RSS Feed Crazy biology facts Mon, 15 Nov 2021 00:00:00
  • The average protein in our body is around 300 amino acids long. All proteins are built of 20 different amino acids. If you were to build each possible 300 amino acid protein you would need more atoms than exist in the universe. Furthermore, even if you were to do so, only one in a billion of these proteins would actually fold into a stable 3d-conformation. And still, all 80.000 different proteins in our body do fold perfectly stable.

  • A protein domain is a sequence of amino acids that is part of a protein folds independently of the remaining protein to a stable structure. You can think of it as a 'building block' for a protein. We, humans, have inherited 93% of all our protein building blocks from non-vertebrates (e.g. worms, starfish, crabs) with only 7% being specific to vertebrates. However, we have twice as many unique protein domain combinations that these non-vertebrates which in part explains our progressed complexity.

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    Things I want to add to this site Mon, 20 Sep 2021 00:00:00 Salone:

    • Getting a duty waiver in Sierra Leone
    • FGM
    • Chinese influence in Sierra Leone
    • Tribalism, politics and corruption


    • What is synthetic biology?
    Reading list and resources Thu, 16 Sep 2021 00:00:00 This is a living document of useful books, newsletters and other resources that other more experienced people have shared with me or that I have found myself. Biostatistics and biotech to me initially felt very different from other domains and industries. Information is structured and stored in papers. There are review papers but there aren't as many high-level summary units that offer fast introductions to subdomains and topics in the field. I hope that this list will shorten the search for others who are in a similar position as I am/was.

    Websites/News outlets

    • Stat
    • What is biotechnology: Website that explains core concepts and shares interesting biotech stories
    • More detailed website that explains core concepts of biology and bioinformatics. They also have their own courses under "Start here" > "All playlists"



    • The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee: History of genetics starting with Mendel in the 19th century and leading up to the Human Genome Project and first methods for genetic therapy. I have read the book and strongly recommend it.
    • The Emperor of all Maladies: Similar as The Gene but for cancer. Mukherjee is well-known for this book originally than he is for the gene.
    • Deep Medicine by Eric Topol. Topol is a doctor and in his book takes a broad look of how machine learning is applied in different areas of medicine. It does not go into much technical detail and is more suited for you if you want to get a high-level overview of what's out there.
    • I contain multitudes by Ed Yong (Micro bacteria)
    • Regenesis by Ed Regis and George Church (Synthetic biology)
    • Hacking Darwin by Jamie Metzl (Genetic Engineering)



    The Powership Wed, 04 Aug 2021 00:00:00 Parked in Kroo Bay, there is a ship called MV Karadeniz Doğan Bey. It was built in 1983 in Japan as a dry cargo ship but was repurposed to what is basically a floating electricity generator. It supplies 80% of the electricity of Sierra Leone and runs exclusively on natural gas and heavy fuel oil. A government contract set in place in 2018 and extended in 2020 regulates the supplied capacity of on average 46 megawatts. To compare, Berlin requires a capacity of between 1000 and 2200 megawatt depending on the time of day.

    powership img 1

    View from the Commonwealth War Cemetery in Kingtom

    powership img 2

    Perspective from the central business district

    Generating 80% of the countries electricity by burning fossil fuels on a boat is largely inefficient. But Sierra Leone lacks the money to build its own power plant and thus a pay-as-you-go approach is an easy solution. A public-private partnership for a terrestrial powerplant would be a risky deal for any foreign company, exposing themselves to any mercurial nature of local politicians. A ship can be built with western infrastructure abroad move to Sierra Leone. When the contract expires or bills aren't paid it can set sail to electrify cities elsewhere. This lends more bargaining power to the foreign company and avoids tying assets to a country with dodgy property rights.

    The power supply still is not stable. Sierra Leone is the only capital of the world without a reliable power supply. All embassies, businesses and serious hotels run on their own generator. When visiting the British military base we always heard the roaring generator of the US embassy. On days where we left our hotel early, we were reminded of how many jerrycans of fuel a hotel consumes in a day.

    hotel generator img

    Employees of the hotel refueling one of the two generators. Power supply would always switch from one generator to another at midnight.

    Sierra Leone isn't the only country powered by a floating generator. Karadeniz, the company operating the ship, is a Turkish holding which has built and operates 25 ships in 11 regions. To name the supplied fraction of the total capacity for some countries: 10% of Cuba, 60% of Gambia, 26% of Ghana, 100% of Guinea Bissau, 25% of Lebanon, 10% of Mozambique, 15% of Senegal, 15% of Iraq as well as entire islands in Indonesia. The total capacity installed is 4,100 Megawatts - two to four times over the capacity required to power Berlin - and a further 4,500 megawatts capacity are in production.

    powership img 5

    The world's largest powership anchored in Tema, Ghana

    The environmental impact is terrible. Ethically it seems like a horrible company. But without the ship even less than the current 20.3% of the population would have access to still unreliable voltage. That would mean no electricity for schools, medical facilities, and private households in a country where a majority of the population is already not as well off. It's easy to scoff at for us as European green-energy proponents, but the MV Karadeniz Doğan Bey is most likely doing more good than evil.

    ballade 1 Mon, 05 Jul 2021 00:00:00 test

    Resources I like Sun, 22 Nov 2020 00:00:00 Courses
    • Introduction to Human Behavioural Biology by Richard Sapolsky: Lecture recordings
    • CS224n: Natural Language Processing with Deep Learning by Chris Manning and Richard Socher (Winter 2017): Lecture recordings; Course website. I completed the 2017 edition but there are newer versions so consider googling for the most current version.
    • Convolutional Neural Networks for Visual Recognition by Fei Fei Li(Spring 2017) by : Lecture recordings;Course website. I completed the 2017 edition but there are newer versions so consider googling for the most current version.
    • Power and Politics in Today’s World by Ian Shapiro: Lecture recordings

    General resources

    For news

    • The Economist for general politics and in-depth reports
    • MIT Tech Review for tech related topics



    Personal Reading List Sun, 22 Nov 2020 00:00:00 Books, articles, papers and more that I plan on reading sometime in the future



    Books I like Sun, 22 Nov 2020 00:00:00 This is a work in progress page. I'm starting to collect some names here which I will enrich with more information when I have the time.

    Rating: On a scale from one to five, where five is the best. The rating is a proxy for how happy I was to have read that book at that time.

    Name Author Comment Personal Rating
    Flow Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Great book, definitely one of the most motivating I have ever read 5
    Men Explain Things to Me: And Other Essays Rebecca Solnit Book on Feminism with short anecdotes, makes you really angry at some type of men. I would recommend this book to all men 5
    Decisive Moments in History Stefan Zweig Collection of short stories of famous historical events and the view of the protagonist 5
    The Gene: An intimate history Siddhartha Mukherjee Started with a course on analysis of gene data at ETH, wanted to understand the bigger picture and story behind the field. Very motivating for course work and helps putting things into a bigger context 4.5
    The lean startup Eric Ries - 4.5
    Ultralearning Scott Young Not too long and has good suggestions for implementation 4.5
    Range David Epstein Many nice examples, core message is short, but its a good reminder and has very inspiring anecdotes. Is a bit one-sided though and I would like to read a book like "Outliers" in the future to see the arguments of proponents of the exact opposite view 4.5
    Fooled by Randomness Nassim Nicholas Taleb Hidden chance in life and markets. Enjoyed his style of writing a lot 4.5
    The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World Adam Gazzaley - 4.5
    The Power of Habit Charles Duhigg - 4.5
    Mindset Dr. Carol Dweck The message will be familiar to most of us, but the book is great to 'feel' it and internalise it into your thinking 4.5
    Deep Medicine Eric Topol The book feels like a tour of all application areas. Very interesting, but I wished he would go into more depth technically. 4
    Thinking Fast and Slow Daniel Kahneman - 4
    Quantum Computing for everyone Chris Bernhardt Very useful to get started with quantum computing, quite a lot of math, but alright if you're alright with tensormath 4
    How to Read a Book Mortimer J. Adler - 4
    Willpower Roy F. Baumeister - 4
    Atomic Habits James Clear - 4
    12 Rules for Life Jordan B. Peterson - 4
    The Marshmallow Test Walter Mischel - 4
    Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ Daniel Goleman - 4
    We should all be feminists Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 4
    Show your work Austin Kleon 2020 I thought a lot about how I could link learning with knowledge sharing, this book among other things motivated me to create this website 4
    Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need To Know About Global Politics Tim Marshall - 4
    Deep Work Cal Newport - 3.5
    The Fourth Industrial Revolution Prof Klaus Schwab - 3
    What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets Michael J Sandel Very anecdotal; didn't feel like there were many important messages 2
    Blockchain Revolution Prof Klaus Schwab - 2

    Books that I am currently reading

    Name Author Comment
    I contain multitudes Ed Yong About microorganisms
    Classical Mechanics - The theoretical minimum Leonard Susskind & George Hrabovsky Basic physics, not a textbook
    Future Food Jan Grossarth This started with the question I had after travelling to Sierra Leone of whether smth. like an avocado farm in an underdeveloped country could (a) be a great way to create income for poor communities while (b) also be a sound business.
    High Output Management Andrew Grove From former Intel CEO, apparently very popular in the nineties
    The story of art Ernst Gombrich Overview of art throughout art, explains how different styles and techniques were invented and developed
    The Book of Why Judea Pearl & Dana Mackenzie Causal statistics
    Steal like an artist Austin Kleon -
    Anything you want Derek Sivers -

    Other things I think are cool:

    About Sun, 22 Nov 2020 00:00:00 I use this website to share ideas and resources with friends and anybody who is interested. More to come at some point.

    You can contact me via