Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Vigorous Physical Activity Modestly More Protective Than Moderate Activity

March 5, 2010 (San Francisco, California) — Vigorous physical activity is associated with a modestly lower risk of cardiovascular disease when compared with activities of moderate intensity, a new study shows [1]. The researchers found that the total volume of activity may be associated with the greatest reduction in risk, however, and that increased physical activity, even vigorous activity, did not appear to have any detrimental effects.

"If two people are expending a thousand calories per week, does it matter if they do that by running or by walking?" said lead investigator Dr Andrea Chomistek (Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA) in explaining the rationale of the study to heartwire . "We found that there might be some benefit to doing it with vigorous activity such as running, but it doesn't appear to be a very strong benefit. As long as you're burning a certain amount of calories per week, between 600 or 1000 calories per week, it's okay if you do that by walking. You don't necessarily have to go out and run a marathon."

Monday, March 29, 2010

Morality Study Narrows Gap Between Mind And Brain

Scientists have found a surprising link between magnets and morality. A person's moral judgments can be changed almost instantly by delivering a magnetic pulse to an area of the brain near the right ear, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


(..)

The fact that scientists can adjust morality with a magnet may be disconcerting to people who view morality as a lofty and immutable human trait, says Joshua Greene, psychologist at Harvard University. But that view isn't accurate, he says.
"Moral judgment is just a brain process," he says. "That's precisely why it's possible for these researchers to influence it using electromagnetic pulses on the surface of the brain."
The new study is really part of a much larger effort by scientists to explain how the brain creates moral judgments, Greene says. The scientists are trying to take concepts such as morality, which philosophers once attributed to the human soul, and "break it down in mechanical terms."
If something as complex as morality has a mechanical explanation, Green says, it will be hard to argue that people have, or need, a soul.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Bobby McFerrin Plan for Creating a Remarkable Business

This is a guest post from Pamela Wilson at Copyblogger, who runs Big Brand System, which helps small businesses "grow with design and marketing. It really is an interesting post and makes me want to go see Bobby McFerrin, whose CD, Circle Songs, remains one of my favorites.
Uvealblues

I just returned from a Bobby McFerrin concert, and now I know how to run my new business. No, this post isn’t about “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Bobby McFerrin is much more than that.
You see, I’m a little nervous. For 23 years, I’ve made my income the same way — in a service business, as a graphic designer. A client comes to me for design work. I create something for them, and bill for my time. Rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat for 23 years, and you have a career as a successful designer.
But that’s all about to change.

Before They Were Titans, Moguls and Newsmakers, These People Were...Rejected

Teenagers who face rejection will be joining good company, including Nobel laureates, billionaire philanthropists, university presidents, constitutional scholars, best-selling authors and other leaders of business, media and the arts who once received college or graduate-school rejection letters of their own. 

Both Warren Buffett and "Today" show host Meredith Vieira say that while being rejected by the school of their dreams was devastating, it launched them on a path to meeting life-changing mentors. Harold Varmus, winner of the Nobel Prize in medicine, says getting rejected twice by Harvard Medical School, where a dean advised him to enlist in the military, was soon forgotten as he plunged into his studies at Columbia University's med school. For other college rejects, from Sun Microsystems co-founder Scott McNealy and entrepreneur Ted Turner to broadcast journalist Tom Brokaw, the turndowns were minor footnotes, just ones they still remember and will talk about.

Rejections aren't uncommon. Harvard accepts only a little more than 7% of the 29,000 undergraduate applications it receives each year, and Stanford's acceptance rate is about the same.
"The truth is, everything that has happened in my life...that I thought was a crushing event at the time, has turned out for the better," Mr. Buffett says. With the exception of health problems, he says, setbacks teach "lessons that carry you along. You learn that a temporary defeat is not a permanent one. In the end, it can be an opportunity."
(..)
Mr. Bollinger, a First Amendment author and scholar. "The question really is, who at the end of the day is going to make the determination about what your talents are, and what your interests are? That has to be you."

(..)
Time puts rejection letters in perspective, says Ted Turner. He received dual rejections as a teenager, by Princeton and Harvard, he says in an interview. The future America's Cup winner attended Brown University, where he became captain of the sailing team. He left college after his father cut off financial support, and joined his father's billboard company, which he built into the media empire that spawned CNN. Brown has since awarded him a bachelor's degree.
Tragedies later had a greater impact on his life, he says, including the loss of his father to suicide and his teenage sister to illness. "A rejection letter doesn't even come close to losing loved ones in your family. That is the hard stuff to survive," Mr. Turner says. "I want to be sure to make this point: I did everything I did without a college degree," he says. While it is better to have one, "you can be successful without it."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Decoding an Ancient Therapy

High-Tech Tools Show How Acupuncture Works in Treating Arthritis, Back Pain, Other Ills

As fanciful as that seems, acupuncture does have real effects on the human body, which scientists are documenting using high-tech tools. Neuroimaging studies show that it seems to calm areas of the brain that register pain and activate those involved in rest and recuperation. Doppler ultrasound shows that acupuncture increases blood flow in treated areas. Thermal imaging shows that it can make inflammation subside.
Scientists are also finding parallels between the ancient concepts and modern anatomy. Many of the 365 acupuncture points correspond to nerve bundles or muscle trigger points. Several meridians track major arteries and nerves. "If people have a heart attack, the pain will radiate up across the chest and down the left arm. That's where the heart meridian goes," says Peter Dorsher, a specialist in pain management and rehabilitation at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla. "Gallbladder pain will radiate to the right upper shoulder, just where the gallbladder meridian goes."
..
Diagnoses are complicated. An acupuncturist will examine a patient's tongue and take three different pulses on each wrist, as well as asking questions about digestion, sleep and other habits, before determining which meridians may be blocked and where to place the needles. The 14 meridians are thought to be based on the rivers of China, and the 365 points may represent the days of the year. "Invaders" such as wind, cold, heat, dampness, dryness factor into illness, so can five phases known as fire, earth, metal, water and wood.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

America’s Real Dream Team

Went to a big Washington dinner last week. You know the kind: Large hall; black ties; long dresses. But this was no ordinary dinner. There were 40 guests of honor. So here’s my Sunday news quiz: I’ll give you the names of most of the honorees, and you tell me what dinner I was at. Ready?

Linda Zhou, Alice Wei Zhao, Lori Ying, Angela Yu-Yun Yeung, Lynnelle Lin Ye, Kevin Young Xu, Benjamin Chang Sun, Jane Yoonhae Suh, Katheryn Cheng Shi, Sunanda Sharma, Sarine Gayaneh Shahmirian, Arjun Ranganath Puranik, Raman Venkat Nelakant, Akhil Mathew, Paul Masih Das, David Chienyun Liu, Elisa Bisi Lin, Yifan Li, Lanair Amaad Lett, Ruoyi Jiang, Otana Agape Jakpor, Peter Danming Hu, Yale Wang Fan, Yuval Yaacov Calev, Levent Alpoge, John Vincenzo Capodilupo and Namrata Anand.
No, sorry, it was not a dinner of the China-India Friendship League. Give up?
O.K. All these kids are American high school students. They were the majority of the 40 finalists in the 2010 Intel Science Talent Search, which, through a national contest, identifies and honors the top math and science high school students in America, based on their solutions to scientific problems. The awards dinner was Tuesday, and, as you can see from the above list, most finalists hailed from immigrant families, largely from Asia.

This isn’t complicated. In today’s wired world, the most important economic competition is no longer between countries or companies. The most important economic competition is actually between you and your own imagination. Because what your kids imagine, they can now act on farther, faster, cheaper than ever before — as individuals. Today, just about everything is becoming a commodity, except imagination, except the ability to spark new ideas.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ladida iphone app

Researchers Turn Mosquitoes Into Flying Vaccinators

Here's a study to file under "unworkable but very cool." A group of Japanese researchers has developed a mosquito that spreads vaccine instead of disease. Even the researchers admit, however, that regulatory and ethical problems will prevent the critters from ever taking wing—at least for the delivery of human vaccines.

Talk Deeply, Be Happy?

Would you be happier if you spent more time discussing the state of the world and the meaning of life — and less time talking about the weather?

It may sound counterintuitive, but people who spend more of their day having deep discussions and less time engaging in small talk seem to be happier, said Matthias Mehl, a psychologist at the University of Arizona who published a study on the subject.
(..)
Small talk made up only 10 percent of the happiest person’s conversations, while it made up almost three times as much –- or 28.3 percent –- of the unhappiest person’s conversations.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Partying to Change the World

Maybe the most common question I get from readers is: What can I do?

They’ve read about malaria, or mass rape, or AIDS orphans, and they want to make a difference. Should they call the White House? Write a check? Howl in hopeless despair?
There’s never a perfect answer, but here’s one ingenious approach: Throw a party!

Let’s back up. In 2004, a Colorado woman named Torkin Wakefield, a Peace Corps veteran with a lifetime of experience in aid work, was temporarily living in Uganda. Her daughter, Devin Hibbard, then just out of graduate school, came to visit, and they strolled together through a slum in Kampala, the capital.

(..)
BeadforLife reflects several fascinating trends in the battle against global poverty. One is the increasing interest in using businesses and entrepreneurship to create jobs and a more sustainable economic liftoff. A second is a focus on women, because of evidence that they are more likely than men to invest business profits in their children’s education and health. A third is the growing attempt to engage American supporters by asking them to do something other than just writing checks.
Increasingly, Torkin and Devin have also been using the bead parties to try to educate the jewelry buyers about Africa. To go with the beads, they’ve developed a curriculum on global poverty for American schools. They’ve also been taking Americans to Africa to see the work firsthand.
“At first, we thought BeadforLife was just for Ugandans,” Torkin said. “Then we realized that a lot of this was about helping Americans get involved.”

Diabetes Heart Treatments May Cause Harm

Three aggressive treatment strategies that doctors had expected would prevent heart attacks among people with Type 2 diabetes and some who are the verge of developing it have proven to be ineffective or even harmful, new studies show.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Women Who Drink Gain Less Weight

Dieters are often advised to stop drinking alcohol to avoid the extra calories lurking in a glass of wine or a favorite cocktail. But new research suggests that women who regularly consume moderate amounts of alcohol are less likely to gain weight than nondrinkers and are at lower risk for obesity.

(..)
Over the course of the study, 41 percent of the women became overweight or obese. Although alcohol is packed with calories (about 150 in a six-ounce glass of wine), the nondrinkers in the study actually gained more weight over time: nine pounds, on average, compared with an average gain of about three pounds among regular moderate drinkers. The risk of becoming overweight was almost 30 percent lower for women who consumed one or two alcohol beverages a day, compared with nondrinkers.
(.)
The trend toward less weight gain among drinkers doesn’t appear to hold true for men. A 2003 study of British men showed that regular drinkers gained more weight than nondrinkers. Studies suggest that drinking alcohol has different effects on eating habits among men and women. Men typically add alcohol to their daily caloric intake, whereas women are more likely to substitute alcohol for food. In the Archives study, women who drank alcohol reported fewer calories from food sources, particularly carbohydrates.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Low Levels of Vitamin D Linked to Muscle Fat, Decreased Strength in Young People

ScienceDaily (Mar. 6, 2010) — A ground-breaking study published in the March 2010 Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found an astonishing 59 per cent of study subjects had too little Vitamin D in their blood. Nearly a quarter of the group had serious deficiencies (less than 20 ng/ml) of this important vitamin. Since Vitamin D insufficiency is linked to increased body fat, decreased muscle strength and a range of disorders, this is a serious health issue.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Daniel Kahneman: The riddle of experience vs. memory

Winter Training: Faster and Safer Indoors?

The sad answer, exercise researchers say, is that you really cannot get the same training effect with indoor substitutes. That’s not to say that indoor training is useless, but rather that it has real limitations, with differences that sometimes are subtle, but significant.

Even More Reasons to Get a Move On

Regular exercise is the only well-established fountain of youth, and it’s free. What, I’d like to know, will persuade the majority of Americans who remain sedentary to get off their duffs and give their bodies the workout they deserve?

If Free Works on the Internet, Can It Work for Health Insurance ?

Here is the bottom line. Would consumers and businesses commit to do business with companies that offer incentives and subsidies built around health insurance coverage ? And what if health insurance became a value add rather than a primary product ? Would a service from companies that are big enough to self insure and add their customers to their corporate health care programs change the dynamics and economics of health care ? Would it create enough competition to force traditional insurance companies to change their ways ?

Two Laptops Take Images to Another Dimension

If switching from standard to high-definition television wasn’t confusing enough, there’s another wave of TV technology on the horizon: 3D. But 3D TVs and much of the 3D content won’t be available until later this year, and even then most of these sets will be pricey and will require people to wear special glasses for viewing. If you can’t wait for a 3D TV to hit your living room, you can get a preview of what’s to come with the latest in 3D laptops.

Monday, March 01, 2010

African poverty is falling

Xavier Sala-i-Martin and Maxim Pinkovskiy report:

The conventional wisdom that Africa is not reducing poverty is wrong. Using the methodology of Pinkovskiy and Sala-i-Martin (2009), we estimate income distributions, poverty rates, and inequality and welfare indices for African countries for the period 1970-2006. We show that: (1) African poverty is falling and is falling rapidly; (2) if present trends continue, the poverty Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of people with incomes less than one dollar a day will be achieved on time; (3) the growth spurt that began in 1995 decreased African income inequality instead of increasing it; (4) African poverty reduction is remarkably general: it cannot be explained by a large country, or even by a single set of countries possessing some beneficial geographical or historical characteristic.
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