Coffee Better than Soda? Of Course!

  • April 25, 2012
  • Science
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Coffee Better than Soda? Of Course!

People often have obsessions with one of those drinks, sometimes both. Coffee and soda can be found everywhere, and are enjoyed by people around the world. Unfortunately, they don’t act on your body in the same way. In fact, many studies point at coffee being the winner, at least from a health standpoint. One recent study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, confirms that coffee can in fact help save your life, by reducing the chance that you would get a stroke. On the other hand, soda increases that chance, so they stand at opposite sides of the coin here.

So, it’s not a big surprise. Coffee is good for you, while soda isn’t. Even when it’s low calorie soda cans, it doesn’t matter much. Whether there’s a lot of sugar in your soda, or a bit less, it’s still not very good for your health, and in particular your heart and cardiac system. Because of this sugar, the risk of getting a stroke goes up, while coffee on the other hand is free of the nasty ingredients in soda, and instead contains some natural substances that does the opposite, and decreases that chance. This study seems solid as well, going over 30 years and more than 100,000 people who drank either soda, coffee, or both, and measuring their actual results. Trends got analyzed, and the results came out in the report, which shows pretty convincingly which of the two habits you should adopt.

Soda also has other bad side effects. People who drank more than one can of soda per day were more likely to suffer from higher cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, both being linked with the higher chance of a stroke. So what makes coffee so good? Most studies seem to point at lignans, chlorogenic acids, magnesium and other antioxidants that can be found in various brands of coffee. Whether you take yours black, green, or with milk, it doesn’t really matter, you’re always going to find some of those good ingredients. What you should avoid however is adding the bad ingredients, like salt or sugar. After all, you wouldn’t want to turn this coffee into a soda. Also, while this was about just one particular drink, that doesn’t mean this one change in your diet suddenly ensures long and healthy living. You still need to get a healthy diet to go along with that.

Note that while the study goes after generic soda brands, those filled with sugar, it’s mostly this one ingredient that’s to blame, and you don’t have to start thinking a triple mocha latte with syrup and whipped cream is suddenly good for you. Any meal with a lot of added sugar is likely to result in the same thing as the soda cans from this test. So in the mean time, if you get thirsty, drink some coffee. It’s good for you.

New Study Reveals Meetings Might Make You Dumb

New Study Reveals Meetings Might Make You Dumb

Who knew that group interaction can lower your intelligence? Surely, not the bosses who constantly schedule group meetings.

MRI’s were used by Scientist from the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute investigated how the brain processes data relating to status in social groups and how the perceptions of such status impact on cognitive capacity expressions.

The results showed a general decrease in the ability of people to come up with solutions. (Aren’t meetings called for the purpose of coming up with solutions?)

MRI’s showed that the section of the bran that processes emotions had increased activities while the section that deals with problem solving dropped in activity.

Researchers from Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute said that the results calls for companies to develop strategies that are aimed at getting the most out of employees who are likely to feel socially pressured when in groups.

Pugh on ‘intimidated’ women

Intimidated Women

Though you might joke about staff meetings draining your brain power, findings have suggested that these meetings may cause you to ‘act’ like you’re brain dead. This was said by stated by the Director of the institute’s Human Neuroimaging Laboratory and Computation Psychiatry Unit, Read Montague, who was in charge of the research.

He further explained that when group volunteers are informed about the performance of others, their problem solving abilities decreased.

He stated that individuals were matched with persons of the same IQ and yet after placing them in groups, ranking their performance based on cognitive tasks against those of their peers, and showed them those rankings, there was a significant decrease in the ability of some of them when it comes to problem solving. There was a dramatic effect on the social feedback.

Moreover a pattern could be seen among the lines of gender.

Both men and women had IQ scores along the same baseline, but yet still more women than men fell into the group of poor performance.

Kenneth Kishida, the lead author of the research stated that the study revealed that even mild social signals in group settings can have dramatic and unexpected consequences on the cognitive functioning of individuals.

Furthermore, those strong neural reactions elicited by such social cues were documented due to neuroimaging.

Steven Quartz, who is a co-author and a philosophy at the Caltech Social Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, said that the notion of a division between the cognitive and social processes in the brain is rather artificial as the two interacts deeply with one another.

The research was published in the journal of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, on January 2012 of this year.

Your perception of the social status in a room, that is, concern about how cool, capable, or smart you are as the other persons in the group, can hinder the problem solving ability of even the smartest persons. This suggests that IQ measurement should entail more than just a single test that allows you to be isolated.

New Study Finds Coffee Actually Good For Your Health

  • January 20, 2012
  • Science
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New Study Finds Coffee Actually Good For Your Health

It’s long been suspected that coffee was good for the health, and could help with many serious diseases. Through studies and tests, people who drink coffee regularly have been found to be less likely to contract some diseases or health problems, although there had never been any definite results, and no indication as to why that was. Now, thanks to some scientists in China, we get some new and conclusive evidence that coffee can indeed help you out in major ways. Here’s why coffee is good for your health.

Several years ago, studies showed that people who drink 4 cups of coffee per day were 50% less likely to get Type-2 diabetes. Every additional cup would decrease that risk even more. It seemed fairly incredible, but the results were consistent. The coffee beans would, in fact, bring a lot of positive effects. Now, scientists from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan University, and Wuhan Institute of Biotechnology in China, have found that coffee compounds would inhibit something called human islet amyloid polypeptide, which is a substance that’s linked with diabetes. Now, they believe this is why drinking coffee can have such a strong impact on the prevention of Type-2 diabetes. It fits with the studies done so far, and could explain much as to why coffee is good for your health.

Of course, this is just the latest in good coffee research. Last year, Harvard University found that coffee drinking can help with prostate cancer and breast cancer as well. One of the studies showed that women who drank 5 cups or more per day were 57% less likely to get estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer, which is one of the most prevalent types of cancers. Also, while Alzheimer’s disease is still not officially prevented with coffee, new studies on mice have shown increased brain functions from drinkers of coffee. It could well be that mental functions in humans will end up being proven to be affected in a similar way. More studies are needed of course, but it does seem like that’s where science is headed. Within a few years, we may have conclusive studies as to the effect on coffee on the brain.

Overall, the benefits of drinking large amounts of coffee seems to be piling on lately, thanks to studies that show coffee is good for your health. The new China results on Type-2 diabetes is just the latest in a string of results that show the benefits of coffee, and why it’s important to drink a few cups every day. While this drink has not quite reached medication status, it may well be a powerful prevention.

Could your printer be a Trojan horse? New Study Says Yes

  • November 30, 2011
  • Tech
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Could your printer be a Trojan horse? New Study Says Yes

Viruses and malware are everywhere, infecting Windows computers, and now there’s reports of smartphones getting some serious infections as well. But if there’s one thing we would think should be safe, is our printers. Unfortunately, researchers from Columbia University showed that’s not the case. They infected printers with their own self created malware which allowed them to take control, and make them do a series of commands. Their findings sounds like it’s straight out of a science fiction movie.

The brand they picked was HP and their LaserJet networked printers. These printers are connected directly to a local network instead of on a computer, so that all devices can share it and send print jobs. The way they initially found the vulnerability was to discover that these printers look up for possible firmware updates every time a print request is sent. Also, the printers they tested did no verification as to whether the firmware was valid or not. From there, it was a simple matter to infect them with special code, and giving them an access door into the device. Their reports claimed they could add the printer to a bot net, send random print jobs, change settings, heat the printer up, and almost make it catch fire. The results, according to the researchers, were not pretty, and made headlines across the web.

However, HP came back and said things were not that bad. First, only printers made before 2009 accept unsigned firmware updates. Since then, their devices will only install a new firmware if it’s been digitally signed by HP. Also, the printer has a built in check to prevent it from heating up too much and catching on fire, which is why the researchers never actually manage to burn one up. It’s the default behavior. Lastly, to actually infect the printer you would have to be on the local network, or the printer would need to be linked in such a way that it was accepting print requests from the whole Internet. They played down the results and indicated that the chances of such a problem occurring in the wild was close to non-existent. The results were achieved inside of a university lab only.

Overall, the actual window of opportunity is indeed quite small, and we’re unlikely to see a large number of printers suddenly starting to misbehave. Basically, outside of academic research, there’s no real incentive for bad guys to attack printers, and instead they’re likely to stick with new emerging platforms that are always connected, and have unproven security models, like tablets and smartphones. So while your printer has little to worry about, it’s still not the end of the road in the fight against malware.

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