Saturday, June 07, 2014

Cold Weight Loss Benefits Without The Cold

Brr-brr-brr! Scientists have discovered a way to make the body of mice burn calories as if they were exposed to the freezing cold. A potential future treatment for obesity in humans!

White fat to brown fat 

Humans are born with a decent amount of brown fat. Brown fat is the fat best used for insulation from the cold. White fat stores energy, while brown fat is the energy burner--which comes in really handy when you want to lose some weight. Sadly, as we humans get older, brown fat seems to disappear. Ajay Chawla (UC), San Fran, and his team injected obese mice with interleukin-4 (a signalling molecule that turns white fat into brown fat) four times over the course of eight days. And two weeks later...

How much weight did the mice lose? 

After two weeks the mice lost 12% of their body weight, four grams of it was beige fat--And their energy expenditure went up 10% to 20% as well, which just means they will burn more calories throughout the day.

What does this all mean?

There is already a company that is using this research called Ember Therapeutics. In the future, after more tests and research on humans, we may see this being a option for the treatment of obesity and of course type 2 diabetes. And probably people who just want to lose some weight!

And now I leave you with a video about the weight loss benefits of cold for humans. Imagine being able to get these benefits without actually sitting (or exercising) outside in the North Pole.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Most fascinating science news of the week (Dec 15, 2012)

Here are some of the most fascinating science news stories of the week:


CU-Boulder team develops swarm of pingpong ball-sized robots
University of Colorado Boulder Assistant Professor Nikolaus Correll likes to think in multiples. If one robot can accomplish a singular task, think how much more could be accomplished if you had hundreds of them. Read more: http://www.colorado.edu/news/releases/2012/12/14/cu-boulder-team-develops-swarm-pingpong-ball-sized-robots


Astronomers discover 'missing link' of black holes 
The discovery of a bingeing black hole in our nearest neighbouring galaxy, Andromeda, has shed new light on some of the brightest X-ray sources seen in other galaxies, according to new work co-authored by astronomers from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research's Curtin University node. Read more: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-12/icfr-ad121112.php\


UCLA engineers develop new energy-efficient computer memory using magnetic materials
By using electric voltage instead of a flowing electric current, researchers from UCLA's Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have made major improvements to an ultra-fast, high-capacity class of computer memory known as magnetoresistive random access memory, or MRAM. Read more: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-12/uoc--ued121412.php  


Stretchable electronics
Electronic devices become smaller, lighter, faster and more powerful with each passing year. Currently, however, electronics such as cell phones, tablets, laptops, etc., are rigid. But what if they could be made bendable or stretchy? Read more: http://www.udel.edu/udaily/2013/dec/stretchable-electronics-121112.html  


Dolphin hearing system component found in insects
A hearing system component thought to be unique in toothed whales like dolphins has been discovered in insects, following research involving the University of Strathclyde. Read more: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-12/uos-dhs121312.php

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Geminid meteor shower live stream

The Geminid meteor shower occurs on an annual basis, when the extinct comet 3200 Phaethon sprinkles the Earth with its debris tail. Get outside tonight between midnight and 3 a.m. to catch a glimpse of this amazing spectacle.

Expect to see roughly 100+ meteors per hour during the peak at 2-3 a.m.


If you can't get out to see Geminid, NASA will be live streaming the event via a camera at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Below is the embedded live stream:

If you would like to go directly to the NASA live stream event, here's the link: http://www.nasa.gov/connect/chat/geminids2012.html

Video streaming by Ustream

The damage Toutatis would cause if it struck Earth

If the asteroid Toutatis were to hit planet Earth, the aftermath would be catastrophic. The asteroid that ended-it-all for the dinosaurs was 6-miles wide. At 3-miles wide, Toutatis is half the size of the rock that killed off the dinosaurs.

Experts say that an impact from Toutatis could possibly end civilization as we know it. Even an asteroid 0.6 miles wide would cause severe global damage. Don't panic though, experts are fairly confident that Toutatis will not hit the Earth for at least 600 years, if ever.

Calculate the potential damage yourself by using the asteroid damage calculator: Impact: Earth

Set the diameter to 2.45 km (Toutatis is 3-miles wide, but 2.45 km for the diameter would be equal to its overall volume. )

Set the density to dense rock (Toutatis has a varying spectrum of density, due to this, scientists believe that Toutatis may be made up of several smaller asteroids.)

Set the velocity to 7 m/s or so (Toutatis was observed traveling at around 24,000 mph, convert that into miles per second and you get 6-7 m/s.)

The other parameters you can just play around with.

As I ran the simulator, I kinda came out thinking that Toutatis would probably cause more damage than what the simulator calculates. Since Toutatis is shaped like a peanut, has a weird orbit, tumbles like a football, and has varying density, I think the consequences of an impact would be species-ending.