What we're talking about Too Hot, So Long Sunday, September 21, 2014

Too Hot, So Long

Failing to get the time to acclimate to a hot work environment can be deadly. That’s the message I took away from an item in last week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). “Heat illness and deaths among workers — U.S. 2012-2013” reports on 13 occupational heat-related fatalities investigated by federal OSHA.  Nine of the…

Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data on heat deaths among U.S. workers, underscoring the often-tragic consequences that result when employers fail to take relatively simple and low-cost preventive actions.

On July 5, James Baldasarre, a 45-year old a Medford, Massachusetts US Postal Service employee who had worked for USPS for 24 years, died from excessive heat. According to news reports, shortly before collapsing in the 95-degree heat, Baldasarre texted his wife to say, “I’m going to die out here today. It’s so hot.”  On…

A hot work environment killed at least 13 people in 2012 and 2013 (not counting cases from nineteen states, including California, that operate their own OSHA programs). On The Pump Handle, Celeste Monforton writes "the report shows the diversity of jobs and situations in which workers are at risk of suffering a heat-related illness or death." Kim Krisberg says "most of the people worked outdoors, though seven of the cases happened indoors in work settings with a powerful heat source." Nine of the thirteen died in their first three days of being on the job, showing that the human body needs time to acclimate to a hot new schedule. Krisberg continues "heat illness prevention programs were either incomplete or entirely absent from the workplaces in question." Considering that workplaces in the study were as hot as 106° Fahrenheit, and that heat stroke can damage the brain and organs as well as kill you, simple interventions like providing water, shade, and rest should be a top priority for any employer.

Channel Surfing

Life Science

It has long been known by humans that female mammals can be attracted with the call of a young in distress. There is a famous documentary film of the Hadza, a foraging group in Tanzania, in which this method is used by young boys to trap Dasssies (rock Hyrax). First you catch a baby Dassie…

No joke. George (the goldfish) had developed a rather large tumor over the past year and the owners loved the fish so much, they spent $200 to have the life-threatening tumor surgically removed:

Physical Science

Sounds funny, doesn’t it? Let me rephrase. Humans have caused so much climate change that some of the climate change changed some of the climate back. Still sounds kinda funny. OK, try again: Humans have caused a whole bunch of global warming. Nature has caused a small amount of global cooling, which has offset a…

“From earliest times, humans — explorers and thinkers — have wanted to figure out the shape of their world. Forever, the way we’ve done that is through storytelling. It is difficult to let the truth get in the way of a good story.” -Adam Savage When we look back into the Universe, there’s a wonderful, remarkable story that it…

After a long absence due to travel (some of which is discussed), Uncertain dots returns! Rhett and I talk about recent travels, how people going into internet-based physics outreach these days would probably do better to make videos than blog, physics in science fiction, celestial navigation, and as always, our current courses. Some links: –…

Environment

Yes, yes, we hear it all the time: More CO2 is good because plants love CO2 That is a rather dumb thing to say for a number of reasons; nature is not simple. You don’t change one variable and expect other variables to respond as though we were turning a garden hose up or down.…

Just a quick note. The UN Security Council has ad its first ever emergency meeting over a health issue, specifically the current West African Ebola outbreak. From a summary in Science, the Council … … unanimously passed a resolution that declared the spread of the virus a “threat to international peace and security” and called…

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Steven Koonin, former Department of Energy Undersecretary and BP scientist makes the case that global warming is caused by humans, important, that we must do something about it, and that further research on key topics is necessary to help guide policy. He states, The crucial scientific question for…

Humanities

About one in every 10 U.S. children is living with asthma — that’s closing in on 7 million kids. And while we have a good handle on what triggers asthma attacks and exacerbates respiratory symptoms, exactly what causes asthma in the first place is still somewhat of a mystery. However, new research points to some possible new culprits that are difficult, if not nearly impossible, to avoid.

The London School of Economics has a report on a study of academic refereeing (PDF) that looked at the effect of incentives on referee behavior. They found that both a “social incentive” (posting the time a given referee took to turn around the papers they reviewed on a web site) and a cash incentive ($100…

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau finds that the U.S. poverty rate declined slightly between 2012 and 2013, however the numbers of people living at or below the poverty level in 2013 didn’t represent a real statistical change.

Education

The London School of Economics has a report on a study of academic refereeing (PDF) that looked at the effect of incentives on referee behavior. They found that both a “social incentive” (posting the time a given referee took to turn around the papers they reviewed on a web site) and a cash incentive ($100…

There was a article in Scientific American about diversity in STEM collecting together the best demographic data available about the science and engineering workforce. It’s a useful collection of references, and comes with some very pretty graphics, particularly this one, showing the demographic breakdown of the US population compared to the science and engineering fields:…

No joke. George (the goldfish) had developed a rather large tumor over the past year and the owners loved the fish so much, they spent $200 to have the life-threatening tumor surgically removed:

Politics

The London School of Economics has a report on a study of academic refereeing (PDF) that looked at the effect of incentives on referee behavior. They found that both a “social incentive” (posting the time a given referee took to turn around the papers they reviewed on a web site) and a cash incentive ($100…

Past time for more thread.

There was a article in Scientific American about diversity in STEM collecting together the best demographic data available about the science and engineering workforce. It’s a useful collection of references, and comes with some very pretty graphics, particularly this one, showing the demographic breakdown of the US population compared to the science and engineering fields:…

Medicine

About one in every 10 U.S. children is living with asthma — that’s closing in on 7 million kids. And while we have a good handle on what triggers asthma attacks and exacerbates respiratory symptoms, exactly what causes asthma in the first place is still somewhat of a mystery. However, new research points to some possible new culprits that are difficult, if not nearly impossible, to avoid.

As I sat down to do my final post for this week, I perused my list of posts thus far and was amazed to discover that I hadn’t done a single post on vaccines. After all that nonsense the other week, where I spent more than a week blogging about nothing but the antivaccine movement,…

Gregg Mitman’s article in the September 17th New England Journal of Medicine, “Ebola in a Stew of Fear,” is unfortunately all too prescient. Dr. Mitman highlighted “the ecology of fear” in Western Africa. Fear is present on both the part of Westerners (scared of Africa’s yellow fever, malaria, Ebola, its mere “different-ness”), and by native Africans (of…

Brain & Behavior

No joke. George (the goldfish) had developed a rather large tumor over the past year and the owners loved the fish so much, they spent $200 to have the life-threatening tumor surgically removed:

Conservationists are trying hard to save the Devils Hole pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis) from extinction. With less than 100 animals remaining, a captive breeding program was started at the University of California, Berkeley. As you can imagine from the image below, the geographic range of this fish is smaller than other wild vertebrates. They are only found…

On this anniversary of 9/11 we remember not only the victims but also the heroes of that fateful day including countless first responders as well as their rescue animals that searched tirelessly for victims. The last known living rescue dog from 9/11 is Bretagne, a 15-year old golden retriever who returned to the memorial site…

Technology

I have no doubt IOS 8 will be great. In fact, that rhymes. But the nature of the beast dictates that certain Apple-endemic problems will arise for some people. Handoff Continuity One of the new features is “Handoff” which allows the seamless integration of all of your computing machinery, including regular computers, iPhones, iPads, etc.…

No joke. George (the goldfish) had developed a rather large tumor over the past year and the owners loved the fish so much, they spent $200 to have the life-threatening tumor surgically removed:

Conservationists are trying hard to save the Devils Hole pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis) from extinction. With less than 100 animals remaining, a captive breeding program was started at the University of California, Berkeley. As you can imagine from the image below, the geographic range of this fish is smaller than other wild vertebrates. They are only found…

Information Science

Is jazz satire possible? Can it possibly be funny or even relevant? This question is more immediate and pressing that you would normally imagine in the wake of serial controversies in the jazz world. It all began at the end of July when The New Yorker posted a article in their humour column by Django…

It’s been quite a long while since I’ve done a “books I’d like to read” post, that’s for sure. This fall seems to be have a particularly exciting list of books so I thought I’d pull some of them together (as well as some older books) here for all our enjoyment. These are all books…

This one’s a bit of a head-scratcher. Richard Evan Schwartz’s Really Big Numbers has a great premise. A kids book that takes some fairly advanced mathematical concepts and presents them in a lively, engaging and understandable format. So far, so good. Schwartz does a commendable job of taking the concepts surrounding Really Big Numbers and…

Jobs

This week’s snapshot of just one work-related fatality in the U.S. This one occurred on September 10 at a fracking site near Mannsville, Oklahoma.

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau finds that the U.S. poverty rate declined slightly between 2012 and 2013, however the numbers of people living at or below the poverty level in 2013 didn’t represent a real statistical change.

Beginning January 1, 2015, employers in the 29 states covered by federal OSHA will have new requirements for reporting work-related hospitalizations and amputations.