January 27, 2015 by libroshombre
Vladimir Nabokov’s opinion that, “revelation can be more dangerous than revolution,” resonated after reading about several new scientific discoveries. The older I grow, the more often I appreciate the maxim: “ignorance is bliss.” It was oddly affirming to read in the journal “Microbiome” that researchers in the Netherlands found kissing your sweetie at least nine times a day ensures sharing “similar communities of bacteria.” However, swapping spit via your average ten-second kiss packs a potential 80 million bacteria wallop. If that doesn’t lower your libido, try the LiveScience.com article titled “Worse than Sex Parasite: Sex Parasite with Virus.”
The sexually transmitted disease called “trichomoniasis” is “more common than all the bacterial sexually transmitted diseases combined, annually affecting nearly 250 million men and women worldwide. It’s caused by viral parasite, Trichomonas vaginalis, that makes its human hosts more susceptible to HIV and HPV. 80 percent of Trichomanas virus are themselves infected with a parasite that doesn’t harm the virus. But when drugs kill infected Trichomanas with antibiotics, it releases its parasite viruses and these inflame human cells. The article linked to another by Charles Q. Choi titled “The 10 Most Diabolical and Disgusting Parasite,” which I’ll leave for another day.
Let’s talk about happier topics, like “The Benefits of Being Cold,” an Atlantic Magazine article by James Hamblin. A University Of California at Irvine professor, Wayne Hayes, has invented the “Cold Shoulder,” a vest fitted with ice packs. The concept is that our bodies burn calories to maintain the optimal 98.6 temperature, and Hayes claims wearing his vest burns 250 calories in an hour. Ray Cronise, a NASA researcher interested in the benefits of cold exposure, conceptualized this weight-loss theory. Cronise noticed that Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps consumed 12,000 calories a day during competition. Since running a marathon only burns 2,500 calories, he surmised that Phelps’ exposure to cold water must also use up calories, and subsequent research proved it.
Cronise research has been widely reported on in the media, and his latest idea is that part of our country’s obesity problem, along with chronic overeating, is chronic overheating. I read about him in a Wired article I downloaded through the public library’s Science Reference Center database. And then, over the same database, I listened to it being read by a computer with a convincing Australian accent, then a working class British one, and finally an American one, yet there’s still that tell-tale computer twang underlying it.
Between their trained librarians and marvelous access to reliable resources, public libraries are first-rate verifiers of weird science claims. For example, when you hear that malarial mosquitoes are evolving resistance to insecticide-infused bed netting, you can make sure that’s correct by reading a slew of professional-level articles about it in the Consumer Health Complete database. I couldn’t find confirmation of a recent University of Edinburgh study of 1,890 identical twins that claims “the twin with the stronger overall reading skills was found to have higher overall intellectual ability by age 7.” But I did verify that the American Academy of Pediatrics statement that “reading regularly with young children stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent-child relationships at a critical time in child development, which, in turn,builds language, literacy, and social-emotional skills that last a lifetime.”
Kids that read for the fun of it do better in school and in life. Their enhanced reading comprehension skills come into play everywhere from SAT exams to job and car manuals to leases and contracts. Numerous studies, and common sense, show that the way to grow a reader is two-fold: read to them daily, and allow them to see their caregivers read to themselves.
Some of you, like me, known what Strickland Gillilan meant when he wrote in his poem, “The Reading Mother,” “You may have tangible wealth untold;/ Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold./ Richer than I you can never be–/ I had a Mother who read to me.” And after all the speculation about super mosquitoes, nasty kisses, and virus-infested STDs, it’s worth reflecting on the fact that the shortest English-language poem is attributed to Gillilan. It’s titled “Lines on the Antiquity of Microbes”: “Fleas:/ Adam/ Had ‘em.”