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Samuel Hahnemann, father of homeopathic medicine.

A paper published in the June 30, 1988 issue of the high-profile scientific journal Nature shocked the biomedical research world. Its anodyne title, “Human Basophil Degranulation Triggered by Very Dilute Antiserum Against IgE”, probably didn’t cause any non-scientists to choke on their breakfast cereal. But in the eyes of the mainstream scientific world, the article made a radical claim: Pure water, admittedly with a special history, could generate an immune reaction in a test tube.… Read the rest “The Fading Memory of Water”

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The discovery of oil in the province of Alberta in 1947 soon led to the desire to transport it to the west coast of Canada, and in 1953 oil began to flow through a pipeline built by the Trans Mountain Pipeline Company (route of all pipelines discused in this post in red on the map above). The pipeline took oil from Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, over the Rocky Mountains, to Vancouver on the coast of British Columbia.… Read the rest “Using Numbers Instead of Adjectives to Evaluate an Economic Decision”

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This post falls into the category of “Molecular Gastronomy”. That term may be a bit silly, since everything about food is molecular. But when it comes to food there’s usually something to be said for taking a look under the hood. This will be about cooking a hamburger that’s better than what you get at your favourite fast food joint. So if you don’t eat meat, and don’t even want to read about eating meat, exit now.… Read the rest “The Science of Better Burgers”

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In April 2017 I published a post titled “Why is there so much talk about Epigenetics?”. I think I did a pretty decent job explaining what Epigenetics is, and why it is such a critically important part of biology. The gist is, that the regulated output of our genomic information depends on Epigenetics. This is achieved by specific chemical groups and protein along the chromosomes that control their expression into the proteins and other products needed for the life of a particular cell.… Read the rest “Why there is so much talk about epigenetics”

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Baseball is the subject of many artistic creations and scientific studies. Movies such as “Field of Dreams”, “Bull Durham”, and “Moneyball” depict baseball embedded in the larger American culture. Books such as the elegant “Game Time: A Baseball Companion”, by Roger Angell, are a literary pleasure even for someone only peripherally familiar with the game. And baseball has also engendered a broad culture of analysis through applied physics. The pitch is an object of particular fascination for the physics-inclined baseball fan.Read the rest “fastball: movement and speed”

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Peter Nowell and David Hungerford in 1960

 

Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) is not a cancer you hear about very often. That’s not because it isn’t serious — until recently, it carried a frightening prognoses. Until about 2000, newly diagnosed CML patients had a 5-year survival rate of 31%. But we don’t hear much about CML because it is a rare disease, and affects far fewer people than cancers of the breast or prostate, or lung cancer.Read the rest “Chronic Myeloid Leukemia: a Molecular Diagnosis”

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Dr. Brian Druker and Ms. LaDonna Lopossa, one of the earliest patients to benefit from Gleevec

Rob Schick is the Branch Manger of the Baird Wealth Management Group in Portland, Oregon. Most people would probably consider him lucky. For starters, Portland is one of the most desirable cities in the United States to live in. He and his wife have three grown children, one of whom works at the same company. In addition to his success in business, Rob Schick’s efforts on behalf of the Knight Cancer Institute, where he has helped raise millions of dollars for research, were nationally recognized in 2015 by a National Community Service Award from the Invest in Others Foundation.Read the rest “Chronic Myeloid Leukemia: A Molecular Solution”

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“I think the notion of ‘calories in vs. calories out’ is ridiculous.” So begins a recent online article about diet. Typically, it cites no external sources of information for this opinion. Actually, the calories in – calories out equation is a truism; thermodynamics doesn’t make exceptions, and one way or another, those input calories have to go somewhere. But the thought underlying the denial of equivalence is usually something different, such as, why does my friend eat anything she likes and stay slim, when I can’t?Read the rest “Calories in equals calories out?”

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The present-day Gila River in the Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area in southeast Arizona. 

Both nature and nurture affect human obesity. For some people, and for some populations, the genetic tendency to become obese is not fulfilled because of their environment, the circumstances of their lives. But when those circumstances change, the genetic potential may be realised quickly, and lead to the medical issues that follow from obesity. An example that starkly illustrates this comes from the sunbaked desert south of Phoenix, Arizona.Read the rest “The Gila River People, Victims of Modernity”

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If there were a contest to name the most-hated chemical, Roundup, Monsanto’s brand name for the chemical Glyphosate, would have a very good chance of winning. It has been identified not only as a plant poison, but also a destroyer of monarch butterflies, an impoverisher of developing-world farmers, and a probable carcinogen. These are serious issues. But they are also complex, and I will argue, they are not settled (except for being a plant poison).Read the rest “The Trouble With Roundup”