By Daniel Engber
Posted 08.22.2012 at 3:09 pm 4 Comments
Short answer: Not really.
Long answer: All muscles are capable of cramping, but the ones farthest away from your spinal cord—in your feet and lower legs, for example—tend to be the most vulnerable to seizing up. The long, spindly nerve cells that run from the spinal cord to the toes are especially prone to damage. The prevalence of nerve damage increases with age, so the elderly are among the most common victims.
Getting to space is a tough enough prospect, and even once you make it out of our atmosphere, there are still physical issues. Chief among them: a long flight can cause a loss of bone and muscle mass. To find ways to combat that process, researchers study C. elegans, worms that have a surprising amount in common with humans. But a recent study noticed a strange side effect for space-bound worms: they lived longer.
The only mammals that can fly are also the only mammals with a larynx that flexes at ludicrous speed, a new study shows. As bats flip and whirl toward their prey, they chirp at an accelerating rate, increasing their echolocating calls to 160-190 chirps per second. This is possible because their laryngeal muscles can contract up to 200 times per second, researchers say.
Around mile 10 of a recent half marathon, my quadriceps started to tighten and my feet increasingly felt like lead. Along with improving my training, perhaps in the future I will use zinc-finger nuclease scissors to snip out a gene called IL-15Rα, so I can run long distances with ease.
Mice that lack this gene, which is related to muscle contraction, can run much farther than their counterparts, a new study says — suggesting a genetic predisposition to endurance in some athletes.
Researchers at Tokyo University, along with some help from Sony, created a device that straps onto your arm, sort of like a blood pressure cuff, and sends electrical signals to your fingers that can move them in precise ways. It's called, of course, the PossessedHand.
In a breakthrough that could lead to significant advances in materials science and tissue engineering, researchers at the U. of British Colombia have engineered a solid biomaterial that mimics the elasticity of muscle. Using artificial proteins, the team was able to recreate the molecular structure of the protein titin, which plays a vital role in making our muscles the versatile tissues that they are.
When Matthew Schiefer, a neural engineer at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, first managed to stimulate the leg of an unconscious volunteer by wrapping an electrode around a nerve bundle, he knew he was on to something. Now, four years later, Schiefer has created a new kind of nerve-activating electrical interface that could allow people with paralyzed limbs to activate their legs with the push of a button.
The perils of space flight number in the hundreds, from radiation exposure to the impact of micro-asteroids. But for astronauts who spend an extended amount of time floating weightlessly in the near-endless void of space, muscle atrophy remains the most common health problem. Thankfully, a shipment of RNA-treated worms may help scientists on the International Space Station solve that issue.
A specially engineered fruit could increase muscle power by more than half, but researchers are keeping mum
By Brett Zarda
Posted 05.01.2008 at 5:03 pm 4 Comments
An apple a day might keep away more than the doctor. HortResearch, a New Zealand company with 400 scientists studying all things fruit, has early data that suggests a specific (mystery) fruit can delay fatigue by 20 percent and increase muscle power by 70 percent. But don't raid the produce aisle quite yet. Hort won't say which fruit has shown the benefits and also notes their version is a variety bred internally for the right compound interactions. In other words, for those of use not lucky enough to be Hort test subjects, it doesn't exist.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.