Sunday, February 27, 2011

D for Deficiency

Hey guys, I'm back after a busy two weeks. I'll start off my return to form by filling you in on another helpful health tidbit/ interesting article.

Peanuts. The bane of my existence. I'm very allergic to them. I once ate a spoonful of peanut butter at a friend's house without thinking about it, and repainted his toilet with my stomach insides. That's just one story, I'll save you the rest.

Anyway, it turns out a lack of Vitamin D could be the cause for the development of allergies, and not just to peanuts.

ScienceDaily (Feb. 25, 2011) — A study of more than 3,000 children shows that low vitamin D levels are associated with increased likelihood that children will develop allergies, according to a paper published in the February 17 online edition of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Researchers from Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University headed the study.
Researchers looked at the serum vitamin D levels in blood collected in 2005-2006 from a nationally representative sample of more than 3,100 children and adolescents and 3,400 adults. The samples are derived from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a program of studies designed to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States. The survey is unique in that it combines interviews, physical examinations and laboratory studies. One of the blood tests assessed was sensitivity to 17 different allergens by measuring levels of Immunoglobulin E (IgE), a protein made when the immune system responds to allergens.
When the resulting data was analyzed by Einstein researchers, no association between vitamin D levels and allergies was observed in adults. But for children and adolescents, low vitamin D levels correlated with sensitivity to 11 of the 17 allergens tested, including both environmental allergens (e.g., ragweed, oak, dog, cockroach) and food allergens (e.g., peanuts). For example, children who had vitamin D deficiency (defined as less than 15 nanograms of vitamin D per milliliter of blood), were 2.4 times as likely to have a peanut allergy than were children with sufficient levels of vitamin D (more than 30 nanograms of vitamin D per milliliter of blood).
The research shows only an association and does not prove that vitamin D deficiency causes allergies in children, cautioned Michal Melamed, M.D., M.H.S., assistant professor of medicine and of epidemiology & population health at Einstein and senior author of the study. Nevertheless, she said, children should certainly consume adequate amounts of the vitamin. "The latest dietary recommendations calling for children to take in 600 IU of vitamin D daily should keep them from becoming vitamin-D deficient," she said.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Lost World of Lake Vostok

Can't embed Google Video, so just visit this link:

Documentary about an ancient, unexplored lake in Antarctica that may be home to lifeforms we're never seen before. It's pretty long (about 45 minute running time), but that doesn't stop it from being incredibly interesting.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Hidden Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

Wow. New research has been made concerning sleep deprivation and its effects on the human body, and the results aren't good. Apparently, if you sleep less than 6 hours a night, or have disturbed sleep, you could very well end up with heart problems (among other major illnesses) and have a greater chance of having a stroke later on in life:
The night before the Challenger space shuttle took off for its ill-fated final flight in January 1985, Nasa officials held a two-and-a-half-hour conference call with executives from the company that made the rocket boosters to discuss a potential fault. The subsequent investigation into the disaster, which killed all seven astronauts on board, concluded that poor decision-making at that meeting, which gave the go-ahead after much debate, was aggravated by the fact that two of the Nasa managers had been awake for 23 hours straight and had slept for no more than three hours the previous day.
Similar errors during long night shifts were implicated in the nuclear disasters at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, as well as the Exxon Valdez oil spillage. Meanwhile, the AA says that more than 3,000 deaths and serious injuries on UK roads each year can be attributed to sleep deprivation – as many as for drink driving.
But new research published this week says that lack of sleep can harm us in more direct ways than, say, falling asleep at the wheel of a car. Researchers at Warwick medical school published a study in the European Heart Journal that linked disrupted sleep patterns to major health problems. "If you sleep less than six hours a night and have disturbed sleep you stand a 48% greater chance of developing or dying from heart disease and a 15% greater chance of developing or dying from a stroke," said lead author Professor Francesco Cappuccio.
Professor Jim Horne, director of Loughborough University's Sleep Research Centre, says the key to healthy sleeping is achieving at least six hours of "core" sleep a night – which includes the "deep" sleep during the first five hours of normal sleep. "Core sleep gradually gives way to what I rather loosely call 'optional' sleep, which maintains sleep until morning awakening. After about six hours of good sleep, all core sleep has usually disappeared." But he says that the idea of a "perfect" length of sleep is a myth: everyone is different. He therefore urges people not to assume that a few bad nights will give you heart disease or a stroke – with the subsequent worry only exacerbating your restlessness.
His tip for insomnia? Don't stay in bed: get up, leave the bedroom and do something distracting but mentally stimulating, such as a jigsaw.
Scary stuff. I know I usually forfeit sleep, either to stay up and work on assignments or get in some extra video game time. Sometimes, I'll go to bed early but I'll have a hard time going to sleep because my mind is racing with thoughts. I think I'll start getting more shuteye. I don't want heart disease :(


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Can anyone explain this?

I'm no science-whiz, but let me take a shot at it. When the water bottle is undisturbed, still from the factory, the oxygen is totally separated from the water at the top of the bottle. The near instant freezing has something to do with breaking the bonded water molecules and re-introducing the oxygen (in it's gaseous form) back into the water. I don't know if this is actually correct, it's just a guess.


Ok, after reading the video comments, it seems I was right. Cool (no pun intended).

Monday, February 7, 2011

Playing Pacman with Paramecium

This is really cool. Scientists have found a way to control microorganisms, such as paramecia, using electric fields consisting of a positive and negative current in order to play re-creations of classic videogames. It's so cool you really have to watch it in action to get an idea of how it works:

As you can see, they control the movement of the paramecia with their simple controller, which changes the current of electricity in the water solution the organisms swim in. This makes me wonder just how far this technology is going to go. Maybe one day you'll be able to boot up a fighting game and control your friends! lol

More information here:

Sunday, February 6, 2011

What Motivates You and I

Found this video earlier today while browsing the web (read: procrastinating). It goes into detail about studies done at M.I.T. that suggest the classic business model of "work = money" as a motivator isn't as simple as we've previously thought.

Very interesting, perhaps even ironic considering the fact I myself am having trouble getting motivated to complete this assignment. Speaking of which, I should get back to...