More on Science
3 months ago
Since I'm a scientist, I oppose biohacking
Understanding your own energy depletion and restoration is how to truly optimize
Hack has meant many bad things for centuries. In the 1800s, a hack was a meager horse used to transport goods.
Modern usage describes a butcher or ax murderer's cleaver chop. The 1980s programming boom distinguished elegant code from "hacks". Both got you to your goal, but the latter made any programmer cringe and mutter about changing the code. From this emerged the hacker trope, the friendless anti-villain living in a murky hovel lit by the computer monitor, eating junk food and breaking into databases to highlight security system failures or steal hotdog money.
Now, start-a-billion-dollar-business-from-your-garage types have shifted their sights from app development to DIY biology, coining the term "bio-hack". This is a required keyword and meta tag for every fitness-related podcast, book, conference, app, or device.
Bio-hacking involves bypassing your body and mind's security systems to achieve a goal. Many biohackers' initial goals were reasonable, like lowering blood pressure and weight. Encouraged by their own progress, self-determination, and seemingly exquisite control of their biology, they aimed to outsmart aging and death to live 180 to 1000 years (summarized well in this vox.com article).
With this grandiose north star, the hunt for novel supplements and genetic engineering began.
Companies selling do-it-yourself biological manipulations cite lab studies in mice as proof of their safety and success in reversing age-related diseases or promoting longevity in humans (the goal changes depending on whether a company is talking to the federal government or private donors).
The FDA is slower than science, they say. Why not alter your biochemistry by buying pills online, editing your DNA with a CRISPR kit, or using a sauna delivered to your home? How about a microchip or electrical stimulator?
What could go wrong?
I'm not the neo-police, making citizen's arrests every time someone introduces a new plumbing gadget or extrapolates from animal research on resveratrol or catechins that we should drink more red wine or eat more chocolate. As a scientist who's spent her career asking, "Can we get better?" I've come to view bio-hacking as misguided, profit-driven, and counterproductive to its followers' goals.
We're creatures of nature. Despite all the new gadgets and bio-hacks, we still use Roman plumbing technology, and the best way to stay fit, sharp, and happy is to follow a recipe passed down since the beginning of time. Bacteria, plants, and all natural beings are rhythmic, with alternating periods of high activity and dormancy, whether measured in seconds, hours, days, or seasons. Nature repeats successful patterns.
During the Upstate, every cell in your body is naturally primed and pumped full of glycogen and ATP (your cells' energy currencies), as well as cortisol, which supports your muscles, heart, metabolism, cognitive prowess, emotional regulation, and general "get 'er done" attitude. This big energy release depletes your batteries and requires the Downstate, when your subsystems recharge at the cellular level.
Downstates are when you give your heart a break from pumping nutrient-rich blood through your body; when you give your metabolism a break from inflammation, oxidative stress, and sympathetic arousal caused by eating fast food — or just eating too fast; or when you give your mind a chance to wander, think bigger thoughts, and come up with new creative solutions. When you're responding to notifications, emails, and fires, you can't relax.
Downstates aren't just for consistently recharging your battery. By spending time in the Downstate, your body and brain get extra energy and nutrients, allowing you to grow smarter, faster, stronger, and more self-regulated. This state supports half-marathon training, exam prep, and mediation. As we age, spending more time in the Downstate is key to mental and physical health, well-being, and longevity.
When you prioritize energy-demanding activities during Upstate periods and energy-replenishing activities during Downstate periods, all your subsystems, including cardiovascular, metabolic, muscular, cognitive, and emotional, hum along at their optimal settings. When you synchronize the Upstates and Downstates of these individual rhythms, their functioning improves. A hard workout causes autonomic stress, which triggers Downstate recovery.
By choosing the right timing and type of exercise during the day, you can ensure a deeper recovery and greater readiness for the next workout by working with your natural rhythms and strengthening your autonomic and sleep Downstates.
Morning cardio workouts increase deep sleep compared to afternoon workouts. Timing and type of meals determine when your sleep hormone melatonin is released, ushering in sleep.
Rhythm isn't a hack. It's not a way to cheat the system or the boss. Nature has honed its optimization wisdom over trillions of days and nights. Stop looking for quick fixes. You're a whole system made of smaller subsystems that must work together to function well. No one pill or subsystem will make it all work. Understanding and coordinating your rhythms is free, easy, and only benefits you.
Dr. Sara C. Mednick is a cognitive neuroscientist at UC Irvine and author of The Power of the Downstate (HachetteGO)
1 month ago
The Unlocking Of The Ultimate Clean Energy
The company seeking 24/7 ultra-powerful solar electricity.
We're rushing to adopt low-carbon energy to prevent a self-made doomsday. We're using solar, wind, and wave energy. These low-carbon sources aren't perfect. They consume large areas of land, causing habitat loss. They don't produce power reliably, necessitating large grid-level batteries, an environmental nightmare. We can and must do better than fossil fuels. Longi, one of the world's top solar panel producers, is creating a low-carbon energy source. Solar-powered spacecraft. But how does it work? Why is it so environmentally harmonious? And how can Longi unlock it?
Space-based solar makes sense. Satellites above Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) enjoy 24/7 daylight. Outer space has no atmosphere or ozone layer to block the Sun's high-energy UV radiation. Solar panels can create more energy in space than on Earth due to these two factors. Solar panels in orbit can create 40 times more power than those on Earth, according to estimates.
How can we utilize this immense power? Launch a geostationary satellite with solar panels, then beam power to Earth. Such a technology could be our most eco-friendly energy source. (Better than fusion power!) How?
Solar panels create more energy in space, as I've said. Solar panel manufacture and grid batteries emit the most carbon. This indicates that a space-solar farm's carbon footprint (which doesn't need a battery because it's a constant power source) might be over 40 times smaller than a terrestrial one. Combine that with carbon-neutral launch vehicles like Starship, and you have a low-carbon power source. Solar power has one of the lowest emissions per kWh at 6g/kWh, so space-based solar could approach net-zero emissions.
Space solar is versatile because it doesn't require enormous infrastructure. A space-solar farm could power New York and Dallas with the same efficiency, without cables. The satellite will transmit power to a nearby terminal. This allows an energy system to evolve and adapt as the society it powers changes. Building and maintaining infrastructure can be carbon-intensive, thus less infrastructure means less emissions.
Space-based solar doesn't destroy habitats, either. Solar and wind power can be engineered to reduce habitat loss, but they still harm ecosystems, which must be restored. Space solar requires almost no land, therefore it's easier on Mother Nature.
Space solar power could be the ultimate energy source. So why haven’t we done it yet?
Well, for two reasons: the cost of launch and the efficiency of wireless energy transmission.
Advances in rocket construction and reusable rocket technology have lowered orbital launch costs. In the early 2000s, the Space Shuttle cost $60,000 per kg launched into LEO, but a SpaceX Falcon 9 costs only $3,205. 95% drop! Even at these low prices, launching a space-based solar farm is commercially questionable.
Energy transmission efficiency is half of its commercial viability. Space-based solar farms must be in geostationary orbit to get 24/7 daylight, 22,300 miles above Earth's surface. It's a long way to wirelessly transmit energy. Most laser and microwave systems are below 20% efficient.
Space-based solar power is uneconomical due to low efficiency and high deployment costs.
Longi wants to create this ultimate power. But how?
They'll send solar panels into space to develop space-based solar power that can be beamed to Earth. This mission will help them design solar panels tough enough for space while remaining efficient.
Longi is a Chinese company, and China's space program and universities are developing space-based solar power and seeking commercial partners. Xidian University has built a 98%-efficient microwave-based wireless energy transmission system for space-based solar power. The Long March 5B is China's super-cheap (but not carbon-offset) launch vehicle.
Longi fills the gap. They have the commercial know-how and ability to build solar satellites and terrestrial terminals at scale. Universities and the Chinese government have transmission technology and low-cost launch vehicles to launch this technology.
It may take a decade to develop and refine this energy solution. This could spark a clean energy revolution. Once operational, Longi and the Chinese government could offer the world a flexible, environmentally friendly, rapidly deployable energy source.
Should the world adopt this technology and let China control its energy? I'm not very political, so you decide. This seems to be the beginning of tapping into this planet-saving energy source. Forget fusion reactors. Carbon-neutral energy is coming soon.
2 months ago
Twisted device investigates fusion alternatives
German stellarator revamped to run longer, hotter, compete with tokamaks
Tokamaks have dominated the search for fusion energy for decades. Just as ITER, the world's largest and most expensive tokamak, nears completion in southern France, a smaller, twistier testbed will start up in Germany.
If the 16-meter-wide stellarator can match or outperform similar-size tokamaks, fusion experts may rethink their future. Stellarators can keep their superhot gases stable enough to fuse nuclei and produce energy. They can theoretically run forever, but tokamaks must pause to reset their magnet coils.
The €1 billion German machine, Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X), is already getting "tokamak-like performance" in short runs, claims plasma physicist David Gates, preventing particles and heat from escaping the superhot gas. If W7-X can go long, "it will be ahead," he says. "Stellarators excel" Eindhoven University of Technology theorist Josefine Proll says, "Stellarators are back in the game." A few of startup companies, including one that Gates is leaving Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, are developing their own stellarators.
W7-X has been running at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Greifswald, Germany, since 2015, albeit only at low power and for brief runs. W7-X's developers took it down and replaced all inner walls and fittings with water-cooled equivalents, allowing for longer, hotter runs. The team reported at a W7-X board meeting last week that the revised plasma vessel has no leaks. It's expected to restart later this month to show if it can get plasma to fusion-igniting conditions.
Wendelstein 7-X's water-cooled inner surface allows for longer runs.
Both stellarators and tokamaks create magnetic gas cages hot enough to melt metal. Microwaves or particle beams heat. Extreme temperatures create a plasma, a seething mix of separated nuclei and electrons, and cause the nuclei to fuse, releasing energy. A fusion power plant would use deuterium and tritium, which react quickly. Non-energy-generating research machines like W7-X avoid tritium and use hydrogen or deuterium instead.
Tokamaks and stellarators use electromagnetic coils to create plasma-confining magnetic fields. A greater field near the hole causes plasma to drift to the reactor's wall.
Tokamaks control drift by circulating plasma around a ring. Streaming creates a magnetic field that twists and stabilizes ionized plasma. Stellarators employ magnetic coils to twist, not plasma. Once plasma physicists got powerful enough supercomputers, they could optimize stellarator magnets to improve plasma confinement.
W7-X is the first large, optimized stellarator with 50 6- ton superconducting coils. Its construction began in the mid-1990s and cost roughly twice the €550 million originally budgeted.
The wait hasn't disappointed researchers. W7-X director Thomas Klinger: "The machine operated immediately." "It's a friendly machine." It did everything we asked." Tokamaks are prone to "instabilities" (plasma bulging or wobbling) or strong "disruptions," sometimes associated to halted plasma flow. IPP theorist Sophia Henneberg believes stellarators don't employ plasma current, which "removes an entire branch" of instabilities.
In early stellarators, the magnetic field geometry drove slower particles to follow banana-shaped orbits until they collided with other particles and leaked energy. Gates believes W7-X's ability to suppress this effect implies its optimization works.
W7-X loses heat through different forms of turbulence, which push particles toward the wall. Theorists have only lately mastered simulating turbulence. W7-X's forthcoming campaign will test simulations and turbulence-fighting techniques.
A stellarator can run constantly, unlike a tokamak, which pulses. W7-X has run 100 seconds—long by tokamak standards—at low power. The device's uncooled microwave and particle heating systems only produced 11.5 megawatts. The update doubles heating power. High temperature, high plasma density, and extensive runs will test stellarators' fusion power potential. Klinger wants to heat ions to 50 million degrees Celsius for 100 seconds. That would make W7-X "a world-class machine," he argues. The team will push for 30 minutes. "We'll move step-by-step," he says.
W7-X's success has inspired VCs to finance entrepreneurs creating commercial stellarators. Startups must simplify magnet production.
Princeton Stellarators, created by Gates and colleagues this year, has $3 million to build a prototype reactor without W7-X's twisted magnet coils. Instead, it will use a mosaic of 1000 HTS square coils on the plasma vessel's outside. By adjusting each coil's magnetic field, operators can change the applied field's form. Gates: "It moves coil complexity to the control system." The company intends to construct a reactor that can fuse cheap, abundant deuterium to produce neutrons for radioisotopes. If successful, the company will build a reactor.
Renaissance Fusion, situated in Grenoble, France, raised €16 million and wants to coat plasma vessel segments in HTS. Using a laser, engineers will burn off superconductor tracks to carve magnet coils. They want to build a meter-long test segment in 2 years and a full prototype by 2027.
Type One Energy in Madison, Wisconsin, won DOE money to bend HTS cables for stellarator magnets. The business carved twisting grooves in metal with computer-controlled etching equipment to coil cables. David Anderson of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, claims advanced manufacturing technology enables the stellarator.
Anderson said W7-X's next phase will boost stellarator work. “Half-hour discharges are steady-state,” he says. “This is a big deal.”
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4 months ago
6 hacks to create content faster
Content gurus' top time-saving hacks.
I'm a content strategist, writer, and graphic designer. Time is more valuable than money.
Money is always available. Even if you're poor. Ways exist.
Time is passing, and one day we'll run out.
Sorry to be morbid.
In today's digital age, you need to optimize how you create content for your organization. Here are six content creation hacks.
1. Use templates
Use templates to streamline your work whether generating video, images, or documents.
Setup can take hours. Using a free resource like Canva, you can create templates for any type of material.
This will save you hours each month.
2. Make a content calendar
You post without a plan? A content calendar solves 50% of these problems.
You can prepare, organize, and plan your material ahead of time so you're not scrambling when you remember, "Shit, it's Mother's Day!"
3. Content Batching
Batching content means creating a lot in one session. This is helpful for video content that requires a lot of setup time.
Batching monthly content saves hours. Time is a valuable resource.
When working on one type of task, it's easy to get into a flow state. This saves time.
4. Write Caption
On social media, we generally choose the image first and then the caption. Writing captions first sometimes work better, though.
Writing the captions first can allow you more creative flexibility and be easier if you're not excellent with language.
Say you want to tell your followers something interesting.
Writing a caption first is easier than choosing an image and then writing a caption to match.
Not everything works. You may have already-created content that needs captioning. When you don't know what to share, think of a concept, write the description, and then produce a video or graphic.
Cats can be skinned in several ways..
Reuse content when possible. You don't always require new stuff. In fact, you’re pretty stupid if you do #SorryNotSorry.
Repurpose old content. All those blog entries, videos, and unfinished content on your desk or hard drive.
This blog post can be turned into a social media infographic. Canva's motion graphic function can animate it. I can record a YouTube video regarding this issue for a podcast. I can make a post on each point in this blog post and turn it into an eBook or paid course.
And it doesn’t stop there.
My point is, to think outside the box and really dig deep into ways you can leverage the content you’ve already created.
6. Schedule Them
If you're still manually posting content, get help. When you batch your content, schedule it ahead of time.
Some scheduling apps are free or cheap. No excuses.
Don't publish and ghost.
Scheduling saves time by preventing you from doing it manually. But if you never engage with your audience, the algorithm won't reward your material.
Be online and engage your audience.
Use these six content creation hacks. They help you succeed and save time.
4 months ago
Three Arrows Capital & Celsius Updates
I read 1k+ page 3AC liquidation documentation so you don't have to. Also sharing revised Celsius recovery plans.
3AC's liquidation documents:
Someone disclosed 3AC liquidation records in the BVI courts recently. I'll discuss the leak's timeline and other highlights.
Three Arrows Capital began trading traditional currencies in emerging markets in 2012. They switched to equities and crypto, then purely crypto in 2018.
By 2020, the firm had $703mm in net assets and $1.8bn in loans (these guys really like debt).
The firm's net assets under control reached $3bn in April 2022, according to the filings. 3AC had $600mm of LUNA/UST exposure before May 9th 2022, which put them over.
LUNA and UST go to zero quickly (I wrote about the mechanics of the blowup here). Kyle Davies, 3AC co-founder, told Blockchain.com on May 13 that they have $2.4bn in assets and $2.3bn NAV vs. $2bn in borrowings. As BTC and ETH plunged 33% and 50%, the company became insolvent by mid-2022.
3AC sent $32mm to Tai Ping Shen, a Cayman Islands business owned by Su Zhu and Davies' partner, Kelly Kaili Chen (who knows what is going on here).
3AC had borrowed over $3.5bn in notional principle, with Genesis ($2.4bn) and Voyager ($650mm) having the most exposure.
Genesis demanded $355mm in further collateral in June.
Deribit (another 3AC investment) called for $80 million in mid-June.
Even in mid-June, the corporation was trying to borrow more money to stay afloat. They approached Genesis for another $125mm loan (to pay another lender) and HODLnauts for BTC & ETH loans.
Pretty crazy. 3AC founders used borrowed money to buy a $50 million boat, according to the leak.
Su requesting for $5m + Chen Kaili Kelly asserting they loaned $65m unsecured to 3AC are identified as creditors.
This bankruptcy presentation shows the Celsius breakdown from March to July 14, 2022. From $22bn to $4bn, crypto assets plummeted from $14.6bn to $1.8bn (ouch). $16.5bn in user liabilities dropped to $4.72bn.
In my recent post, I examined if "forced selling" is over, with Celsius' crypto assets being a major overhang. In this presentation, it looks that Chapter 11 will provide clients the opportunity to accept cash at a discount or remain long crypto. Provided that a fresh source of money is unlikely to enter the Celsius situation, cash at a discount or crypto given to customers will likely remain a near-term market risk - cash at a discount will likely come from selling crypto assets, while customers who receive crypto could sell at any time. I'll share any Celsius updates I find.
Only Celsius and the Mt Gox BTC unlock remain as forced selling catalysts. While everything went through a "relief" pump, with ETH up 75% from the bottom and numerous alts multiples higher, there are still macro dangers to equities + risk assets. There's a lot of wealth waiting to be deployed in crypto ($153bn in stables), but fund managers are risk apprehensive (lower than 2008 levels).
We're hopefully over crypto's "bottom," with peak anxiety and forced selling behind us, but we may chop around.
To see the full article, click here.
4 months ago
Bear market duration and how to invest during one
Bear markets don't last forever, but that's hard to remember. Jamie Cullen's illustration
A bear market is a 20% decline from peak to trough in stock prices.
The S&P 500 was down 24% from its January highs at its low point this year. Bear market.
The U.S. stock market has had 13 bear markets since WWII (including the current one). Previous 12 bear markets averaged –32.7% losses. From peak to trough, the stock market averaged 12 months. The average time from bottom to peak was 21 months.
In the past seven decades, a bear market roundtrip to breakeven has averaged less than three years.
Long-term averages can vary widely, as with all historical market data. Investors can learn from past market crashes.
Historical bear markets offer lessons.
Bear market duration
A bear market can cost investors money and time. Most of the pain comes from stock market declines, but bear markets can be long.
Here are the longest U.S. stock bear markets since World war 2:
Stock market crashes can make it difficult to break even. After the 2008 financial crisis, the stock market took 4.5 years to recover. After the dotcom bubble burst, it took seven years to break even.
The longer you're underwater in the market, the more suffering you'll experience, according to research. Suffering can lead to selling at the wrong time.
Bear markets require patience because stocks can take a long time to recover.
Stock crash recovery
Bear markets can end quickly. The Corona Crash in early 2020 is an example.
The S&P 500 fell 34% in 23 trading sessions, the fastest bear market from a high in 90 years. The entire crash lasted one month. Stocks broke even six months after bottoming. Stocks rose 100% from those lows in 15 months.
Seven bear markets have lasted two years or less since 1945.
The 2020 recovery was an outlier, but four other bear markets have made investors whole within 18 months.
During a bear market, you don't know if it will end quickly or feel like death by a thousand cuts.
Recessions vs. bear markets
Many people believe the U.S. economy is in or heading for a recession.
I agree. Four-decade high inflation. Since 1945, inflation has exceeded 5% nine times. Each inflationary spike caused a recession. Only slowing economic demand seems to stop price spikes.
This could happen again. Stocks seem to be pricing in a recession.
Recessions almost always cause a bear market, but a bear market doesn't always equal a recession. In 1946, the stock market fell 27% without a recession in sight. Without an economic slowdown, the stock market fell 22% in 1966. Black Monday in 1987 was the most famous stock market crash without a recession. Stocks fell 30% in less than a week. Many believed the stock market signaled a depression. The crash caused no slowdown.
Economic cycles are hard to predict. Even Wall Street makes mistakes.
Bears vs. bulls
Bear markets for U.S. stocks always end. Every stock market crash in U.S. history has been followed by new all-time highs.
How should investors view the recession? Investing risk is subjective.
You don't have as long to wait out a bear market if you're retired or nearing retirement. Diversification and liquidity help investors with limited time or income. Cash and short-term bonds drag down long-term returns but can ensure short-term spending.
Young people with years or decades ahead of them should view this bear market as an opportunity. Stock market crashes are good for net savers in the future. They let you buy cheap stocks with high dividend yields.
You need discipline, patience, and planning to buy stocks when it doesn't feel right.
Bear markets aren't fun because no one likes seeing their portfolio fall. But stock market downturns are a feature, not a bug. If stocks never crashed, they wouldn't offer such great long-term returns.