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August 28, 2011

Are crunches worth doing?

Short answer: No. Less short answer: Mayyyyyyybe. Phys Ed: The Science of Sit-Ups and Core Training - NYTimes.com
. . . Even the importance or desirability of performing crunches, probably the most iconic and certainly the most common of core exercises, is uncertain. Research by Dr. McGill and others has shown that repeated bending of the spine, such as occurs when most of us do crunches, can over time contribute to damage of the spinal discs. When cadaver pig spines were placed in machines as part of a series of recent experiments and bent and flexed hundreds of times, the pigs’ spinal discs almost always ruptured, eventually. No one needs to perform hundreds or even dozens of crunches, said Brad Schoenfeld, a professor of exercise science at Lehman College in the Bronx and an author of a newly published review article about core exercises titled “To Crunch or Not to Crunch.” And while everyone needs some basic minimum of core strength — getting up out of a chair requires a certain amount of core strength; serving a tennis ball requires more – “six or eight crunches would be plenty,” he said, “and only a few times a week.” . . .
*Thanks, Helder!*

August 27, 2011

Scientists discover massive river 4km under the Amazon

Massive Underground River of the Day - TDW Geeks
Brazilian scientists have discovered a massive river 4 km beneath the Amazon. The Rio Hamza, named after the leader of the team that discovered it, appears to be just as long as the Amazon river, but much wider. The Hamza is around 6,000 km long, and ranges from 200km-400km across, compared to the Amazon’s width of 1km to 100km. It flows much more slowly than the Amazon does, though: less than 1mm/hr, compared to the Amazon’s 5m/sec. . . .

August 25, 2011

Presidential candidate Rick Perry thinks evolution is a hoax; Richard Dawkins has some words for him

Joe. My. God.: Richard Dawkins On The GOP
"There is nothing unusual about Governor Rick Perry. Uneducated fools can be found in every country and every period of history, and they are not unknown in high office. What is unusual about today’s Republican party (I disavow the ridiculous ‘GOP’ nickname, because the party of Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt has lately forfeited all claim to be considered ‘grand’) is this: In any other party and in any other country, an individual may occasionally rise to the top in spite of being an uneducated ignoramus. In today’s Republican Party ‘in spite of’ is not the phrase we need. Ignorance and lack of education are positive qualifications, bordering on obligatory. Intellect, knowledge and linguistic mastery are mistrusted by Republican voters, who, when choosing a president, would apparently prefer someone like themselves over someone actually qualified for the job." - Famed atheist Richard Dawkins, responding to Rick Perry's denouncement of evolution.

A series of absolutely incredible scientific facts

(From this Reddit thread.) A lump of a neutron star the size of a sugarcube would weigh as much as all of humanity. President Tyler has two living GRANDSONS, despite becoming president in 1841. Aldous Huxley was George Orwell's French teacher at Eton. There is enough water in Lake Superior to cover all of North and South America in a foot of water. Armadillos always have quadruplets. Make a fist with your left hand, squeeze your left thumb, then put your right index finger down your throat. NO GAG REFLEX. (Tested. Works.)

Richard Feynman explains how trains stay on their tracks

I did not know this.

New Northwestern study confirms bisexuals exist

No, it's not a joke. Mostly it's a cautionary tale about making sure your scientific test is really testing what you want to test. It's a response to a 2005 study that concluded all bisexual men were really closet gays. No Surprise for Bisexual Men - Report Indicates They Exist - NYTimes.com
In an unusual scientific about-face, researchers at Northwestern University have found evidence that at least some men who identify themselves as bisexual are, in fact, sexually aroused by both women and men. . . . In the new study, published online in the journal Biological Psychology, the researchers relied on more stringent criteria for selecting participants. To improve their chances of finding men aroused by women as well as men, the researchers recruited subjects from online venues specifically catering to bisexuals. They also required participants to have had sexual experiences with at least two people of each sex and a romantic relationship of at least three months with at least one person of each sex. Men in the 2005 study, on the other hand, were recruited through advertisements in gay-oriented and alternative publications and were identified as heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual based on responses to a standard questionnaire. . . .