Military science involves more than developing bullets and bombs. In fact, some of the biggest adversaries that our soldiers face are everyday challenges, like exhaustion, heat, and noise, to which solutions must be as meticulously developed as with weaponry. Mary Roach, author of Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, explains more about her look into the unexpected side of military research.
Roach explored the multitude of products developed for military personnel, which seek to solve problems ranging from excessive sweat to hearing loss and everything in between. She found that military science is constantly developing, because as we make one improvement, the enemy adjusts, leading to yet another improvement, and so the cycle continues. Every uniform is tailored to the soldier’s needs, and everything they wear, carry, and even eat has been designed to be practical, as well as lightweight and comfortable. Many different technologies must work harmoniously and be weighed with the needs of the soldiers.
While her book covers several fascinating military developments, one of the most important is the technology military scientists have developed to prevent hearing loss — the number one expenditure for the Veteran Affairs Department when the soldiers return. While earplugs are effective in dampening noise, they also hinder communication. So, scientists have developed the Tactical Communication and Protection System, which quiets loud noise and amplifies quiet noise.
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Mary Roach, author of Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War
In the midst of summer, many of us are eager to get outside and enjoy the sun. But without proper protection from UV rays, the sun can do more harm than good, especially to our eyesight. Dr. Rachel Bishop, ophthalmologist at the National Eye Institute, discusses the dangers of UV rays to the eyes and what we can do to preserve our eye health.
The most basic protective measure from UV radiation is a pair of sunglasses, which block both UVA and UVB rays. Most sunglasses already do this, so the important thing is to remember to put them on. Cloudy days are just as dangerous as sunny days, because UV light can penetrate through most obstructions in the atmosphere. Although some contacts and eyeglasses may block UV rays as well, they are not a substitute for sunglasses, Bishop says. Furthermore, people with light-colored eyes should be extra vigilant, because they are especially susceptible to UV light affecting their eyesight. Besides damaging the macula and retina, UV rays can also damage the lens of the eye, hastening the onset of cataracts.
In addition to protecting against UV rays, Bishop encourages people to take two other precautions concerning their eye health and safety. First, she says it is important to know your family medical history with eye disease, and, second, she encourages everyone to have an eye exam. Over 23 million Americans have never had an eye exam and may be unaware of an existing eye condition. Taking preemptive measures, like being aware of family history, having a regular eye exam, and consistently wearing sunglasses, will help your eyes stay protected and healthy for years to come.
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Dr. Rachel Bishop, ophthalmologist at the National Eye Institute
Colorectal cancer rates have increased among people under the age of 50 and that’s why the American Cancer Society is now recommending adults undergo screening starting at age 45, rather than 50. The rate of colorectal cancer among people younger than 50 has risen 51 percent since 1994 yet doctors are struggling to pinpoint the reason. Colorectal cancer is the fourth-most-common cancer among adults, and about 50,000 americans are expected to die of the disease in 2018.
For years, public health experts have been encouraging women to take folic acid supplements to prevent birth defects but a study in the American Journal of Public Health shows many women still don’t take them. The study shows fewer than five percent of low-income urban mothers take daily folic acid supplements before getting pregnant. Previous studies prove that use of these prenatal vitamins can prevent 50 to 70 percent of neural tube defects in newborns. Experts suggest all women of reproductive age take folic acid since many pregnancies are unintended.
The belief that exercise can slow cognitive decline in older people with dementia has gained popularity. Yet new research shows that’s not true. A study in the journal BMJ says moderate to high intensity exercise can improve physical fitness but experts say it does not improve cognitive impairment, daily activities, behavior, or health-related quality of life.
And finally, everyone knows soda isn’t good for you. But it may be even worse than you think. A study in the journal Obesity Reviews shows that “a calorie isn’t just a calorie” but that some are worse than others, and soda may be one of the worst. Even if soda doesn’t make you gain weight, it can markedly increase the risk of other health-related issues.