Thoughts on economics and liberty

Category: Science

Discovery of a brilliant liberal scientist of Indian origin – C.S. Prakash

Due to the accident of his commenting on my TOI agriculture article, I found time to study the work of CS Prakash, and I’m deeply impressed.

I wonder how I missed getting to know about him and his work till now. I suppose I’ve paid more attention to economists of Indian origin than to scientists – since from my experience most scientists are completely ignorant about basic economics. But here’s a biologist who – unlike MS Swaminathan – is really good in economics. I presume that’s why Liberty Institute invited him to deliver the 2003 Julian Simon lecture (I’ve requested a copy of the lecture from him and will post it on my blog etc. if I can get hold of it).

As expected, he is also a strong votary of GMO and recently retweeted this.

I’m delighted to discover CS Prakash and look forward to finding out more about his views. If only we had scientists like him in India.

At the minimum one must thank Thomas Jefferson and colleagues who helped create a free nation to which people like CS Prakash could go to, even when they were oppressed within their own nation.

As Prakash has noted about India in a tweet: “800 years of outsiders-ruling have conditioned us many Indians to be slavish to the statist state & made us look up to the government for everything allowing politicians & bureaucrats to be paternalistic. I grew up in the 60s where we were taught ‘Government is God’ in schools!”

Strongly encourage all SBP members to follow Prakash’s work. We would like to involve him in SBP’s agricultural policy development in the coming years.

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About sleep, memory, learning new things – and Alzheimer’s disease

Sleep is extraordinarily important for our existence. Modern studies have almost solved the puzzle, and in that process a lot many things are getting explained.

This is a placeholder post. Apart from my initial video blog, I’m posting a few other links and will add more as I find interesting information.

SOME INTERESTING LINKS

Babies’ Amazing Brain Growth Revealed in New Map [“Infants’ brains grew by 64 percent in the first 90 days”]

We know that when a child is born about half its brain cells will die within the first year. This death (probably of the cells that were not “used” sufficiently in the first year) is critical as it creates the extra space within the brain for the massive number of new connections that are forming.

The Brain Literally Starts Eating Itself When It Doesn’t Get Enough Sleep

Poor sleep may cause an increase in brain protein linked to Alzheimer’s [“healthy brains clean out beta-amyloid regularly, and have hypothesized that sleep somehow scrubs the brain of beta-amyloid and other undesirable waste.”]

SLEEP CLEARS THE MIND: HOW SLEEP PREPARES THE BRAIN FOR NEW LEARNING [“sleep also makes room for the formation of new memories, acting as a sort of “spring cleaning” for the brain. The idea that sleep may help balance brain resources and space is known as the homeostatic theory of sleep. .. Sleep prunes out unnecessary connections between cells, freeing up resources and space for new learning to take place the following day. “]

OLDER PEOPLE NEED A FULL SLEEP AS WELL: “Most adults need around 7–8 hours” [Source]. Further, “contrary to common myth, the need for sleep doesn’t decline with age but the ability to sleep for six to eight hours at one time may be reduced” [Source – American Psychological Association]

Sleep Spindles and Intellectual Ability: Epiphenomenon or Directly Related?  [Basically, “sleep spindles were indeed related to cognitive performance, and the relationship was not mediated by sleep quality. Furthermore, the link was specifically between spindles and reasoning abilities. No links were found with verbal abilities or short-term memory. –source]

FROM THIS ARTICLE:

“More than 20 large scale epidemiological studies all report the same clear relationship: the shorter your sleep, the shorter your life.”

“once people know of the powerful links between sleep loss and, among other things, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and poor mental health, they will try harder to get the recommended eight hours a night ”
“In his book, Walker notes “unscientifically” that he has always found it curious that Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, both of whom were vocal about how little sleep they needed, both went on to develop the disease (Alzheimer’s)”.

“We have stigmatised sleep with the label of laziness. We want to seem busy, and one way we express that is by proclaiming how little sleep we’re getting. It’s a badge of honour.”

“‘I seem to be one of those people who need eight or nine hours’ sleep.’ It’s embarrassing to say it in public.”

“Sleep, it seemed, could be a new early diagnostic litmus test for different subtypes of dementia.”

“after just one night of only four or five hours’ sleep, your natural killer cells – the ones that attack the cancer cells that appear in your body every day – drop by 70%, or that a lack of sleep is linked to cancer of the bowel, prostate and breast” [I’ve been sleeping very little, so maybe this has been a cause of my prostate cancer]

Recommended book: Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker

I like the simple sleep machine these people have invented. It can (and in my view, it WILL) massively reduce the prospect of dementia/ Alzheimer’s.
 
I believe Matthew needs to emphasise in his talk the fact that EVERY NIGHT, when we have a good sleep, a little part of our brain connections are **destroyed** – like files on a hard disk being wiped out. This is a very good thing – and is essential to enable us to learn new things. The physical theory of the brain is excellent and explains virtually everything we know about ourselves.
 
It also explains IQ, which is nothing but dense connections of logic that are largely based on intense learning during childhood. IQ is totally cultural, but it purely reflects the density of brain connections. Everyone can build a high IQ through access to wide reading and learning + deep sleep.
 
Till my 30s I had a fantastic ability to sleep. And that meant I had an exceptionally good short term memory for academic-type things – acing all academic exams (also putting me at the top-end in terms of the culture specific concept of IQ). Since then my sleep quality has deteriorated, which explains why my memory is not as good as it was before. Each night I’ve been pushing sleep till later, then getting up earlier. That’s really harmful in the end.
My observation: High IQ people have higher sleep spindles – these are precisely things that the new sleep machine can enhance. – a very intriguing opportunity to enhance the reasoning ability of the world.
ADDENDUM – FURTHER THOUGHTS

What is jet lag but the lack of appropriate clearing out of the unnecessary synapses?

RESOURCES

National Sleep Foundation
http://www.sleepfoundation.org/

American Academy of Sleep Medicine
http://www.aasmnet.org/

Sleep Research Society
http://www.sleepresearchsociety.org/

Australasian Sleep Association
http://www.sleep.org.au/

KEYWORDS

Importance of sleep

 

 

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