Today Guy Callendar is a historical footnote, but tomorrow he will have a chapter of his own. Born in 1898, Callendar was the son of Britain’s leading steam engineer, a successful academic and inventor who raised his children in a 22-room mansion. A greenhouse on the grounds was converted into a laboratory for the children until one of Callendar’s three brothers blew it up trying to make TNT. The same brother put out Callendar’s left eye. Undeterred by the subsequent lack of depth perception, he became his father’s successor as the nation’s most important steam engineer. None of this is why Guy Callendar’s name will be boldfaced in tomorrow’s textbooks. Instead it will be because he was willing to delve into fields he knew nothing about, atmospheric science among them. Nobody knows why he got so interested in the air. Callendar himself attributed it to ordinary curiosity: “As man is now changing the composition of the atmosphere at a … [Read more...] about Meet the Amateur Scientist Who Discovered Climate Change
Critical reviews in food science and nutrition
They say speed kills, but when it comes to growing enough food for our future, speed could spell the difference between feast and famine. Luckily, there’s a group of scientists with their proverbial foot on the pedal. These scientists recently published a paper detailing a new plant breeding technique that may revolutionize the way we grow crops and accelerate the rate at which we can develop hardier, healthier, and more versatile plants in the face of climate change. As climates change, so too does a plant’s productivity in a given region. The key to our well-fed future may be a variety of resilient crops that can grow in diverse environmental conditions. “A lot of scientists said this was impossible. It was such a radical idea that they told us we couldn’t do it.” “The rate of gain in most crop breeding programs is lagging behind the demands posed by a growing population,” Brande Wulff, a crops geneticist at the John Innes Center in the … [Read more...] about How ‘speed breeding’ will supercharge farming to save us from starvation
This article was originally published at The Conversation. The publication contributed the article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights. When I looked at my appointment book for the day, I thought something must be wrong. Someone who worked in the fitness industry was bringing his cat in to the Tufts Obesity Clinic for Animals. Did he confuse us for a different kind of weight management clinic? Is he looking to get muscle on his cat or maybe kitty protein shakes? I was utterly surprised when I called for my appointment in the lobby and an athletic man stood up with an almost 20-pound cat! I asked if I could speak bluntly with him. Why does someone who clearly knows a lot about keeping healthy need to bring his cat to a veterinary nutritionist? What would he say if the cat was one of the people he helps to keep fit every day? Our conversation then went something like this… "Well, I'd tell her, suck it up, buttercup. Do some kitty pushups and no … [Read more...] about Why Are So Many Pets Overweight?
In the next five to 10 years, everything from new plants to lab-grown meat and genetically-engineered bacteria is expected to hit the market -- but how will regulators cope? According to a new report released by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), US regulators are going to have a challenge on their hands to keep up with the range of new inventions which will impact our daily lives in less than a decade. As reported by MIT Technology Review, the agency believes that regulatory bodies including the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), need to start preparing now for the bioengineering rush ahead. NAS says that while new technologies sourced from bioengineering have the potential to do everything from enhancing healthcare to providing synthetic alternatives to the legions of cattle raised to cater for meat demands worldwide, US regulators are in no way prepared for the new plants, animals, genetically modified germs … [Read more...] about Five biotech inventions the US is not ready for
Nir Barzilai has a plan. It’s a really big plan that might one day change medicine and health care as we know it. Its promise: extending our years of healthy, disease-free living by decades. And Barzilai knows about the science of aging. He is, after all, the director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx. And, as such, he usually talks about his plan with the caution of a seasoned researcher. Usually. Truth is, Barzilai is known among his colleagues for his excitability—one author says he could pass as the older brother of Austin Powers—and sometimes he can’t help himself. Like the time he referred to his plan—which, among other things, would demonstrate that human aging can be slowed with a cheap pill—as “history-making.” In 2015, he stood outside of the offices of the Food and Drug Administration, flanked by a number of distinguished researchers on aging, and likened the plan to a … [Read more...] about Forget the Blood of Teens. This Pill Promises to Extend Life for a Nickel a Pop
About 50 years ago, the sugar industry stopped funding research that began to show something they wanted to hide: that eating lots of sugar is linked to heart disease. A new study exposes the sugar industry’s decades-old effort to stifle that critical research. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, recently analyzed historical documents regarding a rat study called Project 259 that was launched in 1968. The study was funded by a sugar industry trade group called the International Sugar Research Foundation, or ISRF, and conducted by W. F. R. Pover at the University of Birmingham. When the preliminary findings from that study began to show that eating lots of sugar might be associated with heart disease, and even bladder cancer, the ISRF pulled the plug on the research. Without additional funding, the study was terminated and the results were never published, according to a study published today in PLOS Biology. Last year, based on a review of internal … [Read more...] about How the sugar industry tried to hide the health effects of its product 50 years ago
At first glance, it looked like your typical networking event. Three hundred research scientists from packaged-food giant Mars gathered in a Las Vegas ballroom last June, wearing name tags and working the floor. But instead of discussing the latest in M&M packaging or pet food nutrition, the scientists were roaming the room like a band of eager salespeople. Their RFID-enabled name tags lit up each time they met someone they didn’t know, and their eyes widened as they watched diagrams of their social networks form on giant screens at one end of the ballroom. The diagrams expanded like giant molecules each time a manager spoke with a person new to him or her. To encourage the networking, Mars promised prizes to those with the most contacts or "points." The scientists—a largely introverted group from separate divisions in Los Angeles and New Jersey—were moving in a blur of handshakes, nods and cards changing hands.Welcome to social networking for geeks. This … [Read more...] about Social Network Analysis Helps Maximize Collective Smarts