Professor of psychology Charles Emery and other researchers at the Ohio State University have observed some interesting data about obesity in a recent study. The study focused on the home environment of obese and non obese participants and found that obese participants kept more visible food throughout the house and that food tended to be less-healthy. Both obese and non obese participants reported eating about the same number of calories and spent about the same amount on food; however, the non obese participants spent less on fast food.
The amount of food in participants’ homes was similar, however obese participants tended to store food in visible places throughout the house rather than it being concentrated in the kitchen. However Emery was quick to point out: “We’re painting a detailed picture of the home environment that two different groups of people have created. Whether that environment contributed to obesity or obesity led to the environment, we don’t know.”
Emery also stated:
“I do think the home environment is a really important place to focus on since that’s where most people spend a majority of their time. For interventions, we should be thinking about the home as a place to start helping people establish what we know to be healthier habits and behaviors.”
Emery pointed out that changing eating habits isn’t like shaking most bad habits – like smoking – as one cannot simply stop eating. The study reported that obese participants stated greater, non-monetary concerns about access to food and found it more difficult not to eat when stressed out or in a place or situation where eating is socially acceptable.
“You can’t just stop eating, but ideally you can change the way you eat and, to some degree, change the way you’re thinking about eating.”
Many of us who attend gyms or own our own treadmills don’t look forward to their use. The experience can be awkward – from programmed pace and elevation changes or the jarring nature of simply trying to change one’s pace – treadmills, while convenient, don’t offer a realistic experience.
At the Ohio State University exercise researchers think they have this inconvenience of this modern convince figured out. They’ve developed a treadmill that uses sonar to automatically adjust the speed of the treadmill based on how far back the running is on the treadmill. If one slows down and moves toward the back the treadmill slows down, likewise if one speeds up and moves forward the treadmill increases in speed.
The new treadmill was first revealed by its creators, Associate Professor of Kinesiology and Assistant Professor of Northern Kentucky University Corey Scheadler (former OSU graduate student) in a study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise.
Perhaps most interestingly, the duo used everyday ingenuity and widely available products to build their prototype. They began with an everyday sonar range finder, which is used to measure the distance between an object and the sonar device. They attached it to a micro-controller and a computer, which was connected to the circuits in the treadmill.
The sonar is set up behind the treadmill and aimed at the runner’s back, just between the shoulder blades.
When the runner is in the center of the running belt (measured from front to back), the speed of the treadmill stays the same. If the sonar senses that the runner is running further forward, that tells the device the runner is picking up speed and the sonar microcontroller sends a signal to the treadmill to speed up the belt in varying increments of speed. The speed increases until the runner returns to the middle of the belt.
If the sonar senses the runner is getting closer to the device, a signal tells the treadmill to slow down until the runner returns to the middle.
While some gym owners are probably impatiently awaiting a commercial version of this treadmill, researchers see its value as a data collecting device in the realm of exercise science.
Inside Dr. Bharat Bhushan’s lab at the Ohio State University one might find some very average looking pieces of stainless steel mesh. So normal in fact one might consider them garbage. In truth these pieces of mesh are rather like Super Man assuming his alter ego Clark Kent as they might be the new super hero of environmental clean up efforts.
Water can pass through the mesh, but oil doesn’t. The real super hero here isn’t the mesh, but rather a nanotechnology inspired by nature, a coating applied to the mesh. With this coating a mixture of oil and water is able to be poured onto the mesh—the water passes cleaning through into one beaker while the oil is easily poured off the mesh and into another.
The new nanotechnologies are under development at the Ohio State University and have been written about twice in the Nature Scientific Reports journal. As one would guess, cleaning up oil spills is one immediately imagined application of the technology, but it might also be used for tracking oil deposits underground.
“If you scale this up, you could potentially catch an oil spill with a net,” said Bharat Bhushan, Ohio Eminent Scholar and Howard D. Winbigler Professor of mechanical engineering at Ohio State.
But what does all this have to do with Lotus leaves?
For years his work has been inspired by the humble lotus leaf whose surface naturally repels water, but not oil. By using a polymer embedded with a surfactant—the part of soap that gives it its cleaning power—Dr. Bhushan was able to create this coating.
Dr. Bhushan explained that some combinations of ingredients he tried actually bind to oil instead of repelling it, which would be useful for cleaning up oil spills.
Another exciting aspect of the technology is that will probably be inexpensive to reproduce—maybe less than a dollar per square foot.
Recently University President Drake announced an impressive $400 million initiative that is intended to lower the cost of student education and improve that less-costly education. The money will be spent in a five year budget. At the moment the plan will produce $15 million in scholarships to help eliminate the need for student loans. Over the course of the five-year plan scholarship support for low to middle income students is expected to rise to about $100 million.
The money seems to be coming from the right places as well. At least $200 million will come from cutting administrative costs, while another $200 million will come from “innovative financing strategies that don’t rely on tuition or tax dollars”.
Along with trying to reduce student debt the wide reaching program hopes to rethink student advising to help students graduate on time, create an institute on teaching and learning that will support all faculty members. As well as additional educational support for students. Drake also envisions innovations in hiring practices for faculty.
Drake stressed “value-driven decision-making” as the the driving force behind the program.