How Altitude Sickness Affects Your Body And How You Can Beat It

Altitude sickness can make you dizzy, nauseous, and, in extreme cases, can even kill you. All of us at IndefinitelyWild have experienced it. Here’s what we’ve learned and how you can minimize its symptoms.

Source: How Altitude Sickness Affects Your Body And How You Can Beat It

Definitely something I wanted to learn about, but give the risk factors for high altitude edema (pulmonary and cerebral) – I don’t think anyone’s doctor will condone such activity for those of us on blood thinners.  Stick to GoPro footage 😉

The Best Ways to Keep Fruit from Browning, Tests to Prove It

The brown spots that mar an otherwise beautiful piece of fruit is basically “fruit rust,” caused by oxygen in the air reacting with a plant enzyme called “polyphenol oxidase.” This article explains the science in more detail, but to prevent enzymatic browning, you either have to stop the oxygen or the enzyme (or both.) Most prevention methods involve a physical barrier (water) and a chemical inhibitor (such as ascorbic acid) but we wanted to see which solutions provided the best solution to this ugly problem.

Source: Tip Tester: The Best Ways to Keep Fruit from Browning

They didn’t test the barrier 😦

Water can break things down, turning stuff to mush.  Honey is a different material, and has been used in the past for treating wounds so I’m not entirely surprised at the test result.

How Nature Can Mummify a Brain

Brains, like everything else, decompose. But nature has a way of halting that decay.

Source: How nature can mummify a brain

The woolly mammoth is really interesting.  We actually get to see what such an animal looked like.  Dinosaurs?  We can’t decide about feathers, much less colour of…

We’ve lost a lot of information in places where you can’t bury the dead.  For example, “sky burial” was practiced in the area around Tibet.  Sky burial was where the body would be cut into pieces, left for carrion birds (IE vultures).  As our population increases, the need for real estate increases.  So burial sites are likely to turn into what we already see in the Middle East, where your remains will get added to a box containing your ancestors.

Brain Damage Occurs After 6 Minutes, But the Holding Breath Record is 22?

The air you inhale is ~21% oxygen, and the air you exhale is 13-16% oxygen. Hold your breath for a minute with a blood oxygen meter on, and you find that there is zero change in the amount of oxygen your blood is carrying. Hold for another minute and your blood oxygen level will only drop a few percent. The urge to breath becomes intense very quickly because your body doesn’t actually know the amount of oxygen in your blood. But your body senses the build up of carbon dioxide (CO2)…  As your oxygen level drops, your body starts to restrict blood flow to the extremities and this (not the actual lack of oxygen) is what causes your fingers or lips to tingle when you are extremely out of breath.

Our bodies can also power many systems anaerobically (without oxygen) – your muscles can use more energy less efficiently and with more waste (lactic acid) for quite some time.  The only vital part of you that lacks this ability is your brain. Now all this adds up to the ability to hold your breath for ~8 minutes with proper training…  Some use hyperventilating to suppress the breathing reflex – this is extremely dangerous, and thousands of people drown/die that way every year!

The record referenced is a pure O2 record, where the diver holds their breath after breathing pure medical grade oxygen.  The grade of oxygen doesn’t matter – it doesn’t reduce the feeling of needing to breath at all, it just allows someone to hold breath much longer.

Fun fact: Kids can have breath-holding spells.  They generally grow out of it by the time they’re 5 or 6 years old.  I haven’t seen anything to support it, but I was told that the theory was that the carbon dioxide feedback loop isn’t foolproof at that age.  My brother was far worse – he could trigger a nosebleed when he wanted.  My poor mother…

How Does Lung Capacity Increase?

Alveoli are the sites in our lungs where oxygen moves from the air to the blood stream.  You can do things like smoking, which damages the alveoli to give you bigger open spaces with less surface area. Less surface area means less efficient. Things like diabetes, or high blood pressure, can cause the space between the alveoli and the blood vessels to increase, making it harder for oxygen to diffuse across and decrease efficiency.

You can’t increase alveoli/surface-area because your lungs are already packed full of them. Thus, you can’t decrease diffusion distance because the space is already as thin as it can be. You can’t increase total volume of your lungs because their size is limited by your ribcage.

The best you can do is just avoid things that make them worse. However, you can increase efficiency of the cardiovascular system which works with the lungs.

There are other things that effect the total picture of “increase stamina” such as increasing stored glycogen in the muscles or increasing one type of muscle fiber and decreasing another type of muscle fiber that is better suited to the activity you are performing (such as for long distance running you will increase Type 1 muscle fibers and decrease Type 2 muscle fibers).

TLDR: Your body becomes more efficient. The blood cells that carry oxygen work better after doing cardio for a while.

How does compare to trying to increase time you can hold your breath?

Holding your breath isn’t the same as cardio. You feel the need to breathe when you have too much carbon dioxide (CO2) in your system, instead of not enough oxygen.

You can train your mind to ignore higher levels of CO2 to pretty absurd degrees.  Another trick is to hyperventilate 3 times before holding your breathe. This rids your body of more CO2 than usual, allowing you to hold your breath for a longer amount of time.

Your lungs never really expand past peak capacity, your body simply uses the air more efficiently.

Why Are Chemists Willing To Risk Their Lives To Make “Satan’s Kimchi”?

A few days ago I wrote about sodium azide, a nasty chemical that has been put to a nice use. As usual, io9 commenters one-upped me by bringing up dioxygen difluoride — also known as Satan’s Kimchi, or FOOF. Learn all about the chemical that requires you risk life and limb just to synthesize it.

Dioxygen difluoride is made up of two fluorine atoms and two oxygen atoms – earning it the nickname FOOF. It sounds simple, but fluorine isn’t an easy chemical to work with under any circumstances, and it can’t be forced into this particular combination without a 700 degree heating block.

Source: Why Are Chemists Willing To Risk Their Lives To Make “Satan’s Kimchi”?

No actual kimchi (how much vitamin K?).  The article only mentions that the nickname came from the blog “Things I Won’t Work With“.  I think someone deserves:

Keep Your Wine Fresh After Opening, Using The Power Of Inert Gas

Opening a new bottle of wine always involves a little bit of mental math: Will you be left with a fraction of a bottle? And, if so, how long will you have, before its flavor turns to vinegar? Fortunately, there’s a solution, and it’s hidden in the periodic table.

…It turns out, however, that the different kinds of wine respond best to different kinds of inert gases.

Source: Keep Your Wine Fresh After Opening, Using The Power Of Inert Gas

Obligatory “air is not oxygen” – nitrogen is a big component of what we breath, so it makes sense to use in situations where air exposure is not ideal. But some wines need to breathe, which is why it’s good to serve it from a decanter.  Though I’ve had a lot of trouble trying to get the last drops out of a decanter…

The article only talks about wine, nothing about beer in growlers for instance but then you’re dealing with carbonation.  Vacuum systems are an option…

there are 5 ways to make old, stale wine tasty again.

Fueling and Training for Endurance Events

Knowing you’re able to ride as long as your route, riding mates or imagination requires is a very powerful feeling. Conversely, feeling dread about passing the one-hour, two-hour or three-hour point will limit your training and fitness gains, and ultimately your enjoyment.

Here’s how to break through these self-imposed endurance ceilings that are keeping you from making the most…

Source: How to increase cycling endurance

My favorite quote would be:

…consuming 15g honey or glucose taken every 10 miles during a 64km ride improves performance compared to water alone.

Imperial or metric? I can’t decide! 🙂

10 miles is 16 KM – they’re advocating every quarter of the distance.  What constitutes honey isn’t addressed in the article – honey is determined by having pollen in it, which can trigger allergic reactions for some and you’d have to investigate your store bought “honey” because they’re filtering a lot of pollen out these days.

I don’t think I could consume honey, which gets into the next point not raised by the article – try what they suggest but everyone is different so it’s up to you to figure out what actually works best.  But I do agree with the recommendation to have water with electrolytes in it – currently I’m using Nuun’s tabs, but have used a combination of Nuuns and Heed.

It was triathlon training that brought it to my attention that eating a good breakfast is a good idea, but requires you to eat early so you’re not bogged down, trying to swim/run/cycle/etc with all that in your tummy.  Lots I know get up around 3 or 4 in the morning on race day to eat, and then go back to bed for a couple of hours until the event.

It’s only the last three paragraphs that address endurance training.  It doesn’t come overnight, and it takes time.  I’ve yet to get into heart rate as a training tool – whatever minus your age is too generalized to be of value.  If your rate is high, but you can still talk?  Then you’re OK at that level.

Synthetic Leaf for Colonizing Space

Direct link to the video (vimeo, 2:54 minutes):

Royal College of Art graduate Julian Melchiorri has developed a “man-made biological leaf,” made from chloroplasts and a silk product, that produces oxygen the same way a real plant does. As Melchiorri explains in the video, that could be a boon for space exploration.

Source: Watch the Synthetic Leaf Creator Explain How We Could Colonize Space

The chandelier looks interesting, and it’s cool to think that the light would serve both illumination and produce oxygen.  Plants don’t grow in zero gravity, hence the need for this sort of technology.  But how does it taste in salad?