In other Science-y News: Soylent, Stem Cell Burgers, and Nootropics. Oh My!


You may have seen or heard coverage this week about Google-supported research to develop meat grown from stem cells.  One of two people who was able to eat a burger cooked from the stem cell meat said that it was good, but lacked fat.  Now, any talk of artificially-grown meat makes our collective alarm bells go off because we all remember Charlton Heston yelling “Soylent Green is People!” in the eponymous 1973 film.  I am pretty confident that every third person who read or heard the story probably thought, “Hmm, how long before someone grows people burgers?”  I don’t think that fear is warranted, but I was definitely the third person in that case.  Slippery slope.  Would you eat a stem cell burger?  Tell the truth.   Truth-I might because I recognize that the demand for meat has all sorts of undesirable environmental consequences.  Probably no time soon, gotta wait and see if it turns anyone into the minion monster.

Which leads me to my next topic.  Why on earth would someone create a potentially revolutionary food (not meal) replacement drink and name it “Soylent”?

Beats me, but it’s working.  There is a growing movement of people who are trying to figure out how they can stay alive without eating actual food.  I’ve been trying to keep up on its development.  Apparently, Soylent is a blandly sweet concoction of everything the body needs to survive.  It can be prepared in advance and taken with you.  Right now the cost is still high and the ingredients can be hard to find, so it won’t be coming to a store near you soon.  That said, it could totally revolutionize the weight loss industry.  Liquid diets work, but they are typically missing nutrients and people end up losing hair, dying, etc.  The question for me is whether people will end up with gall bladder problems long term because fat is needed to cause the organ to contract.  That used to be a big problem with liquid diets in the ’80s.  Right now, the creator isn’t trying to lose weight, so he eats at his caloric maintenance and tweaks the formula when he starts to feel weak.  He also doesn’t advocate only drinking Soylent, he has a few regular meals with food when he feels like it.  Definitely keep an eye out for it.

Nootropics, I still don’t fully understand this topic.  Basically, people are trying to figure out how to lifehack their brains to squeeze out every ounce of cognitive computing power through nutritional or pharmaceutical supplementation.  Essentially, they want to be like the lead character in the movie Limitless.  Some of the ingredients have to be procured through grey markets, meaning overseas pharmacies and others are simply nutritional supplements like melatonin.  Many of you have taken 5-hour Energy to give yourself extra pep and sharpness, we may see something similar on the market soon for mental clarity and memory.  I haven’t tried any of them though the topic is definitely interesting.

I worry less about Soylent being people;  I don’t want us to end up like Morlocks.

What about you; are you up to try these?

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