"It is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever."
Bernhard Schlink

Science is best when discussed: leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments!!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Changing Shape 

Yeah, being in 'good shape' via diet and exercise is good - it may even make you smarter!* - but there are more interesting shape-changing things around today. First off, it appears that global warming may be exerting noticeable evolutionary impact already: Scottish sheep have been getting smaller as winters get more mild. If we're seeing a change in sheep, we can pretty safely assume changes in other animals as well**!

But it's possible that sheep won't need to be as big, or produce enough wool, if Philips Electronics' newest patent works out: the company has woven 'muscle fibers' into clothes, which can be activated by a power source to auto-fit them to your body (PDF). Sounds pretty cool, but I can't imagine it being comfortable. And what if you get rained on? Will you be rusted in to your clothes?!

Changing shape in the bad sense, human papilloma virus (HPV) causes cells to grow abnormally, often leading to genital warts and cancer. With an effective vaccine available to women, some attention has turned to seeing if it works on men too. I can't imagine why it wouldn't, nor can I think of a reason not to give it to us - if for no other reason than lowering the number of reservoirs in which resistant strains might develop. But, of course, this is America, and some people don't like saving lives.

Speaking of cancer - it appears that vitamin C is still good for you. It may protect against oral cancer, reducing the risk of pre-cancerous lesions. BUT! You have to get it from real food, not pills. One more reason to add more fruits and veggies to your diet!

* Like all stereotypes, the whole dumb-jock archetype isn't a myth, but also not the whole story. People who focus on one thing - athletics or academics - aren't likely to be great at the other. Similarly, his sample of neuroscience students just doesn't scream "external validity."

** It's not clear whether warm weather also makes sheep gay.

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