Posts tagged ‘science’

oh sweet 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine

It is odourless and colourless. It is a white powder with the molecular formula C8H10N4O2. This stimulant of the central nervous system is a so called psychoactive drug. Used by millions daily, this xanthine-derivative is metabolised in the human liver into paraxanthine (increasing the hydrolysis of lipids, fueling muscles), theobromine (increases urine volume and dilates blood vessels, thus increasing the amount of oxygen and nutrient flow to brain and muscles) and theophylline (relaxes muscles of bronchi, increasing heart rate and efficiency).

Speaking of stimulant, after crossing the blood–brain barrier (that separates the bloodstream from the interior of the brain), it binds to adenosine receptors on the surface of cells without activating them, acting as competitive inhibitor (preventing the binding of substrate molecules). By counteracting adenosine (supposably protecting the brain by suppressing neural activity), the cerebral blood flow is increased and thus warding off drowsiness and restoring alertness. Although, I am not sure how much is already scientifically proven.
Adenosine itself is used for energy transfers (as adenosine triphosphate ATP and adenosine diphosphate ADP) as well as signal transduction (cyclic adenosine monophosphate cAMP). Wikipedia says: “it is also an inhibitory neurotransmitter, believed to play a role in promoting sleep and suppressing arousal, with levels increasing with each hour an organism is awake.

Where was I? Oh, I just rediscovered my old filter coffee maker. I don’t know how exactly it works, but it produces about 60 milligrams of this genial substance, also called caffeine, for each cup of coffee. I can’t imagine how I managed to survive only one day without this low technological wonder.
Enjoy up to 4 cups daily, effects from 15 minutes after to about until 4 hours later. Rock on!

BTW: not every organism is built to deal with caffeine! Respect for the scientists who tested the effect on spiders. Caffeinated spiders by NASA, published in New Scientist.
caffeinated spiderwebs

January 16, 2010 at 3:14 pm 1 comment

Entscheidungsfreudiges Abwarten

Dieser Eintrag ist eigentlich 8 Tage alt. Aber eben doch nicht. Sind Entscheidungen also wirklich so schwer zu treffen? Treffen wir nicht tausende Entscheidungen pro Tag? Was macht eine gute Entscheidung aus? Ist es wichtig, dass alle möglichen Kriterien miteinbezogen werden?
Das Problem an so einer Auswahlmöglichkeitsfestlegung ist wohl unser eigenes Unwissen. Und natürlich unsere Angst davor. Jemand der sich seiner selbst nicht bewusst ist, neigt auch zu schnellen Entscheidungen, hat er doch nichts zu befürchten, da er doch nichts weiß. Gut, also grundsätzlich würde ich sagen, ist es schon gut einiges zu wissen. Beim Fallschirmsprung allerdings nicht 10 Minuten überlegen zu müssen um den Fallschirm auszulösen ist trotzdem ein erheblicher Vorteil. Das mag jetzt banal klingen – aber viele Antworten aus denen wir auswählen müssen sind dies auch. Wir wissen es bloß nicht.
Moment – wissen wir jetzt zuviel und können uns dadurch nicht entscheiden, oder doch zu wenig? Man könnte eventuell sagen: das Wissen, dass wir zu wenig wissen ist schon Wissen genug um unsere Auswahlgeschwindigkeit in die Länge zu ziehen. Doch was können wir jetzt dagegen tun? Wie können wir Spontanität trainieren?

Wie wäre es zB damit kurze Texte über selbst er- oder gefundene Themen zu verfassen. Diese sollen sich verständlich anhören und in irgendeiner Weise doch aus der Nase gezogen sein. Und, nein, meine Einträge beruhen auf jahrelangen wissenschaftlichen Studien mit vielen Formeln und Ergebnissen. Oder doch nicht?
Heutige Aufgabe: überrasche dich selbst!

..with dance at YouTube ~ and Mr. Vader is worth the wait
..with pictures from ~ bite me!
..or with interesting text ~ see “Der Ausdämpfer” by Mr. Haipl

July 10, 2008 at 7:56 pm Leave a comment

Natural selection

“Books must follow sciences, and not sciences books.” – Francis Bacon (unsourced)

It’s 1858. It’s a man called Charles Darwin. He did not even attend, cause of the death of his son by scarlet fever. But it was a presentation with this title: On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection, that was meant to shape our perception of this thing called evolution. (read online: The Origin of Species)

There was the theory of evolution and there were the facts and observations to see this theory scientifically plausible and thus officially recognised over time. What I find a kind of interesting is, that there shouldn’t be a question about evolution as there is none about gravity. That means, a human with a body that has a higher density and weight as water will sink. And regardless of all the proofs, some try to defend their theories where worlds are created within days, people walk over water and fish are multiplied by kind words. No going over water – won’t work! It’s simply not going to happen!
And so, they think that they should cement evolution by creating examples, parables and so on. But what they don’t understand is that people who believe in ghosts, afterlifes, hellfires and living in heaven after giving money to a ‘pope’ in a golden robe, won’t really act rational to fundamental research either.

Anyway, it’s the 18-month Darwin-year starting today (150-years since the first-publication) until Darwin’s 200th birthday on the 12th February 2009. Hurray!

July 1, 2008 at 6:23 pm Leave a comment

Thinking timeless

A recent article about time stated that time as such may be only an illusion. It has to do with its importance in quantum mechanics and its conformity to the general relativity. Well, lots of science can make the head go round. At the moment, I don’t care much about quantum mechanics. But I care, like most of us, about the 25 days of holiday the same way I care about the daily caffeine intake to make the most out of the other days. So, what is time anyway?
Yesterday I listened to some questions from kids about time and speed on some radio show (Yeah, radio still exists!). One question caught my attention ‘How long can a day be?’. Seems pretty obvious at first sight. When you ponder a bit, you might realise that time can be described as change of one state to another. In a system without any change, it may look as if no time would pass. This means, the more accurate your clock is, the faster your time is passing. That’s maybe one of the reasons I don’t wear any watches.

The reason we invented time was to make synchronisation easier. In order to get the most out of our precious time we try to perfect our timing by making us slaves of an imaginary unit. We call it progress. I call it decreative. What I mean is that every step to rigorous accuracy leads to a loss in the experience of pleasure. A planning for events is more useful than to determine a specific date.
The only place we’ll ever travel to is future, and it’s just a matter of time!

February 11, 2008 at 8:33 pm 1 comment

You can’t be someone else

The modern Internet offers us much more than communication. It’s the imagination of being able to be anyone you’d like to be. Chat rooms or worlds like Second Life try to make us believe that we can be anyone. Why does one even want to be different? And if you don’t manage to be like you want, why would it be different online? This brings us a bit down to the mind/body problem. Je pense, donc je suis – that’s what Descartes said. It’s the thinking of two things existing by their own in relationship to each other. It’s also referred to as dualism, a philosophy of mind. Most religions require such a distinct point of view.
One problem is, it’s simply not scientific. Why should our bodies feature something called soul? Though, it was quite important as explanation when EEGs and MRI technologies didn’t exist to represent our thinking processes on the material level. We know about neurons, synapses and basically how it all works together now. The first organism to have its genome completely sequenced and all of its 302 neurons mapped was Caenorhabditis Elegans, a roundworm.

So much for science. Whether we believe in a soul, karma, in god, chemical substances or love – it doesn’t matter. For virtual worlds it is important to understand that we can’t be someone else. You change everytime you think. Every thought gives your brain (or soul) a different face. Still, you define yourself through your body – where you are and when. A quote I read a short time ago – but forgot where – was something like: people change everytime, love is when you like someone even though.
Don’t try to be someone else, learn to know yourself!

December 17, 2007 at 7:00 am 1 comment

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