Readers Reply to the January 2023 Issue

Readers Reply to the January 2023 Issue


Claudia Wallis properly summarizes the problems with bone well being and calcium metabolism in her guide, “A Weight-reduction plan for Higher Bones.” [The Science of Health]. The article talks concerning the potential dangerous results of extreme alcohol and low consumption. I might add cigarettes to this listing in any amount and in nearly any interval of life.

A routine a part of my follow as a neurosurgeon was evaluating the efficiency of sufferers with osteoporosis and spinal surgical procedure, together with fusion. I shortly noticed that the majority of my sufferers with osteoporosis had been people who smoke, however many initially denied their smoking historical past, particularly till they had been requested in the event that they smoked as a teen. Even a quick historical past of smoking in the course of the prime of bone progress and ossification (adolescence and early maturity) was related to a big elevated danger of osteoporotic fractures in late maturity.

Equally, the speed of profitable backbone surgical procedure—significantly discectomy and fusion—amongst energetic people who smoke was significantly decrease than amongst non-smokers, so I might delay non-emergency surgical procedure till the affected person was free from cigarette smoke for no less than 4, ideally, six weeks. Quite a few research over the next a long time confirmed my anecdotal observations.

As Wallis factors out, vitamin D supplementation in all probability affords little profit for most individuals trying to keep away from osteoporosis. However quitting smoking, or higher but, not smoking in any respect, is definitely very useful.

DANIEL SPITZER Piermont, New York


I loved Herman Pontzer’s article “The Human Engine” about rigorous experiments figuring out age- and lean mass-adjusted tendencies in human metabolism. The “Measuring Metabolism” field shows this information in two graphs, and the massive diploma of scatter concerning the respective regression curves raises much more attention-grabbing questions.

Every distribution level represents a singular particular person, most definitely not “common”. Might the distribution clarify why some individuals have extra issue reducing weight or why a specific weight loss program will not work for everybody? How a lot of that’s right down to genetics versus surroundings? Is it moral to make well being suggestions primarily based on a pattern imply when these outdoors the regression curve could undergo? As well as, new most cancers therapies tailor remedies to the genetics of the person. Do such issues apply to weight loss program and metabolism research?

MARK G. KUZYK Regents Professor of Physics, Washington State College

I used to be stunned that Pontzer made no point out of the intestine microbiota in his article on human metabolism. Every of us coexists with a posh intestinal ecosystem that accommodates extra organisms than cells in our physique. Latest discoveries have made it clear that the intestine microbiota influences many elements of our physiology, from immune perform to psychological well being, and that adjustments attributable to widespread antibiotic use and extremely processed meals probably play a crucial function in explaining the weight problems epidemic. . The intestine microbiota can also be the filter by which all our meals is processed, inextricably linking it to human metabolism. We’re not the one ones utilizing the energy we devour, we’re lacking the “energy in, energy out” formulation that Pontzer talks about.

IRA S. NASH Scarsdale, New York

PONTZER ANSWERS: Understanding the numerous variability we see in day by day power expenditure amongst people is the subsequent frontier in metabolic analysis. We now have a good suggestion of ​​how physique measurement, fats proportion, life-style, and age have an effect on the energy we burn every day, however as readers Kuzyk and Nash level out, there are a lot of unexplained variations. The extent to which these variations replicate genetics or the surroundings just isn’t absolutely understood right now. Our microbiome could also be a crucial piece of the puzzle. Nevertheless, the proof on this entrance is at the moment sparse. Time and extra work will inform.

We regularly do not discover {that a} “quick” or “gradual” metabolism (burning kind of power than we might count on primarily based on an individual’s peak and age) predicts weight achieve or weight problems. I believe the metabolic variation we see tells us one thing about general bodily perform and well being, however these potential hyperlinks are but to be examined..


“The Universe Is Not Regionally Actual,” by Daniel Garisto, reviews how the Bell take a look at is used to rule out the existence of hidden variables, that are unseen elements that would clarify quantum-mechanical phenomena whereas sustaining native realism. Nevertheless, I am nonetheless baffled as to why answering the hidden variables query is not declared unsolvable by this system.

Gariston, “any earlier bodily connection between elements, irrespective of how far previously [emphasis mine], there may be the opportunity of interfering with the validity of the outcomes of a Bell take a look at.” He then describes a “cosmic Bell take a look at” during which researchers use stars “far sufficient” in order that gentle from one doesn’t attain the opposite for hundreds of years. However assuming the massive bang and cosmic inflation had been true doesn’t suggest there was an inevitable vacuum. Every Bell take a look at as a result of every thing was bodily related within the distant previous?

GARY RECTOR Cave Creek, Arizona.

GARISTO ANSWERS: Since I described it in my article, further cosmic Bell checks have been carried out, together with one utilizing gentle from quasars billions of light-years away. The Rector is correct that even these checks return solely to date. As he prompt, this doesn’t imply that the massive bang stays an inevitable loophole. It is value contemplating what such a space-size concept would assume: hidden variables had been encoded on the very starting of time and house, driving every thing deterministically till the tip of space-time..

This concept, known as superdeterminism, might save native realism from quantum mechanics, however it will delude the universe in favor of a conspiratorial method to experiments. Every little thing we are able to measure reveals that quantum mechanics is right, and native realism is improper. It’s helpful to concentrate on superdeterminism as a risk. Nevertheless, believing issues as a result of they’re not possible to disregard is a foul solution to method science—or anything, for that matter..


Bumblebees apparently “play”, in keeping with analysis reported in “Bee-Ball” by Grace van Deelen. [Advances]. This raises a query: Are bees individually clever? What about ants? Inside a colony, these bugs continually change info within the type of pheromones and different chemical substances. A bee or ant colony shows extra intelligence than anticipated by selecting up the intelligence of people.

VAN SNYDER La Crescenta, California.


In “Primitive Soup” by Clara Moskowitz [March 2023]The “Quark Soup” field ought to have mentioned that Brookhaven Nationwide Laboratory’s sPHENIX and STAR detectors every have a strong magnet of their core, not a strong superconducting magnet. Solely sPHENIX’s magnet is superconducting.

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