2007.03.21 Packing on the pounds is a real science

Written by David Green.


There’s a real shortage of math and science teachers in this country and a shortage of kids eager to go into math and science related professions. I don’t know why that it is. Math and science have such practical applications in the real world. Take that business about energy. You know how we learned in high school that it’s neither created or destroyed? Or is it matter they were talking about? Both? Whatever. You see examples of that law of physics all the time.

Weight loss is a prime example. People all around me are losing weight like crazy. And where do you think all those pounds go? That’s right, on my hips, thighs and stomach. I found them there again, wrapped around my abdomen in abundance, when I was trying on clothes at a resale shop this weekend.

It’s a closed system, weight loss—whenever someone loses pounds, someone gains. I don’t know what the practical applications are of that bit of physics, but I’m thinking I might have to seek out new friends and maybe even change my job given the rate of gain going on around my girth.

I suppose you can guess I wasn’t much of a physics student. I learned enough to do well on tests, but then all those facts flew out the window of my brain soon after passing the New York State Regents Exam. Science was just something to muddle through when I was in school, but now it’s getting pretty lucrative. High schoolers should wise up and get excited about math and science—there will be a payoff as early as the college years. The federal government is so worried about the shortage of students in those fields, it’s offering National SMART grants.

SMART (Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent) is a new program for junior and senior college students and it pays up to $4,000 a year for each of the third and fourth academic years. So students would have to first slug through those horrible introductory courses that turned this budding soil scientist into a social science major. The catch of course is that students have to pursue a major in physical, life, or computer sciences, engineering, technology, mathematics or a critical-need foreign language.

I don’t know what languages they’re talking about—Chinese would be among them, I’d wager—but a kid would be pretty smart to consider heading into one of those math and science fields. Just think, if there were lots of science-oriented kids studying the brain, they might be able to figure out how to get people to curtail eating and increase exercise when they see the pounds adding up on the scale and the inches on the tape measure tell them their pants aren’t going to fit today. Mathematicians could figure out how many pounds are lost and how to make sure they are gained elsewhere—across the world even—by people who could stand to use a few more pounds.

For this undisciplined lover of food, it’s going to take an educational revolution to impact my eating habits—or maybe even the powers of a magician. If science and magic combined forces, maybe they could figure out a way to make fattening food disappear when you think about eating it. I suspect it will entail employing that other law of physics called “now you see it, now you don’t.”

     March 21. 2007


  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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