Survey of the origins of some foundational techniuqes in biology

Markus Strasser's post-mortem of his work on knowledge extraction from academic publications. A must read for everyone interested in the broad tools for thought category.

Antiaging diets: separating fact from fiction. A review of what is known about various diets claimed to help with lifespan/health in humans

In my immunosenescence explainer I noted that levels of zinc go down with age. Zinc is key for the immune system. Recent review on this precise issue.

Rohit on building modern cathedrals

Scientist proposes an experiment, feasible with current means that he predicts will create a tiny warp bubble (Whether it will work is another matter)

Alex Berger from OpenPhil, interviewed by Applied Divinity Studies

Weird but cool (Drilling through a tiny bone) approach to treating Alzheimer's continues to make progress

Why so many drugs are small molecules (I expect that this will eventually stop being the case)

Docusign could be cobbled together in a month (I mean, uploading a document, a basic UI, and remote storage are solved problems) and at the same time is a 50bn$ company. How is this possible? HackerNews highly cynical userbase investigates. The secret sauce seems to be spending time reading regulations and ensuring compliance and that they have put the effort to get a certification so that one can e-sign documents when dealing with the US federal government, which no one else has done yet. Lots of opportunities in general in dealing with compliance and taxes I guess. (And There’s a lot of money in making it a lot easier to work with legacy financial institutions.). "X but nice" remains a valid business heuristic.

Zillow tried to eat OpenDoor's lunch and failed. Why?

The liver helps axolotls regenerate limbs. Biology is wild.

Report from the Fusion Industry Association on companies aiming at commercial nuclear fusion. By far most companies are aiming for the 2030s for the first commercial plant.

Scott Alexander is offering grants, and thinking about what makes successful families such

Molly Mielke got a grant to start a platform to start your own grants

Patrick Collison, Patrick Hsu, and Silvana Konnerman launch the Arc Institute to fund people AND projects in science.

In related news, the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative continues to expand

DeepMind helps mathematicians; Twitter thread mentions a critique of DeepMind's paper

Matt Clancy riffs on my "Scaling tacit knowledge essay", with a focus on incentives. I wanted to write a section on the costs/benefits (and incentive reshaping) associated with doing something about the problem I indentify in the essay but it was getting too long.

Brian Armstrong, of Coinbase fame, gets into the longevity space with NewLimit

I saw some aging biologists arguing about aging and measuring aging, subtweeted everyone with some philosophy

Neural networks are powerful, but can be grossly inefficient: latest example (100x faster than state of the art using neural networks) . Cheaper compute makes algorithmic improvements less appealing but there are still wins to be had there potentially.

Trevor Klee on understanding graying. If we aim to eventually solve aging, shouldn't we try to understand what's going on with an easy to observe, seemingly simple system that we know ages: hair? Trevor on why fluvoxamine was given to COVID patients

ML has consolidated around a single class of models: transformers. It used to be that one would use say CNNs for vision problems and LSTMs for sequence problems. Now it's all transformers.

Jacob Kimmel on the use of machine learning in biology (My broad read: The decoupling between understanding and prediction continues. Our models will tell us the answer but we won't know why to our satisfaction like we know in other domains)

The Center for Open Science tries to reproduce a bunch of cancer papers, they are not able to reproduce most (59%) of them. This doesn't mean all the effects were not real! It means they were not able to either obtain data/materials to replicate them or that they attempted it and failed. It's unclear of course if this failure to replicate was improper protocols on CoS's side (tacit knowledge!) or if the original research was actually flawed. That all said though, it looks really bad for scientific practice. The STAT News articles adds more color to this story:

“Human biology is very hard, and we’re humans doing it. We’re not perfect, and it’s really tricky,” he said. “None of these replications invalidate or validate the original science. Maybe the original study is wrong — a false positive or false signal. The reverse may be true, too, and the replication is wrong. More than likely, they’re both true, and there’s something mundane about how we did the experiment that’s causing the difference.”

Haber-Bosch, but without the CO2

Anti-obesity drugs seem to readily be translatable to humans from mice studies

Osmosis doesn't work like we thought it did

T1 diabetes, cured?

Also in biology is weird: Mitochondria have multiple copies of their DNA (mtDNA). Naively, one'd think they are just sitting there hanging out making proteins. But no, a bunch of them are inactive?? And did I mention that cancer cells drill into neighboring cells to suck in their mitochondria like fucking vampires

A mad scheme to give mars a magnetosphere

Salt is bad for you, latest meta-analysis

Trying to understand airplanes with the tools of pre-ML molecular biology

Some intriguing neural art

Market failures in Science, from Milan Cvitkovic

I ask Twitter: What does it mean to understand something? Will we ever understand biology?

Academics should be able to speculate more

Michael Nielsen's list of meaningful places

Everything causes cancer, all genes cause cancer (Not really)

How TIME-seq, a cheap way to measure methylation in a targeted way (to use e.g. for methylation clocks), works

Turns out you can CRISPR-edit entire organs (not just a subset thereof). Sure it's the liver which is the easiest place to get gene therapies to but... it's a start!

Nintil was recently cited in a book

Deriving various scaling relations in biology from first principles