April 2021 Assorted Links

assorted-title of books piled in the shelves

A list with interesting links I came across in the past weeks. Enjoy!

  1. Diamonds Are Bullshit – Priceonomics (link)
    The economics of buying diamond rings. Turns out, diamonds are a terrible investment and really marketing campaigns have tricked us into buying diamond engagement rings.

  2. Club-goers take first bites of lab-made chicken – Nature (link)
    Slaughter-free meat grown in bioreactors reaches select diners in Singapore in the form of chicken nuggets. Singapore regulators in December approved in
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Why Nuclear Power Flopped Commercially

four brown concrete towers

I came across a very interesting review of the book Why Nuclear Power Has Been a Flop. I haven’t read the book itself, but the summary is well worth a read.

The main point is this: nuclear power is expensive, but it should be cheap. The reason it is expensive is that regulators have held nuclear power to far higher standards than any other power source. Risk from nuclear must be ALARA – as low as reasonably achievable. … more

How to Create a Twitter Bot That Posts a Random Daily Article


Automating things is fun, so I decided to spend a day to build a Twitter bot (@daily_axc) that posts a random article. The sources for the daily article will be astralcodexten.substack.com (ACX) and slatestarcodex.com (SSC). These two blogs by Scott Alexander are by far my favorite source of insight on the internet I highly recommend them.

This article explains step by step how you can create such a bot on your own. It is more geared towards beginners. … more

Imagine Scientific Author Lists as Film Credits

In Academia author lists are source of endless contention. The current system is undeniably unfair.

Almost all of the credit go to the first and last author, while the middle authors often get forgotten. Who gets placed where on a paper is therefore subject to politics and fierce debates. Especially for early career researchers this can be a problem. There are some papers that let you list the individual authors’ contributions, but even that is somewhat opaque. That is … more

Crowd forecasting Covid-19 Cases and Deaths in Europe

For the past few months of my PhD in epidemiology I have worked on forecasting and forecast evaluation. In many places, forecast models have had a huge influence on policy during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Imperial model (code here) for example played an important role in the UK government’s decision to go into a lock-down in March. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also rely heavily on predictions made by research teams around the world.

Forecasting is hard. … more

Making Your Own Covid-19 Vaccine at Home

If you want, you can create your own Covid-19 vaccine at home and it is actually not that hard to do.

In December 2020, johnswentworth posted the following question on LessWrong: How Hard Would It Be To Make A COVID Vaccine For Oneself? . These are some of the answers they got from user eillasti:

I am not even sure that you need bio/bioinformatics know-how beyond the stuff that you can read up in the wikipedia.

The only

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Infering Political Orientation From a Single Picture

Figure 1
An algorithm to infer political orientation from a single picture. Source

In a new paper called Facial recognition technology can expose political orientation from naturalistic facial image, researchers took a data set of roughly 1m pictures and were able to predict political orientation with an astonishing accuracy from just a single picture. The pictures were taken from Facebook and a dating site (I assume okcupid?). Using these images, authors were able to predict self-reported political orientation (conservative vs. liberal) … more

Republicans Should Become the Party of the Working Class

Scott Alexander just published a piece titled A Modest Proposal For Republicans: Use The Word “Class” and I really like it. It paints a proposal for the Republicans to become the party of the working class.

Scott writes:

It could appeal to the white working class. Everyone agreed these people were Trump’s base, but the media insisted on emphasizing the “white”, as in “WHITE!!! working class”. Your job is to get people thinking “white WORKING CLASS!!! instead. […]

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Bottlenecks in the Covid Vaccine Supply Chains

woman holding test tube

If you are interested in how complicated the supply chain of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines are, this article by Jonas Neubert is what you might want to read. It is gives a quite in-depth overview of the manufacturing process and its bottlenecks.

One of the major problems seems to be the coating of mRNA in liquid nanoparticles (LNP). Producing these LNPs is one part, but apparently actually mixing them together with the mRNA is even harder.

One thing … more