The Economist: Death of the calorie. “For more than a century we’ve counted on calories to tell us what will make us fat. Peter Wilson says it’s time to bury the world’s most misleading measure.”
“There’s a further weakness in the calorie-counting system: the amount of energy we absorb from food depends on how we prepare it. Chopping and grinding food essentially does part of the work of digestion, making more calories available to your body by ripping apart cell walls before you eat it. That effect is magnified when you add heat: cooking increases the proportion of food digested in the stomach and small intestine, from 50% to 95%.
The difficulty in counting accurately doesn’t stop there. The calorie load of carbohydrate-heavy items such as rice, pasta, bread and potatoes can be slashed simply by cooking, chilling and reheating them. As starch molecules cool they form new structures that are harder to digest. You absorb fewer calories eating toast that has been left to go cold, or leftover spaghetti, than if they were freshly made. Scientists in Sri Lanka discovered in 2015 that they could more than halve the calories potentially absorbed from rice by adding coconut oil during cooking and then cooling the rice. This made the starch less digestible so the body may take on fewer calories (they have yet to test on human beings the precise effects of rice cooked in this way). That’s a bad thing if you’re malnourished, but a boon if you’re trying to lose weight.”
I read this article last week and was reminded of it by this MetaFilter post that has more links on the subject.
NPR Planet Money: Are Plastic Bag Bans Garbage?
“It was only about 40 years ago that plastic bags became standard at U.S. grocery stores. This also made them standard in sewers, landfills, rivers and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. They clog drains and cause floods, litter landscapes and kill wildlife. The national movement to get rid of them is gaining steam — with more than 240 cities and counties passing laws that ban or tax them since 2007. New York recently became the second U.S. state to ban them. But these bans may be hurting the environment more than helping it.
Plastic haters, it’s time to brace yourselves. A bunch of studies find that paper bags are actually worse for the environment. They require cutting down and processing trees, which involves lots of water, toxic chemicals, fuel and heavy machinery. While paper is biodegradable and avoids some of the problems of plastic, Taylor says, the huge increase of paper, together with the uptick in plastic trash bags, means banning plastic shopping bags increases greenhouse gas emissions. That said, these bans do reduce nonbiodegradable litter.
A 2011 study by the U.K. government found a person would have to reuse a cotton tote bag 131 times before it was better for climate change than using a plastic grocery bag once. The Danish government recently did a study that took into account environmental impacts beyond simply greenhouse gas emissions, including water use, damage to ecosystems and air pollution. These factors make cloth bags even worse. They estimate you would have to use an organic cotton bag 20,000 times more than a plastic grocery bag to make using it better for the environment.”
NPR: Earth Sees First Image Of A Black Hole.
“Researchers at the Event Horizon Telescope project say they were able to create an image of a black hole by using a network of eight radio telescopes to create “a virtual telescope dish as large as the Earth itself,” the National Science Foundation says.
The breakthrough, Doeleman said, came after a decade of work to align the myriad working parts of the project and gain the highest resolution possible from the Earth’s surface. Finally, in April of 2017, he said, “all of the dishes in the Event Horizon Telescope swiveled, turned and stared” at the core of M87. From that data came the image that was released Wednesday.”
See also: XKCD: M87 Black Hole Size Comparison.
Deutsche Welle: Brexit delayed until October 31, EU and UK agree. “Theresa May has accepted an offer from Brussels to extend the Brexit deadline to October 31. The delay could force the UK to take part in European elections unless it can pass a divorce deal through parliament.”
Der Brexit wird nochmal aufgeschoben – mit Bedingungen. “Fast hätte Frankreich eine Einigung mit Großbritannien verhindert und einen Chaos-Brexit provoziert. Doch jetzt hat London bis Ende Oktober Zeit, um den Austritt zu ordnen. Christoph Hasselbach berichtet aus Brüssel.”
The Washington Post: Trump says he was the target of ‘an attempted coup’ with Mueller investigation.
“President Trump claimed Wednesday that he had survived “an attempted coup” and said he no longer cares about the forthcoming release of a report by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III because, in his view, he has been exonerated.
“It was an illegal investigation. It was started illegally. Everything about it was crooked,” Trump claimed. “This was an attempted coup. This was an attempted takedown of a president, and we beat them. We beat them.”
Trump also insisted Wednesday that “there is no law” that would require his tax returns to be shared with Congress.
House Democrats are asking for six years of Trump’s personal and business returns, using a federal law that says the treasury secretary “shall furnish” the records upon the request of House or Senate chairmen.
“There is no law. As you know, I got elected last time with the same issue,” Trump told reporters. “There’s no law whatsoever.”
Trump was referring to his decision to break with tradition during the 2016 election and not voluntarily release his returns, as other presidential candidates have done for decades.
Trump also repeated his false claim that being under audit prevents him from releasing his returns.”
Link via MetaFilter.