Summary of “New approach to Alzheimer’s fight: Diabetes drugs”

In the first analysis of the disease, the German physician Alois Alzheimer noted odd changes in the brain of a patient who died of the condition.
Alzheimer identified two kinds of protein aggregates that are not found in younger brains: plaques that are found between brain cells and tangles that are found inside brain cells.
Alzheimer advised scientists not to jump to the conclusion that these proteins caused the disease.
The continued failure of new drugs to make a difference has to be interpreted as evidence that the amyloid protein is not the cause of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s does not appear to be driven by gene mutations, so this approach does not shed new light on the underlying processes.
Clearly, diabetes is very different from Alzheimer’s disease, so what’s the connection?
This observation suggests that diabetes drugs might be an effective treatment for people with Alzheimer’s.
To see any protective effect in the brain in a clinical trial is completely new, and it supports the new theory that Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease are caused, at least in part, by a lack of growth factor activity in the brain.

The orginal article.

Summary of “In a world of digital nomads, we will all be made homeless”

The basic deal is simple enough: you can either pay to put your laptop wherever there is space, or stump up a little more for a more dependable desk or entire office – and, in either case, take advantage of the fact that, with operations in 20 countries, WeWork offers the chance to traverse the planet and temporarily set up shop in no end of locations.
As the working day winds on and such distractions – along with the necessity of meeting other footloose hotshots, and comparing “Projects” – take up more of your time, a couple of questions might spring to mind: what is work, and what is leisure? And does the distinction even count for much any more?
If accommodation is proving hard to find, you need company, and your life as a freelance means you have no permanent workplace where you can meet like-minded people, here is a solution: a range of tiny studio flats and slightly bigger dwellings, built around communal areas, kitchens and laundrettes – in the same building as WeWork office space.
Miguel McKelvey, one of the company’s two founders, has said that the idea is partly aimed at people who are “Always working or always semi-working”.
For upwards of $500 a week, such people can now wander around the world, mixing life and work – “Two activities that quickly become indistinguishable within Roam’s confines”, as the New York Times put it.
More generally, the need for a distinction between work and downtime should enter the political vocabulary as a fundamental right, and the organisations dedicated to trying to enforce it – most notably, the network of small freelance unions that are dotted across Europe and the US – need to be encouraged and assisted.
We all know the modern rules: millions of people have to leave where they grew up to find even halfway dependable work; and they find that creating any kind of substitute home somewhere new is impossible.
The idea is apparently to put WeGrow schools in WeWork properties across the world, so digital nomads can carry their disorientated offspring from place to place, and ensure they have just as flimsy an idea of home as their parents do.

The orginal article.

Summary of “4 simple exercises to strengthen your attention and reduce distractibility |”

Amishi Jha, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Miami and the director of contemplative neuroscience for the UMindfulness Initiative, studies the brain’s attention mechanisms, and she’s found there are specific exercises we can do to strengthen our ability to pay attention.
Jha likens our attention to a “a flashlight you can direct to whatever you choose.” Since research indicates our mind wanders 50 percent of our waking hours, it means most of us are walking around with darting, flickering flashlights.
Her research has found that the attention of someone who hasn’t had mindfulness training declines when they’re under intense stress, but in people who’ve had training, their attention remains stable.
Focused attention exercises cultivate your brain’s ability to focus on one single object, like one’s breath.
To do mindful breathing, sit in a comfortable, upright position and focus all your attention on the sensation of breathing – “For example, the coolness of air moving in and out of your nostrils or your abdomen moving in and out,” says Jha.
Remember the idea of your attention being like a flashlight? “A body scan is essentially taking that flashlight and directing it systematically through the entire body,” Jha says.
After you have a good grounding in focused attention practice and can keep your attention on a particular object or set of sensations for a period of time, you can move on to open monitoring.
Says Jha, “If you find you’re so lost in thought that you can’t do the open monitoring practice, go back to doing a focused attention exercise to steady yourself again.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Company Making Billions Off China’s Worried Parents”

Steven, a serious-looking 9-year-old public school student in Beijing, spent a recent Friday evening in a classroom at a tutoring center operated by TAL Education Group, cramming mathematics drills.
TAL’s initials stand for Tomorrow Advancing Life, a none-too-subtle nod to one of the biggest anxieties of middle-class families in the test-based world of Chinese education.
No one had profited from the stock’s rise more than Zhang Bangxin, TAL’s co-founder, a 37-year-old former math tutor who’s become one of China’s richest people: His TAL shares are worth about $7 billion.
TAL’s tutoring encourages students to practice the kinds of questions they’ll face on China’s exams.
The measures aimed to eliminate one of TAL’s profit centers: training for the Mathematical Olympiad, an intense competition for students up to age 20.
They were so central to TAL’s success that the company promoted them in its IPO prospectus.
At the time of the antitutoring edict, Nicky Ge, an analyst with China Renaissance Group, said the initiative could lower demand for TAL’s services, especially in math, which made up more than 60 percent of the company’s revenue last year.
Investors may be agreeing with Zhang, who says the government intervention could help TAL as tighter regulation drives smaller companies out of the market.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How philosophy helped one soldier on the battlefield”

Their approach of questioning everything, even the importance of the Western notion of ‘truth’, would have helped me to understand the situation better.
Later, reading Gray, Sigmund Freud, Herman Melville and Friedrich Nietzsche helped me to understand how the kidnappers came to be like that, and how we all have the capacity for extreme cruelty.
Reading the American philosopher Samuel Scheffler’s Death and the Afterlife a few years later helped me to understand why.
It helped me to understand that the military, with its focus on the mission, was essentially consequentialist.
As well as helping on the battlefield, I believe that philosophy can help in the aftermath of conflict.
Philosophy can help ex-soldiers understand what they are missing.
Not all philosophy is of much use to a soldier in action.
Philosophy can help us with this, though it is not a panacea.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why USB-C headphones aren’t, and likely never will be, mainstream”

Sure, every company that ditches the analog jack tells you to go wireless, but what if you don’t want another gadget that needs regular charging, or you switch devices often and don’t enjoy diagnosing Bluetooth pairing problems every day? USB-C headphones are the perfect, most logical cure for our self-inflicted audio connection headaches, filling the void left by the humble 3.5mm connector’s absence by letting users of Android phones and a majority of new laptops plug into the digital port for their sound instead. And yet, such headphones and earphones remain scarce and expensive, a status that seems unlikely to ever change.
Apple’s iPhones might lack a headphone jack but they also don’t have a USB-C port, while Samsung retains the 3.5mm port, so neither the iPhone X nor the latest Galaxy S9 family are in need of USB-C earphones.
Things could change if Samsung were to drop the analog connection, too, but for now at least, the market for USB-C headphones is dramatically constrained by the absence of demand from the two most popular phone brands.
That’s categorically not true about USB-C: some USB-C ports have the high-bandwidth Thunderbolt 3, but most don’t; some USB-C ports can also charge the device they’re on or other devices, but that’s not true for all; and then you’ve also got USB-C cables adhering to different standards and specs, and some of them don’t support data transfer of any kind, serving only as power conduits for charging.
That’s three different experiences, even though, in all cases, I was plugging a pair of USB-C buds into supposedly universal USB-C ports.
Because of the vast difference in addressable markets between Bluetooth and USB-C audio, almost no one is spending time fixing the shortcomings of USB-C while everyone is focused on improving the quality of wireless sound.
The silver lining to this story is that, eventually, I expect most wireless headphones will adhere to USB-C in their charging.
There’s a certain inevitability about USB-C charging – which is already embraced by Apple with the MacBook line, Google with its Chromebooks, Lenovo with ThinkPads, and pretty much all Android phone vendors – that is not present with USB-C audio.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Keeping Evolution in Mind: The Future of Evolutionary Social Science”

Evolution has shaped the human body, but it also shaped the human brain, so evolutionary principles are indispensable for understanding our psychology.
Teachers, and even social scientists struggle to see how our evolutionary history significantly shapes our cognition and behavior today.
The lack of willingness to view human cognition and behavior as within the purview of evolutionary processes has prevented evolution from being fully integrated into the social science curriculum.
Psychological adaptations for social learning, such as conformity bias, develop in complex and diverse cultural ecologies that work in tandem to shape the human mind and generate cultural variation.
Truly satisfying explanations of human behavior requires identifying the components of human cognition that evolution designed to be sensitive to social or ecological conditions and information.
Applying evolutionary theory to social science has the potential to transform education and, through it, society.
Evolutionary perspectives can help social scientists understand, and eventually address, common social problems.
The researchers recommend that the esteem bullies seek “Should be borne in mind when engineering interventions” designed to either decrease a bully’s social status or channel the bully’s social motivations to better ends.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Iran’s ancient engineering marvel”

They found an effective and sustainable solution to Iran’s dearth of easily accessible water in the marvel of ancient Iranian engineering known as the kariz, more popularly known by its Arabic name, the qanat.
Dating back some 3,000-odd years, and added to Unesco’s World Heritage list in 2016, the qanat is a testament to the ingenuity of the ancient Iranians.
The qanat system was so effective that it soon spread to other corners of the world, first through the ancient Persians’ conquests, and later by way of the Muslim Arabs, who adopted the system from the Persians and carried it with them as far as Andalusia, Sicily and North Africa.
According to William B Hemsley in The Qanat: An Ancient Water Supply, so highly did the ancient Egyptians value the qanat system that the Persian emperor Darius the Great “Was later honoured with the title of Pharaoh” in return for introducing it to them.
Constructed in conical shapes made of an admixture of heat-resistant materials, and also making use of Iranian wind-catching technology, the yakhchal is an ancient Iranian form of refrigeration dating to around 400BC. In the winter months, water would be sourced from a qanat and left to freeze in the yakhchal’s basement enclosure before being cut into blocks and stored for year-round use.
As with the qanat, the Persian garden not only continues to thrive in modern-day Iran – where it also informs much of carpet-making in terms of layout, design and themes – but also elsewhere around the world.
With tens of thousands of qanats in Iran today boasting a total distance comparable to that between the Earth and the moon, the ingenuity of the ancient Persians has more than stood the test of time.
For a people who, according to scholar of religion Bruce Lincoln, ” meant to conquer the entire known world in the name of establishing Paradise on Earth”, as Daryaee reports him to have posited, doing so from Iran’s often ruthless climate without the wonder of engineering that is the qanat might have been little more than a pipe dream.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Has the quest for top-down unification of physics stalled?”

Since the late 20th century, string theorists have been trying to reconcile gravity and quantum physics by conceiving of particles as tiny vibrating loops of string that exist in somewhere between 10 and 26 dimensions.
Until the British physicist Peter Higgs and others came up with their hypothetical boson in 1964, the emerging mathematical model had predicted – against the evidence – that particles should have no mass at all.
It looks like the centuries-long quest for top-down unification has stalled, and particle physics might have a full-blown crisis on its hands.
Quantum fluctuations of ultra-heavy particle pairs should have a profound effect on the Higgs boson, whose mass is very sensitive to them.
On one side sit all of the odd-number spin particles, exactly balanced against the other side with the even-number spin particles.
The mass of the superpartner is not fixed, but the heavier one makes them, the less exact the cancellation between the particle and its superpartner, and the more you have to rely on the mass of the particle itself being fine-tuned.
The signature of supersymmetric particles was meant to be the production of a heavy invisible particle, which could sneak through the detector like a thief, leaving no trace.
Perhaps the bleakest sign of a flaw in present approaches to particle physics is that the naturalness problem isn’t confined to the Higgs boson.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How to Avoid a Life of Regret”

What is it you’ll regret most about your life when your time is up? Failure to fulfill your duty and obligations? Or the failure to follow your dreams? New research from Cornell University suggests our biggest regrets have nothing to do with our responsibilities in life.
The actual self is what a person believes themselves to be now, based on current attributes and abilities.
The ideal self is comprised of the attributes and abilities they’d like to possess one day-in essence, their goals, hopes, and aspirations.
The ought self is who someone believes they should have been according to their obligations and responsibilities.
In terms of regrets, the failure of the ought self is more “I could have done that better,” and the failure of the ideal self is more “I never became that person I wanted to become.”
Nobody’s perfect, right? Gilovich explains that people aren’t as bothered by the failed actions of their ought self because it’s easier to take actions to rectify such problems.
Once you have a general idea, make a concerted effort to try, to fail, to learn what you like, to learn what you don’t, and to gradually shape that vision of your ideal self into a realistically achievable, step-by-step goal.
Remember, your ideal self should be someone you aspire to be, not a looming “Woulda, coulda, shoulda” specter who haunts you on your deathbed.

The orginal article.