How I Learned That Employees Need A Leader, Not A Friend

Early on in my career, I worked for a manager who was barely able to mask his contempt for his employees. No matter what you did, he simply could not be pleased.

As team morale suffered, I devoted more and more time to the task of trying to crack his code. Ultimately, I never managed to understand what drove his behaviors while I worked for him.

The experience left a lasting impression on me. Years later, when I started BodeTree, I promised myself that I would never be that kind of leader. I wanted to foster an environment where people felt empowered, appreciated, and genuinely happy to be part of the team.

However, in trying so hard to avoid creating the toxic environment that I dealt with earlier, I ended up going too far in the other direction. I wanted to be friends with my team members, and that caused me to avoid conflict, set nebulous expectations, and ultimately fail those around me.

Eventually, I came to a stark realization: Employees need a leader, not a friend.


Leadership is a lot like parenting. When you’re a parent, you love your child so much that you want to give them anything they want. The temptation is that by reveling in the good times and spoiling them with gifts, they will somehow love you more.

The truth, however, is that parenting isn’t about fun and games. It’s about molding your child into a person who can be an upstanding, respectable, and successful adult some day. That requires discipline, dedication, and difficult decisions. If you want what’s best for your child, you act as a parent first and a friend second.

The same logic applies to managing a team. As a leader, it feels good when the team is relaxed, comfortable, and having fun. You’re viewed as a “fun boss,” that people relate to. However, just as with parenting, leadership requires more. You can’t help people grow, mature, and perform without pushing them.

If you don’t lay out expectations for the team, push people out of their comfort zones, and hold people accountable, you’re failing in your most important role as a leader. Trying to be everyone’s best friend is a fundamentally selfish act.

It’s not about you and how well you’re liked. Leadership is about helping people become the best they can be. That means stepping up and doing what is hard, no matter what.

Avoiding conflict only makes things worse

I usually revel in conflict. There is something about embarking on a righteous crusade that motivates and inspires me. However, I don’t care for intra-office conflict. As a leader, I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt and hope that they simply do the right thing.

That approach, however, causes more problems than it avoids. The reason is that people rarely want to do the wrong thing. When behaviors disappoint or are misaligned with expectations, it’s usually due to differences in understanding or perception. Conflict avoidance does nothing more than take a bad situation and make it worse.

Instead, leaders must make their expectations clear, even when it is uncomfortable. For example, we have relatively flexible hours here at BodeTree. If a team member wants to work 8:30 to 5:30, that usually isn’t a problem. However, I have some team members who, by the nature of their job, need to be in at 8:00 sharp.

I’ve struggled to articulate that need well in the past, for a few reasons. First, I always hope that people simply do the right thing. Second, I hate setting double standards. As a result, I’ve avoided saying anything. That approach, however, is as cowardly as it is ineffective.

What I needed to do was simply level with those team members, explain the situation, and set expectations.  The ambiguity created by my conflict avoidance only led to confusion and frustration.

Accept that leadership is lonely

People still subscribe to the pyramid model of leadership, where the king sits at the top and is supported by legions of team members who strive to please. Instead, true leadership is like an inverted pyramid, with the entire organization relying on a single leader to support their efforts.

There is no escaping the fact that the role of the CEO is a fundamentally lonely one. You have no peers and end up doing the team a disservice when to try to be everyone’s best friend. Leadership means putting others ahead of yourself, and the team ahead of everyone. That requires discipline, sacrifice, and courage.

If you do the right thing for individuals and the team as a whole, you won’t always be liked. That simply goes with the territory, because employees need leaders, not friends.


How Pasteurized Dairy Destroys Your Bones From the Inside

Milk is the only beverage still aggressively pushed on children as a health promoting food when it is the exact opposite – a disease promoting food. Drinking pasteurized milk is not nearly as good for general health or bones as the dairy industry has made it out to be. In fact, this fairy tale of “milk doing a body good” is being exposed more frequently by many independent scientists and researchers who have had just about enough of the propaganda.


According to a large scale study of thousands of Swedish people, cow’s milk has a deteriorating effect on health when consumed in the long-term. The research was published in The British Medical Journal

The study, which tracked 61,433 women aged 39 to 74 over 20 years, and 45,339 men of similar age for 11 years, found that the more cow’s milk people drank, the more likely they were to die or experience a bone fracture during the study period.

The risks were especially pronounced for women, a group advised to drink milk to help avoid bone fractures that result from osteoporosis.

Women who said they drank three or more glasses of milk a day had almost double the chance of dying during the study period as those who reported drinking only one. A glass is defined as a 200 milliliter serving. They also had a 16 percent higher chance of getting a bone fracture anywhere in the body.

Why Does Milk Cause Osteoporosis and Bone Fractures

The dairy industry has been hard at work the last 50 years convincing people that pasteurized dairy products such as milk or cheese increases bioavailable calcium levels. This is totally false. The pasteurization process only creates calcium carbonate, which has absolutely no way of entering the cells without a chelating agent. So what the body does is pull the calcium from the bones and other tissues in order to buffer the calcium carbonate in the blood. This process actually causes osteoporosis.

Pasteurized dairy contains too little magnesium needed at the proper ratio to absorb the calcium. Most would agree that a minimum amount of Cal. to Mag Ratio is 2 to 1 and preferably 1 to 1. So milk, at a Cal/Mag ratio of 10 to 1, has a problem. You may put 1200 mg of dairy calcium in your mouth, but you will be lucky to actually absorb a third of it into your system.

 Over 99% of the body’s calcium is in the skeleton, where it provides mechanical rigidity. Pasteurized dairy forces a calcium intake lower than normal and the skeleton is used as a reserve to meet needs. Long-term use of skeletal calcium to meet these needs leads to osteoporosis.

Dairy is pushed on Americans from birth yet they have one of the highest risk of osteoporosis in the world. Actually, people from the USA, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Australia, and New Zealand have the highest rates of osteoporosis.

The test for pasteurization is called the negative alpha phosphatase test. When milk has been heated to 165 degrees (higher for UHT milk) and pasteurization is complete, the enzyme phosphatase is 100 percent destroyed. Guess what? This is the enzyme that is critical for the absorption of minerals including calcium! Phosphatase is the third most abundant enzyme in raw milk and those who drink raw milk enjoy increased bone density. Several studies have documented greater bone density and longer bones in animals and humans consuming raw milk compared to pasteurized.

The message that estrogen builds fracture-resistant bones (prevents osteoporosis) has been hammered into women’s minds over the past 4 decades by the pharmaceutical industry, selling HRT formulas, such as Premarin and Prempro. Food also raises estrogen levels in a person’s body–and dairy foods account for about 60 to 70% of the estrogen that comes from food. The main source of this estrogen is the modern factory farming practice of continuously milking cows throughout pregnancy. As gestation progresses the estrogen content of milk increases from 15 pg/ml to 1000 pg/ml.

The National Dairy Council would like you to believe, “There is no evidence that protein-rich foods such as dairy foods adversely impact calcium balance or bone health.” But these same dairy people know this is untrue and they state elsewhere, “Excess dietary protein, particularly purified proteins, increases urinary calcium excretion. This calcium loss could potentially cause negative calcium balance, leading to bone loss and osteoporosis. These effects have been attributed to an increased endogenous acid load created by the metabolism of protein, which requires neutralization by alkaline salts of calcium from bone.”

The More Milk You Drink, The More Inflammatory Molecules

The most likely explanation of the negative health effects of milk are the damaging inflammation caused by galactose, a breakdown product of lactose, the main sugar in milk. In a separate group of people, the team found that the more milk that people drink, the more inflammatory molecules were present in their urine.

What’s more, women who reported eating a lot of cheese and yogurt had a lower chance of fracturing a bone or dying during the study than women who ate low amounts of the dairy products. This supports the inflammation hypothesis because yogurt and cheese contain much less lactose and galactose than milk.

Cancer Fuel

Of the almost 60 hormones, one is a powerful GROWTH hormone called Insulin- like Growth Factor ONE (IGF-1). By a freak of nature it is identical in cows and humans.

The foods you eat can influence how much IGF-I circulates in the blood. Diets higher in overall calories or in animal proteins tend to boost IGF-I, and there seems to be an especially worrisome role played by milk.

Consider this hormone to be a “fuel cell” for any cancer… (the medical world says IGF-1 is a key factor in the rapid growth and proliferation of breast, prostate and colon cancers, and we suspect that most likely it will be found to promote ALL cancers). IGF-1 is a normal part of ALL milk… the newborn is SUPPOSED to grow quickly! What makes the 50% of obese American consumers think they need MORE growth? Consumers don’t think anything about it because they do not have a clue to the problem… nor do most of our doctors.

Studies funded by the dairy industry show a 10% increase in IGF-1 levels in adolescent girls from one pint daily and the same 10% increase for postmenopausal women from 3 servings per day of nonfat milk or 1% milk.

IGF-1 promotes undesirable growth too–like cancer growth and accelerated aging. IGF-1 is one of the most powerful promoters of cancer growth ever discovered. Overstimulation of growth by IGF-1 leads to premature aging too–and reducing IGF-1 levels is “anti-aging.”

Conventional Milk Destroys Your Bones From the Inside and Causes Osteoporosis

We are all well familiar with the slogan “Got Milk?”…. This marketing strategy has worked for years. The entire society (backed up by government suggestions) vigorously promotes the consumption of dairy. How else are we going to get the calcium and Vitamin D that is proudly featured on every carton of milk? Well, along with the promised calcium and added Vitamin D, you are a getting other things that might make you reconsider drinking pasteurized milk. So what are the dangers of conventional pasteurized milk?

The study, which followed 61,433 women aged 39 to 74 over 20 years, and 45,339 men of similar age for 11 years, found that the more cow’s milk people drank, the more likely they were to die or experience a bone fracture during the study period. So why does milk cause osteoporosis and bone fractures?

The pasteurization process creates calcium carbonate which can not enter the cells without a chelating agent. So this makes your body pull the calcium from the bones and other tissues in order to buffer the calcium carbonate in the blood. This process actually causes osteoporosis.

Why Milk is Bad For You: The Real Dangers of Milk

Casein is the main protein in milk and dairy products. Casein acts in a similar way to gluten which can potentially lead to severe auto-immune problems. If you are gluten intolerant, you are most likely casein intolerant as well. Respiratory problems, allergies and illnesses are associated with the consumption of casein.  Dr. T. Campbell wrote in his book “The China Study” about a very vivid correlation between animal protein consumption and cancer development, thus showing that casein protein promoted cancer in every stage of its development. The casein protein found in milk is called A1 beta casein which is a long chain of amino acids. It is believed to be the result of a genetic mutation in cattle.  The protein found in ancient breeds of cattle is called beta-casein A2. During digestion A1 beta casein is broken down into a peptide flow of 7 amino acids called beta casomorphin (BCM7). Beta-casein A1 has a weak bond to  BCM7. Thus, much of BCM7 gets into our bloodstream, which can easily pass through the blood brain barrier into the brain where it can bind to opioid receptors. These opioids have an effect on immune function which is linked to autoimmune disorders. The absorption of BCM7 activates many changes in the immune system, in the brain, and in the blood vessels.

Dairy Products are Acidifying. Milk Destroys Your Bones From the Inside.

Cow’s milk and its products produce acid.The consumption of milk creates a net metabolic acidity in the body. In order to return to a body’s natural alkaline state and neutralize the acidity, calcium and phosphorous are drawn from your bones. Many scientific studies have shown that not only do our bodies barely absorb the calcium in cow’s milk, but actually calcium loss is increased. Amy Lanou Ph.D., nutrition director for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C., states, “The countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis are the ones where people drink the most milk and have the most calcium in their diets. The connection between calcium consumption and bone health is actually very weak, and the connection between dairy consumption and bone health is almost nonexistent.”

Elevated Insulin Levels

Milk is very insulinogenic. Even though the glycemic index of dairy products is relatively low, it has a high insulin index. Researchers have found that both proteins in milk, casein and whey, stimulate the production of insulin from the pancreas. In 2001 the study of 3,000 infants with genetically increased risk for developing diabetes was done in Finland. It demonstrated that early introduction of cow’s milk increased susceptibility to type 1 diabetes.

There are other alternatives to drinking milk which include raw fermented choices such as whole milk yogurt, kefir, cultured butter, clotted milk. The general process of milk fermentation involves the production of lactic acid from lactose in the milk. Fermentation increases the shelf-life of the product,  and improves the digestibility of milk.

Blocking receptor in brain’s immune cells counters Alzheimer’s in mice, study finds

Brain cells called microglia chew up toxic substances and cell debris, calm inflammation and make nerve-cell-nurturing substances. New research shows that keeping them on the job may prevent neurodegeneration.

The mass die-off of nerve cells in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease may largely occur because an entirely different class of brain cells, called microglia, begin to fall down on the job, according to a new study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The researchers found that, in mice, blocking the action of a single molecule on the surface of microglia restored the cells’ ability to get the job done — and reversed memory loss and myriad other Alzheimer’s-like features in the animals.

The study, published online Dec. 8 in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, illustrates the importance of microglia and could lead to new ways of warding off the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, which is predicted to afflict 15 million people by mid-century unless some form of cure or prevention is found. The study also may help explain an intriguing association between aspirin and reduced rates of Alzheimer’s.

Microglia, which constitute about 10-15 percent of all the cells in the brain, actually resemble immune cells considerably more than they do nerve cells.

“Microglia are the brain’s beat cops,” said Katrin Andreasson, MD, professor of neurology and neurological sciences and the study’s senior author. “Our experiments show that keeping them on the right track counters memory loss and preserves healthy brain physiology.”

Implicated: a single molecule

A microglial cell serves as a front-line sentry, monitoring its surroundings for suspicious activities and materials by probing its local environment. If it spots trouble, it releases substances that recruit other microglia to the scene, said Andreasson. Microglia are tough cops, protecting the brain against invading bacteria and viruses by gobbling them up. They are adept at calming things down, too, clamping down on inflammation if it gets out of hand. They also work as garbage collectors, chewing up dead cells and molecular debris strewn among living cells — including clusters of a protein called A-beta, notorious for aggregating into gummy deposits called Alzheimer’s plaques, the disease’s hallmark anatomical feature.

A-beta, produced throughout the body, is as natural as it is ubiquitous. But when it clumps into soluble clusters consisting of a few molecules, it’s highly toxic to nerve cells. These clusters are believed to play a substantial role in causing Alzheimer’s.

“The microglia are supposed to be, from the get-go, constantly clearing A-beta, as well as keeping a lid on inflammation,” Andreasson said. “If they lose their ability to function, things get out of control. A-beta builds up in the brain, inducing toxic inflammation.”

If they lose their ability to function, things get out of control.

The Stanford study provides strong evidence that this deterioration in microglial function is driven, in large part, by the heightened signaling activity of a single molecule that sits on the surface of microglial and nerve cells. Previous work in Andreasson’s lab and other labs has shown that this molecule, a receptor protein called EP2, has a strong potential to cause inflammation when activated by binding to a substance called prostaglandin E2, or PGE2.

“We’d previously observed that if we bioengineered mice so their brain cells lacked this receptor, there was a huge reduction in inflammatory activity in the brain,” she said. But they didn’t know whether nerve cells or microglia were responsible for that inflammatory activity, or what its precise consequences were. So they determined to find out.

Blocking receptor preserves memory

The experiments began in a dish. Isolating viable microglia from the brain is quite difficult. But it’s easy to harvest large numbers of their close cousins, immune cells called macrophages. These cells circulate throughout the body and can be readily obtained from a blood sample. While not carbon copies of one another, microglia and macrophages share numerous genetic, biochemical and behavioral features.

When placed in a dish with soluble A-beta clusters, macrophages drawn from young mice responded calmly, producing recruiting chemicals and not ramping up production of inflammatory molecules. Notably, the output of A-beta-chewing enzymes in these young cells was robust. But macrophages from older mice acted differently: A-beta’s presence incited a big increase in EP2 activity in these cells, resulting in amped-up output of inflammatory molecules and reduced generation of recruiting chemicals and A-beta-digesting enzymes.

This early hint that age-related changes in EP2 action in microglia might be promoting some of the neuropathological features implicated in Alzheimer’s was borne out in subsequent experiments for which Andreasson’s team used mice genetically predisposed to get the mouse equivalent of Alzheimer’s, as well as otherwise normal mice into whose brains the scientists injected either A-beta or a control solution. In both groups of mice, the expected deleterious effects on memory and learning didn’t arise if EP2 within microglial cells was absent, as a result of a genetic manipulation. Blocking microglial EP2 activity significantly improved these animals’ performance on two kinds of standard memory tests: one that assesses how quickly a mouse forgets that it has encountered an object before, and another that rates the mouse’s ability to remember where a food reward is in a maze.

Looking beyond aspirin

Clearly, knocking out EP2 action in A-beta-provoked microglia benefited memory in mice that had either gradually (the “Alzheimer’s” mice) or suddenly (the brain-injected mice) acquired excessive A-beta in their brains. Likewise, mouse microglia bioengineered to lack EP2 vastly outperformed unaltered microglia, in A-beta-challenged brains, at such critical tasks as secreting recruiting chemicals and factors beneficial to nerve cells and in producing inflammation-countering, rather than inflammation-spurring, proteins.

Epidemiological reports suggest that the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, can prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s — although only if their use is initiated well before any signs of the disorder begin to show up in older people, Andreasson said. “Once you have any whiff of memory loss, these drugs have no effect,” she said. NSAIDs’ mainly act by blocking two enzymes called COX-1 and COX-2; these enzymes create a molecule that can be converted to several different substances, including PGE2 — the hormone-like chemical that triggers EP2 action.

Once you have any whiff of memory loss, these drugs have no effect.

Although PGE2 is known to regulate inflammatory changes in the brain, it exercises diverse, useful functions in different tissues throughout the body, from influencing blood pressure to inducing labor. Complicating matters, PGE2 is just one of five different prostaglandins originating from the precursor molecule produced by COX-1 and COX-2. So aspirin and other COX-1- and COX-2-inhibiting drugs may have myriad effects, not all of them beneficial. It may turn out that a compound blocking only EP2 activity on microglial cells, or some downstream consequences within microglial cells, would be better-suited for fending off Alzheimer’s without side effects, said Andreasson. Meanwhile, her group is exploring the biological mechanisms via which PE2 signaling pushes microglia over to the dark side.

Scanning ultrasound removes amyloid-β and restores memory in an Alzheimer’s disease mouse model


Amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide has been implicated in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We present a nonpharmacological approach for removing Aβ and restoring memory function in a mouse model of AD in which Aβ is deposited in the brain. We used repeated scanning ultrasound (SUS) treatments of the mouse brain to remove Aβ, without the need for any additional therapeutic agent such as anti-Aβ antibody. Spinning disk confocal microscopy and high-resolution three-dimensional reconstruction revealed extensive internalization of Aβ into the lysosomes of activated microglia in mouse brains subjected to SUS, with no concomitant increase observed in the number of microglia. Plaque burden was reduced in SUS-treated AD mice compared to sham-treated animals, and cleared plaques were observed in 75% of SUS-treated mice. Treated AD mice also displayed improved performance on three memory tasks: the Y-maze, the novel object recognition test, and the active place avoidance task. Our findings suggest that repeated SUS is useful for removing Aβ in the mouse brain without causing overt damage, and should be explored further as a noninvasive method with therapeutic potential in AD.

New Alzheimer’s treatment fully restores memory function.

Of the mice that received the treatment, 75 percent got their memory function back.

Australian researchers have come up with a non-invasive ultrasound technology that clears the brain of neurotoxic amyloid plaques – structures that are responsible for memory loss and a decline in cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients.

If a person has Alzheimer’s disease, it’s usually the result of a build-up of two types of lesions – amyloid plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles. Amyloid plaques sit between the neurons and end up as dense clusters of beta-amyloid molecules, a sticky type of protein that clumps together and forms plaques.

Neurofibrillary tangles are found inside the neurons of the brain, and they’re caused by defective tau proteins that clump up into a thick, insoluble mass. This causes tiny filaments called microtubules to get all twisted, which disrupts the transportation of essential materials such as nutrients and organelles along them, just like when you twist up the vacuum cleaner tube.

As we don’t have any kind of vaccine or preventative measure for Alzheimer’s – a disease that affects 343,000 people in Australia, and 50 million worldwide – it’s been a race to figure out how best to treat it, starting with how to clear the build-up of defective beta-amyloid and tau proteins from a patient’s brain. Now a team from the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) at the University of Queensland have come up with a pretty promising solution for removing the former.


Publishing in Science Translational Medicine, the team describes the technique as using a particular type of ultrasound called a focused therapeutic ultrasound, which non-invasively beams sound waves into the brain tissue. By oscillating super-fast, these sound waves are able to gently open up the blood-brain barrier, which is a layer that protects the brain against bacteria, and stimulate the brain’s microglial cells to activate. Microglila cells are basically waste-removal cells, so they’re able to clear out the toxic beta-amyloid clumps that are responsible for the worst symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

The team reports fully restoring the memory function of 75 percent of the mice they tested it on, with zero damage to the surrounding brain tissue. They found that the treated mice displayed improved performance in three memory tasks – a maze, a test to get them to recognise new objects, and one to get them to remember the places they should avoid.

“We’re extremely excited by this innovation of treating Alzheimer’s without using drug therapeutics,” one of the team, Jürgen Götz, said in a press release. “The word ‘breakthrough’ is often misused, but in this case I think this really does fundamentally change our understanding of how to treat this disease, and I foresee a great future for this approach.”

The team says they’re planning on starting trials with higher animal models, such as sheep, and hope to get their human trials underway in 2017.

The claim that hot water freezes faster than cold water just got even weirder

This could explain one of the oldest mysteries in physics..

Despite sounding like the most egregious contradiction in physics, hot water appears to freeze faster than cold water under certain circumstances. The phenomenon can be traced back to Aristotle himself, but after centuries of experiments demonstrating this phenomenon, no one’s been able to explain it.

Now physicists are pointing to strange properties of hydrogen bonds as the solution to one of the oldest mysteries in physics – but others are claiming the so-called Mpemba effect doesn’t even exist at all.

For a bit of background into the Mpemba effect, this phenomenon has been confounding physicists since Aristotle first noticed it more than 2,000 years ago.

After similar accounts from the likes of Francis Bacon and René Descartes, the possibility of hot water freezing faster than cold water finally gained widespread acceptance in the 1960s, thanks to a Tanzanian schoolboy who noticed the effect when making ice cream.

Erasto Mpemba and his schoolmates often made ice cream by boiling milk and mixing it with sugar, and letting it cool before placing it in the freezer.

One day, Mpemba grew impatient, and instead of letting his mix cool before placing it in the freezer, he put his still-boiling milk in anyway, and hoped for the best.

To everyone’s surprise, his ice cream set quicker than his peers’, and in 1969, Mpemba teamed up with a physics professor to publish a paper describing the apparent phenomenon.

But there’s a big problem with the Mpemba effect. While it’s been more or less accepted as fact, physicists can’t agree on how exactly it works, because how can hot water hit freezing point faster than cold water, when cold water already has a massive head-start?

There’s also the lingering problem of replication.

Attempts to replicate the Mpemba effect in a foolproof, consistent manner have failed, but there’s enough inconsistent evidence out there to prevent it from being debunked altogether.

Back in 2012, the Royal Society of Chemistry ran a competition asking scientists to explain the phenomenon, and despite receiving some 22,000 papers from all over the world, none of the explanations were convincing enough on their own to draw widespread consensus.

As Signe Dean reported for us last year:

“The most commonly proposed hypothesis … is that hot water evaporates more quickly, losing mass and therefore needing to lose less heat in order to freeze. However, scientists have also demonstrated the Mpemba effect with closed containers where evaporation doesn’t take place.

Another theoretical speculation is that water develops convection currents and temperature gradients as it cools.

A rapidly cooling glass of hot water will have greater temperature differences throughout, and lose heat more quickly from the surface, whereas a uniformly cool glass of water has less of a temperature difference, and there’s less convection to accelerate the process.

But this idea has not been entirely verified either.”

So after centuries of experiments, we’re still looking for answers.

Now researchers from the Southern Methodist University in Dallas and Nanjing University in China think they might have a solution – strange properties of bonds formed between hydrogen and oxygen atoms in water molecules could be the key to explaining the elusive Mpemba effect.

Simulations of water molecule clusters revealed that the strength of hydrogen bonds (H-bonds) in a given water molecule depends on the arrangements of neighbouring water molecules.

“As water is heated, weaker bonds break, and groups of molecules form into fragments that can realign to form the crystalline structure of ice, serving as a starting point for the freezing process,” Emily Conover reports for Science News.

“For cold water to rearrange in this way, weak hydrogen bonds first have to be broken.”

In other words, we find a higher percentage of strong hydrogen bonds in warm water than cold, because the weaker ones were broken as the temperatures increased.

As the team concludes in their paper:

“The analysis … leads us to propose a molecular explanation for the Mpemba effect. In warm water, the weaker H-bonds with predominantly electrostatic contributions are broken, and smaller water clusters with … strong H-bonding arrangements exist that accelerate the nucleation process that leads to the hexagonal lattice of solid ice.

Therefore, water freezes faster than cold water in which the transformation from a randomly-arranged water clusters costs time and energy.”

But as with all the explanations that have come before this one, we’re going to need to see more proof before we can know for sure that this – or a combination of factors – is truly at play in the Mpemba effect.

While some put the replication problem down to several factors coming together in different ways to achieve the phenomenon – including convection, evaporation, and supercooling – and the fact that freezing is a gradual, not instantaneous, process, others say the Mpemba effect is nothing more than an incredibly persistent myth.

Another recent paper by a team from Imperial College London monitored the time it took for hot and cold water samples to drop to freezing point (0 degrees Celsius).

“No matter what we did, we could not observe anything akin to the Mpemba effect,” one of the researchers, Henry Burridge, told Science News.

So what’s actually going on here? We’ll have to wait and see which conclusion – if any – bears out with further research, but one thing’s for sure when it comes to water – it’s still surprising us, even after all these years.

Do Women Prefer Helpful Men or Handsome Men?


Altruism or Attractiveness – Which of the Two “A’s” Do Women Rate More in Men?

What matters more – beauty or brains? A perplexing matter for women when deciding to go for long and short-term relationships. The two leading “A’s” women like to see in men, altruism and attractiveness, are on every woman’s list yet, not every guy possesses them both at the same time. So there’s somewhat of a competition between men possessing these two traits; how women rate them depending on whether they like a guy with a good face or heart.

So, to see what women would generally go for – guy with a handsome face or a helpful nature, Daniel Farrelly, psychologist at the University of Worcester in the UK, tested preferences of 200+ heterosexual women. He conducted a small test, showing women men’s photographs in pairs, each marked with a letter on it. As the women looked at the photographs, they were asked by researchers to imagine a scenario in which the two kinds of men behaved differently.

First scenario:

Man S and Man T – are depicted to be at a picnic, sitting beside a river with a fast water current. A child in the river’s about to be swept away by the current; a woman nearby yells, “Someone help! Save my child!”.

Man T hears the mother’s plea for help, instantly jumps into the river to save the child and Man S chooses not to help when he notices the speed of the current.

Second scenario:

Two men are depicted to be walking through a busy town where they notice a homeless person sitting near a café. Man E goes into the café, buys the homeless person a sandwich and a cup of tea and Man F walks past the homeless person, pretending to use his mobile phone.

Researchers presented other scenarios too, neutral ones, without any chances to be selfless, like:

Man O and Man P both go to buy clothes. Man O decides to buy a green jacket. Man P buys a pair of blue jeans.

(This was the control condition: choosing to buy a jacket instead of a pair of jeans gives no indication whatsoever of which man is more altruistic.)

After going through various scenarios, the women were asked to rate each man’s attractiveness from each pair for long-term relationships like marriage, and short-term relationships such as a one-night stand or affairs.

What Farrelly and his team learned:

As Farrelly had anticipated, altruistic men received more attractive ratings compared to non-altruistic men, with average desirability scores of ~3 compared to ~2.1. Physically attractive men, with average desirability scores of ~2.8, had more appeal than less handsome men, who scored only ~2.2.

The inference made from above calculations indicates altruism’s valuable at a premium: Non-altruistic men were less attractive than physically unappealing men, and altruistic men were more attractive than handsome men.

In simpler terms, a man’s physical appearance does not matter much to women as their selfless nature does.

And it is only natural because inherently, women do realize that outer beauty fades with age and time and that it is the inner beauty alone which is left behind, which has a long-lasting effect on that person’s overall personality.

However, the truth of the matter is that comparing attractiveness with altruism, and vice versa, is like comparing apples and oranges. A man’s handsomeness and generosity are two entirely contrasting traits, therefore, their measuring scales are not the same at all, either. Maybe, due to the diverse scenarios used by Farrelly, men’s altruism appeared to be more valuable than good looks. The same could be said for the photographs: if the physical attractiveness of the men was not that much strikingly different from each other, then the only thing left for women would have been deciding who is more selfless and their desirability rate would wholly depend on this… on who manages to be the greater knight in the shining armor by the end of it.

To turn the page, Farrelly diverted his testing scheme when he tested the women for rating men’s desirability for relationship types. He discovered that altruists were rated as ‘more attractive’ for a long-term relationship than for a fling… kind of unexpected. You would think doing something like jumping into a river to save a drowning child strikes as generosity bordering on heroism, and it is generally thought that risk-taking heroes — think somewhere around firefighters, maybe— possess more allure for one-night stands than for marriage. But as this was not so, men with a selfless heart and soul would be more attractive than those with physical attractiveness alone for women to be in a long-term relationship with.

Furthermore, Farrelly also discovered that for women, selfish yet attractive men were only fit for short-term rather than long-term relationships. Makes sense too, if you come to think about it. Maybe women see such men as those stereotypical “bad boys” with a charm and appeal that lasts for a short while alone and their lack of security and selflessness begins to bug women. In fact, some past research points out that women prefer “cads” to “dads” when looking for a short fling or hookup.

And as Farrelly suggested, “Future research needs to examine the effects found here in men’s ratings of the desirability of altruistic women as well. This is because there is a lack of such research in this area, as most studies have concentrated on only women’s ratings.”

Stressed men prefer larger woman.

Tightening one’s belt in a recession is usually considered prudent, but women may be advised to do the opposite after a study found that in tough times stressed men turn to larger ladies for comfort.

Men are usually programmed to prefer slimmer and younger-looking women because they appear healthier and more fertile, making them a better bet for bearing offspring.

But stress can cause men to reassess their priorities, with panic making them treasure more homely qualities such as a larger body size which signify access to basic resources like food, scientists said.

Body fat is also linked to age, meaning a larger waistline may signify that a woman is more mature and therefore better equipped to cope with threatening situations, making her a more appealing partner in uncertain times.

The study backs up previous research which has shown that being hungry can cause men to prefer larger women, and that older-looking actresses become more popular during times of recession.

Researchers from Westminster University split 80 volunteers into two groups, with half undertaking a series of stressful activities such as mock job interviews and mental arithmetic tests to make them feel tense.

Both groups were then shown pictures of a range of different female body shapes ranging from emaciated to obese, and asked to rate them in terms of how attractive they were.

The results showed that men in the stressed group rated their “ideal” figure as significantly larger than those in the control group.

While both groups gave broadly similar ratings to slimmer women, the stressed men were also much more likely than men in the control group to find women who were of normal weight or overweight attractive.

Dr Viren Swami and Dr Martin Tovee wrote in the PLoS ONE journal: “While there was no significant difference in the lower end of the range, the [stressed] group appear to have shifted the maximum cut-off for attractive bodies at higher BMIs (body mass indices).”

Stressed men prefer larger women

Stressed men rated a figure of 4.44 as the ideal figure while the non-stressed men found women most attractive at a lower level at 3.90

The pictures were numbered according to their BMI on a scale of one to ten, with one representing emaciated and ten obese.

The largest figure deemed attractive by stressed men was 7.17, which fell in the “overweight” category, while the upper limit of attractiveness for men from the non-stressed group was 6.25, which is classified by the scale as a “normal” weight.

Stressed men rated a figure of 4.44 as the ideal figure while the non-stressed men found women most attractive at a lower level at 3.90.

“The results provide the first experimental evidence that the experience of psychological stress shapes men’s judgements of female body size,” the researchers wrote.

“Men experiencing stress not only perceive a heavier female body size as maximally attractive but also more positively perceive heavier female body sizes, and have a wider range of body sizes considered physically attractive.”

Researchers discover seaweed that tastes like bacon and is twice as healthy as kale 


Researchers at Oregon State have patented a new strain of seaweed that tastes like bacon when it’s cooked.

The seaweed, a form of red marine algae, looks like translucent red lettuce. It also has twice the nutritional value of kale and grows very quickly. Did we mention it tastes like bacon?

According to Oregon State researcher Chris Langdon, his team started growing the new strain while trying to find a good food source for edible sea snails, or abalone, a very popular food in many parts of Asia. The strain is a new type of red algae that normally grows along the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines.

But Langdon realized he had his hands on something with a lot more potential when his colleague Chuck Toombs visited his office and caught a glimpse of the growing seaweed. Toombs said he thought the bacon-seaweed had “the potential for a new industry for Oregon,” he told Oregon State in a press release.

Toombs then began working with the university’s Food Innovation Center, which created a range of foods with the seaweed as its main ingredient.

Langdon said no US companies grow red algae for people to eat, but the seaweed had been consumed by people in northern Europe for centuries.

“This stuff is pretty amazing,” Langdon told OSU. “When you fry it, which I have done, it tastes like bacon, not seaweed. And it’s a pretty strong bacon flavor.”

Though no analysis has been done yet to find out whether commercializing the bacon-seaweed would be practical, the team thinks the vegan and vegetarian markets may be interested. Toombs’ MBA students are hard at work on a marketing plan for a new line of specialty foods.

Some red algae is sold in the US now, but it is a different strain from the one harvested at OSU. Langdon says he is growing about 20 to 30 pounds of the stuff a week, but he plans to more than triple the production.