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CLASSICAL GAS --
SCIENTIFIC GOSSIP

compiled by Stephen Drew

 

Power Coffee May Increase Osteoporosis Risk

Business executives' craze for "power coffee" may be putting their bones at risk. Power coffee is coffee that has been brewed in the usual way, and into which one (or sometimes two) teabags have been placed. A report that will be submitted to the AMERICAN JOURNAL OF EPIDEMIOLOGY concludes that regular consumption of power coffee may increase drinkers' risk of osteoporosis, a condition involving bone loss and embrittlement. Osteoporosis contributes to the high rate of hip fracture among the elderly.

In some executive suites, a daily competition now takes place, with CEOs, CFOs and senior vice presidents allowing their teabags to steep in coffee for long periods of time.

Researchers examined data on 310 executive males, aged 52-65, and 42 executive females, aged 32-45, in the United States and France, and also made use of data from historical files in Norway, Japan and Brazil (power coffee had a brief vogue in the latter three countries during the 1920's). Both sets of data were also found to square with animal studies showing that power coffee increases urinary calcium excretion and may inhibit gastric absorption of calcium.


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Power Coffee and the Berlin Wall

Another study being organized by a consortium of German Universities will examine the idea that power coffee increases heart risks. Researchers will survey 45,589 male dentists, optometrists, osteopathic physicians, pharmacists, podiatrists and vegetarians, none of whom have a personal history of cardiovascular disease. Half of the volunteers live in the region that formerly was East Germany. Prior to November 1989, East German citizens had no exposure to power coffee.


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New Standard for OLP Formula

The longstanding disagreement concerning the substance OLP has been settled by the United Nations Organization for Chemical Formulaic Standards. OLP is a pheromone produced by elderly mammals. OLP's ancient folkname, from which the formal name is derived, is "old laddie powder" or "old lady powder." OLP was first artificially synthesized in 1966 by F. Boisse Laboratories of Montpelier, France. Synthetic OLP has become a key component in the manufacture of many products, including magnetic recording tape.

The formula has been in dispute since 1972, when Boisse Laboratories lost control of the patent to a consortium of British, Italian and Romanian interests. Litigation involving at least seventeen countries, complicated by an unrelated series of administrative disputes among several international standards organizations, led to the de facto acceptance of several competing standards for defining the OLP formula. The new standard is expected to have an effect on OLP prices, lowering them or possibly raising them.


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Subliminal Comfort

Stiff arms and legs, poor blood circulation, couch sores, stale air. For these and other reasons, waiting rooms often wear out the people they were meant to welcome. That may soon change. Keisuke Terezawa of Tokyo's Design Functionality Corporation has discovered an array of techniques for preventing the tedious effects that people dread. In his test lounge, Terezawa uses couches that gently, semi-randomly vibrate, light levels that shift subtly at irregular intervals (the color composition of the light is also varied), varying sub-audible vibrations in the air, varying ionization and scent manipulations in the air conditioning system, and other methods to subtly enliven the plight of the waiting guest. The keys, says Terezawa, are subtlety and variability. The various changes in the tactile, visual, olfactory and electrical environment are all performed in slight increments and at irregular intervals. Terezawa found that changes which are noticeable or periodic are perceived as disruptive rather than comforting. Devices incorporating his principals are expected to appear in corporate waiting rooms within three years.

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Growing Chicken Little

Nicholas Natalee, whose pioneering studies of growth have spanned such varied fields as astronomy, human embryo development and fractal mathematics, is turning his attention to yet another aspect of growth: miniature roasting chickens. Dr. Natalee, with funding from a large commercial producer of poultry and poultry products, is working on new ways to grow tiny, tasty cornish hens.

Dr. Natalee's career has been marred by unfortunate calamities. In 1978 he was nearing completion of a revolutionary new optical telescope on a mountaintop in Talca, Chile. Dr. Natale at the time was studying the growth of galaxies. The new apparatus was based on incremental mirror technology, and showed promise of increased magnifying power and lower construction cost than is possible with traditional designs. The project was ended by a sudden accident when a fragment of Skylab fell on the telescope and demolished it.


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