Zothecula writes “Fans of the film Blade Runner may remember a scene in which the maker of an artificial snake is identified by a microscopic serial number on one of its scales. Well, in a rare case of present-day technology actually surpassing that predicted in a movie, we’ve now gone one better — bar codes on embryos. Scientists from Spain’s Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), along with colleagues from the Spanish National Research Council, have successfully developed an identification system in which mouse embryos and oocytes (egg cells) are physically tagged with microscopic silicon bar code labels. They expect to try it out on human embryos and oocytes soon.”
About two-fifths of marathon runners “hit the wall” on the big day. That means they completely deplete their body’s stash of readily available energy, which makes them feel wiped out and severely limits their running pace; it sometimes forces people out of the run completely.
Marathoner and biomedical engineer Benjamin Rapoport has been physically and mentally struggling with this phenomenon for years, and had the bright idea to turn it into a research project. He published a mathematical theory in the journal PLoS Computational Biology describing how and why runners hit the wall–and how they can avoid it.
By taking into account the energy it takes to run a marathon, the body’s energy storage capacity and the runner’s power, the researchers were able to accurately calculate how many energy-rich carbohydrates a runner needed to eat before race day and how fast to run to complete all 26.2 miles (42 kilometers). [LiveScience]
Rapoport’s studies of marathoners were prompted by his desire to run in the Boston Marathon in 2005, and his teacher’s desire for him to be in class. In return for missing class, Rapoport was tasked with giving a class lecture on the physiology of the marathoner. That same year, Rapoport himself hit the wall while running the New York Marathon.
“It feels a bit like you might feel if you’re on a crash diet,” Rapoport said. “Except that when you diet, it happens over the course of a few days, whereas a runner experiences it in the course of a few minutes.” [LiveScience]
The main limitation of a marathon runner’s ability is his or her aerobic capacity–how much oxygen the muscles can take up and keep working. The other important factors are how much energy is takes the person to run, and how much energy they have stored in an easy-to-access form, glycogen. By using estimations of these numbers, Rapoport was able to create a mathematical model of how long and fast any runner could run and how much they would need to fuel up in order to finish the race.
“This is a unique area that hadn’t been addressed in the medical literature in any substantial way,” says Mark Cucuzzella, a physician and running coach based in Harpers Ferry, W.Va. “He’s lending some hard numbers to what experienced runners and coaches have been doing.” [Science News]
By estimating their aerobic ability and other factors in the model, runners can estimate what their pace should be to complete a marathon in the best time.
Rapoport’s model also shows that a slightly faster pace can be maintained by consuming a midrace snack. This carb-eating strategy can help, but it can’t win races, since the body can store only so much fuel, says Cucuzzella, chief medical consultant for the Air Force Marathon and a marathoner himself. “It’s not about how much sugar or spaghetti you eat the night before a race,” he says. “There’s a critical pace.” [Science News]
And while following this formula won’t enable everyone to run a marathon without training, Rapoport has put an easy-to-use version of his unwieldy formula online to help trained runners calculate their ideal pace.
Image: Flickr/Pablo 2008-09
As someone who ostensibly tries to keep fit, I’ve found the best way to pretend to lose weight is to fiddle around with iPhone apps during my workout. First, it reduces the mind-crushing pain of exercise and allows me to go to a place in myself where I can avoid the boredom of exertion.
To that end I decided to test out the new Nike+ GPS app alongside an old favorite, RunKeeper.
Both apps have their pluses and minuses. Clearly RunKeeper is aimed squarely at the professional or at least obsessive runner, while the Nike+ software is aimed at a more casual user. Both have their value in the training arsenals of the average runner, and many of the hardware-specific features of Nike+ have been stripped out of the new GPS version, thereby putting both apps on equal footing.
bowman9991 writes “Even after Blade Runner, A Scanner Darkly, Total Recall, the Minority Report, Paycheck, Impostor and Next, it appears Hollywood’s lust for movies based on Philip K. Dick material continues. The Adjustment Bureau, starring Matt Damon, Emily Blunt and Terence Stamp is the latest, and features some classic Dick themes, including the fragile nature of reality and a fight against a world controlled and manipulated by powerful unseen entities. When Congressman David Norris meets the love of his life after a political defeat, he must peel back the layers of reality to discover why a mysterious group is so desperate to make sure they never meet again. He is up against the agents of fate itself — the men of The Adjustment Bureau. The Adjustment Bureau adaptation follows news that Terry Gilliam will adapt Dick’s novel The World Jones Made, that Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said and Ubik are being adapted and that a remake of Total Recall is being developed by the ironically named Original Films Studio.”