Link roundup: Feb 2019

6 minute read


Nature | Low pay, exclusivity requirements and lack of support plague postdocs across Europe
Edge | Biological and Cultural Evolution Essay by Freeman Dyson

Our double task is now to preserve and foster both biological evolution as Nature designed it and cultural evolution as we invented it, trying to achieve the benefits of both, and exercising a wise restraint to limit the damage when they come into conflict. With biological evolution, we should continue playing the risky game that nature taught us to play. With cultural evolution, we should use our unique gifts of language and art and science to understand each other, and finally achieve a human society that is manageable if not always peaceful, with wildlife that is endlessly creative if not always permanent.

Nature | The ten commandments for learning how to code
The Atlantic | Scientists Are Totally Rethinking Animal Cognition
Nautilus | How the Biggest Fabricator in Science Got Caught
On one hand, it is good to pre-screen data with a statistical tool, but on the other, is it that hard to generate data that appears to be experimentally derived? I can imagine, instead of coming up with the numbers oneself, one could sample from a random number generator with specified distribution. How would one detect this sort of fraud?
Nautius | Why Misinformation Is About Who You Trust, Not What You Think
NY Times | Why Do South Asians Have Such High Rates of Heart Disease?

Studies show that at a normal body weight — generally considered a body mass index, or B.M.I., below 25 — people of any Asian ancestry, including those who are Chinese, Filipino and Japanese, have a greater likelihood of carrying this dangerous type of fat.

Eat Meat. Not Too Much. Mostly Monogastrics.

…a diet including chicken and pork, but no dairy or beef, has lower greenhouse gas emissions than a vegetarian diet that includes milk and cheese, and almost gets within spitting distance of a vegan diet.

The Scientist | Tiny, Motorized Pill Delivers Vaccine to Mouse Intestine
Vox | How one scientist coped when AI beat him at his life’s work AlphaFold
NatGeo | Life probably exists beyond Earth. So how do we find it? | Working proteins make good use of frustration
Nature | Quantum ‘spookiness’ explained (video)
Sci Am | Why Do the Northern and Southern Lights Differ?
Professor’s ‘grave misconduct’ in UMN lab leads to discipline
Nature | What 50 principal investigators taught me about my failure to land tenure
Nature | Three secrets of survival in science advice

All LSTABs face a dilemma. Politicians generally prefer direct answers to their questions. In other words, they want policy recommendations. They have been known to ask for ‘one-handed scientists’, so that they don’t have to hear ‘on the other hand’.

NY Times | Everywhere in the Animal Kingdom, Followers of the Milky Way
Chemistry World | Molecular movie reveals how twisting methyl disturbs aspirin electrons
The Atlantic | The Women Who Contributed to Science but Were Buried in Footnotes
Wired | Monkeys With Superpower Eyes Could Help Cure Color Blindness
Aeon | Becoming: From zygote to tadpole, in six stunning minutes (video)
Wired | This Jagged Little Pill Could Make Diabetes Easier to Treat
Nature | The science of tea’s mood-altering magic

Borgwardt says the Korean study shows that tea has “a relatively strong effect”, on a par with that of 2.5 hours of exercise per week. Epidemiological studies suggest that long-term habitual consumption of green tea might reduce the risk of dementia. One study of people aged over 55 in Singapore, for example, found that those who drank as little as one cup of tea per week performed better at memory and information-processing tasks than did non-tea-drinkers2.

3QD | A Truly Amazing And Beautiful Connection Between Math And Physics
In the Pipeline | Targets Versus Drugs
The Atlantic | Feed a Cold, Don’t Starve It
Nautilus | The Real Secret of Youth Is Complexity
Nature | Forget everything you know about 3D printing — the ‘replicator’ is here
Promises, promises, and precision medicine

However, nearly two decades after the first predictions of dramatic success, we find no impact of the human genome project on the population’s life expectancy or any other public health measure, notwithstanding the vast resources that have been directed at genomics. Exaggerated expectations of how large an impact on disease would be found for genes have been paralleled by unrealistic timelines for success, yet the promotion of precision medicine continues unabated

For science, or the ‘motherland’? The dilemma facing China’s brightest minds
Sci Am | Hollywood: Can You Get Climate Change Right for Once?

“Twelve years until we all die” is catchier than “under some reasonable but debatable assumptions about economic growth, policy choices, and the physical climate sensitivity, the carbon budget to stay below the arbitrary threshold of a 1.5 degree C temperature increase relative to pre-industrial conditions appears to be exceeded by 2030”.

PNAS | Mobile platform for rapid sub–picogram-per-milliliter, multiplexed, digital droplet detection of proteins
ChemRxiv | Click, Zoom, Explore: Interactive 3D (i-3D) Figures in Standard Manuscript PDFs [via Chemistry World] Quite cool. But not everyone uses Adobe Acrobat reader…
PLOS Comp Bio | DeepDrug3D: Classification of ligand-binding pockets in proteins with a convolutional neural network
Nature | Ultra-large library docking for discovering new chemotypes
Chem Comm | Enantioenrichment of racemic BINOL by way of excited state proton transfer
Believers without belief
Nature | Gifts of Prometheus A sci-fi short story
How Chinese novelists are reimagining science fiction
Awesome Python Python resources list
Beware Isolated Demands For Rigor
The Proverbial Murder Mystery
Mc Sweeney’s | How to Finish Your Dissertation Before the Heat Death and Gradual Extinction of the Universe
SMBC | Robot Love
xkcd | Error Bars
Indonesia and the West: From Debussy to Lou Harrison

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