Source unknown (came to me via email.)
A personal website written by Richard Gaywood.
I write about Apple at TUAW, technology and science at Action at a Distance, and about food at Objection: Salad!. I'm on Twitter too: @penllawen. I put pictures on flickr and Instagram.
The volcanic ash cloud is a classic case study [in risk management]. Were the government to allow flights to go ahead when the risks were equal to those of road travel, it is almost certain that, over the course of the year, hundreds of people would die in resulting air accidents, since around 2,500 die on the roads each year. This is politically unimaginable, not for good, rational reasons, but because people are much more risk averse when it comes to plane travel than they are to driving their own cars.
We had this exact discussion in work the other day, but I didn’t try and dig any numbers up. What I find odd is that, logically, this diagram required a dual-classed volcanologist/graphic designer to make, but Jason was nowhere to be seen! (via informationisbeautiful)
I’m not so sure. I don’t believe ‘science’ is against obesity. Science should have no say in the matter.
Perhaps we’re talking at cross purposes? The consequences of obesity are pretty well established; it leads to heart disease, strokes, diabetes, and a raft of other bad things. I think that part of the debate science definitely has a role to play in.
That said, one of my favourite pieces of scientific trivia: if you correlate some measure of obesity, say BMI, against life expectancy you see a small improvement when you are slightly overweight. This is because most well-to-do people are slightly overweight, and most well-to-do people live a bit longer due to a host of social factors like education levels and private healthcare. Of course, correlation does not imply causation.
Obesity is a matter of social policy if it is a matter at all.
Ah, and now the wider question; if doctors tell us people are getting fatter, and science tells us that means people are going to die earlier (and cost more to look after), what should the government do about it?
Again, here in the UK, no-one has really tried much yet. No-one really knows what to try, I think, and I’m not sure that problem is confined to the UK. Mostly it seems to revolve around informing people of the serious health risks to being overweight, some social programs to build sports facilities, and hoping people will make smarter choices.
Whether or not you think government should do more, I don’t think it really can. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him burn off 500kcal cantering around before eating a dinner of low-fat hay.
Of course, you and I both live in cradle-to-grave social welfare states. As societies, we long ago invited the government to make many of our personal choices for us. When we asked to government to be responsible for our healthcare, we tacitly accepted that it would force us to make certain ‘choices’ for our own good.
Hmmm. I’m trying to think of instance were the UK healthcare forces people to improve their health, but I can’t come up with any. In the case of obesity, in extreme cases they can prescribe weight loss medication; for smokers they provide quite a lot of support if they want to quit, like cheap or free nicotine supplements, support classes and whatnot. But at no point I can think of does the NHS force a lifestyle change on a patient.
Thus we tax (in my country) pre-prepared foods, but not fresh vegetables. The hope is that it will make us choose healthier options. Sadly, it just makes the food choices of the time-poor (and cash-poor) blue collar worker more expensive.
Well I certainly agree that’s stupid. If we’re going to start in on the ill-thought-out attempts by government to influence our decisions though subtle levers like taxes, we’re both going to be at it a looong time!
In the UK, I don’t think there’s any such move. In fact the only anti-obesity measures I can think of was legislation to force all prepackaged food manufacturers to print full nutrition information on their products, which I don’t think is a bad thing.
I cannot find a source for this quotation, which I’ve used a lot over the years:
It’s really quite simple. Magnets are things that exhibit the property of magnetism. Magnetism is the set of properties exhibited by magnets. Any questions?
I was well into a physics degree before I could give you any better an answer than that.
Now I’m reading the Wikipedia page on Laika and fighting back tears.
Laika, a stray, … underwent training with two other dogs, and was eventually chosen as the occupant of the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 2 that was launched into outer space on November 3, 1957. Sputnik 2 was not designed to be retrievable, and Laika had always been intended to die
Laika died within hours after launch from overheating, possibly due to a failure of the central R-7 sustainer to separate from the payload. The true cause and time of her death was not made public until 2002; instead, it was widely reported that she died when her oxygen ran out, or (as the Soviets initially insisted) she was euthanised prior to oxygen depletion.
A small monument in her honor was built near the military research facility in Moscow which prepared Laika’s flight to space. It features a dog standing on top of a rocket.
Before the launch, one of the scientists took Laika home to play with his children. In a book chronicling the story of Soviet space medicine, Dr. Vladimir Yazdovsky wrote, “I wanted to do something nice for her: She had so little time left to live.”
Over five months later, after 2,570 orbits, Sputnik 2 disintegrated—along with Laika’s remains—during re-entry on April 14, 1958.
In 1988 Oleg Gazenko, the scientist who chose Laika, said:
Work with animals is a source of suffering to all of us. We treat them like babies who cannot speak. The more time passes, the more I’m sorry about it. We shouldn’t have done it… We did not learn enough from this mission to justify the death of the dog.