No mice here. Just great music.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
OK, I've been busy and will continue to be busy for a few weeks. In the meantime, I present this for your perusal. You know that myth about elephants being afraid of mice?
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
OK, so I'm a little behind the times. I wanted to wish Charles Darwin a happy birthday last week, but life got in the way. While we extol the virtues of Darwin and his theory of evolution, I want to talk a little bit about another theory of evolution, that of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck.
The Lamarckian theory of evolution states that acquired traits can be inherited. The classic example is the long neck of the giraffe. Lamarck's explanation would be that as giraffes stretch up to eat the leaves of trees, their necks become longer and stronger. Their offspring would then have long necks. The Darwinian explanation would be that those giraffes with genetically determined longer necks would be better able to reach the leaves up in the trees, and thus better able to survive and produce offspring, passing along their long-neck genes to their young.
The more recent field of epigenetics is lending some credence to Lamarck's ideas. Recently published papers in Biological Psychiatry and The Journal of Neuroscience show that experience can alter certain traits in mice and that these traits can be inherited.
I'm not saying that Darwin was wrong, or that giraffes owe their necks to stretching instead of genes. Like any scientific theory, Darwin's theory of evolution has evolved and will continue to evolve as new information is obtained. It doesn't invalidate the theory. It just makes it more elegant.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Monday, January 5, 2009
Having a large bottom could help protect against diabetes, claims studyFunny, I couldn't find the citation for a "new study," just this one.
Having a large behind and hips may actually have health benefits and protect against diabetes, according to a new study.
By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent
Last Updated: 3:57PM GMT 02 Jan 2009
Researchers believe the type of fat that accumulates around the hips and buttocks, rather than around your stomach, may offer some protection against developing the disease.
But fat that collects around the stomach, known as visceral fat and often resulting in a 'beer belly', can raise a person's risk of diabetes and heart disease.
That means people with pear-shaped bodies, with fat deposits in the buttocks and hips, are likely to be less prone to these disorders, concluded the research at Harvard Medical School.
Scientists believe that the more beneficial fat, called subcutaneous fat because it collects just under the skin, may help to improve sensitivity to the hormone insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels.
Dr Ronald Kahn, who led the research published in Cell Metabolism, said obesity in subcutaneous areas - the 'pear' shape - might decrease risks.
He carried out experiments by artificially switching the two types of fat around the body of mice and seeing what effect it had.
"The surprising thing was that it wasn't where the fat was located, it was the kind of fat that was the most important variable," he said:
"Even more surprising, it wasn't that abdominal fat was exerting negative effects, but that subcutaneous fat was producing a good effect.
"Animals with more subcutaneous fat didn't gain as much weight as they got older, had better insulin sensitivity, lower insulin levels and were improved all around."
Mice given subcutaneous fat transplanted into their bellies started to slim down after several weeks.
They also showed improved blood sugar and insulin levels compared to other mice.
Dr Kahn said this is an important result because it shows that not all fat is bad and could help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.
The team are trying to find the substances produced in subcutaneous fat that provide the benefit as this could lead to the development of new drugs which mimic this effect.
There are more than 2.5 million people in Britain with diabetes and it is estimated another half a million have the condition but do not know it.