Wed, 01/17/2018 - 9:09pm

NC Science Now Reporter's blog

Medicines With Class

It’s a pretty common routine.

You visit the doctor’s office for a medical issue and, after a brief examination, you walk out of the office with a prescription. At some point later, you stop by the pharmacy and leave with the medicine in hand.

You may not pay much more attention to the medication. After all the pill, liquid, nasal spray or injection is just something to help you feel better. But it turns out, there are huge differences in medicines. Here are the basics.

Aerobic vs. Anaerobic

The terms aerobic and anaerobic are not only used when talking about processing and cleaning wastewater, as discussed in the story Turning Wastewater Into Energy. These words can also apply to exercise.

In both cases, the words are referring to the amount of oxygen being used to perform an activity. During aerobic exercise, just as in cleaning wastewater, there is enough oxygen available to continue the current level of activity without getting additional energy from another source.

Slowing Down

The idea of fast-growing vegetables and plants is implied in every advertisement for some brands of fertilizers, compost, or other soil additives. If the particular product and the chemicals inside it are added to the soil, plants will produce more fruits and vegetables because they will grow stronger, higher, hardier and faster.

Pharma For a Fee

Have you visited your local pharmacy lately?

I hope you haven’t because that might mean you are dealing with a medical issue. But the next time you do need to visit, stop for a few seconds and look around.

We are blessed to be living at a time of amazing medical breakthroughs that help us deal with everything from the common cold to back pains and muscle aches to more serious medical issues.

However all of that medicine comes at a cost—and it is a big cost.

Weird Brain Facts

Research has shown that we spend about one third to a half of our time up in the clouds daydreaming, drifting, or thinking off-task. Whatever the term you choose to use, it implies that the brain is not working during that time.

However, scientists now know the brain is unusually active during that time. That’s because the brain activates several areas associated with complex problem solving. So, while the brain may not be concentrating on the task at hand, it unconsciously turns its attention to sort through other important problems.

Swimming with Sharks

Have you ever noticed how memorable events in your life start out innocently?

That’s how I ended up swimming with sharks and a lot of other ocean dwellers in the open ocean tank at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island.

I was on a conference call with several other UNC-TV producers and the staff at the aquarium when Maylon White, the Aquarium director, suggested I get in the tank.

“Sure,” I exclaimed, “That would be a great part of the program!”

Creating Happy Feet

Nobody will fault you for admitting it is easy to forget about your feet.

After all, feet are way down there. Unless you are looking straight down, which makes walking rather dangerous, you can’t really see your feet. And you know the old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind.” For the most part, we take our feet for granted. 

Using Census Data

Social vulnerability refers to the risks people face as a result of their socioeconomic status. There are a lot of ways to define social vulnerability and multiple things that can affect it; education, job skills, family, childhood circumstances, etc.

But in general, it refers to the social circumstances that place an individual or a group of people at a heightened risk. Of course to calculate that risk, researchers need to know a lot of information about the people living in a community.