Category Archives: General Science

Back In CA

I flew from PBI to LAX last night, partly because I needed a break and wanted to be home, but mostly because corporate taxes are due on Monday. And I’m going to Orlando Sunday for the AIAA meeting, then back down to south Florida, hopefully to finish things up at the house, and finally (a year after we started, and were interrupted by Hurricane Irma) get it on the market and sold.

In For A Penny, In For A Pound

It’s about 0230 EDT, and I’m still up, planning home renovations for tomorrow. But I’m in south Florida, about fifteen minutes from the swamp to the west, and the sky is clear for both the Perseids and the Parker Solar Probe Delta IV launch in an hour, 150 miles north-northwest of me. So I might as well stay up a little longer. Hoping I’ll see the Milky Way for the first time in a long time.

[Sunday-morning update]

Well, saw half a dozen meteors, one of them right next to the ascending rocket. No Milky Way, though.

[Update Sunday night]

Given my recent failed attempts to see it, I’m wondering (slightly depressed) if it’s an age-related vision decline. It was very distinct in my youth, but it seems like there are a lot fewer stars than there used to be.

Lions In The City

A new mountain lion has been spotted in the Verdugos. It’s interesting that LA is so big and geographically diverse that it can have not just parks within it, but a wilderness. Unfortunately, urban encroachment is going to make it harder and harder for these animals to make it there. They’re building a tunnel under the 101 to allow them to move back and forth between the Santa Monicas and the mountains above Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks, but I’m not sure if it will be sufficient, and it looks like they need one under the 210 to allow safe passage between the San Gabriels and the Verdugos.

Low-Fat Diets

LCHF seems to be getting more attention:

The mistaken belief that fats cause heart disease stems from weak, outdated research. Back in 1961, the American Heart Association published its first report recommending that people limit consumption of animal fats and dietary cholesterol. The report cited several studies that showed a correlation between high-fat diets and heart problems.

But that hypothesis had never been put to the test in a clinical trial. A controlled trial is the only way to prove a cause-effect relationship, rather than a mere correlation that could occur due to random chance or some other unknown variable.

As Dr. Phillip Handler, the former president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences stated nearly 20 years later, “What right has the federal government to propose that the American people conduct a vast nutritional experiment, with themselves as subjects, on the strength of so little evidence?”

Eventually, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) started conducting clinical trials. However, these trials were deeply flawed. Additionally, when evidence contradicted the dominant medical narrative, researchers effectively buried it. One NIH study, which found little-to-no relationship between saturated fats and various health problems, was conducted between 1968 and 1973 but wasn’t published for another 16 years.

Despite the flimsy evidence against saturated fats, mainstream nutritionists still advise people to eat lots of carbohydrates and steer clear of fats. The AHA recommends restricting saturated fat consumption to 6 percent of total calories. Federal guidelines encourage people to eat fat-free or low-fat dairy and plenty of grains.

This advice is dooming hundreds of thousands of people to early death and disability. Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack. The disease costs Americans $200 billion annually in medical care and lost productivity.

For decades, our public health leaders have dispensed deadly dietary advice. That needs to change. Many doctors, myself included, have seen with our own eyes how low-carb diets help patients lose weight, reverse their diabetes and improve their cholesterol.

As time goes on I get more and more convinced that this criminally bad dietary advice killed my father in 1979.

[Wednesday-morning update]

Jordan Peterson and his daughter are on an all-meat diet. And of course, this nonsense comes up, as usual:

…doctors don’t think it’s healthy to have all meat, all the time. To prevent heart disease, the American Heart Association and the World Heart Federation recommend a low amount of saturated fats, the kind found in beef, pork, chicken, and other foods. Research links red meat to colorectal cancer. And an absence of vitamins and fibers, which normally come from fruits and vegetables, is a precursor to conditions like scurvy and constipation.

“I don’t see any health benefits of a diet focused primarily on red meat,” said Kristen Smith, a registered dietitian nutritionist with the Academy of Nutritionists and Dietetics, who said she’s seen the carnivore diet’s popularity grow on social media. “There’s currently no research to support that this type of diet has favorable long-term health outcomes.”

…Cholesterol is one of Weiss’s concerns, since too much of a certain kind of cholesterol heightens risk of heart disease and heart attacks. (Saturated fats, found in red meat, have long been assumed to drive up that risk, although some new evidence suggests that they may be less dangerous than believed. In a controversial editorial last year that departed from the recommendations of major public health groups, three cardiologists argued that saturated fats do not clog arteries and are not on their own a problem.)

Unscientific quackery from the usual suspects. And “…less dangerous than believed….” There is zero scientific evidence that saturated fat or dietary cholesterol are a problem at all.

Terraforming Mars

There’s not enough CO2 there. Doesn’t seem like a problem to me; just import carbon and oxygen (and hydrogen) from carbonaceous asteroids in the belt. And of course, they have to throw this in:

If you believe it’s possible to terraform Mars, you also must believe in human-caused climate change, because it’s the same process. Even if it’s impossible to terraform Mars, it’s clearly possible to areoform the mid-latitudes of Earth. Because people are doing it.

Ummmmm…no. We’re not.

Meanwhile, Tim Fernholz says we’re going to have to be careful to not contaminate the water there.