The Outside Blog

Dispatches : May 2012

Will a High-Fructose Diet Make You Stupid?

Shutterstock_75547513Cola. Photo: Shutterstock

Can a diet of Twinkies and cola negatively affect your memory? That's what scientists who conducted a study on rats in the Journal of Physiology are suggesting. 

"Our study shows that a high-fructose diet harms the brain as well as the body," University of California, Los Angeles, neurosurgeon and study author Fernando Gomez-Pinilla said in a press release. "This is something new."

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Ken Burns: On Story

Later this month, Ken Burns will screen his new documentary The Dust Bowl at Mountainfilm in Telluride. On November 18 and 19, PBS will air his two-part, four-hour documentary on one of the greatest environmental disasters in American history. How does Burns pick the stories he will feature in his epic historical films? He reveals a bit about that in the above video.

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Soon There Will Be No Need to Turn Your Head While Swimming

Screen Shot 2012-05-17 at 10.29.35 AMScreenshot from Powerbreather.de.

A new form-fitting snorkel promises to eliminate the need to turn your head while swimming. It's called the Powerbreather, and it earned a finalist nod in the accessories categoy at the ISPOBrandnew Awards—a tradeshow that bills itself as the largest start-up competition in the sporting goods industry. Its debut there certainly inspires a number of questions.

The first and most obvious being, will anybody wear this thing?

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Good, Dirty Fun: Merrell, Muddy Buddy Bring Obstacle Races to the Kids

MG_6571
The clean before the mud. Photo: Merrell Down and Dirty Mud Run

Last year, more than a million people participated in obstacle-course races like Tough Mudder, Muddy Buddy, Spartan Race, and Warrior Dash. These events market misery to the masses—requiring entrants to navigate ridiculously punishing courses of hills, mud, water, ropes, walls, and even, as the Tough Mudder website boasts, “electric shock and fire.”

Think of them as hyper-intense versions of the multiday adventure races of yore, the Eco Challenge and Primal Quest, perfect for time-crunched type A's who can relate to the Tough Mudder mantra “marathons are boring,” but need to be back at their desk on Monday morning. 

Or, in some cases, back at the playground. 

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How Replacing Native Forests Could Lead to Fewer Visiting Manta Rays

Shutterstock_96853039Manta ray. Photo Shutterstock

Most people are familiar with Aldo Leopold's thoughts on cascading environmental damage from Thinking Like a Mountain. When wolves were hunted out of forests in the American Southwest, deer increased, the deer ate more tree saplings, there was a dearth of new trees, and the deer population went into a boom and bust cycle. When Leopold was younger and working for the government, he thought killing the wolves would lead to more game and a better environment. As an older man looking back at his career, he understood what the loss of wolves meant to the ecosystem. More than a half century later, it's clear that the loss of wolves led to other issues, such as the increase and spread of coyotes.

A new study published in the May 17 issue of Scientific Reports shows how changes in coastal forests can affect the abundance of fish offshore. In the waters of Palmyra Atoll, a series of remote islands and reefs located in the middle of the Pacific, there are fewer manta rays using coastal areas next to land where native trees have been replaced with palm trees. The loss of the marine giants has to do with the change in vegetation, a decrease in birds, and a decrease in fertilizer.

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