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Everything posted by CharonY

  1. There dsRNA viruses (e.g. rotavirus), and are obviously also formed during replication. One important regulator of mutation rates are proof-reading mechanisms that recognize and remove mismatches during replication. Many RNA viruses don't have them (but SARS-Cov-2 does, which is why its mutation rate is a bit lower). Other factors are replication speed. Some polymerases work very fast which allows for imperfect matches to go through.
  2. I knew I should have weaponized my research!
  3. It is not so much the inherent stability of the molecule that causes mutations, but rather the difference in copying the genetic material (which is more prone to errors in RNA viruses for a variety of reasons).
  4. Absolutely. I don't really do fieldwork, though once was peripherally involved in budgeting related to a space mission. The numbers did not seem real when you are used to typical (even instrument-intensive) lab experiments. Or, you know, tax wealth or reduce subsidies for companies.
  5. This is especially true for trials, though at the same time, there is the argument that in the USA the balance might be a bit off. After all, innovation happens at similar or lower rates in countries where pharmaceutical prices are regulated. That is not to say that they have no role- quite the contrary. While many pharmaceutical discovery is probably more prevalent in academia, bringing them to market often requires the formation of a spin-off to finance the necessary steps. But one could make the argument that this is less innovation, but more routine development.
  6. Well, for starters we cannot afford lobbyists. One should perhaps also note that price gouging is a bigger issue in the US where prices are mostly unregulated. There are studies out there showing that while the US spends more on prescription drugs, but relative to spending does not provide more development than other countries. Some countries with strong pharmaceutical companies (UK, Switzerland) are more productive in that regard. And I do think that lawmakers and companies are well aware of that.
  7. I am surprised as it sound fairly low. Travel and accommodations alone would eat a fair chunk of it. Heck, I pay as much if I need get a tech in to do repairs that I cannot do myself. Not really, the do applied research and especially development. But most fundamental developments are either academic or spun of from there. It is not that they no innovative role, but it is fairly rare that they fundamental research and it has become rarer over time. In the 50s there was quite a bit of overlap, but that has mostly vanished.
  8. If it does not generate profit, they won't do it. If it generates profit, then it will take precedence over insights. As such, companies are really not suited for explorative research, but they do well in the applied field. The insights will take a back seat every time (also addressing potential harms, because they want to the public to pay for that).
  9. And not only that, it is known that public funded research stimulates private research. Estimates have shown that for each 1$ invested in public research, it stimulates around 0.5-2.5$ in private R&D. But perhaps more importantly, I would rather have a public fight regarding what to fund or not, rather than having a few ultra-rich folks determine it.
  10. It is really unlikely that spacecrafts are becoming commodities like cars. But assuming there is going to be commercialized space travel, it likely would require at least a higher level of regulation than current air flights. Research in the hands of companies is usually narrowly focused, and a really bad vehicle to gain insights (rather than profits). Companies rarely do any kind of explorative research as the cost/benefit ratio is not in their favour. Also, academic researchers have to demonstrate feasibility of their projects and whereas companies only need to sell the idea to investors. NASA would have not been able to burn through so many failed rockets as SpaceX which has implications on how to do things (for better or for worse). This becomes really problematic when it can impact things like environmental or human health, for example.
  11. The mechanisms are actually known and is largely related to their replication mechanism. RNA viruses, including poliovirus have fairly high mutation rates and SARS-CoV-2 is actually on the lower end for RNA viruses. Conversely, poliovirus is on the higher end of the scale. Conversely, poliovirus has a much smaller genome (7.5 k vs 30k). The reason why we have so many SARS-CoV-2 variants is likely related to yet another factor, namely the fact that so many people have been infected. For example, at the peak of polio outbreaks in the USA ca. 50k individuals were found to be infected in a year. At the peak of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the USA had over 900k cases per day. The high circulation ultimately means more mutations and higher chance of positively selectable traits.
  12. It really depends on which level you are looking at it. Undergrad? Not so much. There can be differences in how the technical labs are equipped, though in the US (and elsewhere) labs are getting cut because of cost. This trend is less so in countries in which Universities are not funded by tuition. I will also add that having tuition as a significant part of the university budget often creates perverse incentives and often also leads to administrative bloat. Examples include having offices who are actively trying to recruit and attract students, which is largely absent in entirely publicly funded institutions. Likewise, there is more incentive for student retention, which is associated with higher grade inflation. From a student perspective the experience can be better as there is more support (incl. recruitment, accommodation, living space, guidance and career counseling, as well as easier to grieve grades). But it does not mean that the education is better (often the reverse, actually). On the graduate level, that depends more on individual researchers than the university per se. I.e. individual profs can run successful groups regardless on which university they are working in. However, there are disparities between countries. The US provides quite a bit of funding for research, but there are quite differences between European countries. Highly ranked universities are often also flush with money and often support profs more with resources to establish successful research programs. That being said, there are many moderately or low ranked universities with good researchers and successful (research) graduate programs. Things are a bit iffier when the University primarily sees itself as a teaching university. There, Profs struggle to maintain a program as they get virtually no support (e.g. no lab space). They therefore rarely have successful programs in natural sciences (though they might have social science programs).
  13. I am fairly sure that if one includes suicide, handguns would play a huge role, though in many ways that is likely a convenience thing. I suspect accidents are also somewhat less likely.
  14. As mentioned, the data is lacking, but there were a few studies looking into related issues. There is some lack of granularity and I don't think there is a study focusing on a relatively rare event such as home invasion. One study looking at a cohort cohabitating with folks with and without gun ownership and they found that although the all-cause mortality was similar, the homicide rate among gun owners was double to those of non-gun owners. Specifically looking at homicides at home, gun owners were about 4x higher at risk. However, the risk of getting killed at home by strangers was only 1.45x higher among gun owners (but therefore still higher) and 7x higher for the risk of getting killed by a spouse or intimate partner. So from a high-level view, gun ownership as such does not reduce risk of getting killed, but seemingly in all scenarios (again, from a composite view) increases it.https://doi.org/10.7326/M21-3762 There are more studies looking into whether gun ownership can be deterrent for burglary and the overall consensus seems to be that it is not the case. However, there is a positive correlation between burglary and gun ownership and it could be that in rough areas folks are more likely to have both, guns and burglaries.
  15. That is pretty much the Swiss model. To be honest, I do not think that necessarily the second amendment in itself is a huge issue, but there are cultural issues in the US related to violence and almost casual gun use (and the subset of almost cult-like behaviour in that area). Closely related to that, is what effectively is a taboo to do proper research on the subject (with federal agencies crippled in collecting necessary data).
  16. For the latter be sure to follow the "don't be black rule". I like the proposal to make the second amendment all about blunderbusses.
  17. I wonder whether they have separate pots for those. I should ask.
  18. Well nutrition too of course. But things like sensory input and training. Early studies in the 40s have shown that children with less social interaction (in an orphanage) developed slower and exhibited reduced intellectual (and physical) development. The famous (and cruel) study by Harlow on macaques showed how social deprivation resulted in behavioural issues. In other words, the brain requires stimulation to develop. This not really new and on the neurological levels we also know that neural pathways and connections are formed because they are used (and trimmed when not). So the brain does need a sufficiently stimulating environment to fully blossom. And yes, that can be a problem in developed countries, if, say children do not interact enough with other folks, for example. And I am also a bit curious what effects the use of electronics, such as tablets and cell phones have in childhood. They are certainly stimulating in some ways but are also potentially limiting in others.
  19. I am looking forward to my neighbour waking me up with their shiny new handheld mortars.
  20. Especially when it comes to the brain. As we know, deprivation inhibits neuronal development.
  21. One should also add that in pharmaceutical industries, marketing generally has a larger budget than R&D: Depending on where you are (but especially in the US) drug prices are highly inflated. Conversely, it means that the way to increase sales and revenue is indeed via marketing. Specifically for the drug in question generics are available, making it even more important to secure market share.
  22. Well, it is a bit like a bandaid on the moral issue of killing someone who you have full control over. Basically to make it appear humane (I mean, the guillotine was touted as a humane method, too).
  23. I remember being at a school trip exchange with a Polish school and attending an English lesson. The whole lessons was basically basically bashing the British for putting milk into their tea. They learned phrases like " tastes like gargle water", which I found hilarious and apparently remember to this day.
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