What follows are some thoughts on the question "what is aging". Initially there is a meandering back and forth around the concept using a non-biological example (pyramids), later we get to a more concrete definition of aging, and using that to cast some light on various questions like whether aging is a disease or not.
You can see a video companion to this essay here.
A paper from last year (Cohen et al., 2020a) pointed to the lack of consensus within gerontology ("aging research") as to…
Aging & Bio
Strategies for reversal of brain aging with cell replacement
Review of the role of long lived proteins in humans (Why should you care? Because these are hard to target to replace or remove)
New marker of brain aging found in blood. One more step towards assaying organ-specific health in humans without having to take biopsies.
New therapy found that can reduce weight and improve overall metabolic health
Some proteins are by their nature not folded, or disordered
ROS and aging, a review. This…
In the US, federal R&D expenditures are down since their peak in 1964 at 1.86% of GDP. Now they are 0.61% of GDP. This from ITIF is representative of this narrative:
Or here's Gruber and Johnson,
“From 1940 to 1964, federal funding for research and development increased twentyfold. At its peak in the mid-1960s, this spending amount was around 2 percent of annual gross domestic product—roughly one in every fifty dollars in the United States was devoted to government funding of research and development …
Max Plank, who looked at thermodynamics, and it took him 20 years to reach his conclusions, that, that matter was, was quantized. (Donald Braben)
Max Planck got his PhD around 1879, and it wouldn't be until ~1900 when he published the key papers postulating the quantization of energy, which he used to explain black body radiation (See here for some context). The 1879-1900 gap are probably those 20 years that Braben has in mind. It's interestingly hard to find anything published by Planck prior to this. Hi…
The wars over the minimum wage literature continue
Anton Howes on how innovation spreads and can be fostered; he points to getting people in contact with inventors and innovators broadly is key. This seems right from my own experience.
Matt Clancy on the Applied Turn in economics
Does education improve health? Those two things are correlated, but the correlation is probably not causal.
Eli Dourado on environmental review slowing things down
Excessive use of professional licensing make US healthcare mor…
Back in 2016 I wrote a Nintil classic, No great technological stagnation where I argued that, as far as we could see from public data, improvements in various technologies do not seem to be slowing down. If I were to rewrite it now I would note that trends in batteries and solar panels have continued, and I would add some new trends like for single cell sequencing (A whole new category that didn't exist until 2009).
There is one problem with my analysis there that I left open,
Are there less 'really innova…