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Category: Science

Car Sales are a markovian process

A group of people from SEAT, Uni Barcelona, Uni Lausanne and the Captain Obvious Institute for Market Research did Big Data on 10 years worth of car sales (PDF) . They find the process is unsurprisingly Markovian for at least 5 years. Meaning that past sales have an influence on current sales (and expectations of future market changes have an influence on current sales as well).

Meaning that while 2022 is probably not a bad horizon for going electrical, the change to carbon free transport is still going to be fast and violent.

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Language Pitch

Erik Bern did a fun exercise and analyzed the pitch of speakers in various languages: Apparently Dutch is substantially deeper than German (it is also louder, but he did not analyze that).

There was a very definite point when I realized that I had to change my voice to get to the next level with my accent. Oddly enough it was actually while studying German (my third language). It felt awkward at first to alter my voice to the point where I didn’t feel like it was myself talking. But on the other hand I could hear myself sounding so much more German (if you know what I mean). Having been through this transformation I decided to change my “English voice” as well.

 

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Restoring Neuroplasticity

Children are learning much faster than you do. That’s because as you grow up, the brain turns down Neuroplasticity to protect what you have already learned from newer, potentially harmful influence. It used to make sense.

Now, how about some drugs that turn your brains ability to learn new tricks fast, on demand? The New Scientist knows:

Until the age of 7 or so, the brain goes through several “critical periods” during which it can be radically changed by the environment. During these times, the brain is said to have increased plasticity. […]

Hensch’s team has shown that several physiological changes close the door on plasticity in animals. A key player is histone deacetylase (HDAC), an enzyme that acts on DNA and makes it harder to switch genes on or off.

And they used a HDAC inhibitor on humans, with considerable success.

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No such thing as a wilderness, part II

Science Daily writes:

New research investigating the transition of the Sahara from a lush, green landscape 10,000 years ago to the arid conditions found today, suggests that humans may have played an active role in its desertification.

[…] As more vegetation was removed by the introduction of livestock, it increased the albedo (the amount of sunlight that reflects off the earth’s surface) of the land, which in turn influenced atmospheric conditions sufficiently to reduce monsoon rainfall. The weakening monsoons caused further desertification and vegetation loss, promoting a feedback loop which eventually spread over the entirety of the modern Sahara.

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Salted Doorknobs kill MRSA

Salted Doorknobs kill MRSA

Says this article at The Atlantic:

Superbugs like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, have wreaked havoc on the health-care system in recent years. […] How do you stop them? Frequent hand washing is one option, but that requires a behavior change, which can be difficult, even for hospital staff. Another option is to coat those frequently fondled objects most likely to carry the bugs—doorknobs, bed rails, toilet handles—with a special anti-microbial surface, like copper. […] Whitlock found that salt killed off the bug 20 to 30 times faster than the copper did, reducing MRSA levels by 85 percent after 20 seconds, and by 94 percent after a minute.

 

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