Some Science Brain Kibble

A misc. grab bag of some bits I’ve got “stacked up” and for which I will likely never do a full write up. So “punting” the links for your brain kibble munching pleasure.

A beef over Beef

A while back was an announcement (Yet Again) of “meat is evil!!!” from the same folks who regularly bring you all sorts of Scare Stories To Save The World!!! ™. It was about beef and your sausages and bacon going to kill everyone from cancer.

Well, there’s some folks where you just find you have a kindred spirit. They just think well. This article is written by such a one. He’s a vegetarian, but just can’t stand bad math and bad thinking sticking in his craw. Gotta love a person who puts Truth ahead of Personal Preferences. (FWIW, my “bias” is that I’m an omnivore who eats just about anything that doesn’t make me sick, and some things that do. We have a vegetarian dinner about 2 x a week, sometimes more. Breakfast is almost always ovo-lacto vegetarian. Lunch is “whatever” and can range from a chunk of cold roast meat from last night’s dinner to a bunch of mashed potatoes and spinach. But back at the article…)

As a family with a history of colon cancer, I’m Very Aware of anything that raises that risk. The Scare Story bothered me a bit, so I looked into it, and found this excellent analysis:

True Beef or Sloppy Sausage? Digging Into the Red Meat + Cancer Correlation
Jason Mick (Blog) – October 27, 2015 3:05 AM

A recent study used meta-analysis to determine that meat is a carcinogen — but how much danger are we really in?

In addition to hastening the (seemingly) inevitable onslaught of global warming, triggering the occasional allergic reaction, helping sedentary souls to pack on the pounds, and by the accounts of some perpetuating a culture of animal abuse, The World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has blamed red meat for yet another evil — cancer. That’s the key finding of a new paper by WHO leaders that was published in Lancet, one of the most prestigious medical journals.

I. Tepest in a Teapot

But wait before you cry foul, I’m not here to demonize your plate of bacon. Far be it from me to do so. In fact I’m here to point out why the fear this story provokes may, in fact, be overstated.

From a disclousure standpoint I feel that I should state that I am a vegetarian (but not a vegan). It might come as a surprise though that when it comes to this kind of study I feel mostly a dispassionate objectivity. I have no vested interest, as I’m really not the type of vegetarian who tries to tell you what to eat. I eat what I eat because my family has a genetic history of hypercholesterolemia (basically, diet independent high cholesterol) cholesterol and a vegetarian diet (or at least a low meat one) helps to keep it in check. But I digress.

And hence, while it might amaze some, this vegetarian is stepping up with a plateful of science to defend you red-blooded red meat eaters.

That main “In addition” paragraph is just full of links in the original. They guy does his homework.

There follows a very good, very readable, and very complete analysis in the article. Including some GREAT pictures. One of a full face chicken staring out of the screen in particular ;-)

He ranges over the statistical faults, the fuzzy nature of the study (not clearly separating ‘bacon’ from nitrogen compounds use to cure bacon), the potential confounders such as estrogen analogs in some of the foods and alternatives to meat, and more. Even “the alternative” where if you stop doing things like the preservatives you get more deaths from food poisoning, so which is larger? (Hint: it’s not the cancer risk…)

Down toward the “conclusion” area we get:

Nitrates and nitrites are believed to be responsible for the elevated cancer rates in individuals that eat a lot of preprocessed meat — even of the lean variety.

But as I’ve laid out here there’s plenty of risks that seem healthy enough — mineral oil, wood dust, sunlight, etc. — and there’s plenty of seemingly healthy alternatives with risks of their own — namely the hormonal issues with poultry and soy, nitrate/nitrite levels in processed poultry and canned vegetables. It’s nice that the WHO is bold enough to state that red meat — in America’s current lifestyle at least — may adversely impact our health.

But it’s equally important to identify where that harm likely lies and moreover to view the big picture. That big picture is that life is a risk. As a vegetarian with a very clear cut risk from red meat, I say the good news for my meat lover friends is that the risks here are far more murky and clearcut. I would argue they’re far from damning.

Go ahead and chow down, meat fans — these statistics are interesting but paint too incomplete a picture to be used as justification for radical diet change. Even the seemingly most crystalline perfect criticism — the nitrites/nitrates issue is found to be flawed when examined in the context of food poisoning, a competitve risk. Thus I would be inclined to say anyone making overly bold statements disclaiming this study as “rubbish” or overstating its findings as “damning” share something in common — they either:

Haven’t done their research

Are failing to grasp the science/math required to put this all in context

Have a vested interest in promoting or damaging meat sales or processing

The answer, my meat eating friends, is that we have a lot of intereresting statistics but a murky big picture. And THAT is the honest truth from a scientist’s vantage point.

Nicely done.

That article lead to “tooling around” that site for a while. It’s full of interesting things. This one by the same author. One an “Old Mac Guy” like me just had to read:

As I have one of these in the garage ( aka “old project room” ;-) I’m tempted to give it a try… But only tempted ;-)

Tinkerer Gets Old School Mac Plus Running on the Modern Web
Jason Mick (Blog) – March 24, 2015 6:41 PM

Oh how far we’ve come

Former Medtronic plc (MDT) biomedical engineering wizard-turned-image algorithm master (see: Blurity) Jeff Keacher has blogged about a pretty neat project. In a labor of love he revives his “first real computer”, the Apple, Inc. (AAPL) Mac Plus.

His Mac Plus is state of the art, if you happen to take a time machine to 1986. It featured:
Motorola 68000 CPU — one core (CISC) @ 8 MHz (before PowerPC even)
4 MB RAM (maxed out, eh?)
50 MB SCSI hard drive (bear in mind, back in the day a 20 MB drive cost $1495 USD)
9-inch 512 x 342 pixel black-and-white screen (72 ppi, that’s Retina resolution, right?)

To get it online he had to do a number of hacks and repairs:

Replaced blown capacitors in external SCSI drive power supply.

Transfer necessary apps via SFTP from a PC to a Raspberry Pi host, then shuffle them over serial via a Microphone initiated ZMODEM file transfer session on the client (Mac) side.

Connected to ethernet to serial port via MacTCP app talking to MacPPP serial input app on the (Mac) client side and SLiRP PPP server on the ethernet-connected Raspberry Pi host side (for blazing fast 19 kbps web surfing).

A proxy filter (courtesy of Tyler Hicks-Wright (@tghw)) using Python, Requests, Flask, and Beautiful Soup to fetch URLs, strip SSL, junk CSS formatting, handle javascripts, cull the images (yup, there’s no images — bet you forgot that), and deal with cookies to make site content viewable on MacWeb.

Again, lots of links in the original, and pictures of the Mac, screen shots, etc.

Moving on…

What if you wanted to develop a Jet Engine. LOTS of very hard to make high temperature metals cast into intricate shapes. Royal Pain. Then you get to go through who knows how many iterations of mold making and breaking. Hey, why not just print one instead?

Australian Engineers Successfully Developed 3D-Printed Jet Engines
Michael Hatamoto – March 2, 2015 11:08 AM

Researchers from Australia are helping develop 3D-printed jet engines, with great expectations for future development

Engineers from Monash University in Australia and Amaero Engineering have created the world’s first 3D-printed jet engine.

The proof of concept was developed after a challenge from aerospace firm Safran, with the French company providing an old engine. Researchers disassembled an old engine and began manufacturing a new one for them, which took about one year to complete.

A second jet engine was completed in three months. The first one was transferred to Safran, while the second engine is on display at the Avalon Airshow. Researchers are working on plans for a third engine, which will use materials that are even lighter.

If all goes according to plan, Amaero hopes to have 3D-printed components tested within one year, and with commercial certification within three years. The company has contracts in place with Boeing and Airbus to help explore 3D-printing technology, and could help increase future production and purchase new large format printers.

“This will allow aerospace companies to compress their development cycles because we are making these prototype engines three or four times faster than normal,” said Simon Marriott, CEO of Amaero Engineering, in a statement made to Reuters.
Private defense contractor BAE Systems discussed 3D printing in 2014, expecting possible military and civilian aircraft breakthroughs by 2040, or even sooner. The company unveiled public concepts of 3D printers able to print UAVs during a mission, with expectations that it could one day be possible to 3D print an entire UAV.

Way Cool pictures of jet engines in the original. I also like that idea of “need a UAV? Print one.”… I don’t think the whole thing will be printable. In particular, I think the “brains” and any liquids like hydraulic fluid will need to be installable modules. But make the airframe and engine main parts? Um, maybe.

In Conclusion

All in all, cool stuff. Good writers. Great pictures. Interesting topics.

Hit the links and enjoy the reads!

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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3 Responses to Some Science Brain Kibble

  1. RobL says:

    3D printing metal (selective laser sintering) can only use weldable alloys – and most turbine superalloys are not, they are insufficiently ductile and tend to crack as the local melt pool cools and solidifies on the adjacent solid metal (aluminium is similarly troublesome). So laser sintered gas turbines can only be low-temp and so will have unacceptably low performance perhaps as good as 1950’s gasturbines.

  2. Larry Ledwick says:

    That is assuming of course that they have not found a way to manage that problem. Similar issues are seen in welding large cast iron items to repair cracks but can be managed by pre-heating, controlling the cooling rate and proper selection of welding alloys. Not saying you are wrong in that assessment, but if I were working on that problem I would consider options like pre-heating the work by for example illuminating the area of the melt with another laser beam to pre-heat or control cooling rate, or even post treatment like creating the basic physical structure by 3D printing then once the structure is formed, treat it like a green ceramic part and fire it at high temperature in a kiln to facilitate full bonding, or some other post treatment like hot shot peening or a coining operation where the turbine blade would at high temperature undergo a forging operation to complete the bonding process.

  3. Hifast says:

    Nice kibble, sir. Thank you.

Comments are closed.