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By Sam Arbesman, PhD

Welcome to Lux Recommends #262, this week’s edition of what we at Lux are reading and thinking about (want to receive this by email? Sign up here).

Articles

AIs that read sentences are now catching coronavirus mutations: “NLP algorithms designed for words and sentences can also be used to interpret genetic changes in viruses — speeding up lab work to spot new variants.” — Deena

Exploring the Supply Chain of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccinesZavain

‘If the aliens lay eggs, how does that affect architecture?’: sci-fi writers on how they build their worlds: “Authors including Nnedi Okorafor, Kim Stanley Robinson and Alastair Reynolds reveal what does, and doesn’t, go into creating their worlds” —…


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By Sam Arbesman, PhD

Welcome to Lux Recommends #261, this week’s edition of what we at Lux are reading and thinking about (want to receive this by email? Sign up here).

Articles

How Much Did Grandmothers Influence Human Evolution? “Scientists debate the evolutionary benefits of menopause” — Deena

The joys of being an absolute beginner — for life: “The phrase ‘adult beginner’ can sound patronising. It implies you are learning something you should have mastered as a child. But learning is not just for the young” — Deena

How We Discovered the Number Zero: “Zero as a concept was something that didn’t always exist in human cultures. We had to find it for ourselves — more than once.” …


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By Sam Arbesman, PhD

Welcome to Lux Recommends #260, this week’s edition of what we at Lux are reading and thinking about (want to receive this by email? Sign up here).

Articles

How to Make Artificial Intelligence More Democratic: “A new type of learning model uses far less data than conventional AIs, allowing researchers with limited resources to contribute” — Deena

Do Dogs Really Make Us Happier? “New research shows that the psychological benefits of dog ownership are real — and especially valuable during the pandemic.” — Adam K

Will My Popcorn Explode? “The odds that all of your popcorn kernels will pop simultaneously aren’t zero. Maybe think instead of the multiple lotteries you’re more likely to win.” …


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By Sam Arbesman, PhD

Welcome to Lux Recommends #259, a longer-than-usual New Year’s edition of what we at Lux are reading and thinking about (want to receive this by email? Sign up here).

Articles

Well-Employed in Pandemic Times: Landscaping Goats: “The animals are hired to clear land because of their insatiable hunger for weeds. And they don’t have to honor lockdowns.” — Deena

A singular mind: Roger Penrose on his Nobel PrizeSam

COVID-19 virus enters the brain, research strongly suggests: “A new study shows how spike protein crosses the blood-brain barrier” — Deena

The Journalist and the Pharma Bro: “Why did Christie Smythe upend her life and stability for Martin Shkreli, one of the least-liked men in the world?” …


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By Sam Arbesman, PhD

Welcome to Lux Recommends #258, this week’s edition of what we at Lux are reading and thinking about (want to receive this by email? Sign up here).

Articles

Will cell-based meat ever be a dinner staple? “Laboratory-grown meat has been stuck in the experimental stage. For it to become a commercially viable industry, tissue needs to be grown efficiently at scale.” — Deena

Why Do Wealthy Parents Have Wealthy Children? “We found that family background matters significantly for children’s accumulation of wealth and investor behavior as adults, even when removing the genetic connection between children and the parents raising them.” …


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By Sam Arbesman, PhD

Welcome to Lux Recommends #257, this week’s edition of what we at Lux are reading and thinking about (want to receive this by email? Sign up here).

Articles

Physicists Nail Down the ‘Magic Number’ That Shapes the Universe: “A team in Paris has made the most precise measurement yet of the fine-structure constant, killing hopes for a new force of nature.” — Sam

The researcher fighting to embed analysis of sex and gender into science: “Londa Schiebinger explains why studies that ignore these factors are flawed.” — Deena

The man who invented the Zamboni: “How the son of Italian immigrants created a niche industry for ice resurfacing machines and turned his family’s name into a noun.” …


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By Sam Arbesman, PhD

Welcome to Lux Recommends #256, this week’s edition of what we at Lux are reading and thinking about (want to receive this by email? Sign up here).

Articles

Slump in Air Travel Hindered Weather Forecasting, Study Shows: “A decline in air traffic during the coronavirus pandemic sharply reduced the amount of data routinely collected by commercial airliners.” — Sam

Can We Make Our Robots Less Biased Than We Are? “A.I. developers are committing to end the injustices in how their technology is often made and used.” — Deena

New evidence of gut-brain mechanism involved in MS flare-upsAdam…


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By Sam Arbesman, PhD

Welcome to Lux Recommends #255, this week’s edition of what we at Lux are reading and thinking about (want to receive this by email? Sign up here).

Articles

AI is wrestling with a replication crisis: “Tech giants dominate research but the line between real breakthrough and product showcase can be fuzzy. Some scientists have had enough.” — Deena

Does the human brain resemble the Universe?Zack

IVF can be a painstaking process. Could AI make it more precise?Deena

The Death of the $15 Salad: “How pizza won the pandemic — and Sweetgreen got left behind” — Adam…


By Peter Hébert

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock over the past year or perhaps docked at the International Space Station, it’s been impossible to miss the Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) craze that has overtaken Wall Street.

This year alone, as of October 30, 169 SPAC IPOs have raised a total of $59.5B, compared to $13.5B raised by 59 SPAC IPOs in all of 2019. For perspective, the 169 SPACs raised in the first 10 months of the year nearly match the 172 raised from 2015–2019.

Typical late inning behavior amid a massive asset bubble, right? Well, not exactly. A product whose sullied reputation decades ago would have made even a stockbroker in a Long Island strip mall blush is evolving…and improving, rapidly. …


In the words ahead we ask and answer whether this moment is the most important in history, share how we are seizing on current market conditions, offer our optimistic and cautioned case for what may happen next — and end with our certainty for the very long-term.

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The Hinge of History

Last quarter we noted how unprecedented was the widespread use of the word “unprecedented”. This quarter we query whether we are — as some say — at the most important and influential moment of all time: a “hinge of history.”

We pose the question not to be provocative but rather to be prescriptive, as the answer should inform with moral imperative how we ought to spend our most important asset: time. In preview, we hold the minority view that this moment in time is not — in the context of all that has ever happened and all yet to happen — uniquely special, even with all the evident chaos. Instead there are directional arrows of positive progress, technological inevitabilities, and ever more and new options created by the agency and ambition of the scientific and technical founders we fund. From any moment in the present, they are always setting up a perpetually more promising future.

Editor

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