Newness for a New Year

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

DDR and other thoughts in the middle of the day

I just came from teaching my Intro to Lit course. I always take the first few minutes of class to announce upcoming events that might be of interest to my students. I usually have some flyers and other handouts. Well, today there was a flyer from the English Department about the English Society Opening Social. At the bottom there was a description of the social that was meant to entice the students: "DDR, karaoke, pizza, and fun English stuff." As I read the list, I stopped at DDR. My first thought was DTR, which I quickly disgarded. I was stumped from there. My students could tell I had no idea what the acronym referred to. They said, Dance Dance Revolution, in a tone that meant, "We can't believe you don't know that." All I could say was, "I just proved how un-cool I am!"

Although I like to think I am still in-touch with my students, I realized there is far to much to remain in-touch with, and the gap continues to increase. But, now I know--DDR=really cool thing to do for English majors.

When I got back to my office, I pulled out a bag of carrots I brought to snack on with my chili for lunch. On the package was a blurp that reads, "Powerful Antioxidants Inside." Now, I should preface my critique by saying I spent the morning teaching about the use of precise language. When I read that blurp, I couldn't help but laugh. Are the antioxidants in the carrots, or just in the bag? Make sure to grab some as you take out a carrot, or you might miss them. Oh and ifyou find some, be careful--they are really powerful. What does that mean? How do tell the difference between a powerful antioxidant and a weak one? Shouldn't there be a way to tell, so I can avoid the weak ones and stick to the strong ones? And what effect will the powerful antioxidants have on me. I love how antioxidants are cool now--what is an antioxidant anyway?

Here is the wikipedia answer:

An Antioxidant is a molecule capable of slowing or preventing the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that transfers electrons from a substance to an oxidizing agent. Oxidation reactions can produce free radicals, which start chain reactions that damage cells. Antioxidants terminate these chain reactions by removing radical intermediates, and inhibit other oxidation reactions by being oxidized themselves. As a result, antioxidants are often reducing agents such as thiols or polyphenols.

Although oxidation reactions are crucial for life, they can also be damaging; hence, plants and animals maintain complex systems of multiple types of antioxidants, such as glutathione, vitamin C, and vitamin E as well as enzymes such as catalase, superoxide dismutase and various peroxidases. Low levels of antioxidants, or inhibition of the antioxidant enzymes causes oxidative stress and may damage or kill cells.

As oxidative stress has been associated with the pathogenesis of many human diseases, the use of antioxidants in pharmacology is intensively studied, particularly as treatments for stroke and neurodegenerative diseases. However, it is unknown whether oxidative stress is the cause or the consequence of such diseases. Antioxidants are also widely used as ingredients in dietary supplements in the hope of maintaining health and preventing diseases such as cancer and coronary heart disease. Although some studies have suggested antioxidant supplements have health benefits, other large clinical trials did not detect any benefit for the formulations tested, and excess supplementation may occasionally be harmful. In addition to these uses in medicine, antioxidants have many industrial uses, such as preservatives in food and cosmetics and preventing the degradation of rubber and gasoline.

Now, please pay attention to that last line--it is in bold. That's what I mean by powerful!


Alisa said...

it's all about carbon. it may seem weirod that something that prevents the degregation of rubber and gasoline would also be good for us to ingest. it's all a matter of perseption and the chemical balance that was taked about with the free radicals and oxidizing agents. it really is very interesting and quite fun to draw.

Breanne Grover said...

Thanks Alisa. I had no idea ... still don't. But, now I know who to go to with questions regarding antioxidants.