Here is a presentation I posted that is much easier to read with more facts and detail which is also more consumable by the public on the fraudless voting system possible with the blockchain.
Keeping your hearing, sight, mobility, flexibility, sex life are all aspects of having a quality of life. This article is about what supplements are associated with some of these other aspects rather than about disease prevention like cancer or immunity or heart disease.
I fear being like people you see who are walking crouched over, taking slow steps, almost falling over every step. I have tremendous respect for those who are older and suffering for whatever reason. I am not trying to put such people down and in many cases this is because of no fault of their own. Nonetheless, i hope to the extent possible to maintain mobility, senses, awareness and happy pain free life worth living.
Telomeres and Programmed death
Most good colleges now have a longevity specialty. It is a real study. What enables people to live longer and better quality of life?
Research shows that a part of all DNA called Telomeres shorten as you get older. These are caps on the end of your DNA that shorten with each cell division. Every creature has these Telomeres and studies show that creatures die soon after their telomeres reach a minimum length. Studies have shown it is possible to predict death by looking at how long your Telomeres are.
As these Telomeres fall off the DNA functions differently. New research shows that different genes are activated as the Telomeres shorten. These changes may be programmed to help as we age or it may be programmed death or some combination. It could be that many of the things we think are diseases are simply an artifact of the shortening of our Telomeres.
Nobody knows how all this genetic control information works but nature doesn’t want us living a long time. Evolution would prefer if we died soon after we gave birth to our last child and enough time to raise them to 12 or so. This would optimize the pace of evolution. So, it is likely nature programs death for 40s and in fact the average life span of a human prior to the 20th century was close to 40 years old. When people say if we just ate like we did before the 20th century it seems like these people don’t realize that the average lifespan was quite a bit shorter than it is today with all our modern medicine and toys.
It is my contention that the human body has an enormous capacity to repair itself. Sometime around 25 or 30 the body seems to switch into a mode where it stops growing, getting stronger, fixing things aggressively and switches to a less capable repair mode. This may be intentional or it may be a consequence of aging. Some theories of longevity are based around the accumulation of garbage in the cells, around the cells and that over time the gunking up of the various systems inevitably brings on death. However, up to 25 or 30 our bodies seem to be able to handle all the gunk and keep improving and fixing themselves quite well. I believe the body could repair and keep itself in pristine 25 year old condition for much longer than it does but that since there is no evolutionary advantage to doing so it lets these things start to fall apart after 25 or 30.
If you could lengthen your Telomeres would you live forever? It is not clear if that would actually happen. Nonetheless Telomere’s are a big interest to people studying longevity. There is only one chemical I know of that is potentially able to help restore Telomere length by promoting the production of Telomerase a molecule that helps put Telomeres on DNA. This chemical Astralagus is in studies and results aren’t available right now but I take Astralagus through a supplement from Biotivia. Their BioSpan product contains Resveratrol, Astralagus and Circumin. I take it but it is unknown if Astralagus will increase Telomere length in normal cells. Resveratrol and Circumin are known in studies to have many beneficial effects. So, I take this supplement because it has a good combination and I feel I am experimenting with the Astralagus.
By the age 45 your immune system is seriously damaged compared to a younger person. Injuries take much longer to recover from and all signs of youth from skin to energy, strength, sex capacity all are in decline. Numerous reasons have been put across for all these things including the decline in youthful chemicals in the body including: Testosterone, Melatonin. I take supplements which increase Testosterone and I take Melatonin for sleep not for longevity but if it helps with longevity great. I also take D3 for immune system function and Cialis regularly for lower blood pressure, better urine flow and better sex. These things categorically work, highly suggested.
There are numerous supplements which claim to raise Testosterone naturally. I am currently using Mdrive and have used ForgeMax in the past. Both absolutely work! My testosterone level is appropriate for someone half my age and that is very helpful for a number of things. There is controversy about Testosterone supplementation like this but I find it important to improve quality of life.
Continuous Repair and the need for continuous supply of nutrition
Your body has 100,000 chemicals in it. Many of these chemicals are manufactured by the body from the nutrition it gets. Numerous of the molecules are variations of other molecules and can be synthesized from basic components the body has. However, some chemicals the body cannot synthesize. Some of those are critical vitamins you need to ingest periodically. It is not known what the complete list of chemicals you need to take in to make everything or what is used for what in the body. We do not understand the operation of the body and chemistry well enough to make such a perfect list.
If you damage something it takes a LOT more work to fix it than to maintain the existing function. The damaged thing is rarely as good as the original equipment. This is an imperfect analogy to cars and things we build but in general I believe that it is best not to damage the body and the body needs numerous chemicals to keep itself in top condition. If you don’t eat or take in all the nutrition your body needs every day then some part of your body that is in disrepair may not get repaired that day. It is then harder to repair that the next day and at some point if the thing whatever it is progresses to a disease, such as diabetes, Alzheimers, hunched over, loss of hearing, … then you have failed.
There may be cures for diseases, ways to repair these conditions but by the time this has progressed to this point the body has obviously been mistreated for so long there is a LOT of repair to be done. It may never be able to repair and even if medicine can restore you it would have been infinitely better to have prevented such damage in the first place. This is common sense. I’m not blaming people who get disease. I am simply stating what I think are the facts of what is better and if possible what to avoid. Therefore, I do not want to be in the position that simply taking a pill could have kept my body repaired a little better and forestalled a disease.
Diabetes as an example
A good example of this is diabetes. Your body may not be able to keep the sugar glucose level of your blood well maintained. Continuous abuse of the sugar system in your body by overeating, eating too much sugur, dieting over and over can produce damage to this system. Once you have damaged this system enough your life is permanently damaged. You will not be able to eat things that are good for the rest of your life. You will have ups and downs and you will forever be at risk of numerous life threatening consequences of diabetes. This is a horrible situation to get into. There are a number of supplements which help your body keep its sugar system well regulated. Resveratrol, Fish Oils, Pine Bark and a few other chemicals that are easy to take make it possible for you to eat what you like and keep your glucose pretty much in good shape. Please consider taking some of these supplements. Diabetes is preventable and there is no doubt that supplements can make a big difference. Once you have diabetes it is a terrifying disease.
Taken to an extreme such a philosophy of preventing damage would lead to a very ascetic life and this is not what I believe is quality of life. I take supplements partly so that I can eat other things or not eat things today because I know my body is getting all the nutrition. It means I can do things because I believe my body has the stuff it needs to take the stress of whatever I am doing. If the choice is to live life as an ascetic and deny yourself all the time or to take some supplements and then be much more flexible and enjoy life I prefer the latter. I find taking supplements easy. It has allowed me to keep all kinds of things in balance and stay very healthy even when I do things an ascetic would consider bad. I think 99% of people are incapable of living the life that asceticism would require. Eating certain foods every day is hard. Not eating certain foods or not drinking this or that is hard. I prefer to take supplements and not worry as much about what else I do. Maybe the ascetic wins but there is a joke I am sure we’ve all heard about how it is really not worth it to live a life if you are living life without pleasure.
Variety is important
Some chemicals are stored by the body and can be called upon when needed by the body. Many chemicals aren’t. If those chemicals are valuable then every day you don’t take them your body doesn’t have a resource it needs. Sometimes the body can manufacture a chemical from other chemicals. The body is quite versatile. Understanding all this will take some time. In the meantime I prefer to take the small nuisance of swallowing a few pills to make sure my body always has whatever it needs available when it needs it.
I have never been much of an athlete. Yet I know that physical exercise is crucial to a quality life.
I like that a friend of mine changed her birthday on Facebook so she appears to be 94 years old. Instead of trying to pretend to be younger and seeming vain she took the other tack. By being ridiculously old she is just leaving it ambiguous which I think is fair.
I have exercised 3 to 4 times a week for 30 minutes or more for the last 20 years. I’ve never done it to excess and I try to be consistent rather than an athlete. Others may prefer more rigorous program. That will help some but I don’t think a lot. I also worry that huge exercise is actually damaging to the body. Some may believe otherwise and advocate much more exercise. I believe long term studies have shown the most benefit from a relatively small amount of exercise every day or frequently is the most important. I want to be strong and limber enough that I can still walk with speed and confidence, not fall over and be able to lift things and do work. I don’t want to feel like getting about life is harder than it ever was. I don’t. So far, my age has not limited me from doing anything I would have done at an earlier age.
I also mix up aerobic exercise and weight exercise. Initially a lot of people seemed convinced that aerobic exercise was the only way to go. Since then it has become clear to me that weight exercise programs achieve the same benefits for the body and sometimes more. Strength is important to maintaining a quality of life. Being able to lift things is crucial not only to feeling strong but also to prevent injury. Aerobics specifically targets the leg muscles and it does give endurance. I think you should mix it up and include both in your program.
I use a personal trainer and highly recommend them. Over the years they have been very helpful to teach me new exercises and also do many things I wouldn’t do otherwise.
My attitude to physical labor has changed over the years. Now, I look with glee at being able to help someone move or move myself, to go up 4 flights of stairs. I want to do these things because I always think it means a little exercise opportunity. If I have to climb stairs I grin. Great. A chance to get a little exercise. Attitude makes a huge difference. If I look at work as an opportunity to get a little exercise then it changes my attitude a lot.
There are supplements you can take to get a better workout. BCAA (branch chain amino acids) I have found absolutely help me get a longer and stronger workout.
Eyes, Ears, Mind, etc…
There are supplements you can take that are proven to help you maintain your eyes, ears, mental condition etc… It is critical to my mind that you maintain these senses as part of longevity as well.
I have another blog on quality of life that talks about these items that I will publish soon.
I spend about $1200/year on supplements or $100/month. That may seem a lot but consider the cost of:
Health insurance: $1000/month
Disability insurance: ??
Deductible for Health insurance: $500-$1000/year
Typical Medical procedure: $ thousands!!!
Heart Disease: $250,000
Car insurance: $1500/year
Car Maintenance: $300-2000/year
Can you really say that $1200/year if it will delay onset of some of these diseases, improve your quality of life is expensive? I don’t think so.
A lot of people are less worried about the number of pills or the process but are simply concerned with cost. If you don’t work carefully to examine your options you can spend easily another couple thousand a year more on supplements than you need to.
In the past I compared dozens of providers and ordered each supplement from the place I found it cheapest. This has become much easier because Amazon and Costco have jumped in and seem to have consolidated the market and provided best pricing.
I have found that Amazon provides a huge variety of almost everything as well as Costco and for everything else I have some specialty providers because I like that companies recipe.
Here are some things to think about:
1) Compare prices from Costco, Amazon and even Google shopping. Costco has amazing quality and prices on many supplements. They are highly reviewed by consumerlabs.
2) Frequently you can reduce the price by buying in bulk or using subscribe and save plans. Amazon subscribe and save allows you to save an additional 15% if you do it right. Biotivia not only has a subscription plan but also a point plan that you can use to lower cost. Ordering in bulk can cut costs in half sometimes.
3) Check out www.consumerlabs.com and join this service. It is a great service and they give awesome advice on selecting which supplements have what they say they do, don’t contain impurities or bad things in them. They also provide great information on supplements. They also compare prices and can give you confidence to buy something that is inexpensive. Well worth the small annual fee for the service.
4) I buy at least 3 months and sometimes 6 months or more to get cost down.
I like BioSpan+: It contains Astralagus, Resveratrol, Circumin and Silymarin. These are all really great ingredients and Biotivia is one of the best respected companies in this business. If I order from their website as I used to it is 34.99 for a single 30 day supply. I have to order 10 to get the price down to 27.99 which also wouldn’t include shipping. If I use amazon subscribe and save I can get the bottle down to 23.79 which is more than 30% off the single bottle price and free shipping (with prime.)
This is one of the most expensive supplements I use. Something like B12 is best at Costco. They sell 300 pills good for a whole year for about $10. Trader Joes has a great Melatonin pill for $10 for a 3-6 month supply. If you look around these things don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Nevertheless I believe that the cost is worth it.
Supplements aren’t proven
Frequently doctors or western medicine scientific people will say that supplements aren’t proven to do anything. I have met doctors and other medical professionals, nurses who believe this. Western medicine does work. The scientific method does work. If science says something does or doesn’t work then in most cases, the way we do science in medicine today it is true. Double blind studies and clinical trials are well established and true.
The problem is that good trials cost a huge amount of money. Unless you can make hundreds of millions from a drug it is unlikely anybody will ever do a real study. So, the number of things truly studied well is necessarily limited. Instead, we have a few well done studies and numerous less rigorous studies. The fact that something hasn’t been studied doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. 5,000 years of Chinese medicine based on anecdote has uncovered some medically useful and obviously active products. So, because something doesn’t have a $100 M study behind it doesn’t mean it doesn’t do something useful and powerful. It just means nobody could make enough money to justify a big study or nobody has gotten around to doing a less expensive study yet.
If you read that some food or product will cure cancer then that is surely wrong. It’s impossible any one thing we find in the natural world is likely a cure for the most terrible diseases we face or we would have found it a long time ago.
Western medicine is better at serious crisis cures and everybody would admit it is not as good at prevention. In my opinion by the time something has gotten to a crisis it is way too late and usually from the point of some serious crisis intervention is required we are looking at a serious drop in quality of life. If you face heart disease, cancer, diabetes, liver failure, etc… western medicine may save you but if there is anything you could have done to prevent these maladies you would be way better off. The reason is that your quality of life after these diseases have occurred is substantially poorer. Frequently you constantly are on some severe medication that limits you in some ways, you can’t eat things, you can’t do things. You may have organs removed, you may have twitches, disfigurement, disabilities. Frequently for the rest of your life after the serious malady your quality of life is compromised in serious ways. If you are like me you want to do whatever you can to prevent you ever getting to these diseases as long as possible.
Yet traditional medicine offers virtually nothing to help you with prevention.
Studies and Scientific Evidence
However, can we rationally take supplements without the ultimate proof studies that medicine demands?
I categorize information into buckets of surety. Things we can be certain about, things we have evidence that highly supports efficacy and evidence that logically makes sense. It then becomes a matter of trying such supplements yourself and seeing if you see the effect. Remove the supplement and does the effect go away. Do this one at a time. Even if it is something you can’t be sure about there is a risk/reward tradeoff. In your own case you can decide if the potential benefit is worth the risk you are wasting money. You probably waste money doing things bad for you. Why not waste a little money on things that might be very good for you, that might help keep your quality of life high for a longer time? I think that is worth a lot if it is possible.
Some things are rock solid worth doing and basically proven. For most people, for instance taking Vitamin D3 supplements is a no-brainer. D3 is not easily obtained in food. It mostly requires sunlight, however sunlight is damaging to the skin. Also, many people live in regions where sunlight isn’t always available every day and maybe you don’t always have the time to go out and absorb sun. Sun exposure not only ages the skin but causes cancer. Protecting the skin reduces the D3 from sun. The benefits of D3 are well established including a 30% reduction of cancer risk and numerous other benefits. Therefore, I think nearly 100% of the population should take D3 supplements at a minimum. Several other supplements fit into this profile. Aspirins benefit is extremely well established. Omega3 fish oil. There are many things in this category I won’t belabor. For instance folic acid and a lot of things that people do get a lot of normally.
Things that are not proven that many people think are
Anti-oxidants: There is very little evidence for the theory of antioxidants. There is no doubt that oxidized chemicals can do damage to the body. However, there are a wide wide class of anti-oxidants and the process of de-oxidizing a chemical and removing it from the body is complicated. If a part of this process becomes overwhelmed with an Anti-oxidant then it is theorized the whole process can get stopped leaving more oxidized chemicals in the body. There is not good scientific evidence backing the general idea of anti-oxidants although individual chemicals may themselves be good.
Vitamin C has been studied a lot and I don’t think what I’ve read justifies taking a lot of it. It doesn’t help with colds or cancer or anything that much compared to other things you can do easily in my opinion.
Can’t I just eat well? Won’t that be enough?
Balanced diet. Low fat diet, low carb diet, low protein diet. There is no scientific evidence that eating in any specific manner produces much better results. The body has a super ability to turn one type of food into another. It can produce energy from any food and extract nutrients from a wide variety of foods. Classifications of foods by food groups is arbitrary human grouping that it is unlikely to be beneficial to remove certain groups.
Dieting in General. Eating less food than your body needs stresses your body. There is real evidence that during diets you are at much higher chance of dying. Constant up and downs of weight are known to cause diabetes even in non-obese people. I’ve known some friends who’ve gotten this. My philosophy is to diet very infrequently, maybe a few times in your entire life and to choose a way of eating that you can do for the rest of your life and stick with it. In my opinion it is not worth dieting. You should just realize that you need a diet that is sustainable for your entire life.
If you rob your body of specific foods by eating say bananas exclusively for a time to lose weight I believe you are damaging your body by depriving it of essential materials. It would be critical if you undertake these special diets to supplement the diet with lots of the supplements I talk about here.
I believe people who say they “eat well” are either highly disciplined ascetics or lying. To eat well every day, to get all the nutrients your body needs every day is nearly impossible and would require a massive effort and discipline. So, NO I don’t think you can do this by eating well alone. The question is what to believe? Many people are blocked by this. They read one thing one day and another another day and are confused. Isn’t it all poppycock? No. In my experience if you really look at the studies there are trends and things that evolve but there is still an ability to draw evidence to conclude some things will help and some things won’t.
How to interpret Studies
Studies which are less rigorous include:
1) Self-reported studies : studies where the patient reports what they remember what they did
Patients are EXTREMELY bad at remembering what they did, frequently lie. Such studies are much worse but actually tracking exactly what people do is extremely expensive and therefore it is rare that studies do not have some of this error in them.
2) Non-double-blind studies: studies where they only compared those taking the medicine and those not taking it
The well known placebo effect where patients who think they are taking a medicine get better (even if they aren’t) make double blind studies important. Just as important however is the fact that if the doctor knows who is on the study and who is taking placebo they may make slight even subconscious errors that lead to an interpretation the drug or procedure is having more of an effect than it is.
3) Association studies: studies where they notice a coincidence that people who do this also have this happen more frequently
These studies frequently have problems that are corrupted by sheer coincidence or in many cases because of correlated behavior. People who do X may be more likely to do Y or have some common characteristic Y unrelated to X and it may be Y which is good for you or bad for you but if all you see is the X you think X is good or bad for you when it is really Y which is good or bad. X could do the opposite of what you think. There is some value in association studies in that they give reasons to consider studying X to see if it alone could be good or bad but such association studies by themselves don’t really add a lot of credibility to doing X.
4) Anecdotal studies. These are studies where people notice certain things. It could be that they noticed like an association study that some patients did this or that and something common happened. It could also be personal experience. Unless you have more information, such as when the patients stopped doing X they stopped getting the benefit or problem, then they took it again and the problem reversed again then we have something more to go on.
Nonetheless 5000 years of anecdotal study of eastern herbs and medicines does mean some of them probably have merit.
5) Rat and other animal or test tube studies. Rats have a similar genetic structure to humans in some ways but differ in substantial ways. Frequently rats fed massive quantities of something may have a negative reaction like anything taken in large quantities. There is quite a bit of evidence that a rat study is similar to an association study. If something causes a rat to have cancer then maybe it is worth studying in humans but I don’t think based on that alone you can conclude anything except maybe if it is easy to avoid the thing, then sure avoid it.
Even good studies can suffer a lot of problems
There are many reasons to believe that studies even if done WELL may not tell you the whole story. Frequently, a study may have tested the wrong dose of the supplement, the wrong combination, the wrong patients, the wrong condition. All these things done differently can produce an entirely different outcome. This is why in drug studies they have phases. Phase 1 determines if the drug has efficacy and they will test a drug against severely ill patients near death in many cases. If a drug helps some people they may go to Phase II where they test different amounts of the drug on different patients. This is a difficult phase because some patients get too little or too much and get no benefit when the drug really does help people. Phase III is the real test against other procedures to determine if it is worth doing compared to existing therapies.
Notice that these kinds of studies are not well suited to prevention methods or supplements.
How to use studies
When you see a study first figure out what kind of study it is. How reliable is it? Who did the study? Was it published in a reliable peer reviewed publication? What are the weaknesses and strengths of the study? Is it a good solid double blind study that tests a supplement against the right condition in the right people at the right dose. If such a study has been done then that is great however, many times what we have are studies like I describe above with flaws. What I look for is how many people in the study? Are there other explanations for the result, i.e. is it possibly simple coincidence? Is the result significant? How long did they follow the patients? What else were the patients taking? What were they testing for?
Let’s look at an example:
This study is pretty vague. It talks about reducing inflammation in rats. Resveratrol seems to work really well with rats. Numerous rat studies have shown really good results with rats. The results with humans have been much less clear. So, the fact that rats responded so well doesn’t necessarily mean humans will have the same benefit. The study was also very strange in that it looked to see the effect of inflammation on rats. From the study I would suspect any anti-inflammatory would produce a similar effect. Possibly some may work better than resveratrol.
The study is not negative. It supports prior work with resveratrol that showed positive effects and activation of hundreds of genes but by itself this study wouldn’t make me change my recipe one way or another.
If this study had been negative, i.e. there was no benefit to hearing then I wouldn’t have changed my recipe either because I am not looking at resveratrol as a major anti-inflammatory nor to protect my hearing. I think Pine Bark is better at the latter and aspirin better at the former. Nonetheless Resveratrol has had numerous studies that have all had a pretty positive result so I will keep it in my recipe too.
How to incorporate study results in your life?
If the evidence for something seems to be building in a number of studies I may decide to add it to my recipe tentatively. If it something I can tell if it is working then I can try taking it off for a period and see if the benefit seems to go away. If I am satisfied I will keep it in the recipe.
If I see a negative study that invalidates a claim I believed was true I will take it very seriously. In many cases the positive benefit may be marginal for a certain supplement in which case a negative study removes any rationale for taking the supplement. I remove it from my recipe almost immediately and wait for any new evidence contradicting.
A good example of this process is how I have played with naicin in my recipe. Originally when I started taking Niacin 20 years ago all we knew was that niacin reduced LDL and increased HDL. There are 3 types of niacin. The effect of niacin is indisputable. It is directly measurable in blood tests and acts similar to statin drugs. I took all 3 forms of niacin. 2 of the forms didn’t cause a flush reaction (inositol bound niacin, timed release). 1 form had more liver impact than others (timed release), 1 caused a flush and could only be taken in lower doses (niacinimide). I got good results from taking all 3 but reading studies it became apparent that inositol niacin didn’t leave much results in the blood supply so I removed this and increased the other 2 forms. Eventually studies came out that showed that slow release niacin did more damage to the liver and also left less niacin in the blood. I moved to all niacinimide and stopped the slow release form. I now take less niacin but amazingly the blood results are better than ever with no liver risk.
Over time I have put things in, taken them out. Sometimes I have put them back in when evidence seemed to mount again. The fact that there are insufficient quality studies is depressing. I wish we could find good studies on all the supplements.
BigData and the Future of Medicine
I am hoping over the next 10-20 years we will see the emergence of data from people using various monitors and people on the internet agreeing to give their health data. The purpose of this is to collect vastly more data than is available today on usage of supplements, drugs and consequences. If we could gather information across millions of people reliably it would transform medical care and potentially have a huge impact on health and medicine costs. Trials are the most expensive part of drug studies and limit the value of supplements.
I hope some enterprising people out there will sponsor studies of this type and that people will participate and give up important medical information to help all of us have better lives. I will definitely let people know if I find something for all of us interested in our health to participate in improving our health.
Here is a cool app I imagine to help us all
Vivino is a very cool app. If you drink wine consider getting this app. All you have to do is point your phone at a bottle of wine, press a button and it will tell you all about the wine.
I imagine a similar app for supplements but much more sophisticated:
1) I want to be able to point an app at a bottle of some supplement and have it find everything there is to know about that supplement. All the ingredients.
2) I would like it to then allow me to add it to my recipe
3) do research on studies on the ingredients
4) pull up pricing and alternative suppliers
5) quality as consumerlabs.com would review it.
.6) I would like to then be able to see if I add it to my recipe what my total intake of all ingredients would be.
7) I would like to see if the supplement should be taken morning or evening, with food or without
8) Any interactions of the supplement with conditions or other medicines or supplements
9) If I add it to my recipe I would like to be placed on a list of other who take it so we can accumulate information on our experience with it and how much we took and what other things we took in conjunction with it
10) I would like to be able to contribute information on my experience
11) If I have a tracker I would like to have this go into a bigdata farm so that we could do analysis on long term effects of the supplement on our health and well being.
I hope you found this interesting. Supplements absolutely can help you improve your quality of life.
Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:
WUWT reader M. Paul writes: Sometimes a new word emerges that neatly encapsulates a set of complex ideas. We have recently seen such a word enter the lexicon: Grubering.
For those of you who missed it, an MIT Professor named Jonathan Gruber has been caught on video describing all the various ways that he helped the Obama Administration to deceive the public regarding the true nature of Obamacare.
People are now referring to what the Obamacare campaigners did as “Grubering”. Grubering is when politicians or their segregates engage in a campaign of exaggeration and outright lies in order to “sell” the public on a particular policy initiative. The justification for Grubering is that the public is too “stupid” to understand the topic and, should they be exposed to the true facts, would likely come to the “wrong” conclusion. Grubering is based on the idea that only the erudite academics…
View original 356 more words
Current US Space Budget $25,000,000,000 / Year
The current US space policy and goals are confusing. This is extremely upsetting. We are spending a lot $25B / yr on space development (including military spending) and if we don’t know what we are trying to achieve there is a good chance a lot of it is wasted money. Let’s not waste money when so many important things need money. More important we are not achieving goals we could achieve.
How we got here.
In the 1990s the US space program was drifting. We were spending billions and billions on the shuttle and the space station.
It was massively overbudget but even more concerning almost nobody knew why we were doing these things or if there was any value at all from the effort. The Shuttle was supposed to reduce cost to space but ended up costing way more than any other way of getting to space. The space station was a monstrosity of spending that we were hoping to split with the world but the world was making marginal contributions yet we seem locked into spending this 100 billion dollars on this thing and nobody really knew what it was for other than world peace. It was a huge waste of money and time by everybody.
Many people who wanted a better space program in the late 90s started an underground movement with Robert Zubrin at the head which promised a more intelligent plan and cheaper way to do space. He outlined a plan to get to Mars for low cost by using mostly robots. This struck a chord and thousands of people spontaneously from every major part of the world interested in space and working in the space industry met at conferences Zubrin put on to plan a journey to Mars. I attended two of these conferences with my son Jonathon and it was fascinating. All these people were coming up with thousands of ideas how to do innovative on things they had researched. Academia showed up, serious proponents from industry. This was not comicon the science fiction conference it was serious proposals, practical real stuff. It was an incredible thing to see and be a part of. In a few short years Zubrin succeeded showing that someone with an idea can make a difference. All he did was a write a book and before long he had thousands coming to conferences giving lectures and promoting him.
After the 2003 Columbia disaster people were coming to grips with the failure and misdirection of the space program and Bush embraced Zubrin’s ideas and the Constellation program was made US space policy. So the story of Robert Zubrin the guy with an idea actually changed US space policy. Part of that plan was to retire the space Shuttle and bring private space companies into existence. I and many others were deeply skeptical any private companies would be able to do anything and with the shuttle retired the US space program seemed to have completely come off the tracks. We were actually paying the Russians billions to send our people up to our space station paid 90% with US bucks that the russians and others shared for much less money for a program it seemed with no purpose or much value.
When Elon Musk came into the picture with SpaceX he was at first treated with tremendous skepticism. Elon had made $200 million from Paypal and had a dream of building rockets. By the third rocket launch failure Elon had almost spent his entire $200 million on his dreams. He was virtually bankrupt. Easy come, easy go I suppose. He had enough money for a 4rth launch which was successful. NASA called the next week with a $1.5B contract to bring 10 payloads to the Space Station. Elon was saved. It was a start. Amazing story for a child who grew up in South Africa and immigrated to the US. Since then, Orbital Sciences has also successfully launched rockets.
Musk’s dream was more ambitious and directed than NASA’s! He planned to build a manned craft and go to mars himself if NASA didn’t want to do it. He was going to make reusable launch vehicles to drastically reduce the cost to space, a dream the space shuttle had tried with 10s of billions in NASA funding had failed to achieve.
When Obama came into power he looked at the Constellation program and even as a dream he was convinced it was too expensive. The Obama administration came up with Americas current plan.
The Current US Space Program
The current space program is based on the idea that we should capture an asteroid as proof of ability to do things in space, land the asteroid on or around mars and study it. When we finish that we will be good enough to go to Mars. So, the plan includes eventually getting to Mars but much later.
If it weren’t for SpaceX and the ability to get to a lower cost and Musk’s dream of reusable launch vehicles and manned DragonV2 capsule I am not sure NASA would have much for us to look forward to, yet this pointless program is costing us $25 Billion/year. Even I would advocate just scrapping most of it.
For instance, Nasa is building its own rockets again. The SLS Space Launch System will be able to lift a lot more into space than a single Falcon-9 from SpaceX but it is a disposable rocket that will cost a fortune to operate. SpaceX will be able to deliver to space at 1/3 or less the cost of the SLS. Why do we want to do that and undercut a pioneer who has built the only really economic way to do space exploration. Musk got Zubrins essential idea which is it is all about cost to lift.
NASA should be advocating building the cheapest not the biggest rocket!!! Is this just some ego play by NASA scientists who want to get back into the business of rocket building again? This is old thinking and will cost us many billions for no good reason other than prestige like we have been doing for the last 20 years at a complete waste of taxpayers money. Now that I’ve seen a private company can build things the public sector never could at 1/40th the cost of NASA why would we want to go back to NASA building rockets? Please stop this madness. We are incredibly lucky that we have someone as smart and capable as Elon willing to participate in this space business. It’s incredibly risky and he has designed the best rockets and vehicles America has ever had. Why would we want to construct our own rockets again?
The DragonV2 which Musk and SpaceX have designed has 3 separate ways for astronauts to save themselves. He has built it and is testing it, a crew containment and transportation vehicle which is clearly safer than anything NASA ever built, ever dreamed of building and he did this for 1/40th the cost of NASA. He is offering to cut in 1/4 the cost we pay the Russians for manned transit to the ISS. NASA signed on for 2.6billion. That’s great but the V2 and subsequent SpaceX can obviously do whatever we need at vastly lower cost and sooner and safer than America building another rocket and crew cabin at government costs and overhead.
To NASA’s credit it has given SpaceX $2.6 billion to transport 10 groups of astronauts to the Space Station using the Dragon V2 and Falcon rockets. I’m all for redundancy and not having one vendor. If we also want to fund Orbital Sciences or Spaceship Gallactica to build manned transport and / or large lift rockets, fine but let’s not imagine that the government can build rockets anymore that are economic.
The space station could be used as a building and collection point for future contstruction and deployment of missions to other planets. As such it should be redesigned to support this function with a way to store fuel for rockets, have supplies and robotic arms to put larger spaceships together. Let’s either mothball the ISS which is costing us $10 billion a year or make it useful. Can anybody think of 1 thing the Space Station has done that is at all useful to humanity? One experiment that changed something? Why are we doing this people? If not for an eventual moon mission then let’s be honest with ourselves. It is a waste.
Let’s consider the possible goals of a US Space Program
I believe you should always start by looking at your goals. Being goal directed is a key strategy to success. A random walk to get somewhere doesn’t work usually. In agile methodology we still have a goal but we iterate in small steps but we still have a goal. I am advocating we have to have a goal.
Possible goals of a US space program:
1) Maximum economic benefit: Determine what possible value could be derived from space and then pursue it. Mine asteroids, other planets, the moon, develop solar power in space.
There has been a lot written about the possible benefits of asteroids and comets as well as the moon for resources. If we can develop the technology to get to them and redirect them safely they could be an amazing resource for the human race. There is virtually unlimited quantities of every element you can imagine in these asteroids. Plans were designed for solar power in space providing much higher than on the earth because of the ability to point always 100% of the time at the sun and have no clouds to block the rays it would be a tremendous source of energy if it could be delivered to the earth safely somehow. The moon has huge quantities of He3 in the soil at the surface. This is a very powerful source of energy. If any of these could produce enough value to justify a space program then this might be the best path forward because it would always be better to be able to offset the costs of the program with real benefits sooner.
2) Maximum exploration: develop technologies to explore as much as possible to learn about our universe and solar system, develop massive telescopes and perform experiments, create robots that can automate much of our exploration.
As an altruistic exercise this is hard to argue with. Even if we don’t do anything else this probably makes sense to continue at some level. The good news is that we can do this at a slow pace or faster pace depending on our interest at the time. Much of this will not produce benefits for a very long time other than for mental stimulation. One example of this is a super “Hubble” even 10 or 100 times bigger than the Webb telescope planned. The ability to actually look at planets in other solar systems. We would be the ultimate voyeurs. Peering in on life but not participating.
3) Contact with any possible other sentient species: seek to develop massive sensors to hear other species
A goal of Carl Sagan has fallen on disrepute as we have spent a long time trying to find evidence. What most people don’t realize is that the technology to truly scan a significant part of the sky in the right bandwidths is not going to be available for several more years. This is not a huge cost program. Discovering we are not alone would have enormous impacts. It is likely even the shortest smallest contact with another species will have some knowledge gaining potential.
Goals 1,2,3 can be achieved without man’s participation at all. We can build robotic craft and learn to build more and more complex robots and the cost of these goals is dramatically less because involving humans in space travel is extremely costly. Humans require a massive amount of extra work to sustain them and bring along their safety systems and support systems.
4) Maximum survival of the human race: try to get our seed out to other planets, possibly in other solar systems. Try to establish colonies on other viable planets or moons.
This is Zubrins plan and is the plan many talk about as a possible goal. I advocate this goal. My hope is that somewhere along the way in implementing this goal we will discover econonic benefits to our exploration and this will then spur a second goal to provide funding for a future human multi-world ecosystem.
There are really 2 independent subgoals possible with this goal. One is to spread the life that seems to be limited to one planet in the universe now to other planets. This seems like a moral calling. It doesn’t make any difference if the life is human or plant or other animal. The point is simply to give other planets a headstart. Maybe someone did this for us. Many people believe in panspermia which is the idea that life on earth originated in the stars. It is a very possible scenario. We would simply be continuing the help.
A second subgoal is to find a place for us to colonize.
5) Make us feel good by doing big projects that demonstrate we are impressive and create goodwill with other countries by including them in such programs.
This is what we have been doing. It’s a complete waste of money. The idea world peace comes from this is ridiculous. I really hate this is the idea behind most of our space program today.
6) A combination of the above.
Since we have so few funds doing a combination of goals is stupid and is tantamount to saying we have no goal. I won’t waste time on this.
Goal 4 Survival of humanity
Why do I think this is a good goal?
My thinking about this is simple. I think humans are cool. I am proud of what we have accomplished generally. I realize not all of human history is filled with the best examples of why we should be so proud but overall we have risen from the swamp and we have learned about our planet, ourselves and more and more about our universe. We deserve to survive. I would like to think that the human race is NOT limited to one planet. Yes, it is pride. If we do bite the dust at some point I would like human race’s epitaph to say we went to mars and tried to explore beyond our ball.
If people were asked: “What is the most impressive thing you can point to that humans have done?” to explain what mankind had done at its peak I think a universal answer would be we stepped on the moon. That is the most obvious evidence we have climbed above the monkey level that we built a society capable of some things. Some people will point to some art. That is very subjective and does not need society. It is also very individual. Maybe Beethoven is worth mentioning to some other species as our highest creature but I believe it can’t be a building, or an art work, piece of music or a constitution. It all comes down to: humans were able to work together to understand their world, build spaceship and a little bit of earth of our own. Send our people to a different planet. It really is the most amazing thing we’ve ever done in my opinion.
Also, so far as we know sentient life exists nowhere else in the universe. That’s probably not true but given that we don’t know it makes sense to assume it and do what we can to make sure we aren’t the last living things in the universe.
There are variations on the Pansperimia plan which involve possibly being careful not to interfere if life already exists on that planet. So, we may want to have a really good way to tell if our probe lands on an already “living” planet in which case we may simply want to destroy the probe or monitor the life and feedback data to us later or even trying to combine our life with theirs.
A further improvement of this plan is to figure out how best to deliver life to a dead planet. Simply dropping supplies of life to mars may not work. Maybe we need to send technology to help terraform or adapt species. Such technology is well beyond our current abilities so we might want to engage in a simpler strategy first and develop more and more capability.
While spreading seed is our best bet possibly to insure that life spreads among the universe it is not a good way to satisfy any of our immediate desires of saving the current set of humans. We need to occupy a planet or moon for that.
In 1990s Robert Zubrin realized it would be possible to construct a cheaper mission to mars. The goal of such a mission would be to establish colony on mars. Therefore the goal of his program was goal 4 above.
Assuming you accept goal 4 as the goal to go for then it gets to the practicality of colonization. Is it really possible or is it going to be like the moon landings. Something we do a few times for a limited amount of time and then return home and never really be able to follow up.
I say we shouldn’t go until we feel we can build a sustainable colony. Let’s be patient and work on the technology to do this as long as necessary until we are sure we have a viable possibility to actually stay.
There are many reasons to believe that Mars is both the most likely and the most habitable of all the moons and planets we know about that we could possibly colonize. I provide some links to some proof that Mars is viable. Among the things that Mars has is a much wider array of minerals and chemicals available easily for colonizers. If you read those articles I point to you will see what we have on Mars is a panoply of all the chemicals we would need to be able to sustain ourselves.
Mars has enough water close to the surface of the planet to have an ocean 50 meters depth all over Mars. Because the earth is 70% water Mars actually has the same land area as the earth! It is a mini-earth. The gravity of Mars is 1/3 the earth which is enough hopefully so humans don’t fall apart like we do in zero gravity. Mars has a small atmosphere that actually hits ZERO C during the summer close to the surface at the equator. It’s cold but it isn’t -273C like space or the moon.
There are many books talking about the long term possibility to terraform or aeroform mars. The idea being to pump up the atmosphere of Mars enough so that it was possible to go outside without a spacesuit on at least. It would probably take a century to do but it isn’t impossible. The atmosphere that Mars did have was probably blown off by asteroids. Since the early formation of the solar system the asteroids smashed into mars quite a bit more than the earth. With less gravity these asteroids probably eventually removed the atmosphere but it can hold an atmosphere barring new catastrophic incidents.
Compared to the moon or moons of jupiter or saturn there are clear advantages to Mars. It is about 9 months travel time to Mars which is a lot less than these other places which are closer to 2 or 3 years. The time delay speaking to someone on Mars is between 4 minutes and 24 minutes depending on the relative positions of the Earth and Mars in our orbits.
I think the second choice if not Mars is the moon or possibly our own space station built on a massive scale. A moon station wouldn’t be much different than a large space station.
Let’s assume the only viable goal is Going to Mars
Can such a goal can be obtained at a reasonable cost compared to our economic strength? Zubrin laid out a cheaper plan to mars. Let me explain why I agree with Zubrin that this is the best strategy for our space program. The basics of Zubrins plan are as follows:
1) Develop cheap lift to space, develop robotic skills, chemistry, life support knowledge and experiment with how to get to mars and live on mars safely without using people initially. Basically get the technology to be able to support a colony, including mining resources needed on mars by robots, production of food and repair as well as transport and survival in high radiation environments and low gravity environments working and put it all there cheaply first. Then send the humans.
2) Create a lot of shipments to mars of robots, supplies, equipment and start to create an automated colony that functions without humans. Have sufficient resources for 10 years or more without resupply on the planet available delivered at low cost by cheap lift to space rockets. Put the facilities there and prove they can be sustained for at least 6 months prior to sending people. Also send return mission rockets and fuel, transport and exploration.
3) Send people on a one way mission.
4) Work towards a self-supporting system where minimal resupply is necessary over time.
Phase 1 Research Develop
Phase 1 is done at low cost because no humans need be involved for almost everything. Much of this is simply technology development and tests. We know for instance that humans don’t do well with more than 6 months of weightlessness. We need to test if people who spend 9 months to Mars need a rotating platform for instance to simulate gravity. Is 1/3 gravity of mars sufficient for living creatures to survive? Can we develop technology to separate materials in the martian soil to produce things that our colonists can use to expand their colony and become self-sufficient. How will they extract water from the soil or from the poles? How will they grow food?
There is a lot of work to be done in Phase 1 that we haven’t done yet and for which there are NO CURRENT plans to do. One obvious thing that has pissed me off about our program is that we never built a rotating space station. Even Authur C Clarke anticipated the space station we would have in 2001 would be a rotating space station. Yes, it would have been bigger and more expensive but at least then it was a viable space station. This thing people can’t live there for more than 6 months without putting their lives at risk. It would also have demonstrated the potential for future travel and habitation. The current space station is so many compromises and still it was too expensive. We need more Elon Musks and less bureaucrats.
Phase 1 could be accomplished over 10-15 years and $50-100 billion. This is much less than our current spending and demonstrates the extreme waste of the space station. Elon is making this phase possible by creating a reusable rocket that lowers the cost to space dramatically allowing us to build larger and larger systems in space which we eventually send to mars and test there.
Phase 2 Deploy
Phase 2 is the deployment phase. The cost of this phase is relatively less possibly 10-25 billion since most of the technology will have been developed by phase 1. This will take 5 years to deploy and get up and running all the gear we need on mars to establish the colony.
Phase 3 is the transport phase
Simple enough. Send people. 9 months. Ending with mans occupation of Mars hopefully forever.
Phase 4 is the occupation phase
This phase we will work to make the colony self-sufficient. Bring other people, work with the people on mars to solve problems and evolve our ability to survive.
The US space program is rudderless and spending vast amounts of money largely on things that do very little. We need to seriously re-invigorate the Zubrin plan and goal to bring a purpose to the space effort both for success and because of the value of the goal itself. Creating a second colony for humans.
Most of the risk is in Phase 1 which means if we figure out we are wrong and we can’t occupy mars we can still use what we develop for other goals or for projects on earth. We can continue to develop the technology for colonization over 50 years if we need to.
What we have to do:
Lift Cost Reduction
Lift Cost: $70M/28,990 lbs = $2,400/lb
Amount that needs to be lifted: 50,000,000 lbs
(The ISS is about 1,000,000lbs) and cost $150 Billion
Cost = $100 billion in lift cost at current costs, $25 B if Elon can create reusable rocket. The most important factor in the cost and time to success is reducing lift cost. Elon is squarely focused on that even if the US government isn’t. Thank you, Elon. There are a lot of people who support you.
For doing things remotely. We need more autonomy in robots. We need more flexible robots which can do many things. We need to be able to repair robots remotely. We need to spend $1B/year on robotics technologies and associated robotic control systems and software. This can largely be done on earth and benefits humanity as well here on earth.
One of the most interesting questions. How many people do you need to send? Science Fiction books have speculated first colonies at 5 to 100 people or more. Consider that you will need experts in agriculture, biology, genetics, radiation, all the sciences you can imagine as well as people who can do labor and manage, handle the politics. I suspect a minimum colony is 15 or 20.
Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson is a series of science fiction books talking about the colonization and eventual aero-forming of Mars. It is a fascinating and spellbinding set of books that take you through many realistic issues that colonists and the Earth would face. He suggests 100 people. I highly recommend these books.
Factories / Manufacturing / Materials
We need to be able to separate materials in martian soil and to have available or create what we need to be able to manufacture various materials needed for life support, habitat building and to innovate on mars if needed to try new materials, new techniques. We will need microscopes and various machines for performing experiments and the materials needed for those experiments. We know practical materials today for most of this but developing lighter weight easy to manufacture on Mars materials will be better. Since it is so expensive to send stuff to mars eventually it will make sense for us to send stuff so they can be self-sufficient and manufacture almost everything they need there.
Water, food, air, waste disposal and reclamation, climate control.
Living on the surface of mars is an issue especially if it is intended to be years and maybe permanently. There must be enough materials and space to sustain failures and to allow for growth of the colony. Fortunately, all the basics are on Mars already. It has water, oxygen and all we need to live but it must be managed carefully.
Space to grow, seeds, animals, fertilizer, soil, lighting, heat, climate. We have virtually no experience doing this but also no reason to believe we can’t do it.
Supplies, medical equipment, test equipment. Much of this will probably be difficult to manufacture on Mars so will have to be sent initially.
Transportation and Radiation Protection
En-route – what is needed? What material ? How to build a space ship that can shield and yet be light enough to be cost effective to transport the colonists.
On surface – trucks, aircraft, buggies, vans, earthmoving, high speed travel, trucks for moving.
autonomous travel vehicles.
How big, how protected? Underground? Domes viable? Can they be constructed on site? How does the colony grow its space?
Entertainment, Research Equipment
It is clearly important to a number of us to keep a sharp mind. What do I mean by keeping a sharp mind?
1) Prevention of disease like Alzheimers
2) Better memory
3) Clear fast thinking
There are numerous things that you can take to support your brains functions. Telling if any supplement is helping can be very subjective judgements, so keep aware of how you feel.
I feel the least certain of all my supplements in this category.
Much of the research dollars today are focused on Alzheimers and the supposed assumption that if you prevent Alzheimers you will have a perfectly fine brain otherwise. :) I don’t know if that is a good assumption. I don’t believe I am very likely to get Alzheimers. It’s not a big worry so I haven’t really looked too much into what things prevent it. I believe many of the supplements I take and generally the healthy way I eat will be preventative enough. Maybe I am naive about this and someone could illuminate why I should worry about Alzheimers specifically more.
There are several supplements which have a long history of being associated with sharper minds or better memory. The one that is most common is:
Ginko Biloba: (240mg daily required dose to meet studies guidelines) Ginko has been shown in some studies to be effective but to do so you need to take 240mg+. It is hard to find supplements that have this level easily obtainable. I use Rainbow Light Ginko Bacopa Quick Thinking supplements. You have to take 3 pills to get 240mg. It contains numerous other good things for the brain.
ALA (alpha lipoic acid):
Green Tea: For a long time studies have shown Green tea has a big impact on reducing cancers along the gastrointestinal tract however, other studies point to its beneficial effects on other systems including brain. I don’t think anyone understands why it might do so.
Quick Thinking / Clarity:
B12: 1,000ucg to 5,000ucg: You will need to take a supplement to get this amount of B-12 but B-12 has been related in numerous studies I’ve seen to faster brain function and better memory, higher alertness, sharper thinking.
ALC (Acetyl-l-carnitine 1000mg or more): I think this is one of the most important supplements to take. ALC is involved in mitochondrial function and studies have shown mitochondrial function as critical. ALC is involved in the conversion process of ADP to ATP. This is a basic element to all operations in the cell practically. If you want to move a molecule from one place to another ATP provides the basic energy by supplying a phosphate atom and releasing energy in the process. ALC is a basic building block in this regeneration chemical reaction.
|B12||Brain||http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/brain-and-behavior/articles/2008/09/08/vitamin-b12-key-to-aging-brain||Vitamin B12 Key to Aging Brain (reduced brain volume with less B12 even at normal levels)|
|D3, Circumin||Brain||http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-07/uoc–vdc071509.php||Vitamin D, curcumin may help clear amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer’s disease|
|D3, Omega3||Brain||http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-02/uoc–vdo020513.php||Vitamin D, omega-3 may help clear amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer’s|
|EGCG||Brain||http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-09/w-bbs090512.php||Brainy beverage: Study reveals how green tea boosts brain cell production to aid memory|
|Omega3||Brain||http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-09/aaon-efn091713.php||Eating fish, nuts may not help thinking skills after all|
|Probiotics||Brain||http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-05/uoc–cgb052813.php||Changing gut bacteria through diet affects brain function, UCLA study shows|
|Pterostilbene||Brain||https://www.biotivia.com/pteromax.html||Biotivia claims memory enhancements,|
|Pycnogenol||Brain||http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-12/mg-pft120611.php||Pycnogenol found to improve memory and test scores in college students in new clinical …|
|Resveratrol||Brain||http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-02/hfhs-srs022013.php||Study: Resveratrol shows promise to protect hearing, cognition|
|Carnosine/beta-alanine||Brain||http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-11/uosf-ntp110613.php||Natura Therapeutics product shown to improve decision making skills in older adults|
|Melatonin||Brain||http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-10-memory-loss-alzheimer-reversed.html#ajTabs||Melatonin part of regimen reversed memory loss|