Scandal Rocks Diet Research – Tips You Rely on Exposed #health #diet #nutrition #weightloss

bell shaped curveEuropean science was once so quaint. A wealthy family’s second son ensconced in a small parsonage in the country was free to classify local butterflies. Or perhaps the lord himself financed his own laboratory to study whatever he wanted. Sometimes a poorer soul might rise from employment under a Great Man (yes, mostly men!) or receive a scholarship, as Isaac Newton did at Cambridge in 1664.

Innocent days are gone. A craving for glory always created some scientific fraud, but the motivation seems to be growing. Big science is big business, requires big money, and can yield big rewards if a lab produces big results. This can be insidious, because if you receive fame and fortune for what you do, it’s easy to believe that what you do must be right. Especially in a field like nutrition, where there’s so much public interest, and lots of money to be made, sometimes, mistakes happen. Sometimes studies go “down in flames in a beefy statistics scandal.”

An internal investigation by a faculty committee found that ‘Professor Wansink committed academic misconduct in his research and scholarship, including misreporting of research data, problematic statistical techniques, failure to properly document and preserve research results, and inappropriate authorship.’

That’s a politely phrased condemnation, and may derail the careers of grad students who did the dirty work for him.

You may not recognise Wansink’s name, but if you buy 100 calorie snack packages, you’ve been fooled by his research. Ditto for using small plates to trick your brain into thinking you ate more, or hiding potato chips on the top shelf to help you lose weight. Read more truisms that have been retracted here. Maybe your favorite tip is among them.

Retraction Watch logo

Here’s a good place to keep an eye on scientific findings

Fortunately for science, you, and me, reality is a powerful force, and there are always researchers willing to challenge a famous author. As a consumer of science, avoid becoming anyone’s acolyte, don’t get too emotionally invested in someone else’s position, and keep reading, even if only in the popular press. Good consumers, like good scientists, are honestly open minded.

It often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. Carl Sagan

Let’s all make Carl proud.


From Bombs to Bambi – newest National Wildlife Refuge #wildlife #Colorado #nuclear

NWR sign at Rocky Flats West GateYears of work culminated this week in the opening of a new Wildlife Refuge in Colorado. This one is unusual because the site used to be a nuclear weapons plant. I know. I was a Cold War Warrior there (honestly, that’s what the USA Congress called us) and later an environmental engineer turning the plant over to wildlife.

worker at Rocky Flats

Yup, that’s me during the Cold War – don’t worry, picture was released for a public report (though never used)

One odd side-effect of the weapons complex has been protection of plants and animals. Rocky Flats is home to an endangered mouse, and the State of Colorado wanted to place state-endangered birds on the property. Grazing and development around the plant left Rocky Flats as the best habitat in the area.

There was always wildlife in the buffer zone around the plant’s industrial core. I remember once a white fawn was born and the guard force tracked it daily from their towers and vehicles and reported to interested employees.

Once, a railroad car overturned and the recovery efforts were brought to a standstill by an angry rattlesnake coiled under the car.

I no longer live close enough to enjoy the new trails, which is a shame. A dear friend and colleague of mine will also miss out – he died earlier this year. He would have loved it.

The Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge sits on more than 5,000 acres of trees, wetlands and pristine rolling prairie about 16 miles northwest of Denver. It hosts 239 migratory and resident species, from falcons and elk to the threatened Preble’s meadow jumping mouse.

The actual site of the former buildings will remain fenced off forever. It’s the land that used to serve as a buffer around Rocky Flats that’s reopening this weekend.  NPR


Shabby Martian Colony Suddenly in Struggle to Survive – Meet the Author #scifi #sciencefiction #Mars #author #read

Author Cheryl Lawson with her book We Are MarsToday I welcome a fellow Martian – well, another author of scifi on Mars – Cheryl Lawson. Cheryl grew up in South Africa and lives in Canada. She’s an artist and photographer too, but today I want her to talk about Mars.

So Cheryl, tell us a bit about your book We Are Mars – What’s the main premise of the book and who are the stand-out characters?

We Are Mars starts out as a story about a Mars settlement, Rubicon, that is getting a little old, shabby and down on its luck due to the repeated funding cuts of the mission from Earth that runs it. Things get a lot more difficult and dangerous when a virus breaks out in the confines of the colony. A group of characters from conflicting backgrounds suddenly find themselves in a life-or-death situation and need to work together to overcome some threatening challenges or die trying.

There are no particular standout characters as I focus on a core group of characters that each feature in individual vignettes, moving the story forward from their own points of view.

Why would fans of Mars science fiction like We Are Mars? What can they look forward to?

Planet Mars white backgroundIf you like science fiction based on Mars, you’ll love We Are Mars. It has all the elements of a sci-fi story on Mars – cool science, a grungy and dilapidated habitat, danger, adventure, romance and suspense. There are subplots that bring in a little spiciness in the form of political intrigue as well as spy drama. The characters are an awesome ensemble of very human people just trying to survive. There’s nothing over-the-top unbelievable and it makes for an absorbing read.

Are you currently working on a writing project? If so, when can we expect it to launch?

I’m working on the follow-up to We Are Mars, book two of the Rubicon Saga. It is entitled Storm at Dawn. I expect to be able to release it next year, but I can’t offer more than that as it’s very much going to depend on how well the story continues to come together and how much editing is involved. Stay tuned!

Tell us a bit about yourself: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What prompted your change in career? Where do you get your inspiration to write?

Creative Manifesto book coverI knew I wanted to be a writer when I got the idea to create a manifesto for myself that laid out my creative thoughts and process. I spent months articulating the ideas before I finally wrote them down. When I’d finished writing I knew I had a book, not just some notes. I took another swing at it and formalized the entire thing into a useful work that explained much of my process and thinking in a way that other people could understand it and benefit from reading it. After that, the ideas for creative writing came easily and I, basically, followed the same process and landed up with the bones of We Are Mars.

It was only after that that I recognized the part of me that had always been writing – the student writer for school magazines, the letter writer, the magazine writer submitting articles, the volunteer editor… It was all there, and I hadn’t even realized until We Are Mars was in front of me.

I am inspired by good stories, interesting people and the desire to tell a compelling story. My writing influences vary from Stieg Larsson (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) to Michael Chriton (Prey, Jurassic Park). I enjoy rich settings, complex characters and solid endings. My love of science fiction and space helped me choose the genre as I feel it is comfortable and familiar.

What’s your current favorite reading material?

I have lots of favorites – I like articles, comic books, novels, poetry, short stories, flash fiction and even people’s twitter posts for various daily writing challenges. I read a lot and always have a stack of books I’m moving out of the way!

Thanks to Cheryl and to our readers. You’ll find Cheryl on several places on the internet:



Facebook for Authentic Creativity:



PW Booklife:

Websites: We Are Mars:

And look for her Authentic Creativity (creative manifesto):

Science Fiction Story with Real Science and Wonderful Young Woman Hero #scifi #sciencefiction #physics #reading

Two races of humans, several alien species, multiple starships and planets – this story ranges across a galaxy in Marcha Fox’s Beyond Hidden Skies.

The Brightstar family is moving from a safe but restrictive planet to a dangerous outpost world. Creena is a young teenager, a hybrid of the two human races, angry at her brother, in constant trouble for breaking rules, and also my favorite character.

As her family travels via starship to their new world, she seems to be accidentally trapped in an escape pod that launches to the wrong planet. But it may not have been an accident – a powerful man is trying to manipulate her father.

Creena’s reactions are realistic without being annoying (well, only appropriately annoying for a young teen) and her problem-solving feels plausible. Her longing to be back with her family is something I can relate to.

Fox infuses her story with the physics of space-time. The ships are traveling near the speed of light, using Time Dilation Modules. Three main subplots spin out in the book, involving Creena and various members of her family and some interesting comrades they find along the way.

As the characters navigate relations with alien species and space-time, they ponder the role of logic versus feelings, and debate taking action themselves versus trusting the Universeto provide. Growing up for Creena and her brothers requires confronting and overcoming “a serious challenge, [to] learn the meaning of courage.”

This is the first volume in a series, so all those ships, worlds, and species continue over the course of three more books, all available now. Cool.

What others are saying
“I really got involved in the story. I found it quite imaginative and entertaining. I felt that the author did a wonderful job of portraying a young teenage girl, full of fire and yet torn in so many directions.” Jay B. Cutts

I’m a sci-fi space fan and this story ticked all my boxes.” Wendy Scott

“The authors background with NASA plays a big role in the development of these books. I read the entire series.” Dawn Ireland

Personally, I like real science in my science fiction, but one reviewer said “too much techno-babble.” sterling r walker

Most Basic to Life #biology #science #poem #poetry #whatislife


Are you alive?
How do you know?
What do you look at
To see if it’s so?

Is it because
You oxidize food?
Consume and create

Or the homeostasis
That you maintain?
Do you need cells
To be in the game?

What if the planets
Hold a surprise?
Organized data
May say you’re alive.

Kate Rauner

Thanks to for raising the question, even if there’s no consensus answer. For you and me, “I think therefore I am” may work as well as any other answer.

Peace Force, a Harriet Walsh novel #scifi #sciencefiction #ebook #amazon #giveaway #read #review #bookreview

Peace Force book coverScience fiction with humor, that’s Peace Force. On a planet colonized long ago by humans, Harriet is unemployed and newly homeless. She’s recruited by a crazy robot (funniest robot since Hitchhiker’s Guide’s Marvin) to become the sole member of the police force on a planet that’s so peaceful, it doesn’t need a police force.

Or so it seems.

As new-hire training turns real, Harriet picks up an orphan pickpocket partner, an artificial intelligence car that can’t wait to get out of the garage, and a retired police officer who isn’t ready to leave it all behind.

The story is good entertainment and there are two more books in the series. Comments on Amazon call it a fun romp. Though there is a darker twist at the end I wasn’t expecting, I think the description is spot-on: “It’s good clean fun, written with wry humor.” And the day I’m posting this, it’s free on Amazon.

Blogging note: this is new. When I pasted my post into WordPress, it grabbed the Amazon link and inserted a really-big picture of the book cover with a “buy it now” and “free preview” button. Hmm. Is this convenient or annoying? I wonder who’s paying whom for the link? I took the big buttoned image out this time… but it is slick. Do you like slick?

Here’s a Fun Monthly Roundup of Scifi Books and More #scifi #sciencefiction #review #bookreview #reading

Monthly Scifi RoundupI’ve found a neat site you should definitely check out, Alasdair Shaw’s monthly roundup.

Here you’ll find science fiction books you’ll want to read, interviews with authors, and also walking guides to ancient sites, outdoor activites, and more. Click on over and wander around – have fun.

Liberty Book CoverCheck out Alasdair’s own scifi too.

Struggling with newfound sentience and desperately trying to repair itself, The Indescribable Joy of Destruction is a ship trying to find a new home. In a galaxy torn apart by generations of civil war, that isn’t an easy task. Tired of being used as a killing machine, it has a huge decision to make: hide and save itself, or help other artificial intelligences achieve freedom. Unable to make the decision alone, it revives the sole human aboard – the enemy officer who crippled it.