Friday, December 19, 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Obama on Colbert

Sunday, October 26, 2014

"Guided by the science"

Friday, September 26, 2014

Hampster Dance... at your desk!

This is inspiring me to revist my vision, Freedom Orb.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Diet soda mucking up our guts.


I was a fat kid. In junior high I had to wear a special "fat kid" jersey on the basketball team. I know the torment so many kids are going through now because of their weight. Wanting to understand metabolism because of my battle against childhood obesity guided my choice to study biochemistry. I'm writing this because of that fat kid jersey.


The primary reason soft drink consumption is linked to obesity is the disproportionately large volumes in which soda is sold. 12, 24, 32, even 64 oz. containers are not unusual in our fast food nation. A simple solution to the soda problem would be to tax soda per individually packaged unit on an exponential scale for any container over 8 oz.

Super-sizing the soda portion was the way Pepsi Co. and Coca Cola dealt with plummeting soda prices in the 1980's. This depression in the supply/demand curve happened when the technology to turn regular corn syrup into the much sweeter high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) finally emerged from recombinant genetic research in Japan in the late 1970's. The soda companies, along with almost all other processed food companies, were quick on the uptake and in 1980 they swapped the more expensive imported cane sugar, for cheap domestically grown and processed HFCS. To stay profitable they upped the volume sold to the consumer. When I worked at my local cinema as a high school student my manager called this strategy "up-selling." I was told to ask the customers "you sure you don't want to upgrade that medium to a large? It's only ¢50 more."

In short, the American people fell for the old movie theater pop-corn trick. For nearly 30 years our average caloric intake from soft drinks has gone up and up and up. Michael Pollan explains this phenomenon in greater depth from page 100-108 in the Omnivore's Dilemma.

But simply reducing the volume would be far too easy a solution for our high-tech world. Why rain on Pepsi Co./Coca Cola's parade? Why not make money on the other side. Run billions of ads for weight loss programs, machines, lipo-suction, Richard Simmons and that guy with the pony-tail. Why attack the cause when there is so much money to be made in the clean-up?

Speaking of money to be made on the flip side of obesity, I'd like to focus on Aspartame, aka NutraSweet. This compound actually promotes sugar uptake from other dietary sources. This means that an individual that only consumes diet soda and no other food or beverage would indeed loose weight, but any other sugary or fatty food consumed by an individual drinking a NutraSweet drink absorbs those other calories more readily.

I would love to see a scientific paper that is not blocked by the soda, or artificial sweetener companies on weight gain in mice fed aspartame vs. cane sugar. The paper I am proposing would include a control group of mice (fed a normal diet with no added sugars), one experimental group fed a normal diet and 1 gram of cane sugar per day and a second experimental group fed a normal diet and 1 gram of aspartame per day. If the hypothesis that aspartame promotes the uptake of glucose is correct the group of mice being fed the NutraSweet should be heavier than either of the other groups.

SO TODAY SCIENTISTS PUBLISHED A STUDY LIKE THE ONE I PROPOSED IN THE LAST PARAGRAPH! CHECK IT OUT!!! I originally published a version of this post you are reading in 2009, and today my questions have been partially answered by science.  Feels good, but how did we get to be using so many artificial sweeteners in the first place?

There is another disturbing twist in the legend of aspartame. One of the main proponents that pushed legislation through the FDA to aallow aspartame to be used as a food additive for mass consumption was the chief operating officer of G.D. Searle and Company - Mr. Donald Rumsfeld.
from Wikipedia
Mr. Rumsfeld re-applied for the FDA to approve aspartame within the first few months of Ronald Regan's presidency. He filed the application despite the fact that the FDA had rejected the initial application because of unclear data relating to observed brain cancer in mice fed aspartame. The relative value Mr. Rumsfeld has placed on human life when reckoning business transactions gives me little reason to believe this man would care to look at any negative evidence about something he wanted the American people to buy into, whether it be war or soft drinks.

So what are some changes we could ask congress to make? How about we start with a ban on all artificial sweeteners until long term biological effects can be thoroughly studied?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Diatomaceous Art

“The Diatomist” by Matthew Killip

The Diatomist from Matthew Killip on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Testing the limits of the caravan - Burning Man 2014

All images linked to their respective sources at Flickr.com.

El Pulpo Mechanico

Burning Man 2014 - Biker 5

Splash

Burning Man 2014

burning_man2014-4

Burning Man 2014 - Art Vehicle 3

Burning Man 2014

The Playa Burning Man

BRC 2014- AUG 27 -758PM

Saturday, August 23, 2014

IoT - the Internet of Things. Next up? Light Bulbs.


More about IoT from Forbes.



I first heard the term "Internet of Things" from Neil Gershenfeld during a panel discussion titled "Internet Everywhere" at the 2012 World Science Festival.

Earlier -

Friday, July 11, 2014

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

"Post-Doc 'Til You Get Enough"

"Post-Doc 'Til You Get Enough"

[1st Verse]
Lovely Is The Feelin' Now
Fever, Temperatures Risin' Now
Paper (Ah Paper) Is The Science The How
That Makes It Happen It Asks All Questions Why (Ooh)
So Get Closer (Closer Now)
To P.I. Me, Now Just Fund Me
 'Til You Don't Know How (Ooh)

[Chorus]
Keep On With The Science Don't Stop
Post Doc 'Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Science Don't Stop
Post Doc 'Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Science Don't Stop
Post Doc 'Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Science Don't Stop
Post Doc 'Til You Get Enough

[2nd Verse]
Fund Me And I Feel On Fire
Ain't Nothin' Like A Lab Desire (Ooh)
I'm Melting (I'm annealing)
Like Hot Spindle Fiber Formation (Ah Formation)
Lovely Where We're At (Ooh)
So Let Lab Take Us Through The Hours
I Won't Be Complanin'
'Cause This Is Lab Power (Ooh)

[Chorus]
Keep On With The Science Don't Stop
Post Doc 'Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Science Don't Stop
Post Doc 'Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Science Don't Stop
Post Doc 'Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Science Don't Stop
Post Doc 'Til You Get Enough (Ooh)

[3rd Verse]
Triage by NIH Despise
This Cycle (Ah This Cycle)
Fear Shines In My Eyes (Ooh)
So Let Lab Take Us Through The Hours
 I Will Be Complanin' (Yeah Yeah)
'Cause Your Pay Is just Alright, Alright

[Chorus]
Keep On With The Science Don't Stop
Post Doc 'Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Science Don't Stop
Post Doc 'Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Science Don't Stop
Post Doc 'Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Science Don't Stop
Post Doc 'Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Science Don't Stop
Post Doc 'Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Science Don't Stop
Post Doc 'Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Science Don't Stop
Post Doc 'Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Science Don't Stop
Post Doc 'Til You Get Enough

[Refrain] Lovely Is The Feeling Now I Won't Be Complanin' (Ooh Ooh) The Science Is Lab Power

[Chorus]
Keep On With The Science Don't Stop
Post Doc 'Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Science Don't Stop
Post Doc 'Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Science Don't Stop
Post Doc 'Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Science Don't Stop
Post Doc 'Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Science Don't Stop
Post Doc 'Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Science Don't Stop
Post Doc 'Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Science Don't Stop
Post Doc 'Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Science Don't Stop
Post Doc 'Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Science Don't Stop
Post Doc 'Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Science Don't Stop
Post Doc 'Til You Get Enough
(Ooh)

[Ad-Lib To Fade]

Lyrics modified by Kristopher Hite

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Friday, March 28, 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Darwin and Lincoln born same day, same year.


Two hundred and five years ago today the men pictured above simultaneously drew their first breaths.  Like the coincidental death of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson today's anniversary serves to give thinking minds a pause. A pause to reflect on the balance between CHANCE and WILL. When we think about the birth of Lincoln and Darwin we know this coincidence was purely a product of chance. There was no conscious connection between Lincoln's mother Nancy and Darwin's mother Susannah helping random chance along during the winter of 1809. There was however a strong conscious connection, a willful awareness of time between Adams and Jefferson who had been in regular correspondence as they laid in their deathbeds. Both Adams and Jefferson were ill prior to the day of their mutual death but somehow willed themselves to survive to see the fiftieth anniversary of the birth of the great experiment on July 4th, 1826. Similarly Lincoln and Darwin both spent large parts of their lives fighting chance itself. Through the power of intellect they lead and changed the flow of ideas through written and spoken word.

Even more perplexing than a shared birth is the relationship between the social effects originating from this pair. Lincoln's visage stirs up thoughts of equality and emancipation, while Darwin's work drives home the fact that all organisms are engaged in a struggle for existence and do not begin life with equal footing. This does indeed include man. So here we see the dichotomy between equality before the law and inequality before nature.

I would like to make it clear that I think it self-evident that the preservation of equality before the law is paramount for a sustainable democracy. It would take volumes to address here the complex attitudes of the public towards the idea of social Darwinism but it is easy to summarize an average public opinion regarding one massive case in which an attempt was made to apply social Darwinism to a population by a governing body. That summary is - pure evil. The specter of EUGENICS and Nazi death camps haunts and pervades collective memory. The idea that man can judge the worthiness of a human life repulses modern senses. But even now the beginnings of a rift in the genetic constitution of humanity is beginning with a whisper in the esoteric and often-times inaccessible language of clinical genetics.

Here I present the most pertinent and contemporary application of the ideas of Lincoln and Darwin. The practice of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis or PGD gives a prospective mother the ability to choose genetic characteristics she wishes to eliminate from here offspring. Simply put, multiple embryos are fertilized, tested, and the one free of the undesirable gene (like breast or colon cancer predisposition) is selected for implantation and a human that has been selected based on genetic constitution is born. This is not something 50 or 100 years away. It is happening now. Before I lose readers that say "no no no that is horrible. It should be banned" it should be known that this technique is not ubiquitous and is not currently being used for genes like eye color or obesity, but is mostly used for the colo-rectal and breast cancer genes.

If you had a decision to remove something from your life that gave you a 50:50 chance of getting cancer at age 40 would you remove it? Maybe not, but it is not unethical to want to do that and parents with children that are a product of PGD should not be condemned for their decision. They are using science to protect their children and that is something all people should have the right to do. The major ethical concern here is access. Right now there is no federal regulation surrounding PGD and as a result insurance companies can deny PGD to parents. If this trend continues there will be a genetic difference between families that have the money to pay for the procedure (>$10,000) and those that do not. A world where a genetic rift mirrors the financial rift in society is not a world where equality reigns. May this day be a day to contemplate and compose legislation guaranteeing the right of all families to protect their children, not just those that can afford the cost.

Subsequently, I would like to share some of the highlights from the web regarding both Lincoln and Darwin. Doris Kearns Goodwin articulates the philosophy of life after death through memorable acts and words in the following video. This forms the basis for the title of this blog "Tom Paine's Ghost." I do not believe an ectoplasmic glowing form of Thomas Paine floats in the aether, but I do believe that his pen keeps his spirit alive centuries after his death.



I am currently reading the Origin of Species in and I must say it takes a while to dig into. The first 40 pages are dedicated to a rather dry topic - pigeons. Specifically the un-natural process of pigeon breeding which is controlled by man. The first breath of literary gravity did not come for me until page 76 when Darwin describes the adaptations of some particular organisms.

"How have all those exquisite adaptations of one part of the organisation to another part, and to the conditions of life, and of one distinct organic being to another being, been perfected? We see these beautiful co-adaptations most plainly in the woodpecker and mistletoe; and only a little less plainly in the humblest parasite which clings to the hairs of a quadruped or feathers of a bird; in the structure of the beetle which dives through the water; in the plumed seed which is wafted by the gentlest breeze; in short, we see beautiful adaptations everywhere and in every part of the organic world."

This post was first made here February 12th, 2009. I've made a few minor edits to catch it up-to-date.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Coke America

Whenever I see this...



All I can think of is this...

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Best Buds

I cried while watching a Super Bowl commercial.



Having spent nearly a decade with my Yellow lab Ben I feel smack in the center of the target audience. As much as I may disparage the Super Bowl for bringing out the worst of American Culture - celebrating voluntary head injuries, exploiting minorities, claiming non-profit status for an entity that is anything but "non-profit" - I do think all the dollars being thrown about produce some of the most concise social commentary each year. And here we are talking about our collective cultural obsession with pets be they puppies or draft horses.  However contrived you might think this is does not nullify the reaction many will have while watching. Whenever I see my mom's cat snuggle up to her dog on the couch I can't help feel all mushy, same response here.



After first seeing the ad I kept thinking of Peter Singer's expanding circle.  The idea that the next phase of human morality ought to expand to include cognitive non-humans and further as we understand more about how other animals feel.  This train of thought also reminded me of the nascent "inter-species-internet." I first heard about this during a panel discussion about the future prospects of the internet titled "Internet Everywhere" presented as part of the World Science Festival in 2012.  MIT professor Neil Gershenfeld explains the inter-species internet (ISI) as a small group loosely coordinated by musician Peter Gabriel. Apparently, Gabriel started conducting jam-sessions with bonobos and found bonobos to be incredibly responsive.



What emerged from this initial observation was a network among cognitive animals.  Giving the bonobos ipads they found they could use them to communicate to each other and to other species like dolphins. Though I have yet to find video on the internet of bonobos sharing selfies with dolphins, I can imagine it being so. So, although the #BestBuds ad is most surely a heartfelt fabrication it certainly touched a universal chord with me. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Barack it Like it's Hot

President Barack Obama gives an interview in this week's New Yorker with David Remnick worthy of the following...

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Watch a Grizzly Bear get an MRI

The story.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Pale Blue Dot

Earth from six billion miles out.  Image Credit - NASA - from Voyager 1 ~1990.
A long time ago in a grad school far far away I watched a you tube video that changed my life. The you tuber who posted the video went by the name Silverseer and the video consisted of Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot monologue overlaid by Enya's "Boadicea." The video was just a series of Ken Burns moves with the original pale blue dot photograph. I loved that video so much, I must have watched it at least a hundred times. Eventually it was taken down; probably due to a copyright claim by Enya's record label. But today, after years being deprived of my Voice-of-the-Sagan induced spine tingles something similar has been produced! I give you a new window onto the world through the voice of Sagan, the sounds of Hans Zimmer, and the vision of Adam Winnik.

Pale Blue Dot - Animation from Ehdubya on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014