Anti-Aging Science Continues Slow Results

BioViva, Geron(TA-65), Basis, stem-cell treatments, and a slew of dangerous HGH clinics are all trying to cash in on the growing demand for anti-aging treatments. Since we know a hell of a lot more about the aging process now than we knew in the 1990’s, people think that anti-aging treatments are going to make them live to be 120 and spry. Such logic is equivalent to thinking that the developments in AI in the 1980’s were going to lead to the Apple Newton getting perfect auto-correct. BioViva, Basys, etc are all probably the Apple Newtons of anti-aging, not even the Palm Pilot, but the Apple Newton.

A Nobel Laureate in Medicine, Carol Greider, is often quoted as endorsing TA-65. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Nature, the journal, quoted Greider expressing extreme skepticism about the product’s ability to lengthen telomeres. I think Geron points to two or three studies that suggest the ability to SLIGHTLY increase the percentage of cells in a body that have long telomeres. For all we know, they conducted hundreds of studies and discarded all of the studies that showed their product to have no impact on mean telomere length. Plus, the TA-65 supplement was just tested in mice.

A study came out a while ago suggesting that Basis didn’t have measurable anti-aging properties, although Guarente had a reasonable explanation, suggesting that it hadn’t been tested long enough. Still, isn’t it great for business if your supplement has to be taken for years in order to notice a difference?

The HGH clinics are all slaughterhouses spreading cancer.

Until lots more biological data is analyzed, meaningful anti-aging developments are very unlikely.

Deepmind Continues at a Secret Pace

Google’s pet project, Deepmind, is one of the most mysterious divisions out there of any major company. I think I know what it is doing though. It is preparing the mass-automation of programming, engineering, and eventually medicine. This is revolutionary, as it is the first serious attempt to replace white-collar jobs with machines. The real question is how society will act. I predict that there will be a semi-Ludditic backlash initially, but I think our society will eventually transform for the better because of it.

A Few Aphorisms of Mine about the Future and Science of the Future

So these are somewhat sarcastic aphorisms of mine, but I truly believe that they usually carry grains of truth, at least in certain situations. I believe these relate to the direction that I see society traveling in. I largely imitate H.L. Mencken’s style. If someone points out to me that the word ‘gullible’ is not in the dictionary, I quickly point out that ‘cynical’ is in bold letters.

I’ve never seen a computer make a mistake: they always perfectly identify tons of programming errors.

Artificial intelligence carries the beautifully intrinsic irony of obsolescence: we engineer it to defeat geniuses, but it coaxes geniuses to become morons.

The technological singularity may never happen, but if man gets progressively less-intelligent, he’ll think that it is happening before his very eyes.

String theory only holds true in other dimensions, not the ones that we live in.

Security is the comfort man derives from knowing that others might be shot if they reach into their pockets.

Theoretical Mathematics is the study of figuring out how to get paid for day dreaming.

Poetic wit is the ability to interest boring men by boring interesting men.

The difference between a bum on a train and a Nobel Laureate is that the bum’s drug trials have usually failed.

Psychiatry is the study of two things: sedating the insane and dementing the sane.

Psychiatry is the study of treating the insane in order to drive everybody else crazy.

The automobile was invented to give people an excuse to swear. (I modified this one from somebody else’s quote, but I can’t remember who said it now.)

Economics is the study of how to use limited resources for the purpose of pissing people off.

A lecture is an exam to see who can learn the most by thinking the least.

Higher salaries and greater respect are the rewards for higher grades, but Honor Rolls are the punishment.

The Wall-Street quant is someone who will bet everything he has on a 9:1 shot if he can get a 10:1 payout.

Mars One Project Difficulties

The Mars One Project will need to somehow synthesize water from the Martian atmosphere because there just isn’t enough water on Mars to support a colony of humans. This means that its strategy is all wrong. Rather than attempt to build a colony from scratch, it should send a swarm of unmanned drones that are programmed to build a lot of life-support systems including manufacturing capabilities. Manufacturing is a engine that drives settlement.

There’s a tremendous paradox in common manufacturing methods today that prevent someone from historically reasoning correctly about societal development, the feedback paradox. When someone wants to manufacture FPGA’s for computer production, one uses other types of computers today. No one makes computers from scratch anymore. However, I guarantee that the first documents ever published to describe how to make an electronic computer were typed on a type writer(Charles Peirce and Claude Shannon.) This means that true technological development often requires several layers of previous technological development in order to make manufacturing practical. Yes, countries can acquire cell-phone infrastructure without land-line infrastructure, but they cannot develop cell-phone infrastructure without the ability to either manufacture or purchase steel. Such difficulties in establishing the requisite vertical integration of manufacturing for Martian colonization ironically creates propitious circumstances for Lunar colonization.

That’s right, I think the Mars One Project can succeed still if it goes to the Moon first. Going to the Moon allows the astronauts/colonists to practice developing manufacturing first, and they would only be a few days away so supplies could come to bail out the settlers whenever they would get into trouble.

Are There Aliens Out There?

The answer is almost certainly yes. The Universe is a big-ass place characterized by repeated self-replication. Since self-replication is the main attribute of life, it’s safe to say that somewhere out there, there are other self-replicating bodies. People, like physicist Brian Cox, always ask why they haven’t contacted us. If any extraterrestrial aliens are advanced enough to contact us, there are probably several reasons:

1) They probably don’t know we exist.

2) They probably don’t care that we exist. When you hear about a new species of animal being discovered in the Amazon, do you care?

3) They have contacted us, but it takes a very long time for the signal to reach.

4) They live in a part of the Universe that is expanding too quickly to allow travel of signals to Earth.

5) They might have contacted us, but we’re too stupid to understand their signals.

6) They’re afraid of disrupting our cultures. We could be like the headhunters of Papua New Guinea to them.

7) They’re afraid we would disrupt their culture. We have a pretty good track record of doing that.

Maximum Human Life-Expectancy

There’s no reason why humans cannot live to be 200-300 years old. We know roughly what causes aging. We can dramatically increase aging in mice to double their life-expectancy. It’s just a matter of coordinating the resources to pull off such a feat.

This is where big-data comes into play. Telomere length and mitochondrial DNA mutations aren’t the only cause of aging. Their effects on the body’s homeostatic mechanisms come into play too. Just as a single chess-move completely changes the possible lines of a match, so too does a little mitochondrial DNA change completely change how the body coordinates itself. It’s like the butterfly effect.

The good news is that with the ability to make enough precise measurements and crunch enough numbers, we should be able to solve and reverse aging anyways. We might not ever get to other solar systems and galaxies by traveling faster than light, but we might get there by living to be 10,000.

Thoughts on Sonny White’s Research and the Possibility of Superluminal Travel

Nerds know by now that Sonny White, at NASA’s Advanced Propulsion Lab, is attempting to detect space-time distortions that could potentially allow for de facto faster than light travel without violating General Relativity. In my opinion, this experiment is incredibly overhyped, however noble it may be is extremely misguided for the simple reason that it is not currently possible to distinguish between genuine warp bubbles and instrumentation errors. Simply put, HE DOESN’T HAVE ENOUGH SIGNIFICANT FIGURES IN HIS DATA!!! This is not a fault of his own, but his instruments simply cannot measure as precisely as they need to measure in order to detect such a distortion. There’s a lot about quantum radiation that scientists still don’t understand and that could change the way we view any of his positive data-points as well. Nonetheless, even if his experiments are unlikely to actually get us closer to building a warp drive, I still support the experiments because he is only using $50,000 of government funds and he will almost certainly discover effects that are useful for other purposes, even though he lacks the sig-figs to make his data adequate for demonstrating the possibility of superluminal travel.

We won’t break the light barrier, with respect to travel, in the next hundred years. It’ll be a miracle if we manage to break it in the next thousand. Here’s why:

1) Our society is not concerned or interested enough in space travel to even attempt to make strides in the field. We’re lucky we even have probes and enough interceptors to prevent Kim Jong Un from destroying the country.

2) An aging population in the civilized nations of the Earth will siphon off potential investment in space travel and put it into healthcare. This is necessary as larger life-expectancy will be necessary to create a space-faring civilization.

3) There’s too much bureaucratic infighting. When Spain and Portugal sent explorers to America, their crowns were newly and tightly unified against the threat of brutal Muslim conquest. Ditto for England and Scotland after the Protestant Reformation. This allowed for capable Venetian and Dutch capitalists to fund long voyages. By contrast, imperial infighting among Ming bureaucrats and misguided venture capital restrictions prevented China’s Zheng He from establishing colonies in the Americas, and the same burdens of prosperity prevented Japan’s Tanaka Shosuke from establishing permanent colonies in the Western Hemisphere and Polynesia. Today, the policies of significant international organizations such as the WTO and UN hinder space exploration efforts by eliminating much of the hypothetical motive.

4) People are too impatient to work on a project of such magnitude gradually. The possibilities adduced from the imaginations of science-fiction writers have been confused with the entitlements today. Investments in space travel won’t turn quick profits, not even within one’s lifetime, so people won’t fund space travel.

5) As Sean Carroll has repeatedly pointed out, we would need to spend our entire current economic output on antimatter generation for about sixty years in order to currently generate enough antimatter for such a craft to even be tested once, and in a situation that the first craft would almost certainly be destroyed. (See Jason Torchinsky’s article at Jalopnik with the link[])

Here are my recommendations to researchers trying to make positive strides towards space travel:

1) Work on ways to make space permanently habitable.

2) Work on ways to increase the life-expectancy of our species to make lengthy sub-luminal voyages to other planets a practical reality someday.

3) Work on terraforming.

4) Work on cheaper ways of generating antimatter. We need antimatter, a lot of it, before we can even begin to test for super-luminal travel. We need 10^15 times more antimatter than what the entire Van Allen Belt possesses.

5) Work on cheaper ways of developing Felber’s sub-luminal gravity drive that could plausibly go at least 0.75% of lightspeed via gravitomagnetism. Unlike the Alcubierre warp-drive which relies on relatively(ha ha) circumstantial theories that are still unproven, Felber’s gravity drive is extremely plausible and could actually be built with enough testing and investment! If Felber’s drive were to be built, travelers could reach other solar systems within their own lifetimes even though they’d leave all of their loved ones to die due to time dilation.

6) Improve the online access and resources concerning the teaching of higher math to make differential geometry and set-theory more accessible to the common man.

7) Inspire, above all else inspire. Just as the Jews have been inspired to await their Messiah’s arrival for thousands of years, and just as the Christians have been inspired to await their Messiah’s return for thousands of years, so do we need to be inspired perpetually so our hopes may one day become reality.