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Science on the March, Sort of

Dick Methia
By Dick Methia
Posted on Sep 08,2009
Filed Under News , Community,
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Photo by Flickr/tiswango/459292254/
Photo by Flickr/tiswango/459292254/

Did you ever wonder why you swing your arms when you walk?  In Paris recently a team of biomedical researchers announced they’ve found the answer. To quote the scientists: "Rather than a facultative relic of the locomotion needs of our quadrupedal ancestors, arm swinging is an integral part of the energy economy of human gait.”  You got that?
    
What our multi-syllabic researchers are trying to say is that it had been previously thought that arm swinging was without purpose, a useless activity we humans inherited from our gorilla days when we walked on all fours.  For most us that was several millennia ago. For some of us that was last Saturday night in the parking lot of the local sports bar.  
    
This crack team of biomedical sleuths discovered that arm swinging is actually a pretty efficient use of the body’s energy.  I suppose in contrast to walking on your knees or on your elbows, swinging your arms is a pretty efficient way to get from one place to another.  Besides if you tried walking with your arms plastered to your side, you would not only waste ergonomic energy, you’d look like North Korea’s pint-sized dictator, Kim Jung-Il.  And if you walked with your hands above your head, your neighbors would think you’re on your way to the slammer.
    
Another astounding breakthrough in science was reported recently in the biological research journal of Britain’s Royal Society.  Remember that the Royal Society was once home to Sir Isaac Newton and other giants of science. Today the Society is studying the digestion of cows and the resulting (ahem) “wind effect.”  Leave it to the Brits to find a polite way to describe cow flatulence. 
    
It seems that the “wind effect” from cows produces a gazillion gallons of methane each year, a noxious element that’s more toxic to the environment than carbon dioxide or Rush Limbaugh’s latest tirade.  Argentina is a prime polluter because it has nearly 56 million cows annually churning out a whopping “wind effect” across the Pampas.  No wonder Buenos Aires is no longer a top tourist destination.
    
Scientists are nothing if not competitive. Eager to out-research their British colleagues, a group of crack American scientists is challenging the Royal Society’s cow research.  This Wisconsin team insists that it’s Bossie’s burping, not her “wind effect” that is causing the serious methane pollution.
    
I have great respect for science and for the brilliant researchers breaking ground in medicine and in our understanding of the universe.  But studying why we swing our arms and how cows break wind?  I can’t wait for the next round of federal grants to shovel taxpayer money out to the earnest Ph.D.s who want to study why people scratch when they itch.



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