The Anonymous Widower

The Schoolgirl Who Helped To Win A War

The title of this post, is the same as a programme to be shown on the BBC News Channel, this weekend.

Seeing the trailers on the BBC this morning, I am reminded of my mother, who was my mathematical parent. The girl in the story is Hazel Hill, who was the daughter of Captain Frederick William Hill, who worked on armaments research.

My mother would be a few years older than Hazel and won a scholarship to one of the best girls schools in London at the time; Dame Alice Owen’s, which  was then in Islington.

I get the impression, that contrary to perceived opinion, that in the 1920s and 1930s, girls with aptitude were well-schooled in practical mathematics.

I’d be very interested to know, where Hazel Hill went to school.

I shall watch the programme.

July 10, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , , , | 1 Comment

OVO Energy To Lead Major Zero-Carbon Heat Trial

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Current News.

These initial three paragraphs explain the project.

OVO Energy is to lead one of the UK’s largest ever zero-carbon heating trails, thanks to a £4.2 million grant from the government.

Kaluza, Sunamp, Retrofit Works and Parity Projects will work together with OVO Energy to install and operate zero-carbon heating systems worth up to £15,000 in 250 homes.

Mitusbishi’s Ecodan air source heat pump and Sunamp’s thermal batteries will be installed in the homes, creating electric, zero-carbon heating systems. Additionally, the homes involved will have up to £5,000 worth of energy efficiency improvements made.

That sounds like a sensible project to me, as we need to be zero-carbon in everything we do and heating is the largest source of emissions in the UK with twenty percent.

June 30, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Coeliac Disease: Can We Avert The Impending Epidemic In India?

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Indian Journal Of Research Medicine.

With the high levels of COVID-19 in Leicester and an Indian population who make up 28.3 % of the population of the city, I was searching the internet to see if there was any connection between those of Indian heritage and coeliac disease.

I know you should not try to prove a theory. But as a coeliac, I’m very interested to see how the millions of diagnosed coeliacs on a gluten-free diet like me, are faring in this pandemic.

These are some extracts from the article.

Prevalence Of Coeliac Disease In Northern India

Coeliac disease was recognized in northern India, primarily in children, since the 1960s. A community-based study in Ludhiana that involved a step-wise approach to case detection and diagnosis estimated that celiac disease prevalence in this city was at least 1 in 310 individuals. Hospital-based studies examining a general paediatric patient population suggest a prevalence of 1 per cent.

One per cent is a high figure.

Diet And Coeliac Disease

The other variable is that cereal consumption patterns are very different between north and south India, although there has been a recent change in these patterns particularly in urban areas. In south India, rice is the primary cereal consumed in the diet. In the Indian sub-continent, wheat consumption is high in Pakistan and in the States of north India, which also constitute the coeliac belt of India.

It’s fascinating how too parts of the same country can be so different.

Introducing Babies To Gluten

The time of first exposure to wheat influences the development of celiac disease. In countries such as Finland, Estonia, and Denmark, characterized by low gluten consumption in infancy, celiac disease prevalence is much lower than in Sweden where gluten consumption is high in infancy. A natural experiment occurred in Sweden about two decades ago when national recommendations were made to introduce wheat into the diet after cessation of breast feeding at six months. This change was coupled with increased wheat gluten consumption through infant feeds. Together these measures resulted in a two-fold increase in incidence of celiac disease in Sweden, which was attributed to introduction of wheat into the diet after cessation of breast feeding. In 1996 this recommendation was changed to introduce gluten in gradually increasing amounts while the infant was still being breast fed. This led to a dramatic decrease in celiac disease incidence.

We used a Baby Mouli with our three and they all got what we ate, through a sieve.

All Wheats Are Not Equal

The other dimension to this problem is that not all wheat is alike when it comes to inducing celiac disease. The ancient or diploid wheats (e.g. Triticum monococcum) are poorly antigenic, while the modern hexaploid wheats e.g. Triticum aestivum) have highly antigenic glutens, more capable of inducing celiac disease in India, for centuries, grew diploid and later tetraploid wheat which is less antigenic, while hexaploid wheat used in making bread is recently introduced. Thus a change back to older varieties of wheat may have public health consequences.

I’ve read somewhere before that high-gluten wheats could have been the reason that bubonic plague came back.

Public Health Recommendations

Public health authorities may well want to examine both these avenues, i.e. infant feeding recommendations and wheat varieties cultivated in the country, for opportunities to avert the epidemic of celiac disease which is impending in our country.

I’ll agree with that! And the recommendations should be carried forward in the UK.

Conclusion

I have found this medical paper fascinating.

I can’t resist looking up the rates of confirmed cases in the countries mentioned.

  • Denmark 12751 – 6.80 million – 187.5
  • Estonia – 1947 – 1.32 million – 147.3
  • Finland – 7190 – 5.52 million – 130.2
  • Sweden – 65137 – 10.3 million – 632.4
  • United Kingdom – 311965 – 66.5 million – 469.1
  • United States – 2593169 – 326.7 million – 793

Note.

  1. The first figure is the number of lab confirmed cases from Wikipedia
  2. The second figure is the population.
  3. The third figure is the rate of lab-confirmed cases per 100.000 of the population

I have left India out as their numbers of tests seem extremely low.

Note how the three countries, that have fed their children on a low-gluten diet are top of the table, with the lowest rates of lab-confirmed cases.

I have said it before and I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face. Undiagnosed coeliac disease may have something to do with this pandemic and someone should investigate it properly.

Thoughts On The Outbreak In Leicester

I have heard reports that those found positive in Leicester live in a poor area and they tend to be younger.

Could it be that in their new country, they were introduced to gluten too early, because it’s easier to give gluten than proper food? Especially, where some roads in this country, are lined with scores of fast food shops selling gluten-rich junk food.

What do I know? I’m just an engineer and a coeliac who has a good nose for problems!

But please someone! Research the connection between undiagnosed coeliac disease and COVID-19!

My son; George was an undiagnosed coeliac with a gluten-rich and smokey lifestyle. He died at just 37 from pancreatic cancer.

Did he have a poor immune system, which meant he couldn’t fight the cancer? One expert on cancer said, “Yes!”

June 29, 2020 Posted by | Health, World | , | 6 Comments

How Leeds Bradford Airport Can Be Catalyst For Green Aviation

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Yorkshire Post.

The article was written by a geography student from Yorkshire, who is studying at Cambridge University.

He makes some interesting points.

  • Leeds Airport is not a good customer experience.
  • Manchester Airport will take passengers away from Leeds.
  • Leeds is the biggest financial centre in the UK outside London.
  • Leeds Airport should be improved to the highest environmental standards.
  • Aviation biofuels should be provided.
  • Short haul flights should be replaced by a train journey if possible.
  • By 2030, a lot of short haul flights will be replaced by electric aircraft.

I agree with a lot of what he says.

There will still be a need to fly and we must make it as environmentally-friendly as possible.

If we don’t find ways of making flying carbon-neutral, we’ll hurt the economy.

 

 

June 28, 2020 Posted by | Finance, Transport, World | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Debate Over Burning Dead Trees To Create Biomass Energy

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Wired.

This is the sub-title.

Critics worry about the risks of overcutting and wood smoke. But supporters say the practice will prevent megafires—which release even more carbon dioxide.

For those who worry about the ethics of biomass, it is a must-read.

June 28, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

South Korea Is On The Hunt For An Overseas Hydrogen Production Location

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Hydrogen Fuel News.

It is an interesting article, which talks about how both South Korea and Japan are looking to source hydrogen from another country and how Australia is in prime position.

This Wikipedia entry, which is entitled Energy In South Korea, has this breakdown of electricity production in South Korea.

  • Thermal – 65.3%
  • Nuclear – 31.1%
  • Hydro – 1.6%
  • Other – 2%

Note that at the time of writing the UK is producing 39.0% of electricity from renewables and 15.9% from low-carbon sources.

Consider.

  • As South Korea imports a lot of liquified natural gas and has no oil or gas resources of its own, importing hydrogen is just replacing a carbon-dioxide producing fuel with a zero-carbon one, that is produced from renewables.
  • Other than Australia, other possible sources of hydrogen mentioned include Saudi Arabia and the United States, but is their hydrogen produced from renewables or steam-reforming of methane?
  • I suspect another could be South Africa, as they can develop a lot of wind power around the Cape.

I think we’ll see more countries going down the same route as Japan and South Korea and importing large quantities of hydrogen.

  • Countries with lots of renewables like geothermal, hydro, solar and wind will benefit.
  • Countries with plenty of gas can use steam-reforming to create hydrogen.

But surely, the biggest beneficiaries will be world-class companies, like ITM Power in Rotherham, who build electrolysers.

 

June 25, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Hydrogen To Become A Source Of Cleaner Power On A Massive Scale

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Power Technology.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Hydrogen is light, storable, energy-heavy and does not produce direct carbon emissions or greenhouse gases (GHG). Sectors such as soil refining, ammonia production, methanol production and steel production use hydrogen extensively. Hydrogen will likely play a crucial role in clean energy transition with an increase in its use in sectors such as transportation, buildings and power generation. Interest in the use of hydrogen technology is increasing in a range of niche transport market segments, besides other applications. In the short to medium term, hydrogen technology could be used to replace compressed natural gas (CNG) in some areas with minor changes to the existing infrastructure.

The article is very much a must-read.

June 24, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Restoring Your Railway Fund Could Provide A Toolkit For Town Transformation

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Business.

The article talks a lot of sense and is a must-read for improving a town, that is on its uppers.

It uses the Ashington Line in the North East as an example and describes how the fund can be used with the Towns Fund.

This paragraph gives a few examples of rail lines that could be improved using the fund!

Potential priorities for future rounds of funding could include the South Yorkshire Joint Line, a freight line serving 50 000 people between Doncaster and Worksop; the Leamside Line, a disused line which would serve 70 000 in Washington; March to Wisbech, a disused line which would connect 35 000 people in Wisbech to the network; and the line from Yate to Thornbury, another freight line which would connect 15 000 people in Thornbury to Bristol and beyond.

In the early sixties, I lived in the crap town of Felixstowe, with a sparse rail service to civilisation (London). Now the town has an hourly rail service to Ipswich in a smart new train and the town is more successful.

There’s a lot of chicken-and-egg syndrome at work here, but sorting the rail routes could be a good start.

In some cases, it’s not necessarily rebuilding infrastructure, as that is there for freight or an inadequate passenger service using a scrapyard special. But why not use refurbished trains powered by battery or hydrogen, on these routes to provide an hourly service. The curiosity value of the unusual propulsion, might even be a selling point to those reluctant to give up their PPVs, (Personal Protective Vehicles)!

June 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Untidy Railway

I took these pictures as I returned from Eridge.

You see it all over the railways and not just in the UK; general untidiness!

When I joined ICI in 1968, I went on a thorough and excellent induction course.

One very experienced engineer, gave a Health and Safety Lecture and one thing he said, was that a neat and tidy chemical plant was less likely to have silly accidents.

Some years later, I went to the United States to see some of Metier’s clients, of whom some were nuclear power stations. This must have been just after the Three Mile Island accident, which is described like this in Wikipedia.

The Three Mile Island accident was a partial meltdown of reactor number 2 of Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station (TMI-2) in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, near Harrisburg, and subsequent radiation leak that occurred on March 28, 1979. It is the most significant accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant history.

Artemis was involved in maintenance at the nuclear stations I visited. I can remember at AEP Donald C Cook nuclear station being shown a database of work to do and many of the actions were referred to as TMIs and checking them had been mandated by the US regulatory authorities.

I should say, the site on the shores of Lake Michigan impressed me, but another I visited later didn’t. I won’t name it, as it is now closed and it was the most untidy industrial plant of any type I have visited.

As we left, I gave my opinion to our support engineer and he told me they had a very large number of TMIs to process. I wasn’t surprised!

So why are railways generally so untidy?

 

June 23, 2020 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Two UK GDNs Considering New Fleet Of Zero-Emission Hydrogen Vehicles

This title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Hydrogen Fuel News.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Two UK gas distribution networks (GDNs) are investigating the potential of operating fleets of zero-emission hydrogen vehicles. The goal would be to use H2 fuel to shrink the carbon output from their fleet, aligning with the UK government’s Net Zero 2050 targets.

This surely is a good idea, as it says all the right things to their customers.

June 18, 2020 Posted by | Transport, World | , , | Leave a comment