Posts filed under “Science”
December 20, 2011
New readers to my musings often find it interesting, when they meet me in person, to find me quite an optimistic person, given the nature of my current predictions about the economy. And regarding the short term, defined as less than five years, my writing is admittedly less than sanguine. We do have some problems that are not easily dealt with. And even longer-term, those of a bearish natural disposition can find reasons a-plenty to tone it down.
But five years (at least at my age) is not all that long. One way or another we will get through the current mess. My studies on the nature of progress in a number of fields give me a rather optimistic longer-term slant on life, and most especially in biotechnology. Long-time readers know of my interest in the potential for biotechnology to be completely transformational and disruptive (in a positive way) to society. It is one of the few places I am “long” and willing to get even more long.
Today’s Outside the Box is from a source that is no stranger to my regular readers. Pat Cox called last week and told me about an amazing announcement that was made public last Friday, so we are almost “breaking news” here this week. BioTime (BTX) has announced the ability to detect most cancers with a simple blood test that detects markers. This holds the prospect that within a very few years we will all routinely get a blood test for cancer as part of our regular blood work, allowing for very early detection. And as Pat notes, cancer becomes far more treatable if detected early.
As Pat and I talked, I asked him to give us an update on the BioTime story but also on the state of some of the really promising cancer cures. And let me note, these are but a few. There are literally dozens, if not hundreds, of real potential cures. We do live in remarkable times. Comments in the text below in brackets [ ] are mine.
Pat is one of my favorite sources for new, transformational technology. We talk regularly and compare notes. Pat (like me) likes to look over the horizon and think about what is coming. The companies he writes about are typically early-stage research and development plays, in a variety of fields (not just biotech – last month he was writing about robotics!).
You can subscribe to his letter by going to http://www.PatCoxLetter. Warning: his publisher likes rather aggressive marketing, but I just like his letter and research.
Note: I have invested (for quite some time now) in some of the companies he mentions below or have associations with them that I note in the copy. And some I have no knowledge of.) I have not done any transactions in the last few months and will not do anything for at least two weeks. And do NOT chase these stocks. They are typically very small-cap with smaller volumes, and are research and development companies with no guarantees of success. Do your homework, and if you buy then do it for the long term.
I do comment below on one private firm that some of you who sit on foundations and charities that focus on cancer and heath care might want to look into.
Now let’s take a look at what Pat and I sincerely hope is the future.
Your planning to live a lot longer than you think analyst,
John Mauldin, Editor
Outside the Box
By Pat Cox, Editor
Breakthrough Technology Alert
When the second stimulus bill passed in February, 2009, I explained to my readers that the “crowding out effect” would guarantee its failure. I took no pleasure in predicting accurately that increased government borrowing would crowd out private investment in innovation, from which flows economic and employment growth.
I bring this up simply because I have extraordinarily good news regarding cancer therapeutics, and I don’t want you to assume that I am afflicted with blind optimism. For decades, in fact, I’ve been among the economists who have warned that our current distress was coming. As you know, we were ignored by the intelligentsia. As a result, the entirely avoidable mortgage and housing bubbles expanded and collapsed, which accelerated our even larger problem – the entitlements crisis.
Political corruption and malfeasance were involved, we now know. I suspect, however, that the larger reason the warnings signs were ignored was essentially psychological. Most people avoid extremely unpleasant news until they no longer have a choice.
This is particularly true with regards to the entitlement crisis because it involves perhaps the greatest unpleasantness of all. It is the reality that we are all facing the prospect of aging, serious illness, and death – in that order.
The aging population, however, is the root cause of our financial problems. More than a third of the federal budget goes to transfer payments and services for people age 65 or older. Nevertheless, we’re behind on the payments and the bill is increasing as more and more people live longer.
This is the result, primarily, of unexpected scientific breakthroughs that have dramatically expanded our medical options. Unfortunately, Social Security was designed in 1935, when fewer lived to see the retirement age of 65. Only a fringe of visionaries believed that new technologies would push life spans close to 80 by the end of the century.
Nevertheless, it has happened. Retirement ages, though, have not adjusted, so Social Security is running on empty. Medicare may not have been designed to benefit the aged, but about half of all healthcare services are consumed by the five percent of the population that is dying. They are, it’s no wonder, almost all older people.
These worsening fundamentals have not plateaued. The demographic pyramid, with large numbers of young payers and very few aged beneficiaries, is flipping. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I hope at least to convince you that I’m not in denial about the problems we face. Therefore, I hope you’ll take me seriously when I say that very recent scientific breakthroughs are more than capable of solving our entitlement and debt crises.
Fifteen uncoupled simple pendulums of monotonically increasing lengths dance together to produce visual traveling waves, standing waves, beating, and (seemingly) random motion.
The period of one complete cycle of the dance is 60 seconds. The length of the longest pendulum has been adjusted so that it executes 51 oscillations in this 60 second period. The length of each successive shorter pendulum is carefully adjusted so that it executes one additional oscillation in this period. Thus, the 15th pendulum (shortest) undergoes 65 oscillations.
For more details see Harvard Natural Sciences Lecture Demonstrations
Our apparatus was built from a design published by Richard Berg [Am J Phys 59(2), 186-187 (1991)] at the University of Maryland.
MIT Media Lab researchers have created a new imaging system that can acquire visual data at a rate of one trillion frames per second. That’s fast enough to produce a slow-motion video of light traveling through objects. Trillion-frame-per-second video (MITNews) Read more: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2011/trillion-fps-camera-1213.html Project website: http://www.media.mit.edu/~raskar/trillionfps/
An illustration of a black hole the size of nearly 10 billion Suns. Inside it, where gravity is so in- tense that not even light can escape, our solar system is shown to scale. An artist’s conception of stars moving in the central regions of a giant elliptical galaxy that harbors a black hole. Source:…Read More