food and nutrition

COVID-19 vaccines are the miracle that has significantly suppressed the pandemic in a number of countries, including the United States, where the current seven-day moving averages of cases and ...

As a consultant, I oversaw the generation of tens of thousands of cubic feet of additional radioactive waste in a few environmental remediation projects. Some of this waste was stored on-site until it decayed away and could be disposed of as non-radioactive. For example, the short-lived medical isotopes used for nuclear medicine patients decay away, losing its radioactivity in just a few days to months. Same for nuclides used in research. In a university setting, a large chunk of the radioactivity used can also be stored for decay-in-storage. Of all those thousands of cubic feet of radioactive waste I’ve “produced” over the years, most of it has been paper towels, glassware, test tubes, and soil; most about as radioactive as a bunch of bananas (I’ve measured the radioactive potassium...

Off-shore wind lasts longer and is stronger than on-shore, making off-shore wind farms (OWF) a source of renewable energy – except, of course, when it blocks your view, and those NIMBY (not in my backyard) types object. To be a valuable, efficient energy source, you need to cluster those turbines [1], and shallow water makes running the necessary lines for transmission and maintenance back to land more accessible. As it turns out, for the EU, the North Sea fits the bill, strong winds and relatively shallow water. Nearly 50% of the EU’s planned OWFs will be located there. 

What about the free lunch?

Wind turbines extract some of the energy from the wind to create electricity, but like all our “engines,” it is not perfectly efficient. The energy lost in the...

 

Smoking is a dangerous habit that kills many thousands of people every year; the world would be a healthier place if fewer people smoked. Available evidence overwhelmingly confirms those claims, but we have to avoid the temptation to go beyond those evidence-based statements as we investigate open questions surrounding the health effects of tobacco use.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, some public health experts and reporters have been unable to resist that temptation as they research the link between smoking and coronavirus infection. They have dismissed research suggesting that cigarettes or something in them may—and I emphasize “may” in this...

Why it may seem a bit like knowing the number of angels dancing on the head of a pin understanding the relative amounts of virions and viral particles responsible for COVID-19 will provide some insights into “pandemic dynamics” and our immune responses. The scientists used three studies of rhesus macaques infected by COVID-19; they were our closest relative, for which we had good data. 

The rhesus monkeys were infected with the virus, sacrificed on day 3 or 4 of infection, and quantitative measures were made of the virions present. That information, coupled with our knowledge of coronaviruses in general and some mathematical manipulation, form the basis of their findings. 

Counting COVID-19

A quick reminder. PCR tests for COVID-19 identify the...

During London’s Great Smog, daily deaths rose by an order of magnitude and continued for about two weeks once the skies cleared. Autopsied lungs showed heavy deposits of carbonaceous material, leaving little doubt that air pollution was at least partly to blame. Since then, epidemiologists have tracked daily records around the world searching for relationships with various pollutants.

Time-series studies.

These studies compared the daily rise and fall of deaths and air pollution concentrations, using regression analysis to identify matches after adjusting for temperature cycles and days of the week. Rather than focusing on a single major event like the London fog, they look for patterns among small perturbations over years. These time-series analyses are...

The subject of an email from Rick Berke, the executive editor of STAT, reads: "A landmark day in Alzheimer's disease." Berke then linked to an article by Adam Feuerstein and Damian Garde, which, if it's less enthusiastic, it's not by much: "FDA grants historic approval to Alzheimer’s drug designed to slow cognitive decline."  

If you read only the headlines it would be perfectly reasonable to conclude that the demise of this awful disease is right around the corner. Not even the most enthusiastic supporters of Biogen's Alzheimer's drug, Aduhelm (generic name aducanumab) would agree with this, and it is entirely possible that the...

As I’ve written recently, a spate of devices enabling people with quadriplegia to move their extremities have been approved by the FDA.

These devices use electrodes implanted on the scalp, on the cortical surface (intracortical monitoring), or inserted within the brain to access and retrieve brain waves. The technology detects brain signals and pathways involved in the intention to move, translating them into commands that ...

Globally, we will soon have 59 Biosafety Level 4 labs 

  • spread across 23 countries
  • the majority (77%) in urban areas
  • 13% of the countries have oversight over “dual-use” – when research target for “civilian purposes” can be applied to military ones
  • 25 in Europe, 14 in North America, 13 in Asia, 4 in Australia, 3 in Africa
  • 60% are government-run for public health purposes; the overwhelming number, 48, study human health.

“…there are no binding international standards for safe, secure, and responsible work on...

Convincing a parent that vaccines won't harm their children can be a near-possible task these days. As pediatric infectious disease specialist Paul Offit told me during a recent interview, no amount of scientific evidence is likely to sway someone who has read horror stories about other children reacting badly to a shot.

Anti-vaccine groups amplify the problem by abusing the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), a database jointly maintained by the CDC and FDA. The system serves an important purpose: helping the two public health agencies ...