05 May 2009

Reading Assignment

I've been digging around, looking for something to interesting to write about on an energy topic without a lot of luck. Unfortunately I think alternative energy development will slow faster than the rest of the economy. If anyone has any suggestions, please voice them.

In lieu of that, I offer some reading material:

Monsters, Inc.

An article in the New Yorker about how overgrown the finance industry as become, and why it should shrink to better fit the size of the rest of the economy. It's nice to see this meme appear in more 'respectable' corners of the world.

You Walk Wrong

An article from NY Mag on how shoes screw up the natural human walking mechanics.

Civilization's Cost: The Decline and Fall of Human Health
(requires subscription)

An short update on the status of research into the health status of paleolithic humans. Not only have humans shrunk physically since the introduction of grains to the diet some 10,000 years ago, Americans are now also shorter than in the 1950s. What the article doesn't mention is that brain volume is now much smaller than it was in the paleolithic-era too. The cynic in me wonders if brain volume has also shrunk since the 1950s.

Diet and health. What can you believe: or does bacon kill you?

Are nitrates/nitrites in meat hazardous (as opposed to nitrates/nitrites in vegetables)? David Colquhoun takes a look at the science and finds it wanting. In particular, check out the dose response curves. Any actual correlation is probably due to healthy patient bias. People who are concerned about their health don't eat bacon because they think its unhealthy, not because it necessarily is. Personally, I think that the quality of processed meats varies wildly from vendor to vendor. I buy bacon from Hutterites; it doesn't have an ingredient label.

Comparative Anatomy and Physiology Brought Up to Date

The site Beyond Vegetarianism seems to exist primarily to beat up on all fruit diets. Now there's a hard target! Nonetheless, they have some excellent articles on the likely dietary habits of paleolithic man. The article I linked goes through an extended discussion of what humans probably evolved to eat, given what we know about the anatomy of modern humans and our ancestors.


mrshaba said...

You've written on the subject previously but you could revisit demand side management. In particular demand response (DR) and real time pricing (RTP).

US regulators and regional transmission authorities have been moving towards adopting a performance standard for grid management. It turns out that loads can respond to system transients faster than generators so why eschew the former for the later? Money, momentum, etc. The usual suspects.

The ability to measure time of use with smart meters will inevitably lead to real time pricing. This should also drive demand response technologies.

mrshaba said...

You might also consider another photovoltaics update. Have you seen what's happened to wafer prices in the last three months? Incredible.

Engineer-Poet said...

I'd worry about this "height of Americans" thing; the USA has imported many millions of immigrants from short-statured stock, so anything but a longitudinal study comparing parents to children is going to yield bogus results.

Nick G said...

E-P is right about height since the 1950's.

Also, the assumption that height is related to quality of food is incorrect: height is most strongly correlated with calory consumption, so all this study tells us is that hunter-gatherers had more food per person, and that we already knew.