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Exercise, Estrogen, and Energy

Dr. Angela Belcher, who led a team at M.I.T. to genetically engineer a virus that could split water molecules for energy.

Are those the three ‘E’s? Not really, but they’re in the news and I’m in an alliterative mood.

Mostly meaning I’ve consumed copious cups of coffee culminating in a conspicuously caffeinated cortex. All my studying is done for the night, so here are some fun news stories I saw.

Exercise is useless for losing weight

Pretty much what we already knew, but today’s New York Times confirms it in this article:

“In general, exercise by itself is pretty useless for weight loss” says Eric Ravussin, a professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., and an expert on weight loss.

And though it’s pretty useless for men, it’s almost entirely useless for women because it makes us want to eat more to compensate for the burned calories:

In physiological terms, the results β€œare consistent with the paradigm that mechanisms to maintain body fat are more effective in women,” Braun and his colleagues wrote.

Life is so unfair. At least we live longer than men. And have more common sense. πŸ™‚

(Okay, I was tired and over-caffeinated when I wrote that. The truth is that neither sex is smarter than the other or has more common sense in every area. We women are generally smarter than men in some ways, and men tend to be smarter than us in other ways. We also have different styles of thinking. I wrote a blog about it: “Are Men Smarter Than Women?“)

On the other hand, estrogen protects brain cells

Of course, apart from exercise, we have our advantages. Estrogen not only protects brain cells but promotes memory and learning. Most people don’t realize that both women and men have estrogen in their bodies, just as both women and men have testosterone.

However, women have more estrogen and men have more testosterone. Low estrogen levels have been linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder and other mental problems in both sexes.

And helped make viruses split water molecules

Okay, maybe that was a stretch. But a team led by Dr. Angela Belcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has discovered how to use viruses to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The result is a potential energy source because you can, basically, burn the hydrogen in the oxygen to get energy.

It’s pretty exciting. The team genetically engineered a virus to split water molecules. That was impressive enough. But they discovered that over time, the viruses would clump together, making them lose some of their ability to split water molecules. The solution? They embedded the viruses in a microgel matrix to keep them apart and in position. Remember, these are incredibly tiny organisms, only a few molecules thick.

Could Dr. Belcher have done it without the extra intellectual boost she got from estrogen? And more important, how does that affect her ability to lose weight by exercising?

Those are things we will probably never know. πŸ™‚


Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.

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  1. David
    April 20, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    My dad went to MIT. I have his graduation ring and a watch with the emblem embedded in the face. I wore it for two years after he died. Otherwise, all I have to say about all of these snippets…Isn’t God great?

    • Rinth de Shadley
      April 20, 2010 at 6:11 pm

      Hi, David —

      Yes He is, even at M.I.T.! πŸ™‚

      I’m sorry that you lost your dad, but you’ll see him again someday. And he’ll tell you how proud he is of you. In the meantime, you can treasure your memories of him, along with the the ring and the watch.

      • David
        April 21, 2010 at 5:10 pm

        When my dad entered the work force and settled in New Orleans, he became the first interviewer of southern candidates for MIT. In those days, a young man (seldom women) would come to our door dressed like he was going on a date, jacket and tie, and my Dad would vet him for the entrance committee. Those were the days!

      • Rinth de Shadley
        April 21, 2010 at 6:56 pm

        Well if you get any extras, send them my way. I almost never get a guy in a jacket and tie! Though I don’t really mind it that much if a guy dresses casually. It puts a little less pressure on me. A little less, anyway. πŸ™‚

      • David
        April 22, 2010 at 12:23 pm

        You would have been a bit too young back then…this was in the 60’s/70’s. I don’t dress up in suit and tie anymore, except to go to a job interview. I have some really neat shirts bought in the Philippines (http://www.seasite.niu.edu/Tagalog/Cynthia/costumes/barong_tagalog.htm#Barong%20Tagalog) when I need something dressy. I wore my best one for Easter Vigil.

        I also quit wearing t-shirts except around the house when I’m doing chores-older men look silly in them. I wear nice Hawaiian shirts to work, and the occasional sports jersey on Friday.

        That said, we always like to see women dressed up! πŸ™‚

  2. David
    April 21, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    Another thought…then how did Valerie Bertinelli do it??? πŸ™‚

    • Rinth de Shadley
      April 21, 2010 at 6:53 pm

      She starred in a movie I recently saw on (don’t laugh) the Lifetime cable channel where, as my Dad says, it’s all drama all the time and men are no da** good. πŸ™‚

      But she looked great. I hope that I look so good when I’m her age.

    • David
      April 22, 2010 at 12:17 pm

      I won’t laugh, though I don’t watch that channel or Spike either. I gravitate toward the Discovery suite, and HGTV and Food Network. Lately watching hockey playoffs (Go Sharks!) I kinda lost interest in Dancing with the Stars since they seem to always have to have one of Hugh Hefner’s stable on the show. I’ll probably watch again if she gets booted. My problem with her now, is that she still acts like she did 20 years ago…you know ‘that’ Playboy way. I hate it! It took me down a slippery slope for so many years…(What I hate about it is that I got fooled.)

      I remember Valerie when I was a late teen and she looked great then, and like she hasn’t changed now. I hope you do, too.

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