Archive for August 2007

Big Boned Fat

Aug 21st, 2007 | By | Category: Medicine

See if this makes sense to you: Weight is an intrinsic trait, determined mostly by our genes. Yet, globally the number of obese people has nearly doubled since 1980–faster than alleles can redistribute in the population. The amount we eat is strictly controlled by regulatory systems. Each of us is endowed with an energy set-point; […]



Elusive Competence

Aug 19th, 2007 | By | Category: Public Service

Last night I got around to watching No End in Sight, the interesting if flawed documentary on the unraveling of the Iraq war. The pieces the documentary presents are nothing new: A rush to war, minimal plans for the aftermath, too few troops, no martial law, looting, imperial rule, de-Ba’athification, disbanding of the Iraqi military, […]



Open Letter to John Solomon

Aug 16th, 2007 | By | Category: Crappy Science Reporting

Dear John, On the Washington Post’s election blog, you managed to make an ass of yourself. Many religious conservatives, including President Bush, oppose the scientific use of embryonic stem cells because the cells often come from aborted fetuses. (emphasis added) This is objectively false. Many religious conservatives, including President Bush, oppose the scientific use of […]



The Northern Lights

Aug 16th, 2007 | By | Category: Pretty Natural

(from Jökull Másson) Did you know the Northern Lights are occasionally visible from Seattle? We’re at magnetic latitude 52.7, high enough to see some Aurora when the sun is raging. When the POES activity level hits 9 or 10, or the estimated planetary Kp gets above 6 and the night sky is clear, we should […]



Disease of the Week: Rapid Onset Food Poisoning

Aug 14th, 2007 | By | Category: Medicine

After attending a retreat yesterday, I returned home to a night (and morning) of violent vomiting. Quick quiz: what causes rapid-onset food poisoning, as defined by profuse vomiting less than six hours after eating? Anything with pre-formed toxins, of course! Our selections: 1. Staphylococcus Aureus (from snot) 2. Bacillus cereus (from improperly cooked and refrigerated […]



Incubator Space

Aug 12th, 2007 | By | Category: Response to Critique, South Lake Union

So, let’s say I woke up this morning with a great idea to deal with three critical problems in embryonic stem cell therapies with one tidy little trick. Could I found a company in Lake Union? In Seattle? In the region? Finding a vacant warehouse, sweeping out the rats and installing some desks won’t cut […]



Building Biotech In Seattle

Aug 11th, 2007 | By | Category: South Lake Union

Should Seattle be a center for biotech? “At South Lake Union, we are building a center of excellence in life sciences,” says the mayor. Vulcan has voraciously devoured tax and zoning breaks in the name of biotech in Seattle. Will it work? Tremendous potential exists in Seattle. Last year the university pulled in over a […]



Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs

Aug 11th, 2007 | By | Category: Response to Critique

I’ve received several responses regarding my column on compact fluorescent lightbulbs. From Tom Robey at Hope for Pandora brought up some interesting points: For reference, 5 mg is 1% of what mercury thermometers contained. Yes there IS mercury, so you should follow these instructions in the rare event that a bulb breaks. So, this is […]



Writing At The Central Library

Aug 11th, 2007 | By | Category: Where I'm Writing

I’ve spent the better part of this Saturday afternoon writing in the Central Library. The building is totally dysfunctional, but beautiful. Just like Seattle. At least the tourists snapping photos seem happy. I’m writing here because my desk is utterly useless for the task—despite working in the brand new UW research building in the South […]