News for Nerds - Sleep and Hunger Edition

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  • Posted by: Dom Testa|
  • 12/20/2012 |
  • 10:00 am
News for Nerds - Sleep and Hunger Edition

Welcome back to News for Nerds! This week we crash space probes into the moon, build a new country in the middle of the ocean, and do some last-minute holiday gift-shopping... nerd style. But first, here are your headlines.

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If you're worried about overeating, the best thing you can do might be to get enough sleep. A new study found that lack of sleep triggers hormonal changes in men and women. And while those changes affect the sexes differently at a molecular level, they amount to the same thing in the end: too much food in your belly.

Thirty normal-weight men and women participated in the inpatient study, which lasted for two separate stretches of six days. During the first stretch, the subjects slept four hours per night and ate a calorie-controlled diet for the first four days. On the fifth and sixth days, they were given unlimited access to food. During the second stretch, the same rules applied, only this time they slept seven hours per night.

Throughout, blood samples were analyzed daily for seven hormones that influence appetite and food intake: glucose, insulin, leptin, ghrelin, adiponectin, GLP-1, and peptide YY3-36. For the men, lack of sleep led to elevated levels of ghrelin, which stimulates hunger. For women, it led to lower levels of GLP-1, an appetite-suppressing hormone.

So it appears that sleeping too little makes men more actively hungry, while it makes women feel less full. It's a minor distinction, but the net result was largely the same. When sleep-deprived for four days, both sexes consumed about 300 calories more on the fifth day.

If there had been an In-N-Out Burger nearby, those caloric intake numbers could have been even worse.

- from The Wall Street Journal

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Is the Force strong within the White House? We're about to find out. A Colorado man has filed a petition that would require the U.S. government to begin building a Death Star by 2016.

If you're not familiar with the Death Star, then you've apparently been frozen in a prehistoric block of ice for the past 35 years,  so welcome back to the land of the living. We'll try to sum it up for you. The Death Star was a dastardly device built by the Imperial Army in the Star Wars movie franchise. It was essentially the ultimate weapon -- a planet-shaped space station that could wipe out entire planets in mere seconds.

The Death Star has long been a fanboy fantasy for millions of Star Wars devotees. But what separates this petition from the multitudes of internet crackpot theories is that, having surpassed the necessary minimum of 25,000 signatures in 30 days, the White House is now legally required to respond. (Hopefully they'll put Joe Biden on this one -- we'd love to see that press conference.)

Signatories to the petition make a case that "by focusing our defense resources into a space-superiority platform and weapon system such as the Death Star, the government can spur job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more, and strengthen our national defense."

And at an estimated cost of just $852 quadrillion (that's $2.6 billion per person), surely an enterprising senator can sneak it into the back-end of an appropriations bill and leave it for future generations to pay off, right?


- story from The Denver Post and GMA News Online

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And here are a few other fun science stories that you'll enjoy:

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That's all for now! I'll be back with more News for Nerds next week, but be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter, and to sign up for the free e-Newsletter so that you can properly get your nerd on every single month! And please send any juicy News for Nerds tips to me right here!

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