Online Insights on FIVEaa Sunday August 04 2013

August 4, 2013

This month on Online Insights we hope to surprise you with a whole new type of second hand smoke, decode the hidden messages of President Barack Obama and get an insight into insomnia (and how to cure it).

Cure insomnia by sleeping outside

Sleep while camping - Image: Lazurite via The ConversationSome interesting research into sleeping disorders and the body clocks of humans has revealed that camping might offer relief to people who do not have healthy sleeping patterns.

A story in The Conversation – an excellent resource for interesting science stories – features an interview with two scientists from our own Flinders University on a US study into the effect of artificial and natural light on human body clocks.

In the study, a group of six men and two women were monitored for two weeks. In the first week, they behaved normally and followed their own sleep patterns and daily rituals.

In the second week they camped outdoors and were banned from using electronic devices like smart phones, computers and ipads, and artificial light (except for a camp fire).

Article author, Hannah Valmadre, summarises the outcome thus:

After a week of exposure to only natural light, our internal circadian clocks align with solar time, the study found. In other words, our internal biological night begins at sunset, and ends when we wake just after sunrise.

I find it amazing that just one week of camping can re-align our body clocks with the natural rhythms of night and day.

The article spells out the biggest threat to us sleeping naturally is late night exposure to artificial light.

On the flipside, not enough exposure to natural light also contributes to our sleeping and waking cycles getting out of sync.

One of the sad things this story raises is just how disconnected from nature we become in our modern lifestyles.

It reminds me of an anecdote that American astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, shared on the BBC podcast, The Infinite Monkey Cage, recently.

He said that he was taken to a planetarium in New York when he was 10 years old and as they started showing stars in the night sky he thought to himself, this is a fun hoax.

It was because he had only seen about 15 stars in the Brooklyn night sky – only later did he see how many stars there really were when he was camping in the country!

If you know anyone suffering with sleep problems, suggesting they read, How a week of camping resets the body clock, might be a good place to start, provided they don’t read it on a bright computer screen just before bed!

Second hand smoke around the barbie?

red-white-vegetablesI shared a photo on Facebook through the week, which sparked a discussion centred on what vegetables were best for you.

I had roasted some beetroot, capsicum and cauliflower for a change (pictured), only to be told by Adelaide-based Chef, Scientist and Nutritionist, Mel Haynes, that I should have had green ones, and lots of them.

Her argument was that:

red/white/orange/yellow vegetables have higher levels of sugar and starch and are therefore not as nutritionally dense as green vegetables

Then conversation drifted to the delicious pork cutlet in my photo.

Mel shared a link to, with a particular search setting to reveal all the research that links meat consumption to cancer. The site has daily updates by Dr Michael Greger.

However, as I looked through the list, one story jumped out at me: Meat Fumes: Dietary Secondhand Smoke.

The main points in this story are:

  • Breathing in barbecue smoke can be considered a form of second hand smoking, with links to cancer
  • Eating meat that has been grilled can expose you to cancer causing agents
  • Living next to a restaurant can increase cancer risk – most risk comes from Chinese restaurants, except vegetarian restaurants.

Here is the video.

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The most intriguing item there is Dr Michael’s question: should we at least stop subjecting kids to BBQ smoke?

Bad lip reading

barack-obama-bad-lip-readinWe’ll finish with a video clip from a very funny team on YouTube called BLR or Bad Lip Reading.

This team redubs new speaking and singing over the top of existing video, but puts new words into speakers’ mouths.

The results are hilarious.

They tend to pick on famous speeches, TV shows and movies, and concerts, including:

  • NFL action
  • Twilight
  • The Hunger Games
  • Yeti – by Coldplay

But President Barack Obama’s inauguration speech from earlier this year, is a howler.

Take a look at the video, below, and enjoy such gems as:

  • Repeat after me: I’m proud to say your mama took a Cosby sweater
  • Our foes in the walkways are crab guys, but they don’t have meat
  • I want to make a friend feel it’s okay to plant his swatch of artichokes
  • And listen, ladies, romance is deception, romance is a parody. It is how we get you cuddly and all naughty naughty, and not questioning men more than a two-nights window
  • I buried a possum in this yard to keep it hidden, and for a week let’s all go quietly down this road wearing our backwards pants

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You can find more at the Bad Lip Reading YouTube channel.