Thursday, March 31, 2016

"Remembering Todd Ragsdale"

Just saw this. He died back in January. He held the world record for barefoot running in 24 hours (102 miles). He died the same way Caballo Blanco did: out doing what he loved. RIP.

Link via

Thursday, March 10, 2016

"The £3.45 ‘Alzheimer’s Drink’ that Stops Brain from Shrinking"

Contains omega-3 fats, choline, among other things.  DHA is an important component of brain mitochondria.

We've Been Eating Processed Food For 3.5 Million Years

"The origins of the genus Homo are murky, but by H. erectus, bigger brains and bodies had evolved that, along with larger foraging ranges, would have increased the daily energetic requirements of hominins1, 2. Yet H. erectus differs from earlier hominins in having relatively smaller teeth, reduced chewing muscles, weaker maximum bite force capabilities, and a relatively smaller gut3, 4, 5. This paradoxical combination of increased energy demands along with decreased masticatory and digestive capacities is hypothesized to have been made possible by adding meat to the diet6, 7, 8, by mechanically processing food using stone tools7, 9, 10, or by cooking11, 12. Cooking, however, was apparently uncommon until 500,000 years ago13, 14, and the effects of carnivory and Palaeolithic processing techniques on mastication are unknown. Here we report experiments that tested how Lower Palaeolithic processing technologies affect chewing force production and efficacy in humans consuming meat and underground storage organs (USOs)....
"...Although cooking has important benefits, it appears that selection for smaller masticatory features in Homo would have been initially made possible by the combination of using stone tools and eating meat."

Lieberman's previously published research showing that soft food causes deformations of the jaw that's similar to what we see in modern humans who require teeth to be pulled and braces.

Here's some color from the NYT:

"...Other patrons got three courses of meat (goat, in this case). Dr. Zink grilled the meat in the first course, but offered it raw and sliced in the second. In the third course, her volunteers received an uncooked lump of goat flesh. 
"In some of the trials, the volunteers chewed the food until it was ready to swallow and then spat it out. Dr. Zink painstakingly picked apart those food bits and measured their size. 
"“If that was all my dissertation was, I would have quit graduate school,” Dr. Zink said. “It was as lovely as it sounds.”... 
"...As long as 3.5 million years ago, scientists have found, hominins were making stone tools. Cut marks on mammal bones suggest that the tools were used to carve meat from carcasses." 

P.S.  Here's a short (60-Second Science!) interview with Prof. Lieberman.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Oxidized Linoleic Acid Metabolites in Obesity

Interesting study:

Oxidized Linoleic Acid Metabolite (HNE)
"...In conclusion, oxidative stress or more precisely the level of oxidative damage to lipids and consequently proteins, as measured by free MDA and by HNE–protein adducts, was significantly increased in obese humans if compared to healthy controls." 
"Measurement of HNE-protein adducts in human plasma and serum by ELISA—Comparison of two primary antibodies"

They were testing a mechanism to measure HNE levels, not obesity per se, but it's an interesting result nevertheless.

Obesity is, of course, correlated with the rest of the metabolic syndrome.

Monday, March 7, 2016

"Statisticians Found One Thing They Can Agree On: It’s Time To Stop Misusing P-Values"

In statistics, one rule did we cherish:
P point oh five we publish, else perish!
Said Val Johnson, “that’s out of date, Our studies don’t replicate
P point oh oh five, then null is rubbish!”

If they actually did this, the medical research field would be out of business...

"Sailors Face More Lenient Body Fat Rules"

"The service branch loosened its body fat restrictions in January and is allowing those who failed their exams three or more times to get one more opportunity to be tested this spring under the more lenient guidelines. The Navy said it has been losing too many talented sailors. Some were resorting to liposuction, diet pills and other measures to save their careers."

The military follows the USDA guidelines, from what I've seen in the past, so this is hardly surprising.  The Modern American Diet has an amazing ability to make people fat.

""It's absurd the percentage of high school teenagers who are considered to be too fat to join the military," Joyner said. "Maybe there are two problems: One, obesity, and the other that the standards are out of date and not relevant.""

They're out of date because everyone has becmoe too fat.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

"Botswana Loses a National Treasure"

via Science on the Run

"...Shortie's experience immersed in the bush allowed him and his age-mates to track wild animals at an advanced level. Their skill of pursuit was so practiced that they almost became the creatures they were following, and were therefore able to make predictions about where the animal was headed, then test those predictions based on evidence presented by fresh tracks. This allowed them to catch up to animals which would otherwise outpace the hunter. Shortie's teachings allowed Louis [Liebenberg] to develop his theory of tracking as the origin of humankind's scientific mind, from which all science and technology, which the global economy thrives on today, were to ultimately follow. Louis' profound thesis is published in his book, "The Art of Tracking, The Origin of Science."...  
"...He was among the last of the great walking Encyclopedias of the Kalahari, and his passing is somewhat like the burning of a library. It signifies the very nearing end of an Age. Young people in the Kalahari villages do not have the same opportunity to immerse themselves in the bush, nor are they very interested in the old ways. We mourn not only that Shortie is no longer with us in the flesh to colour the present, but the impoverished future around the corner for the coming generations. They might have more material wealth and distractions, but they will understand much less than the immediate generation before them.  
"So long dear friend, we are mere students without a Master.  
 "—The indigenous people of Botswana"