Linkfest 2020-12-04: Protein Folding and the Apocalypse

Labroots: How Detective Geologists are Tracing Illegal Sand

I’ve certainly snarked that glass recycling is silly because we aren’t in danger of running out of sand, but intensive sand mining for use in concrete aggregate can certainly have bad consequences.

In the Pipeline: What’s Crucial and What Isn’t

This week one of the big pieces of science news was an announcement that a technique had been identified to predict protein structure from amino acid sequences. This is indeed a challenging problem, but Lowe wants to caution us that knowing structure isn’t one of the current big hurdles in drug development.

I think this is true, but I am hopeful that this problem being solvable will lead to other things, like predicting function, that would have a bigger impact.


Here are a pair of landscapes from Adrian Allinson. On the left we have 'Harvesting', oil on canvas, 1939, and on the right, 'A View of the River Ouse at Lewes', oil on board (date not found)



It is sad to see such a landmark telescope go.

There are of course larger ones, interferometers can have effective sizes much bigger than Arecibo, but they don’t look as impressive.

Wasteland and Sky: Cultural Ground Zero

JD Cowan writes about how 1996 was a landmark year in culture, with loads of examples. I am reminded by his list of how apocalyptic the late nineties were. I am reminded of Richard Landes’ essay, Owls and Roosters, about how embarrassing many people find apocalyptic events and behavior, especially their own.


The World at the End of Time by Frederik Pohl

Fred Pohl’s story about things very much like embodied angels, relativity, and the death of the universe.

The Long View: The Ecstasy Club

Another book review by John J. Reilly about the weirdly apocalyptic nineties.