Boston, MA — Eating more whole fruits, particularly blueberries, grapes, and apples, was significantly associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a new study led by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers. Greater consumption of fruit juices was associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. The study is the first to look at the effects of individual fruits on diabetes risk.
One thing to keep in mind about the benefits of specific fruits and not others: only heavily consumed fruits will provide big enough signals to detect an effect. For example, is unlikely that in the United States or Europe guava gets consumed enough to provide good dietary survey data. Ditto kiwi, bilberry, boysenberry, pomegranate, or persimmon among many others.
I am not surprised to see blueberries as standouts because they've got high concentrations of proanthocyanidins. Pass on fruit juice.
People who ate at least two servings each week of certain whole fruits — particularly blueberries, grapes, and apples — reduced their risk for type 2 diabetes by as much as 23% in comparison to those who ate less than one serving per month. Conversely, those who consumed one or more servings of fruit juice each day increased their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 21%. The researchers found that swapping three servings of juice per week for whole fruits would result in a 7% reduction in diabetes risk.
The fruits' glycemic index (a measure of how rapidly carbohydrates in a food boost blood sugar) did not prove to be a significant factor in determining a fruit's association with type 2 diabetes risk. However, the high glycemic index of fruit juice — which passes through the digestive system more rapidly than fiber-rich fruit — may explain the positive link between juice consumption and increased diabetes risk.
Total whole fruit consumption correlated positively with age, physical activity, multivitamin use, total energy intake and fruit juice consumption. Three servings per week of blueberries; grapes and raisins; apples and pears significantly reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes.
In contrast, greater consumption of fruit juice was associated with increased type 2 diabetes risk. Substitution of whole fruits for fruit juice was associated with a lower risk, except strawberries and cantaloupe melon.
I am surprised by apples and pears looking good compared to so many other fruits.
Thinking more about the idea that capital will migrate to isolated low population countries once factories become fully robotic. It dawned on me: Iceland is the ideal country for fully automated factories.
Why put factories in Iceland once factories no longer need people? First, the country has only about 320,000 Icelanders. It is a country so small in population that it has very few people who will demand welfare state services. This reduces the upside potential for taxes to support the state. The welfare state in Iceland really doesn't need that much money.
What else? Cheap electricity from geothermal power. Already, over 80% of the electricity in Iceland gets sold to Alcoa and other aluminum companies for smelting. The electricity in Iceland is so cheap that aluminum companies moved in en masse. Think about it. The energy-intensive manufacturing can be scaled up as the need for labor to staff it goes down.
Iceland wants to pull in more industries. They have very cheap electric power prices for long term bulk users.
The organization declines to give the prices that large energy-dependent companies likely will pay for power but say that a 20-year contract with power prices at US $0.04 per kWh is where the utility will likely begin negotiations.
Data centers are a natural fit. Ditto totally enclosed robotic vegetable farms. As more industries build lights out factories more industries could benefit from moving their manufacturing to Iceland. Cheap electric power will power powerful AI computers that will control robotic factories.
Stable government, peaceful country, island near major markets, really cheap electricity, plenty of cool water for cooling needs. If Iceland is willing to offer guaranteed long term low taxes it should be able to get a lot of companies to locate fully automated factories on the island.
Prospective parents will use offspring genetic engineering to give their children strong instinctive desires to have their own kids. They'll do this to guarantee that their kids make grandchildren.
The result? Human population explosion.
I do not see how we can avoid human population explosion.
The AARP Policy Institute sees a big shortage of caregivers for aging folks. How to deal with this problem?
Consider these findings: In 2010, there were 7.2 potential caregivers (ages 45-64 or the average age of caregivers) for every person age 80-plus. In 2030, that caregiver ratio will drop to 4 to 1 and by 2050, when all boomers will be in late life, the ratio becomes less than 3 to 1. In 2050, there will be three times as many people age 80-plus as there are today.
The sub-optimal solution: automated care. Robots, monitoring cameras, automated kitchens, autonomous cars, smart beds, smart sinks, and other elements of highly automated assisted living can cut the burden on family members, neighbors, community services organizations, and hospitals.
The optimal solution: rejuvenation therapies to reverse aging.
I am all for the automation. But when rejuvenation therapies come they will eliminate the need for almost all caregivers, except perhaps in recuperation phases after replacement organ transplants.
While we wait for rejuvenation therapies I expect we will see the following technologies to take care of old people:
What am I missing?
Stem cells which are pluripotent are capable of becoming any other cell type. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are usually created by applying gene therapy and chemicals to adult cells to make the cells revert back to an epigenetic state similar to that of cells found in embryos. One of the advantages of iPSCs is that since they can be made from yoru own cells they are likely to be immuno-compatible. So the ability of Harvard researchers to create vascular cells for veins and arteries bodes well for people with aging vascular systems (i.e. everybody).
In a scientific first, Harvard Stem Cell Institute scientists have successfully grown the cells that line the blood vessels—called vascular endothelial cells—from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), revealing new details about how these cells function. Using a unique approach, the researchers induced the differentiation of specific cell types by generating mechanical forces on the surface of the iPSC-derived endothelium mimicking the flow of blood. For example, cells that felt a stronger "flow" became artery cells, while those that felt a weaker "flow" became vein cells.
One problem with iPSCs: they aren't perfectly reverted back to the embryonic state. No doubt techniques to improve cellular epigenetic state change will continue to improve. But it is hard to tell how many problems must be solved to make iPSCs useful.
The researchers think they can use these cells to study vascular plaque formation: clogging of the arteries.
"It was especially exciting to us to discover that these cells are basically responding to biomechanical cues," research leader Guillermo García-Cardena, PhD, an HSCI Affiliated Faculty member, said. "By exposing cells to 'atheroprone flow,' we can direct differentiation of these cells into cells that are present in areas of the circulatory system that we know are affected by diseases like atherosclerosis." García-Cardena is now working on modeling the formation of arterial plaques using human iPSC-derived vascular endothelial cells and identifying potential drugs that might prevent plaque formation.
The ability to create useful cells for all cell types would enable extensive repair of aged tissue and years (possibly even decades) of life extension.
Men with neurotic personality traits are having fewer children compared to previous generations, according to a new study published in the European Journal of Personality. The study examined the effect of personality on how likely a person is to have children, using extensive survey and birth registry data from Norway. It also found that men who are extraverted and open tend to have more children, while women who rank as conscientious on personality tests tend to have fewer children, although these findings were constant across generations.
The study could have important implications for population dynamics at a time when fertility rates across developed countries have fallen to below replacement rates. Personality effects may be one factor contributing to the decline of fertility rates in Europe, says IIASA’s Vegard Skirbekk, who led the study, but they have not previously been studied in detail. Population changes are an important factor for projecting future changes in sustainability, climate, energy, and food security, IIASA’s core research areas.
Natural selection has accelerated in the human race. Some of the selective pressures have reversed since humans in developed countries left the Malthusian Trap. Fertility is rising. I do not think this ends well.
Do college students lack sympathy for adults who get beat up? I bet this holds for other age brackets and educational levels.
In their study, Levin and co-author Arnold Arluke, a sociology professor at Northeastern University, considered the opinions of 240 men and women, most of whom were white and between the ages of 18-25, at a large northeastern university. Participants randomly received one of four fictional news articles about the beating of a one-year-old child, an adult in his thirties, a puppy, or a 6-year-old dog. The stories were identical except for the victim's identify. After reading their story, respondents were asked to rate their feelings of empathy towards the victim.
"We were surprised by the interaction of age and species," Levin said. "Age seems to trump species, when it comes to eliciting empathy. In addition, it appears that adult humans are viewed as capable of protecting themselves while full grown dogs are just seen as larger puppies."
Yes, dogs are big puppies.
Does this mean we should extend human rights to dogs? Or should we extend dog rights to humans?
Or does this demonstrate a major deficiency in the way Enlightenment-inspired Western moral philosophers think about right and wrong? (the answer is "yes" btw)
The part of the mind that thinks it directs the speech and writing centers has a very flawed understanding of how the mind does moral reasoning.
Want to understand why human brains reach moral conclusions that conflict with the moral reasoning framework that has dominated Western societies for the last couple of hundred years? Read Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion and Robert Kurzban's Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind.
Also very good: The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime.
By looking through the catalog of known asteroids, aerospace engineers have identified 12 candidates that we could reach out and capture using existing rocket technology.
These are smaller asteroids, probably too small (2 to 60 meters) to be useful for mining. So my take: don't bother. Why? Asteroid capture should be done entirely for profit.
I would rather NASA spent on developing systems to find more asteroids, especially since an asteroid could wipe out our civilization. The more asteroids discovered and studied with, say, orbital telescopes the more likely we'll find one that could be retrieved for profit.
We aren't going to sustain a major presence in space until we can make money doing it. Support for the US government's push to reach the Moon did not last long beyond the first Moon landing. A trip to Mars would produce the same result. So why bother? Only a profitable move into space will be sustained.
We propose that the recent rise in the fertility rate in developed countries is the beginning of a broad-based increase in fertility towards above-replacement levels. Environmental shocks that reduced fertility over the past 200 years changed the composition of fertility-related traits in the population and temporarily raised fertility heritability. As those with higher fertility are selected for, the “high-fertility” genotypes are expected to come to dominate the population, causing the fertility rate to return to its pre-shock level.
This is not really new news. Delayed child-bearing and other attributes are being selected against. Natural selection sped up reproduction among French Canadians.
Africa is a continent whose demographic trends already do not fit the Panglossian projections of some commentators about how we've supposedly licked the overpopulation problem. In the next 90 years Africa's population will go up by more than a factor of 4. Quadrupling. Good bye many species of plants and wildlife.
The new statistics, based on in-depth survey data from sub-Saharan Africa, tell the story of a world poised to change drastically over the next several decades.
Take a look at Tanzania, which is today one of the poorest countries in the world. As of 2000, it had 34 million people; California’s population was the same that year. Today, Tanzania has about 45 million people. By 2100, its population is projected to be 276 million – almost the size of the entire United States today, and by then one of the largest countries in the world.
The whole world is on course for a huge resurgence in fertility. Natural selection assures this outcome. The only way I can see to prevent it: government-mandated genetic engineering of offspring to reduce the next generation's desire to have kids. But I doubt that will happen.
One of the reasons I am not optimistic about the future is natural selection. Selective pressures are more powerful than our conscious minds. The part of our minds that thinks it controls the speech center is deceived into thinking it is in charge. Our conscious minds do far more rationalizing and far less rational reasoning than we think we do. I give us poor odds of getting in control of our instincts and curbing their most damaging manifestations.
The strides being made to increase fuel efficiency are amazing.The race to raise car fuel economy is driving up transmission gear count while it drives down engine cylinder count. The 2015 Chevy Volt will come with a 3 cylinder engine. If electric power can supplement the engine's power the impact on acceleration should be small or none.
The improvements to internal combustion engine drive train efficiency might cause liquid-fueled vehicles to last much longer than Peak Oil theorists and electric vehicle advocates expect. Why? Because synthetic liquids can be expensive to make and yet still attractive if the distance they carry you goes up substantially. If you had a 70 miles per gallon car then fuel costing $10 per gallon would be no big deal.
Will robots cause unemployment of most working age people? Suppose they will. Then will governments collect tax money to pay the zero marginal product non-workers to live a life of leisure? Some people, for example Federico Pistono, think we will all do just fine once robots wipe out most of our jobs. I think an assumption underlying this argument is false.
The assumption of the complacent: sufficient amounts of robot-driven production will get done in the countries where people live to provide the revenue flows that governments will then tax to fund bountiful lives of leisure. But consider the massive profits which American corporations hold abroad in order to avoid US taxes. Capital can move much more easily that people can.
Imagine a future where robots enable manufacturing to be done with far far fewer workers. What does that mean? Manufacturing will no longer need to be tied to locations where lots of people live. Why manufacture (and therefore get taxed) in the United States, Germany, China, or India when you do not need the manual laborers there?
Wondering what are the ideal attributes of countries where to run huge robot factories?
I'm thinking big sovereign islands.
Incredibly wealthy capitalists could pay the inhabitants of a poor island to move to another place (and even bribe a government to accept the immigrants) in order to create an ideal environment for automated factories and beautiful automated mansions, orchards, and vineyards.
Update: Think robots will lower the cost of good and services or the lower classes? That depends. Will the lower classes be able to produce goods and services useful to the robot owners? How?
Think poor people can use robots to make goods and services for trade? Companies with top engineers to design products will get better efficiency from owning robots. What can the average person do with robots that isn't better done in massive robot factories run by top engineers and scientists? Owners of large factories of robots can design and coordinate fabrication of the many components that come together to make finished products.
Look at the trend in semiconductor wafer fab plants: fewer operators of these plants and each new generation of wafer fab is more complex. Top notch engineers and scientists design them and work to improve them.
Think of Ireland. It seems a great place to put lots of totally automated factories. The Irish government has low corporate taxes. The population is small enough that a huge concentration of factories in Ireland would not need to be heavily taxed in order for the government to subsidize high living standards for most of the populace.
Factories will not need lots of space or labor. So why put them in the United States, Germany, China, or India? Why not put them in New Zealand or Ireland or and other industrialized country that can fairly easily isolate itself from all the world's poor that might want to move there?
Think about it from the perspective of multi-billionaires. If they put their capital out of reach of the big taxing countries their fortunes will be better protected.
Update II: only workers with graduate school training have seen their hiring rise in manufacturing in recent decades. The employment of other kinds of workers in manufacturing has plummeted.
Ireland could carve out a niche where it only accepts Ph.D. immigrant engineers and managers to design and operate robotic factories. That small island could become one of the biggest manufacturing sites in the world. Low taxes, the best engineers, and a solid legal system with good contract enforcement and intellectual property protection could enable an island nation with the right qualities to become a magnet for the capitalists who need little human labor.
Update III: Poor people won't be able to use robots to make useful stuff to sell. In order for robots to work for a poor person to produce sellable goods to learn the poor person money the poor person will need to be able to get the robot input raw materials and manufactured components to use to build stuff. Plus, they'll need to be able to choose designs to manufacture. Well, I see no reason to expect the least intelligent and least skilled to know how to manage robots to build useful stuff.
Robots will not turn the lower classes into successful capitalists.
A Chinese hacking group accused this February of being tied to the Chinese army was caught last December infiltrating a decoy water control system for a U.S. municipality, a researcher revealed on Wednesday.
Kyle Wilhoit of Trend Micro set up the decoy system. He thinks real water control systems have been compromised and their operators do not know it. The article paints a picture of many groups breaking into industrial control systems online.
Hopefully most of the infiltrating groups associated with governments aren't going to use the power they get over these systems except in event of a war. One wonders under what scenarios they use their remote control capabilities. My guess is much more active use is made of financial records, design documents, business plans, and software source code.
A chart in Technology Review shows a decline in electric vehicle battery prices from $1000 per kwh to $485 per kwh since 2008. Realistic?
Suppose the $485/kwh number is correct. Then the 24 kwh Nissan Leaf lithium battery costs Nissan about $11600. Add in other costs including retail mark-up and it suggests the the approximately $30k Nissan Leaf gets sold at a loss. Nissan, GM, and other EV makers don't admit to selling at a loss. But batteries are still very expensive.
The Chevy Volt uses a 16.5 kwh battery which would cost about $8k at $485/kwh.
The Ford Focus Electric, with a 23 kwh battery is getting a $4k price cut to $36k. That 23 kwh battery costs over $11k at $485 per kwh. Keep in mind that those expensive batteries give the Leaf and Focus EV ranges of less than 80 miles per charge. Okay for commuting and shopping. But these are not road trip cars. Also, not practical for anyone who doesn't have an easy way to plug in a charger at home. e.g. EVs do not work well for most apartment dwellers.
Since the Focus Electric was built on the base Focus model we can compare costs. The at under $17k the cheapest Focus costs less than half the Focus EV price. The price difference will buy many years of gasoline.
We need at least another halving of EV electric battery prices to make EVs appealing to more than just the early adopters.
Update: The Leaf battery pack weighs over 600 lbs. Therefore weight, even more than price, currently prevents EVs from moving into use for longer range driving. However, newer lithium battery chemistries might be able to boost the energy density of batteries enough to make EVs practical for few hundred mile trips. For example, a lithium sulfur design has 4 times the energy density of current commercial lithium batteries.
My guess is that whether plastic surgery really helps depends on whether you are trying to peel back the years or improve facial shape in a young face. The latter can certainly help. A classic example of a big improvement in attractiveness before and after Marilyn Monroe. The nose and chin work really helped.
Enthusiasts for rejuvenation therapy already understand we need much better tools for rolling back the toll of years of living. We need the ability to repair the damage caused by aging at the cellular level. We need replacement cells, replacement organs, removal of extracellular and intracellular trash, and gene therapy. These are all part of Aubrey de Grey's Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS).
Robots are going to transform farming. Will robots make human farm workers obsolete in a decade? In Salinas Valley California the Mountain View start-up Blue River Technologies is testing their Lettuce Bot which can replace 20 farm manual laborers.
The Blue River Tech Lettuce Bot dispenses fertilizer and removes excess lettuce sprouts. The developers expect to support weed removal in a future rev.
Automation of vegetable farming will cut costs of producing the most beneficial kinds of foods. Automated weed removal will reduce pesticide exposure and raise yields.
Automation of greenhouses and of planting could open the door to more growing cycles per season. In late winter and early spring plants could be sprouted and grown at high density in greenhouses and then, once the risk of frost has past, robots will move the sprouts to fields and plant them. This could cut weeks out of the time a field grows a crop. That saved time will be available to plant and harvest another crop later in the season.
Automation will also speed both the planting and the harvesting. Robots can run 24 hours per day and operate faster than humans. Plus, their costs will fall to the point where they can be deployed in large numbers to plant or harvest a field in a very short period of time. That means earlier average planting and shorter harvests. This means even more time to start an additional growing cycle in a season.
Robots are going to continue to cut the demand for less skilled workers. Highly repetitive manual labor can be automated by better algorithms for computer vision, machine learning systems, better sensors, and faster and cheaper microprocessors.
Rather than start out indoors and then shift outdoors some companies are growing vegetables near cities using pure indoor farming in vertical stacks. FarmedHere LLC goes vertical with indoor farming of organic local produce.
Indoors manual labor very amenable to automation. Imagine industrial parks full of robots growing deep stacks of greens. I think this is a matter of when, not if.
One company in the indoor vertical farming industry claims advantages such as less water usage, no pesticides, no agricultural run-off, year-round growing, and invulnerability to weather.
The energy costs of indoor farming are probably too high for grains. But for expensive and short shelf life vegetables the advantages of indoor farming are much greater.
I am expecting continued decline in the demand for manual laborers as machine vision, robotic arms, and machine learning systems become more refined, reliable, accurate, and cheaper.
4 of 10 tested odors were found to have genetic variants that cause people to smell them differently Genetic differences cause us to experiences scents and tastes in different ways.
There are some smells we all find revolting. But toward a handful of odors, different people display different sensitivities—some can smell them, while some can't, or some find them appealing, while others don't. A pair of studies appearing online on August 1 in the journal Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, now identifies the genetic differences that underpin the differences in smell sensitivity and perception in different individuals. The researchers tested nearly 200 people for their sensitivity for ten different chemical compounds that are commonly found in foods. They then searched through the subjects' genomes for areas of the DNA that differed between people who could smell a given compound and those who could not. This approach—known as a genome-wide association study—is widely used to identify genetic differences.
Not everyone gets the same thrill from the scent of an apple or blue cheese.
The researchers, led by Sara Jaeger, Jeremy McRae, and Richard Newcomb of Plant and Food Research in New Zealand, found that for four of the ten odors tested, there was indeed a genetic association, suggesting that differences in the genetic make-up determine whether a person can or cannot smell these compounds. The smells of these four odorants are familiar, for those who can smell them (though their names may not be): malt (isobutyraldehyde), apple (β-damascenone), blue cheese (2-heptanone), and β-ionone, which smells floral to some people and is particularly abundant in violets.
These researchers haven't tested many scents yet and expect more genetic differences in sense of smell will be found for other scents.
Genes cause differences in esthetic experiences. I bet there are genetic variants for whether various sounds are pleasant or irritating too. A small number of women tetrachromats who see 4 primary colors because of X chromosome mutations that give their eyes cones that absorb at a 4th frequency.
Think about what the world will be like in a few decades when prospective parents become able to choose genetic variants that will determine the esthetic experience of their offspring.