Categories:
  Archives:  
Search Site:

 01 November 2014

Wisconsin Girl Did Not Die Because of HPV Vaccine

October 22nd, 2014

On July 30 of this year, twelve year old Meredith Prohaska visited her doctor. She was suffering from a sore throat, but aside from that she seemed to be in good health and had no history of major health problems. While at the doctor, she received the HPV vaccine. After returning home she took a nap. A few hours later, her mother found her dead.

It’s an understatement to say that this story is tragic. One cannot even imagine the shock and grief suffered by her parents and family and the pain of her absence, which they will endure for the rest of their lives. By all accounts Meredith was a vibrant girl with a promising future.

Her death was covered extensively in the news media, always reported as having died shortly after getting the HPV vaccine. Her mother and father both suspected that the vaccine was to blame. It’s not surprising that they would, seeing as no other explanation seemed to be available for her death.

Reporting in the mainstream media has had the usual sensational undertones. But other sites have done far worse. The story was taken up by nearly every anti-vaccine group around, with claims that the HPV vaccine certainly killed this young woman. This has been held up as proof of vaccine injury and that the HPV vaccine is dangerous or deadly.

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted in Bad Science, Good Science, Quackery

Attempt to Use Solar Power At Protest Fails When Power Proves Inadiquate

October 16th, 2014

I have little else to say about this. However, it goes to show why there is an electrical grid that feeds reliable power to homes and businesses. Power which is generated by fossil fuels, nuclear or hydroelectric energy sources. If we tried to run things on solar panels like this, similar results would occur.

Perhaps they should have used larger batteries to power the fans. Apparently it’s usually powered with gas-driven generators, which are somewhat cleaner than coal, but still produce emissions and consume fossil fuels.




Posted in Bad Science, Enviornment, Just LAME, media, Nuclear

No, Vaccines Do Not Contain Aborted Fetuses

October 13th, 2014

Yet another claim about vaccines and autism has been making the rounds.  It claims that autism may be the result of human fetus tissue, which is present in vaccines and is incorporated into the DNA of the individual vaccinated.

The implications beyond autism are disturbing to many, especially those who oppose abortion.  In any case, it seems very offputting to think about being injected with the cells of a dead fetus.

Via CBS News:

Vaccines and autism: a new scientific review
Most people will find it hard to believe that human DNA is contained in up to 23 different vaccines due to the fact a lot of the viruses are grown on aborted fetal tissue. As a result of the viruses being grown on aborted fetal tissue it is nearly impossible to separate residue from the fetuses completely from the vaccines. This adds a whole new element to the vaccination debate for those who are pro life. I don’t think many people would knowingly inject aborted fetal tissue into their children. Would you?

In a recent study by the Journal of Immunotoxicology entitled Theoretical aspects of autism: Causes–A review, the report even goes so far as to say that this can be linked to the spike in rates of autism. The basic reason the Journal points out the immune system is tricked into associating harmful viruses with human DNA. Then the immune system starts attacking human tissue in your own body. The scientist Helen Ratajczak who did the study and wrote the report says,

“Because it’s human DNA and recipients are humans, there’s homologous recombinaltion tiniker. That DNA is incorporated into the host DNA. Now it’s changed, altered self and body kills it. Where is this most expressed? The neurons of the brain. Now you have body killing the brain cells and it’s an ongoing inflammation. It doesn’t stop, it continues through the life of that individual.”

This is absolutely not a scientific review. This is just banter from a known anti-vaccine activist who likes to get media attention. Such unscientific claims are not uncommon and often are inflammatory or gut-wrenching.

There is absolutely no human tissue present in vaccines. However, even if there was, it would not cause the recipient to somehow absorb the genetic material.
Rather, the body would quickly mount an immune response to the foreign cells, which can be dramatic and, in extreme cases, even result in death. This is why powerful immune-suppresant drugs are require for organ donation.

Of course, we are exposed to the DNA of other individuals all the time. Kissing someone is likely to transfer skin cells from inside the mouth and result in ingesting some of the cells, along with their DNA. Sex involves the exchange of body fluids that are teaming with human DNA. DNA is also present in blood transfusions. Studies have found that the DNA of a blood donor can be detected in a recipient up to a week after the transfusion. However, the DNA never incorporates into the other cells of the body.

There’s also plenty of DNA and genetic material in the animal and plant material we constantly eat. Despite what many anti-gmo activists say, this DNA doesn’t affect the body of anyone who eats it. It’s mostly broken down in the digestive tract anyway, but regardless, it is not absorbed directly into living cells.

If any of this were true, it would have vast implications. It would also mean that handling blood or bodily fluids would carry additional hazards, beyond viruses or bacterial pathogens. The blood could actually modify your own genetic code. Criminals who are afraid they may have left DNA at a crime scene could just expose themselves to human tissue samples, altering their DNA and assuring that any DNA tests come up negative.

On the bright side, It would make it easy to alter the DNA of any individual, offering new treatments for genetic disease. Those who receive donated organs could have their DNA changed to that of the donor and thus avoid rejection. But, of course, none of this is real and human tissue can’t do that.

Where this seems to have come from:

Many viruses require human cells to grow in. When these viruses are needed to produce vaccines, it is common to use human sell cultures.  These are simply cells that are alive in the laboratory but not part of any person.  Human cells are obtained from certified cell banks.

These cultures come from a number of “lines,” meaning they are clones of a given group of cells.  Many of these cell lines date back to the 1960′s and have been used to produce vaccines up to the present day.  Of course, the original cells need to come from somewhere.  These cells could be sourced from any number of specimens.  It would be possible, for example, to draw cells from a biopsy of a healthy person and create a culture from them.

All adult cells have what is known as the Hayflick limit.  It’s  limit to the number of times  a cell can reproduce.  If adult cells were used for tissue cultures, they would have to be reharvested and new tissue cultures made on a frequent basis.  Fetal cells can survive for many more generations, making them ideal for producing tissue cultures.

Some of these cell lines originated with electively aborted fetuses.  Others did not.  However, in no case are actual fetal cells, from the original fetus used in the production of vaccines.  These are many generations away from the original cultured cells.

In fact, even the Vatican, which is strongly opposed to abortion has issued a statement saying that these vaccines are perfectly fine to use.

One should also remember that there are no human cells in the final product.  The viruses are extracted from the cell culture and processed, leaving very little residual matter from the tissue culture in the final vaccine.


Posted in Bad Science, media, Quackery

A Look At Russian Nuclear Icebreakers

October 13th, 2014

Given that Russian territorial waters include large areas of the far north, it’s no surprise that Russia has some of the world’s largest and most capable icebreakers.  A few of these are of the nuclear-powered variety.

Nuclear power is ideally suited to icebreakers, because it provides nearly limitless energy for propulsion and on board needs like heating and electricity.   Icebreakers tend to consume a lot of fuel, both because of their need for heat and because of the resistance posed by the ice, which requires large and powerful engines.  Nuclear power assures the ships will never be stranded in ice with low fuel and gives them the ability to run at full power without concern for fuel burned.

Russia’s fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers are the most capable ice-breaking ships in the world.  The icebreaker Artika was the first non-submarine to make it all the way to the North Pole, something few other ships could do.

In recent years, the icebreakers have been used in antarctic and arctic cruises, bringing passengers places few other ships could.  It’s not entirely clear if the contract for cruises on these ships will be renewed in future years, but at present, for the price of about nineteen thousand Euro, you can visit the antarctic from the comfort of a huge nuclear icebreaker.  Accommodations  on board are extremely comfortable, but because these ships were not built to be cruise liners, there’s only room for about one hundred guests.

A look inside really illustrates just what can be done with nuclear energy.  When you have limitless power at your disposal, anything is possible, including providing the creature comforts of home in an extremely harsh environment, with subzero temperatures while easily breaking through the toughest pack ice.

And yes, that is a swimming pool.  A small one, but a swimming pool none the less.  Why did they decide to put a pool on an icebreaker?  My guess is just to show off the fact that these icebreakers are such engineering masterpieces that nothing, not even swimming, needs to be omitted in the arctic and antarctic.   There are also saunas, libraries, gym areas and small theaters on the icebreakers.

Such recreational facilities also provide the crews of such icebreakers with much needed rest and relaxation during deployments in that can last several months.  For an escape from the dark and cold of the poles, they also have conservatory-like rooms with plants bathed in artificial sunlight.

The comforts, however, should not detract from appreciating the extreme capabilities of these ships.  They can cruise at more than twenty knots and break through some of the thickest ice in the world.  Their twin nuclear reactors are capable of delivering more than 350 megawatts of thermal power and providing 75,000 or more horsepower to the ship’s propellors.

These photos are not all of the same icebreaker

50-Years-of-Victory-01yamal image 3146_mobynova.com9025993203_c4ef2dd5c9_b

atomicicebreaker005-22atomicicebreaker005-21atomicicebreaker005-20atomicicebreaker005-18

atomicicebreaker005-12atomicicebreaker005-13atomicicebreaker005-14atomicicebreaker005-15

atomicicebreaker005-27242320

atomicicebreaker005-3050-Years-of-Victory-10atomicicebreaker005-328275171998_f6f2a11f70_k

atomicicebreaker005-11atomicicebreaker005-9atomicicebreaker005-4226

8713967046_427410452f_k8712844013_4d8cbee40b_katomicicebreaker005-37atomicicebreaker005-34

50-Years-of-Victory-093atomicicebreaker005-36atomicicebreaker005-35

50-Years-of-Victory-04007atomicicebreaker005-46atomicicebreaker005-44

atomicicebreaker005-47atomicicebreaker005-45atomicicebreaker005-43009

2150-Years-of-Victory-16336b0c558490732a2443896b64388d4b8713966876_d8b2269b2d_k

5General_AR_ShipVIC_int5_2010atomicicebreaker005-4018

1071519

6atomicicebreaker005-411617

1250-Years-of-Victory-0813atomicicebreaker005-39

011008010004

The US Coast Guard operates a fleet of large icebreakers.  They’re very capable by any standard, but they are nothing compared to these nuclear-powered ships.  Like most of the world’s icebreakers, the Coast Guard uses conventional oil-fired propulsion.

One can only imagine the possibilities if nuclear power of this type were more widely embraced and deployed for marine propulsion.  Building a large number would undoubtedly bring the cost down, due to economics of scale.

Sources of Photos:

Natural Habitat
Eformable Nuclear NewsMoby Nova
English Russia
Poseidon Expiditions
Arctic Centre On Flicr


Posted in Good Science, History, Misc, Nuclear

Excellent Article On the Origin of Chemtrail Conspiracy Theories

October 8th, 2014

Of all the conspiracy theories out there, it’s one of the strangest and dumbest.  The idea that contrails, which have been a common site since aircraft started flying at high altitudes in the 1940′s, are, in fact, chemicals designed for something evil.  Depending on who you ask, it could be mind control, depopulation, weather modification or something else.  Those who subscribe to the conspiracy theory take it very seriously and think those who don’t must be blind “sheeple.”

But where on earth did this whole concept come from?

IO9 has an excellent article on the history of the chemtrail conspiracy theory, tracking it back to the 1990′s, when a combination of sensational reporting and speculation on weather modification resulted in the first claims that aircraft were actively spraying chemicals in some kind of conspiracy by the government. There is a grain of truth in the original claims – namely, that the military did investigate cloud seeding and other forms of weather modification and even employed them during the Vietnam war.  However, the conspiracy theories quickly went far past that.

Documentaries came later, along with online communities.  There were some “investigations,” if you can call them that, which are cited as evidence of chemtrails.  Among these are analysis reports that found aluminum in rainwater.  This is not surprising, because aluminum is one of the most common elements in the earth’s crust and rain typically picks up some dust, such as soil blown into the wind.

The article is worth a read as a case study in how a wacky conspiracy theory is born and eventually becomes populare.

 


Posted in Bad Science, Conspiracy Theories, Culture, Just LAME, Links

Trying out ads again

September 29th, 2014

Apologies in advance, but I could use some extra cash.  Feel free to use your favorite ad-blocker if you really don’t want to see them.

We’ll see how this works out.  If they’re just too obtrusive, I’ll get rid of them.


Posted in Announcements, Website

Where Humans Can go in the Solar System

September 29th, 2014

In recent years there has been much discussion about human space exploration venturing beyond the earth-moon system to take on Mars and possibly other planets.  In light of this, I decided to do a little research to determine exactly what celestial bodies are suitable for human exploration.  Certainly, humans can fly by most any part of the solar system, should they have an advanced enough spacecraft.  But there are a limited number of places where surface exploration is possible.  What qualifies these places is the ability to survive in any current or foreseeable space suite or any kind of reasonable habitation module.

Since we are far from having any kind of faster than light travel (which, if possible at all, requires warping space or using some kind of artificial wormhole) and we are not ready for multi-generational spacecraft, the solar system is pretty much what we are stuck with.

It seems the places we can actually send humans are pretty limited.  There is definitely Mars, but after that, what comes next?   Possibly some of the moons of Jupiter, assuming its worth our while to send humans there in the future.   Mars appears to be the best candidate for any kind of permanent or semi-permanent colonization or station.

Places humans could visit with reasonable habitat modules and/or spacesuits:

Mercury - Possibly on the side that faces away from the sun, but it’s questionable whether it would be worth visiting.

Venus - The temperature and pressure on the surface are far too high for a spacesuit.  Manned flybys, however, have been considered in the past.

Earth’s Moon - Yes, obviously, since it has been done.  The environment is certainly harsh, but well within the capabilities of a spacesuit.

Ceres - A dwarf planet that is the largest member of the asteroid belt.  It could be visited by humans in spacesuits for surface study, but it is so small that it would be possible to jump off it into space.  The gravity is not sufficient to allow walking around on it.  Therefore, it would be more like clinging to the surface and floating around it than it would be “landing” on it in the normal sense.

Other asteroids - Again, lack of gravity makes surface exploration in the sense of walking impossible.  It’s possible human exploration of an asteroid would be worthwhile.  Some asteroids may have orbits that make them easier to get to than mars or other planets.  The scientific value of this may be questionable.  An asteroid does not seem like a good place to position any kind of manned outpost or colony.

Mars - The environment on mars is certainly within the capabilities of a spacesuit.  The gravity is more than sufficient for relatively normal movement.  Mars is also close enough to earth to make a trip to and from Mars practical for a crew.  This is probably the best place for exploration beyond the earth-moon system, although asteroids have been suggested as well.

Phobos - The largest moon of mars, but still much smaller than our own moon and more similar to Ceres in size.  There is no atmosphere and it should be within the capabilities of spacesuits, but again, hard to really walk around on because of the small size and lack of strong gravity.  It has the advantage of being easier to take off from than the surface of mars, due to such little gravity.

Jupiter - No.  The gas giants are out of the question.  Not only is it a massive ball of gas, with nothing to stand on, but the pressure is far too high for survival, not to mention the crushing gravity.  Probes that visited the area around Jupiter discovered that it has powerful radiation belts, which could be a problem for even a manned flyby.

 Io (Moon of Jupiter) - Quite possible.  It is only slightly larger than our own moon, so it has a fair amount of gravity.  Radiation might or might not be an issue.  The distance from the sun would make it very cold, necessitating heated space suits.

Europe (Moon of Jupiter) - Also possible.  Good size, but the surface characteristics are less well known.  It is believed to be covered with either ice or a cold brittle rock.  The surface therefore may or may not be suitable for exploration.  Again, radiation and cold are issues.

Ganymede (Moon of Jupiter) - Similar to Io, but larger and thus more gravity on the surface, but still much smaller than earth.  Possible, but cold and radiation are concerns.

Callisto - Possible, rocky moon similar to Io and Ganymede

Saturn - No.  Again, as with Jupiter, the gas giant has massive gravity and no place to stand.

Titan (moon of Saturn) - It’s hard to say but it might be possible.  It’s larger than our own moon.  It has its own dense atmosphere, which is unusual for a moon.  It would be very cold and harsh, but maybe within the capabilities of future space suits and habitats.   With Saturn and its moons, the distance of the travel and thus the time exposed to cosmic radiation and weightlessness become an issue, although this could be overcome with a powerful enough rocket, such as a nuclear pulsed propulsion system.

Other moons of Saturn - Saturn has dozens of moons, with Titan being the largest.  Most of the moons are small and unappealing for manned exploration.

Uranus - No. It is a gas giant, though smaller than Jupiter and Saturn.

Moons of Uranus - Some might be possible, but the extreme distance becomes a concern.  None appear especially appealing.

Neptune – As with the others, no landing on this gas giant.

Moons of Neptune - Only one moon is of substantial size, Triton.  It might be possible, but cold, distance and radiation are issues.

Pluto and Satellites - Though no longer considered a planet, it could be a target worth investigating.  Probably not worth human exploration.  Not only is it far enough from the sun to be super cold, but the distance would necessitate many years in transit to and from it.   The same is true with other Kuiper belt objects.


Posted in Good Science, Misc, Space

How to prevent cancer – real, scientifically proven ways

September 26th, 2014

Since alternative medicine seems to claim that it can prevent cancer completely and that conventional medicine does not seem to care, I thought I would share some medically-proven methods for reducing your chances of cancer mortality.  Note that not all of these prevent cancer from happening, but most cases are very treatable when caught early, so it will prevent dying of cancer.

It’s not 100% of course.  You are just reducing the overall probability that you will die of cancer.  Eventually, something is going to kill you.  Some system is going to stop functioning or something will go wrong.  There’s a fairly good chance cancer will kill you, although heart disease is even more probable.

 

#1 Live an overall healthy lifestyle - This is a bit vague, but basically you can reduce your chances of cancer, and damn near every other ailment by doing some common-sense things like exercising regularly, maintaining an optimal weight, without a lot of extra body fat, keeping your calorie consumption in check, getting plenty of sleep and trying not to stress out too much about things. It’s not rocket science, but few of us are nearly perfect in this regard.  Good health means less stress on cells, a more robust immune system and thus your chances of cancer are lower.  Although the effect may not be that dramatic.

#2 Avoid known lifestyle carcinogens - People get very worked up about potential carcinogens like industrial chemicals or ionizing radiation.  But in fact, there are some very common ones that can make a huge impact on cancer risk.  The most obvious is tobacco use.  It increases the risk of lung cancer, throat cancer, esophageal cancer and oral cancers.  Another big one is exposure to sunlight or artificial tanning beds.  It is best not to intentionally tan keep sun exposure to a minimum, as sun exposure increases the risk of skin cancer. Sunscreen can be helpful in this regard. Finally, excessive drinking may increase the risk of cancer of the esophagus and of liver cancer.  Light drinking does not seem to be associated with an increase in risk.

Ionizing radiation, benzene, formaldehyde, PCB’s and alike are not usually worth worrying about.  Of course, you should still avoid excessive exposure to such compounds, should you be in a situation where you work with them.

#3  Get all recommended regular screenings – This includes prostate exams, skin cancer screenings, colonoscopies, mammograms and similar other procedures that detect cancer or per-cancerous growths early.  The recommendations have changed for some of these procedures, so check with your doctor.  Just visiting the doctor for a regular checkup can be helpful in catching conditions early.  Additionally, oral cancers are often first detected by dentists, so dental exams shouldn’t be skipped either.

#4 Be vigilant and do self-examinations - Between appointments, keep an eye on your skin and look for moles or blemishes that are unusual looking, are new or which have changed in size or shape.  Women should do breast self-exams and men should do testicular cancer self-exams.  In the event that you find something, get it checked out right away.

 

So, yes, conventional medicine does include preventive methods, which are scientifically proven.  You don’t need a magic herbal product or an organic diet to reduce your risk of cancer.  Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try, your risk will never be zero.  But that’s life.


Posted in Bad Science

Spectroscopy Now For the Everyman

September 17th, 2014

For those who don’t know, I have a bit of a side hobby fixing and using radiation detection equipment, such as Geiger counters.   If you’re not into amateur science and nuclear science/energy, this may not seem very exciting.

Geiger counters and other basic radiation detectors are great for getting a general idea what the background radiation is or finding radioactive materials.  However, they have their limitations.  A Geiger-Muller detector only tells you when a gamma photon (or alpha or beta particle) is detected.  It does not provide the energy level of the radiation.  Since Geiger-Muller tubes respond differently to different energy levels of gamma emissions, it’s difficult to get a completely accurate assessment of what the dose rate is.  A rough approximation is still possible, but a reading of the energy levels provides much more information.

In addition to better dose estimates, being able to measure the energy levels of gamma photons allows for identification of isotope which is being detected.  Gamma-emitting isotopes produce emissions at characteristic energy levels, and by measuring these energy levels it is possible to determine what kind of isotope is present.  It is also possible to tune a detector to measure only the desired energy levels and thereby pick up on a desired isotope’s emissions.

Bellow is a graph showing gamma measurements of a variety of radioactive materials.

Fig-4-3

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted in Good Science, Misc, Nuclear

Anti-Vaxers Now Against All Life-Saving Injections

September 10th, 2014

Vitamin K shots have been a mainstay of care for newborns for some time. 0.5 to 1.0 mg vitamin K1 is administered to newborns shortly after birth in the US and similar standards exist in most industrial countries. The occurrence of vitamin K deficiencies in newborns and bleeding problems associated with it has been estimated as high as 1.7%. It is more common in premature infants and can lead to hospitalization, brain damage, or death.

It turns out that the routine supplementation of vitamin K for all babies is a very effective way of preventing these problems. It’s also simple, cheap and safe.

Unfortunately, despite the importance of the shots, many are not refusing them. Predictably, deficiencies have gone up.

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted in Bad Science, Quackery