Scientific Social


How Does Concrete Work and Why Is It Different From Pasta?

Wet concrete is spread it out and once it dries it can support large amounts weight. Pasta, too, starts out wet, later drying to form the noodles we can build bridges with (or eat)!

But when you get pasta wet, it gets weak and loses form while concrete does not.

Why do that behave differently? Don’t they both dry out after setting?

Henry from MinutePhysics explains!

Read More »

Why Do We Cook?

We differ from animals in a lot of ways, but what is it about us that got us to where we are? Most might say it is the utilization of tools, but a lot of animals use tools. So what is it then?

It’s our brains. This may be unsurprising, but how did our brains grow to be much bigger than our closest relatives? According to Richard Wrangham, a primatologist, it was cooking our food!

Cooking our food granted us access to a greater amount of energy than raw food would. This freed up more time for other activities such as language development, social interaction/cooperation, and tool making.

Watch Richard Wrangham’s lecture on this topic below

Read more at the Smithsonian – Fire makes us human.

Read More »

Honey is Better For You Than Other Sweeteners… Right? Well, Not So Fast.

Nutrition research is complicated. One study doesn’t overturn all previous studies. Most studies concerning nutrition have small sample sizes so their conclusions should be taken with a grain of salt.

That isn’t to say that making scientific statements about nutrition is impossible! It’s just that grandiose, click-baity headlines like “Honey is Better for You Than Other Sweeteners” (pot, meet kettle?) are probably misrepresenting or overstating the actual findings of the research and don’t consider how robust (large enough sample size, proper and meaningful statistics, etc.) the study is.

Aaron Carroll explains the pitfalls and difficulties of nutritional research in the above video!

Read More »

Five Chemicals That Are In Just About Everything You Eat

Ever wonder what you’re eating when you eat processed food? What exactly ARE these additives such as red dyes, xanthan gum, carrageenan, citric acid, and sodium benzoate?

SciShow takes us through five common chemical additives while also discussing topics like what it means to be classified as GRAS by the FDA.

CNN Health has compiled a table that includes many different food additives and their use, purpose, and possible side effects.

Read More »

You Probably Don’t Need to be On a Gluten-Free Diet

Gluten has been a hot topic lately. But what is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein that is found in grain products such as wheat, barely and rye. Approximately one percent of Americans suffer from Celiac disease, a condition in which gluten triggers an allergic reaction in the small intestine, interfering with the absorption of food. This is a serious disease which can, if left untreated, lead to serious illness and even death. It’s a good thing it’s relatively easy to treat, especially now that gluten-free diets are the new fad.

Though, as the title suggests, most (non-Celiac) people don’t need to be on a gluten-free diet; even those who claim to have a “gluten sensitivity.” Those people are most likely responding negatively to FODMAPS, rather than gluten. Diets low in FODMAPS have been shown to help treat the symptoms of irritable bowl syndrome, which may be confused with symptoms of Celiac disease.

Doctor Aaron Carroll explains!

Read More »

Sitting To Death: The Dangers of a Sedentary Lifestyle

In the next segment of our health and fitness series, we again look to Dr. Aaron Carroll of Healthcare Triage to find out how we can use science to our advantage to easily improve our health, adding years to our lives.

We’ve seen it in the news for a while that spending the majority of your time sitting could negatively impact your health. Is it it worse than smoking cigarettes? Can a well balanced diet and solid regiment of exercise negate the effects of a sedentary lifestyle?

Cutting To The Chase – What Can We Do?

The University of Missouri Health recently reported that “…blood flow in the popliteal — an artery in the lower leg — was greatly reduced after sitting at a desk for six hours. Researchers then had the participants take a short walk, and found that 10 minutes of self-paced walking could restore the impaired vascular function and improve blood flow.” The article went on stating ““When you have decreased blood flow, the friction of the flowing blood on the artery wall, called shear stress, is also reduced. […] Moderate levels of shear stress are good for arterial health, whereas low levels of shear stress appear to be detrimental and reduce the ability of the artery to dilate. Dilation is a sign of vascular health. The more the artery can dilate and respond to stimuli, the healthier it is.” So what are we to do?

Become more active and move !

Even if your job requires you to be at a desk for eight hours a day, there is so much you can do to help off-set the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Below you’ll find some ideas to help get you started on becoming more active without dramatically changing your routine:

  • During work (if possible) get up every hour or two and walk around for a few minutes.
  • Park towards the back of parking lots.
  • Go for a walk instead of watching TV.
  • When possible, take public transportation, ride a bike, or walk to your destinations.
  • If talking on the phone, walk around instead of sitting.

Have a recommendation? Let us know in the comments below!

Read More »

Excercise is NOT The Key To Weight Loss

Exercise is great as it helps strengthen muscles, promotes positive posture, and can help alleviate a wide variety of common issues and ailments common among many adults. But if weight loss is the ultimate goal, exercise alone won’t do the trick!

Continuing our health and fitness series, we look another video by Dr. Aaron Carroll of Healthcare Triage to find out how making some simple changes to our diet and lifestyle can easily allow us to reach our weight loss goals.

The Secret To Weight Loss

Well, it’s not really a secret. The following has been known by scientists for a very long time. Unfortunately, many of us are fixated on quick fixes and the next new thing. Time and time again, it’s proven there is no such thing as a quick fix. So, how do you reach your weight loss goals? Consider the following:

“…anytime one consumes fewer Calories than one burns, there will be weight loss.” (Brooks, Fahey, & Baldwin, 2005, p. 22)

When we eat more calories than needed, our bodies store this excess for later, usually as fat. If you continue this trend, you’ll start to notice you have a whole lot of stored energy! By simply consuming fewer calories than you burn, your body will start to use its stored energy to make up for the deficit.

Not sure how many calories you’re consuming? Unsure of how many calories you need? We found using calorie counting/weight loss apps such as Lose It! or, if you have an android, S-Health can give you great insight into your daily habits and reveal areas of opportunity. These apps will tell you how many calories you should be consuming based on gender, age, and current weight loss goals.

For Sustained Health, Don’t Go On A Diet

Generally, diets do not work because they fail to deal with the underlying issues of being overweight nor do they teach better life long eating habits. Most people are looking for quick, easy solutions to their problems. While some diets may work initially, old habits quickly take over again.

Even the ever popular low-carbohydrate diets, while producing quick weight-loss results, are not sustainable in the long term and can lead to serious health issues. Perhaps best stated by the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine:

Low-carbohydrate weight-loss diets are very popular, but the recommendations of many of these diets are diametrically opposed to those put forth by the US Department of Agriculture, the American Heart Association, and other national organizations. Their focus on foods high in protein, fat, and cholesterol has potentially serious health implications.

So what should you be eating? Below is an incomplete list to get you started on the right path of eating better, losing weight, and maintaining overall health for the long term:

  • Proteins: Turkey, white meat chicken, ground beef (90%+ lean), round steak, top loin, top sirloin, pork tenderloin, lamb tenderloin, eggs, tuna, salmon, bean/lentils, almonds, walnuts
  • Fats: Olive oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, flaxseed, walnuts, butternuts, sunflower seeds, olives, whole grain wheat, avocados, salmon, tuna, mackerel
  • Carbs: Strawberries, apples, sweet potato, rye bread, chickpeas, kidney beans, lima beans, navy beans, parsnips , seven-grain (Ezekiel) bread, rolled oats.


Why Diets Fail — Expert Diet Advice as a Cause of Diet Failure

Exercise Physiology: Human Bioenergetics and Its Applications, McGraw-Hill Education; 4 edition

Physician’s Guide to Popular Low-Carbohydrate Weight-Loss Diets

United States Department of Agriculture

Read More »