Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mending a Broken Heart

Contrary to popular belief, the human heart has the capacity to regenerate itself.

A team of researchers, led by Dr. Jonas Frisén at the prestigious Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, has discovered that about half of the heart’s muscle cells are replaced over the course of a normal lifetime. (About 1% of the cells are replaced every year at age 25, with the rate gradually falling to less than 0.5% per year by age 75.)

“I think this will be one of the most important papers in cardiovascular medicine in years,” says Dr. Charles Murray, a heart researcher at the University of Washington, The New York Times reports.

In 1987, Dr. Piero Anversa, now director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at Harvard Medical School, suggested that that heart muscle cells are renewed so fast that at 80, a person has replaced his heart four times over.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. If scientists are able to discover how the regeneration of heart muscle cells is regulated, it may be possible for the pharma industry to develop a whole new range of cardiovascular drugs to help fix wounded hearts.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

“State of Play”

I just saw an interesting, suspenseful movie for grown-ups. (It doesn’t involve comics, superpowers, or computer-generated special effects.)

State of Play” is a thoughtful thriller that pairs a scruffy reporter from the mainstream media (Russell Crowe) and a hip young blogger (Rachel McAdams) working for the same newspaper, the “Washington Globe.” Together, they ferret out the nefarious secrets behind the apparent suicide of a young congressman’s researcher/girlfriend. The congressman (Ben Affleck) is heading a committee investigating the doings of an enormous, sinister private military contractor.

What’s great about the movie: its affectionate and detailed depiction of the great tradition of investigative journalism and its acknowledgment that, in many case, the same impulses drive serious bloggers. What disturbed me? The hilarious — and awful — character of Dominic Foy (Jason Bateman), the epitome of a sleazy public relations consultant. (I seem to recall that, at one point in the movie, Foy bellows something along the lines of, “I don’t know anything. I’m in PR!”)

Notwithstanding the oily PR guy, if you’re looking for an intelligent, adult movie, you might want to consider "State of Play." I like its position that the social media aren’t intrinsically better or worse than the mainstream media. As Salon.com critic Stephanie Zacharek writes, “While ‘State of Play’ is, in some ways, an elegy for the printed newspaper, it's really more of a rallying cry for newspapers to rethink and retool everything, fast. The new house has to be built and ready before the old one crashes to the ground.”

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Productivity Linked to WILB

Technology has blessed us with many benefits. It has made a world of information available to us, enhanced collaboration, made research easier and replaced voicemail with the infinitely less odious email. In fact, I like my high-tech distractions so much, that I’ve started to feel a bit guilty. Should I be “wasting” this much time idly tooling around the internet?

Good news. According to a recent University of Melbourne study, individuals who WILB — in other words, people who surf the Internet for fun at work — are about 9% more productive than those who don’t. It appears that taking short breaks in your routine, including a quick bit of WILB, enables the mind to rest itself, restoring your ability to concentrate.

It’s important that no more than 20% of the workday be spent in WILB, says Dr. Brent Coker of the University of Melbourne’s Department of Management and Marketing, because internet addiction can have the reverse effect, causing workers who are online to become irritable if they are interrupted.

So, WILB — in moderation — it’s good for you and your business.

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