Friday, May 24, 2013

Your Body's Chemistry: Pyruvate

I'm a big proponent of understanding how things work first before I take action to achieve a desired result from it, but if you were like me you were falling asleep in high school biology class...and you flat out just did awful (I got a C). However, maybe if some of that chemistry was applied to everyday life, I actually would've paid attention.

One of the most important things we learn about without realizing it is the Krebs Cycle. This is the cycle that our body's cells use to make energy. Its part of the reason we get hangovers after drinking and also the reason for weight loss in exercise. I want to share a diagram of the cycle to highlight a huge part of it when it comes to weight loss.

Basically, one of the most important things about energy systems is that if you want to increase your output, you need to increase your input. The Kreb Cycle essentially begins with a substance called pyruvate, that through a series of reactions converts into ATP, which is the molecule cells use for energy. So using this basic assumption about energy systems, if you increase your input (pyruvate) you increase your output (energy). This is big because in order to do these reactions in the cycle, your body has to use energy in the form of calories. So if we increase the amount of pyruvate our cells are getting, we thus increase the amount of ATP created and increase the number of calories burned to make it. Calories burned equals weight loss.

There was a study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine that confirmed this principle, however its important to note that subjects were not given a standard dosage of 500mg found in most supplements, the were given a much higher dosage around 6-8g. So with a little digging on the internet, I found this stuff:

One of the side effects of upping your pyruvate intake is your sweatpoint happens a lot sooner. Your sweatpoint is the point at which during a workout your body starts to pour with sweat. My experience from taking this stuff so far is that sweatpoint happens a lot sooner. I also feel like I have more energy to get through double and even triple workout sessions if I want. No jitters or energy crash either like from caffeine, and no facial blood rush like you get with nitrogen-based pre-workout supplements. Great stuff, will definitely be buying more. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Fame Equation

I like reality TV stars. I don't watch a whole lot of reality TV, however I think it says a lot about human beings socially. As long as time as stretched, people have always associated fame with talent: if you're the best at something then you'll probably be famous. And rightfully so, how many examples can you think of where someone's fame is a result of their talent? Probably thousands, just look at any major singer or movie star.

However, watching reality TV and the resultant stars from it makes you realize that this correlation between talent and fame is not so strong, in fact its flat-out weak. If Fame = Talent, then that expression would explain people like Tom Cruise, Lebron James, or Christina Aguilera, but what about Pauly D, Kim Kardashian, or Paris Hilton? Surely whatever explanation that explains Lebron James's claim to fame should equally be able to explain Kim Kardashian's, because in terms of fame they're pretty much equal. Yet one has a clear monetizeable talent while the other is seemingly just famous for being famous. What gives?

So let's take the Fame = Talent equation and throw it out because it isn't explaining much. We need an equation that not only explains the Tom Cruises and Angelina Jolies, but one that explains the Kim Kardashians, Paris Hiltons, and regrettably, even the John Wilkes Booths and Dzhokhar Tsarnaevs. We need an equation that objectively expresses fame, whether good or bad, in clear simple terms with talent not being an integral part of the equation. So without further ado, I give to you, the Fame Equation:

Simple, yet all encompassing, this equation explains fame ranging from movie stars to dictators, from Real Housewives to real psychopaths. It explains why criminals and killers can achieve levels of fame as high or even higher than a TV star and can potentially help us prevent the frequencies of atrocities such as school shootings. So let's take a look at each component so we can better understand what fame is really comprised of.

Novelty is often thought of in terms of something that is good (i.e. "what a novel idea!," novelty stores, etc.) however in this equation novelty simply means something that diverges from the norm. This can be an specific event, a personality, a talent, an achievement...anything that for one reason or another cannot be classified as "status quo."

Gossip is the resultant talk or word of mouth regarding that particular novelty, this includes the identity of the person as well as the novelty about them, so in essence Gossip really can be broken down into even simpler terms, Gossip = Person's Identity + Novelty.

Bandwidth is quite simply the speed and spread at which something travels. Bandwidth in this equation is affected by things such as media channels, influential people, and communication methods. Gossip is magnified exponentially by the bandwidth in which it travels. Case in point, if gossip were to make a major headline in news outlets, the magnitude of that gossip will have been increased dramatically than it otherwise would have been if it were just to travel from person to person. So in short, a person's fame can be expressed by the magnitude at which something novel about them is talked about.

Understanding this equation can not only help us become potentially more successful in our everyday lives, but also understand how to take preventative measures when it comes to bad fame. To quote Shakespeare, nothing in this world is good or bad, but thinking makes it so. The same goes for fame in this equation: fame is objective, its nothing more than a metric. Its how we interpret that fame that determines whether its good or bad fame. So when we look at something that we'd consider to have "bad fame" such as the notoriety of a shooter or terrorist, we can take action as a society to reduce its power.

Let's take the example of a school shooting. One of the reasons school shootings happen so frequently now is because of the instant fame that is given to the shooter. The appeal of doing such an atrocity is that its quite simply "easy fame" with a simple thought process behind it: do something atrocious, then everybody will know me, then everybody will finally listen.

So if we look at a school shooting through the lens of the fame equation, we can see how this works:

Expressed in the fame equation, the killer becomes famous when he does something atrocious and the resultant discussion of his doing is magnified by it making every major news outlet and talk show.

So how do we mitigate this? Humans nature is to talk to each other, especially when it comes to things of novelty or interest. We are social animals. Do we really need to change our nature just to prevent awful occurrences like school shootings from happening?

The good news is we do not, only the specific content that we talk about. Let's assign some arbitrary values to this particular "famous killer" example and put them into the Fame Equation:

So here we have assigned an arbitrary value of 500,000 to denote a killer's fame after committing an atrocious event, where Novelty of the event equals 5, Gossip equals 10, and Bandwith equals 5. Now that we know the factors that contributed to the killer's fame, can we erase his fame by just not talking about it? It theory yes, because if the Gossip equals 0, zero to power of anything is zero, multiplied by anything is still zero, which means resultant Fame is,! However, we know that in practice, that would never happen because people will talk regardless.

So if we can't eliminate Fame, perhaps we can make it less significant. Let's remember again that gossip is comprised of a person's identity as well as whatever is novel about them (Gossip = Person's Identity + Novelty). We can't erase the Novelty itself especially if its an event that already occurred, but what if we don't know the person's name? What if we remove their identity from the equation and make them anonymous?

For example purposes, we'll say the Gossip is made up of about half what the person does or did (Novelty), half about the person themselves, such as their background, why they did it, etc. (Person's Identity). So where gossip equaled 10, we'll say the Person's Identity equaled 5 and the Novelty of the event still equals 5. Let's see what happens with a little substitution and when we eliminate the Person's Identity (Person's Identity now equals 0):

Pretty amazing, huh? So just by anonymizing the identity of the person, we cut the fame factor and thus the appeal to commit the atrocity itself by almost 100,000%! This is huge when it comes to taking preventative measures of such atrocities. If law enforcement made it a policy to anonymize the identity of the person who committed the crime, they'd effectively mitigate the exponential power of the media and thus the appeal to even commit such a horrible act in the first place. Could it be done in every case? Probably not, especially if the person is already well-known, however not confirming the identity would still reduce the identity factor and the resulting fame factor by a huge amount.

So good or bad, the fame equation explains a lot about the famous figures in our society. Fame is nothing but a metric, a metric that can be interpreted as either good or bad, significant or insignificant. It's how we use that metric that matters most.