Prior health beliefs altered by science

Robert Starr

One of the arguments in favor of organic farming is that it’s more environmentally sustainable.

 However, a review published in Nature suggests, as with many issues in the environmental world, things may not be so black and white. The review determined that crop yields from organic farming were significantly lower than those from more conventional farming methods. While yields are only one metric in a sea of many, one of the major environmental issues that we face is one of not only overpopulation but that of the finite amount of land we have to grow food on to support that population.

Still, the authors of the study insist that this isn’t an excuse to throw away organic farming methods. Instead, we should be combining the good practices of both organic and traditional methods to make a more sustainable hybrid.

Light Weight, Big Muscles

Common wisdom has suggested that the best way to bulk up at the gym is to lift fewer sets of heavy weights; however, a new study suggests that that may not be the case. In the Journal of Applied Physiology, a report came to the conclusion that, for young men, though heavier weights may increase strength, they don’t add to any increase in muscle volume over lifting more reps of lighter weights, assuming in both cases that the lifter works himself to exhaustion. This can provide an equivalent workout with a much lower chance of injury.

Your Faith Was Strong, But You Needed Proof

A study published in Science suggests that subjects will report weaker religious beliefs if put into a more analytical mindset. The experiment, using techniques such as asking their volunteers to look at Rodin’s statue “The Thinker” or read a questionnaire in a less legible font, which have both been tested in the past to promote more reason-based thinking, reported that religious thinking was linked to more intuitive processes. The authors insist, however, that the results don’t mean to suggest that religion is irrational.

Instead, they think that spiritual beliefs are more linked to intrinsic feelings than analytical reasoning.

White Powder Leads to Loss of Grey Matter

Few people think that cocaine use is a smart habit to pick up regardless of how old you are, but a study published in Molecular Psychiatry suggests that it can also make your brain age faster. MRIs of habitual cocaine users were compared to those of a control group and revealed that, though brain size decreased with age for both groups, it did so almost twice as fast for those who used the drug.

Miracle Glass

Glass is one of those wonder-materials with a multitude of uses, though it’s not without its flaws. However, a method for creating textures on the surfaces developed at MIT corrects several of the big ones. Thanks to the new design, the glass is self-cleaning in addition to being fog- and glare-resistant. Aside from the obvious uses, such as corrective lenses and smart phones, this could provide a huge boost in the durability, longevity and efficiency of solar panels, which quickly become dirty, blocking out potential sunlight, and often lose energy by reflecting light. The most remarkable thing about the new glass is that the process to create it is simple and could be applied at a minimal cost to devices in the near future.