Category Archives: Science And Society

Reversing Aging

A long but interesting interview with George Church:

Certainly if you could fix all nine hallmarks at once that would do well. Reversal of aging has been demonstrated in simple animals. Some people will dismiss those as too simple — because they have such a short life already, it’s not surprising you can make them live longer. But I think it’s quite clear that aging is programmed in some sense. It’s not like you’ve been programmed to die at some age, but the laziness of evolution has resulted in your program to not avoid dying.

Over evolutionary time, to use analogy, it was not cost effective to invest a lot of your precious food to live longer because you’re going to get eaten by a wolf anyway. Now we have plenty of excess food, and rather than becoming obese let’s spend that on living longer, by spending extra ATP on repair and rejuvenation. That’s something 20-year-olds do fine, but after 60 you stop investing quite as well.

Yes. There has been no evolutionary pressure for us to live longer, but it’s absurd to think it would violate any laws of physics (and ultimately, even biology comes down to physics) that prevent us from living indefinitely long lives. And how soon could it happen?

The simple answer is, I don’t know. Probably we’ll see the first dog trials in the next year or two. If that works, human trials are another two years away, and eight years before they’re done. Once you get a few going and succeeding it’s a positive feedback loop.

That’s pretty exciting, but still: faster, please.

But I did come across this:

If you find that in the western world we’re eating a lot of marbled cow that didn’t exist in the ancient days, all you have to do is get rid of the marbled cow and you’re all set.

Except I’m not aware of any scientific evidence that marbled cow is a problem. I wonder how up on nutrition he is?

Roy Moore

A lot of people are calling him a pedophile. He’s an awful human being, but he’s not that. I got into a stupid Twitter war this morning on that issue.

A pedophile is someone who has a desire for sex with actual children (and by children, I mean people who have not attained puberty, not teenagers). We have seen no evidence of that. But for simply pointing that out, I was accused of being one myself for “defending” him (I’m not, and I didn’t defend him, other than to point out that his attempted statutory rape is not pedophilia). And because I have a mustache.

Contra what so many confidently and ignorantly informed me, pedophilia has nothing to do with the age of the perp. It doesn’t matter how old Moore was when he attempted sex with these young women (and yes, a female who has started menstruating is a young woman, not a “child,” though she may be emotionally). All that matters is the age of the victim.

The Value Of Argument

Kids, would you please start fighting?

The Wright brothers weren’t alone. The Beatles fought over instruments and lyrics and melodies. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony clashed over the right way to win the right to vote. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak argued incessantly while designing the first Apple computer. None of these people succeeded in spite of the drama — they flourished because of it. Brainstorming groups generate 16 percent more ideas when the members are encouraged to criticize one another. The most creative ideas in Chinese technology companies and the best decisions in American hospitals come from teams that have real disagreements early on. Breakthrough labs in microbiology aren’t full of enthusiastic collaborators cheering one another on but of skeptical scientists challenging one another’s interpretations.

If no one ever argues, you’re not likely to give up on old ways of doing things, let alone try new ones. Disagreement is the antidote to groupthink. We’re at our most imaginative when we’re out of sync. There’s no better time than childhood to learn how to dish it out — and to take it.

Beyond the danger to free expression, this is a large part of the danger of political correctness and groupthink on campus.

About That Federal Climate Report

It’s “the usual mix of half truths, exaggerations, omissions and outright lies.”

In other words, what we’ve come to expect from government climate reports.

[Tuesday-morning update]

Oops, Naomi Oreske caught with biased numbers on “Exxon knew.”

Gee, it’s almost as thought they have a political agenda.

Elon’s Plans

Doug Messier has a critique, with which I largely agree. He does seem to be laser focused on solving the transportation problem (which was the first one he encountered when he tried to implement his initial Mars plans). I emailed him years ago about the fact that we have no idea whether or not we can conceive/gestate in 0.4g. His response was basically, “that’s not my problem right now.”

But this blinkered mindset may not ultimately serve him well in terms of his long-term goal. It would be tragic for him if he solved the transportation problem, but not the biological one, and his dreams of Mars colonies ended up being still born, despite the cost reduction of transportation there.