Friday, July 19, 2013

Best of the Week #110

Dear readers,

It’s the end of the week, and what a week it’s been!  As you can see from Mollie’s posts (she’s traveling non-stop, with intermittent access to the interwebs, yet she still manages to write more frequently, and better, than I do) from Laos, she and Andy spent the week dirt biking through the Lao countryside.  The beauty is indescribable, but I can’t for the life of me actually pronounce any of those places.  Hooray Mollie and Andy!

As for me, my brother came home today!  After about 24 hours of travel (he lives really, really far away), he arrived to our local airport this morning.  You know that this means?  Time to make the pilgrimage to upstate NY to spend some quality time with the family! 

But that’s enough about me.  It’s time for your Best of the Week! 

First, a word about running:  Running isn’t always fun.  In fact, sometimes it’s awful, especially when you first start.  Marathon training?  THE WORST.  But that’s not stopping Mollie’s sister, Jeannie!  She’s running the Napa Valley Marathon in March!  And, in keeping with the family tradition (maybe it's genetic?), she’s writing about it!  Good luck Jeannie and Geoff! 

On to the Science & Technology section.  There really isn’t a Science & Technology section here at Eat, Run, Read, but humor me.  It’s Friday. 

First, 3-D printers and NASA!  Let me repeat:  3-D printers!  And NASA!  It’s like the BBC wrote this article just to make me happy. 

NASA has announced it has successfully tested a 3D-printed rocket engine part.

. . .

NASA said the component would normally have taken a year to make because of the exact measurements involved, but by using SLM [selective laser melting] the manufacturing time was cut to less than four months and the price reduced by more than 70%.

Also better than a 3-d printed gun.

Any of you who’ve ever biked into the wind know that biking into the wind is the worst!  It’s like biking up a hill, but without the satisfaction of actually biking up a hill.  And biking up a hill into the wind?  Forget it.  I’ll walk.  But riders in the Tour de France don’t have that option.  So what do they do?  They engineer themselves and their bikes to be as aero as possible.  And here’s how.   

Following 14 years working in Formula One, he brought his biomechanical expertise to cycling and founded Smart Aero Technology - a company based in Brackley, an English town not far from Silverstone racing circuit, and one that lives and breathes motorsport.

I think I saw these guys out on Hains Point last week.  SLOW DOWN!!

If you’ve ever wondered, perhaps on a particularly slow day at the office, how to build your own glacier, or what one would do with their very own glacier, here you go.  Turns out glaciers can be very useful.  Who’d have thought?  Probably everyone.    

Chewang Norphel, a retired civil engineer who lives in the area, thinks he has the answer: if the natural glaciers have gone, why not build artificial ones? That is what, for the past decade or so, he has been doing. Moreover, he has built the new glaciers in places where they will thaw at exactly the right time, and debouch their contents directly onto farmers’ fields.

If need another reason to get lace up and get out, turns out exercise may alter the way certain cells behave, specifically fat cells. 

In a paper published in the Public Library of Science, Dr Ling and her colleagues report the effects of six months of moderate exercise on 23 male couch-potatoes who were in their 30s and 40s. The men were supposed to attend three workouts a week. In the event, they managed an average of 1.8. Nevertheless, besides finding the usual effects—reduced heart rate, lowered blood pressure and a drop in cholesterol levels—the researchers also observed changes in the men’s adipose tissue, the place where fat is stored. Specifically, the way fat cells in this tissue expressed their genes had altered. 

. . .

Dr Ling, who is interested in adult-onset diabetes (often associated with too much body fat), knew that exercise stimulates epigenetic changes in muscle cells. These alter how muscle processes sugar. When she and her colleagues looked for similar alterations in their charges’ adipose tissue, they found lots—18,000 markers distributed across 7,663 genes. This matters, because adipose tissue is not just a passive store of energy, it is also an organ in its own right, producing a range of biologically active chemicals that have all manner of effects on the rest of the body.

This sandwich is going straight to my guns! 

That’s it for today’s Science & Technology section.  As always, hooray science! 

On to the Lifestyle section of this week’s Best of the Week. 

We don’t live in NYC, and there’s no way in hell I’d wait 9 hours in this heat (or any heat, for that matter), but this might be one of the neatest art installments I’ve ever seen. 

Since May 12, Mr. Guo and tens of thousands of others — art lovers, technology buffs and the merely curious — have trooped to the Museum of Modern Art for a chance to experience “Rain Room,” a temporary installation in which water rains down except where sensors detect people, giving visitors the illusion of walking between the drops.

Gimmicky?  Probably.  Awesome?  Definitely.

As many of you probably know, I love the city of Detroit.  It’s not entirely clear why.  I just do.  And so it made me really, really sad to read this morning that Detroit filed for bankruptcy protection last night, especially because some folks are working really hard to make Detroit cool again.    

This guy is amazing!  I mean it! 

Lieutenant-General Sir Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart VC, KBE, CB, CMG, DSO (5 May 1880 - 5 June 1963), was a British Army officer of Belgian and Irish descent. He fought in the Boer War, World War I, and World War II, was shot in the face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip and ear, survived a plane crash, tunneled out of a POW camp, and bit off his own fingers when a doctor wouldn’t amputate them. He later said “frankly I had enjoyed the war.” 

What have you done today?

And this is just plain fun! 

How long do you think it would take for you to travel to every subway station in Manhattan? College students James Doernberg and Kai Jordan found an answer to that question this past Wednesday, when they travelled to all 118 subway stations in Manhattan to take selfies. “The whole trip took 9 hours almost to the minute, and was quite a challenge, as we had to hop off the train, find a sign, take a photo, and get back on the train before the doors closed,” Doernberg told us.

Where can I buy that hat?

It’s hot out there.  Like really hot.  You know what the perfect solution to this ridiculous heat is?  Ice cream.  Lots of it.  So if you’re in DC this weekend, let your tongue be your guide, and go on an ice cream tour.  You’ll thank me on Monday!  And so, with the heat index expected to hit 110 degrees today, ice cream is, without question, your BEST OF THE WEEK! 

I scream.  You scream.  We all scream WHY IS IT SO DAMN HOW OUT HERE???

 Happy weekend, folks!!