China’s two Currencies
The Renminbi

It was only today that I learned that China, in effect, has two different currencies. I’m not even trying to get the nomenclature right, but the relevant terms are Yuan and Renminbi and they both somewhat overlap in meaning.

What makes China’s system a dual currency system is that they have a separation between onshore currency (that can only be used on the mainland) and offshore currency (used for international transactions, but not on the mainland). The exchange … more

The Effect of Sci-Hub on Science

In 2016 Alexandra Elbakyan was listed as one of the top 10 people who mattered in science by Nature. And indeed, her impact on science was and is profound. Elbakyan is the founder of Sci-Hub.

Official logo of Sci-Hub depicting black raven drawing with reddish key in mouth
The Sci-Hub Logo

Sci-Hub is a platform where you can download millions and millions of journal articles for free. These articles are taken from journals that restrict access behind a paywall and are made available to users. Technically, this is not legal, but the … more

Tax the Rich

Apart from doxxing bloggers, the New York Times is known for their rich visualizations. The one in this article on the average tax rate paid by the rich in the US is not disappointing.

The gist is this: tax rates for the rich have fallen while tax rates for the poor have risen. We all know this. But seeing it with your own eyes, is quite a different thing. What is especially puzzling is that we all take this … more

A Map of Univariate Distributions

My roommate recently showed me this map of univariate distributions and I think it’s awesome. Here is a snapshot:

Map of univariate distributions, taken from here

It visualizes the relationship between different univariate distributions. Admittedly, it is somewhat useless if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing before looking at it. So not sure this will be the first place where I look up stuff about distributions. They do have summaries for all distributions if you click on them, but … more

Coronavirus – Useful Information

A lot has happened in terms of research on the coronavirus. Here is a quick overview on what might be useful or interesting information:

Nutritional supplements that have evidence to be protective
  • Vitamin D3
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin C

Some sources: The role of vitamin D in the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 infection and mortality, Focus on Vitamin D, Does vitamin D status impact mortality from SARS-CoV-2 infection?, The role of diet and nutritional supplements during COVID-19more

He Who Must Not Be Named

Update: there is now a petition

Scott Alexander, the author of the Slate Star Codex blog, has deleted his entire blog in reaction to the New York Times threatening to publish an article about him. Scott has written one of the most consistently brilliant and insightful blogs on the internet (I honestly haven’t seen a better one, I’ve linked to it e.g. here, here and here) and I do feel this is a personal loss.

Scott hasn’t done … more

Personality Changes Over Time

I recently stumbled across a study titled Personality Stability From Age 14 to Age 77 Years by Harris et al.. The study examined the personality traits of 1208 14-year olds in 1947. 63 years later, they followed up with the participants who agreed (n = 174). Their interesting result: The authors found virtually no correlation between most of the six character traits respondents were rated on. After correcting for various confounders they find that only ‘Stability of Mood’ remained somewhat … more

Retraction Watch – Tracking Retractions as a Window Into the Scientific Process

I recently learned about a cool website called Retraction Watch. They do exactly what the name suggests: They track papers that get retracted to highlight things that go wrong in the scientific process.

One post for example talks about a Covid-19 related article that got accepted within three days to nature Cellular & Molecular Immunology (213 000 views, still online as of June 16, 2020), but is taking more than two months to retract. Major flaws have been shown … more

Can Donating Blood Help Reverse Aging?

I have previously written about the programmed death of organisms and about efforts to reverse aging. Now a new study is out and it is exciting. One implication of it is that donating blood might help to stay young. But let’s start from the beginning.

Generations of scientists and philosophers have conceptualized aging as the accumulation of random cellular damage. Your cells work fine, then you get a sunburn and you cell is damaged a bit. It recovers, but … more