Godwits are flexible…when they get the chance

Black-tailed godwits are able to cope with unpredictable weather. This was revealed by a thorough analysis of the extraordinary spring of 2013 by ecologist Nathan Senner of the University of Groningen and an international group of colleagues. In 2013, godwits were surprised by an exceptionally cold spring upon their return to the Netherlands. Nevertheless the godwits had a particularly productive breeding season that year, writes Senner in Journal of Animal Ecology on May 29, 2015. —> Read More

Medical Researcher Allen D. Allen Is Waiting…

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Much of our lives are spent waiting. We wait for our hopes, plans and actions to develop, progress and mature. Allen D. Allen is a retired medical researcher and he too is waiting. He waits for the final chapter of his innovative life work.

Allen waits for the implementation of a blood test that he discovered to identify major depression. Most significantly, he is waiting for a Phase III clinical trial of an antibody that can change how HIV/AIDS is treated. In life, it takes a great deal of work and effort to hurry up and wait.

A Medical Researcher can be found at most university teaching hospitals. Their job is to observe and ponder. In the academic world of “publish or perish,” a medical researcher is looking for an interesting topic to investigate and launch into a study. It is a job that requires equal parts hope and skepticism.

Educated at Berkeley and UCLA, Allen D. Allen eventually landed into his desired role as a medical researcher in the 1980s. “I am very curious,” says Allen, “I like to pour over random case files, because, at some time, a pattern develops and there is that “Eureka” moment of a discovery.”

Prior to this, Allen found success in two very different, yet related, fields. As a songwriter, he composed a few hits, namely “Just Married”, a famous record by Marty Robbins. Advertising jingles proved to be the most lucrative. In the Sixties, Allen worked with many ad agencies and confesses, “It really was just like Mad Men.” He wrote and produced jingles for many products, such as Toyota, Sun-Maid Raisins, Manischewitz Wine and Shilling Spices.

Later in the decade, Allen founded a computer software company, long before computers had screens and graphics, back when a paper key card was strategically —> Read More

Calorie for Calorie, Fructose Packs On More Pounds

My two boys recently brought home their elementary-school class pictures, and my wife and I decided it would be fun to show them our class photos back when we were their age. One thing we all noticed right away was how many more overweight or obese kids there are in our sons’ class photos than in our old pictures from the early ’80s, when we were kids. Something has changed in a big way, no pun intended. More inactivity and poor diets are likely to blame. People are eating more calories than ever before, but they are also changing the source of their calories. More kids today are eating highly processed foods and drinks instead of fresh fruits, vegetables and prepared foods. Does the source of the calories matter? I used to think not. I used to think that what we are eating is fine but that we just need to eat less of it. However, I’ve proved myself wrong.

As you no doubt have realized, fructose consumption has increased astronomically in recent years, because it is the dominant sugar added to processed foods and drinks, mostly in the form of high-fructose corn syrup. Fructose is what is in fruit, but when you eat a piece of fruit, you are full. When you drink a big-gulp soda, you take in not only huge numbers of calories but huge amounts of fructose, way more than you could ever eat in fruit. We already know that the excess calories are bad when we are trying to lose weight, but what about the large amount of fructose?

We recently conducted a simple experiment in which two groups of mice were fed identical diets except for the type of sugar added. —> Read More

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