Tuesday, May 22, 2012

So.cl: The Microsoft Social Network Launches

Microsoft (and in-house product development group FUSE Labs) has decided to try to get back into the social networking game by launching So.cl. It's an interesting new social media site which the company describes as a "social-search tool" users can use to share information with friends and meet new people.

The fact that Microsoft has decided to challenge Facebook, Google Plus (and several other social sites) is not a surprise, especially given the humongous size of the social network market. But what is relatively surprising to many experts is the way it was launched, with very little promotion online or offline. In fact, it was originally launched several months ago to a select few universities and has only recently begun to gain some traction.

According to the company, So.cl is simply a new research product that's focused on social learning and does not want to compete directly with social tech giant Facebook. It allows users to bookmarke (save) web pages and share them with friends. It also features a pretty cool "video party" app that allows for group video chats.

Probably the best (and most unique) feature of the So.cl is how it allows user to create more advanced posts. On the site you can use videos, photos, and text to create rich content and then share it with a chosen lists of friends and contacts. It's also designed to connect people with similar interests and allow them to form common-interest communities on the site.

Still, the site does not hope to replace Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or even Myspace any time soon. The goal right now, according to Bill Gates's technology giant, is to simply add a new layer of information on top of existing social networks. In a statement released yesterday they state:
"We hope to encourage students to reimagine how our everyday communication and learning tools can be improved by researching, learning and sharing in their everyday lives."
We say: Sounds pretty cool to us. Facebook really needs some good competition and Microsoft could give it to them if they really try. They just need to create some unique functionality that's not found on FB, Twitter, HI5, Myspace, etc!

Learn some mo': Microsoft launches a 'social search' network

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Drinking LOTS of Coffee Might Help You Live Longer

Here's more good news for coffee-lovers: drinking large amounts of the popular beverage on a regular basis might help you live a lot longer, according to a new study from the National Cancer Institute. Researchers found that coffee drinkers have a much lower overall risk of death than non-drinkers. In fact, people who drink 3 or more cups of coffee per day have a 10% lower risk of dying!

People who drink 4 to 5 cups of coffee a day have the lowest overall risk of death. Once you hit 6 cups per day though, the risk of death actually starts to increase. That's most likely because consuming such a large amount of caffeine every day can greatly increase blood pressure problems and even lead to heart attack.

The bottom line is that drinking good amounts of coffee -- but not too much -- appears to lower your risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, infections, respiratory disease, and even injuries and accidents. This study did not show a strong link between coffee intake and reduced cancer risk (although there is some evidence that coffee intake protects against some forms of cancer).

One surprising finding is that decaf coffee appears to offer as much health protection as normal java. So the caffeine content probably isn't the main factor. Of course, another recent study showed that normal caffeinated coffee can significantly reduce the risk of depression so you might want to drink some to cover all of your bases!

Learn some mo': Coffee lovers less likely to die, study finds

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Eat Lots of Sugar and You'll Be Stupider

Eating a lot of sugar can literally make you dumber by negatively affecting your brain, according to new research from UCLA. A study there found that rats who were fed large amounts of high-fructose corn syrup (one of the most common sweeteners in modern packaged foods) suffered a significant decline in mental power. Mice fed large amounts of healthy omega-3 fats -- including flaxseed oil and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) -- experienced a boost in thinking ability.

Researchers used a complicated mouse maze to measure learning ability, memory, and intelligence. The sugar-addled mice had a hard time getting through the maze after 6 weeks on their "junk food" diet. Also, the high-sugar diets caused the mice's brains to develop resistance to insulin, one of the most important hormones for controlling blood sugar levels and regulating brain function.

According to UCLA professor Fernando Gomez-Pinilla:
"The DHA-deprived animals were slower, and their brains showed a decline in synaptic activity... Their brain cells had trouble signaling each other, disrupting the rats' ability to think clearly and recall the route they'd learned six weeks earlier... Because insulin can penetrate the blood-brain barrier, the hormone may signal neurons to trigger reactions that disrupt learning and cause memory loss... Insulin is important in the body for controlling blood sugar, but it may play a different role in the brain, where insulin appears to disturb memory and learning."
We say: It's definitely no surprise that eating lots of sugar -- especially the evil HFCS -- hurts the brain as well as the body. It would definitely explain why American kids seem to be getting dumber and dumber by the week. Obviously if you want to be smarter, or at least think more clearly, you should avoid refined sugars and eat some more healthy omega 3 fats (fish and krill oil supplements are great options!).

Learn some mo': UCLA study shows high-fructose diet sabotages learning, memory

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Honey Bee Propolis Chemical: The Next Natural Cancer Treatment?

A natural substance found in beehives may be able to stop the growth of prostate cancer, according to a new study from the University of Chicago Medicine. Caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE) is a compound found in propolis, a unique resin made by honeybees, and it appears to shut down the growth of tumor cells -- arresting the growth of the cancer.

In the study, mice who ate propolis/CAPE experienced a big reduction in tumor size while those who didn't experienced an increase. One of the best things of all is that the natural compound didn't cause any weight loss in the mice, meaning that it probably has little or no toxicity. Experts believe this research could lead to new ways to stop the growth of early stage cancers, in the prostate and possibly in other parts of the body.

According to the senior of the study, Richard B. Jones, PhD:
"If you feed CAPE to mice daily, their tumors will stop growing. After several weeks, if you stop the treatment, the tumors will begin to grow again at their original pace... [CAPE] doesn't kill the cancer, but it basically will indefinitely stop prostate cancer proliferation."
We say: This news is extremely interesting because bee propolis has been considered a powerful natural health remedy for centuries and is used as a natural cure/treatment for a variety of ailments. Like many alternative health treatments is has been largely ignored by mainstream medicine, especially in the US and Europe. But now there's some very strong scientific evidence that it really does contain some powerful stuff!

Learn some mo': From Beehives to Prostate Cancer Treatment