You’re five miles into a hike with a group of friends. You’ve never been hiking before and it sounded adventurous and fun and a great way to to get out and have fun with friends, enjoy being outside, and relax for a bit. And you’re having a great time with the exception of a weird feeling in your hands. Your wedding ring and watch are getting tight and your skin feels taut. Your arms feel bloated and you look down and sure enough you’ve got big old sausage fingers. Are you dying? Do you need to turn around and race to the hospital? Maybe you have cell service and after you post a quick pic to insta you do a quick WebMD search. It says you have heart failure or this weird thing called thrombosis. Now you’re worried and want to go back so you can do more internet searching before you head to the ER. When you get home you dig deeper in your internet searching and get more specific. Instead of just searching hand swelling, you search had hands swell while hiking and find an Outside Magazine article, where you may learn that you’re suffering from hyponatremia. You find a facebook thread of loads of confident expert internet commenters recommending the cure-all tip of hydration or electrolytes.
But nearly all this information you’ll find is absolutely, jarringly, painfully wrong, so I hope this article becomes the one to top out on the google searches so maybe some people will learn the real answer, and learn a real solution. You don’t have heart failure, you’re not alone, and you don’t need to hydrate. Continue reading Why your hands swell while hiking: the real reason→
I used to cite the simple math of calories in<calories out=weight loss as an argument for the ease of weight loss. I’ll be the first one to admit that I’ve believed and said some extraordinarily stupid stuff. It sometimes takes me a while, and I may never learn, but I have to get over my insecurity of admitting I was wrong and admit that this claim about weight loss was fundamentally naive. Continue reading Weight loss isn’t simply a math problem→
Since I was a kid, my dad would inform me of the recent dietary trend, from entire dietary restrictions to minor single food alterations. He would read about it in Men’s Journal and then tell me, “Oh, avocados are very good for you,” or “bread is very bad for you,” with no explanation further than that. It could have been attributed to the most recent journal article on the subject, some undergraduate run correlation study, or it could have just been the musings of a physician who overstepped their authority. I used to think that the reason these adjectives, good and bad, bugged me so much when applied to nutrition because they oversimplified things, but recently I realized that it’s because it massively overcomplicates nutrition. Continue reading The hallmark of a healthy diet→
There are two types of opinions with respect to science: that it can be used to explain everything and the alternative that its scope is limited. I know a lot of us are tremendously resistant to the belief that science can explain everything. We crave mystery in our world and we often believe science takes that away. But what sometimes we fail to realize about science is that more often than not, it creates mystery where there previously was none, it creates questions more than answers. Scientists themselves are fueled by the mystery surrounding our universe and the entities within it. It is exactly the lack of knowledge that drives them. But they base their search on the premise that knowledge can be obtained, and that is why they keep looking. Continue reading Science!→
Just over a year ago I set my personal record for 800 yards. It was nothing to brag about, but having been known as a chaser throughout my triathlon career, it was nice to finally be able to come out of the water with the leaders. At 9:38, a personal record by over twenty-five seconds, I was absolutely ecstatic. I was thrilled that my swimming was finally taking off after years of flopping around in the water. But at the same time I wanted to know how I made such a giant improvement in a matter of a couple months. I looked back at my training and it looked consistent as ever. My form had adapted only slightly, but that day something felt different. I felt like I was on top of the water; I felt absolutely fatigue-free for the first six hundred yards. My flip turns were smooth and my stoke held strong. But what led to all this if my training and stroke improvement very likely didn’t? I was swimming with intestinal gas, loads of it. Seriously, I think it was because I had to fart. Really. Goddamn. Badly. Continue reading Swimming with intestinal gas→
Nearly every day I hear of some case of sexism in the world, why it should end, and how we are to combat it. The adult world shuns this sexism. But after being surrounded by kids the past few months, I realized that it is no wonder adults are often sexist. We raise our kids that way. We teach them differences between genders that are not innate. We encourage boys to play with construction toys and discourage them from princesses. In this light it seems no wonder that engineering schools are flooded with males. I hear a sexist comment nearly every hour in my life surrounded by children and their parents, and yet no one acknowledges it, or is even aware of it. Prepubescent children are nearly identical biologically and the behaviors that we tie to them and differentiate with them are almost completely trained. I wonder too how much of these ties later in life are due to this sexism ingrained in them from birth. Continue reading Sexism in kids→
Yesterday I listened to a talk from Sam Harris on the subject of free will. It was a brilliant speech, one that I definitely feel is worth watching and may clarify some elements of my last post. What he is addressing is that not only does free will not exist but that it could not exist, that the concept itself is impossible, that to imagine free will is muddled and intangible. Harris spent a large portion of his speech outlining the benefits to knowing that we do not have free will, how an acknowledgement of this reality could help retain fear but abolish hatred, how it could help inspire a reconstructing of our justice system, and many other reasons for adopting an awareness of our true freedom. I was challenged the other day on my analysis of life and my inspiration in life coming almost purely from a cosmological perspective. While Harris supplied us with an adequate and logical reason for understanding that our thoughts are not our own, I wondered about the benefit of analyzing everything from a cosmological perspective. Continue reading Cosmological significance→
Imagine watching nuclear fusion come to be standard as energy on the earth. You stand by as you witness one of the greatest advancements in humankind-the transition to sustainability. Imagine, with the discovery of better methods of space travel, abandoning our terrestrial life to become space-faring, trans-galactic beings. Imagine interacting with beings from another planet, learning their language, their culture, their technology. Imagine studying their biology, making friends on another planet, learning their planet’s history, and having access to information about the universe that we have not yet acquired. Imagine watching our planet develop, new species forming, continents shifting. What if I were to tell you that all of this could potentially happen within your lifetime? Continue reading Biological immortality→
Yesterday I rode for the first time in months. I ventured down south of the James and rode on the beautiful low traffic roads that I remember once believing were hilly. It was an amazing feeling to be mobile and fast again. Despite the occasional tweak in my ankle, the pain couldn’t compare to what I experience when running or swimming. And the pain from my lack of training was an adequate distraction. For the first time in many, many years, if not ever, I was passed on a solo ride by another cyclist. It was awkward as hell and I’ll admit my heart sank when I heard the whir of his spinning chain slip by. I felt broken but I remembered I had vowed to not let my insecurity be my motivation and I continued to enjoy my ride. With my hairy, skinny legs, I was determined to accept the state where I had arrived with acceptance and pride.
I had my MRI yesterday morning. Ever since learning about the basic of an MRI in my organic chemistry class, I have been fascinated with that form of medical imaging. For the twenty-five minutes I lay with the magnets clambering around my leg, all I could think about was the amazing feat of human knowledge and engineering to be able to create such a machine. Continue reading Badass pictures→
People usually start thinking I’m crazy when I get exited about existence, from the smallest to the biggest, from biology to astronomy, life to death. But it’s all so goddamn amazing, I don’t know how to keep it all pent-up. I’ve tried before but I get antsy. So now I’ll risk embarrassment for the potential reward of someone responding with equal excitement.
Think about how crazy awesome all this is. Look at your hand. You are composed of atoms. Everything inside you is atoms: protons and neutrons in a core surrounded by spinning electrons with an ability to exist in two places at once. I mean, holy hell. If that isn’t enough reason to always be happy, I don’t know what is. Electrons don’t orbit a nucleus like a planet does a star. Instead an electron orbits in a chaotic pattern that we define in probability terms as orbitals. They are simply our best guess as to where the electron may be.