Thursday, December 24, 2009

Take two steaks and call it morning

The Anti-Jet-Lag Diet was only a few links (degrees of separation) away from my morning emails. Since the places I'm likely to visit are many, many timezones away from Saipan, that's of more than passing interest.

There's some interesting information at the site, though I'm not yet ready to plunk down $10.95 ($16.95 round-trip) for a personal A-J-L plan. Then again, it's probably a good deal because you only have to ask once for each destination.

Evidently, the plan is a spinoff from studies of circadian rhythms by biologist Charles Ehret at the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago.

In a nutshell, you eat high-protein breakfasts and lunches and high carbohydrate dinners to match your current time zone. Supposedly, this resets your body's internal clock. There's some feasting and fasting involved, too, but what have you got to lose?

No alcohol, but I knew that already and for other reasons. There are some interesting claims about caffeine tucked away in the page I linked. According to the site, the "methylated xanthines" found in coffee, tea and cocoa make it harder for most people to get to sleep at night if they are taken in the morning. Conversely, it is claimed, taking them at night tends to make most people get up earlier. I'd never read that before.

This may be just the ticket for you if you're traveling over the holidays (Around Christmas, for the people out there who enjoy raining on other people's parades).

Something completely different

Thinking like a Senator (not recommended) made me do it: some clever scientists found a way to make bacteria turn little tiny gears. Neat, I thought, but some curmudgeonly suit with seniority is probably going to mock this research. Why not browse through the Argonne Newsroom and find a practical application near and dear to their heart. Travel, for instance.

Not that the exercise was necessary. Somebody, sometime, somewhere is likely to remember this research and combine it with another idea or two to give us a new gadget. That's how technology lurches forward. It makes good video anyway:

Luckily, Scientific American has a better, albeit less popularized, version of the story. (I say luckily because I usually follow links to Scientific American articles and find they are charging for a sip from their font of wisdom, which then sadly remains a staid secret.)

As it turns out, I'd stumbled onto the interesting scientific problem of getting work out of random (Brownian) motion in a fluid. Or, as the magazine cleverly puts it, the research "presents a new spin on the concept of the so-called Brownian ratchet, in which arbitrary fluctuations generate directed motion to power tiny mechanical systems."

Fascinating possibilities, but as one scientist points out, it hasn't been tested against a load. Another mentions the lack of hamster-driven appliances.

So, no NASCAR In a Bottle yet, but I still think it's neat.

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