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DeepMind AlphaFold Achieves Extraordinary Results

Proteins are extremely complex because their function is not just a function of the amino acids that they are built from, but also their geometry. Proteins can be very large molecules and they “fold” into complex shapes. Understanding their geometry is necessary in order to understand their function, and to develop medications. The process is so intensive that a distributed system was setup called Folding@Home which allows you to donate computer time to the global effort to catalog proteins. I’ve done this for many years.

A recent breakthrough from DeepMind, a subsidiary of Alphabet, has developed a second generation AI system that is more effective at predicting the shape of proteins than any known computational method. On a scale of 0-100 the AI, AlphaFold 2, achieves a score of 87. This compares favorably with experiments which score 90 and are very time and labor intensive.

This computational work represents a stunning advance on the protein-folding problem, a 50-year-old grand challenge in biology. It has occurred decades before many people in the field would have predicted. It will be exciting to see the many ways in which it will fundamentally change biological research.

PROFESSOR VENKI RAMAKRISHNAN
NOBEL LAUREATE AND PRESIDENT OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY

We are living in the future. These advances may seem trivial over the next five years but they will revolutionize medicine over the next three decades.

SETI Scientist Bets on Alien Life

From The Debrief

SETI astronomer and astrophysicist Seth Shostak is convinced that humans will become aware of an intelligent extraterrestrial civilization by 2036. If he is wrong, he will buy you a Starbucks coffee.

I’m surprised we haven’t found one already. There is more and more evidence of life in the solar system. I expect we find microbial life in the next 10 years on other planets.

There Is Always Hope

Watch and listen. Then go get the book. This is the America I believe in. An America that stumbles down blind alleys and dead ends but never quits. An America that loves its neighbors and leads the world. I believe in an America that reinvents itself and follows the better angels of its nature.

German Regulators Take New Approach to Drive Innovation

From Gizmodo

Porn won the porn war in the UK, but now the industry is fighting on a different front in Germany, where authorities are trying to force internet service providers to block major sites that don’t implement age verification systems.

You should never pick a fight with an ugly person and you should never underestimate the lengths teens will go to to get porn. Block, censor, or fine but they will find a way.

AirBuddy - AirPods on Mac Done Right

Developer and noted software spelunker Guilherme Rambo has released version 2 of his Mac app AirBuddy. AirBuddy makes AirPods work on your Mac much like they do on your iOS devices. You can open the case and connect. There are also global shortcuts to manage your listening modes and an overview of all your devices in the menu bar. It’s great and it’s cheap at $9.99.

Guido van Rossum Joins Microsoft

Everything is possible in 2020.

Don’t Worry

Are you feeling stressed? Are you overwhelmed? Is something in your life eating on your stomach? Is it going to bother you tonight when you are taking a walk with your kids? Will it bother you on Saturday when you are drinking a beer and grilling burgers? If so, deal with it now. If not, it obviously isn’t important. Let it go.

The Lombardi Era Packers Lose Their Golden Boy

Paul Hornung, one of the great NFL players of the 1950s and 1960s passed away last week. He is the forth Packer legend from the Lombardi era to pass away this year. Preceding him were safety Willy Wood, defensive end Willie Davis, and cornerback Herb Adderley. Hornung was a great player on the greatest team of the era. His career was marred by a gambling controversy, but his numbers hold up. He was a threat as a runner, passer, receiver, returner, kicker, and even played some defense. He was a character and I like characters. He enjoyed his life and according to his New York Times obituary he expressed few regrets.

“I’m sure that during my playing days I wasn’t considered a good role model for the nation’s youth,” he wrote in his memoir. “But the way times have changed, I’d look like an altar boy if I played today. I never beat up a woman, carried a gun or a knife, shot somebody, or got arrested for disturbing the peace. I never even experimented with drugs during the season.

“All I did, really,” he went on, “was seek out fun wherever I could find it. Everything was all tied in together — the drinking, the womanizing, the partying, the traveling, the gambling. And, of course, football made it all possible.”

“During the season” is such a great Hornung line. Rest in peace and Go Pack Go!