Senior Mumblings

It seems that pills, at least vitamin supplements, are less effective than food.[Link] The latest report on this is oriented towards antioxidants but my memory is that this is not original – reports of the lesser efficacy of pills date back several years. While this is good news in the sense that it tends to decrease the number of pills I have to take every day – the physicians write chits for that aplenty enough, thank you – it worries me enough because I already spend a considerable portion of each day in food preparation. With regard to the latter I do have to admit to being remiss in that I have not taken the time and effort to pose food preparation, with all of the medical constraints, as a linear programming problem. Of course, to make that work, I would have to give up even the small amount of restaurant eating I do because of most restaurant’s silence on the subject of nutrition.

Somewhat more interesting, researchers at Bonn U [Link] have determined that neurotransmitters are secreted over a broader area than had been previous thought. As a physicist this has always bothered me, in fact, since I took human anatomy and physiology in high shul. The question is always how does the neuron get the neurotransmitter to the dendrites, and only to the dendrites, of the adjacent target neuron?  There are no channels, like for blood and lymph, so one is largely left with a diffusive mechanism, which tends to be highly isotropic in the absence of external forces.  And unfortunately, physiologists and even academic physicians tend to be poorly educated in physics so that even posing such a question is difficult.

On a happier note, researchers at Columbia U have determined that the addition of a small quantity of balsamic vinegar enhances the taste of beer.[Link] Sadly the reportage is not very quantitative nor does it expound on whether other forms of vinegar are effective. The active ingredient in any vinegar is acetic acid but as with many taste things, its the impurities that are critical, as any imbiber of whisky will relate and affirm. Sadly the article was more concerned with the details of blind testing – which are admittedly important – to the point of effectively losing sight of one of the fundamental benefits of sedentaryism, the consumption of beer.

Which leads us to the hypothesis that winter is the better time of year for beer consumption because shivering raises caloric demands. Hence beer can be enjoyed in winter with less concern for waste calories.

Finally, I have noted in previous blots that there is a disparity in perception of what seniors are like. The so-called baby boomers are different from our predecessors, and apparently also different from how our narcissistic children will be. An excellent article recognizing this is in the CBC feed this morning.[Link] Now if someone who works on senior programs will pay some attention?

Finally, a neat web site where brain maps of humans and other animal species are displayed.[Link] Nt as neat as Hubble Site but definitely closer to home.