Two of my all time hero scientists died a few days ago. I'm devastated and distraught. They didn't both die at the same time, it's just that I realised they both died recently. On finding out that Mark Purdey had died, I immediately looked up John Gofman's bio. Shit, I killed him! He died 2 months ago, on Napoleon's birthday. How did I know? Because yesterday I was listening to the Napoleon 101 Podcast recorded on Napoleon's birthday, and my jaw dropped when I noticed that John Gofman died on the same day as the podcast was recorded. Not only that, but I declare 15th August as the spookiest date in my life. Why? My first wife's birthday is 13th August. The current Mrs Goodson's birthday is 14th August! So what does that say about the 15th August!!
Mark Purdey was a UK farmer who fought the UK Ministry of Agriculture and then the scientific establishment to try to prove that BSE(Mad Cows Disease) is not a disease passed on through sheep or bovine feed, but a chemical imbalance either set off by organophosphates, or an environmental chemical imbalance. In the case of BSE or CJD, it's a high manganese/ low copper footprint. What's even more fascinating is that Mark Purdey also suggested that other neurodegenerative diseases may also have a mineral imbalance footprint. Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. In the case of Alzheimer's, it a high aluminum and low zinc, I think. Has this brilliant and radical hypothesis died with Mark Purdey. Was he zapped? Ironically, he died from a brain tumor.
John Gofman was a genius scientist, combining several skills and talent, to make significant breakthroughs in 4 areas of science.
1. As a young scientist he was one of a small group to manufacture weapons grade plutonium for the Manhattan Project. He still has (had!!) patents for it.
2. He made some of the first links between low grade nuclear radiation and the threat to our health. In other words, previously, only direct Hiroshima type high level radiation was thought to be a threat, and not a bit of radiation wafting across a Utah desert after a test, or a few soldiers placed within miles of an explosion!! We take this thinking for granted now, but John Gofman was one of the first to prove the threat.
3. In the late 50s and early 60s, he showed causes of heart disease from cholesterol.
4. And finally, his work on low grade radiation as a threat to our health, was his latter day work. I believe his research and writings on the threat of medical X-Rays, is the single most important health issue of the last 50 years. We don't know what causes plaque build up in arteries and hence heart disease. Gofman has a radical suggestion, that medical X-Rays cause micro-lesions in arteries, which enable plaque build up. Did you know that many of the scientist who hung around Chernobyl, to do the clean up and research after the melt down, died prematurely of heart related diseases and not cancer related diseases. Makes you wonder.
How the hell did I get into all this death yesterday? Well, I woke up in the middle of the night, couldn't sleep, so I read Scott Adams' (Dilbert) links to an article in the NY Times about "Cascades". This is where the belief of one person influences another who influences another, and it then cascades. Very dangerous in the scientific and medical community, because it leads to everyone believing the same thing, and nothing will shift them.
In this case it's fat in the diet, which has cascaded to become the norm, that fat is bad for us, or at least too much fat is. But according to the article, this has never been proven! It doesn't say what is bad for us in our diet, but from what I know, the only thing which has been scientifically proven is, too many calories are bad for us, not too many "bad" calories.
Well let me tell you, John Gofman and Mark Purdey are two the greatest for resisting the cascade. I wont forget either of you. I hope both your legacies live on.