Red Meat Study: Eat a burger, lose 37 minutes of life


A new study from Harvard links red meat consumption to health problems and higher mortality.  Although the negative health stuff has been known for some time, this study is more authoritative in terms of large sample and long study period.  Also it seems to quantify things in such a way that we can get a somewhat legitimate calculation for the life years lost cost of meat eating.  For red meat lovers the results are very discouraging.

WSJ source for red meat stats: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304636404577297802304647434.html

I extended  that to a per hamburger health cost and got 39 years x 365 burger days = 14,235 burgers cost you a year of life, or 8760 hours of life. Thus a single burger costs us 37 minutes of life.

Obviously this measure has a lot of technical flaws, but in general terms I think it should reflect a “real” measure of red meat risk, a risk I’m thinking I’ll be reducing starting right away.

Weight and lifespan / longetivity


This really interesting summary just popped up in some research of the effect of weight on lifespan.  In the very interesting advocacy documentary film “Fathead”  (which I’ll review at length later), it’s suggested that fat people tend to live longer.   This is not consistent with any other information I’ve heard and I think it’s probably just based on a silly interpretation of the challenges faced in hospitals by low weight folks who are stressed by illness.   In some specific cases like that it may help to have extra body fat, but the general findings of many studies are of course consistent with the studies noted in this 1992 paper, summarized below:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1600586

<cite>The study was conducted to evaluate one aspect of the entropy theory of aging, which hypothesizes that aging is the result of increasing disorder within the body, and which predicts that increasing mass lowers life span. The first evaluation of the impact of human size on longevity or life span in 1978, which was based on data for decreased groups of athletes and famous people in the USA, suggested that shorter, lighter men live longer than their taller, heavier counterparts. In 1990, a study of 1679 decreased men and women from the general American population supported these findings. In the present study data on the height, weight, and age at death of 373 men were obtained from records at the Veterans Administration Medical Center, San Diego, CA, USA. Men of height 175.3 cm or less lived an average of 4.95 years longer than those of height over 175.3 cm, while men of height 170.2 cm or less lived 7.46 years longer than those of at least 182.9 cm. An analysis by weight difference revealed a 7.72-year greater longevity for men of weight 63.6 kg or less compared with those of 90.9 kg or more. This corroborates earlier evidence and contradicts the popular notion that taller people are healthier. While short stature due to malnutrition or illness is undesirable, our study suggests that feeding children for maximum growth and physical development may not add to and may indeed be harmful to their long-term health and longevity.</cite>

 

Berkeley Earth Project


The Berkeley Earth Project is a very ambitious attempt to accurately assess the state of “Global Warming” in a very systematic and scientific way, free from the many biases, politics, and advocacy challenges that have arguably plagued the process to date.      Preliminary findings are just out here a bit prematurely, as the director of the project Muller recently testified to the US Congress:  http://berkeleyearth.org/Resources/Muller_Testimony_31_March_2011

Note that the results here are based on 2% sample they are using to validate their methods before they apply that method to the entire set of some 1.6 billion temperature records, a project that they maintain (and I agree) will result in the best measure to date of global temperature change.

Not surprisingly the 2% looks a lot like the temperature record we see from the major measurers of such things – CRU in England and NASA in the USA.     My gut expectation about the final record is that it will reflect a slight decrease in observed warming along with a significant, though modest, increase in the “uncertainty” of such measurements.     Why?   That finding would be very consistent with the fact that most of the climate scientists are doing excellent work that is good and only very slightly compromised by the alarmist bent.   That bent can’t change the data but I think it has inclined those – particularly in Paleodendrochronology – to view questionable assumptions by other scientists too sympathetically.   Sort of a “circling of the wagons” has happened as tree ring science emerged from almost total obscurity to the single most important “climate signal” in the global warming controversies.  The politics and alarmism and advocacy have very unfortunately led to some questionable interpretations and assumptions despite the obvious which are nearly rock solid findings of a global temperature rise over the last century.

Berkeley Earth is a great approach and I’m anxious to see how their transparent and hopefully unimpeachable methodology will shed light on global warming / climate change issues.

P.S.  IMHO  1.there is slight global warming, 2. it’s mostly human caused,  3. it’s not going to hurt much and 4. (most importantly) YOU (and I, and even the most fervent alarmist) are almost completely unwilling to do the things needed to change our warming prospects enough that it would make more than a trivial difference in the scheme of things.    If you travel much via planes or cars, keep your house between 65 and 85 degrees, fail to retrofit much of your life to save energy, etc, etc, etc then you are THE PROBLEM and you are NOT PART OF THE “SOLUTION”.      Sorry, but you won’t change and many of you won’t even build nuclear power plants – part of the no-brainer solution to energy needs.

Global Warming Effects


Many poo poo the idea that we are likely to adapt fairly easily to global warming changes because they are so tiny and take place over such a long period.     However I have seen very few well reasoned discussions of this topic – most true believers simply dismiss it out of hand and most global warming skeptics can’t even see the obvious warming trends.

At first glance it would seem we really don’t have much to worry about.   The earth has warmed less than a degree in the last 100 years, and even if that rate accelerates we are talking about tiny fractions of a degree every year.   Every day we and other animals adapt easily to temperature changes of 30 degrees and more.     Of course this type of daily change is not the same as gradual long term change, but it’s not clear to me why we can expect all hell to break loose as a result of very gradual temperature increases of fractions of degrees.

Here’s a good starting point for what I hope will eventually be a case by case examination of the negative potential consequences of warming.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_of_global_warming

Global Warming – what’s to come?


Today’s report on the IPCC “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” suggests that although the science is now clear, the politics are getting in the way of the credibility of the IPCC and climate science in general.   Unfortunately in my view we are not debating the important items about warming, which relate not so much to the science (that proves there is warming and suggests strongly that it’s caused by humans), but relate to whether we can do anything about this and how dangerous the warming will be for humanity.    In my view there is little to do now regardless of how dangerous the warming is to humanity, but it’s also unlikely the dangers are anything like they have been advertised by many in the activist community.

So I’m hoping to explore each of the following talking points in the coming months:

Climate change Impacts from NATURE CONSERVANCY:

It should be clear to everybody that the earth has warmed a bit over the past century – most scientists believe about  0.8 degrees.     It’s also *fairly* clear now that humans are almost certainly responsible for most of that warming, although there is more intelligent criticism of that idea than many believe   (climateaudit.org is the best source for the “smart skeptic” POV).

But far more relevant that those two issues are the following two issues:

1.   How will this affect us?

2.  What can we do about warming?

…. to be continued …

Dear Aliens, please ignore Dr. Stephen Hawking. You are very welcome here anytime.


Stephen Hawking, the brilliant physicist who brings so much insight to physics, cosmology, and the study of the universe in general, seems to have been spent a bit too much time watching “Independence Day” or ABC’s new TV show “V”  before filming a recent segment on his new Discover Channel series.

In one of his most widely quoted statements in years Hawking noted (very correctly and obviously) that the math of the universe suggests there is almost certainly other life out there and probably other intelligent life, but then bizarrely adds this:

“Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they could reach,” Hawking said. “If so, it makes sense for them to exploit each new planet for material to build more spaceships so they could move on. Who knows what the limits would be?”

He goes on to speculate that contacting aliens may well be a big mistake as the collision of our culture and theirs could be similar to when Columbus came to the Americas, with an outcome unfavorable to the indiginous populations.

No!

I think I’ll give Hawking the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s been dipping into a legal marijuana prescription for some ailment (or more likely just hyping the alien connection for the show)  but this kind of dumb statement from smart people reminds me of the singularity folks who fret far too much that superintelligences will be malevolent.

There is very little reason to assume this and a lot of reasons to assume the opposite for the reasons I go into below.

Also important is the fact that aliens with the technological capability to visit our lonely little planet at the edge of the galaxy are very likely to have technology so powerful that we’d pose essentially zero threat to them, so friendship is a much better survival strategy than fighting and hoping for the preposterously stupid scenario of  the film  “Indendence Day” where a computer glitch, exploited via an Apple laptop Computer (!) , destroys a massive fleet of massive alien ships.

For example go back to the battle of Trafalgar where the British defeated France in a battle that would cement England’s global hedgemony well into the next century.    Then consider how a *single* WWII aircraft carrier  (representing only a +140 year military technological improvements vs the 1000s of years likely from the Aliens) could have crushed and destroyed both fleets in minutes without sustaining damage or casualties.    Whoever possessed that single ship could likely have dominated the globe for a century.

But.. I digress because I don’t think Aliens are likely to be mean, let alone threaten our existence.    In fact my greatest fear about Aliens is that we’ll be so profoundly uninteresting to them – still in our very early stages of intellectual development – that they will  …. just …. leave.

Why nice Aliens?  First, if we view human intellectual development  from an evolutionary, individual, or societal standpoint we see that progress generally means *better treatment* of others, not worse.     Note for example how the  common practices of child labor and  slavery are out of vogue, not increasing in popularity.     Although slavery is still practiced by dispicable folks it is an aberration, illegal, and generally fought by the powers that be rather than embraced as it was centuries ago.

In terms of evolutionary development I think most of us would rather find ourselves confronted by even the most vicious and uncaring Wall Street CEO than a hungry tiger shark or lion.    Evolution has “softened” our approach to hunting and gathering in ways that are less violent.    Even if the Aliens Hawking fears come with the intention of exploiting our resources, this is likely to happen much more as a peaceful economic transaction than a violent act of piracy.   For example they might trade something of huge value to us like cold fusion propulsion technology for something they can’t synthesize themselves.    However it also seems unlikely that they’d have any need of the resources we hold dear because they will probably be able to synthesize all their needs from basic raw materials available in uninhabited planets and stars in a galaxy nearer them.    Given even a hundred years of nanotechnology progress leads to innovations that are hard for us to imagine, and these Alien dudes are likely to be thousands of years beyond out technology, again making my case that they are likely to simply ignore us as uninteresting simple life rather than threaten us.     We don’t pay much attention to the worms, ants, spiders, and beetles in our yard even though they do have some very interesting capabilities.

….. more later …..

[ Singularity before Aliens / Edge of the galaxy problem / age = wisdom / more logic = less violence]

The Multiverse Redux Redux Redux


The rumors are true, and they are jaw dropping.     Mainstream physics is moving ever closer to describing the universe as an infinite number of *other* universes, all of which are out of our own frame of reference.    Like any sane person it’s hard to digest this concept of a multiverse, but it is consistent with observations and theories in physics, and the idea is gaining a lot of traction in the mainstream physics community:

the multiverse has developed rapidly from a being merely a speculative idea to a theory verging on respectability. There are good reasons why. Several strands of theoretical physics – quantum mechanics, string theory and cosmic inflation – seem to converge on the idea that our universe is only one among an infinite and ever-growing assemblage of disconnected bubble universes.

Thanks to my pal Roy for sending this NEW SCIENTIST Article I’m still trying to digest about an approach to measuring the metaverse, an important step if the idea is to move from speculation to strong scientifically verifiable reality.      I think as with some other  notions that hinge in part on the theory of relativity it may be necessary to accept the following:

…for physics to make sense, you must restrict your description of the universe to what a single observer can see. It’s a profoundly different approach from the old idea that we can describe the entire universe from an observerless, God’s-eye-view.