Canned Heat II: The Jig

Canned Heat I was published several months ago. To catch you up to date includes 2 flocks of chickens decimated by an 11 year old dog and a summer garden.

We finally got the chicken/dog issue straightened out. But the fact that chicks were sharing my work space and I wasn’t going to run power-tools and use chemical sealants around them, meant the Mister saw no need to make a jig if I wasn’t going to use it immediately. The upshot is, I am just now getting around to the 2nd phase of the project.

So after cleaning the cans I set up a jig on the drill press to take out the bottom of each can. Initially this consisted of a board bolted to the table on the drill press with a groove routed out.

After a couple of tests, in which I realized how much torque (twist) the hole saw created I had to figure out how to keep the can stable while the saw was cutting the bottoms. I hit upon this configuration:

This was held onto the table with 2 vice grip clamps. The Gorilla Tape helped to fill the space to create a snug fit, but was slick enough to allow the can to be inserted and removed smoothly. The bevel in the back allows the can to fit, as the hole saw was long enough to interfere with placing the can into the jig.

Note the sheet-rock screw. I found that if you put the screw inside the can opening and twist it until the side of the opening touches the screw, you simply have to hold the can down. This means you don’t have to squeeze the can to prevent it from spinning and you avoid crushing the can.

I used a 1.5″ bi-metal hole saw.

Please wear gloves and safety glasses. Drilling creates a lot of metal shavings. They are sharp and small and would not be pleasant under the skin.

Next, I needed to cut the tops to allow more air flow. You don’t want holes that are as big as the can, nor do you want them to align perfectly. Large, perfectly aligned openings, allow the air to move through too quickly for the air to make much contact with the warmed metal . So using a tin snips and cutting the top into a series of tabs will allow you to bend some of the tabs. The bent tabs create baffles, which creates turbulence in the air flow. This turbulence causes the air to touch the warmed metal more often, resulting in warmer air.

Next you will want to push some of the tabs down. Please don’t use fingers. I use an old stand by that you probably already have on hand: an inexpensive can opener.

So, all that done, I needed a jig to hold the cans in place while the adhesive cured.  I’ve seen people use angle iron and other types of contraptions, but the main idea is the keep the cans stable and in line while the sealant sets up.

And, although I love the Mister, he has a tendency to …*ahem* over build things. (At least in my humble opinion) And the jig for the cans was no exception. All I needed was two 2×4’s joined to form a right angle. But nooooo….. I got a fancy jig instead. One that took a lot longer to build, but I’m not sure works any better. But, at least he got the job done. Sometimes that’s all you can ask.

So we’ve jumped ahead a bit with this picture, but I just wanted to show you the basic idea.

I’m using a sealant for roof flashing. It is U.V. and heat resistant. It takes 24 hours to cure before painting, hence the need for a jig to held it in place. I’ve found it best to apply sealant to several cans at once, then place them in the jig, making sure that the cans are seated one atop the other and in contact with the sides of the jig. Use enough to adhere the tops and bottoms together, but not so much that you have to do a lot of clean up after the sealant dries.

I can do about 1 1/3 stacks a day. So, in less than two weeks I should be able to the 16 stacks needed for the heating unit.

I’ll try to be a little more timely with the next part of the project. Stay tuned.

Spread of the Radioactive Cloud of Fukushima

From the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics

Project Path of Radioative Particulates

Canned Heat: a solar project.

I ran across an interesting company out of Canada a few weeks ago. They recycle aluminum cans to make efficient low-cost solar heaters.

I thought the idea was brilliant and worth trying to see what the process might entail. This is a perfect project to try with students. And fits perfectly with the Boy Scouts Environmental Science Badge.

But before we start explaining how we went about it, I want to thank Diedra Hicks Iredell County Cooperative Extension and the students of Mitchell Community College, Statesville for their invaluable assistance with this project. But not so much FreeCycle of Hickory.

I’ll be updating this post as the project progresses, so check in periodically.

Step One: Kick the Cans

But don’t dent them. If you take the opportunity to view the video clip from the Cansolair website, you’ll see rows of unblemished aluminum cans. They can have minor flaws, but it is better if at least half the can is smooth.

So collecting we went. In addition to being a good lesson on renewable energy and recycling, there is something to be learned from cleaning up discarded cans from the woods and road sides.

If you decide to go can hunting, latex or polypropylene gloves are probably a good idea. The worst I’ve found is that folks sometimes use cans for spitting tobacco. But there is always a fear of other unknowable ickyness when you poke around outdoors.

240 minimally blemished cans seems to be the magic number. This isn’t too hard when there is more than one person on the job.

Once you have your cans, they will need to be cleaned. You don’t want mold or the smells of soda or beer in the air exchange. A little bleach in a tub full of hot water should take care of the average soda or beer can. Soap will help with those that are a little more grungy.

You’ll need to de-tab the cans. This can be done before or after washing and is a nice mindless chore while watching TV or sitting around. And, bonus, we can donate the tabs to Sharon Elementary School can drive along with the unusable cans we’ve collected.

There are a lot of urban legends about charities accepting tabs, but for the most part, they aren’t true. We’ll pay it forward through the Sharon School student can drive instead.

117 de-tabbed aluminum cans

So here are our cans in the wash mode.

And this shows you how little I know a about canned beer. I didn’t know there was such a thing as Bud Dry. According to the Mister, this one verges on being an antique.

Dry, Bud Dry

Tonight the second batch sits soaking in the tub. We’ll get those dried tomorrow and ready to drill out.

See Canned Heat II for more.

 

A poem in honor of the eclipse

Bodies in Motion

Me and my baby
view the eclipse.

Two luminescent bodies
slip
past and future
intertwined,
along a sweet
bisecting line.

(1995)

Damning Creation: abandoning the albatross of “specialness”.

Martina Skender at Six Revisions offered up  her thoughts and a bit of  history on creativity in her blog yesterday.

I honestly had no preconceptions regarding the act of  “How to Create Creativity” going into the article. The reason one reads another’s work at all is to find viewpoints that enrich your own by adding to your knowledge base or helping you to view the subject in a different light. And while I think she has many good starting points, perhaps further consideration would be in order. Because, halfway into the second paragraph, I felt compelled to reply.  And so, after finishing the post and re-reading to make sure I understood her intent, I replied (with slight modifications here for clarity):

Aaaannnd, I couldn’t disagree more. Not only with almost everything you said. But I also disagree with everything you have misunderstood about what the writers you were quoting said.

“Creativity is a mental and social process involving the discovery of new ideas or concepts.”

Perhaps a divine being can create something from nothing, but we mere humans are resigned to using what is on hand. In other words: we can never create new ideas, concepts or materials. We can only modify the ones we have.

Looking back through art history, one can see the linkages between “new” ideas and concepts in art and the social, scientific or material productivity of a culture. Dada was a reaction to social unease. Surrealism a reaction to the ideas of Freud and Jung, Warhol a reaction to both the “heroic” tone of Modernism and the ideas posited by one of the founders of Dadaism, Marcel Duchamp.

Aristotle has been quoted: “Western philosophy (thinking) is just a series of footnotes to Plato.” Of course that was not Aristotle, but a condensation of a statement by Alfred North Whitehead. But the seed of the idea holds a germ of truth: Nothing new is created. It is merely reconfigured.

There is a scientific maxim which explains it more simply: “Energy can neither be created or destroyed.” The same holds true for literally every idea, concept, “intellectual property”, science or philosophy.

Anyone can produce a new piece of art or poem or scientific discovery. But the object is only “novel” not new. Because the processes, methodology, techniques and results will be based on thousands of years of refinement and questioning before the “new” thing was even considered.

As for Lateral Thinking: The concept of Lateral Thinking in no way embraces the concept of “going around” an idea. I think one might label your description of the process as End Run Thinking or Pincer Movement Thinking.

Lateral, as the name should imply, means taking something from here and utilizing it in a novel way over there. Moving the concept, idea, material, sideways, in order to use it in a similar fashion within a new framework or in a new context.

For example, the inventor of that now ubiquitous material Velcro, was a Swiss mountaineer named George de Mestral. George had a flash of insight one day as he was pulling cockle-burs off his clothes after coming in from a walk.

He didn’t invent cockle-burs, nor did he invent the idea of them pulling at clothing fibers. No, that technique is used extensively, even today, in the fibers industry using out-sized burrs called teasle. We use this relatively primitive method because we can’t, as yet, create a hook that is both sensitive enough to pull natural fibers without breaking them, yet is strong enough to withstand industrial wear.

Herr de Mestral was lucky enough to live in an era where plastics were being actively promoted over natural fibers. And lucky enough to work with someone who chanced upon the use of an infrared lamp to curl the small plastic hooks en masse, by melting them just slightly. If  he hadn’t then he would have faded into history as the crazy man he was thought to be in his day. Now, we laud is “creativity” every day in using his product.

But he didn’t create anything. He merely used lateral thinking to join divergent ideas and disciplines into something novel. His technician/developer used lateral thinking to stream line the process of production.

Another “amateur” who lateralized her skill set to the benefit of science was Marjorie Rice of San Diego, California, a housewife and mother of five.

You see, before 1968, there was an established idea that there were only five types of convex pentagon shapes that could tile a plane. These had all been discovered by K. Reinhardt in 1918.

But in a 1968 article in The American Mathematical Monthly physicist R.B. Kershner presented three new types. He also announced without including a proof, that there were “no other convex pentagons left to be discovered”. No one challenged his assertion and the results appeared in the July 1975 issue of Scientific American in Martin Gardner’s column Mathematical Games. Soon after, Richard James III, a reader and tiling aficionado, sent to Gardner a new type of convex pentagon tiler, which Gardner published in a later issue. Now we had nine.

This news caught the attention of Marjorie Rice who also read Scientific American. She had no formal mathematical training except for a general course she took in high school. And I seem to recall that she was a quilter. But she said that she “had a feeling” that the pronouncement that were no more patterns was, somehow, wrong. So she decided to see for herself.

So she pulled out her shears and some paper and began exploring. In the end she discovered four new types of tilings in the next two years.  Thus making a total of thirteen known types.

She used Lateral Thinking. Taking a skill she already understood (quilting which uses tiled patterns) and applying within a different framework to discover something new. That embodies the essence of Lateral Thinking: discovery based on given parameters.

Lao Tsu once said: “To see things in the seed, that is genius.” He did not suggest that the things were not already there, just that we have not, as yet, apprehended them.

The problem I have with the promotion of “creativity”, “creating” or “creative thinking” is that nobody can explain how it happens except by way of example. It takes on an air of something “magic”. And since most people have the common sense to know that “magic” is the stuff of fairy tales, it both marginalizes the creative and sets the act of creating outside everyday understanding. It also allows the creative to spend their time navel gazing and contemplating their unique “specialness” rather than (as we say in the superhero biz) “using their powers for good”.

However, if I explain that anyone, any one, can take skills or ideas they have already learned and apply them in a slightly different manner inside a given context or within certain parameters; most people can grasp that as within the realm of possibility. They can paint, sculpt or draw, or make scientific discoveries or build a windmill from a trash dump to provide energy for their impoverished village. (http://williamkamkwamba.typepad.com/)

Human creativity is vastly overrated. And whether you choose to believe it or not, the whole aura of creative “specialness” is ultimately detrimental to all artists (including designers) everywhere. It is the albatross we are doomed to carry as penance for the sin of hubris; for assuming that we can, as the gods, create.

Doom and Gloom: Sunspots, Volcanoes and Earthquakes. Famine, Disease and Pestilence.

Sunspots, Volcanoes and Earthquakes

The problem with being merely human is, compared to the vast scales of planetary time, we are but brief and oh, so vapid bubbles. Our capacity to glimpse and somewhat comprehend the eons that have proceeded us, for the most part, only serves to frustrate and confuse.

It is precisely because our brains, and by extension our minds, are geared with pattern recognition and pattern synthesis as built in survival mechanisms, that we valiantly strive to “make sense” of our world, our universe. Some make sense of their world by becoming artists, archeologists or doctors. Others become psychologist, biologist or astrophysicists. And some, eschewing any attempts to understand, keep it simple by “leaving it to god”.

Others leave it to god, but hedge their bets with virgin sacrifices. This, if you think about it, has more in common with the scientific contingent. Reducing action to a simple experiment: A “What happens if ?” question. Where the scientist and the priest will sometimes differ, lays in which needs a definitive outcome. And which will keep trying to prove their ideas wrong in order to obtain a repeatable result.

In times of heightened stress and uncertainty, it seems the desire to create order out of chaos becomes even more acute. If we were all roaming the savanna, keeping a wary eye out for cheetahs stalking in the tall grass, our actively engaged minds wouldn’t have time to parse out the minutia of conspiracy theories or end-time scenarios. Cheetahs are sometimes useful that way.

As a species, we have been both blessed and cursed with the ability to invent time-saving processes and devices and implement them on a massive scale. And after all those processes and devices are firmly in place, what we are left with are active minds and a lot of free time. Here is where the Brain Squirrels tend to show up.

Brain Squirrels are a side effect of attempting to solve problems and create contingencies with too little useful information. We end up running round and round in our heads, trying to make pieces from different jigsaw puzzles fit into a seamless whole; taking a piece of information here, a bit there with no regard for relevance. The end result is either a shoddy conspiracy theory or a series of valid questions we could do little about, even if we understood the problem and its answer completely. Why our weather is outside the norm. Why earthquakes happen. Why are there droughts and crop failures and starvation and so on.

Sometimes though, if you sort through enough muck, you will find something useful. Something that allows you to mark an idea off your mental checklist and ponder contingencies based on known quantities, instead of hapless conjecture.

So while I was poking around after the earthquake in Haiti, I made a few discoveries.

Some people believe there is a link between the sun and our climate. No, I’m completely serious. Stop rolling your eyes. Yes, we are all aware that the sun warms the earth. We are also aware that the lack of sun cools the earth. But this idea is more subtle and more difficult to prove directly due to the aforementioned fleeting lifespan. We simply don’t have enough long term data to make a firm case. And, as yet, the causal link has not been discovered. So bear with me here, while keeping in mind that I am not arguing a case for or against human induced climate change, but am exploring the idea of links between solar activity, volcanoes, earthquakes and climate variation on Earth.

Climate Change May Trigger Earthquakes and Volcanoes. New Scientist

Evidence of a link between climate and the rumblings of the crust has been around for years, but only now is it becoming clear just how sensitive rock can be to the air, ice and water above. “You don’t need huge changes to trigger responses from the crust,” says Bill McGuire of University College London (UCL), who organised the meeting. “The changes can be tiny.”

Among the various influences on the Earth’s crust, from changes in weather to fluctuations in ice cover, the oceans are emerging as a particularly fine controller. Simon Day of the University of Oxford, McGuire and Serge Guillas, also at UCL, have shown how subtle changes in sea level may affect the seismicity of the East Pacific Rise, one of the fastest-spreading plate boundaries.

So science generally accepts that changes in the climate have effects on volcanic activity and on the tectonic plates. If tectonic plates are affected, it seems reasonable to assume that earthquake activity is also considered under that heading.

Right now, we are in a period of increased earthquake activity where quakes have a much greater total strength:

copyright D. Lindquist dlindquist.com

 

And increased volcanic activity worldwide:

copyright Michael Mandeville

From: Global Volcanism: Volcanic Activity

It is understood that volcanic eruptions spew micro-fine particles and other detritus into the atmosphere. This creates a sort of sun filter, cooling the earth by deflecting solar radiation and heat.

That would, at least in part, account for the arctic cold snap covering the Northern Latitudes.

What might account for the rest? Sunspots. Or more accurately the lack of sunspots.

Sun SpotsThe Blank Year NASA.gov

Note the inverse relationship between the charts further up the column and the one shown here.

According to them that study our friend the Sun, we are right at the bottom of what is known as a Solar Minimum. A Solar Minimum is defined as a time in the Sun’s regular cycle with little or no solar activity.

From the site:

The longest minimum on record, the Maunder Minimum of 1645-1715, lasted an incredible 70 years. Sunspots were rarely observed and the solar cycle seemed to have broken down completely. The period of quiet coincided with the Little Ice Age, a series of extraordinarily bitter winters in Earth’s northern hemisphere. Many researchers are convinced that low solar activity, acting in concert with increased volcanism and possible changes in ocean current patterns, played a role in that 17th century cooling.


NASA scientists have also noted that the more calm the Minimum, the more quickly the Sun’s systems return to an active state. In addition there are a larger number of strong disruptive events, like solar flares.

Solar Flare

I began by looking at a geology sites on the internet to find some information on earthquake strength and frequency after they Haiti quake. Based on forum postings, the question of earthquakes and sunspot activity comes up whenever there is a major quake. And instead of addressing these concerns, the regular posters flatly and adamantly denied any direct causal link between sunspots and earthquake or volcanic activity in the usual dismissive manner of the pseudo-skeptic.

Since I’m not a fan of flat denial as it has very little to do with critical thinking, I decided to look into the question for myself. After further reading I wondered if the “skeptics” on the geology boards would be willing to admit the possibility of an indirect causal link. A chain reaction, if you will.

I discovered a site with information on a rather interesting theory. On the site M.A. Vukcevic has a formula that discusses the interaction of influence on the mass of the sun from the magnetospheres of outlying larger planets.

http://www.vukcevic.co.uk/

M.A. Vukcevic formula

This chart shows the correlation between the movement of planets Jupiter/Saturn and the incidence of recorded sunspots.

A PDF further discussing his work.

If the Sun’s mass is affected by these planetary magnetospheres, wouldn’t that suggest it is possible that the Earth’s mass, the molten core which helps to drive its magnetosphere would be affected too?

In the end, what I am suggesting is not a simple cause and effect. Instead I’m suggesting like many systems with interlinking chaotic processes, it’s a complex and dynamic cause and effect.

* Reduced sunspot activity due to planetary effects can affect how much heat the Earth receives. This begins to shift weather patterns, which in turn affect the tectonic and volcanic systems of the planet.

* The magnetospheric effects working on the Solar mass are echoed in our molten planetary core resulting in increased volcanic and tectonic activity which results in further change in the planetary weather system.

NASA scientists may not agree with Mr. Vukcevic. I have no idea whether his work is valid or supported. But the scientists at NASA do agree that sunspots, earthquakes and volcanoes are linked in some fashion. At this point they are not willing to forward a hypothesis about the correlations but agree that they are mediated by changes in climate.

Whether this goes toward supporting claims on either side of the global warming vs. global cooling debate is outside my area of interest at the moment.

Famine, Disease and Pestilence

In terms of which aspects of the sunspot/volcano activity are within the purview of my interest I direct you to to:  Nine Meals from Anarchy

“This year is the 10th anniversary of the fuel protests, when supermarket bosses sat with ministers and civil servants in Whitehall warning that there were just three days of food left. We were, in effect, nine meals from anarchy. Suddenly, the apocalyptic visions of novelists and film-makers seemed less preposterous. Civilization’s veneer may be much thinner than we like to think.”

It is certain that the recent Arctic blasts which affected much of North America, has already impacted food security in the United States.

Florida, which tends to be the warmest state during the winter, generally grows tender warm-season crops like tomatoes and peppers. The freeze in Florida has crippled supplies of citrus and juices, along with tender vegetables like snap beans, squash, and peppers,

While this, in and of itself, does not constitute a food crisis, the truth is many people are not the position to afford an increase in food prices. It is more along the lines of “Another straw on the camels back”.

If there is a possible link between sun cycles and an increase in deadly earthquakes, volcanoes or weather changes then we are obligated to explore those ideas. Haitians and others across the globe who have been adversely affected by these terrible tragedies are a stark testament to how little we know and how much we need to discover about our world.

A Heads Up To Those Wanting Smarter Children

Sometimes you do things to make them stupid:

Recent research from discipline and domestic violence expert Murray Straus, a professor of sociology and co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire

The results of a survey of more than 17,000 university students from 32 countries “show that the higher the percent of parents who used corporal punishment, the lower the national average IQ,” Straus wrote in his presentation.

In looking at spanking just in the United States, Straus and a fellow researcher reviewed data on IQ scores from 806 children between 2 and 4 years old and another 704 kids aged 5 to 9.

When their IQs were tested again four years later, children in the younger group who were not spanked scored five points higher, on average, than did children who had been spanked. In the group of older children, spanking resulted in an average loss of 2.8 points.

“How often parents spanked made a difference,” Straus said in a news release from the university. “The more spanking, the slower the development of the child’s mental ability. But even small amounts of spanking made a difference.”

Sometimes it’s self confidence:

A new study of thousands of twins suggests that intellectual confidence is genetically inherited, and independent from actual intelligence.

Moreover, these genetic differences predict grades in school, says Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a psychologist at Goldsmiths University in London, whose team found that 7- to 10-year-old children who achieved the best marks in school tended to rate their own abilities highly, even after accounting for differences due to intelligence and environment.

Most of these researchers assumed that environmental factors – the influence of parents, teachers and friends – explained why some students think more of their abilities than others.

That’s only partially true, says Chamorro-Premuzic. About half of differences in children’s self-perceived abilities can be explained by environment. The other half seems to be genetic. For comparison, genes can explain about 80 per cent of the differences in height.

Sometimes it’s down to genes:

Chun-Yen Chang, an education researcher at National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei led this study

Taiwanese teens with a particular mutation in a gene called COMT scored significantly lower on a national placement exam, compared with students who had other versions of this gene.

However:

Alternatively, the results could be a statistical fluke, resulting from a small sample. “This is very common among these kinds of studies because the genetic effects on cognition are so tiny that you need perhaps thousands of people to get a good estimate of the effect,” she says.

Researchers discover previously unknown body system. Declare it a potential cause for extra sensory perception.

This news story focuses an article, published December 15th, that details how researchers have made an interesting discovery, turning years of scientific and medical dogma on its head.

“In the article, researchers at Albany Medical College, the University of Liverpool and Cambridge University report that the human body has an entirely unique and separate sensory system…”

Researchers noted that: “Surprisingly, this sensory network is located throughout our blood vessels and sweat glands, and is for most people, largely imperceptible.”

Well, finally. Good grief. Can we finally drive a stake through the hearts of all those scientists, doctors, laymen and outright skeptics who called these people “crazy”, “malingerers”, “neurotic”, “attention seekers” and worse?

For years, these poor people have been hounded by established science; a system that has been known to close ranks and stifle dissent among its own. The scientists and medical professionals who suggested possible theories supporting the claimants were labeled quacks and frauds. Meaning, if you believed the “crazies”, you risked your career, because you were obviously crazy too. If you wanted to keep your job, you toed the party line.

And perpetuating the abuse: misguided unquestioning followers of scientific dogma, who insist that because science hasn’t proven it, or in their parlance: developed a consistently testable theory, it can’t possibly exist.

People have lost their families, been fired from their jobs, have been denied medical attention, simply because they insisted that they had experiences that no one could explain or prove by any scientific rational.

Over the years, hundreds of thousands of people, including family, friends, scientists, physicians and even disinterested bystanders, reported that these folks were obviously experiencing “something” even if science couldn’t prove it. These reports were dismissed as unworthy of consideration. In other words: anecdotal evidence.

So, after all these years, sufferers of fibromyalgia may finally find someone to believe them and offer some relief.

Wait. What? You thought I was talking about what?

Are you insane!? Those people are “crazy”, “malingerers”, “neurotic”, “attention seekers” and worse! Any scientist suggesting possible theories supporting these woo-woos are quacks and frauds. They are claiming experiences that no one can explain or prove by any scientific rational.

The hard facts are: like it or not, science can’t prove it, so it can’t possibly exist.

You say: Butterfly Wing Scale Digital Image Gallery.

I say: Oooooooo,  Pretty.

Molecular Expressions has a number of microscopic digital image galleries, including this one on Butterfly Wing Scales.

These are thorough examinations of several dozen types of butterfly wing scales. The pages also include scientific information on the life cycles and feeding habits of said lovelies.

Autumn Leaf Butterfly: Wing Scales Highlighted by Interference Patterns

And they offer a number of different views for each type of butterfly listed.

Autumn Leaf Butterfly: Wing and Vein

My only complaint is: too much clicking to get to the good eye candy.

So, for all the other impatient looky-loos, here’s a link to a Google Image Search with the same information.

Cruiser Butterfly: Wing Scales Highlighted by Interference Pattern

For those who like all the non-eye-candy scientific and technical stuff;  say for instance,stuff like: “Cruiser Butterfly larvae feed on the leaves of the plants in the family Passifloraceae, which include passion vines and passion flowers.” I’d stick with the Molecular Expressions page.

Enjoy

Curry: Food of the Gods

Curries

A variety of curries available at penzeys.com

Turmeric is a 3 foot tall perennial herb. It is related to the ginger plant and grows in similar regions: India, China, Indonesia, Jamaica, Haiti and other tropical countries. In order to be used, the rhizome is boiled, cleaned and sundried. Tumeric is the component that gives mustard its sunny yellow color and is used in a wide variety of foods including delicious curries.

Now, this amazing spice gives everybody something else to feel sunny about. It turns out a compound in turmeric is helpful in preventing the plaques implicated in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Montefin.com Curcumin and Alzheimer’s

Mid-Day.com Professors Doraiswamy Alzheimer’s Cure

In the history of turmeric’s use, each country that cultivates turmeric uses it for similar complaints. Skin problems including: skin ulcers, pimples, eczema, psoriasis, herpes sores, pox are treated with added ingredients such as coconut oil or lime juice to make a smooth paste. The same pastes are used for snakebites, insect stings and ringworm.

For diaper rashes, the powder is sprinkled directly on to the skin

The Philippine Journal of Nursing (50:95) recommends a turmeric decoction followed by 48 oz. of water to alleviate any bleeding during pregnancy. Bleeding early in a pregnancy can indicate the potential for miscarriage. The turmeric decoction is used as a preventative. Combining this with eggplant makes for an even more effective remedy.

Curcumins I, II and III demonstrate in studies (Int J Immunopharmacol 21 [11]: 745-757, 1999) to have anti-cancer and antioxidant actions, central nervous system disorders, renal cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer and melanoma.

The Journal of Ethnopharmacology (7:95-109 1983) noted curcumol and curdione active compounds from turmeric proved very effective against cervical cancer, but only in the early stages. Likewise the same compounds showed strong cytotoxic effects against Dalton’s Lymphoma cells in the beginning stages of development. Cancer Letters (29:197-202, 1985)

Another compound, diferuloylmethane, shows significant effect in inhibiting tissue necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha (link)  (Phytomedicine 7 [4]: 303-308, 2000)

Cell mutations, such as cancer, are not the only ones affected by turmeric. Nutrition and Cancer Institute in Bombay, India discovered that turmeric helps to offset the mutagenicity of hot chili peppers and other food that can cause cell mutations.

And turmeric may also exert a number of other effects in the body: anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, hepatoprotective (protects the liver) and hypolipidemic  (lowers blood lipids)

Turmeric inhibited edema (induced) and subacute arthritis in studies with rats and mice, comparable to treatments like hydrocortisone acetate and phenylbutazone. ½ teaspoon taken morning and evening in juice is suggested from those conducting the studies.

For contusions, sprains and fractures a mixture of 2 tbsps of turmeric mixed with 1 tbsp lime and just enough boiling water to make a smooth paste with a nut butter consistency. This paste can be applied to painful, swollen areas, covered with something that will help maintain the heat and moisture.

Rats fed on a diet containing 10% fat colored with turmeric, showed virtually no fat buildup around the liver, unlike control rats fed with the same diet sans turmeric. The addition of eggplant increased the turmeric’s effectiveness.

As with most spices, turmeric has long been used as a preservative. In olive, soybean and sesame oil, it increases shelf life as well as in fats by its significant anti-oxidant activity. There are studies that show a doubling of shelf life in seafood with the use of a turmeric dip.

As a note of caution for people with gall bladder problems, as curcumin stimulates bile secretions.

Now for the delicious part: Make Your Own Curry Powder

1 tbsp. ground coriander seeds

½ tsp. ground cumin seeds

½ tsp. ground turmeric

¼ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Combine and mix thoroughly. Seal in an airtight jar, store in a cool place.

Use with lamb, fish, poultry, lentil soups, stews and other Far Eastern dishes.

Curries in Asia often contain onion, garlic and salt. The will often contain sour flavors as well; including tamarind, lime, unripe mango. And mustard, coconut and lemongrass are used as well. Enjoy and be healthy.

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