Friday, January 29, 2010

The biomechanics of barefoot running - the benefit of shoes

Who knew that looking into the evolution of bipedalism (walking on two feet) had such implications for our health, and the way we run today.

I think the editor's summary is better than anything I could come up with, so I'll share it with you here:

"Before the introduction of modern padded running shoes in the 1970s, and for most of human evolutionary history, humans ran either barefoot or in minimal shoes. A comparison by Daniel Lieberman and colleagues of the biomechanics of habitually shod versus habitually barefoot runners now suggests that the collision-free way that barefoot runners typically land is not only comfortable but may also help avoid some impact-related repetitive stress injuries. Kinematic and kinetic analyses show that modern shoes allow runners to land on the heel, as they do when they walk. Runners who don't wear shoes land more often on the ball of the foot or with a flat foot. This means that they often flex their ankles as they strike the ground and generate smaller impact forces than shod, rear-foot, strikers — compare the impact generated by landing from a jump on your heel versus your toes."

You can find the summary, original research, and letter here.

What color were dinosaurs?

Likely many different colors, but how to determine it?

New research in Nature this week by Zhang et al., lays the groundwork, using fossilized skin pigment cells, melanosomes, to assess pigmentation.

From their abstract:
"Furthermore, the data here provide empirical evidence for reconstructing the colours and colour patterning of these extinct birds and theropod dinosaurs: for example, the dark-coloured stripes on the tail of the theropod dinosaur Sinosauropteryx can reasonably be inferred to have exhibited chestnut to reddish-brown tones."


body image

My friend found an article today, and I thought it worth re-posting. I'm really shocked at how much editing occurs in photos these days.

Although most of this editing is aimed at making women thinner/younger/more shapely, there are also examples where a man's muscles are enlarged, and where a plus sized model is made even bigger!

I understand that magazines want to get sold, so they distort images to make the beautiful people more beautiful, the strong stronger, and so on, but at some point, I'd really love a magazine that just prints it how it is.

I have to wonder where it ends...does TIME or Discovery doctor their photos? Or, do they rely on the talent of their photojournalists?


Well, at least we know that TIME needs to work on its photoshopping of things a bit more.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

sustainability starts here

Penn State has installed several water stations around campus where people can easily refill water bottles. Ideally, they are also hands-free, so they'll prevent the spread of germs, and also minimize wasted water, as can happen with water-fountains.

Looks like it's about time to get rid of water bottles from all vending machine on campus!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

There can't be a practical reason for believing what isn't true

I would have liked very much to meet Bertrand Russell.

It is a, "fundamental treachery to intellectual integrity to hold a belief because you thinks its useful and not because you think its true." - Bertrand Russell (1959)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

gesundheit? gefilte?

Over 50 years ago German gynaecologist Ernst Gräfenberg described what he thought was a "spot" in a woman's vagina that, if stimulated properly, would lead to orgasm.

New research suggests that such a "spot" may not exist.

Claims about a G-spot are quite curious to me - it seems as if, given the wide array of technology we have access to, if such a spot existed (defined as a bundle or accumulation of nerves), it would be fairly simple (although perhaps expensive) to definitively define said location. Sure, it might be like any organ, slightly different in every person, but with general characteristics. We can illuminate nerve tissue, watch blood flow, measure a variety of variables both in live individuals and cadavers. Is it really so difficult?

Anatomically, it would make more sense to me that the G-spot is nothing more than the location in the vagina where stimulation affects the clitoral nerves.

But what do I know?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

My last name is two words...

So, I decided to change my last name after getting married. Now, instead of "Wilson" it is "Wilson Sayres". No hyphen. Yes, there is a space between them.

I figured it was the best option for me. Now, if I choose, I can still publish under Wilson, without having to worry about justifying who I am when applying for grants, or "losing" any of my previous publications, but I can also receive things to Mrs. Sayres without having to carry my marriage license around with me forever to prove I really am married to Mr. Sayres. It's the best of both worlds.

Synopsis: Legally my last name is "Wilson Sayres" but professionally or personally I can be either Wilson or Sayres or Wilson Sayres!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Good luck Kurt

He shouldn't be afraid for his life because of a cartoon he drew.

Nothing should be above satire. Even if it is upsetting, it cannot be used as a justification for violence or murder.