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Science

Ah, good, they Chesterton’s Fence it

Imperial College discovered that switching off a protein called interleukin 11 (IL-11) prevented cancer, boosted vision and hearing, and improved metabolism, lung health and muscle function in middle-aged mice.

But if we’ve got it why did we got it? How do we know it’s good not to have it?

Humans inherited the interleukin-11 gene from fish hundreds of millions of years ago.

But while the adaptation was useful then – and still helps limb regeneration in some species – it is now thought to be largely redundant in humans, and caused thickening and scarring of the tissues and inflammation, which brings ageing and disease.

Researchers hit upon the idea that silencing IL-11 might be implicated in ageing after noticing that the protein increases dramatically in laboratory animals with age.

Well, they might be right or wong about that but at least they’ve asked the right question.

Hello Mr. Bourlag

Ahundred years ago, the plant scientist Arthur Watkins launched a remarkable project. He began collecting samples of wheat from all over the globe, nagging consuls and business agents across the British empire and beyond to supply him with grain from local markets.

His persistence was exceptional and, a century later, it is about to reap dramatic results. A UK-Chinese collaboration has sequenced the DNA of all the 827 kinds of wheat, assembled by Watkins, that have been nurtured at the John Innes Centre near Norwich for most of the past century.

In doing so, scientists have created a genetic goldmine by pinpointing previously unknown genes that are now being used to create hardy varieties with improved yields that could help feed Earth’s swelling population.

Of course, population’s about to top out and we’re probably very close to peak wheat. But if it makes them happy…..

I have a theory

Pod of 77 whales found in worst mass stranding in century

We are, generally, seeing more strandings, more whale corpses and so on.

My theory is that this is simply a reflection of that we no longer hunt them. Populations are recovering. The sheer mass of whales out in the ocean in the “natural” state is something we’ve not seen for many a century. We may be getting back to it, at least partially. Which is what explains these increases in sightings of the dead via varied forms and methods.

One of those definitely something to it but how much? ideas.

Odd

‘Everyone was paddling to get away’: seals with rabies alarm South Africa’s surfers
Seals have been biting people in the first big outbreak of the disease in marine mammals, writes Nick Dall in Cape Town

Yes, obviously, rabies is a problem for a mammal, death will ensue, no? By hydorphobia in a marine mammal is gonna be tough.

It’s called winning

This time we follow the story of multiple ejaculator Jonathan Meijer, a Dutch man who appears to have travelled all over the world donating his sperm to as many clinics in as many countries as he could. Not to mention also finding time to make uncountable donations to women who preferred to source their sperm privately and avoid sperm banks’ rules about donor anonymity and veto the gamete provider’s contact with any offspring until the child is 16 or 18, depending on national regulations.

OK. Apparently the explanation is:

There are no solid conclusions about his motivations. One woman suggests attention-seeking after being a child overlooked in a large family, which you feel is very generous of her. Some of the women suggest addiction to the power and a growing God complex; others proffer simple narcissism and male entitlement writ large as the main drivers. Certainly his vicious response when they try to get answers from him suggests that these swam not far below the charming surface. There is no hope that Netflix or any other streamer will ever run out of content.

Which is ignorant, ignorant, tossery*.

Back to the real basics here. Darwin and all that. Having grandchildren is winning. Having more grandchildren is winning more. His genes are going to end up in a substantial portion of the species over time. That’s winning more more.
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Sure, sure, we can think it a bad idea. We can think he shouldn;t be allowed to do that. Etc. But not even recognising the background here is that tossery.

*Aha, aha, aha.

Fun but wrong

Does a cave beneath Pembroke Castle hold key to fate of early Britons?

Very cool. They’re talking of Neanderthals and Neolithic hom saps. Very cool indeed. However:

Scientists hope wealth of prehistoric material in Wogan Cavern in Wales is well preserved enough to reveal what really happened to our most ancient ancestors

That’s wrong. For, as far as we know and to an acceptable level of error the Neolithics were entirely wiped oout by hte Celtic invasion. So these folk may well have been – were, rather – early inhabitors of these isles but they’re not our ancestors.

“Change the world” is a bit much

But it’s a hell of a thing:

The new compact DC-powered Starlink Mini is about the size of a thick laptop and integrates the Wi-Fi router right inside the dish. And despite using less power than other Starlink terminals, it can still deliver speeds over 100Mbps.

The Mini dish measures 11.75 x 10.2 x 1.45 inches (298.5 x 259 x 38.5mm) and weighs just 2.43 pounds (1.1kg), or 3.37 pounds (1.53kg) with the 49.2 foot (15m) DC power cable and kickstand.

In the US, Starlink Mini is an add-on to Residential plans — at least for now. The Mini kit costs $599 which is $100 more than the standard dish, and will cost an extra $30 per month to add the Mini Roam service to existing $120 Residential plans. That gives Starlink Mini users up to 50GB of mobile data each month,

In my adult lifetime we’ve gone from dial up 56kb to satellite broadband for the same cost (and that’s before we take the declining value of the $ into account).

That’s pretty damn hot.

Oh, also, Starlink was banned from providing rural broadband in the $40 billion subsidy program because Elon’s a Bad Guy, M’Kay?

Well, it’s a gig I guess

When Banu Subramaniam thinks about whether plants should be renamed so as not to honour white supremacist colonialists – Cecil Rhodes, for example, is commemorated in the names of 126 plant species – she contrasts it with how, for so many years in our patriarchal system, women were expected to change theirs. “That wasn’t considered complicated… and yet those in power give any number of reasons why this is,” says the professor of women’s and gender studies at Wellesley College, outside Boston, Massachusetts.

The pressure on academics is always to publish, publish. But when there are more grievance studies professors than there are grievances that means pushing ever further into ludicrousness to find something to complain about.

That there’s something called Forsythia Rhodia and that name must be changed is, well, it’s actually a pretty trivial complaint, isn’t it? But the pressure to publish, the gig that must be found…..

Foreign eagles, comin’ in ‘ere and takin’ ……

An eagle called Guido patrols The Shard to scare off seagulls, or any other winged creatures who try to make the skyscraper a nest site.

The seven-year-old Chilean Blue Eagle is acting as an environmentally friendly pest control at the UK’s tallest building, in central London.

One place I’ve had an office just had kestrels nesting on it. Got the job done for free….

A little bit of scientific help here

As I’ve noted before I get entirely lost in the SI system. The number of zeros just confuses.

Vaping is exposing teenagers to lead and uranium that could “adversely affect brain and organ development”, a study has found.

Researchers analysed the urine samples of 200 people aged 13 to 17 who used e-cigarettes and found that frequent users had significantly higher levels of toxic chemicals present in their system.

Regular vapers had up to 40 per cent more lead and double the amount of uranium in their urine samples compared with those who only used vapes occasionally.

OK.

The paper is here. Worth noting that the comparison they don;t do is with smokers – whose levels will be substantially higher, tobacco, like other plants (in fact, perhaps more than many) picks up heavy metals from the soil it grows in.

But those actual levels:

Lead (ng/mg creatinine)* 0.16 (0.13 to 0.19) 0.21 (0.14 to 0.30) 0.20 (0.16 to 0.24)

Just sticking with lead for rare, occasional, regular users.

Blood lead concentrations for healthy adult suburbanites is 7 to 22 µg/100 g whole blood [2]. Urine has a wider range, 4 to 270 µg/g creatinine, for the same population; however, most normal values should be near 16 to 60 µg/g creatinine [4]. Blood lead values are commonly used for biological monitoring.

Converting ng/mg to funnym/g just isn’t one of those things for me.

But are these levels found within vapers entirely and wholly – or not – within the normal variations?

Yes, yes, already noted that this study doesn’t tell us anything useful anyway, we’d want to know variation against smoking. But even after that is this anything important or not?

Quick! Quick! Change the science!

The retraction of three peer-reviewed articles prominently cited in court cases on the so-called abortion pill – mifepristone – has put a group of papers by anti-abortion researchers in the scientific limelight.

Seventeen sexual and reproductive health researchers are calling for four peer-reviewed studies by anti-abortion researchers to be retracted or amended. The papers, critics contend, are “fatally flawed” and muddy the scientific consensus for courts and lawmakers who lack the scientific training to understand their methodological flaws.

Cleaning up the polluted sewer of bad science is going to take more than just three papers being retracted. There’s an awful lot of dreck out there after all…..and they are claiming that all bad science should be withdrawn, right?

Weird idea

In 1997, a young Canadian forest ecologist named Suzanne Simard (the model for Powers’ character) published with five co-authors a study in Nature describing resources passing between trees, apparently via fungi. Trees don’t just supply sugars to each other, Simard has further argued; they can also transmit distress signals, and they shunt resources to neighbours in need. “We used to believe that trees competed with each other,” explains a football coach on the US hit television show Ted Lasso. But thanks to “Suzanne Simard’s fieldwork”, he continues, “we now realise that the forest is a socialist community”.

Why would organisms trading with each other be socialist? As opposed to market – and socialist and market are not descriptions along the same axis anyway.

Dear God, don’t these people ever stop to think?

The tree of life has unfolded in staggeringly beautiful and diverse directions over the last four or so billions of years, yielding creatures that swim and soar, shape shift and change color, metamorphose into new forms. More than two million species of organisms have been identified on our planet; the estimates of how many actually exist are far higher. When we scale back our perspective, we begin to understand that the story of nature is one of continuous change—life adapting and evolving into new iterations and expressions over time.

As a trans woman, transformation has become the lens through which I view everything.

Where’s the fucking editor?

Evolution works through reproduction. The one thing you’ve just cut yourself off from by slicing your balls off.

Jeez, there’s thinking you look better and a skirt and then there’s abject stupidity.

Err, no

Flowers ‘giving up’ on scarce insects and evolving to self-pollinate, say scientists

Anyone who’s saying something so damn stupid isn’t a scientist.

Those flowers which do self-pollinate are producing more of the next generation than those which use insects. Got to get evolution the right way around. It’s not “in order to” it’s always “because they did”.

Unparalleled projection

Reindeer’s blue eyes act as night vision goggles to help them find food in winter
Animals’ eyes change colour as colder months approach to enhance UV sight, helping them spot lichen vital for their survival

OK. We also know that blur eyes in humans are a recent genetic advance/deviation, so too is human colonisation of the Far North.

So and therefore, right?

Idiots

The most crucial factor in any semiconductor is size, or the ability of manufacturers to cram ever more computing power into the same amount of space. On this scale, the size of transistors on the chip are measured in nanometers and the smallest are the most powerful. (A single nanometer is equal to one-billionth of a metre.)

The chips going into Apple’s newest iPhone models, made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, use a four nanometer processor.

Previously, China was thought to have only mastered 14-nanometer chips at best, while US sanctions restrict the company to importing 16-nanometer technology from the West.

However, Huawei Mate 60 Pro’s small central processor uses a 7-nanometer chip. TechInsights, an American firm that took apart the device to analyse it, said the Huawei phone’s chip was the most advanced it had ever seen from a Chinese manufacturer.

Washington is now scrambling to figure out how the company engineered such a coup.

If you know that something is possible then you can engineer it. Maybe late, expensively and inefficiently, but you can. This means you can keep a step or two ahead, but you can’t stop the others advancing.