Inflammatory Claims About Inflammation

We all appreciate the elegance of simple solutions to complex problems. But we know too that simplicity can often masquerade as truth, hiding a more nuanced reality. Such is the case with inflammation, where pseudoscience, exaggerated claims, false promises, and dangerous oversimplification have dominated for too long. Here is a typical missive:

“Inflammation controls our lives. Have you or a loved one dealt with pain, obesity, ADD/ADHD, peripheral neuropathy, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, migraines, thyroid issues, dental issues, or cancer? If you answered yes to any of these disorders you are dealing with inflammation.”

Well, no, inflammation does not control our lives. Like many others, this author claims inflammation is responsible for a huge range of maladies, ranging from Alzheimer’s to lupus to stroke to fibromyalgia; I counted 30 on this site. As a biologist, and author of a book on diet and nutrition, I find this to be nothing but cringe-worthy. Yes, inflammation is terribly important, and as we will see, associated with disease. But the oversimplification and weak link to biology that we find on sites like these are misdirection from understanding what is actually happening in our bodies. Such misunderstanding leads to odd nutritional or medical recommendations that are useless at best or dangerous at worst.

Dr. Wajahat Mehal has written an excellent lay-person-friendly overview of the latest in inflammation research can be found in the most recent issue of Scientific American. I urge anybody making any claims about inflammation, or contemplating dietary or behavioral changes based on concern about it, to read this article.

Here is the crux of the problem. Yes, indeed, as Dr. Mehal notes, “inflammasomes are at the heart of a wide range of diseases and disorders.” But before —> Read More

Mystery Saiga Antelope Die-Off Stumps Scientists

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Endangered, adorable Saiga antelope are dying off at a terrifying rate in Kazakhstan — and nobody knows why.

More than a third of the world’s population of saigas has died off in the past month. The cause has stumped scientists and sparked conspiracy theories.

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A month ago, Kazakhstan was home to 250,000 saigas. The population was considered a conservation success story. Now, the United Nations has confirmed that 120,000 saigas are dead, and the number may continue to rise.

Biologist EJ Milner-Gulland told The Guardian that the evidence points to a highly contagious disease. The U.N. statement said the bacteria Pasteurella and Clostridia are contributing to the die-off. But both bacteria are opportunistic, meaning they only kill animals with weakened immune systems.

Nobody’s sure why so many saigas have succumbed. Kazakh environmentalists blame toxic Russian rocket fuel that may have rained down on the plains after rockets exploded during their launch from a Kazakh site, The Guardian reported.

Saigas are compellingly strange-looking creatures with a distinctive long nose. Male saigas use their capacious nostrils to produce a “nasal roar” during mating season.

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Hubble Captures a Collision in a Black Hole’s “Death Star” Beam

Activity within the jet from NGC 3852 imaged by Hubble. Credit: NASA, ESA, and E. Meyer (STScI).

Activity within a jet from NGC 3862 observed with Hubble over 20 years. Credit: NASA, ESA, and E. Meyer (STScI).

Even the Empire’s planet-blasting battle station has nothing compared to the immense energy being fired from the heart of NGC 3862, a supermassive black hole-harboring elliptical galaxy located 300 million light-years away.

And while jets of high-energy plasma coming from active galactic nuclei have been imaged before, for the first time activity within a jet has been observed in optical wavelengths, revealing a quite “forceful” collision of ejected material at near light speeds.

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© Jason Major for Universe Today, 2015. |
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NASA Orders First Ever Commercial Human Spaceflight Mission from Boeing

Boeing was awarded the first service flight of the CST-100 crew capsule to the International Space Station as part of the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability agreement with NASA in this artists concept.  Credit: Boeing

Boeing was awarded the first service flight of the CST-100 crew capsule to the International Space Station as part of the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability agreement with NASA in this artists concept. Credit: Boeing

The restoration of America’s ability to launch American astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) from American soil in 2017 took a major step forward when NASA ordered the first ever commercial human spaceflight mission from Boeing.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) office gave the first commercial crew rotation mission award to the Boeing Company to launch its CST-100 astronaut crew capsule to the ISS by late 2017, so long as the company satisfactorily meets all of (…)
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