Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Manipulating Life

Sunday, December 17th, 2006

At the end of the 19th century in Western Europe the life expectancy was an average of 37 years. Today, the world average is 66 years. However, in the close future this figure will surely increase even more as technological and medical advances give people new ways to prolong their lives.

A couple of years back there existed heart pumps that could keep you alive in a hospital for some time until you found a heart donor. Today, there is a heart device that after being installed will let you walk out of the hospital as if you are perfectly fine. A 65 year-old Quebec man, received a long term mechanical heart last month (Nov 23) and now is well enough to leave the hospital. For people in the past this procedure would be surely described as the “walking dead”, and be as freaky as it gets. For us, today, this procedure is not weird at all, except for the hefty pricetag of $100,000. With the lifespan for the mechanical heart being 10 years, this guy has just bought more time for his life.

Unbeliavable, I assume in another 30 years there will be such devices for every problem we can die of, and a couple of rich people living on them up to 120-130 years of age. Forget immortality pills, who needs them?

Being Hungry… Good For You?

Friday, December 15th, 2006

On December 10th, the New York Times published an article entitled Empty-Stomach Intelligence. This article goes over a research project by Yale Medical School, that has been performed to evaluate performance in mice when they are hungry. According to the research, being hungry actually makes mice smarter. Researches said this is very likely to be true for humans as well.

This is obviously true, or well at least it makes sense. If someone is hungry, they will focus all their energy into finding ways to acquire food. This is why we’ll act smarter, because we need food. The interesting claim is that being hungry helps you learn and remember better. According to the research ghrelin, a hormone produced when the stomach is empty, was binding to cells of the hippocampus (the area in our brain responsible for learning). However, all the facts have been proven for mice, who performed better in a maze because they were hungry (maybe the ones that weren’t couldn’t be bothered, everything and everyone are lazy). No specific research shows this is true for human beings, yet. Scientists believe it is very likely to be the same case.

I find it hard to believe that being hungry could actually help you learn. From experience when you are hungry, all you can think about is food. However, this is why the article recommends to not just “not eat”, but eat a little and snack a lot to keep an “edgy state”. I suppose if you are not that hungry this could work, but this theory has a lot of minds to change, since what is previously believed, is that you need to eat properly before going to school. According to Dr. Debby Demorcy-Luce, a nutritionist from the USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center, “Children who eat breakfast have been shown to get higher grades and are less likely to be described as depressed, anxious, fidgety, or irritable by parents and teachers.” Just like Dr. Demorcy-Luce, there are thousands of people who believe the same thing.

Due to the performance in most schools, I’d give the hunger theory a try, it will also help with the obesity problem America is facing. Imagine moms around the country telling their kids, “Hunny, if you don’t bring home an A, you are not eating today”, now this will definetly work!

Sleep is Important!

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

Any age you may be, you can’t forget one important fact in life. Sleep is important, no matter how old you are. Some young adults that attend college seem to forget this very often it almost scares me. I have had people comment to me that becuase they were studying for an insignificant quiz, they stayed up until 4-5am (and the quiz was at 8am). Leaving them with what, 1 hour of sleep?

When fellow students tell me proudly that they have stayed up all night studying, I feel sorry for them. Although they have no idea why they are subject to pity, the reason is very clear. Missing sleep hours is definetly worse than not reviewing for the test. The facts are plain and simple, according to The National Sleep Research Project “Seventeen hours of sustained wakefulness leads to a decrease in performance equivalent to a blood alcohol-level of 0.05%”, although 0.05% might not be that much, these students are giving up one disadvantage (not studying properly) for another one, taking the test while a little drunk, and still not studying properly (you are supposed to study much earlier than one night before a test after all). Not to mention that even if you had 6 hours of sleep and you may feel ok, it still might not be enough for your best performance level, since even proper adults (24+) need a recommended 8 hours of sleep per day.

Nowadays, very few people manage to get the right amount of sleep. Every single one has their own excuses. Too much work, too many responsabilities, too much of everything. Well, maybe if these people started getting a little more sleep they would be able to get over everything they have to do quicker, instead of daydreaming in their job or taking naps at random times in the day. Use your time efficiently, get some sleep.

Using the worlds deserts.

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

I came accross this interesting article on “How mirrors can light up the world“. This is a worthy read on a energy generating technique that hopefully will be popularized soon, as it is environmentally friendly and cheap and has the potential to provide the whole world with energy.

This technique is simple and is being used in the Mojave dessert in California. It involves placing huge mirrors in the dessert (how simple is that?) in order to exploit all the solar energy we get everyday.  It can also run at night by the hot water accomulated at the plants during day time.

I also found it quite amusing that supposedly, African countries that have always had the desert messing up their land, are now “blessed with hot, sunny deserts”. If any native from those countries from a thousand years back read this, they would surely die from laughter in disbelief that their unfertile land is a blessing. How things change, eh?

Interesting Facts About Our Planet

Saturday, November 11th, 2006

Alright, today I have decided to share some things I think are very interesting and everyone should know, in case you get into one of those game shows, like “Cash Cab” where they ask you weird stuff, that supposedly is…”common knowledge”. Anyway!

Did you know that if you ever went to the Dead Sea, you could float on top of water as easy as laying down on your bed? You can’t do this in regular waters… Well if you are in Europe or have ever been before to the Dead Sea, you probably know what I am talking about, but do you know why? The answer is simple. Since the Dead Sea is so salty, much much saltier than regular sea/ocean water, the density of the liquid is very high, which enables us to float much much easier!

Did you know that 1.74% of our water comes from Glaciers, Ice Caps and Permanent Snow? Now, everybody, this is why you all have to stop contributing to Global Warming or it is predicted that by 2050 there will be no more artic sea ice (yes sea ice is also fresh water), it will all melt and sea level will raise by about 4 meters. Hmm, people leaving in shoreline cities will have a big problem then.

Did you know that the Mauna Kea mountain in Hawaii is actually the tallest mountain on Earth, exceeding the height of the more commonly known mountain Everest by nearly a mile? So now you ask yourself, how come everybody thinks Mt. Everest is the tallest mountain? The answer is, Mt. Everest is the tallest elevation on land. The hawaiian mountains are not as tall because they are half under sea level.

Well perhaps the first fact was the most interesting one (you gotta try it someday), and you did not need to know the other two, but knowledge is always good, so enjoy!