Friday, August 21, 2009
With an annual budget of $30 billion, NIH was already the world's top funded research agency; now throw in another $10.4 billion from this year's stimulus package and you
should have an organization that can respond to every challenge. The new director, Francis Collins, outlined his priorities this week, including health-care reform and the
translation of research into medicine. Collins also addressed concerns that his evangelical Christian interests might influence the operation of NIH. He resigned from
BioLogos, the foundation he created to explore science and faith, and insists that his "personal interests" will not interfere with his judgments as director of NIH.
An article by Natasha Singer in the business section of Wednesday's New
York Times calls attention to ghostwritten scientific papers. Singer
alleges that faculty at major medical schools routinely allow their names to be added to scientific papers that are ghostwritten for them by pharmaceutical companies, thus
fattening their resume even if no money changes hands. As you might expect, the papers report that some drug produced by the company is beneficial. They are not even
written by scientists at the drug company; a medical-writing company is hired to crank them out. This practice won't stop until the NIH, which controls most of the grant
money, penalizes participating faculty.
I still have global warming deniers sending me stories about how cold it is this summer in East Cupcake, Nebraska or someplace. But they didn't send me the Associated Press
story this week on ocean temperatures. Because of its high specific heat, water temperature changes slowly. The National Climatic Data Center reported this week that the
average global ocean temperature in July was 62.6F, the hottest since record-keeping began in 1880. Another record: there are actually people in the water at beaches in
An alert reader sent me the URL for Magniwork. Its an assemble-it- yourself home generator that powers itself http://www.magniwork.com .
Joe Newman made the same claim
http://bobpark.physics.umd.edu/WN89/wn081889.html. So did Steorn just recently http://bobpark.physics.umd.edu/WN09/wn062609.html .
In the final stages it leads to dementia and finally death. Last seen in the United States during the Great Depression, it continues to show up in Africa. Ironically, it is
linked to a World Food Program that supplied Maize to stave off starvation. Unfortunately, Maize lacks vitamin B3, causing Pelagra. Starvation is officially blamed on crop
failures, but crops fail because productive farms were divided into tiny parcels that cannot support a family.