've written just 5 posts that mention Covid this year out of 38 I've written, and two of those mentions were just to say that Nintil was Covid free. Twelve of those posts were the monthly Links posts and out of the other 27, seven were about aging, with a few others about meta-science. Relative to 2019 I've written twice as many words (Over 100k this year, with the longest being my Longevity FAQ and my review on immunosenescence). It has, overall, been a great year for Nintil.
Early in 2019 I started learning about biology and later that same year, around November I started reading about the underpinnings of longevity, publishing two or three months later The Longevity FAQ. Prior to that I knew 0 about biology. Having studied aerospace dynamics and industrial engineering I knew a bunch about electronics, finance, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics and assorted subjects but given that I had also written one or two of these provocatively titled "(fundamental) physics is dead (and biology if the future)", learning biology seemed key to understand the key revolutions in science over the coming decades, yet I knew nothing about it! Prior to this I had ventured into areas as disparate as economic history, monetary theory or psychology in various depths, so this was my first self-guided dive into "hard science". Could the techniques and heuristics developed to synthesize and navigate other literatures work in biology? The answer in retrospective was yes though it is hard to offer any proof of that other than what it seems like to me. In the process I also realized that a lot of the time spent in navigating a new literature could be dramatically shortened if only we had better tools for summarization. Everything I've written starts to be out of date the day after because biology moves so fast, and trying to keep everything up to date would consume a lot of time. I pointed to the burden of knowledge as a reason why science is getting older, but beyond that it may be a reason why science is getting slower. What's the best way to reduce the time to know everything about everything?
I moved to San Francisco as well later this year, and so far I'm enjoying the city. Lots has been written about the decline of the Bay Area but I think reports of its death are greatly exaggerated. Once one gets away from Downtown and the Mission, things are nicer. I have a literal forest and canyon a few minutes from where I live and can go on walks there under the sun in winter! Not as easy to do that in central London where I used to live. Next year once traveling is easier I intend to visit Austin, or Boston, or Miami to see what those places are like as I've really been there.
What is the plan for 2021? The year will start with some posts in the Fund People, not Projects series that I just started. Having an answer to "What's the best way to structure science" would be nice. Maybe by the end of year we'll have that answer. I am also working on some longevity-related stuff but that will take a while to be made public. Longevity is like meta-science in that both disciplines act as enablers of so much more. Better science is a rising tide that lifts all the research boats and longevity research in particular lifts all life projects. In some sense better science is improving what can be done per unit of time, and longevity is increasing how many units of (quality-adjusted) time there are.