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 Read more truisms that have been retracted here.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.

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Silurian Hypothesis – Industrial Civilization Long Before Us #science #poem #poetry #research #paleontology #civilization

Doctor Who Silurians

Silurians found by Doctor Who. Promotional material to illustrate the subject in question is fair use, or so says Wikipedia.

Deep within our history,
Four hundred million years ago,
One of the greatest dyings cleared
The Earth for them to grow.

Boney fish with moving jaws
Dodged scorpions in the shallow seas,
Hardly social it would seem,
Yet something walked the land near these.

Calcium
carbonate,
Abundant layers, weirdly thick,
In sandstones
do imply
Industry spewed pollution slicks.

Suggestion of dead ocean zones,
Through turbation
sediments,
Imply farming on
a scale vast.
That’s civilization evidence.

Not to mention oddly high
Concentrations to be found
Of antimony, lead, and chrome,
Rare earths, and gold within the ground.

Sudden population booms
Of crinoids and certain trilobites,
Indicator species these,
Increased to
impressive heights.

Shape of lipids well preserved
In geo-chemistry,
Not mono-chiral indicates
They were made
synthetically.

Until the late Devonian,
When life in deep oceans died,
Anoxia that changed the seas
Sent glaciers south to crush their lives.

No, there are no real facts
Silurians
once industrialized,
But to think of traces
they could have left
May help us search the starry skies.

by Kate Rauner

Silurian fossils

Silurian fossils, but, no, that’s not a Silurian coin. It’s just there to indicate size.

Thanks to theatlantic for their story on this study published in the International Journal of Astrobiology: could we tell if an advanced civilization existed on Earth long before humans, even before mammals?

Such conjecture may help us ponder extraterrestrials. As the authors say, While much idle speculation and late night chatter has been devoted to this question, we are unaware of previous serious treatments of the problem of detectability of prior terrestrial industrial civilizations in the geologic past.” Download the pdf for yourself.

When Banned Foods Turn Good – What in the World is Going On? How Will I Know it All? Why Do These Things Happen? Cause It’s Hard #nutrition #science #research #data #poetry #poem #humannature

Science inspired poetry by Kate Rauner

Rats are easier to study

It’s hard to study humans,
They live so very long.
Observing generations
Can’t complete before you’re gone.

They fib on every survey form,
Eat more than they say,
Exercise much less than claimed,
And forget along the way.

Confounding factors multiply
Throughout the lives they lead.
Their choices vary wildly,
Statistics can’t succeed.

They’ll never match a rat for tests,
But if you lure them
to your lab,
You’re not allowed to lock the door,
It’s enough to drive you mad.

By Kate Rauner

Brought to mind by a Forbes article suggesting an ounce or two of cheese a day, even full-fat cheese, may not be bad for you and could even be beneficial. The new study was published in the European Journal of Nutrition. Researchers used data from 15 earlier studies that followed their participants for 10 years. I’ve often seen articles contradict each other over nutritional and exercise claims. Part of that is, the popular media tends to make too much of a fuss over each new study because no one clicks on “maybe,” “suggests,” “slight change,” or “never mind” in the headline. But part of the problem is, it’s hard to study humans in the wild.

Science and Engineering at Your Fingertips #innovation #tech #science #engineering

Isn’t science all about stars and black-holes type stuff?”

Carlos Delgado; CC-BY-SA

Carlos Delgado; CC-BY-SA

There’s so much more, and we encounter it every day in so many ways. Take, for example, a ball point pen. It’s a fairly recent invention. You’ve seen the iconic pocket protector worn by Dilbert and engineers everywhere. Do you remember them? They were needed before ball point pens because fountain pens leak.

The first patent was filed in 1888, but it took years and a lot of failure before our familiar pen emerged. Different pen designs and different inks were tried. In 1941, a fleeing German and his associates (the Western Hemisphere didn’t just get nuclear physicists from Germany because of the Nazi!)

Early ball point pens had problems – the ink would hang up and the pen become unusable. This happened all the time. There was also a safety issue – people like to chew on the ends of pens and a swallowed cap could choke someone. Such an accident might be rare, but consumers don’t expect their pens to kill anyone.

A brilliant engineering solution came across the creative mind of scientists, and a newly innovated cap was introduced into the market which enables the nib to breathe in air, helps in regulation of air pressure [inside the pen] to match the air pressure outside, and to avoid death in people who accidentally swallow the cap. Yes, the innovation in design was just a hole being placed on top of the caps.”

Competition was fierce but it wasn’t until well into the 1950s that pens “boasting additional features and technological advances which also included the use of tungsten-carbide textured ball-bearings in their pens” [wikipedia] began to sell in the millions each year – and familiar names such as Parker and Bic emerged. Today ball point pens are so cheap we tend to walk off with them without thinking, and loads of businesses hand them out for free as advertising.

How cool.

Thanks zainsofficial.blogspot.com for pointing out this miracle of modern science, and for the quotes above.

4 Books on Mars white background (500x500)Our world is full of amazements we take for granted. Consider the fantastic logistics behind the pencil. I found inspiration there for my science fiction novel Glory on Mars. What fantastic technologies will the first colonists haul to Mars? And what common conveniences will they leave behind?

All my books, including the On Mars series, are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and other major online retailers, including Smashwords and Create Space for paperbacks. On Mars books 1 and 2 are available now, with books 3 and 4 due out this fall. Read one today.

 

Fifty Million Years Play Out on Earth #geology #science #earthquake #poem #poetry #nature

Tectonic plate movement today

Tectonic plate movement today

Earth’s history runs deep,
‘Neath hundreds of miles where
Seismic waves flow through the rock
Like light waves through the air.

Ancient surface plates
That sunk beneath the crust
Last saw the sun when dinosaurs
Lay dead in ash and dust.

Subducted shallow seas
Converged and disappeared,
That’s what captured earthquake waves
Now show
From fifty million years
Ago.

By Kate Rauner

Thanks to livescience.com and National Taiwan University geologists for their study of the deep Earth’s East Asian Sea Plate at the Philippine Sea.

R&R 3 coversAll my books, including collections of my science-inspired poetry, are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and other major online retailers. You’ll also find paperbacks at Create Space and all major digital formats at Smashwords. Read one today.

Universe’s Missing Piece #physics #science #poetry #boson #poem

Simulated Data model from the Large Hadron Collider

Simulated Data model from the Large Hadron Collider

In all of creation,
In all the gains and losses,
There only are four
Universal
forces.

That’s the Standard Model
Which for years has served so well
Predicting interactions
On the cosmic
carousel.

Yet something has been missing,
Something that evades,
Dark matter and dark energy
Beyond the model
strayed.

Oddly interacting
Are dark light’s weak protons
That could be an anomaly
Or protophobic
bosons.

The ideas are exciting,
But confirmation’s key
Before our minds can grasp
What makes up
reality.

by Kate Rauner

Thanks to csmonitor.com/Science and a new study published in Physical Review Letters that might indicate a fifth fundamental force exists.

R&R 3 coversAll my books, including collections of my poetry, are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and other major online retailers. Read one today.

America’s Coyote #nature #science #biology #environment

Coyote pups

Coyote pups

Coyote is our canid,
A true American,
For a million years
Remaining at his origin.

Coyote’s always waiting,
Coyote’s always hungry,
And so we have waged war on him
All across the country.

Kill half a million every year
On foot, in trucks, from planes,
But Coyote found a refuge
Where humans aren’t their bane.

He spread from coast to coast,
From plains to cities, towns,
To parks, and urban sprawl,
To built himself a home.

He thrives on rats and mice
That follow mankind’s rise,
Absorbing genes from wolf and dog,
That’s how Coyote thrives.

America’s own avatar,
Our native totem beast,
Howling out your anthem,
May your singing never cease.

By Kate Rauner

I’ve been intrigued by stories of coyotes’ success surviving rural attempts at extermination and now moving into cities – the stories keep coming. Thanks to nationalgeographic.com coyotes and urban animals.