Interesting items from my inbox and elsewhere …
The Many Uses For Hogs
I’m a big fan of the hog (when they’re not smacking me around in a chute, that is), but I had no idea they’re this useful:
When we tuck into a bacon sandwich, few of us wonder what has happened to the other parts of the pig whose life has been sacrificed so we can enjoy a juicy breakfast.
But one inquisitive writer set out to trace where all the body parts of one porker ended up.
Christein Meindertsma, 29, said: ‘Like most people, I had little idea of what happens to a pig after it leaves the abattoir so I decided to try to find out. I approached a pig farmer friend who agreed let me follow one of his animals.’
Identified by its yellow ear tag number, 05049, her pig trail ended with her identifying an incredible 185 different uses to which it was put – from the manufacture of sweets and shampoo, to bread, body lotion, beer and bullets.
Virtually nothing in a pig goes to waste. The snout from Pig 05049 became a deep-fried dog snack, while pig ears are sometimes used for chemical weapon testing due to their similarity to human tissue.
Tattoo artists even buy sections of pig skin to practise their craft on due to its similarity to human skin, while it is occasionally used with burns patients for the same reason.
I’m starting to feel a bit chagrined that all we got from our hogs was 500 pounds of meat. I could have been practicing to become a tattoo artist while covering myself with body lotion, drinking a beer, and firing some bullets at a loaf of bread.
We may need add another use for hogs to the list:
A team of Harvard scientists has paved the way for a deadly laser pig weapon by demonstrating that, with a little encouragement, pig fat cells can be made to lase.
According to MIT Technology Review, Seok Hyun Yun and Matjaž Humar stimulated spheres of fat inside porcine cells with an optical fibre, causing them to emit laser light.
And here I thought my belly was glowing because I’m happy.
Handily, pig cells contain “nearly perfectly spherical” fat balls, which are conducive to lasing by resonance when supplied with a suitable light source. The team has also cheated the effect by injecting oil droplets into other cells.
Seok Hyun Yun, lead author of the report which appears in Nature Photonics, reckons an ultimate use of his work might be to deploy “intracellular microlasers as research tools, sensors, or perhaps as part of a drug treatment”.
Drug treatment, my foot. Let’s put all the research dollars into that deadly laser pig weapon. Imagine if we have troops overseas in some future war:
“Achmed, what’s that smell coming from the American lines? Is it …?”
“Yes! I believe it’s BACON! Run! Run before they turn the pig-laser on us!”
And if would-be intruders are scared away from my house by the aroma of saugage, that’s fine by me.
Eggs With My Pig Laser, Please
In my Science For Smart People speech, I mentioned that when some researchers find a correlation in an observational study, they assume they’re looking at cause and effect. I gave the example of a meta-analysis which prompted the lead researcher to announce to the media, “The studies showed a significant increase of new onset diabetes with regular egg consumption.”
Sure sounds like cause and effect, doesn’t it? Based on other interviews, that’s indeed what the researcher believes. But of course, if eggs actually caused diabetes, we wouldn’t see observational studies like this one:
Men who ate more than five eggs a week had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than men who ate about one a week only, according to researchers in Finland.
In a study with an average follow-up of almost 20 years with 2,332 participants, researchers noticed that those in the highest quartile for egg intake had a lower risk of developing diabetes than those in the lowest quartile when cholesterol and other factors were controlled for.
Yunsheng Ma, MD, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, said in an email to MedPage Today that the study “provides welcome news to support the 2015 dietary guidelines, which are expected to drop the limit of egg consumption for blood cholesterol concerns.”
Ma said that he was aware of six studies that examined egg consumption and diabetes. One showed an increased risk, he said, and the other five showed no association. “So these results are not in line with other findings,” wrote Ma.
So here’s the official score in Observational Study Stadium: one study shows a higher risk of diabetes with higher egg consumption, one shows a lower risk, and five show no association at all. That means there’s no cause-and-effect relationship, period. Any good science teacher could tell you that.
Speaking of which …
A Science Teacher’s Opinion of Super Size Me
Several people besides me have demonstrated they could lose weight while eating nothing but fast food. The latest happens to be a science teacher:
Iowa high school science teacher John Cisna weighed 280 pounds and wore a size 51 pants.
Then he started eating at McDonalds. Every meal. Every day. For 180 days.
By the end of his experiment, Cisna was down to a relatively svelte 220 and could slip into a size 36.
Unlike me, Cisna didn’t embrace a high-fat diet:
Cisna left it up to his students to plan his daily menus, with the stipulation that he could not eat more than 2,000 calories a day and had to stay within the FDA’s recommended daily allowances for fat, sugar, protein, carbohydrates and other nutrients.
I much prefer my “@#$% the government recommendations” diet. But I definitely enjoyed Cisna’s comments about Super Size Me:
“As a science teacher, I would never show ‘Super Size Me’ because when I watched that, I never saw the educational value in that,” Cisna said. “I mean, a guy eats uncontrollable amounts of food, stops exercising, and the whole world is surprised he puts on weight?’
“What I’m not proud about is probably 70 to 80 percent of my colleagues across the United States still show ‘Super Size Me’ in their health class or their biology class. I don’t get it.”
I get it. They like the anti-McDonald’s message, so they toss critical thinking out the window … assuming they had any critical-thinking skills to toss.
It’s 2015 … So Let’s See How the ‘90s Viewed the ‘60s
I never watched the TV show Quantum Leap, but a reader sent me a link to this YouTube clip. It’s part of an episode in which the main character visits his parents in 1969. Skip ahead to the 12-minute mark:
The episode aired in 1990. That’s right about when arterycloggingsaturatedfat! hysteria was in full swing. The main character goes back in time and is horrified by all the fat and cholesterol his father is eating. Now we can go back in time and be horrified by the fact that the main character is horrified.
Junior was right about one thing, though: Dear Old Dad needs to stop smoking.
If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t tell my dad to stop eating eggs and butter. I’d tell him to give up sugar and stop taking those @#$%ing statins. His 81st birthday would have been tomorrow, and man, I wish I could call him up, rib him about getting old, then wait for one of his witty comebacks.
It’s 2015 … So Everything Good Must Be Candy
This isn’t from a news item. It’s something I’ve noticed in a handful of TV commercials: vitamins and even fiber tablets now come in the form of gummies– for adults. I didn’t find a commercial online, but I did find this:
So apparently some people won’t take vitamins unless they taste like candy. If that’s not a sad comment on our dietary habits, I don’t know what is.