- AI is bringing dead languages back to life…
- We just discovered a new organ lurking in our heads…
- This is a lesson in what not to do when investing…
Blood… lots of blood.
I wasn’t even sure if I would have enough left to make it through the day.
That’s how my day at Health Nucleus in La Jolla, CA, started. After a fast from the evening before, the first thing that the team needs to do is capture your blood. It is a great way to get a snapshot of what our system looks like on any given day.
But this isn’t the kind of blood test that our family doctor orders to check in on our cholesterol. It’s a completely different approach.
Rather than looking for a specific marker that might explain a symptom or checking if we have influenza A or B (or COVID-19, for that matter), the team at Health Nucleus looks for anything that may reveal something is wrong or even a bit off kilter.
More than 40 different blood biomarkers are tested for things like kidney and liver function, insulin sensitivity, glucose levels, a detailed cholesterol panel, biomarkers for inflammation, hormones, vitamins, nutrients, heavy metals, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) values, lipids, and more.
The analysis even looks at more than 900 metabolites, which is what is left over after the body has metabolized food – that’s why we fast before the blood is drawn.
When the results came back, I had nine detailed pages of analysis. And yes, I needed some help to interpret all of the data.
What came next was one of the highlights of my visit, something that I had genuinely been excited about… a full-body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.
This isn’t something that we would typically ever do. After all, if we are having terrible shoulder pain and can’t lift our arm above our head, the orthopedist orders a shoulder-specific MRI. The doctor will just focus on where the symptom is presenting.
At Health Nucleus, the goal is to take a very detailed whole-body view to see if anything is of concern. And when I say detailed, I mean it.
The typical MRI that most of us experience uses a 1.5 Tesla (1.5 T) machine. A Tesla is the unit of measurement for the strength of the magnetic field of the MRI scanner.
But the full-body MRI scan at Health Nucleus uses a 3 Tesla scanner.
As we can easily discern, the 3 T scanner is twice the strength of the 1.5 T scanner. As a result, it produces incredibly clear images of our bodies.
Worth mentioning is that the MRI scanners are completely safe. In that regard, the 3 T machine is no different than the 1.5 T machine. But the real value comes from the ridiculous level of detail in the images after the MRI scan has been performed.
The full-body scan typically takes about 90 minutes – and sometimes more for those who need a break between scans. I definitely benefited from stretching my legs a couple of times during the process.
The pads that were placed on my body in the picture above are coils that assist the scanner in generating even higher-quality images.
The imaging starts with an extremely detailed scan of the brain. The resolution enabled the MRI to map out the brain’s blood vessels. The scan is capable of finding an aneurysm as small as 3 millimeters in diameter.
My wife was convinced that they would find something wrong up there… but I proved her wrong and received a glowing readout on my brain scan. Ha!
After the brain, the process is repeated for the cardiovascular system. I’m not kidding when I say that the machine takes the equivalent of a high-definition video of the four chambers of the heart.
After the scan has been completed, we can literally see our heart functioning. And, of course, the physicians can determine with remarkable accuracy how well our cardiovascular system is functioning.
Ultimately, the MRI produces a full-body analysis of our body composition. It can “see” how much muscle and fat we are carrying.
We can understand with specificity how much subcutaneous fat (the fat visible under our skin) we have. And even more valuable is how much visceral fat we are “hiding” inside.
The visceral fat is the fat that surrounds our vital organs. We may not be able to see it, but it is the more dangerous of the two. Too much visceral fat is associated with cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and inflammation, all of which dramatically weaken our immune systems and even make us susceptible to an airborne virus like COVID-19.
Tomorrow, I’ll talk some more about another kind of imaging (a CT scan) as well as some incredible research that came out of Health Nucleus, which I’m certain will surprise us all…
And before we get to today’s topics, I’d like to mention that my visit to this facility has made clear the investment opportunity in the precision medicine space. Investment trends like genetic sequencing and genetic editing are on the rise.
For investors who haven’t taken a position, now is the time. And readers can go right here to learn about my No. 1 large cap precision medicine company to own today.
Now let’s turn to today’s insights…
Artificial intelligence could unlock the secrets of history…
We’ll start today with an exciting development in the world of artificial intelligence (AI).
A team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) used a form of AI called machine learning to create a system that can decipher lost languages.
This is going to be fun.
Much of ancient human history is still a mystery to historians simply because we have no knowledge of certain ancient languages and symbols. We’re talking about lost languages that are so old that linguists have no basis or context to work from when attempting to decipher them.
There are dozens of “dead” languages that linguists have studied for decades with little progress.
Well, this team at MIT just demonstrated how an AI can crack the code. The AI can decode ancient languages into something we can make sense out of by using just a few thousand symbols.
The key to the AI’s success is its ability to reference hundreds of known languages at the same time. That gives it a basis for assessing similarities in grammatical structure and context.
This is a great development that could unlock historical secrets that have been hidden for centuries.
And it has more practical applications as well.
Adding these ancient languages to the database of known languages that an AI can tap into will make existing language translation engines even more effective. With more historical context, these engines will be able to translate from one language to the next even more seamlessly.
And imagine being able to translate our native language into ancient Ugaritic on demand. That’s sure to be a hit at cocktail parties.
And, if you’ll allow me to have fun with some unconstrained thinking, perhaps there is also a science fiction-like angle here…
What if we discover extraterrestrial life, artifacts, or even capture the signals of a long-lost extraterrestrial civilization? We wouldn’t even have to leave Earth for that.
We would have to figure out how to decode a language that we’ve never seen before. It is highly likely we could use the technology that the team at MIT’s CSAIL has developed to take on a challenge like that.
That would certainly change our understanding of history and our place in the universe. It would likely also dramatically change our ambitions for space exploration.
This new medical discovery went unnoticed for three centuries…
I got a kick out of this next one…
A team of researchers in the Netherlands just discovered what appear to be secretive “new” organs in the human body. If confirmed, this would be the first identification of new organs in the human body in 300 years. Of course, they have always been there… we just hadn’t found them yet.
How does that happen? With all of our modern medical techniques and imaging capabilities, it’s amazing that these organs have gone undetected for so long.
What the team of researchers discovered was a pair of large salivary glands hiding in a small place where the nasal cavity meets the throat.
Newly Discovered Glands
Source: Valstar et al., Radiotherapy and Oncology, 2020
If confirmed, this explains some side effects we’ve seen in cancer treatment…
Salivary glands serve an important function. They produce spit, which helps us eat. They also protect our teeth and keep germs out of our system. This is one of our immune system’s lines of defense.
For patients who undergo radiation treatments for head and neck cancer, one of the primary side effects is dry mouth and sore throat. The medical community has passed this off as something that just happens, but now we know there may be more to the story.
It could be that radiation treatments harm these secret salivary glands, rendering them ineffective. That could help explain the dry mouth and reduced immune system function.
So this is an interesting development that could help improve medical care going forward. It could potentially change how treatment is provided in the area so that the functions of these “new” salivary glands can be protected.
And I have to wonder, if we just found these, is there more about the human body that we haven’t discovered yet?
As predicted, Quibi just collapsed…
We first talked about Quibi back in May.
This was the streaming application created by film producer and former Walt Disney chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg and the former CEO of eBay and Hewlett-Packard Meg Whitman. It was built around the idea of “short-form” content.
When I first saw the plans for Quibi, I knew Katzenberg and Whitman had misread the market.
Their bright idea was to generate movie-quality, short-form video programs that consumers would pay for while sitting in an Uber or standing in a grocery line. And they thought they could simply throw a bunch of money at the idea and be successful.
It seemed that the world knew what these two executives didn’t.
The world is full of short-form content that consumers eat up all day long. Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and, more recently, TikTok serve up this kind of content in volumes that simply can’t be matched.
It is almost all user-generated content that grows exponentially by the day. And it is all free to view and doesn’t cost the social media platforms anything to produce.
We talked about Quibi again last month when word got out that Katzenberg and Whitman were trying to dump the company. They were hoping some dumb money would take it off their hands. There were no buyers.
This is a great case study on the kind of wealth destruction that can be caused by hubris. But there’s no need to shed any tears.
Quibi’s largest investor was Madrone Capital Partners, a firm that focuses on investing in alternative energy. It put $200 million into Quibi. Seriously? An alternative energy-focused private equity firm investing in a media company?
Ironically, Madrone was one of the backers of the infamous Solyndra, the solar panel company that went bankrupt and was investigated for extravagant spending and accounting fraud by the FBI… all at U.S. taxpayers’ expense.
After that, there was Katzenberg’s own venture capital firm at $100 million and China’s internet giant Alibaba at $100 million. Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, and Google also invested $50 million each.
All of these investors went in with their eyes open, fully understanding what Quibi’s product strategy was. But because of their big names, Katzenberg and Whitman were able to raise massive amounts of capital – $1.75 billion – for the venture.
The tech world tends to work the opposite of how Quibi approached things. We innovate and iterate quickly at low cost. We create a first-generation product and then test it in the market.
That shows us what works and what doesn’t. Incremental amounts of money are raised to continue this process until a company knows that it has a great “product market fit.”
Depending on how good that fit is and how quickly the company is growing, then and only then does the tech world go out and raise as much money as possible to fuel the growth.
In contrast, Katzenberg and Whitman spent nearly $1.4 billion before ever launching Quibi. They blew almost their entire capital pool before even testing their idea in the marketplace. That included spending $63 million on TV ads in just six months.
They based this massive advertising budget on their initial forecast. Their expectation was to hit 20 million subscribers and $2 billion in revenue within the first five years.
Quibi did $3.3 million in subscription revenue before the company collapsed.
Talk about being off the mark. Can you think of any other executives who missed their forecast by more than 99%?
In the end, Quibi will return about $350 million to investors. Talk about a haircut. But the reality is that the investors are lucky that they are getting anything back at all.
For us investors, this is a lesson learned. We should always be on the lookout for projects like this with big, corporate executives – not entrepreneurs – and a lot of “dumb” money behind them. This is always a major red flag for me when I am evaluating investments.
And like I said, we’re not going to shed any tears. Hopefully, we’ll get a little chuckle out of the outcome. Maybe they’ll make a verb out it… “They really Quibi’d that one up!”
Or a noun… “Don’t pull a Quibi!”
Editor, The Bleeding Edge
P.S. There’s still time to catch the footage from my tour across the American heartland.
For those who missed it, I recently traveled thousands of miles across the Midwest following what I believe is the most explosive growth story in technology right now.
As subscribers to my premium research services know, this kind of “boots on the ground” research is where my best investment ideas come from.
But usually my travels take me to places like Silicon Valley, San Francisco, L.A., Boston, D.C., and Manhattan. Historically, these major hubs are where the action is.
Not this time.
On my recent trip, I made stops in places like Columbus, OH; Des Moines, IA; Little Rock, AR; Sioux Falls, SD; and numerous others. And we can see the same exponential growth story unfolding in each of these cities. It’s incredible to experience firsthand.
I presented the findings from my American heartland tour last week in an event we called “Beyond Exponential.”
In addition to showing video from my travels, I also showed viewers how I would go about building a million-dollar tech portfolio if I lost everything and had to start from scratch. We even demonstrated several live trades on camera.
For anyone interested but unable to attend my presentation last night, the replay will be available to readers of The Bleeding Edge for a few more days at no cost. You can find it right here.
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