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Social Impact of Parkinson's Disease

As a natural instinct, I always avert my eyes from someone who is visibly handicapped. I suppose there are several reasons for this reaction. I do not want the handicapped person to feel self conscious from my attention, and at the same time I do not want the person to notice my feeling of pity for his or her affliction. Sometimes, it is not possible to avoid a direct encounter.

I went to the cash register of a department store and the clerk who helped me had a serious case of Parkinson's Disease. Her right hand was shaking quite uncontrollably and her left hand was somewhat better. The muscles in her arms were emaciated from the repetitious involuntary motions. As she tried to scan the bar code of my item, her hand kept jerking and the scanner could not read the code. At one point I felt like reaching to hold the bar code in front of the reader, but I resisted the impulse. She was persistent and eventually the cash register beeped an acknowledgment. You could see some frustration in her face, although her face also twitched.

I realized that she would not be able to work much longer. I wondered why she was still working in her condition, but in the back of my mind, I knew that she had to work because the health care system in the United States had failed her. I felt admiration for the department store that had hired her with her visible handicap in a position where she had so much public exposure. Hopefully this work entitled her to some medical benefits.

The cause of Parkinson's disease is not known, there are no cures, and no preventive measures. Parkinson's disease affects 2 in every 1,000 people, most often after age 50. The possible causes for the disease could be genetic or environmental, but nobody knows for sure. We can only hope that we don't become victims of this progressive, degenerative ailment.

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2008-07-19 

Running out of gas - My lucky day

I have only run out of gas twice in my life. The first time, I had been moving from one apartment to another, and I had a very busy schedule. I completely forgot that cars ran on gas. Lo, and behold, as I was driving down the street, my car started to sputter. Dazedly, I looked at the gauges, and sure enough, the gas tank was completely empty. This was in the days before there were red little warning lights on the gauges that let you know that your gas was low.

Fortunately, it was my lucky day! The car stopped right in front of a house where the owner was mowing his lawn and he had a can of gas right there. Seeing my predicament, he poured his gallon of gas into my tank and would not take any money. Of course, gas cost about 50 cents per gallon in those days. It was not a major investment like today. I thanked him profusely and went on my merry way - directly to the gas station.

The second time I ran out of gas was because of an accident. I was driving in my Buick Century down a freeway with my son, and all of a sudden, the car in front swerved to the left. By the time I realized why he had swerved, I was on top of a big chunk of metal that probably had fallen off a truck. Clink! Clank! Thunk! These were the sounds that I heard as the metal hit the underside of my car. My tires were OK, but as I continued further, I noticed that my gas gauge was dropping quite fast. I looked back in the mirror and saw a trail of gasoline. My first thought was "I hope the car doesn't catch on fire", as I kept going. There was an exit coming up. I ran out of gas as I entered the exit and coasted right into a gas station that was in the right place at the right time. I was really lucky! The gas station specialized in gas tank repairs. I called a neighbor to give me a ride home and lived happily ever after.
Check out your horoscope and lucky numbers

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2008-07-12 

Rates of Melanoma increase in Women

Melanoma

Melanoma

An analysis of cancer statistics from 1973 to 2004 by the National Cancer Institute found that the rate of new melanoma cases in women from 15 to 39 years of age had increased by 50%, but the rate for men of the same age had remained unchanged.

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer characterized by black skin tumors. Melanoma usually starts from excessive exposure to the sun or from the frequent use of tanning salons. Some sun exposure is necessary for the production of Vitamin D in the skin, but sun exposure that causes sunburn damages the skin. Skin specialists recommend using sun block lotions to prevent sunburn and avoiding being outdoors in the middle of the day when the sun's rays are strongest.

Melanoma lesions are usually black with irregular shape. Any unusual or bleeding moles should be checked by a dermatologist.
Learn how to reduce cancer risks

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2008-07-05 

Balancing Exercise and Calorie Restriction

Building abdominal muscles

Calorie Restriction (CR) reduces the nutrients available to the body and limits its growth. We lose weight when the nutrients that we eat are insufficient to meet the requirements of the body. Conversely, we gain weight when we eat more calories than we burn through our activities.

Exercise stresses the muscles and stimulates them to grow. With adequate nutrition, the muscles will strengthen and gain mass. Since the muscles consist mostly of protein, they need additional protein to grow.

Exercise tones the muscles while Calorie Restriction keeps their growth in check. The combination of dietary restriction and exercise establishes an equilibrium that can be monitored with a bathroom scale. If your weight increases, you are eating too much. If your weight decreases, you are not eating enough.

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2008-07-03 

Scientific Psychic passes 7-million visitor mark

Scientific Psychic Statistics

The domain ScientificPsychic.com has been active since February 15, 2001. The web site has continued its original goal of providing educational material and entertainment. Some of the most popular pages are the optical illusions, games, diet calculator, verb conjugation, and hygiene.

ScientificPsychic.com averages approximately 6000 visitors and over 16,000 page views per day. Most of the traffic originates from English-speaking countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and India, but there are visitors from many parts of the world where English is spoken such as Singapore and the Philippines. This is an example of the country of origin of the visitors.
Scientific Psychic Statistics

Some of the web pages have been translated to other languages and it is not unusual to have Google refer French queries to the French version of the verb conjugation page. The recent translation to Spanish of the diet calculator, and the pages about carbohydrates and hygiene already is attracting visitors from Latin America who search the web in Spanish.

Scientific Psychic® is registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office with registration number 3,088,970.

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2008-06-28 

Cataclysmic meteorite bombardment from Mars?

cataclysmic meteorite bombardment

The northern hemisphere of Mars has a giant basin, called the Borealis Basin, that covers about 40 percent of the surface of Mars. The basin is 8,500 km across and 10,600 km long, and it is larger than the combined area of Asia, Europe and Australia. The northern-hemisphere basin is one of the smoothest surfaces found in the solar system, whereas, the southern hemisphere is high, rough, heavily-cratered terrain that is 4 to 8 km higher in elevation than the basin floor.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter project from NASA has provided some interesting information about the topography and gravity of Mars that has shed some light on the mystery of why the two halves of Mars are so different. MIT scientists have used the data to deduce that the basin was formed by the impact of a colossal asteroid[1,2]. The scientists also created models to calculate the kind of impact that would have been required to create the basin.

It is estimated that the impact on Mars occurred around 3,900 million years ago. This is the time when the Earth and the Moon were subjected to a cataclysmic meteorite bombardment, also called the Late Heavy Bombardment. It is possible that the debris of the great cosmic collision in Mars was the cause of the devastation of the Earth and the Moon during their early development.
Learn about the history of the Earth

[1] Jeffrey C. Andrews-Hanna, Maria T. Zuber, W. Bruce Banerdt, The Borealis basin and the origin of the martian crustal dichotomy, Nature 453, 1212 - 1215 (26 Jun 2008), doi: 10.1038/nature07011, Letters to Editor

[2] David Chandler, Solar system's biggest impact scar discovered, MIT News Office
June 25, 2008

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2008-06-26 

One-day CRON diet menu

Mega Oatmeal Breakfast

Calorie Restriction with Optimum Nutrition (CRON) is a diet that not only can make you thin, but there is enough scientific evidence that it may also help you to live longer. The idea behind the CRON diet is to eat slightly less food than you normally would, while meeting 100% of all your nutritional requirements. A CRON diet requires the use of nutritional software such as CRON-o-Meter to make sure that the food provides complete nutrition.

Here is an example of a one-day menu published by Robert Cavanaugh, a member of the Calorie Restriction Society. He generally eats twice a day, but has a fruit snack during the day. The following menu totals 1809 calories with a Protein/Fat/Carbohydrate ratio of 18/27/55. All nutrients in this menu exceed the RDA except niacin which is 94% RDA. Fiber content is 40 grams.

Breakfast
Mega Oatmeal recipe:
Ingredients:
1/4 cup (21 g) oatmeal, quick
1/4 cup (20 g) oat bran
2 Tbsp (13 g) sunflower seeds, unsalted,dry roasted
1/3 cup (23 g) milk, dry nonfat
1/2 cup (75 g) blueberry, raw frozen
1 cup skim milk

Instructions:
1. Place first four ingredients in bowl
2. Add 1 cup skim milk, mix
3. Microwave on high 4 to 5 minutes
4. Add frozen blueberries and mix well
5. Add Splenda sweetner if desired

Lunch
One large peach or nectarine during workday

Dinner
Appetizer:

5 Oysters eastern, canned

Main Course:

5 oz. Turkey breast & gravy, frozen
Medium sweet potato
Cup Broccoli spears, frozen
2 large Whole wheat Pita bread brushed with 1 Tbsp Olive oil
8 oz. glass skim milk

1 fruit bowl
1/2 cup seedless grapes
1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
1 cup cantaloupe, cubed

Nuts
2 Brazil nuts
10 Filberts

Dessert:
1 slice Pumpkin Pudding

Pumpkin Pudding recipe:
Pumpkin Pudding is made from canned pumpkin. Follow the recipe for making the pie filling on the side of the can, but substitute egg whites for whole eggs and substitute Splenda for sugar. Bake it in a pie dish without any pie crust. Makes 8 pie slice servings at 70 calories per serving.

Learn more about Calorie Restriction

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2008-06-19 

The Beauty of Nature

Rainbow over Bethesda

We have had several rainy days in the Washington, D.C. area lately. Yesterday, after a brief thunderstorm, the sky cleared up and we were left with a beautiful, bright rainbow. I like rainbows and moonlit nights.

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2008-06-16 

Effect of Calorie Restriction on Body Size

Effect of Calorie Restriction on Body Sie

Calorie Restriction (CR) is recognized as a scientifically proven dietary intervention to prolong life span. Many people have looked at the graphs in the book by Walford- showing increases of 30% in the longevity of mice, and they have decided that they too would like to live to an age of 104 instead of just 80. They learn about Calorie Restriction with Optimum Nutrition (CRON) and they start starving themselves in a controlled way to get rid of the extra fat and keep their glucose levels down.

Unfortunately, many of the promoters of Calorie Restriction diets frequently do not emphasize the stunting effects of the lower calorie diets. Mice started on 40% CR at 9 weeks, when they are weaned, may increase their life span by about 30%, but the lower level of nutrients basically halts the growth of the mice so that at maturity they only reach half of the weight of the control mice[1]. The graphic above illustrates the corresponding relative weights of humans at different levels of caloric restriction assuming that the relationship of weight and CR is linear. If a control human weighed 150 pounds, the 40% CR human would weigh 75 pounds. Using human growth charts, we can estimate that the human control would be approximately 69 inches high, and the 40% CR human would be 57 inches tall.

The more aggressive human calorie restriction practitioners (CRONies) have found that the lower calorie diets decrease their bone structure, causing signs of osteoporosis. Unlike the mice which are started at a young age and can adjust their growth to the level of available nutrients, severe calorie restriction started in adulthood requires the body to decrease in size. Clearly, if the cell metabolism cannot adjust to the lower calorie levels, something in the body must shrink. Studies have shown that the basal metabolic rate can decrease by approximately 16% for metabolically active tissues. Higher degrees of calorie restriction started in adulthood have the potential of causing severe structural damage, and a longer life is not guaranteed.
Use the CR calculator

[1] Mattson, et al. "Intermittent fasting dissociates beneficial effects of dietary restriction on glucose metabolism and neuronal resistance to injury from calorie intake", Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2003 May 13; 100(10):6216-6220.

acute undernutritionArturo commented:
I feel compelled to make a comment on the graphic. Assuming that one started CR after having grown to one's full height, say at age 22, wouldn't the height remain the same? Therefore the growth that CR would stunt would be in the horizontal (X and Y) directions, rather than the vertical (Z) direction in Cartesian coordinates? This would mean that the figures, if they were of adults, would be the same height, but their width smaller?

Arturo is right. The illustrations above are of perfectly proportioned silhouettes which would be produced as a result of normal development.

The decrease of an adult body frame through undernourishment would first be evident in the reduction of muscle tissue because bones are more resistant to modification due to their mineral content. The first stage (acute undernutrition) might produce gaunt bodies like those of the WW II concentration camps or Keys' Minnesota experiment (right). The second stage (chronic undernutrition) would cause decreased bone mass with related clinical conditions like osteoporosis and its consequences such as kyphosis. The result of severe long-term CR started in adulthood is likely to be a crooked gaunt body, rather than the well proportioned bodies illustrated above.

Learn more about Calorie Restriction

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2008-06-09 

The prospect of Eternal Life

Aubrey de Grey
Aubrey de Grey

For thousands of years, preachers have been promising us eternal life, in heaven or hell, depending on what we believe. Now, Aubrey de Grey, a British biomedical gerontologist, thinks that we can achieve eternal life right here on Earth by rejuvenating the human body. The idea of immortality seems preposterous given that, thus far, no multicellular organisms have been found to live forever.

Aubrey de Grey cannot be easily dismissed. His ideas about Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) are based on sound scientific principles and modern discoveries in genetics. De Gray would like to identify all the components that cause human tissue to age and design remedies for each of them to forestall disease and eventually push back death.

Immortal life may be nothing more than a pipe dream, but there are enough serious scientists studying the process of aging that in a few decades there may be significant advances in the science of life extension. The Methuselah Foundation is a non-profit organization that promotes interest in scientific anti-aging research. The foundation awards prizes to researchers who break records in the extension of the lifespan of experimental animals.
Learn more about The Methuselah Foundation

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