Hugh Pickens writes "Millions of Americans don't engage in much exercise, if they complete any at all and asked why, a majority of respondents, in survey after survey, say, 'I don't have time.' Now Gretchen Reynolds reports that instead of wondering just how much exercise people really need in order to gain health and fitness, a group of scientists in Canada are turning that issue on its head and asking, how little exercise do we need to maintain fitness and the answer appears to be, a lot less than most of us think — provided we're willing to work a bit. Most people have heard of intervals, or repeated, short, sharp bursts of strenuous activity, interspersed with rest periods. Almost all competitive athletes strategically employ a session or two of interval training every week to improve their speed and endurance. Researchers have developed a version of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that involves one minute of strenuous effort, at about 90 percent of a person's maximum heart rate (which most of us can estimate, very roughly, by subtracting our age from 220), followed by one minute of easy recovery. The effort and recovery are repeated 10 times, for a total of 20 minutes and the interval training is performed twice a week. Despite the small time commitment of this modified HIIT program, after several weeks of practicing it, both the unfit volunteers and the cardiac patients showed significant improvements in their health and fitness. 'A growing body of evidence demonstrates that high-intensity interval training can serve as an effective alternate to traditional endurance-based training, inducing similar or even superior physiological adaptations in healthy individuals and diseased populations, at least when compared on a matched-work basis.'"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
kkleiner writes "A group of 15 patients suffering from either epileptic seizures or brain tumors volunteered to allow scientists to insert electrodes into their brains. After neurosurgeons cut a hole in their skulls, the research team placed 256 electrodes over the part of the brain that processes auditory signals called the temporal lobe. The scientists then played words, one at a time, to the patients while recording brain activity in the temporal lobe. A computer was able to reconstruct the original word 80 to 90 percent of the time."
microphage writes "Monsanto went after hundreds of farmers for infringing on their patented seed after audits revealed that their farms had contained their product — as a result of routine pollination by animals and acts of nature. Unable to afford a proper defense, competing small farms have been bought out by the company in droves. As a result, Monsanto saw their profits increase by the hundreds of millions over the last few years as a result. Between 1997 and 2010, Monsanto tackled 144 organic farms with lawsuits and investigated roughly 500 plantations annually during that span with a so-called 'seed police.'"
phantomfive writes "In a study of Connecticut pediatricians published last year, some 30% of 133 doctors said they had asked a family to leave their practice for vaccine refusal. Pediatricians are getting tired of families avoiding vaccines, which puts their children at higher risk of disease. From the article: 'Pediatricians fed up with parents who refuse to vaccinate their children out of concern it can cause autism or other problems increasingly are "firing" such families from their practices, raising questions about a doctor's responsibility to these patients. Medical associations don't recommend such patient bans, but the practice appears to be growing, according to vaccine researchers.'"
garyebickford writes "As The ETH Lausanne says: 'The proliferation of debris orbiting the Earth – primarily jettisoned rocket and satellite components – is an increasingly pressing problem for spacecraft, and it can generate huge costs. To combat this scourge, the Swiss Space Center at EPFL is announcing today the launch of CleanSpace One, a project to develop and build the first installment of a family of satellites specially designed to clean up space debris.' This looks like a reasonable method, although I think that at some future point it might be useful to just put at least the smaller stuff in a higher 'parking orbit' for later destruction or recycling. This way you wouldn't lose one vacuum cleaner for each satellite retrieved. And much later down the road, it might be useful to collect bigger units — expended boosters, for example — as raw materials and/or containers. The cost of getting the mass into space has already been spent. I optimistically foresee a future where much of the stuff sent into orbital space has a recycling function built into the design."
Harperdog writes "Dawn Stover has a fascinating article on the newest nuclear power plant to get approval: the Blue Castle Project on the Green River in Utah. Stover details the enormous damage done by nuke plants on local water systems, and points out that the 1-2 punch of climate change and cooling systems is already taking a toll on the ability of nuclear power plants to operate, because in summer the water they use to cool systems with is too hot even before they use it (Tennessee Valley Authority is the example). "
ananyo writes "The prevailing scientific view holds that life began in hydrothermal vents in the deep sea. But a controversial study (abstract) suggests that inland pools of condensed and cooled geothermal vapor have the ideal characteristics for the origin of life. The study hinges on the observation that the composition of the cytoplasm of modern cells is very different to that of seawater. On the other hand, the mix of metal ions in cytoplasm is (almost exclusively) found where where hot hydrothermal fluid brings the ions to the surface — places such as geysers and mud pots. There are a number of problems with the study, however — for instance, a lack of land 4 billion years ago would have made it difficult for life to start in such pools."
sciencehabit writes "The average American uses enough water each year to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool, and global agriculture consumes a whopping 92% of all fresh water used annually. Those are the conclusions of the most comprehensive analysis to date of global water use, which also finds that one-fifth of humankind's water consumption flows across international borders as 'virtual water' — the water needed to produce a commodity, such as meat or electronics, if the ultimate consumers were to make it themselves rather than outsource its growth or manufacture."
ananyo writes "Two years ago, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announced that it would release details of about 13,500 molecules that had already been shown to inhibit the malaria-causing Plasmodium falciparum parasite to some degree. The molecular structures were published in May 2010, along with similar data from Novartis, based in Basel, Switzerland, and the St Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Researchers were encouraged to test the combined library of more than 20,000 compounds to pinpoint potential drugs, and then find out how they work so that the molecules could be tweaked to enhance their activity. Such 'open innovation' efforts have since been launched, including an effort unveiled last month which will see 11 companies sharing their intellectual property. But are such efforts working? The answer, judging by the GSK effort, seems to be a cautious 'yes.'"
An anonymous reader writes "A team of researchers led by McGill neuroscientist Terence Coderre, who is also affiliated with the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, has found the key to understanding how memories of pain are stored in the brain. More importantly, the researchers are also able to suggest how these memories can be erased, making it possible to ease chronic pain."
Zothecula writes "The European Space Agency's new Vettore Europeo di Generazione Avanzata — or Vega — launch vehicle lifted off from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, at 10 a.m. GMT on February 13 on its maiden flight. Designed for launching small payloads, Vega is intended to complement Europe's existing family of launchers that includes the Ariane 5 heavy-lifter and Soyuz medium-class launchers. The qualification flight, designated VV01, saw the first Vega successfully carry nine satellites into orbit."
FleaPlus writes "NASA and the White House have officially released their FY2013 budget proposal, the first step of the Congressional budget process. As mentioned previously on Slashdot, the proposal decreases Mars science funding (including robotic Mars missions) down to $361M, arguably due in part to cost overruns by the Webb telescope. The proposal also lowers funding for the in-house SLS rocket and Orion capsule to $2.8B, while doubling funding for the ongoing competitive development of commercial crew rockets/vehicles to $830M. The ranking member of the Senate science committee, Sen. Hutchison (R-TX), expressed her frustration with 'cutting SLS and Orion to pay for commercial crew,' as it would allegedly make it impossible for SLS to act as a backup for the commercial vehicles."
xmas2003 writes "Several months ago, I posted to Slashdot about being able to see ultraviolet light after cataract surgery. While a lot of the discussion whimsically discussed the best way for 'Captain UV' or 'UltraMan' to use this 'super-power,' there were some people who were skeptical or (incorrectly) said this is Tetrachromatic vision. I've subsequently done more testing using an Oriel Instruments MS257 Monochromator and was able to see color down to 350nm — below the usual ~400nm limit of the visual spectrum. It's also easily demonstrable with a pair of 400nm and 365nm UV flashlights. Some readers who also have UV vision commented this can be quite annoying at black-lit Disney Rides, Halloween Haunted Houses, etc. Fortunately for me, it's just an interesting oddity so far. Along those lines, some interesting related stories about using UV vision during World War II and Star Gazing. Finally, many/most people end up getting vision debilitating cataracts, so my experience having a Crystalens implanted after cataract surgery may be informative."
The Bad Astronomer writes "The White House released its proposed NASA budget for FY13, and while much of it remains the same from last year, one particular program got devastating news: Mars exploration got a crippling $226 million cut, more than 38% of its budget. This means killing two future missions outright and threatening others. The reasons for this are complex, including huge cost overruns on James Webb Space Telescope and the Curiosity Mars rover, but it also points to a political lack of valuing science in America." A followup to news from before the budget was released, this has details on the actual proposed cuts and re-allocations.
astroengine writes "The European space observatory Planck has discovered something peculiar about our galaxy: it's humming in microwaves and, for the moment, the source of the 'hard' radiation surrounding the galaxy's core is a complete mystery. Also, the Milky Way is home to previously unknown 'islands' of cold carbon monoxide gas, helping astronomers uncover the distribution of star-forming regions."