Happy new year! Neat things I’ve run across in the last month:
What Bodies Think About: Bioelectric Computation Outside the Nervous System: How do individual cells grow into complex macro-scale features like arms and eyeballs? Apparently, electric potentials are involved — messing with cellular ion channels can induce extra limbs, heads, etc. (Content warning: tiny, two-headed worms, which may be disturbing if you are a tiny worm, but which I found pretty cute.)
Index funds are a proof of concept for market socialism: There’s no reason that socialism has to mean both “centralized planning” and “collective ownership”. It’s the misincentives and inefficiency of the former that causes shortages, terrible products, etc. Can we keep all of the good aspects of markets and implement just the “collective ownership” bit by redistributing index fund shares?
The 30-year mortgage is an intrinsically toxic product: An analysis both from the individual perspective (maybe not a good idea to make a leveraged bet that’s highly correlated with your future earnings) and macroeconomic one (inducing artificial volatility in interest rates).
Theoretical physics has not gone to the dogs: There’s more to physics than strings ‘n things, and lots of it is going swimmingly.
Nikolas Goebel also did an interesting solution using differential dataflow, which allows for incremental re-computation of the routes as legs are added or removed. (Nikolas also gave a talk at the 2018 Clojure/conj on using this technique to build Reactive Datalog for Datomic.)
I read a great pre-print on using some tricks with bloom filters to quickly search genomes. (A few seconds to search 500,000 bacterial and viral genomes, though you need a few terabytes of RAM.)
I tried to make something faster. That didn’t work out, but it was fun writing up my notes!
What was even more fun was hearing from the author on Twitter, who kindly answered all of my questions.
And then someone else said: “Very gratifying when people read and think hard - thanks!”, which sums up my positive feelings about the Internet.
Keep on reading and thinking hard, y'all!
p.s. I’m toying with publishing email correspondence, so if you want to hear my thoughts on a topic, please email me!