Solanum jamesii, aka the Four Corners potato, has sustained Indigenous people in the American Southwest for 11,000 years; USDA is now studying its 8-year shelf life, and its resistance to disease, heat, and drought. The future of this remarkable little potato remains unwritten.
Anyone following the aging research field over the past decade or more is probably familiar with the bold claims – human lifespan extension is within our grasp, within some arbitrary time-frame such as 20 years. Famously, such claims have been made by colorful characters such as Aubrey DeGrey (yes, that guy). On the scientific side of things, claims have been repeatedly made for the existence of “longevity genes”, most famously the sirtuins, with Glaxo-Smithkline eventually abandoning their $700m investment in David Sinclair’s company Sirtris once they realized the underlying science was unsound (the exit may have been accelerated by the minor issue of senior personnel selling resveratrol out the back door). I also had fun-and-games uncovering fraud by a senior post-doc’ in the lab of Leonard Guarente, whose lab the sirtuins were discovered in. Throw in a long-standing trend for anti-aging interventions being hawked as dietary supplements, with all manner of polyphenols and other plant-based nutri-ceuticals (resveratrol, quercetin, curcumin, etc.) neatly side-stepping regulation by the FDA, and it’s easy to see how the field of longevity medicine has a reputation for selling “snake oil” based on not very rigorous science. Even such foundational principles as the free radical theory of aging have been largely debunked, and the entire concept that macromolecular damage is an underlying cause of aging has also been criticized. The fact that many aging studies are hugely influenced by survivorship bias is often overlooked, and this leads to an argument that oxidative stress may even be beneficial for aging, because the longest lived organisms have the most of it!
Ultimately, the most ideal working environment for an individual is to be able to work on a mission (or many missions) you love with people you enjoy. You’re happy with your compensation and feel like you have strong autonomy to be able to have an impact. You get crystal clear transparency get be able to make good decisions for both the organization you work for as well as for yourself personally. This is what I think most people want for themselves and their families, and why I think we’ll see the rise in decentralized startups in the years to come.
Google has removed The Pirate Bay and more than 100 related domains from its search results in the Netherlands. The search engine points to a local pirate site-blocking order that was forwarded by anti-piracy group BREIN. The order targets ISPs and doesn’t name Google but the company chose to voluntarily comply.
We call the great conflagration of 1914–18 the “First World War”, but there are several earlier conflicts competing for that dubious accolade. For example, the mid- eighteenth-century Seven Years War, which Winston Churchill famously christened the first “world war”, is a plausible candidate. It was fought not only in Europe, but also in India and North America. But the pre-1914 struggle with the best claim to the title is surely the Napoleonic Wars. As Alexander Mikaberidze reminds us in his engrossing and authoritative new “global history”, this conflict may have been centred on Europe, but it reached into almost every corner of the globe, including North and South America, Africa and Asia, and almost every sea and ocean, including the Baltic, the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, the Indian Ocean and even the Great Lakes.
Bialetti, the Italian maker of the moka pot, a stovetop coffee machine and one of the most iconic kitchen appliances ever created, announced in 2018 that the company was in major trouble—tens of millions of Euros in debt, unpaid salaries and taxes, revenues that are way down and look to be staying that way. In a press release, the company said there are “doubts over its continuity.” (Update: Bialetti sales have been on the rise since then.)
The moka pot is a symbol of Italy: of postwar ingenuity and global culinary dominance. It is in the Museum of Modern Art, the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, and other temples to design. It is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most popular coffee maker, and was for decades commonplace to the point of ubiquity not only in Italy but in Cuba, Argentina, Australia, and the United States. It’s also widely misunderstood and maligned, with approval in the modern coffee world coming perhaps a bit too late, in only the past few years. Get one while you can.
EU Commission plans to proactively involve telecommunications providers in the surveillance of their customers’ e-mail and chat messages has been a contentious issue for some time. mailbox.org has reported on this repeatedly, criticised the proposals, and contributed to open letters. Instead of taking the public response into account, the EU has opted to double down and tighten their surveillance requirements even further than was originally planned – to an extent that data protection professionals have denounced the plans as a blatant attempt to abolish the legal protection of private correspondence in the digital realm. The proposed changes include a ban of properly encrypted communication, disguised as a measure to combat child pornography. We believe this would open the door to the widespread surveillance of all telecommunication activity, threaten the privacy of all people and shake the foundations of our values and fundamental rights as European and German citizens.
A few days after Sudan restored access to the Internet, people living in Burkina Faso are facing an Internet shutdown. On Saturday, Cloudflare Radar shows that after 22:00 UTC (the same local time) Internet traffic went down significantly, something that has happened in the context of social tensions in the country that started on November 14, 2021, and after this Saturday’s shooting of protesters that tried to block a French military convoy.
When Ernest Sternglass walked up the steps at 112 Mercer Street in April 1947, he knew it would not be a normal day. Like a church deacon summoned to meet the Pope, Sternglass—a 23-year-old researcher at the Naval Ordnance Laboratory in Washington, D.C.—had arrived in Princeton, N.J., at the invitation of its most renowned resident, Albert Einstein. Having completed only a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, he had written to Einstein earlier that month about the work he was doing in his lab. To his great surprise, not only did Einstein promptly write back, he requested that Sternglass visit Princeton to discuss the work in person.
One of the most distinct memories from my first winter in the Sakha Republic of northeastern Siberia, Russia, is how horses grazed in the minus 50-degree Celsius winter. It was 1993, and I lived in Elgeeii on the banks of the Viliui River. Driving to the next village one day, I found myself transfixed by a group of horses in a wide field rhythmically digging under the snow. They moved continuously.
It was not until 2005, when I began documenting the life history of Valerian Yegorovich Afanaseev, a sylgyhyt (professional horse breeder), that I learned the intimate connection horse breeding has to Sakha’s extreme ecosystem. Each meeting since then he has repeated the same mantra: “Khaar sylgy jiete,” or “Snow is horses’ home.”
What does this phrase mean exactly?
I too used to be a somewhat naïve Dutch herring who didn’t realise what wonderful water she was swimming in. Who took for granted that we are able to cycle to school, the supermarket, the library, and friends.
It was only after I returned from a few years abroad when I realised that what foreigners often say is true: the Dutch live in bicycle heaven.
This is amazing.