Body Talk

first_imgScientists sometimes just prove the obvious, like that men and women are different.  If we can talk body without talking bawdy, there are some new discoveries about body works that should put a spring in your step today about how your body works.Muscle milk:  Whether you’re brawny or scrawny, you care about muscle.  The most assiduous bodybuilder, though, should thank a tiny little signaling molecule that makes that burn lead to a good flex.  Next to a photo of big delts and biceps, Stephanie Pappas on Live Science explains:The secret lies with a chemical factor produced by muscle cells during work (such as during weight lifting) that signals muscle stem cells to multiply and take on the load. The substance, serum response factor (Srf), apparently triggers muscle stem cells — dormant cells capable of differentiating into muscle cells — to proliferate and become muscle fibers. More muscle fibers means bigger overall muscles and more strength.A researcher in France called this “unexpected and quite interesting.”  Gym rats can hope that what works in mice will also work in men (women, too).Eye stash:  Speaking of stem cells, there’s a good source of adult stem cells right in your eye, reported PhysOrg.In the future, patients in need of perfectly matched neural stem cells may not need to look any further than their own eyes. Researchers reporting in the January issue of Cell Stem Cell, a Cell Press publication, have identified adult stem cells of the central nervous system in a single layer of cells at the back of the eye.Amazingly, these cells are produced in the embryo and remain dormant throughout life; therefore, “You can get these cells from a 99-year-old,” a researcher at the Neural Stem Cell Institute in New York.  The cells can be isolated and grown into other body cell types.  “It’s kind of mind boggling.”Talk the dog:  Your dog understands you better than you think.  You can do a kind of mind-meld with your dog; Fido is already judging your intent before you tell him to fetch.  How Hungarian scientists found this out is explained on PhysOrg.  Apparently they track your eyes and read your intentions.  Live Science described dog aptitude at about the level of pre-verbal infants, but added this strange Darwinian twist without elaboration: “The study suggests that dogs have evolved to be especially attuned to human communicative signals, and early humans may have selected them for domestication particularly for this reason, the researchers said.”  Didn’t dogs evolve long before humans in the evolutionary timeline?  Did the humans who selected them use intelligent design or natural selection?Walk the jog:  Why do we find it more comfortable at a certain walking speed to switch to a running gait?  Researchers at North Carolina State, publishing in PNAS, (73/pnas.1107972109 PNAS January 4, 2012), found that the calf becomes more efficient when switching to a run at about 4.5 miles per hour.  The summary on PhysOrg explains:The high-speed images revealed that the medial gastrocnemius muscle, a major calf muscle that attaches to the Achilles tendon, can be likened to a “clutch” that engages early in the stride, holding one end of the tendon while the body’s energy is transferred to stretch it. Later, the Achilles – the long, elastic tendon that runs down the back of the lower leg – springs into action by releasing the stored energy in a rapid recoil to help move you.The study showed that the muscle “speeds up,” or changes its length more and more rapidly as people walk faster and faster, but in doing so provides less and less power. Working harder and providing less power means less overall muscle efficiency.When people break into a run at about 2 meters per second, however, the study showed that the muscle “slows down,” or changes its length more slowly, providing more power while working less rigorously, thereby increasing its efficiency.Blood back-talk:  How does your body know to produce more blood cells?  The blood cells tell the bone marrow, and the marrow talks back.  Medical Xpress reported that scientists at UCLA heard the conversation:In a new study, they show that two-way signaling from two different sets of cells is necessary for bloody-supply balance, both to ensure that enough blood cells are produced to respond to injury and infection and that blood progenitor cells remain available for future needs.According to the subheading, “this balancing act requires a complex ‘conversation’ involving more parties than originally thought.”  Presumably what they found in fruit flies has a counterpart in us humans.Hang on to your appendix when you can:  Bill Parker thinks your appendix could save your life.  Interviewed in a guest blog by Rob Dunn on Scientific American, Parker, a professor of surgery, explained that the appendix is not a vestigial organ, but a vital part of the immune system: it “serves as a nature reserve for beneficial bacteria in our guts.”  Dunn cited recent evidence that people who have had appendectomies tend to get re-infected more easily.Amazing recovery:  A student at the University of Arizona, in a coma since an October 19 car crash, had been diagnosed with a brain aneurysm and other life-threatening injuries.  According to Medical Xpress, his surgeon overruled staff recommendations to take him off life support when surgery was ineffective, and recommended keeping him alive another week.  In the St. Nick of time, Sam Schmid woke up, and is now speaking and walking again.  “It will be a special Christmas for the family of a 21-year-old University of Arizona student who was nearly taken off life support but is now recovering after waking up from a coma,” the Dec. 23 article said.If thou thinkest this is wondrous strange,And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.There are more things inside thyself, Darwinio,Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. But come;Here, as before, never, so help you mercy,How strange or odd soe’er thou bearest thyself,As thou perchance hereafter shall think meetTo put an antic explanation on,That you, at such times observing, never shall,With arms encumber’d thus, or this headshake,Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase,As ‘Well, we know it evolved,’ or ‘It emerged or arose,’Or ‘Natural selection,’ or ‘It might have, perchance,’Or such ambiguous giving out, to noteThat you know naught of anything: this not to do,So grace and mercy at your most need help you, Swear.(Visited 38 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Warrior David Rudisha eyes more glory

first_imgAnd why not, as that evening the soft-spoken Kenyan did what no one had done before. On the way to breaking his own world record, the 23-year-old became the first person to run the 800m in less than 1 minute 41 seconds.Neither did he strike Usain Bolt’s ‘lightning’ pose nor did he do the ‘Mobot,’ but Rudisha became the first to break an athletics world record at the London Olympics. His current world record stands at 1.40: 91 secs.Despite the enormity of the feat, the star was surprised by the welcome he got back home.Rudisha said he found it rather unexpected when the elders of his community in Kilgoris, Kenya, made him the ‘warrior leader’. “When I was running in Europe, boys of my age from my community (Masai) were graduating to the senior category. They were becoming warriors. When I returned to the country they made me the warrior leader,” Rudisha told Mail Today. “The elders said though I had not killed a lion, I had broken the world record.”Currently in India as the event ambassador of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, Rudisha knows that young Kenyans now look up to him for inspiration. He feels that Kenya has several excellent athletes which is the reason for their success, rather than high-class infrastructure.”If you look at infrastructure, Kenya doesn’t have that much. In fact in India I guess they have better facilities. We do better in long distance and middle distance as the training procedure is much more natural unlike the sprints where you need more technical training,” Rudisha said.”I don’t think it’s because of our genes. Kenya has lot many inspirational figure in athletics. Every other child there wants to be an athlete just like every other kid in India wants to be the next Sachin Tendulkar. India need figures like him in athletics.” Rudisha’s own inspiration is his father Daniel, who was part of the Kenyan 4x400m relay team that won silver at the 1968 Olympics. “I took up running because I always had the passion. Moreover my father was a runner and I wanted to be like him,” he said.”He used to say if you have to win a medal you will have to be faster than me. I am happy I have gone one up on his performance.” Coming back to that night in London when he rewrote history, Rudisha says: “I already held the world record (1: 41.09) when I came to London. I was targeting the 1.41 mark. But I ran even faster.”Prior to the race I had told my manager (James Templeton) that if I could complete the first lap (400m) in 49 seconds then I could make the mark.” He knows that comparison with another legendary athlete, Usain Bolt was natural. He jokingly said that if ever the duo competes, it will be a close affair.”We are great friends. There have been talks of having a race for a distance of about 500m. If it happens I would say it will be a 50- 50 affair,” he smiled.But Rudisha does not want to rest on his laurels, as he has already set his next target. “After I broke the world record for the first time in 2010, I wanted to win an Olympic medal. Now that I have won it, I have started training for the 2013 Moscow World Championships,” he said.Rudisha also praised the field at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon. “There are 10 guys who have sub-60 minute timings. So it will be competitive,” he said.Indians confidentKenyans and Ethiopians may be the top contenders for the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon title, but Indians are not intimidated. Steeple chase runner Sudha Singh who is participating in the Sunday race said though Kenyans are talented, Indians can do wonders in long distance running too. “It’s not that we don’t give effort. We also put in hard work and practice for the same duration of time. We have trained with them and there’s nothing special,” she said. “It’s just that we get to train with such high class athletes at a later stage while they train with them from childhood.”advertisementlast_img read more