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Friday, 31 May 2019

Weekend Reading - Some Interesting Stuff


1) Can cancer be treated by bioelectricity?
The human body—including the brain—runs on electricity - the movements of mostly positively charged ions of elements like potassium, sodium, and calcium.
Two recent meta-analyses concluded that amplifying the natural wound current with electrical stimulation prevented them all from getting worse, and even healed some of the worst ones completely. Electrical stimulation almost doubles their healing. Similarly intriguing results have been obtained for non-healing diabetic wounds—the kind that lead to the amputation of limbs, which usually leads within a few years to death.
Cancer is beginning to be viewed increasingly as a failure of communication; a misregulation of the field of information that orchestrates individual cells’ activities towards functioning as part of a normal living system. Individual cells “forget” they are part of a larger whole and treat the rest of the body as an environment whose resources can be exploited to feed themselves.
In 2013, Levin’s group showed that they could prevent or reverse some tumors in tadpoles by using drugs to target their bioelectric signaling. The same drugs could turn cancer on and off at a distance, by treating the environment, not the cells themselves.
The broader implication still is that within the next decade, we could learn enough about bioelectricity to change how cell networks communicate and make decisions about how they grow and develop. New computational modeling tools will be a major factor here.


2) China's food delivery app boom has an odd fallout - plastic
The astronomical growth of food delivery apps in China is flooding the country with takeout containers, utensils and bags. And the country’s patchy recycling system isn’t keeping up. The vast majority of this plastic ends up discarded, buried or burned with the rest of the trash.
Scientists estimate that the online takeout business in China was responsible for 1.6 million tons of packaging waste in 2017, a ninefold jump from two years before. That includes 1.2 million tons of plastic containers, 175,000 tons of disposable chopsticks, 164,000 tons of plastic bags and 44,000 tons of plastic spoons.
More plastic enters the world’s oceans from China than from any other country. Plastic can take centuries to break down undersea.


3) Sustainable growth is more important than PE multiple
The reason that Wal-Mart produced a fantastic return from 1974 to now is not that it was cheap relative to its present or near-term future earnings.  By the standards of 1974, it was actually a growth stock–priced at almost twice the market multiple.  In the current market, an equivalent valuation would be something like 30 or 40 times earnings–for a business with uncomplicated earnings that had already been in operation in Arkansas for three decades.  It produced a fantastic return because it was a fantastic business, with miles and miles of growth still in front of it.


4) The way to master more things is to simply focus on one thing right now
When you begin practicing a new habit it requires a lot of conscious effort to remember to do it. After awhile, however, the pattern of behavior becomes easier. Eventually, your new habit becomes a normal routine and the process is more or less mindless and automatic.
The counterintuitive insight from all of this research is that the best way to change your entire life is by not changing your entire life. Instead, it is best to focus on one specific habit, work on it until you master it, and make it an automatic part of your daily life. Then, repeat the process for the next habit.


5) Walk 5000 steps a day, not 10,000 for the health benefits
There's nothing magical about the number 10,000.
In fact, the idea of walking at least 10,000 steps a day for health goes back decades to a marketing campaign launched in Japan to promote a pedometer. And, in subsequent years, it was adopted in the U.S. as a goal to promote good health.
In fact, women who took 4,400 steps per day, on average, were about 40 percent less likely to die during the follow-up period of about four years compared with women who took 2,700 steps.
The benefits of walking maxed out at about 7,500 steps. In other words, women who walked more than 7,500 steps per day saw no additional boost in longevity.

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