Friday, December 11, 2015

Sugar, Nanoparticles & Other Strange Relations Dec16015

Some recent science finds of note

SUGAR SHOCKER … “Contrary to parental belief, sugar may actually cause drowsiness, not hyperactivity,” says Laura Sanders in Science News (Aug. 8th). According to a recent scientific study in the Journal of Neuroscience, key brain cells awash in glucose put mice to sleep … “We all experience this strong feeling of sleepiness after a very large meal,” reports French co-author Christophe Varin of the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center. Those study results suggest that sugar is the cause for these post-meal naps … This correlates with a 2006 study published in Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental which found that high-energy drinks, often loaded with sugar, can lead to quick surges of alertness. But over time, such high-sugar drinks, that have little caffeine, may actually enhance sleepiness.

NANOPARTICLES … According to Science News (Oct. 31th), many of us have been noshing on all manner of nanoparticles for some time. Explained Susan Gaidos, “Over the last two decades, nano-sized components – smaller than 100 nanometers – have found their way into a wide range of products: clothing, electronics and cosmetics as well as food” … Some of the more common teensy tiny additives include titanium dioxide, silicon dioxide and zinc oxide. Recent studies have suggested that these tiny compounds may not be as benign as originally thought, and most studies have focused on potential harm to the intestinal tract. But Dr. James Waldman is worried about studies that show that these nanoparticles don’t stay in one place in the body. “Particles are getting into the bloodstream,” he noted, “and once they’re there, they can go on to any other organ” … Foods with significant amounts of titanium dioxide include Hostess powdered Donettes, Kool-Aid blue raspberry, M&M chocolate candy, Betty Crocker whipped cream frosting, Trident White peppermint gum, Jell-O banana cream pudding, Mother’s iced oatmeal cookies, Albertson’s mini-marshmallows and Vanilla milkshake Pop-Tarts.

STRANGE RELATIONSScience News reported in August on an article that appeared in Science magazine earlier in the year, which turns our view of evolutionary branchings on its head. Gone are the “kingdoms” of the old biology tree of life. Humans and animals get lumped in with mushrooms and eukaryotic microorganisms under the supergroup heading “Opisthokonts” – derived from two Greek words meaning “rear poles.” Opisthokonts refers to the common characteristic of organisms having flagellate cells, such as the sperm of most animals and the spores of chytrid fungi, which propel themselves with a single posterior flagellum … I suppose we might start fine-tuning our insults of variously undesirable humans from ass-holes to ass-poles.

ARCHIVE … It’s a little tricky to find my column’s on the Watch’s on-line site. You have to go to the “E-edition” hot key, get the issue you’re interested in, and scroll down to the column … So, I’ve created a personal blog in case some folks want to see the column and make comments. Go to … I currently have four columns up and running and will post future ones after they’ve been published in the Watch.

POETRY … In 1992, 17 percent of Americans said they read a poem at least once in the past year. In 2012 that number fell to just 6.7 percent, according to the Washington Post  But this January the Telluride Institute’s Talking Gourds Poetry Club will be attempting to turn that focus around with a First Tuesday reading at Arroyo’s in Telluride that will feature famed Southwestern master poet Judyth Hill teaming up with international pop sensation and poet Jewel (Kilcher). It’s free. Don’t miss.

KEVIN RITTER … The general manager of San Miguel Power Association is retiring after eight years on the job. And what a productive eight years it has been … Taking over at the start of a significant economic downturn and in the middle of a lawsuit controversy over a new 115kV line across Wilson Mesa, things did not look promising in 2007. But working together, the County and Ritter, along with other partners, were able to broker a compromise that allowed the line to be built and undergrounded across much of the region’s most scenic mesa. SMPA went on to build the largest single community-owned solar array in the country, converted its system to automatic metering, retired capital credits (paying money back to its member/owners), shelled out $1 million in Christmas credits in 2014, instituted its EnergyWise newsletter (which I read religiously), is working on a fiber-optic network for the region, offers a green block program, is focused on renewables – the list goes on and on. Of course, to accomplish all this it took strong board backing from the likes of the late Wes Perrin and others, a dedicated local staff and the support of its member/owners … But one has to think Mr. Ritter deserves a huge thank you from our regional community for a job well done.



the desert breaths
thin and spare
January air

no way to soften the sun
no escape
from truth's sharp edges

Carol Anne Modena

Port Townsend

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