Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for June 21st, 2008

Did you have your turmeric today?

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You should:

Turmeric, an Asian spice found in many curries, has a long history of use in reducing inflammation, healing wounds and relieving pain, but can it prevent diabetes? Since inflammation plays a big role in many diseases and is believed to be involved in onset of both obesity and Type 2 diabetes, Drew Tortoriello, M.D., an endocrinologist and research scientist at the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia University Medical Center, and his colleagues were curious what effect the herb might have on diabetic mice. Dr. Tortoriello, working with pediatric resident Stuart Weisberg, M.D., Ph.D., and Rudolph Leibel, M.D., fellow endocrinologist and the co-director of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center, discovered that turmeric-treated mice were less susceptible to developing Type 2 diabetes, based on their blood glucose levels, and glucose and insulin tolerance tests. They also discovered that turmeric-fed obese mice showed significantly reduced inflammation in fat tissue and liver compared to controls. They speculate that curcumin, the anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant ingredient in turmeric, lessens insulin resistance and prevents Type 2 diabetes in these mouse models by dampening the inflammatory response provoked by obesity.

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Written by Leisureguy

21 June 2008 at 4:38 pm

Obama’s support of the FISA “compromise”

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Excellent column by Glenn Greenwald. Well worth the click to read it.

Written by Leisureguy

21 June 2008 at 4:35 pm

Yahoo falling on hard times

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Big companies make big mistakes, as described here by Jemima Kiss and Mark Sweney of The Guardian:

Yahoo lost another two influential executives yesterday as the company continued to lurch from crisis to crisis following the board’s decision to reject Microsoft’s $47bn (£24bn) takeover bid.

The latest departures include the Delicious founder Joshua Schachter and Brad Garlinghouse, the search division’s senior vice-president who wrote the infamous “peanut butter manifesto” that criticised the internet firm’s strategy.

Schachter’s social bookmarking tool Delicious was bought by the web firm in 2005. He told the technology blog TechCrunch yesterday that he had no job to go to, but had decided to make the move because of the turmoil in the company.

Delicious is regarded as one of Yahoo’s strongest web assets, along with the photo-sharing site Flickr and the events tool Upcoming.

The two Flickr founders, Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake, announced this week that they were leaving the company, with Butterfield firing off a characteristically eccentric letter to Garlinghouse.

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Written by Leisureguy

21 June 2008 at 4:32 pm

Posted in Business

Very cool—literally

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Teeny tiny refrigerators to fit inside laptop computers to cool them—better performance, smaller computers. Cool, eh? (One wants to also have itsy-bitsy bottles of champagne in there.) Here’s the story:

Researchers at Purdue University are developing a miniature refrigeration system small enough to fit inside laptops and personal computers, a cooling technology that would boost performance while shrinking the size of computers. Unlike conventional cooling systems, which use a fan to circulate air through finned devices called heat sinks attached to computer chips, miniature refrigeration would dramatically increase how much heat could be removed, said Suresh Garimella, the R. Eugene and Susie E. Goodson Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

The Purdue research focuses on learning how to design miniature components called compressors and evaporators, which are critical for refrigeration systems. The researchers developed an analytical model for designing tiny compressors that pump refrigerants using penny-size diaphragms and validated the model with experimental data. The elastic membranes are made of ultra-thin sheets of a plastic called polyimide and coated with an electrically conducting metallic layer. The metal layer allows the diaphragm to be moved back and forth to produce a pumping action using electrical charges, or “electrostatic diaphragm compression.”

In related research, the engineers are among the first to precisely measure how a refrigerant boils and vaporizes inside tiny “microchannels” in an evaporator and determine how to vary this boiling rate for maximum chip cooling.

The research is led by Garimella and Eckhard Groll, a professor of mechanical engineering.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

21 June 2008 at 9:51 am

Posted in Science, Technology

When not to decide by voting

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Voting is a great idea in the working out of compromises in human affairs, but sometimes it just doesn’t make sense. As Lawrence Krauss notes in New Scientist:

I believe in democracy as much as the next guy. But then, I wonder about the next guy.

Say that you are in charge of developing a state-wide high-school curriculum in French-language studies, and that you need the advice of a group of experts on how to put together the ideal programme. Is it better for officials to appoint these people, or for the public to vote on who they regard as the most attractive candidates for the job?

To put it another way, should you need minimum qualifications to be eligible to serve? Should you be required to know some French? Should you be disqualified if you openly profess that French is not a useful language, and that the curriculum should focus on Italian instead?

“Yes” is surely the sensible answer to the last three questions. Yet in the US, we are taking exactly the opposite approach in allowing elected officials who are both ignorant and biased to define the science curricula for public-school students.

The most recent and blatant example of the sorry condition of state education boards comes from Texas, whose education board is now debating whether high-school texts should be required to discuss the “strengths and weaknesses of evolution”.

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Written by Leisureguy

21 June 2008 at 9:43 am

Posted in Education, Religion, Science

How to make a Stradivarius violin

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Apparently it’s the wood more than the varnish:

One possible reason that Stradivarius violins sound so exquisite is that they are made from low-density wood, hewn from trees that struggled to grow during the “little ice age” around 1650. By treating spruce and sycamore with a fungus that causes decay, researchers have produced lighter wood with similar resonant properties to Antonio Stradivari’s instruments (New Phytologist, DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2008.02524.x).

Written by Leisureguy

21 June 2008 at 9:37 am

Posted in Daily life, Music, Science

Saving money

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In looking at my regular landline phone bill—$38/month—I got to wondering why it was so high. I called—and was not put on hold and talked to a very cooperative person, Lisa, who answered all my questions and took well my refusing any sales pitches: She offered, I said “No, thanks,” and that was it. Amazing.

At any rate, I found that the little package of conveniences I was getting (caller ID, call waiting, caller ID on call waiting) was costing me  $28 per month: $336 per year. Wow. Those features are nice, but not that nice. I canceled them all, and my phone bill is now $10 a month. You might want to check how much you’re spending on extra services and decide whether it’s worth it. I’d much rather have, say, a subscription to New Scientist ($39/year for on-line only, $69/year for print and on-line both) and pocket the change.

Written by Leisureguy

21 June 2008 at 9:34 am

Posted in Daily life

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Gay or straight, decided at birth

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It’s becoming ever more clear that those who maintain that homosexuality is “abhorrent” might just as well say that being short (or tall) is “abhorrent.” Recommending that homosexuals get psychiatric counseling to “cure” their homosexuality makes as much sense as recommending that tall people get psychiatric counseling to become shorter. A recent article by Andy Coghlan in New Scientist explains the latest findings.

Brain scans have provided the most compelling evidence yet that being gay or straight is down to biology rather than choice. Tantalisingly, the scans reveal that in gay people, key structures of the brain governing emotion, mood, anxiety and aggression resemble those in straight people of the opposite sex.

“This is the most robust measure so far of cerebral differences between homosexual and heterosexual subjects,” says Ivanka Savic, who conducted the study at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

Previous studies have also shown differences in brain architecture and activity between gay and straight people, but most were based on people’s responses to sexually driven cues that could have been learned, such as rating the attractiveness of male or female faces.

To get round this, Savic and her colleague, Per Lindström, chose to measure brain features that are probably fixed at birth. “That was the whole point of the study, to show parameters that differ, but which couldn’t be altered by learning or cognitive processes,” says Savic, whose results appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0801566105).


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Written by Leisureguy

21 June 2008 at 9:28 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

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Iced coffee for breakfast

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86º in the living room at 9:00 a.m., and that’s with the sliding glass door to the balcony full open and the fans going. I had the breakfast coffee iced, and I made a pot of green tea to cool so I can have it iced later. Cooked a couple of artichokes this morning and took them out to cool. I’ll then refrigerate and eat cold.

And today I’m going to look for a marble slab for Megs to lie on.

I’m back on Fitday after inadvertently weighing myself the other morning. I found this interesting note, which I’ll pass along to my doctor:

Individuals who are obese are at increased risk of many diseases, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease. As 75%-95% of previously obese individuals regain their lost weight, many researchers are interested in developing treatments to help individuals maintain their weight loss. A new study, by Michael Rosenbaum and colleagues, at Columbia University Medical Center, New York, has provided new insight into the critical interaction between the hormone leptin and the brain’s response to weight loss. Leptin levels fall as obese individuals lose weight. So, the authors set out to see whether changes in leptin levels altered activity in the regions of the brain known to have a role in regulating food intake. They observed that activity in these regions of the brain in response to visual food-related cues changed after an obese individual successfully lost weight. However, these changes in brain activity were not observed if the obese individual who had successfully lost weight was treated with leptin. These data are consistent with the idea that the decrease in leptin levels that occurs when an individual loses weight serves to protect the body against the loss of body fat. Further, both the authors and, in an accompanying commentary, Rexford Ahima, at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, suggest that leptin therapy after weight loss might improve weight maintenance by overriding this fat-loss defense.

Written by Leisureguy

21 June 2008 at 9:17 am

Posted in Daily life

Tropical heat wave

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Carmen McRae sang a great version of “Heat Wave” with the Cal Tjader Orchestra—but I can’t find a YouTube video. (I did find it on Imeem, so you can sign up and listen to it there. (Imeem is free.).) It came to mind because we in Monterey seem to having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave…

So this morning Geo. F. Trumper Coconut Oil soap, which seemed eminently tropical and produced a great lather with the Rooney Style 2. I went again to the Black Beauty blade I started yesterday in the Edwin Jagger Chatsworth, and it delivered an even better shave—no need for an oil pass at all. And to finish, still tropical, TOBS Bay Rum. Now to start all the fans in the apartment.

Written by Leisureguy

21 June 2008 at 8:07 am

Posted in Shaving

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