Exercise For the Lazy

January 18, 2020

A couple of weeks ago I had to undergo some tests on my heart.  Part of the examination took place while I was “at rest” and a second part involved a “stress” test to see how my heart was working after exercise.  In my case, probably because I am an old fart, I didn’t have to do any real exercise (such as using a treadmill); instead, they inject you with a drug that apparently simulates the effects of exercise. It certainly felt odd.  Anyway, I joked with the technician that they should market the drug to lazy non-exercisers.

Today, I was looking up something else and happened to find that scientists are actually working on a drug to do that very thing.

“Michigan Medicine researchers studying a class of naturally occurring protein called Sestrin have found that it can mimic many of exercise’s effects in flies and mice …  [W]hen they overexpressed Sestrin in the muscles of normal flies, essentially maxing out their Sestrin levels, they found those flies had abilities above and beyond the trained flies, even without exercise … The beneficial effects of Sestrin include more than just improved endurance. Mice without Sestrin lacked the improved aerobic capacity, improved respiration and fat burning typically associated with exercise.”

A different “independent study again highlights that Sestrin alone is sufficient to produce many benefits of physical movement and exercise,” says [professor Jun Hee] Lee.”

Ain’t science wonderful?  I can see a huge black market potential for beefing up couch exercisers like myself!

Glowing In The Dark

January 7, 2020

I spent most of today at VGH having my heart checked out.  This involved being injected twice with radioactive dye.

When I got home, I stood in the closet with the door closed but I didn’t glow in the dark, which was a great disappointment.

Why Time Flies

December 31, 2019

The other day I blamed Einstein for why time seems to go faster by as one gets older.  However, a neuroscientist has another idea:


The four minutes will fly by!

Small World Video Winners

December 21, 2019

The following are the finalists of the Nikon Small World competition for 2019. Fascinating stuff!

We Lost The North Pole!

December 2, 2019

The Magnetic North Pole is a moveable object; it travels around the globe.  In a previous post, I mentioned that millennia ago it was positioned far south of where we usually suppose it to be.  Now, it has emigrated away from Canada!

According to an article in Forbes magazine,

“What we’ve seen in the past hundred years is that the location of the magnetic North Pole has moved northward. That migration of the magnetic North Pole was switched into overdrive in the past few years, causing the pole to rapidly move … In the recent past, the magnetic North Pole has moved 34 miles a year toward Russia. Just a half-century ago, the magnetic North Pole was wandering about 7 miles each year.”



Apart from Canada losing this natural asset, the movement of the pole affects a lot in our technological world:

“The [North Pole] model update ensures the accuracy of work in governmental agencies around the world. Specifically, NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the U.S. Forest Service use the magnetic poles in their daily operations from mapping to air traffic control. On a more individual level, smartphones use the magnetic north for GPS location and compass apps.”

I’m sure if the Pole moves rapidly over to China, much of Canada’s media will blame Trudeau for it.

Fall Foliage

November 3, 2019

Here is an interesting view of the types of fall foliage available in various parts of the US; it is from the Washington Post.  I looked and looked for a similar chart for Canada without success.

Select image for a closer look.

Babylonian Northern Lights

October 27, 2019


There are many wonderful sights to see in northern Canada, and one of the great joys are the Northern Lights.  But as new research reveals, these majestic celestial shows have been fascinating people for thousands of years — and thousands of kilometres from the Yukon.

The earliest records of the aurora have now been identified as coming from the middle of the 7th century BC — almost 3,000 years ago — and from the royal archives of Nineveh in the Assyrian Empire.  Three separate observers — known by cuneiform specialists for their regular and accurate astronomical observations — report “red glow”, “red cloud”, and “red sky” in reports to their royal masters. Exact dates are elusive, but they appear to be from about 660 BC.

We may wonder how the “Northern” lights could be seen in the Middle East.  The researchers explain:

“the Middle East was closer to the north geomagnetic pole in the Assyrian epoch. While the north geomagnetic pole is situated near the region of North America today, it was situated in the region of Eurasia in the mid- to early 7th century BCE due to the secular variation of the geomagnetic field.”

When we are lucky enough to witness these sky dances, we are sharing the pleasures and excitements of hundreds of generations of those who have gone before.