DR. MARILYN BRUNO VOLUME 8 ISSUE 5 MAY 2015 WWW.GYNOSAPIENS.COM
IN THIS ISSUE: Page 1: Alzheimer’s Cause
Page 2: Water Flouridation Dangers
Page 2: Pesticides in our Food
Page 6: Dermatologists Share Skin Care Tips
Page 8: Blood Pressure Control
Page 8: Planning for Travel
Page 11: Medicare Update
Page 11: On a Tragic Note: Mother Earth
Page 11: On a Happy Note: National Pi Day
Page 12: Mother’s Day
Page 13: Gerber Babies
QUOTE OF THE MONTH:
The secret of getting ahead is getting started. -- Mark Twain
In the world of Alzheimer's drug research, there's no lack of certainty among leading researchers. There's just no consensus on what causes the disease or how to treat it.
The “amyloid beta” theory has a whole contingent of zealous advocates who say there can be no doubt that the toxic protein triggers the disease. Amyloids are plaques that start accumulating in the outer parts of the brain’s cortex and then spread down to the hippocampus and eventually to other areas, which eventually affects cognition and motor skills.
But “tau” theorists say that the accumulation of abnormal “tau” in neurons lays waste to them, triggering a process in which the toxic tau spreads throughout the cortex, killing cells in a region of the brain that plays a major role in higher level thinking. A new study from the Mayo Clinic backs the “tau” theory. Studying hundreds of brains at various stages of developing Alzheimer's, a team at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL, says that they were able to conclusively determine that the accumulation of amyloid has a strong relationship with a decline in cognition. But, the severity of tau pathology is quicker and far worse in driving Alzheimer's.
A wide range of Big Pharmas--including Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Eli Lilly and others--has poured billions of dollars into developing drugs that can either flush amyloid or prevent its development. So far, they've all failed in the clinic, but with millions of patients facing a disease that they can neither stop nor slow, there's still plenty of clinical work going on. Biogen recently touted their own early success in the field, laying out plans to go straight into Phase III with an amyloid drug.
Researchers on tau include J&J, Roche, and others, suggesting that a combination approach will have an impact on the disease.
For more info: http://www.fiercebiotechresearch.com/press-releases/study-progression-dysfunctional-tau-protein-drives-cognitive-decline-alzhei?utm_medium=nl&utm_source=internal
WATER FLOURIDATION DANGERS
Something to keep our eyes on:
--A March 2015 article in Newsweek (http://www.newsweek.com/water-fluoridation-linked-higher-adhd-rates-312748) cites recent research indicating that artificial fluoridation is the cause of serious health risks. This is because the water treatment uses fluorosilic acid (a byproduct of phosphate fertilizer manufacturing) instead of pharmaceutical grade sodium fluoride and leaches lead from pipes.
--An article published in Environmental Health of March 2015 indicates a link between the increase of the use of artificial fluoridation in the U.S. and the incidence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and cognitive deficiencies in children (http://www.ehjournal.net/content/14/1/17/abstract).
--An article published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health of indicates endocrine disruption caused by fluoridation (http://jech.bmj.com/content/early/2015/02/09/jech-2014-204971.abstract?sid=387994a1-4d28-493a-bef6-8fdf845ecbb0)
PESTICIDES IN OUR FOOD
If you thought your water was scary, here is the latest on pesticides in the food we eat. Pesticides are literally in everything that we swallow -- from water, to cookies, to fruits and vegetables. Some research is even linking pesticides used by soy farmers with antimicrobial resistance and the emergence of Superbugs (http://civileats.com/2015/03/24/study-links-widely-used-pesticides-to-antibiotic-resistance)
We can’t wash pesticides off a cookie, but we can wash the fruits and veggies that we eat! The USDA measures pesticide residues after produce has been rinsed in cold running water and/or inedible peels and rinds are removed. So the pesticide residues used to calculate our risk guide are those that remain after the fruit or vegetable has been prepped the way you would at home.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there are traces of 29 different pesticides in the average American’s body, with little known about the long-term health effects. A recent Consumer Reports survey showed that 85% of 1,050 Americans surveyed say that pesticides are a concern.
And we should be concerned. The EU banned the use propyl paraben in 2006, based on scientific evidence that it was an “endocrine disruptor” -- affecting sex hormones and sperm counts in lab animals. But propyl paraben still appears on the FDA’s list as “Generally Recognized As Safe” (GRAS) and, in fact, it is found in nearly 50 American snack foods, including Sara Lee cinnamon rolls, Weight Watchers cakes, Cafe Valley muffins, and La Banderita corn tortillas. All we can do is read the labels and look fodr parabens, especially the long-chained varieties – propyl paraben, isopropyl paraben, butyl paraben and isobutyl paraben. (To see the full list of foods they found the additive in, visit: http://www.ewg.org/research/propyl-paraben).
More confusion surrounds organics -- which can cost an average of 49% more than standard fruits and vegetables. The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 allows organic producers to use approved substances in farming and animal husbandry. The Act includes a list of exceptions that can be used, known as the National List, because organic versions of substances like copper sulfate and hydrogen peroxide are not available. In early April, the USDA passed a ruling that non-organic substances could be added to the National List without holding a public hearing. Food colorings, for instance, which were once almost exclusively artificial, are now widely available in organic form, and so many argue that they should be taken off the list. The USDA action resulted in a law suit from the organic farmers’ lobby, although many organic farmers welcome the fact that they can keep the “organic” certification and use non-organic chemicals, pesticides and herbicides: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/08/business/lawsuit-challenges-change-in-rules-on-organic-farming.html?_r=0.
So, what are the facts that we know to dispel some of the confusion:
-- In addition to the amount of pesticides on the produce you eat, there is no tracking if more than one pesticide is used. Tolerance levels are calculated for individual pesticides, but finding more than one type on fruits and vegetables is the rule—not the exception. A Consumer Reports survey found that a third of Americans believe there’s a legal limit on the number of different pesticides allowed on food. But that’s not the case. Almost a third of the produce the USDA tested had residues from two or more pesticides.
-- In many cases there’s a conventional item with a pesticide risk as low as organic. Check out the Consumer Reports chart (below), which puts fruits and vegetables are placed into 5 risk categories—from very low to very high pesticide levels. ("From Crop to Table - http://www.consumerreports.org/content/dam/cro/magazine-articles/2015/May/Consumer%20Reports_From%20Crop%20to%20Table%20Report_March%202015.pdf)
--The risk from pesticides in produce grown conventionally varies from very low to very high, depending on the type of produce and on the country where it’s grown. For instance, eating one serving of green beans from the U.S. is 200 times riskier than eating a serving of U.S.-grown broccoli.
-- Data shows that residues on produce have actually declined since 1996, when Congress passed the Food Quality Protection Act. This law requires that the EPA ensure that levels of pesticides on food are safe for children and infants. Every year, the Department of Agriculture tests for pesticide residues on a variety of produce. In its latest report, more than half of the samples had residues, with the majority coming in below the EPA tolerance levels. Progress has been made for some produce but not others. Grapes and pears, for example, once would have been in the high-risk or very high-risk categories 20 years ago, but now rank low. Others, such as green beans, have been in the higher-risk categories for the past 20 years.
What’s the evidence that pesticides hurt your health?
A lot of the data comes from studies of farmworkers, who work with these chemicals regularly. Studies have linked long-term pesticide exposure in this group to increased risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease; prostate, ovarian, and other cancers; depression; and respiratory problems. There’s some suggestion that adults and children living in farm communities could also be at risk for chronic health problems.
The rest of us may not handle the stuff, but we are exposed through food, water, and air. The fact that pesticide residues are generally below EPA tolerance limits is sometimes used as “proof” that the health risks are minimal. But the research used to set these tolerances is limited.
Endocrine effects aren’t sufficiently factored into the EPA pesticide-tolerance levels.In a 2010 report on environmental cancer risks, the President’s Cancer Panel (an expert committee that monitors the country’s cancer program) wrote: “The entire U.S. population is exposed on a daily basis to numerous agricultural chemicals. . . . Many of these chemicals have known or suspected carcinogenic or endocrine-disrupting properties.” Endocrine disruptors can block or mimic the action of hormones, even at low doses. This could cause reproductive disorders; birth defects; and breast, prostate, and other hormone-related cancers.
Who may be at greatest risk from pesticide exposure?
Aside from farmworkers, it’s children. A child’s metabolism is different from an adult’s, so toxins can remain longer in a child’s body, where they can do more damage. Pesticide exposure can affect children’s development at many stages, starting in the womb. Fetuses, babies, and kids are more vulnerable to the effects of pesticides because their organs and nervous systems are still developing. And children’s risk is concentrated because they eat more food relative to their body weight than adults.
The health risks to children are significant. Even small amounts of pesticides may alter a child’s brain chemistry during critical stages of development. One study of 8- to 15-year-olds found that those with the highest urinary levels of a marker for exposure to a particularly toxic class of pesticides called organophosphates had twice the odds of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as those with undetectable levels. Another study found that at age 7, children of California farmworkers born to mothers with the highest levels of organophosphates in their bodies while they were pregnant had an average IQ 7 points below those whose moms had the lowest levels during pregnancy. That’s comparable to the IQ losses children suffer due to low-level lead exposure.
The risk to adults is lower but still worrisome. Pesticide exposure likely increases the risk, first, of cancerous tumor development, and, second, your body not being able to control a tumor growth, according to a research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University and a consultant to Consumer Reports. In addition, research has linked endocrine disrupters with fertility issues, immune system damage, and neurological problems.
Does eating organic mean I won’t be eating any pesticides?
Sadly, no. There are two groups of agricultural pesticides: synthetic and natural. Synthetics are created in labs, and natural ones are substances that occur in nature. Both can be toxic. What most people don’t know is that the “USDA organic” certification standards allow for the use of certain natural pesticides and a few synthetic ones at the same levels as conventional farming.
Before a pesticide is approved for use in organic or conventional farming, it must additionally be evaluated for potential adverse effects on humans, animals, and the environment. For use in organic farming, the pesticide has to be shown to be compatible with a system of sustainable agriculture, and organic farmers must follow integrated pest-management plans that require that they use any approved organic pesticide as a last resort and develop strategies to avoid repeated use. Practices such as crop rotation and the use of beneficial insects or pheromones are tools both conventional and organic farmers use.
But, pesticide drift can mean chemicals sprayed on conventional crops may find their way to nearby organic farms.
Should I skip conventionally grown produce?
No. The risks of pesticides are real, but the myriad health benefits of fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks. A 2012 study estimated that increasing fruit and vegetable consumption could prevent 20,000 cancer cases annually, and 10 cases of cancer per year could be attributed to consumption of pesticides from the additional produce. Another study found that people who ate produce at least three times per day had a lower risk of stroke, hypertension, and death from cardiovascular disease.
The primary goal is to eat five or more servings a day of fruits and veggies —even if it’s a type that falls into our very high-risk category. If organic produce is too pricey or not available, there is often a low-risk conventional option.
Check out the chart below, which excerpts the full report, found at: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2015/05/pesticides-in-produce/index.htm#
And this may be a time to start subscribing to the FDA’s Recalls and Alerts (http://www.foodsafety.gov/recalls/), FDA’s Safety Alerts and Advisories http://www.fda.gov/Food/RecallsOutbreaksEmergencies/SafetyAlertsAdvisories/ucm341143.htm) and other food safety journals, as I do. For example, I read recently that the scientific Journal Cell published a study showing the discovery of a contagious leukemia spreading among edible clams off the northeast US and Canadian coasts. While academics find this interesting, I am thinking twice before eating shellfish and seafood from anywhere. For more on this: https://uk.news.yahoo.com/unusual-cancer-spreads-among-clams-off-n-america-181048080.html#KAzSdWy
TOXINS IN OUR LIVES
If all this were not alarming enough, research published by the University of Melbourne researcher found that common consumer products, including those marketed as “green,” “all-natural,” “non-toxic,” and “organic,” emit a range of compounds that could harm human health and air quality. But most of these ingredients are not disclosed to the public. The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from 37 different products, such as air fresheners, cleaning products, laundry supplies, and personal care products (Both fragranced and fragrance-free products) showed 156 different VOCs emitted, with an average of 15 VOCs per product. Of these 156 VOCs, 42 are classified as toxic or hazardous under U.S. federal laws, and each product emitted at least one of these chemicals.
Findings revealed that emissions of carcinogenic hazardous air pollutants from “green” fragranced products were not significantly different from regular fragranced products. (“Fragranced” are those with an added or intentional fragrance or scent. A “fragrance”is typically a mixture of several dozen to several hundred chemicals, with an estimated 80% — 90% synthetically derived.) In total, more than 550 volatile ingredients were emitted from these products, but fewer than three percent were disclosed on any product label or material safety data sheet (MSDS).
The most common chemicals in fragranced products were terpenes, which were not in fragrance-free versions. Terpenes readily react with ozone in the air to generate a range of additional pollutants, such as formaldehyde and ultrafine particles. At this time, consumer products sold in Australia, the U.S., and around the world are not required to list all ingredients, or any ingredients in a chemical mixture called ‘fragrance’.
Products selected are commonly used in a range of environments, including homes, schools, hospitals, workplaces, hotels, restaurants, stores, residential buildings, parks, child care and aged care facilities, gyms, homeless shelters, government buildings, airports, planes and public transport.
Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis was used to identify VOCs emitted from 37 products, representing air fresheners and deodorizers (sprays, gels, solids, oils, and disks), laundry products (detergents, dryer sheets, and fabric softeners), cleaning supplies (all-purpose cleaners, window and surface cleaners, disinfectants, and dishwashing liquids), and personal care products (soaps, hand sanitizers, sunscreens, lotions, baby lotions, deodorants, shampoos, and baby shampoo).
Ingredients in consumer products and in fragrance formulations, are exempt from full disclosure to the public.
For laundry products, cleaning supplies, and air fresheners, labels do not need to list all ingredients, or the presence of a fragrance in the product.
For personal care products and cosmetics, labels need to list ingredients, except the general term “fragrance” or “parfum” may be used instead of listing the individual ingredients in the fragrance.
For all products, material safety data sheets do not need to list all ingredients.
Fragrance ingredients are exempt from full disclosure in any product internationally.
For more info: http://www.kurzweilai.net/hidden-toxins-found-in-green-all-natural-and-organic-products?utm_source=KurzweilAI+Weekly+Newsletter&utm_campaign=d710329921-UA-946742-1&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_147a5a48c1-d710329921-282020441
Dermatologists Share Skin Care Tips
We know that studies have demonstrated that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and indoor tanning damages the DNA in our skin cells -- at every age. This not only increases our risk for skin cancer, it can also lead to premature skin aging -- wrinkles and sun spots.
I am susceptible to sun damage, visit the dermatologist every 4 months to get zapped (burn off those pre-cancerous “crusties”), and heap on the sunblock every day. I also use skin products containing ethocyn (NuSkin) to boost skin repair. Living in the desert (San Diego), it is a challenge not to have the leathery skin like everyone else out here! Here are some additional tips on caring for our skin, from Northwestern University:
Use gentle skin care products: For healthier-looking skin, consider using mild, unscented products year-round. Deodorant soaps, alcohol-based toners and products that contain fragrance can leave aging skin feeling irritated and dry.
Consider using an AHA or retinoid product: Products with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or retinoids can make your skin look younger. If you want to reduce the signs of aging, ask your dermatologist if a product that contains a retinoid, such as tretinoin, may be right for you. Also consider using products with antioxidants, as these may help repair and prevent further skin damage. Regimens can also be tailored to minimize potential skin irritation.
Be gentle with acne-prone skin: If you struggle with acne as an adult, use – and overuse – of anti-acne cleansers and products may irritate your skin. Consider switching to a mild cleanser with salicylic acid or sulfur. Make sure all skin care products and cosmetics are labeled non-comedogenic, non-acnegenic or oil-free. In addition, wash gently, as scrubbing can further irritate the skin.
Moisturize: Oil production in the skin diminishes in our 40s, so it is important to moisturize your skin regularly. The best time to moisturize is right after taking a bath or shower. If your skin still feels dry with consistent daily moisturizing, apply moisturizer a few times throughout the day.
Protect your skin from the sun: Research has shown that ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun accelerate skin aging – making sun protection a critical part of every anti-aging skin care plan. To protect your skin, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to your face, neck and body whenever you are going outside. For additional protection, seek shade and wear sun-protective clothing whenever possible.
Keep your hands protected: Be sure to also apply sunscreen to your hands to protect them from premature aging. Consider applying a glycolic acid or antioxidant product to your hands to help repair sun damage.
Do not smoke: Tobacco smoke contains toxins that can lead to “smoker’s” face - a term used by doctors to describe the dull and dry complexion, loss of skin firmness, premature lines and wrinkles, especially around the mouth, and leathery-looking skin that smokers often have.
For more info:
BLOOD PRESSURE CONTROL
I have low blood pressure, but so many of my friends have high blood pressure (hypertension), that here is a refresher:
Measure your blood pressure regularly. It is quick and painless, and it is the only way to know whether your pressure is high. At the doctor’s office, the meter’s gauge uses a scale called "millimeters of mercury” (mmHg) to measure the pressure in your blood vessels. The first number, called systolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats. The second number, called diastolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart rests between beats.
If the measurement reads 120 systolic and 80 diastolic, you would say "120 over 80" or write "120/80 mmHg."
The chart below shows normal, at-risk, and high blood pressure levels. A blood pressure less than 120/80 mmHg is normal. A blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or more is too high. People with levels in between 120/80 and 140/90 have a condition called prehypertension, which means they are at high risk for high blood pressure.
Blood Pressure Levels
systolic: less than 120 mmHg
diastolic: less than 80mmHg
At risk (prehypertension)
systolic: 120–139 mmHg
diastolic: 80–89 mmHg
systolic: 140 mmHg or higher
diastolic: 90 mmHg or higher
If you are At Risk or on the High side, start today to control your pressure:
Diet. Eat a healthy diet that is Low in salt (sodium), total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. High in fresh fruits and vegetables.
Be active. Try taking a brisk 10-minute walk 3 times a day 5 days a week.
Do not smoke. If you smoke, quit as soon as possible. Visit Smokefree.gov for tips on quitting.
PLANNING FOR TRAVEL
Any time is a good time to plan for travel! There are a dizzying number of sites offering discounts on flights, hotels, packages, cruises, etc. We know they all make money, so what’s the real deal?
Here’s some advice from the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov):
Signs of a scam
Use sites and service providers you trust. Get a copy of the company’s cancellation and refund policies. Ask family and friends about the companies they use and like, and look online to see what people are saying about their service and prices. Trip Advisor has a “Forum” with comments from travelers about places not to miss and, often, the tours that got them there.
Check sites or call to make sure your reservations are on track -- especially if they don’t send you confirmations and emails before your travel.
Pay by credit card. If you don’t get what you paid for, you may be able to dispute the charges with your credit card company. However, don’t give your account number to any business until you’ve verified its reputation.
Consider using a travel app on your Smart Phone. Travel apps can help you search for airfares and hotel rates, get fare alerts and real-time deals, and manage your itinerary.
Ask about mandatory hotel “resort fees.” When you book a hotel room online, you expect that the rate you see is the rate you’ll pay. But extra costs often called “resort fees” — for services like fitness facilities or internet access — can add to the per night cost of your stay. More important, the fees are mandatory: you must pay them regardless of whether you use the services. Many people don’t find out about the fees until they arrive at the hotel — or worse, when they check out. You can’t compare rates for different hotels unless you know all the fees. If you’re not sure whether a website is showing you the total price, call the hotel and ask about a “resort fee” or any other mandatory charge. Listing the “resort fee” near the quoted price or in the fine print — or referring to other fees that “may apply” — isn’t good enough. If you find out a hotel hasn’t told you the whole story about mandatory fees, in addition to complaining to the company, file a complaint with the FTC.
Ask questions before joining a travel club. Sometimes, a “free trial” membership can result in monthly charges on your credit card. Find out what you’ll get for your money and how you can cancel.
Scammers may call or use mail, texts, faxes or ads promising free or low-cost vacations. In reality, those vacation offers may end up charging poorly disclosed fees or may be fake, plain and simple. Here are some tell-tell signs that a travel offer or prize might be a scam:
Special considerations for charter travel
Some people who have signed up for charter packages have learned that the package they paid for really was a scam. Here’s how to make sure a charter package is the real deal:
Look up the government’s list of all public chartered flights. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Special Authorities Office maintains a list of approved public chartered flights. The charter filing must be approved by DOT before the package can be sold.
Make sure your check is payable to an escrow account. If you pay by check for a charter package, federal law requires that it’s payable to an escrow account. Call the bank handling the escrow account to verify that the account is valid. Charter operators who don’t want to give you escrow bank information may be selling another firm’s space. Avoid operators who tell you they’ll send a courier to pick up your money. That’s a sure sign of a rip-off.
Check out the operator. Ask them to send you information about the business and the names of satisfied customers, and ask family and friends about their experience. Check with local travel agents to see if they know if the operator is legitimate, or contact the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) for more information. Don’t give in to pressure to pay before you’ve had a chance to check a company out.
Get a copy of the contract. The operator/participant contract tells you when the operator can change flight schedules and hotel accommodations, and the rules and penalties for cancellation. Usually, charters can be canceled for any reason up to 10 days before the trip, and operators may put you up in another hotel listed in the contract, even if it’s not as nice as the advertised hotel. Ask about cancellation insurance. Rules state that an operator can’t ask for — or accept — your payment until you’ve signed and returned the contract.
Understand your rights. According to DOT rules, you have a right to cancel a charter package without penalty if the operator makes a “major change.” That includes a change of departure or return date or city, a hotel substitution to a property not named in the contract, or a package price increase of more than 10 percent.
Expect flight delays. They’re common on charter flights. DOT rules allow a charter flight to be delayed up to 48 hours for mechanical difficulties. The operator doesn't have to provide alternate transportation or compensate you for your expenses. Check the contract to see if the operator will cover any costs — like lodging and car rentals — if the delay isn’t because of mechanical difficulties.
My own tips:
--Travel insurance offered by some sites has its limitations, but could save the day if something goes wrong. I often buy it when I travel on business.
--Ditto for international health insurance. Before going on a trip overseas, I joined the Diver’s Alert Network (DAN), even though I was not planning to go diving. Included in the membership is inexpensive travel and health insurance. For example, DAN Members receive $100,000 of emergency medical evacuation assistance coverage. This benefit is valid for diving and non-diving medical emergencies anytime you travel more than 50 miles from home. For more on this: https://www.diversalertnetwork.org/scuba-dive-insurance/?
--Try to keep a flexible schedule. If the plane is overbooked, those offers to give up your seat are fantastic: next flight out plus a free ticket. I always regret not taking those deals.
--Don’t bring valuables that you are not willing to lose/have stolen. Even hotel digital safes are not, in fact, safe. Check out this awful video on 3 ways to crack a digital safe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcYB9ceiAiY
Even a child could do it....
ON A TRAGIC NOTE: Mother Earth
Also see article on the thousands of starving sea lions stranded on the Southern California coast, due to warming waters that don’t carry the nutrient-rich food supply on cooler currents:
Also, ocean-borne radiation from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear-reactor meltdown in Japan has been detected at the British Columbia shoreline, marking the first time Fukushima contamination has made landfall in North America. The University of Victoria is taking the lead on InFORM, a radioactivity monitoring network comprised of government, academic (including Woods Hole), non-governmental organizations and a network of citizen volunteers that has been making measurements and quantifying the risk associated with being on or in the water or eating seafood from the Pacific. They found trace amounts of Cesium-134 and Cesium-137, two forms of radioactive Cesium that do not occur in nature and are linked to Fukushima. For more: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/radiation-from-2011-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-detected-on-bc-coast/article23812476/
ON A HAPPY NOTE: NATIONAL PI DAY - March 12th
We missed it this year, but should mark our calendars for next year! The Smithsonian honored National Pi Day (you remember -- 3.14159265359!) by compiling a map of natural and human-made structures that come closest to a perfect circle. Click on the numbers at the top of the images to see them all:
Here’s the accompanying article:
With apologies to 1990s alt-rock fans, a perfect circle cannot exist outside the realm of mathematics. From subatomic particles to carefully built structures, nothing in the physical world passes the perfect circle test, where every point on the circumference is exactly equidistant from the circle’s center. That said, some notable natural forms and human-made buildings get pretty close. Occurring either by happenstance or designed to pay homage to the shape that the Greek scholar Proclus called "the first, simplest and most perfect form,” these sites highlight the singular symmetry and symbolism the circle embodies.
A fascination and interest in circles predates recorded history, with many ancient cultures finding approximations for pi—the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter—thousands of years before mathematicians gave it that name with the tasty homophone.
Because of their symmetry, circles were seen as representations of the “divine” and “natural balance” in ancient Greece. Later on, the shape would become a vital foundation for the wheel and other simple machines.
A focus on circles is evident among structures built throughout history. Although the meaning of its design is still being deciphered, Gobekli Tepe, a series of stone circles in Turkey, is the oldest known temple, built 6,000 years prior to Stonehenge (another famous circle). The shape marks many more important gathering places used by diverse cultures as centers of worship, governance and even spectacle.
Roman amphitheaters, including the Colosseum, for example, were designed as circles or ellipses to place the focus on one main event, such as gladiatorial battles. St. Peter’s Piazza, the square leading up to the main Vatican building, features two semicircles that enclose the space, meant to personify “the motherly arms of the church” welcoming people into the area.
In addition to the physical purposes they serve, circular structures have also been built to act as more abstract symbols. In Beijing, the Temple of Heaven is a conical structure that sits adjacent to a three-tiered circular marble altar used for imperial sacrifices during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The circle represented the heavens, while a neighboring square depicted the Earth. The design of the Indian Parliament’s Central Hall building is circular to represent the Ashoka Chakra, a Hindu symbol that literally translates to “wheel of the law,” which is also on the country’s flag.
In a case of modern practicality, the Large Hadron Collider underneath the Switzerland-France border takes the form of a 16.7-mile-long circular tunnel. The round shape forces particles to constantly change direction and accelerate—colliding with great enough force to shake loose new types of matter.
In nature, the appearances of major circular areas are often thought to offer some secondary meaning. Crop circles are intricate, bewildering patterns that have long confounded people, even igniting speculation about extraterrestrial activity, although more reasonable explanations cite wind patterns and human interference. Fairy circles in Africa embody a similar degree of mystery. Bare areas of earth surrounded by circular rings of grass, fairy circles’ origins and distribution remain unexplained, with some terming them the “footprints of the Gods.”
It seems that even thousands of years after Egyptians first approximated the value of pi, the intrigue of circles lives on.
Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/world-full-circles-180954529/#SwksB8HkyfPjDsw8.99
The modern American holiday of Mother's Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in Grafton, West Virginia. Her campaign to make "Mother's Day" a recognized holiday in the United States began in 1905, the year her beloved mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died. Anna’s mission was to honor her own mother by continuing work she had started and to set aside a day to honor mothers, "the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world". Anna's mother, Ann Jarvis, was a peace activist who had cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the Civil War and created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues.
Due to the campaign efforts of Anna Jarvis, several states officially recognized Mother's Day, the first in 1910 being West Virginia, Jarvis’ home state. In 1912, Anna Jarvis trademarked the phrases "second Sunday in May" and "Mother's Day", and created the Mother's Day International Association.[ ] She specifically noted that "Mother's" should "be a singular possessive, for each family to honor its mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers of the world." This is also the spelling used by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in his 1914 presidential proclamation, by the U.S. Congress in relevant bills, and by various U.S. presidents in their proclamations concerning Mother's Day.
In 1914 Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation creating Mother’s Day, the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers.
Although Jarvis was successful in founding Mother's Day she soon became resentful of the commercialization and was angry that companies would profit from the holiday. By the early 1920's, Hallmark and other companies had started selling Mother's Day cards. Jarvis became so embittered by what she saw as misinterpretation and exploitation that she protested and even tried to rescind Mother's Day... Jarvis's intention for the holiday had been for people to appreciate and honor mothers by writing a personal letter, by hand, expressing love and gratitude, rather than buying gifts and pre-made cards. Jarvis organized boycotts and threatened lawsuits to try to stop the commercialization. She crashed a candymakers' convention in Philadelphia in 1923. Two years later she protested at a confab of the American War Mothers, which raised money by selling carnations, the flower associated with Mother’s Day, and was arrested for disturbing the peace.
For more and dates Mothers are celebrated around the world; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother's_Day
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