You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Science’ category.

Hey guys, been a while since I’ve done a health post and they always tend to be very long-winded anyway. I’m currently on my lunch break so hopefully that restraint keeps this post more succinct.

I want to address two topics that I’ve had arguments about before with both people more and less experienced than I.

Contradicting information about exercise science:

This is a big topic that I’m going to just generalise as people giving different opinions about how exercise (or nutrition) should be done.

So why does this happen? How do you know what you should be doing if everyone keeps telling you different things?

Firstly, you need to understand that there’s two main reasons this happens. Every human body is slightly different and tempered by genetic predispositions. What works for someone may not necessarily work for you. That being said, there are paradigms that generally work to a good degree (which is usually what advice is). Second, exercise science is a junior field. By that I mean the field of medicine and anatomy, for example, are tried and proven fields with many case studies and lots of research. The studies done in exercise science are not always consistent and worst of all – the sample size is not  statistically significant.

Those of you that studied stats at university might remember this term. When analysing a portion of the population using a sample population (i.e. test subjects), that sample population is not considered representative of the actual population if the sample size is not large enough. Without going into the maths, let’s consider that the vast majority of studies use less than 30 test subjects. Now consider that there are 7 billion people in the world. Yep – huge margin of error.

This is why you will hear a lot of conflicting info but don’t get confused – that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to advice. It just means you need to learn who you are. This is something I promote as a part of becoming the best version of yourself, but it applies to physical health as well. I often encourage friends to experiment during their bulk/cut cycles to figure out what their bodies respond best to.

Finally, I just want to point out that the human body is highly adaptive. You should use knowledge you gain as part of your exercise vocabulary. Maybe 5×5 works best for you but someone keeps telling you to do 4×10. As Elliot Hulse would say, don’t get sucked into the religion of a certain methodology. Try both. In fact, you must, by necessity, do both anyway because if you stick to one methodology your body will adapt and you will plateau.

Ok, this post has already gotten a bit long but here’s the next part.

Lean Bulking

Another hot topic and popularly considered “impossible” in the sense that you cannot gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. In fact, I myself believed this for quite a while until I managed to lean bulk myself. May provide photos later but I’m at work right now.

Anyway, the common argument against lean bulking is quite scientific (on the surface). To gain muscle you require a caloric surplus to fuel growth. To lose fat you require a deficit to force your body to burn more fat for energy. I’ve gone into the body’s fuel sources before but in short – your body burns all 3 macronutrients at the same time but proportionally, much more carbs are burned and much less fat.

Now, we have to get a little technical, and this is where I’ve had most of my arguments. How do you build muscle whilst losing fat if it appears that they require conflicting caloric levels? Diet and meal timing.

“Meal timing doesn’t make a difference, it’s all about what you eat in 24 hours.”

Only half true. The other half is why lean bulking is possible.

As with all arguments, we will start from the simplest, most logical argument and build up (Occam’s Razor). Consider this scenario. You have fasted for a day. It is now night time and your body is completely depleted of glycogen and protein stores. You go for an intense steady state cardio session. Several hours after that session, right before bed time, you eat your entire day’s calories in one meal, comprised mostly of carbs.

Those of you that have studied nutrition/health science will know what’s going to happen. The rest of you can probably guess. First, you are engaging in catabolic activity with no glycogen or protein stores (all exercise is catabolic – in fact, living is catabolic). What’s going to happen? Well you still have fat so your body will burn that. Obvious right? What you might not know is you also still have protein. Your muscles contain it and your body will break down your muscle to fuel itself to allow you to keep doing your cardio. After exercise, you do not replenish your glycogen and your blood glucose remains low. EPOC continues to burn calories which will be taken from protein and fat (and protein burns in higher proportion to fat). Your body has no amino acids to repair muscle fibre so your neurological response is to let go of that muscle fibre to feed your body. Result? Muscle loss.

Now, you eat your daily 3000 calories in one go. IIFYM right? Wrong. Your blood glucose level spikes like crazy. Your insulin levels must rise rapidly in response (often leading to Type II Diabetes). The insulin shuttles the glucose through your body and replenishes glycogen stores but obviously you’ve eaten more than you can store in your muscle. What happens to unused glycogen? It converts to fat for storage. Fat is a long-term energy source – slow burning and 9 calories per gram (whilst protein and carbs are 4 calories per gram).

So obviously meal timing does play a part.

This post is getting really long now so I’m not going into what you should do – you can just ask me yourself. I’m just here to prove a point. And those of you that have heard otherwise from so and so – well that’s an anecdotal fallacy. Those of you that have heard otherwise from a scientific paper? More credible, but go take a look at the number of test subjects used in that study and refer to my first subheading above.

When in doubt, trust the most foundational, unshakable concepts in science. You can argue all you want about whether a plane or a rock falls faster depending on what angle they drop, but you can’t argue against the fact that gravity is what’s making them fall.

 

Advertisements

Apologies for being so inactive. Work really kills a lot of your motivation to do other things.

I’ve only felt like doing short posts of late and as some of you may have noticed, the posts I tend to do here are long. Anyway, I still engage in scientific discussion when the chance arises and typed this one out recently – thought I would share it. I typed this on my phone by the way, so forgive any grammar/syntax/punctuation errors.

Damn this is getting frustrating. Time to drop some knowledge bombs.

Antimatter is NOT dark matter. Dark matter is matter that we have not discovered and have literally no idea about – hence dark. We know it exists because it affects light and other properties in the universe in a way that currently known matter cannot describe (i.e more light curvature than one would expect given how much known matter there is – hence that means there’s more “stuff” out there than we know). Dark energy is used to describe the accelerated expansion of the universe. Remember, what’s dark mean? It meabs we don’t know. So we expect expansion to be slowing down but it’s actually increasing so there must be some energy we don’t know about. Those of you that actually UNDERSTAND Einstein’s equation E=mc^2 will know energy and mass are the interchangeable, so dark energy and dark matter are essentially the same thing.

Now ANTImatter is not dark. What does that mean? We KNOW about it. What is matter made up of? Particles. So antimatter is a broad term for a whole bunch of particles called antiparticles. Every particle theoretically has an antiparticle with the same mass but opposite charge, therefore when they come into contact with each other they annihilate each other and cause decay (into other forms of energy/particles). Carl Anderson discovered the POSITRON. It is the antiparticle of the ELECTRON. Both are known to exist and scientists can create them at will. No, it’s not the end of the world. Positrons ONLY annihilate electrons. All elementary particles have a known antiparticle. 

Further reading for you if you’re interested is CP Violation which explains why there’s more matter than antimatter in the universe.

Boom. Science bitches.

On a side note, I think I will begin every scientific explanation I give with “Time to drop some knowledge bombs” and end it with “Boom. Science bitches.” from now on. Sound good?

I had a thought and felt compelled to jot it down before I forget it. It’s not yet very well thought out so I’m going to write things down as they occur to me. Apologies in advance if this post becomes a bit messy.

The topic is the universe, its origin, the possibility of other universes and their relation to quantum mechanics. As some of you might know, I’m a big fan of the zero-energy universe. The idea that something cannot come from nothing is an idea that has become outdated due to quantum mechanics. As Lawrence Krauss said “If you observe nothing for long enough, something will appear”. What he is refer to is known as quantum fluctuations.

Quantum fluctuations are a phenomena where if you have a vacuum with absolutely zero particles and energy in it and you observe/measure it over a period of time, you’ll find that something does in fact appear out of this nothingness. These are known as virtual particles and without getting technical, basically they appear and disappear in the nothingness leaving real energy signatures that affect their surroundings. Essentially, we are getting energy out of nothing. Now I’ve heard people argue “oh, well that’s not nothing then”. A debate on Q&A comes to mind and as usual, it was a theist trying to cast doubt on science (rather hypocritically). I’ll save that rant for another time, but suffice to say if you have a vacuum with nothing in it – that’s nothing. You can’t say it’s not nothing because the nothing you’re trying to describe doesn’t exist. When you find evidence of such a nothing existing, you can come back and say something. Old habits die hard – these people love claiming things exist without any evidence.

So how does this tie in to the universe? Well quantum mechanics still hasn’t been unified with general relativity, but it does provide an explanation for the origins of the universe. The zero-energy universe is one such idea, but the gist of it is that a singularity (from which the big bang and universe occurred) is so tiny that it falls within the realms of quantum mechanics. As a result, it doesn’t violate any laws by appearing out of nothing. Quite simply, the universe could have created itself out of nothing.

That got me thinking – why did the singularity keep expanding rather than dissipating and leaving an energy signal like most other virtual particle? The go-to answer for expansion is dark energy, but drawing from the Poplawski universe model and the torsion-rebound theory, I thought of another possibility.

What if all virtual particles contain universes? What if quantum fluctuations are a universe birthing mechanism?

Well, obviously the next question is, how does this work? I’m not going to sit here and claim things without providing proof – that would make me an idiot.

Let’s go through it step by step. At first, we have a singularity. Where did it come from? For this concept (I say concept because a scientific theory has been tested mathematically and experimentally, which I cannot do) we are considering the possibility that the singularity, as a subatomic particle, appeared via a quantum fluctuation as a virtual particle. Now from what we already know, this singularity exploded, known as the Big Bang, releasing large amounts of energy and expanding well beyond the speed of light. Here’s where my idea reaches a fork and would require further research.

First, we consider that virtual particles do release energy. The argument would then be made that these energy levels are tiny compared to the big bang. However, one must also consider perspective. From our universe’s perspective, the energy released by the virtual particle is small, but if that virtual particle contained another universe, relative to them, that amount of energy would be the absolute maximum they could ever attain. This gives rise to the idea of a staggered multiverse, where there are greater universes with more energy and vice versa.

Second, (consider this a different option unrelated to the one above) the effects of travel beyond light speed is unknown. However, if one considers the virtual particle contains a similar universe to ours (i.e. of similar energy levels, and thus similar mass, and thus similar gravity), then the moment that virtual particle experiences a “Big Bang” it has reached levels of gravity many times that of a black hole and is inflated beyond the speed of light. From the outside nobody knows what that would look like. But we can take a good guess. Black holes are known to distort time. We can never peer into a black hole because the gravitational tides distort both light and time. As a result, we can never travel out of one if we get caught in its event horizon. In essence, the inside of the black hole is almost like a separate universe to ours – we cannot see inside, journey inside or journey out of (if we ever got in), and time freezes as we approach its singularity. Additionally, time slows as we approach light speed. Theoretically, at light speed time would stop so an external observer could stare at you for an eternity and never see anything. Again, this has the effect of isolating something from the rest of the universe – you become unobservable because time has stopped.

What if the same were true for virtual particles? If it contains a universe, its gravity and speed of inflation would separate it from our universe. The small energy signature could be residual or leakage from the contained universe. A black hole releases radiation (Hawking Radiation) so that is a detectable verification of this idea, but one would say a black hole’s radiation is much higher than that of a virtual particle. Well, a black hole isn’t expanding faster than light – it’s shrinking. Combining the gravity and the inflation could potentially have the effect of not only isolating the interior from the rest of our universe (as a black hole does) but displacing the entity itself from our dimension. Essentially, the moment the virtual particle disappears (leaving behind a weak residual energy signature) it has experienced its Big Bang and as a result, has separated itself into its own dimension, creating a universe with it. Alternatively, it could be in the same dimension, but due to the isolating effect of gravity and super-light-speed travel, we cannot observe it, nor can it affect us.

It’s not new to say that the universe created itself out of a quantum fluctuation, but it should be new (unless somebody thought of this before me again – just like with the Poplawski theory) to say that quantum fluctuations are in fact creating universes and we are in fact seeing that happen when virtual particles appear and disappear. Not only does this build on an existing theory – the zero-energy universe model (and thus all the evidence, research and experimentation that has gone with it), but it bridges the gap where one could ask how this universe continued to expand when most virtual particles disappear and leave energy behind.

The exciting thing is this is testable to some degree. Many string theory supporters have been hoping the LHC will launch a particle at sufficient energy levels to send it into another dimension. Basically, the particle would “disappear” and we’d have a missing energy signal. If we do achieve this, that would potentially be evidence of further dimensions and be a whole new platform for us to work science on.

I think I should also mention at this point that Dr. Tyson mentioned something somewhat related to this topic. He asked that if it was possible that someone was launching particles from another dimension (like we would at the LHC) and they are appearing in our dimension as quantum fluctuations. This was during the 2011 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate for those interested – entertaining to watch, just YouTube it.

Well, I would like to rephrase his point because it was sort of laughed off as a joke. What if it wasn’t “someone”? It’s entirely likely that higher dimensions have higher states of energy. For example, their universal constants might have a higher value and their speed of light could be greater or it could be possible to exceed light speed. In that case, it’s entirely likely that such an occurrence could happen naturally. No, not someone launching particles into our dimension – just a natural occurrence at higher energy states. This would provide an interesting approach for string theory scientists, as well as address the mystery of quantum fluctuations.

Anyway, that’s my random shower-time theory. It’s been a while since I’ve had one of these but it always gets me excited when my brain starts trying to connect separate pieces of knowledge that I’ve acquired.

 

 

Another quick medical post – a friend of mine mentioned he was getting nose bleeds during his workouts and suspected it was due to the pre-workout supplement he was taking (C4). I took a quick look through the body building forums and it doesn’t look like anybody knows why,with most people using anecdotal evidence like “well I’ve never had that problem, therefore it’s not the pre workout. I hope you guys know better than to take anecdotal evidence seriously – for a quick brush up on logical fallacies click here.

Anyway, since nobody knew the answer, I decided to take a look at the ingredients (which was actually surprisingly difficult to find). The product is advertised as mostly Creatine Nitrate, so I had a hard time finding the other ingredients. Interestingly though, Creatine Nitrate isn’t the most common ingredient of the product. It contains more Beta Alanine than Creatine Nitrate. That’s fine though, they’re both amino acids and there’s no big harm in amino acids.

One suspicion my friend had was the caffeine content. However, C4 has 100mg of caffeine whereas 1MR (another pre workout) contains 300mg. It’s unlikely that, with such a huge gap between products, caffeine is the problem – though it could contribute to the problem. The reason is, if caffeine was the sole cause of this issue, a product with 300% the caffeine would have a large amount of customers complaining about nose bleeds.

The nasal membrane is quite thin so even mild trauma or dryness can cause them to crack open and result in a nose bleed. In this regard, caffeine is a stimulant and thus raises your heart rate and blood flow. However, there was another ingredient in the C4 that I found: Xanthinol Nicotinate.

Xanthinol Nicotinate is a vasodilator – which means it expands blood vessels. When blood vessels dilate, it increases blood flow due to reduced vascular resistance. As mentioned above, this increased blood flow could make it much easier for you to end up with nose bleeds.

Now the purpose of having a vasodilator in your pre workout is mainly because by increasing blood flow you can pump more blood and thus nutrients to the tissues and organs that need them. I don’t want to get more technical or this’ll end up as a long post so I’ll just leave it at this: your nose bleeds are probably caused by the increased blood flow resulting from Xanthinol Nicotinate in addition to caffeine. It’s not necessarily a bad thing in the short run, though it is definitely annoying having nosebleeds when you’re trying to workout.

After a recent publication in the National Academy of Science (2012), trials of a new antibody commenced on mice with seven different types of cancer tumours. The antibody, which operates by blocking the CD47 protein’s signal, killed or shrunk all tumours it was used on. The CD47 protein releases a signal that tricks the body’s immune system into not destroying harmful cells, and by blocking that signal the immune system can be instructed to attack cancer cells. Whilst this protein is found on healthy blood cells, it has been demonstrated to be found in much larger concentrations in cancer cells.

Following the successful trials on mice, the team (California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, led by Weissman) recently got a 4 year, $20 million grant to begin human trials for this new drug. By blocking the “don’t eat me” signal, the team hopes this can be a legitimate cure with minimal toxicity.

This is, of course, an exciting step forward but it does beg the question – what’s wrong with our priorities? $20 million over 4 years to potentially cure cancer for all of humanity? That’s only $5 million a year. At the same time, the US military is spending over $700 billion a year destroying humanity.

I’ve always considered humankind to be an inherently destructive force. We bring ruin to everything around us, even each other. Just a little something to think about.

 

… is a load of crap.

For those who don’t know, apparently people are actually taking this seriously and Queensland communities are starting to ban fluoridation in water. Here’s a picture I stole off a friend’s Facebook wall – one he took on a train:

Fluoride

I first heard of this on the Q&A episode where Lawrence Krauss appeared. He was awesome as usual but had a bit of difficulty trying not to offend people and trying to dumb down his scientific explanations (particularly in regards to nothingness, which I should make a separate post on). Anyway, one of the ministers of health was there too and she mentioned some politician in Queensland – a body builder – who claimed that he’d rather take banned substances for a year than drink fluoridated water. I find this hilarious because most body builders have some idea about nutrition and he obviously doesn’t.

For those of you even farther behind in the news, fluoride is added to tap water and was one of the biggest dental intervention movements in Australian history.

My first step in exposing the bullshit of all these fluoride conspirators should be the end game. Take a look at their credentials. I saw some anti-fluoride argument on a site called “Evolution-Kills” and smelled bullshit straight away. I also found some other dodgy sites with questionable sources. This reminds me of all the quack scientists that create their own publication labels to publish their “scientific” articles because no peer-reviewed article will accept them, and the ones who create their own universities to give themselves degrees. The more scientifically oblivious may have a difficult time sifting through all the bullshit so my first step is always to look at the source.

Here’s a few sources:

The National Academy of Science: http://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/safety/nas.htm

This report identified fluoride as a mineral that can positively influence human health, and although earlier NRC reports were not conclusive in their opinions, this report concluded that fluoride was considered to be an element essential for human life based on its role in cellular functions involving metabolic or biochemical processes. The report further stated that fluoride in drinking water has two beneficial effects: preventing tooth decay (dental caries) and contributing to bone mineralization and bone matrix integrity.

World Health Organisation Report: http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/fluoride_drinking_water_full.pdf

Fluoride has beneficial effects on teeth at low concentrations in drinking-water, but excessive exposure to fluoride in drinking-water, or in combination with exposure to fluoride from other sources, can give rise to a number of adverse effects. These range from mild dental fluorosis to crippling skeletal fluorosis as the level and period of exposure increases. Crippling skeletal fluorosis is a significant cause of morbidity in a number of regions of the world.

… The beneficial and the detrimental effects of fluoride naturally present in water were well established by the early 1940s. High levels of fluoride present in concentrations up to 10 mg l were associated with dental fluorosis (yellowish or brownish striations or mottling of the enamel) while low levels of fluoride, less than 0.1 mg/l, were associated with high levels of dental decay (Edmunds and Smedley, 1996), although poor nutritional status is also an important contributory factor.

Now these are balanced views. No real science is going to declare an absolute benefit with no side effects – and that’s something important to note. However, skeletal fluorosis doesn’t occur in areas where fluoride levels are within safe levels (Kaminsky et al, 1990). See what I did there? Provided a proper source.

In regards to the accusation of fluoride being a carcinogenic – that’s just another example of non-scientific people trying to make scientific claims. Here’s a quote:

Some fluoridation opponents have suggested that fluoride is carcinogenic; claims which have been criticized as being based on statistical bias and deliberate exaggeration. (Cook-Mozaffari 1996, Spencer 1998, Pollick 2006) A frequently cited study by fluoridation opponents is the US National Cancer Institutes Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program which reported a higher in cadence of osteosarcoma (bone cancer) among young males in two fluoridated areas of the United States . (Hoover et al 1991a) Further analysis of the time trends by Hoover et al (1991b) however found that the increased prevalence of osteosarcoma was not related to the time of fluoridation. Moreover, a similar study by Mahoney et al (1991) found no difference in the prevalence of osteosarcoma among any age group between fluoridated and non fluoridated cities in New York State .

But most of all, fluoride is in toothpaste and mouthwash. If these people truly believe that it’s poison or whatever, why don’t they just stop brushing their teeth and see what happens? Problem solved.

“Well, you can’t prove that god doesn’t exist”.

Uh, yes I can.

I’m sure many of you have heard this “argument” before. Here’s a three-pronged destruction of this attempt to dodge the question that no theist can answer (“What proof do you have?”). The last nail in the coffin is saved for last – I’m sure many of you have heard the first two points but not many will have heard the last.

1. Why are you asking me to disprove your theory? That’s a burden of proof fallacy. You came up with the idea, you prove it. You don’t see me running around screaming at people “Prove I can’t fly!”. When a scientist comes up with a new theory, it’s backed by years of research, correlation with existing years of research, multiple experimentation and is then peer reviewed. When a theist has some theory his only proof is “well, you can’t prove it’s wrong”.

Well guess what? That’s literally irrational behaviour. For a refresher, see my post about Rationalism but the short of it is that rational behaviour is based on mathematical likelihood. It’s highly likely that jumping into lava will kill you, therefore it is irrational to believe otherwise. In terms of the burden of proof, the burden lies with whoever is making the extraordinary claim. As Carl Sagan once said:

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

What does this mean? Imagine I claim there is a tree in my backyard. Would a rational person contest my claim (at his own expense)? No, because even if I’m lying it’s highly likely that there is a tree in my backyard and there is little reason why I would lie about it – therefore not much proof is needed for me to assert my claim. Now, what if I claimed that I had a cat riding a unicorn shooting rainbow lasers in my backyard? Would you require proof before believing that? Apparently theists wouldn’t.

2. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Just because something hasn’t been proven to not exist, doesn’t therefore mean that it does. That’s a logical fallacy called false dichotomy. It’s also stupid – because you can think up myriad things that can’t be proven not to exist. The Flying Spaghetti Monster is a crowd favourite. Russel’s Teapot is another – you can’t prove that there isn’t a teapot orbiting Jupiter but there’s no rational cause for you to believe that in the first place.

Sometimes this is used to defend religion – just because there is no evidence of god doesn’t mean that god doesn’t exist. Well, science doesn’t work in absolutes but there is literally no rational reason for you to believe in god. However, I can indeed prove that god (or at least the definition of god as is understood by the major religions today) does not exist, which makes it doubly irrational to believe.

3. There can never be any proof of god. Why? Let’s take a look at the foundation of proof. As with the Rationalism movement, mathematics is a fundamental concept for proof. 1+1=2 regardless of what you apply it to, what you believe in and what you experience with your senses. Therefore, it follows that maths is the absolute proof – if it can exist, it can be described mathematically in some way or form. Mind you, not everything that is mathematically reconcilable exists (or at least not all of them have been proven). Maths is just the large boundary separating the possible from the impossible – just because it’s possible doesn’t mean it’s real; but if it’s impossible then it’s definitely not real.

The problem? You cannot mathematically describe god because that would be akin to removing his omnipotence. If the singularity is a point of infinite mass and infinite gravity, how do you describe a god that created this infinity? 2 x infinity? Infinity squared? It’s still infinity. Are you thus claiming that god is equal in power to a singularity? God, by definition, breaks all universal laws and defies all mathematics. It is therefore impossible to provide any proof of god – and by extension god cannot rationally exist. It is an empty concept that has lingered since ancient times for small minds to placate themselves in the absence of knowledge.

Many theists acknowledge this problem and have said that it is impossible to find any evidence of god in the universe because the act of finding such evidence would mean that god is bound by some sort of parameters allowing us to find his hand in things – hence removing his omnipotence. Fair enough, at least these people acknowledge that there can never be any evidence. The question then remains, if you’ve accepted that there is absolutely no evidence in existence to support your faith, why do you still blindly follow?

Apollo Syndrome was coined by Dr Meredith Belbin and describes the phenomenon in which teams of highly capable individuals perform poorly as a collective. Whilst counter-intuitive, I’m sure many of you can think of examples where you’ve seen this happen (the first that comes to my mind is NBA All-Star teams). I should clarify, by badly I mean with a lack of synergy (they perform worse than they should given their individual talents).

There are many reasons for this phenomenon and I’m sure the brighter of you all can come up with a few yourself just by thinking about it. Belbin specifically noted the following flaws in Apollo teams:

  • Excessive time spent in abortive or destructive debate in which members try to persuade others to adopt their own point of view, and demonstrating a flair for spotting weaknesses in others’ arguments (the latter part is such a good description of me).
  • Difficulties faced in decision making and decisions that were reached displayed incoherence and were somewhat inconsistent.
  • Members tended to act individually without taking into account what other members were doing, making the team difficult to manage.
  • Members recognised what was happening but overcompensated by avoiding confrontation, which equally added to problems.

These are somewhat axiomatic – now that I’ve listed them to you, you’re probably thinking it makes a lot of sense. Apollo teams do work though, and in understanding their failings you can help maximise their benefits.

In general, successful Apollo teams lacked highly dominant individuals and had a particular style of leadership. As with all relationships, some sort of compromise must be available so that everyone is kept in line.

The overarching theme of Belbin’s work relates to the concept of synergy. You’re all probably aware of what synergy is but in practice, most people will choose raw “stats” (of an individual) over how well they fit into the team. I guess the lesson to take from here is to consider each person’s ability to contribute, not how qualified each person is by themselves.

What’s interesting is this also displays the tendency for “Alpha males” to butt heads. This is an evolutionary remnant of our primal selves, so I find it quaint that it still exists in so many forms in contemporary society. However, I do have a conflicting theory that I may mention in a later post.

Apparently, Apollo Syndrome has evolved to be used as a term to describe the condition of a person having an overly important view of their own role within a team.

The negative synergy that is a result of Apollo teams is often characterised as a “Deadly Embrace”, a computing term in which two programs will prevent each other from making progress. The most common example is when two programs take exclusive control of a particular file, and then try to gain access to the other file. Each program will refuse to relinquish their own file and wait for the other to release their’s – therefore nothing ever happens. Applying this to human teams can be quite an apt analogy.

As interesting as this is as a little tip and a bit of extra knowledge, you might not see much relevance of this to your daily lives. In that case, I would encourage you to read between the lines and apply the core principle to appropriate scenarios. Apollo Syndrome is often taught in management courses (that’s where I learned it from – a management course at my university) and does in fact have relevance and impact. It’s not just another funny little theory that nobody pays attention to – it’s definitely something to keep in mind.

 

Took the lazy option and decided to answer my own question in my short story: The Loneliest Particle in the Universe.

I posed the question “How many scientific references can you point out?”

Here’s the list, off the top of my head:

Fusion/fission of elements in stars.

Wave-particle duality.

Time dilation.

Schrodinger’s cat (as a reference to quantum mechanics).

Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.

Light dispersion.

Observer effect.

Diameter of the universe.

Life in the universe.

—————————–

I have work in the morning and not enough time to explain these, but I may come back and do so, perhaps in separate posts.

In the meantime, enjoy searching for these references.

So you thought you were forever alone? Meet Photon, The Loneliest Particle in the Universe. Feel free to click that link if you want to read a short story about this topic.

Some of you might know about time dilation (most of you, hopefully). Basically, as you approach light speed (denoted by the constant c) time slows. If you reach time is frozen (from your perspective). Perspectives are a huge part of science and relate to a lot of really interesting theories, some of which I will make separate posts about. For now, though:

So, let’s introduce our forever alone particle, Mr. Photon. Photons are the particle associated with light (and electromagnetic radiation). Since, for all intents and purposes, a photon is light, they travel at c. That means time never passes for a photon.

From the moment a photon is emitted, it is frozen for all eternity in that very same moment. Time doesn’t pass for it, and from its point of view, it never travels. If that last bit was confusing, remember what I said about perspectives. Travelling implies speed, which implies distance covered over a period of time.

Even if it moves from one side of the universe to the other, the photon will always be entirely alone, frozen in the moment it was born.

And you thought you were lonely.

Reductionists, theists and ignorant people (these don’t necessarily exclude each other) often argue that science is unemotional, destroying of hope and a bleak outlook on life. I’ve always argued the exact opposite. There is very little in the world that can be as poetically melancholy as what I have just described, and photons are really just the tip of the iceberg.

Join science. We have cookies and a cat that is both dead and alive.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 189 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 318,187 hits