Category Archives: Science

ME/CFS: Why There’s Less Energy, Even on Good Days

The Emerging Energy Paradigm, Simplified

This post contains the narration to this slideshow: 

Why do people with myalgic encephalomyelitis, or chronic fatigue syndrome, have less energy than healthy people – even on relatively good days? On bad days – after overexertion – everything goes haywire, but why do they have less energy on ordinary days?

Several bits of recent research converge on an answer to this basic question. Continue reading

Nutrients reduce harm from air pollution

Cyclists and pedestrians don’t emit pollution, but they ingest it—especially particulate matter (PM) from cars. Happily, recent research shows that various nutrients can offset some of the damage from these tiny airborne particles.

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Do chimp fathers protect their offspring?

To some evolutionary researchers, parental love is a mechanism to foster the transfer of genes through successive generations. Feeling emotionally attached to our children, most humans feed and protect our offspring and prepare them to thrive as adults, including as breeders. But when did this start for fathers – did our common ancestor with chimps and bonobos do the same? Recent research among chimpanzees suggests that the answer is yes. Continue reading

Seeing snakes made easy

snakysnakersonHere‘s interesting research on the propensity of humans and other primates to spot snakes, even sneaky ones. Apparently, there’s a Snake Detection Theory (SDT) that says that our vision has evolved to discern camouflaged but dangerous animals, particularly snakes. To test the SDT, researchers in Japan processed photos of various animals so that they were progressively more blurred; in this way, they could compare how much clarity was needed before research subjects could identify the animal. The other animals were supposedly nonthreatening ones, such as cats and birds. (Not everyone agrees!) They found that people saw snakes in photos that were blurrier than the ones in which they first recognized other animals.

Assuming that the images were truly equivalent, this result bolsters the SDT. And this suggests that our ancestors lived with individuals who didn’t have this snake-seeing facility and thus died of snakebites before reproducing – that is, as children.

Chimps can remix behaviors to increase efficiency

The list of distinctive human abilities keeps getting shorter. Once again, our close cousin the chimpanzee has chipped away a bit of our uniqueness. A new study demonstrates that these great apes possess the ability to mix elements of existing techniques to improve efficiency—a part of “cumulative culture.” Continue reading