Category Archives: Science and Technology

Gluten Freedom — An Essential Guide to Gluten Issues, with Recipes!

glufreeDuring the writing of my own book on cooking to nourish your archetypes, I read Gluten Freedom by Dr. Alessio Fasano, MD, Founder and Director of the Center for Celiac Research at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Given that many of my own recipes feature gluten-free alternatives, I was eager to read an expert’s version of the history of gluten-related illnesses and to learn more about the current state of treatment. Dr. Fasano’s book did not disappoint. The book contains a comprehensive review of the spectrum of gluten-related disorders, and also includes chapters on discussing leaky gut (you’ll get introduced to zonulin) as well as gluten’s influence on brain chemistry. Gluten Freedom also discusses new treatments and therapies, including enzyme therapy, a “celiac pill” treatment, and the possible development of a therapeutic vaccine. The book also talks about methods for prevention including delaying gluten introduction until one year of age, which is now being studied.

Taking the subject to a richer level of detail and creativity, Gluten Freedom also offers several recipes to remove gluten from the menu including all-time favorites like chocolate chip cookies and gluten-free scones. There is a charming chapter called “Dinner with Dr. Fasano” where we learn about the region, Campania, where Dr. Fasano spent his childhood. He then offers what sounds like a heavenly five-course meal of gluten-free specialties including Capri Salad featuring Mozzarella di bufala di Campania — the soft mozzarella cheese from the Dr.’s home region.

I like how this book provides comprehensive information on gluten issues including an appendix of apps for mobile phones as well as an extensive list for recommended reading. There are also some excellent practical features like a “Wheat Alert” table of menu items that contain wheat, and a stage-by-stage life guide for how to avoid gluten from cradle to grave.

After finishing the book, I was still left with a question, which I posed to the authors: “Is there any value in a low-gluten diet even if you don’t have gluten sensitivity? Does it help to diversify the grains we eat? If gluten calories are substituted with more fruits and vegetables, would that be better for overall health?”

Pam Cureton, one of the contributing writers for the book and a registered dietitian at the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment, responded:

“No, there is no advantage to following a low-gluten diet for those who tolerate gluten. There is, however, an advantage to eating more whole, natural foods and reducing the amount of processed foods to reduce unwanted levels of sodium, sugar, fats and extra calories. For people who tolerate gluten, these are the problem ingredients, not the wheat, rye or barley. Including these as whole grains along with other ancient grains, amaranth, millet, sorghum and others, would benefit everyone.”

I’m glad my own oatmeal-chocolate chip cookie recipe contains sorghum! Thanks, Pam! And thanks to Dr. Fasano and all the contributors to Gluten Freedom — helping us navigate this difficult health and dietary issue.

Link to Gluten Freedom on Amazon

Ticks swarm in ‘shocking’ numbers in R.I | Breaking News | providencejournal.com | The Providence Journal – The Providence Journal

Why are ticks worse in Rhode Island than anywhere else?  Can someone please explain that to me?  Or do other states just not know how many ticks they have?

Ticks swarm in ‘shocking’ numbers in R.I | Breaking News | providencejournal.com | The Providence Journal – The Providence Journal.

Changing gut bacteria through diet affects brain function, UCLA study shows – UCLA Health and Medicine News

Yogurt can change your life.  Yes, I eat yogurt almost every day.

Changing gut bacteria through diet affects brain function, UCLA study shows – UCLA Health and Medicine News.

Mars Disappointment

I was really hoping that Curiosity would scoop up some bacteria and they would announce it and peace on earth would result. Oh well, we are still in suspense…

SAN FRANCISCO — The Curiosity Mars rover has discovered something interesting in a scoop of ruddy sand, but NASA scientists say they’re not quite sure what it means.

Sand that was shake-and-baked inside the car-size rover’s chemistry kit bubbled off traces of organic compounds, mission scientists said at a news briefing Monday at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

Such compounds, made of carbon and chlorine, are of the type that, in some cases, indicate microbes in the soil.

But such compounds also could be contamination from the rover itself — or they may have rained onto the surface inside meteorites, said Paul Mahaffy, a mission scientist from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt.

“It’s unclear if the carbon is Martian or terrestrial,” Mahaffy said.

As the great philosopher Lazlo Toth said after an earlier Mars mission in 1976, “of course you didn’t find life on Mars, you just killed it.”

Words to reflect on.

Kiersten Marek:

Lessonwriter.com is a Rhode Island-based education startup that has designed a great tool for helping teachers.

Originally posted on LessonWriter Blog:

As a middle school teacher I often faced classrooms of thirty plus students with ability levels that spanned four to five different grades levels. There was so much variance in ability, skills and academic preparedness that I might as well have been teaching in an old-fashioned schoolhouse with a row for each grade level.  I was always told that the answer was differentiated instruction.

The problem was most of my administrators had little advice on how to do this.  One year, my principal promised to present the staff with a well-differentiated model lesson, and instead he delivered an incredibly-challenging single-level, single-strategy lesson and asked the staff to journal about how infuriating an experience it was to sit through a lesson that didn’t meet our needs.  He said the point was to promote greater empathy for our students and motivation to work harder at differentiating- still he offered no answer…

View original 266 more words

Attention Members of the Faculty: You are NOT Part of the Middle Class

In case you harbor any delusions of grandeur that you or your children will someday rise to fame and fortune in academia, let me gently harsh on your mellow.  The truth is, most of our higher education faculty members are now adjuncts, or under a more fancy title, contingent faculty.  As this article details, many adjuncts earn about $10,000 a year.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Well, this applies to other people but not to my little Johnny because he is going to be a scientist.”  Good luck with that.  Science jobs are also getting harder to come by in academia, or anywhere.

Finally, before the reality party is over, I invite you to take a trip to 100 Reasons Not to Go to Graduate School.  It is extremely well-written and well cited (the links all work and bring you to current and relevant articles).

And, on a note of full disclosure, yes, I did apply to graduate school this past year.  And yes, I am not going.

Touchdown on Mars!

Some happy news today, Curiosity landed safely on Mars.

Mission controllers burst into applause and cheers as they received signals confirming that the car-sized rover had survived a perilous seven-minute descent NASA called the most elaborate and difficult feat in the annals of robotic spaceflight.

Engineers said the tricky landing sequence, combining a giant parachute with a rocket-pack that lowered the rover to the Martian surface on a tether, allowed for zero margin for error.

“I can’t believe this. This is unbelievable,” enthused Allen Chen, the deputy head of the rover’s descent and landing team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Los Angeles.

Moments later, Curiosity beamed back its first three images from the Martian surface, one of them showing a wheel of the vehicle and the rover’s shadow cast on the rocky terrain.

NASA put the official landing time of Curiosity, touted as the first full-fledged mobile science laboratory sent to a distant world, at 10:32 p.m. Pacific time (1:32 a.m. EDT/0532 GMT).

Nuclear Risk in Japan

Japan is on track to re-start two nuclear plants despite warnings…

Seismic modeling by Japan’s nuclear regulator did not properly take into account active fault lines near the Ohi plant, Katsuhiko Ishibashi, a seismologist at Kobe University, told reporters.

“The stress tests and new safety guidelines for restarting nuclear power plants both allow for accidents at plants to occur,” Ishibashi told reporters. “Instead of making standards more strict, they both represent a severe setback in safety standards.”

Experts advising Japan’s nuclear industry had underestimated the seismic threat, Mitsuhisa Watanabe, a tectonic geomorphology professor at Tokyo University, said at the same news conference.

“The expertise and neutrality of experts advising Japan’s Nuclear Industrial Safety Agency are highly questionable,” Watanabe said.

After an earthquake in 2007 caused radiation leaks at reactors north of Tokyo, Ishibashi said Japan was at risk of a nuclear disaster following a large earthquake, a warning that proved prescient after Fukushima.

The neutrality of nuclear industry experts is highly questionable everywhere. The damaged nuclear plants at Fukushima are still hot, and the danger continues. As Germany moves to other energy sources, Japan has a chance to change course. In the best case, the world will move beyond large, centralized polluting power sources and wasteful consumption before the next inevitable tectonic shift.

Fun With Science

With a popular press that is, as far as science reporting, dumber than a bag of hammers– concerned citizens need critical thinking tools. Lifehacker has a toolkit…

How to Determine If A Controversial Statement Is Scientifically True

Every day, we’re confronted with claims that others present as fact. Some are easily debunked, some are clearly true, and some are particularly difficult to get to the bottom of. So how do you determine if a controversial statement is scientifically true? It can be tricky, but it’s not too difficult to get to the truth.

Go here for the rest.

That article links to this one about ‘confirmation bias’.

Punditry is a whole industry built on confirmation bias.

Rush Limbaugh and Keith Olbermann, Glenn Beck and Arianna Huffington, Rachel Maddow and Ann Coulter – these people provide fuel for beliefs, they pre-filter the world to match existing world-views.

If their filter is like your filter, you love them. If it isn’t, you hate them.

Whether or not pundits are telling the truth, or vetting their opinions, or thoroughly researching their topics is all beside the point. You watch them not for information, but for confirmation.

It’s contrary to human nature to approach life with a blank slate, but it never hurts to air out your assumptions and apply some scientific method now and then.

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