Category Archives: Science


In anticipation of tonight’s release of the second installment of “The Hobbit,” someone asks the important question: How is the lovable Gollum so life-like? In this Youtube, the science behind creating Gollum is explained.



Police 1: Bad guys 0.

Bad guys are clever too. In theory, if the police sit back at too far a distance, the bad guys could pull over, quickly pop-off the device, and be on their merry way.

Need deep-brain cleansing?

The mystery of sleep has fascinated neurobiologists for decades. The fundamental question is what is the purpose of sleep? Findings in a new study by Lulu Xie et al. 2013 suggests that one purpose of sleep might be to clear neurotoxic waste that accumulates in the brain during daily activity. Skeletal muscle senses overuse differently than the brain does. The brain detects increased levels of metabolites and mental fatigue ensues, ultimately leading to sleep which lowers the levels back down to baseline. The physiologic mechanism allowing metabolite clearance from the brain may be regulated in part by fluctuating volumes of cerebral spinal fluid (illustrated below).


Figure: cerebral spinal fluid volume varies during sleep and awake states. Source Sleep It Out (Suzana Herculano-Houzel).

Mentally fatigued and fuzzy thinking? Best hit the hay and wake-up in the morning with a clear head on your shoulders.

Nuts I tell you!

Long-term health benefits of nuts:

A new study by Bao et al. 2013 found an association between eating nuts and living longer. With this good news at hand, I expect Grandpa to go nuts! Tonight I hope Grandpa cracks open a bag of pistachios and expresses a no-holds-barred attitude with a big smile upon his face.

As the author’s point out: “These findings show an association, not causality. Controlled, randomized studies are the next step.” Therefore, go nuts, but not too nuts…