Category Archives: Technology and Society

When Are The Human Tests?

A new drug that is a thousand times more powerful than resveratrol:

In the study, scientists fed the mice a high-fat, high-calorie diet mixed with doses of SRT1720 for approximately 10 weeks. The mice were given 100 or 500 milligrams of fat per kilogram of body weight each day (a high dose even for humans). The mice did not exercise regularly, although the scientists tested the animals’ exercise capacity, or endurance, by making them run on a treadmill. “The mice treated with the compound ran significantly longer,” says Auwerx. The drug also protected the animals from the negative effects of high-calorie diets: metabolic disorders, obesity-related diseases, and insulin resistance. It even improved the mice’s cholesterol.

It is significant that the drug mimics the effects of a calorie-restricted diet, since this has previously been tied to increased life expectancy, says William Evans, a professor of geriatric medicine, nutrition, and physiology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

It’s as if the couch-potato mice underwent a strict diet and exercise regime, says David Sinclair, a biologist at Harvard Medical School, in Boston, who is one of the cofounders of Sirtris but was not involved in the current study. The new study “is a major step forward, showing that we can design and synthesize potent, druglike molecules that could slow down the aging process,” says Sinclair.

I think that people are going to be amazed at the life-extension and health advances coming along in the next few years. It makes it all the more the shame that we continue to lose people who we might save if they could just hang on long enough.

Better All The Time

A cure for nut allergies?

Well, actually, it’s only for peanuts, though for peanut-allergy sufferers (who seem to be sufficiently legion that it’s affecting the lifestyle of the rest of us on airplanes and other places), that’s a good thing.

I’m allergic to tree nuts, not peanuts (which are not true nuts, but legumes, like beans). And it caused me no little amount of grief when I was a kid, because the allergy was just unpleasant, not life threatening, so my parents wouldn’t believe me. Part of the problem was that because I was truly allergic to cashews, walnuts, etc., I assumed that I was also allergic to peanuts. But I ate peanut butter with no problem, so my parents assumed that I was faking, and made me eat not just the peanuts but all the nuts, which would result in a swelling and itching of the mucous membranes in my mouth and throat, and a slight but vague stomach upset. But because it never resulted in a trip to the hospital, they never believed that I was allergic, and tormented me throughout my childhood until I left the house and took control over my own diet, at which point, being rational, I realized that if I could eat peanut butter I could eat peanuts as well. And I do.

Anyway, I hope that progress on this front continues, not because I think that I’ve been missing anything great from the other nuts, but because I will be able to eat foods (particularly Indian food, which seems to be kind of sneaky in this regard) without worrying about unpleasant consequences. And even more for those for whom the consequences go far beyond “unpleasant.”

Boo Hoo

Mike Griffin says that criticism of NASA hurts its morale:

Griffin said critics in the media and on anonymous Internet blogs can “chip away” at the agency by questioning the motives and ethics of engineers designing the new rockets.

Briefing charts used by NASA managers sometimes show up on Web sites without the proper context, he said, and opponents of the agency’s plans to replace the space shuttle with two new rockets have wrongly accused NASA managers of incompetence and worse.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I don’t think that I’ve ever questioned anyone’s motives or ethics. I do question their engineering and political judgment, and fortunately (for now) we live in a country in which I am free to do so. Clark Lindsey has more thoughts:

…just thinking about the Ares monstrosities hurts MY morale…I can’t think of anything more depressing than seeing a one chance in a generation opportunity to build a practical space transportation infrastructure squandered on a repeat of Apollo that consists of nothing but hyper-expensive throwaway systems.

Ditto. It’s a tragedy.

[Update a few minutes later]

There’s more over at NASAWatch:

“…it is incumbent upon us to be able to explain how a decision was reached, why a particular technical approach was chosen, or why a contract was awarded to one bidder instead of another.”

It is indeed. You’ve never really done that with the Ares/ESAS decisions. You just send Steve Cook out to say “we’ve done the trade study–trust us.”

I’m Drooling

Amazon is having a power tool sale. Stock up now, before the apocalypse.

Not that great for a survivalist, though, unless you can generate a lot of power. Let’s hope we’re not going back to hand tools soon.

Actually, I already have most of this stuff. I continue to be amazed at the cost, quality and innovativeness of tools since I was a kid. It has to have been a great contributor to national productivity, both professionally, and for the DIYers. And it wouldn’t have happened without China. Another reason to hope that the (newly isolationist) Dems don’t get full control of the government.