Prophylactic vs. Poison

The will of the voters in Portland, Oregon has endured for more than fifty years, for the fourth time rejecting fluoridation of the city’s tap water in a ballot referendum.  On Respectful Insolence, Orac writes “public water supplies are a precious commodity. To justify putting something in them requires good evidence of safety and efficacy.”  And continues “since 1945 the fluoridation of drinking water has reduced tooth decay by 40-70% in children and tooth loss in adults by 40-60%.”  Orac respects Portlanders’ right to more cavities, but says “classic antiscience arguments” won the day at the polls.  There were posters and comics likening fluoride to a deadly poison—which, in drastically different concentrations, it is.  Orac says “the dose makes the poison, and the levels used in municipal water supplies has a long history of safety.”  Elizabeth Grossman chronicles a different poison on The Pump Handle: lead, which according to the CDC, will harm you from any exposure.  Unlike fluoride, lead plays no known role in human health, and can cause severe neurological damage.  But it does have useful properties when mixed with paint (among other things).  The US banned lead paint in 1977, but it still exists in some 30 million homes across the country, and is still used worldwide.


ScienceBlogger Pies!

If coming back for seconds is indulgent, then this eighth helping of Pi Day Pies makes us pure hedonists. But hey, the dessert table is the new water cooler.

First, Travis Saunders and his girlfriend cobbled together their own entry on Obesity Panacea, a vegetarian Raspberry Pie that uses agar instead of gelatin. With apple juice, maple syrup, almonds, and oatmeal, this pie looks healthy as well as delicious.

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On Adventures in Ethics and Science, Janet Stemwedel offers another vegetarian pie that combines “rich chocolate, tart cherries, and almonds.” Mind the parentheses in the Chocolate Almond Cherry (Tofu) Pie to achieve your desired texture.


Joanna Pool made two pies on The USA Science and Engineering Festival blog, including the Irrationally Good Chocolate and Basil Pie from a recipe on hogwash. The other pie was—try not to cringe—a vinegar pie. She says it turned out well, but we’ll just take her word for it.


Josh Rosenau rallied a panoply of pies on Thoughts from Kansas, writing “rhubarb pie is the king of pies, with rhubarb-strawberry the queen. Apple pie is the president, a leader but never an aristocrat.” This Tarte Tatin is simply stunning.


James Hrynyshyn opts for the so-called queen of pies with his metrically-measured Strawbarb Pi. He even serves it up on a Pi Plate that takes Pi to nearly 100 digits. Simplicity and complexity side by side.


Vince LiCata teams up with his son on to construct the ambitious Chocolate Pudding Meringue Pi Pi Pie, but warns it “may be frightening to children or people who know how to make pies.” Our arteries are alarmed, but our tongues are gung-ho.


And finally Pamela Ronald serves up a savory option on Tomorrow’s Table with her Swiss Chard-Gruyere Pie. The greens are fresh from her garden, and combined with eggs, milk, and cheese, and crust, look utterly delicious.


And that’s it! If we somehow missed your pie, let us know and we’ll find room for one more.

Going to Pot?

i-4011e68a37a3ecbf2d129afb9d236954-potbuzz.jpgWith medical marijuana now legal in thirteen states, and President Obama’s Attorney General advising Feds not to waste resources on users in compliance with state law, the tide of tetrahydrocannabinol seems to be on the rise. On The Scientific Activist, Nick Anthis reports that the American Medical Association has recently altered its view of the drug, calling for a revised federal classification and more research into its potential medical benefits. PalMD for one will wait and see, writing that “the available clinical data do not give a doctor a clear way to evaluate the risk/benefit ratio of pot.” DrugMonkey shows us a slew of graphs, revealing that “a majority of US respondents” support the outright legalization of marijuana while systematically refuting the legality of other Schedule I substances. DrugMonkey reminds us that all drugs, including alcohol, have differing potentials for harm and dependency, and compares the attitudes and usage trends of different US demographics.

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World AIDS Day

i-888f669f656d9aa842b1723719695d19-aidsbuzz.jpgIn the nearly thirty years since AIDS was first diagnosed, the disease has killed tens of millions of people, and more than 33 million are currently infected with HIV worldwide. Although recent UN reports show the number of new infections is falling, AIDS remains a major global issue. So take some time today for a retroviral education on ERV. New vaccine research suggests that inoculating cells with a gene that produces a protein found in HIV’s envelope can “prime” the immune system to start recognizing the invader. Refuting bigots, ERV also says that “HIV/AIDS research does not only benefit HIV/AIDS patients. Our understanding of the human immune system and cell biology has increased exponentially because of HIV/AIDS research.” Of course, not everyone takes such a scientific view, and Ed Brayton reports on Dispatches From the Culture Wars that “Uganda is currently considering an incredibly brutal anti-gay law” which includes putting individuals infected with HIV to death. So in the face of the pandemic, speak up, get tested, be safe, observe a moment of silence, and learn all you can.

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