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Member Since 24 Oct 2004
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Topics I've Started

Fun Sunday activities that don't involve Football

07 September 2014 - 04:22 PM

I've come to the sad realization that I spend around too much time watching Football on Sundays and am looking for recommendations for fun outdoor activities that I can do by myself as a male in his late twenties/early thirties.


ETA, I live in the New England area if any FBGs have suggestions. 

Does America have a porn problem?

01 September 2014 - 03:13 PM

:shrug: I think Kate Upton is hot but have no urge of looking at those photos leaked.

What's the worst job you've ever had?

21 August 2014 - 12:18 PM

Did a search to see if this topic has been discuss on the FFA ; nothing came up.


:popcorn: Whatchya got? I have a feeling someone has a good call center story.

Dinosaurs 'shrank' regularly to become birds

04 August 2014 - 10:52 AM




Huge meat-eating, land-living dinosaurs evolved into birds by constantly shrinking for over 50 million years, scientists have revealed.

Theropods shrunk 12 times from 163kg (25st 9lb) to 0.8kg (1.8lb), before becoming modern birds.

The researchers found theropods were the only dinosaurs to get continuously smaller.

Their skeletons also changed four times faster than other dinosaurs, helping them to survive.

Results from the study are reported in the journal Science.

Continue reading the main story From dinosaur to bird

Previous work has shown that theropod dinosaurs, the dinosaur group which included Tyrannosaurus rex and Velociraptor and gave rise to modern birds, must have decreased in size at some point in their evolution into small, agile flyers.

But size changes frequently occurred in dinosaur evolution, so the research team members, led by Mike Lee, from the University of Adelaide, Australia, wanted to find out if the dramatic size reduction associated with the origin of birds was unique.

They also wanted to measure the rate of evolution in dinosaurs using a large data set.

The authors used sophisticated analytical tools - developed by molecular biologists trying to understand virus evolution - to study more than 1,500 dinosaur body traits coded from 120 well-documented species of theropod and early birds.

From this analysis they produced a detailed family tree mapping out the transformation of theropods to their bird descendants.

It traces evolving adaptations and changing body size over time and across dinosaur branches.

They found that the dinosaur group directly related to birds shrank rapidly from about 200 million years ago.

It showed a decrease in body mass of 162.2kg (25st 7lb) from the largest average body size to Archaeopteryx, the earliest known bird.

These bird ancestors also evolved new adaptations, including feathers, wishbones and wings, four times faster than other dinosaurs.

 Shrinking and new bird-like traits jointly influenced the transition of dinosaurs to birds, researchers say.

The researchers concluded that the evolution of the branch of dinosaurs leading to birds was more innovative than other dinosaur lineages.

The authors say this sustained shrinking and accelerated evolution of smaller and smaller body size allowed the ancestors of birds to develop traits which helped them to cope much better than their less evolved dinosaur relatives.

"Birds evolved through a unique phase of sustained miniaturisation in dinosaurs," Mr Lee said.

"Being smaller and lighter in the land of giants, with rapidly evolving anatomical adaptations, provided these bird ancestors with new ecological opportunities, such as the ability to climb trees, glide and fly.

"Ultimately, this evolutionary flexibility helped birds survive the deadly meteorite impact which killed off all their dinosaurian cousins."

'No overnight transformation'

The researchers believe that miniaturisation and the development of bird-like traits had a joint influence on the evolution of the dinosaurs into today's birds.

Professor Michael Benton, from the University of Bristol's school of earth sciences, said: "This study means we can't see the origin of birds as a sudden or dramatic event, with a dinosaur becoming a powered flyer overnight.

"The functions of each special feature of birds changed over time - feathers first for insulation, and later co-opted for flight; early reductions in body size perhaps for other reasons, and later they were small enough for powered flight; improvements in sense of sight and enlargement of brain - even a small improvement in these is advantageous.

"So perhaps it's a long-term trend associated with deputation to a new set of habitats, in the trees, to avoid predation, and to exploit new food resources."


Low education makes the brain age faster

26 July 2014 - 05:50 PM

Mental capacity and IQ deteriorate much faster for people with less education than others, study reveals. The findings provide new insight into the development of dementia.



Growing old isn’t fun. Our joints and muscles get weaker and our brain and mental capacities get slower. But this happens faster for some than for others.

That’s the conclusion of a new Danish study that found that people with little lose mental and cognitive abilities much faster than those who do more years at school.

When the scientists looked at the participants’ educational backgrounds and lines of work and compared them with how their cognitive performances deteriorated over the years they found a considerable difference.

“It seems that challenging the intellect daily counters the wear and tear of the brain brought on by ageing,” says Eigil Rostrup, consultant doctor at Glostrup Hospital and senior researcher behind the study which was recently published in the journal Human Brain Mapping.

An unhealthy lifestyle isn’t the reason

Previous studies have shown that people with low incomes and limited education have a tendency to lead less healthy lifestyles than others and exercise less. This kind of lifestyle leads to a higher risk of dementia and ageing of the brain -- and could perhaps explain the results.

“We expected to see a majority of smokers and overweight people in the group of participants whose mental capacities had deteriorated the most, as the unhealthy lifestyle is hard on the body. But surprisingly that wasn’t the case,” says Rostrup.

“The obvious interpretation is that people with limited education and a job that’s less mentally demanding age faster, because they don’t exercise their cognitive functions on a daily basis to the same extent,” he says.

Long-term study reveals developments

The Danish study was based on data from 2,400 boys born in Greater Copenhagen in 1953, collected over the course of 57 years. The boys were tested physically and mentally at the age of 20, and then again at the age of 57. The data allowed the researches to evaluate the participants’ physical state, weight, and smoking habits, as well as their IQs.


The ‘Brain’s Default Mode Network’ is located in three areas of the brain: the frontal cortex, the posterior cingulate cortex and the parietal lobe.

The change from activity in the brain’s default mode network to the problem solving activity is known as the task-induced deactivation (TID).

From the group of 2,400 men, the researchers then picked the 100 healthy participants who got the best scores at age 57 compared with their results at age 20, and the 100 men who got the poorest scores compared with their results at age 20. These participants were invited to Glostrup Hospital, where they had their brains scanned while solving a task.

“We asked the participants to lie completely still in the MR-scanner without doing anything. Once in a while a light would flash in the scanner and at the same time the participant had to move his fingers,” says Rostrup.

This allowed the researchers to tell how the participants’ brain activity changed from activity in the so-called default mode network to problem solving activity. The ability to make this change deteriorates with age.

Mental gymnastics ease symptoms of ageing

The brain scans showed that the least educated participants were not as good at making the change from default mode to problem-solving activity. And that’s a sign of advanced ageing, says Rostrup.

“In young people the brain quickly and efficiently switches from the default mode to problem-solving activity. But in elderly people, and especially those who are demented or suffer from Alzheimer’s, this change is slow and inefficient,” says Rostrup.

So the results suggest that an education or a job that challenges the brain on an everyday basis will give you extra mileage when it comes to avoiding dementia and working against the general ageing of the brain.

“The better our brains manage this change from rest to problem-solving when we are 60, the better equipped we will be at the age of 80 when it comes to handling the tasks of daily life and avoiding the symptoms that are especially common in patients with dementia, including Alzheimer’s,” says Rostrup.

“However, it should be mentioned that it was only a minor effect and that the participants weren’t necessarily on their way to developing dementia. But it’s a biological indication of advanced ageing,” he says.

Could be used to prevent dementia

Upwards 80,000 Danes suffer from dementia. The illness grows more and more common as life expectancy goes up.

Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia and accounts for roughly 60 percent of all cases of dementia.

Simon Fristed Eskildsen, associate professor at Aarhus University and researcher at the Center of Functionally Integrative Neuroscience, says new study is interesting and based on a large amount of data and information that isn’t usually available, says He believes that the study could be a step towards understanding how dementia and Alzheimer’s develop.

“It’s interesting if we can predict whether people will develop dementia or Alzheimer’s, as we will then be able to take preventive measures against the symptoms. One approach could be a change in lifestyle, getting more exercise. Or exercising one’s cognitive functions to a greater degree,” says Eskildsen.

It’s also very interesting from a medical perspective to catch patients at the early stages of dementia, so the illnesses aren’t so advanced that nothing can be done, he says.

“Dementia is hard for the patients and their relatives, and it’s also a great economic strain on society, as people with dementia often have difficulty taking care of themselves. So the results are very interesting, as they may help us understand and prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s,” says Eskildsen.

Needs to be tested on individuals

However, the study is only a small step towards being able to predict dementia and Alzheimer’s, as the researchers normally can’t compare the individual patient’s cognitive performance at a young age with their performance late in life, Eskildsen says.

“It would be very interesting if we could develop a way to measure the deterioration in individuals. Here the researchers are looking at large groups for an extended period of time in order to evaluate the deterioration process. Doctors very rarely have that information at their disposal,” he says.

So, at this point the study indicates that it pays to exercise -- not just the body, but also the mind – if one would like to stay young for as long as possible.