#Minoan #Astronomy Spring Constellations #BronzeAge

This is the fourth in a series about imagined Minoan constellations. Since the discovery of Knossos by Arthur Evans in 1900, many sites have been discovered, including the exceptionally well-preserved city of Akrotiri on the island of Thera (now Santorini). However, the written record in Linear A is sparse and indecipherable. Academics have differing interpretations of the evidence. Some see kings and palaces, while others see priestesses and temples. These posts are historical fiction and in preparation for a novel set around 1500 BCE near the peak of the Minoan civilization.

This post concerns the constellations that rise with the sun during the Spring. Also included is the one additional constellation that first rises around the Spring equinox and is generally visible in the night sky during the Spring and Summer.

spring-1-spring-flowers-akrotiri

For the first Spring constellation (Taurus), I’ve chosen is the Spring flowers fresco from Akrotiri (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akrotiri_(Santorini)). Akrotiri, like Pompeii about 1,500 years later, was well preserved under a thick layer of volcanic ash.

spring-2-young-boxers-akrotiri

The next constellation (Gemini) is based on the Boxer fresco, also from Akrotiri. Even though the fresco shows long hair, I’ve imagined this as young initiates, who have shaved heads. The initiates play a larger role in the novel, so I honored them with a constellation.

spring-3-rhyton-triton-shape

The final Spring constellation (Cancer) is a triton a sculpture from the Archeological Museum of Agios Minolaos  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archaeological_Museum_of_Agios_Nikolaos). Living on an island, the Minoan were well acquainted with the sea and used many marine motifs in their art and pottery.

winterspring-horns-of-consecration

Finally, I have selected the Horns of Consecration (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horns_of_Consecration) for the constellation Orion which would have been visible during the Spring and Summer nights. I only used part of Orion, but kept his belt which is the most visible part. The Horns were displayed extensively throughout all Minoan sites, and connect back to the bull jumping rituals.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this imagining of the Minoan zodiac.

 

Categories: Bronze Age, Crete, Minoans | Tags: | Leave a comment

#Bat Wings #Chiroptera /|\^o^/|\ (#Science #Biology #Anatomy #Evolution)

(Fruit Bat)PikiWiki_Israel_11327_Wildlife_and_Plants_of_Israel-Bat-003

This is some of the research that contributed to the recently released Darwin’s Paradox: An international science mysteryhttp://amzn.to/2k8qJgi. Bats have a major role in this books, also the people who try to protect them when they become a target of fearful people during the pandemic.

In mammals, teeth provide quick and easy information as to diet, and an endless source of argument as to whether homo sapiens sapiens (that’s you) are carnivores or herbivores. Of course, the answer to this argument is that we are omnivores.

Tigre_d'Asie_à_robe_blanche

Sharp, pointed teeth indicate a carnivorous diet. In fact, most felines are obligate carnivores, so putting you pet cat on a vegan diet will kill it.

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Flat, grinding teeth indicate a plant based diet. This horse is a typical herbivore and loves a vegan diet.

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Often examining isolated characteristics can tell a lot about an animal’s environment, diet, and place in the food chain. Darwin famously famously supported his case for evolution be cataloging the beaks of finches.

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In the case of bats, wings provide instant information about environment, diet, and prey. Most bats are designed on the model of jet fighter for maneuverability. They use this to avoid obstacles when flying inside caves or through trees.

They also, like fighter jets, use sonar (radar) and agility to track and capture flying targets. These bats have relatively short wings. The same can be seen in birds that live in forest and jungle environments.

1024px-USAF_Lockheed_C-141C_Starlifter_65-0248

Alternately wings might be long. Relative large wings optimize for distance flying.

Fruit bats have long wings appropriate for their stationary targets (fruit) and look more like cargo transports or bombers. Carrion birds like vultures and condors also follow this model.

So short, stubby wings: think jet fighter, and large, long wings think bombers. Evolution is warfare, and the right equipment in the right situation is victorious.

pub-shot-dp-13-cropped

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#Minoan #Astronomy Winter Constellations #BronzeAge

Bronze age Crete is a tantalizing period for historians and archeologists. So much is known from the archeological record since the discovery of Knossos by Arthur Evans starting in 1900, but the written record is sparse and indecipherable. This mysterious language, Linear A, leaves opportunity for both academics and authors to imagine different scenarios. I belong to the latter group and this series of posts is best classified as historical fiction and in preparation for a historical fiction novel.

winter-1-knossos-bull-jumper

These are the three constellations that the Minoans would have seen rising at dawn in the winter, the period between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. The first constellation (Zodiac name: Aquarius) is the Bull Jumper (above) from the Bull Leaping fresco in the Knossos Palace (or as some believe, Temple) on Crete. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bull-leaping. Note: the constellations appear are different times of the year than currently due to 3,500 years of precession.

winter-2-papyrus

For the next constellation of winter, I’ve chosen Papyrus Fresco from Akrotiri. This constellation is based on the current Pisces constellation. Akrotiri is the source of much of this artwork, as, like Pompeii about 1,500 years later, much of the city was well preserved under a thick layer of volcanic ash.

winter-3-minoan-bee

For the final winter constellation (Aries), we have the Bee. The Minoans kept bees and Mycenaeans likely learned the skill from Crete and brought it to Greece. The Greek goddess of bees Melissa likely came from a similar Minoan god.

Those are the imagined Winter constellations for Crete at the time of the Thera explosion.

Categories: Bronze Age, Crete | Tags: | Leave a comment

#Evolution of #Flight by #Chiroptera (aka #Bats)

Big-eared-townsend-fledermaus

This is some of the research that contributed to the recently released Darwin’s Paradox: An international science mysteryhttp://amzn.to/2k8qJgi. Bats have a major role in this books, also the people who try to protect them when they become a target of fearful people during the pandemic.

An important principle of evolution is that evolution does not plan. There is no such thing as a species evolving in a direction that is not superior to the status quo just to be better prepared for some eventual benefit later.

This is important when thinking about flight, or any evolutionary change that makes use of several systems (such as the skeletal system, cardiovascular system, and the respiratory system), or which requires significant anatomical modifications. Both of these are true for flight.

1024px-Darwin's_finches_by_Gould

While speciation, based on size and color (canis and felis) or beaks (Darwin’s finches), can be understood by a few, small genetic changes, the evolution of flight is more complex. However, in spite of the complexity, flight has evolved at least four independent times: insects, pterosaurs, bats, and birds.

Homology

Flight requires both the development of wings and changes to cardiorespiratory systems to support the short-term effort required for aerial takeoff.

Now, from the no planning principle, we know that in the millennia before flight is achieved, the intermediate changes must be an improvement at every step of the way. In the case of flight, there are two major theories for an evolutionary path to flight.

Domestic_Pigeon_Flock

The first path to flight (ground up) assumes an animal that lives on the ground and evolves to run faster building up their cadriorespiratory endurance and uses their hands to catch prey expanding the area of their hands. Over time this animal benefits from hopping and gliding and finally true flight. This seems to be a good theory for birds.

Quetzalcoatlus07

The second path to flight (height down) assumes an arboreal animal that lives in the trees and first jumps down on prey, and eventually glides, and finally develops true flight. This seems to be a good theory for pterosaurs.

In the case of chiroptera (bats), it could have gone either way. There are bats that run along the ground suggesting ground up and those that climb trees suggesting height down.

In either case, bats have successfully populated all continents except Antarctica. They represent 20% of all mammal species, second only to rodents.

pub-shot-dp-13-cropped

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Thinking of Zebras #Rabies #Bats #Chiroptera #Medical

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This is some of the research that contributed to the recently released Darwin’s Paradox: An international science mysteryhttp://amzn.to/2k8qJgi. When the pandemic strikes, the medical doctors are forced to look for more and more unlikely causes.

New medical students are regularly warned that when they hear hoof beats, they should think of horses, not zebras. Before they get their clinical experiences, new doctors treat all diseases as equally probable. After they become experienced, they naturally think of horses (the common causes) when they hear hoof beats (common symptoms).

This leads to an opposite problem. Experienced doctors have a blind spot when the hoof beats actually foretell zebras (a rare disease).

Consider this case from Canadian Journal of Infectious Disease, Volume 13, Number 2, March/April 2002.

A nine-year-old boy had upper arm pain and a slight fever. In a few days the pain extended down to his wrist and up to his shoulder and neck. The area was tender to touch and prevented him from sleeping. The next day he had tremors and was hospitalized.

This was followed by sore throat, difficulty swallowing, and intense itching. The doctors considered allergies and treated his with diphenhydramine (an antihistamine) which had little effect.

The tremors and spasms got worse, and the patient had difficulty speaking. Knee-jerk reflexes were normal, but the doctor considered epilepsy and ordered an electroencephalogram. This showed a slowing of brain activity, but not epilepsy.

The patient next developed aerophobia (fear of air blown on them) and hydrophobia (inability to drink water). This was accompanied by a rash, transient hallucinations, and intense itching.

The following day brought severe tremors of the face and all limbs, drooling, priapism, and the feeling of suffocation. At this point the doctors presumed that the patient had rabies.

Nine days later, “14 days after the onset of his initial symptoms, the patient presented a clinical picture compatible with brain death, was extubated and died.”

This is an example of how difficult it is to diagnose rabies, absent a reported bite.

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Here is another case from CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Volume 60, Number 14, April 15, 2011.

“The patient reportedly had awakened with a bat on his arm 9 months earlier, but had not sought medical evaluation. He went to a local emergency department (ED) on October 30 and soon after was hospitalized; he died 12 days later.”

Initially he was treated by a chiropractor for pain and numbness of his left hand and arm, lower neck and upper back. The chiropractic treatment relieved the back pain, but the arm numbness and tingling got worst.

At the hospital, the patient did not have a fever, blood pressure was normal, blood count and routine chemistries were normal. Strength and sensation were normal. The only symptoms were weakness of the left arm, elevated white blood cell counts, and elevated glucose. A CT scan also revealed some anomalies.

Most concerning, the patient had such difficulty breathing that he was put on ventilation.

AIDP and Guillain-Barre syndrome were the chief diagnoses considered at this point. MRI and entectromyography pointed to AIDP and treatment began.

A few days later, with the patient not improving, CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) analysis lead the staff to switch the diagnosis to meningoencephalitis. This treatment was also not effective.

At that point, “on November 4, the infectious disease physician asked the patient’s wife about any animal exposure history. … The wife had no knowledge of any recent animal bites. …
On November 8, another relative recounted an incident that had occurred approximately 9 months before onset of illness. The patient had told the relative about waking one night to a bat crawling on his arm. …
On November 11, the patient’s family elected to withdraw life support, and the patient died shortly afterward.”

Mustang_Utah_2005_2

Here is a third case from CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Volume 59, Number 13, April 9, 2010.

When an apparently healthy man visited a clinic with fever and a cough, the clinician diagnosed bronchitis and prescribed antibiotics.

By the follow-up, the patient now had fever, chills, chest pains and left arm numbness. An electrocardiogram did not indicate a heart attack. The diagnosis was musculoskeletal pain and the patient was prescribed pain killers and muscle relaxants at this time.

Next visit the patient was agitated and restless, which was presumed to be a side-effect of the muscle relaxants. Hospital observation was recommended, but the patient went home.

The next day, the patient presented with twitches, high heart rate, low blood pressure, and fever. The doctor now considered sepsis and the patient was hospitalized.

The patient was intubated and tested extensively. The patient continued to deteriorate with low heart rate, low blood pressure, muscle wasting, and kidney failure requiring dialysis.

Two weeks after the initial clinic visit, rabies were considered. The patient died the next day.

Zebra_Botswana_edit02

Sometimes those hoof beats are zebras.

pub-shot-dp-13-cropped

Categories: Bats, Diseases | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

#Minoan #Astronomy Autumn Constellations #BronzeAge

autumn-1-three-women

Bronze Age Crete is a tantalizing period for historians and archeologists. So much is known from the archeological record since the discovery of Knossos by Arthur Evans starting in 1900, but the written record is sparse and indecipherable. This mysterious language, Linear A, leaves opportunity for both academics and authors to imagine different scenarios. I belong to the latter group and this series of posts is best classified as historical fiction.

These are the three constellations that the Minoans would have seen rising at dawn in the autumn, the period between the fall equinox and the winter solstice. The first constellation (Zodiac name: Scorpio) is the Three Women (above) from the Ladies in Blue fresco in the Knossos Palace on Crete. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Aegean_frescos

autumn-2-oktopus-vase

The second month of autumn is marked with the rising of the Octopus constellation (Zodiac name: Sagittarius). This is represented by this marine style jug. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minoan_pottery

autumn-3-ship

The final month prior to the winter solstice is marked by the rising of ship constellation (Zodiac name: Capricorn). This is represented by a fresco from Akrotiri which was preserved under the ash fall from the Thera eruption circa 1500 BCE. This preservation mirrors the later preservation of Pompeii. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akrotiri_(Santorini)

Categories: Bronze Age, Crete, Minoans | Tags: | Leave a comment

#Minoan #Astronomy North Star #BronzeAge

double-axes-with-constellations

Bronze Age Crete is a tantalizing period for historians and archeologists. So much is known from the archeological record since the discovery of Knossos by Arthur Evans starting in 1900, but the written record is sparse and indecipherable. This mysterious language, Linear A, leaves opportunity for both academics and authors to imagine different scenarios. I belong to the latter group and this series of posts is best classified as historical fiction.

We know that the Minoans were a seafaring and agricultural society, so certainly would have carefully observed the night sky for navigation and planting purposes. The sailors’ first interest would have been a north star.

double-axes-with-polaris

Sailors in the modern era learned to follow the two farthest stars in the rectangular section of the big dipper to the first star in the handle of the little dipper. This star is Polaris and the brightest star in the little dipper. By a quirk of time, Polaris happens to be a very good north star.

double-axes-with-bull-star

This was not true 3,500 years ago. While there was no true north star in that era, a star in the little dipper was the best approximation. Thus sailors could follow the nearest stars in the rectangular section of the big dipper to the last star in the little dipper. This star is Kochab and the second brightest star in the little dipper.

While these two constellations have been called Ursa Minor and Ursa Major since classical times (2,000-2,500 years ago), there is no reason not to imagine that Minoan saw their important symbol of the double ax, and named the north star the Bull Star.

Thus, when Minoan sailors looked for their bearings in the night, they located the large double ax and followed the lower edge of the head to the top edge of the small double ax. Having thus located the Bull Star they knew which was was north.

“May the Double Axes and the Bull Star guide you safely home.”

 

Categories: Bronze Age, Crete, Minoans | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

#Technology vs Wooden Shoes #geek #nerd

chambers_1908_sabot

Though sabotage predates the industrial revolution, it is often associated with the technology of the day and subversive efforts to impede technology, production and progress. Thus it is surprising that a World War II Sabotage Manual seems so current today.

warning-sabotage-_the_following_acts_among_others_are_crimes_against_the_united_states-treason_is_punishable-_-_nara_-_516041

Here is some advice to sabotage organization and conferences that sounds like a Dilbert cartoon, but it was suggested in 1944 by the precursor of the CIA.

“Make ‘speeches.’ Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your.
‘points’ by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences.”
“Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.”
“Haggle over precise wordings of communications, …”

Some of the advice from 1944 could be summarized today as simply being an asshole.
“Act stupid.”
“Be as irritable and, quarrelsome as possible, without getting yourself into trouble.”

While other advice would pass today as normal behavior for many.
“Give lengthy and incomprehensible explanations.”

However, some 70-year-old techniques are no longer effective or even possible.

Without physical copies, this is not longer effective to: “In making carbon copies, make one too few, so that an extra copying job will have to be done.”
Similarly, with electronic mail, this is impossible: “Hold up mail until the next collection.”

However, self-sabotage is still effective using some of this pre-computer filing techniques:
“Start duplicate files.”
“Misfile essential documents.”

Finally a couple of evergreen techniques show how people are people regardless of the technology.
“Apply all regulations to the last letter.”
“Spread disturbing rumors.”

All this serves to reinforce the truism that evolution does not move at the speed of technology. As fast as technology moves, people remain essentially unchanged.

 

Categories: Technology, Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Spammers and Scammers on #Facebook #spam #scam

ss meme

Recently my Facebook account was attacked by a spammer and I became more interested in Facebook security. I go a lot of advice, much of it based on emotion and fear, so I did my research.

First of all Facebook is safer than general web surfing until you click on some link and get transferred out of Facebook to your favorite browser. There are two main risks within Facebook. The bad guys might spam your account, or they might steal your friends list.

I will tell you how to protect yourself and your friends in both these cases, but first here is some of the advice I received…

ss01

PROTECT YOUR FRIENDS LIST

The first important point is what caused my initial confusion. I found someone with “no friends,” and that set off red flags for me and pretty much everyone else. In retrospect, this was the completely the wrong reaction. If you want to protect your friends list from being farmed by scammers and spammers (something I now do and recommend), Facebook allows you to prevent anyone from seeing this list. [Instructions below.]

Just as you would publicly release your contacts list, it is good practice to protect your friends list on Facebook. The one risk in doing this is that ignorant people (like I was) might think you have no friends and avoid you. Small risk.

WHAT KIND OF FACEBOOK USER ARE YOU?

Let’s divide FB users into two groups: family and public. The family users have a limited number of friends and only accept new friends when someone new enters their intimate circle. FB provides many ways to protect these accounts and these features are widely publicized and promoted by Facebook and others. I will say nothing more about these users, except I have a separate family account for baby pictures, anniversaries, etc.

Now about the public users: the public users typically post to everybody. They are the ones with a more challenging situation and a need for advice. This remainder of this post is for them.

SPAM

Facebook spam is when someone posts an phishing or other annoying message on your Facebook account. If it is a friend, you can contact them or unfriend them. If it is not a friend, you can block them.

However, as I have learned the hard way, spam attacks can be quite annoying. I spent a few days deleting spam comments from every one of my posts from the beginning of the attack until I finally blocked this user.

Generally Facebook allows anyone to comments on all your public posts. However, there is something you can do for protection without completely shutting down the discussion. [Instructions below.]

FRIEND REQUESTS

If you have your contact list protected [recommended], the risk to you and your friends is minimal, but not zero. For this reason you might want Facebook’s assistance in screening those who send you friend requests. Your can restrict friend requests to be only from friends of friends [Instructions below.] You can also block all friend requests.

However, if you want to connect with a wide variety of people, you might let Facebook send you all friend requests, and you can check their page to see if you want to accept their request. Just remember not to make my mistake: If they do not display any friends, they are being careful to protect their own privacy and that or their friends … of it could be some other nefarious reason – use your judgement.

INSTRUCTIONS TO PROTECT FRIENDS LIST

Caveat: I couldn’t do this on my phone. The process is to (1) open your friends, (2) click the little pencil to edit, and (3) set “Who can see your friend list?” to only me. The other options  for “who can see” like everybody or friends are not recommended. Your friend list is like the contacts on your phone, private.

PF1PF2

Remember that when someone goes to looks examine your friends, they will see something like this. Also remember when you see this on someone’s account, they are protecting your information by not letting others see their contacts/friends.

PF3

INSTRUCTIONS TO LIMIT SPAM

The most common spammer opportunity on Facebook is to post spam comments on your posts. This is because “Anyone who can see a post can like or comment on it.” However if you allow everybody to follow you, you can limit this.

SS1

You limit comments by (1) going to settings, (2) clicking followers, (3) setting “who can follow” to everybody, and finally (4) setting comments on public posts to friends of friends or something more restrictive. This does not completely stop comment spam, but it can help.

SS2

INSTRUCTIONS TO HAVE FACEBOOK SCREEN YOUR FRIEND REQUESTS

The first step to screen friend requests is to click settings while viewing your friends.

FR1

The default setting is everyone can send you friend requests.

FR2

You can set it to friends of friends to have Facebook screen the requests you receive.

FR3

Facebook is a way for all of us to meet and interact with others who have different ideas and circumstances. Through Facebook I now have friends that I would have never met in any other way. I think this makes the world more friendly for all of us. I hope this helps you feel more comfortable as you venture out.

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

#Science #Research done right. Is #fructose dangerous? #Experiment design. #Nutrition #Diet

one1024px-Cat_March_2010-1

Relax. Get comfortable. This is a story of real science. It is not click bait. It will require some thought. It will appeal to your left brain. It has nothing to do with cats.

This post is about a paper published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS One titled Rescue of Fructose-Induced Metabolic Syndrome by Antibiotics or Faecal Transplantation in a Rat Model of Obesity. (Thanks to Dani for pointing this paper.)

Note this is not as authoritative as Science or Nature, but it is a couple of steps above Buzzfeed or Dr Oz.

Regardless, we are are going to review it and see how it is a example of good science.

two1024px-Calico_tabby_cat_-_Savannah

The paper opens with the assertion that fructose (aka Western Diet) is unhealthy: “A fructose-rich diet can induce metabolic syndrome, a combination of health disorders that increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.”

For the purposes of a scientific paper, this bold statement is understood to be merely an hypothesis.

Previous research has hinted at this conclusion with data like “It has been estimated that in the US the load of free fructose has increased from 158.5 kcal per person per day in 1978 to 228 kcal per person per day in 1998,” paired with “This substantial increase has paralleled the increased incidence of obesity.” However, this is merely correlation and scientifically useless for anything other than suggesting a hypothesis.

As good scientists, the authors acknowledge “the contribution of high-fructose diets to the development of obesity remains controversial, since some authors have not observed unequivocal evidence linking fructose consumption with metabolic disorder.” Note that the fructose conclusion is controversial because the evidence does not support it. Nothing is said about media personalities and opinion polls.

These scientists want to design an experiment to test the hypothesis to generate more evidence. This new evidence might support or reject the hypothesis. This is the Scientific Method and how science works, just like your were taught in school.

six1024px-Andean_cat_1_Jim_Sanderson

The first challenge these scientists must face is experimental design. As the hypothesis concerns people, it would be best to run the experiment on people. This won’t happen for two reasons. First, it is unethical to use people as test subjects. Among other criteria, the benefits must outweigh the cost, and the subjects must be protected from harm.

The experiment in question involves feeding subjects a diet expected to make them sick. This is not allowed.

[Aside: This restriction is why you see so many data analysis reports that try to figure out causes after the fact, by comparing people who happened to do one thing (eschew fructose) with people who happened to do another (consume lots of fructose). These reports come with many confounding factors, and are better for click-bait headlines than good science.]

The second reason people are not the test subjects is that they live too long. If we imagine that one needs to consume a high-fructose diet for 5% of their lifetime to see an effect, this is too long for people (around 4 years), but just right for rats (around 8 weeks). As lab rats are so important to medical research, the correspondence of rat age to human age is well studied and understood.

So the answer is to use short-lived rats. Much is known about rats, and particularly how to generalize from rats to people. Regardless, rats are also protected, and the experiment design is reviewed to protect the rats. (Rats are not protected as well as people, but they are protected.)

Treatment, housing, and euthanasia of animals met the guidelines set by the Italian Health Ministry. All experimental procedures involving animals were approved by “Comitato Etico-Scientifico per la Sperimentazione Animale” of the University “Federico II” of Naples.”

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The experiment divided the rats into two groups. The control group was fed a control diet and the experimental group was fed a fructose-rich diet. Aside from that single experimental variable, the scientists did their best to keep everything else the same. This is why these controlled experiments are so much better that those after-the-fact data studies mentioned above.

The energy content of the two diets was the same, because the composition was the same, except that half of the starch of the control diet had been substituted with fructose in the fructose-rich diet (Table 1). In addition, rats were pair-fed for the whole experimental period, by giving them the same amount of diet, both as weight and as caloric content. Each rat consumed the full portion of the diet fed them each day over the 8 week study period.”

Many tests were performed to evaluate the rats at the end of the experimental period. To spite the equivalence of caloric intake, the rats that consumed the fructose-rich diet had significantly more body fat.

At this point, their controlled experiment shows that the fructose-rich diet leads to increased body fat.

This is the common plaint of many dieters. Calorie and body fat do not correlate.

four1024px-Savannah_Cat_portrait

At this point we have a nice experiment. We could possibly win a science fair with this, but these scientists took the next step.

They had shown that the fructose-rich diet causes a condition. They also believed that they knew the mechanism. Knowing the mechanism is even better than knowing a cause. Medical science moves forward when the mechanism is known.

This is why the discovery of vitamin C was more important than realizing that limes were a prophylactic for scurvy. Both discoveries were important, but the mechanism (vitamin C deficiency) led to new and improved treatments.

In the case of HIV/AIDS, no progress was made until the HIV virus was identified. Knowing the behaviors which transmitted HIV/AIDS was helpful, but the viral mechanism led to effective treatment.

five1024px-Kittyply_edit1

Now that the experiment had shown the existence of “fructose-induced metabolic syndrome,” the scientists hypothesized that the cause was a imbalance of micro-flora in the gut caused by the fructose-rich diet.

They further hypothesized that balance could be returned either with a targeted administration of antibiotics, or “faecal samples from control rats by oral gavage” to return balance. The fecal sample approach hypothesized that the control rats still had a healthy mix of gut micro-flora and introducing that healthy mix into the experimental rats would return them to a healthy balance and reverse the negative effects of their fructose-rich diet.

Happily (for the rats) both of these treatments improved the experimental rats’ condition.

Now that the scientists had experimentally shown they could cause fructose-induced metabolic syndrome and reverse it under controlled experimental conditions, we can all be confident that we are one step closer to understanding one cause and treatment for obesity and associated conditions.

There, that wasn’t so hard was it?

Post Script: I understand that no matter how difficult you might feel it is to reduce your consumption of high-fructose corn syrup (a major component of most non-diet soda pop), I imagine the yuch factor with fecal transplants is more off putting. However, as more is learned about gut flora, this may become a major new direction for medicine in the 21st century. Now might be a good time to start thinking positive thoughts about fecal transplantation.

Categories: Diseases, Science | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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