What I'm Reading (May 20)

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What does flat pasta that forms a shape in boiling water, the over and underdiagnosis of disease, and a scientific "misunderstanding" that may have lead to many COVID-19 deaths have in common? Well, really nothing at all, other than they were all discussed, at varying lengths, in what I read this week.

A lot of what I read never makes it to the website. Case in point, an article on saving space in shipping, and therefore lowering costs, by designing pasta that forms its shape while cooking – starts flat and turn into a tube – the Ikea of pasta. Then I ran across this piece from The Conversation.

“There are at least 350 shapes of pasta you can buy. Food blogger Dan Pashman apparently thought we could use one more.

Enter cascatelli – which means “waterfall” in Italian – the world’s newest pasta shape. Pashman developed the shape to hold a lot of sauce and be easily stabbed with a fork. To me, a food historian and former bistro chef, it looks like the love child of two lesser-known pastas, creste di galle and mafaldine.”

The tale of pasta begins in the middle east, not China. Agnolotti, bucatini and the innovative new ‘cascatelli’ – a brief history of pasta shapes

“The US health system pushes treatment over prevention. This approach has many flaws, one of the most unfortunate and costly being overdiagnosis and overtreatment.

Overdiagnosis is defined as the “detection of pseudodisease,” or disease that will never cause the patient any issues. Overtreatment is treatment that provides no benefit and may even harm the patient.”


Even experts are susceptible, as you will read in "Overdiagnosis and overtreatment – the experts aren’t immune either," from the Incidental Economist

“A micron is a unit of measurement equal to one-millionth of a meter. By this definition, any infectious particle smaller than 5 microns in diameter is an aerosol; anything bigger is a droplet. The more she looked, the more she found that number. The WHO and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also listed 5 microns as the fulcrum on which the droplet-aerosol dichotomy toggled.

There was just one literally tiny problem: “The physics of it is all wrong,” Marr says. That much seemed obvious to her from everything she knew about how things move through air. Reality is far messier, with particles much larger than 5 microns staying afloat and behaving like aerosols, depending on heat, humidity, and airspeed. “I’d see the wrong number over and over again, and I just found that disturbing,” she says. The error meant that the medical community had a distorted picture of how people might get sick.”

Perhaps you will find, as I did, the thought, those who fail to learn from history repeat it, repeating in your brain. From Wired, The 60-Year-Old Scientific Screwup That Helped Covid Kill