Tag Archives: scientists

Exercise’s optimum point

Exercising has various health advantages; however, if you are trying to get thinner, exercise by itself may not be sufficient. A new study suggests that bodies might adjust to more elevated amounts of physical activity, so you might not burn more calories even if you work out a lot.

If you're looking to lose weight, over-exercising is not the solution. Image from Hypnosis Chicago.
If you’re looking to lose weight, over-exercising is not the solution. Image from Hypnosis Chicago.

Scientists found that the individuals in the study who engaged in moderate levels of exercise burned about 200 more calories each day, on average, than those who had the most reduced levels of physical activity. The scientists found that the individuals who were the most physically active burned an identical amount of calories as the individuals who were moderately active.

It is not explicitly known why increased levels of exercise might not lead to burning more calories, the scientists said.

Study author Herman Pontzer, an associate professor of anthropology at the City University of New York said “You still have to exercise,” because physical activity is vital for your health.

In the new study, the scientists focused on the levels of exercise and the quantity of calories burned among 332 individuals ages 25 to 45 through the span of a week. The individuals in the study lived in Ghana, South Africa, the Seychelles (an island nation in the Indian Ocean), Jamaica and the United States.

The scientists discovered that there was a little though quantifiable connection between individuals’ physical activity level and the aggregate number of calories they burned per day. However, this connection held only when the scientists contrasted the individuals with moderate activity levels with the people who had the most inactive lifestyles. Individuals who had moderate levels of physical activity burned about 200 more calories every day, on average, than the individuals who were basically inactive, the scientists discovered.

Conversely, “The most physically active people expended the same amount of calories each day as people who were only moderately active,” Pontzer said in a statement.

The scientists said that these discoveries might imply that there is an optimum point for exercise. While too little physical activity is unhealthy, working out too much might provoke the body to make acclimations to adjust.

The study’s findings are published in the journal Current Biology.

Sleep cycle changes can be detrimental to your health

In the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, a new study proposes that when routine sleep habits are disrupted, the danger for long-term health problems such diabetes and coronary disease rises. Sleep adjustments are connected to metabolic problems, including insulin resistance and a higher body mass index.

Although other exploration on the subject has linked sleep disruptions to poor health, the new study is the first to explicitly connect shifts in sleeping times to metabolic issues. Those issues were free of other variables, for example, sleep disorders, smoking, and financial status.

The scientists studied 447 middle-aged, healthy, women and men, aged 30 to 54, who worked no less than 25 hours weekly outside their homes. They each wore a motion-monitoring wristband, called Actiwatch-16, that recorded their rest and movement every day for a seven days. Surveys were utilized to evaluate their activity and dietary patterns.

Around 85 percent of the members of the study slept longer on their days-off than on days of work, while the other 15 percent woke up earlier on their days-off than on workdays, the study found. None of the participants kept up with their workday rest schedules on days-off.

man in bed eyes opened suffering insomnia and sleep disorder
“Around 85 percent of the members of the study slept longer on their days-off than on days of work.”

Those with huge contrasts within their sleep schedules on days of work and days-off displayed a tendency to have worse levels of cholesterol and fasting insulin, greater insulin resistance, bigger waist size, and higher body mass index (BMI).

This connection between what the scientists call “social jetlag” and the health risk factors persevered even subsequent to altering different measures of rest and lifestyle behaviors, such as physical movement and calorie consumption.

Social jetlag refers to the mismatch between an individual’s biological circadian rhythm [body clock] and their socially imposed sleep schedules. Other researchers have found that social jetlag relates to obesity and some indicators of cardiovascular function,” study creator Patricia Wong, of the University of Pittsburgh, said in a news release from the Endocrine Society.

The affiliation found in the research does not demonstrate an immediate cause-and-effect relationship between conflicting rest routines and the development of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

The study’s findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, on November 18.

Hobbits were real?

An ancient, 3-foot-tall human, whose unusually small stature has earned it the moniker “hobbit”, has astounded evolutionary researchers since it’s bones were discovered on the island of Flores, in Indonesia. Some scientists have proposed that the individual was a Homo sapien with a growth disorder.

Endocasts of the skulls of a hobbit (left) and a modern human (right). Credit: Professor Peter Brown, University of New England
Endocasts of the skulls of a hobbit (left) and a modern human (right).
Credit: Professor Peter Brown, University of New England

Recently discovered teeth from the hobbit propose it is a unique species, as opposed to a present-day human with a development issue. The new research also proposes that hobbits may share a immediate ancestor with present-day humans.

The 18,000-year-old fossil remains of the hobbit were found in 2003. From that point forward, scientists have suggested that the hobbit, which had a brain about the size of a grapefruit, was a branch of the human lineage Homo, named Homo floresiensis. On the other hand, separate scientists have contended that the hobbit was truly a current human with microcephaly, a condition that leads to an abnormally little head, a little body and some mental impediment.

To learn more about the hobbit, researchers have now performed the first comprehensive investigation of the ancient human’s teeth. The analysts contrasted the 40 known hobbit teeth and those from 490 present-day people from Asia, Oceania, Africa and Europe, as well as from an assortment of extinct hominins, such as Homo habilis.

The scientists discovered that hobbit teeth were as small as those from short present-day humans. On the other hand, different features of these teeth looked totally divergent from those of present-day humans.

The hobbit teeth showed a mix of more primitive traits seen in early hominids and more advanced traits found in later hominins. Credit: livescience.com
The hobbit teeth showed a mix of primitive traits and advanced traits. Credit: livescience.com

The hobbit teeth showed an exceptional mosaic of primitive attributes seen in early hominins blended with more-propelled characteristics displayed by later hominins, the scientists said. For example, the canine and premolar teeth looked primitive, while the molar teeth looked advanced, or as though they had emerged later in the evolution of Homo sapiens.

These discoveries negate prior assertions that hobbits had teeth completely like those of modern humans. The outcomes likewise propose that hobbits were not simply modern humans with serious abnormalities, the scientists said.

While human ancestry, for the most part, developed bigger bodies and brains through time, the hobbit suggests that seclusion on islands could considerably switch this developmental pattern, Yousuke Kaifu, a paleoanthropologist at Japan’s National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo, said.

The scientists detailed their discoveries November 18 in the online journal PLOS ONE.

Could pig organs save lives?

This month, scientists gathered at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington to talk about Crispr, a new method for editing genes.

In the 1990s, researchers explored the likelihood of using pig organs in humans, a technique known as xenotransplantation. Experts hoped that pig organs could be cleansed of viruses and other pathogens that might harm their human hosts. That research stalled in 1998, when Jay Fishman and his colleagues discovered a strange new danger.

Pig cells contain multiple copies of embedded viruses called porcine endogenous retroviruses, or PERVs. PERVs can produce full-blown viruses able to infect other pig cells. When researchers mixed pig and human cells, they found the pig viruses could also contaminate human cells; causing cancer or other diseases.

Recently developed methods for editing genes could make pig organs safe for human transplant.

Among the scientists describing the recent scientific advances was one of Crispr’s pioneers, George Church of Harvard Medical School. Dr. Church’s experiment had its origins in the shortage of available human organs for transplants. Thousands of people die each year waiting for hearts, lungs and livers.

“In the 1990s, researchers explored the likelihood of using pig organs in humans, a technique known as xenotransplantation.”

“It’s a cruel situation currently, that someone who needs a heart transplant has to pin their chance for a healthy life on the untimely death of another person,” said David A. Dunn, an expert on transplantation at the State University of New York at Oswego.

In a typical experiment, scientists used Crispr to alter a single gene. But in recent work with pig cells, Dr. Church and his colleagues used Crispr to simultaneously disable all 62 of the viruses. The team engineered a new set of genes that produced enzymes that hunted for PERVs and snipped out bits of the viral DNA.

After the experiment, the viruses in the pig genome showed little activity. And despite the drastic genomic surgery, the chromosomes showed no irregularities and the cells grew normally.

The researchers hope that this achievement may someday make it possible to use pig organs for transplantation into humans, which will reduce the amount of deaths per year of people waiting for available organs for transplant.

We should assume and expect scientists to promptly develop their gene editing skills in the years to come.

Yet another study of the human brain

It’s a well known fact that scientists have been studying the human brain for many years, trying to find out what exactly makes us humans tick. The more you think about it, the more complex man’s mind seems to be — almost to the point that it’s nearly impossible to grasp. But researchers have been developing theories for as long as science has been around.

Examining the brain. Graphic from Behavioral Health
Examining the brain. Graphic from Behavioral Health

One theory centers around something called the general intelligence g-factor. Scientists have been looking at this particular variable since the early 1900’s.The original research was done on the idea of memory, pattern recognition, and reading ability. Recently, they’ve found more  information on it; specifically a correlation with a connectome and the positive and negative events that happen in one’s life such as attitude, education level, and life satisfaction.

These findings suggest that if this connectome is on one side of the scale, you tend to have better traits and score highly in vocabulary, memory, and other things, which also often lead to higher income. People who scored on the opposite side of the spectrum scored lowly in these areas and were found to have higher scores in more negative traits, including anger, rebellion, sleep quality, and even substance abuse. They have come to find that many of the g-factors overlap, which is why we as humans tend to be good — or bad — at many things.

Of course, correlation does not always automatically equate to something, which is where criticism to the general intelligence g-factor comes in. As always, we must look at these findings with skepticism and continue researching until we’re sure of our answer.

Professor Smith from University of Oxford hopes that “by looking at brain imaging data [they’ll] be able to relate connections in the brain to the specific measures, and work out what these kinds of test actually require the brain to do,” rather than just guessing at whether or not the correlations make the case.

Either way, we can say with certainty that we’re well on our way to unraveling more  about the complexity of the human brain.

Aliens aren’t little green men?

For the longest time, a popular depiction of alien life forms has been that of a little green man. However, cosmologist, Fergus Simpson, has just released a paper, “The Nature of Inhabited Planets and Their Inhabitants,” attempting to disprove that common theory.

Simpson’s theory is based on the law of the conservation of energy. He concludes that larger species need more energy to survive, which is why these aliens can’t live amongst human beings on Earth. Simpson explains that “throughout the animal kingdom, species which are physically larger invariably possess a lower population density, possibly due to their enhanced energy demands. As a result, we should expect humans to be physically smaller than most other advanced species.”

This isn't what aliens look like? Graphic from Smash Up
This isn’t what aliens look like? Graphic from Smash Up

Simpson theorizes that aliens should weigh around 650 pounds, based on his mathematical calculations — a stark contrast to the image that Americans hold dear in their hearts.

While the internet is blowing up talking about Simpson’s theory, many scientists are skeptical. Seth Shostak, a researcher for the SETI Institute, announced that he himself was conducting similar research and insists that while the theory is “interesting,” there’s “no concrete data to work with.”

Another part of Ferguson’s theory states that these massive aliens may be more intelligent than human beings due to their large mass. However, Shostak disagreed with that idea. He claims that human beings have particular features that make them the most intelligent life forms on Earth, such as their ability to move upright and use their thumbs. To back up his argument, Shostak went on the record saying, “Polar bears are large, but do not write great literature and build radio towers, and a lot of that is probably because they are walking around on all fours.”

Shostak isn’t Simpson’s only critic. Many people claim that while reasonable, Simpson’s theory fails to factor in gravity, which is a huge part of bodily mass. Because Earth’s gravitational pull is so strong, it makes sense for organisms to be larger. However, other planets’ gravitational pulls are proven to be significantly weaker. While this argument doesn’t note that these large life forms could live in a different galaxy, these critics still have a valid point.

If intelligent life does exist in this galaxy or in a nearby one and has the ability to make contact with the inhabitants of Earth, we should all pray that Simpson’s research is wrong and that these aliens are indeed the tiny green men that we have always imagined.