Greetings from hibernation nation. I did say I’d come out if something really big happened. Guess what? One of my current scientific obsessions was Big News today! No, don’t go away – it’s not the microbiome. It’s my other obsession: junk DNA. I’ve written about it before, here and here and here.
In a stunning “no doh?” development, a vast international array of researchers has discovered that the 99% of the human genome that was considered “useless junk” isn’t junk after all. Continue reading →
I know I’m supposed to be in hibernation, but something came up that was so good I just had to share it with you.
You know by now that I am totally fascinated by the human microbiome, those trillions of microbes that make up most of the human organism. I’ve written here on Gydle about how microbes in our guts may implicated in a variety of ailments, from diabetes to Parkinson’s to obesity and irritable bowel disease.
You might also remember from last year that I’m also fascinated by the concept of crowdsourcing, a kind of data gathering approach that takes information freely and painlessly from tons of people who are just going about their ordinary lives. They’re mined for data while driving, surfing the internet, ordering things online, logging into websites, reading wikipedia pages, looking at the stars, pooping… Continue reading →
I know I said I was going into hibernation. Even though it’s summer, and the root of that word is “hiver” or winter. Well, it’s winter in Australia, isn’t it?
But this is just too good to pass up. There’s an article in the NYT today about internet addiction, and how Silicon Valley firms are debating whether they have any responsibility for what increasingly appears to be a true physical addiction to the stimulation of going online. Continue reading →
It takes a long time for this old bear to learn her lessons. For the past few months I’ve tried to feed this blog and translate and run and work on my novel and keep everything going smoothly in our household and keep up with interesting things on the internet. And everything is going fine except for the novel. Somehow, all those other things are just so much more immediate. So much easier to tick off the list over the course of a day. But when the day ends and I’ve not put in the time on my writing project, I’m somehow unsatisfied. Continue reading →
What with all the news about the microbiome in the headlines, running reports have taken a back seat at Gydle lately. Before I right that wrong, I’d just like to point your attention to another article in the New York Times – the number one e-mailed article today – about how we evolved along with microbes and viruses and other delectable parasites, and how our hyperclean germ-free existence is probably not that great for our health. Here’s a choice quote:
All kinds of exciting things have been happening, and I haven’t written about any of them. Some of them involve running, and they will appear in the next post. This one is about my other current favorite topic, the human microbiome.
Last week The New York Times had two very interesting articles, one about eating the weeds in your backyard, and another about the human microbiome. The first one speaks for itself. Apparently eradication can be dropped in favor of ingestion. Maybe I’ll give it a try. In any case it eases my weed aversion just that much more. The second article covers research being done in association with the Human Microbiome Project. Here’s my favorite quote:
Dr. Barnett Kramer, director of the division of cancer prevention at the National Cancer Institute, who was not involved with the research project, had another image. Humans, he said, in some sense are made mostly of microbes. From the standpoint of our microbiome, he added, “we may just serve as packaging.” Continue reading →
This morning after Brendan left – very early – to take the first written exam in his series of maturité exams, I decided to be really decadent and go back to bed for a few minutes. Marc was in the bathroom getting ready for his day – humming and humming and humming.
No recognizable tune, just a series of little contented-sounding hums.
I mentioned in a recent post that we were in Ithaca in mid-May celebrating the careers of two extraordinary scientists – Marc’s dad Jean-Yves and his PhD advisor, Wilfried Brutsaert. They’re “retiring” – I put that in quotes because they both still go to work every day. It’s just an administrative formality and, in Yves’ case, a move up one flight of stairs to a new office. Continue reading →
I’m reading “The Shallows” right now (thank you Matt, my local independent bookseller, for another eye-opening tome). It addresses how the Internet is changing our brains. Did you know that you read differently online? Eye-tracking studies have shown that the vast majority of people read the first two or three full lines of text on a web page,
Then they may once again scan about halfway across the page
for a couple more lines, before finally letting their eyes continue
Seems the prudent thing to do. I don’t want it to decide that this body is badly managed and thus a waste of time, and chuck it for a healthier version. No, not just yet. I have some stuff to write still. So I’m treating my gut flora to a microbial playdate. I want the symbiotic ecosystem that is my body to function optimally.
Not long ago in one of my internet ramblings I stumbled upon kefir, a fermented milk product originating long, long ago in the Caucasus. The word kefir (pronounced keh-fear) is related to the Turkish word keif, which means “feel good.” Kefir is a drinkable probiotic made with either water or milk using a gelatinous matrix of yeast and bacteria that are curiously called “grains.” (They have no relation whatsover to real grains like wheat or oats.)