“Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.” A. N. Whitehead

In the previous two newsletters, I outlined the recent lifestyle changes I’ve made to create predictable, high-quality sleep and achieve ideal wellness biomarkers through diet. A process which required firing many unreliable versions of myself.

It’s tempting to think that once you’ve figured out an optimal behavior, it’s done. However, that’s actually the easy part. The hard part is making it effortless; minimizing the amount of time you need to spend thinking about them. …

Dear Reader,

Many of you are aware that I recently fired Evening Bryan, revoking his authority to eat. That decision proved life changing. Recently, Decide-what-to-eat Bryan got canned too. Now, my body independ ently generates the grocery shopping list and Sleep Bryan decides the eating schedule. Data, not emotions, now manages both my diet and sleep protocols.

My body creates a meal plan by completing a series of tests every 90 days, allowing it to communicate exactly what it needs in numbers. This has been equally transformative to my health and happiness. …

It’s 7 pm. A freshly baked sugar cookie stares back at me. The doughy middle revealing itself in seductive allure. The sugar formed in what looks like a smile, taunting me. All day I have prepared myself for this moment by promising that I will not cave to the temptation. But my track record is poor. Likelihood of failure: >95%.

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Q: what aspect of my sleep habits most determines whether I will have sufficient willpower to resist?

A: the amount of sleep, in particular Deep sleep, that I got the previous night.

This is the most significant lesson I drew from a Kernel pilot study [1] which sought insights into how sleep affects aspects of cognition. Over the course of six weeks, eleven of my co-workers and I tracked our natural sleep with a wrist-worn Whoop device. …

Neuroscience is hard. Tell me if you see a pattern, emphasis mine:

Pfizer, in 2018: “We have made the decision to end our neuroscience discovery and early development efforts…”

AmGen, in 2019: “…we’ve made the decision to end our neuroscience research and early development programs…”

Why is this a trend across the largest pharma companies? In part, because of how hard it is to assess whether a new drug works in the brain when the endpoints are so subjective. There simply aren’t biomarkers or brain scan anomalies that we know of for many mental dysfunctions, which means that few pay…

This week at Kernel, we’ve been circulating an executive summary on the cognitive effects of Covid-19, some suspected mechanisms, and exploring what we can do about it. I am sharing because I think it’s too important not to. Some quotes from it:

  • “In one study, histopathological signs of brain damage were seen postmortem in 25% of individuals who died of Covid-19.”
  • “However, the virus does not need to infect neurons directly to have widespread, debilitating CNS impact.”
  • “Nothing like the Covid-19 global pandemic has ever been seen before in the global mental health community and the cognitive and mental impact on well-being will last years or decades.”

Vaccines are on their way, so too is the looming (“third wave”) cognitive crisis: “One long-term impact of COVID-19 that is becoming increasingly apparent is its effect on cognitive function, even in those with mild…

It was a difficult decision, but I had to do it. I fired Evening Bryan.

To be fair, Evening Bryan (5pm-10pm) faced a formidable challenge in his daily shift: deciding when, what and how much to eat. For ten years, Evening Bryan overate and gained more than fifty pounds, fueling relentless shame, guilt and malaise. Every night, he failed the marshmallow test; temporarily discounting the future in favor of the here, the now, the carbs, and the sugar.

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His behavior had devastating ripple effects on the other Bryans. The excessive nighttime food consumption made quality sleep nearly impossible for Nighttime…

Subject: Mainframes to PCs. $1B genome to $1k. The brain and mind are next.

Hello Humanity,

What a fun week it has been! After four years quietly building, we pulled back the curtains at Kernel, revealing how our brain recording hardware will replace room-sized machines.

We’ve seen this before. Mainframes became PCs. The $1B genome became $1k. The brain and mind are next.

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We also showed a fun demonstration: Kernel Sound ID, which decodes a person’s brain activity and within seconds identifies the speech or song they are hearing. Here is the science.

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A coronavirus has ravaged our planet. Humanity brought to its knees by 29,829 nucleotides of “bad news wrapped in a protein.” In 2014, Jeff Klunzinger and I designed OS Fund to build a Global Biological Immune system poised to combat pandemics, climate change, famine.

OS Fund companies have mobilized, like our body’s immune response:

Front-Line Infantry: NuMat, Arzeda, Ginkgo.

Artillery: HelixNano, Augmenta.

Navy & Air Force: Nanoly.

Here is what each is doing.

Numat makes MOFs, a miracle nanomaterial which can be woven into fabric. Designed atom-by-atom so well it can filter heavy metal ions from water and be made…

Covid-19 is like a surprise school exam, that your teacher told you would be coming. It was in the syllabus, the teacher reminded the class several times, and yet when it arrives, it’s abrupt chaos! It is tough being human.

I am eager to learn best practices from others re: Covid-19. Here is what we did at Kernel this week:

Daily Covid-19 strategy planning
Each morning, company leaders and I met to digest daily news, the most recent science and recommendations to determine the day’s specific actions. Circumstances were changing, our company goals remained the same.

Psychological reconciliation We had…

The other night my teenage boys asked me what was on my mind (likely looking for material to make fun of me. Just kidding, they’re thoughtful kids).

Instead of trying to “kid proof” my thoughts or rush the conversation, I wrote them this letter. First, to explain that I’m consumed by how we think about and where we look for answers to the biggest questions of our time (listed below), and second, to propose an alternative way of finding answers (hint: I found inspiration in an amoeba).

  1. How are we going to address climate change before it creates global chaos?

Bryan Johnson

Founder & CEO @KernelCo . Also founder @OSFund & @Braintree / @venmo

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