## Hemoglobin A1C: Reason for the Test and the Science Behind It

[caption id="attachment_28695" align="alignright" width="480"] Red blood cells or erythrocytes.[/caption]The term HbA1C and its more common abbreviation A1C, is a familiar term to the diabetic or pre-diabetic patient. A1C refers to blood hemoglobin that has bonded to sugar molecules. It is easy to detect, and since it is stable over time, the A1C blood test is an excellent indicator of "blood sugar" level. Article Contents We here present artwork and a brief text, coupled with a most helpful Khan Academy video, so that, hopefully, the pre-diabetic or diabetic patient, who has a measure of technical background, can understand what the A1C test is all about. Hemoglobin Image Our second image illustrates hemoglobin's 3-D branch structure using red for its two alpha (α) chains and blue for its two beta (β) chains.…

## Using Data from Graphs: Interpolation Vs. Extrapolation

[caption id="attachment_28677" align="alignright" width="480"] Fig. 1. Plot of cook time vs. temperature[/caption]A familiar technique used when collecting data is to graph the results. For instance, suppose you want to see how quickly the internal temperature of a roast of pork rises in a 250° F oven. Nine internal meat temperature measurements are taken over a period of an hour-and-a-half, or 180 minutes. Collecting the Data After 20 minutes, the internal temperature of our pork roast is 60° F. Twenty more minutes yields 95° F. At 60 minutes, the temperature is 118° F, whereas the temperature is 139° F after 80 minutes. At 100 minutes, we read 148° F. When two hours have passed, we obtain 156° F. 140 minutes of cooking puts us at 163° F, while 160 minutes gives…

## The Curious Brazil Nut and Brazil Nut Tree

Buy a can of mixed nuts, and what large nut catches your attention because of its large size? Undoubtedly, it is a Brazil nut, perhaps an excellent indicator by its quantity of how good a quality your can of mixed nuts will be. It is not merely size that sets the Brazil nut apart. There are many factors that make this nut unique among nuts. Let's consider a few of them. The Brazil Nut Tree The Bertholletia excelsa, or Brazil Nut tree, is very imposing to look at. With its very large trunk, it towers above buildings. Atop the trunk is a crown of leaves and branches. Bertholletia's fruits resemble coconuts. In fact, Brazil nuts are not nuts, but seeds from within the fruits. [caption id="attachment_28657" align="alignright" width="400"] Bertholletia escelsa,…

## Is Much of the Nutrition Just Under the Potato Skin?

The part of the potato just below the outer skin is the cortex. Just below the cortex is the vascular system. People claim just under the potato skin is its most nutritious part. Yet, the average consumer discards the skin and part of the cortex when he or she prepares the starchy tubers. To counter this, some choose not to peel their potatoes, but to wash and eat the entire potato. Anatomy of a Potato A naive viewpoint would assume the potato is simply a brown skin covering an ellipsoid of uniform, white starchy material. The potato has a number of distinguishable anatomical features, in fact. First there is the skin of a potato. It is called the periderm. Moving into the interior, we next encounter the cortex. Next is…

## Black Walnut: A Beauty and a Beast Among Trees

What comes to your mind when you think of black walnut trees? Do you visualize the tree's attractive bark hiding the beauty of its deep rich-brown wood? Or perhaps it is the green globe husk-encased nuts hanging in clusters, typically in twos and threes. Maybe it is the kernels of nut-meat that are so bitter and hard to remove from their shells? Others think of the earthy brown dye that can be produced from the hulls, or the elixir they yield that kills parasitic worms and bacteria. Finally, there are others who see the half-empty glass. They are concerned by the knowledge that some plants don't thrive in the presence of black walnut. [caption id="attachment_27121" align="alignright" width="300"] Nuts in shells; husks removed.[/caption] Juglans Nigra The Latin name for the black…

## What Factors Caused the 1840’s Irish Potato Famine?

[caption id="attachment_27084" align="alignright" width="480"] Great potatoes![/caption]I've already written about how one disaster led to my being alive today. Nothing less than a war – the War of 1812. Yet another disaster, worse than the first, that led up to my existence was the tragic 1840's Irish Potato Famine. I wrote of that, as well in Misfortune Gave Me Life. But what factors combined to produce the Irish potato famine of the 1840's? Irish Potato Famine: A Cause or Causes? An occurrence attributed to one particular factor is all-too-often actually results from a number of significant factors. Event X did not have a cause, it had causes. What causative factors led to the great Irish potato famine? [caption id="attachment_27086" align="alignright" width="200"] Phytophthora infestans infected potato.[/caption] A Fungus Among Us It is…

## How Much Does a Fly Hitting a Train Slow It Down?

[caption id="attachment_27068" align="alignright" width="480"] The Scenario: a fly hitting a train.[/caption]Say you have a train, a locomotive traveling along a straight railroad track. The atmosphere is absolutely free of every conceivable impediment except for one lone housefly. Unfortunately (for the fly), it and the train collide head-on. You have a fly hitting a train. Clearly, the fly will turn into a smear. How much does that fly slow the train down that it has hit? The train will suffer no apparent change in speed, yet it does slow down, even if there is no obvious change. How much does it slow down? Fly Hitting a Train: Specific Numbers We will attempt to use realistic numbers. We choose the following: Locomotive: 4,000 tons [a light train] Fly: 14 milligrams Locomotive Speed:…

## Differences Between Citric and Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)

Two familiar acids, found in citrus fruit, are citric acid and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). But what are these acids and how are they different? First, consider the structure of these two food acids. Examine the Image The two acids look different, yet somehow they look similar. Each has a ring, or what almost passes as a ring, and each contains an abundance of oxygen atoms (O). There are three carboxylic acid groups –C=O(OH) are found in the citric acid molecule. On the other hand, ascorbic acid contains no carboxylic acid groups. Yet it, too, is acidic, about as acidic as vinegar. Citric acid with its carboxylic acid groups is the more acidic acid and so is more sour to the taste. But why is ascorbic acid acidic if it…

## The Indian Strawberry Vs. The Wild Strawberry

[caption id="attachment_27024" align="alignright" width="480"] Indian Strawberry - Image by Kurt Stuber[/caption]The Indian strawberry, also known as the mock strawberry (Duchesnea indica) with its small yellow flowers and red fruits is often seen in lawns. It resembles a tiny strawberry, but the seed to pulp ratio is high and, despite its name, affords the eater little in the way of flavor. The Wild or Woodlands Strawberry There is another fruit that is often seen in similar terrain as the Indian strawberry. It is the Wild or Woodlands strawberry (Fragaria vesca). Differing from the Indian strawberry, the Wild strawberry offers lovely fragrance and rich flavor. [caption id="attachment_27020" align="alignright" width="380"] Wild Strawberries - Image by Ural-66[/caption] Additional differences include its small white flowers. And its seeds are not on top of the pulp,…