Scientific Social

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!

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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

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Exercise Is Really Good For You. Like, REALLY Good For You.

This may not come as a surprise, but… HOW good for you is it?  As it turns out… well, spoilers in the title – REALLY good.

Dr. Aaron Carroll explains!

“My issue with the way we sell exercise, is that sometimes it feels too much like the way we sell organic food. The people who are doing way more than they need to are panicked that they’re not doing enough when there are far too many people out there who are doing none at all.”

What Exercises Are The Most Effective?

Now you know how beneficial exercising is to your health and how often you should exercise. But what exercises should you do?

To be as effective as possible, you’ll want to preform exercises that work multiple parts of your body and mimic movements you make on a daily basis. Not only is this an efficient use of time, but it will help make day-to-day tasks easier to accomplish. Below, you’ll find several exercises that you can do anytime, any where!


One of our favorite exercises!  Squats work almost every muscle in your lower body and core, making daily tasks like climbing stairs to picking up heavy furniture much easier. Unfortunately, this fundamental exercise is preformed incorrectly majority of the time due to a lack of understanding of body mechanics. Below, Rachel Vaziralli from Howcast demonstrates how to do the perfect squat:


While squats primarily focus on the lower body, the push-up focuses on the upper body targeting the back, arms, chest, and core. As with the squat, the push-up works several muscles at once and can help improve posture. The video below demonstrates how to do both the standard push-up as well as a modified version for beginners:


Burpees are a fantastic multi-joint, multi-plane exercise that combines squats, push-ups, and cardio into one exercise. Burpees are a pretty intensive; be sure not to over do it! By adding in this anaerobic exercise into your routine, you’ll see improvements in both heart and lung health. Check out the video below to get a step-by-step guide on how to execute the perfect burpee:

Those of you who want to read more can go here.



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Into The Canyons: Where Art Meets Geology | September 20th – October 26th

Over the past couple of months, Booty and I haven’t made nearly as many posts on Scientific Social as we had previously. Since July, our efforts were re-directed to a huge project that as of this weekend has finally come to life.

We are proud to announce the opening of our first solo art exhibition – Into The Canyons: Where Art Meets Geology!

Join us for our opening reception on Sunday, September 20th from 4-6PM at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences. We hope everyone of our fans and followers are able to join us! To get the latest updates, RSVP, and more, visit our official event page here.

All of the work featured in the show comes from our first exploratory trip we made to the Southwest United States in June 2014 covering Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon, and the Grand Canyon. Accompanying many of the images will be an informational card, explaining the geology and science behind each photograph, helping create a deeper understanding of what the viewer sees.

The objective of Into The Canyons is to demonstrate how fine art can be used as a means of explaining complex scientific ideas in an entertaining, engaging, and enlightening way. While many view the arts and sciences as two separate entities, we believe the combination of the two creates an extremely powerful tool that both artists and science enthusiasts can get excited about.

With our first show in January and the creation of this science blog, Into The Canyons: Where Art Meets Geology is the next step to our ultimate goal: the creation of a children’s pop-up book that applies the same principals that we are utilizing in this show.

We also want to extend a huge thanks out to the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences for helping make this show happen. From start to finish, The Foundation provided us with the support and feedback we needed to make this show a success. With their almost 70 year long commitment to helping promote the arts and sciences, we couldn’t of found a better fit.

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Why Are Honeybees Dying?

There isn’t a simple, one word answer to this question.  As the video explains, there are several factors negatively affecting bee populations.

However, not among those factors is electromagnetic radiation (EM) from cell phones as there has been no established link between Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and EM radiation.  Another notable absence is genetically modified crops (a.k.a., GMOs).  A meta-analysis (basically, a study of studies) of 25 different studies that looked at how GM crops affect honey bees was unable to find “any direct negative effects.”

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Pluto via New Horizons; NASA

New Horizons Finally Reaches Pluto!

If you haven’t already heard the news, NASA’s interplanetary space probe New Horizons has reached Pluto. Nine and a half years and 3 billion miles after it’s launch back in January 2006, New Horizons is the first spacecraft to explore Pluto.

While nine years may seem like a long time to us, New Horizons is the fastest human-made craft ever launched from Earth, traveling about 16.26 kilometers per second (58,536 km/h; 36,373 mph).

Although scientists will be receiving much more data around 9 PM EST tonight about Pluto and its moons, below is one of the closest images sent back of Pluto from New Horizons:

Pluto via New Horizons; NASA

Pluto via New Horizons – NASA

Never heard of New Horizons before today?

As part of NASA’s New Frontiers program, New Horizons was built by in collaboration with the Southwest Research Institute and the Applied Physics Laboratory to study Pluto, its moons as well as the Kuiper Belt – the region of the Solar System beyond the planets. By studying Pluto and the Kuiper belt, scientists hope to have a better understanding of how our Solar System formed.

So why is this a big deal? We’re glad you asked:

  1. Pluto is one of the only major objects in our solar system that we haven’t seen yet. Until today, the best image we had was from the Hubble Space Telescope:hubble-pluto.0
  2. New Horizons is a huge technological accomplishment. Using decade old technology, scientists were able to get this grand piano-sized probe over 3 billion miles with virtually no issues. Not to mention the amount of data the probe gathers in such a small window of time; there’s no slowing down when your traveling at 16.26 kilometers per second!
  3.  New Horizons will provide mankind with a better understanding of our Solar System, including Earth. By studying the data provide by New Horizons on the geology, atmosphere, moons, and more, scientists will gain a better insight into the early stages of planet formation.
  4. This will most likely be the last mission of its kind for a while. Due to major cut backs and budget cuts, it’s hard to fund amazing missions such as this. As David W. Brown writes in his article “The Dark Future of American Space Exploration”: “There is nothing budgeted in the pipeline to take its place. Yesterday invested in today. But we are not investing in tomorrow.”

For the latest on the New Horizons mission, visit If you’re reading this now (July 14th), check out NASA Television for their “New Horizons ‘Phone Home’ Countdown!

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Solar Freakin’ Roadways: The Future of Travel Surfaces or Titanic Waste of Money?

You have probably noticed this video making its rounds on social media.  In the video you are introduced to the Julie and Scott Brusaw, the creators of Solar Roadways. It goes through how beneficial they could be for the economy and the environment and is a very entertaining video to boot. When I first watched this video, I was all about this idea. How cool would it be to jump start the economy with a huge infrastructure project like this?!

However, as Dave from EEVblog and Thunderf00t explain, many of the claims in the Solar Freakin’ Roadways video are unsubstantiated, untested, or even implausible.  For example, Scott Brusaw claims we will run out of asphalt in 50 years because it comes from fossil fuels.  Except asphalt is the most reused material with over 99% of removed asphalt getting reused.

The Brusaw’s have not produced any stop tests on this surface with vehicles traveling at real-world speeds and conditions. How will wet conditions affect the stopping distance on these solar roadways?  No one knows because no one has performed real-world tests.

Roads are dirty. There’s no avoiding that.  But what is going to happen to the glass surface when relatively hard dirt (usually small quartz grains) is driven on top of over and over again? It’s going to scratch the glass, making it less transparent (therefore allowing less light through, lowering the efficiency of the solar panels), wearing away the textured surface.  Check out the pictures of their proposed that surface:

Solar Roadway Surface

Solar Roadway Surface

It looks knobby, almost like bubble wrap.  Imagine what driving over that at 50 miles per hour would sound like!  It would be loud – kind of like driving in a Jeep Wrangler with knobby tires or driving in the rumble strip of a highway.  The sound alone, I think, is enough to keep this idea on the drawing board.

Thick glass will lower the solar panel output and make the LEDs really hard to see in broad daylight, especially when you consider the low angle at which they’ll be viewed.  Speaking of angles, a solar roadway would be lying flat on the ground, not facing toward the sun. This lowers the efficiency of the panels by up to 18%.

According to one calculation, the cost for replacing all of the roads in the lower 48 states would be $56 trillion, that’s over 3 times the United States’ GDP.

A different company, SolaRoad, has installed a 230-foot prototype solar pathway in the Netherlands. This solar pathway was featured in numerous mainstream media sources, including Popular Mechanics.  It has been active for six months and the data are in: it produced more energy than originally thought! But wait… what does that mean, exactly?

As EEVblog’s video explains, not that much.  As it turns out the pathway did not produce any more electricity than a similarly sized rooftop solar array. In fact, a rooftop solar array would have TWICE the output per area of a solar pathway at a fraction of the cost and inconvenience.

So what should we be putting our time and resources toward?

The short answer: above us, not below us.  There are many advantages to putting solar panels on top of parking lots like some stadiums and colleges are doing.  South Korea put solar panels above a bike lane that is located in the median of a major highway as shown below:

Korean Solar Highway

Korean Solar Highway

The Bottom Line

Putting solar panels under the road makes no sense at all and will never be more efficient than putting panels on a roof.  There are just too many disadvantages – both physical and financial – in building roadways (or bike paths) out of solar panels. Back to the drawing board with this one.

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Coffee: Is it Good For You or Bad For You??

It seems like every other week there’s a new study that says coffee is good for us, but then another study comes out that says it’s bad for us.  So which is it?

Well, it turns out the media doesn’t always tell us the whole story (who knew!).  Drinking coffee (in reasonable amounts) is actually good for you!  But what about the studies that say it’s bad for you?

Doctor Aaron Carol explains the evidence.

To The Research!

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Rain Drops Are Physically Impossible!

We’re all familiar with rain – moisture condensed from the atmosphere that falls visibly in individual drops. But did you know that rain drops actually go against the laws of physics?

MinuteEarth explains why it is physically impossible for raindrops to form simply through condensation alone.

For a more in-depth explanation, Henry from MinutePhysics will break it down.

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