Sunday, August 31, 2014

Big Eaters

August 31, 2014

               Welcome class and today’s lesson will be about the big eaters seen in many anime series old and new.  The big eater in anime is classified as a character that routinely stuffs his or her face with a large amount of food in a short period of time.  The big eater also displays no outward signs of eating large amounts of food aside from the occasional large swollen belly, which can make female characters appear pregnant.  These bellies quickly disappear after a short period of time.  This also often shocks many of the other characters present at the time.  Some notable examples include Lina inverse from Slayers, and Natsu Dragoneel from Fairy Tail both shown below.  Other notable big eaters include the Sayians from Dragon Ball Z, and many Shounen heroes.

               So there are two parts to the big eaters of anime that need to be examined.
               1- The ability to ingest a large amount of food in a short period of time
               2- The ability to not gain weight from their frequent stuffing sessions
               There are many parts to the human digestive system, but only one that matters when considering big anime eaters, the stomach.  The human stomach is a muscle sac that physically and chemically breaks down food before sending onto the small intestine.  At rest the stomach only has a volume around a third of a cup however it has the ability to expand.  At maximum capacity the stomach can hold about four and a quarter cups.

Stomach Rupture

               Under normal conditions some of the stomach contents will empty into small intestine every 20 minutes, reducing the overall contents of the stomach until all of the food is digested.  If someone were to ingest more than 4 and a quarter cup the body’s response is to forcibly eject the food in a display reminiscent of the Exorcist.  If for some reason the person’s ability to vomit is suppressed the Stomach can continue to expand up to 1.3 gallons before rupturing.  This is a possible complication from Prader Willi syndrome, where the individual always feels hungry.  So the ability of the human stomach to hold the large amount of food ingested by big eaters is proven.

Competitive eaters

               Whether you consider competitive eating a sport or not, it does prove that we can eat a large amount of food in a short period of time.  The record at the Nathan’s hot dog eating in contest is 68 hot dogs in ten minutes.  This proves that we can eat large amounts of food in a short period of time so the first part of the Big Eater is


               The technical definition of Metabolism is all of the chemical reactions that a living organism needs to perform in order to survive.  A map of human metabolism is shown below.

               For the purposes of examining the big eater, we need only use the common definition of metabolism.  How much energy a person’s body burns.

1- Energy in > Energy out = a gain in weight
2- Energy in < Energy out = a loss of weight
       3- Energy in = Energy out = no change in weight

               Therefore a big eater must burn as much or more energy than they ingest in order to stay the same size or smaller.  Now there are some human conditions where this can possibly occur.  The first one is extreme amounts exercise normally performed by high level athletes.  Physical activity burns energy and the more active a person is the more energy their body burns.  As such, very active people need to eat more than their more sedentary companions.  The total daily meal for an Olympic soccer player is shown below.

               The second condition where people eat large amounts of food and remain the same weight or lose weight is hyperthyroidism.  The thyroid gland is found in the neck and is the main control of energy metabolism in the body.  In hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland is over active, producing more thyroid hormone than necessary.  As a result the body burns through food faster than a person can ingest it.  This causes large amounts of weight loss regardless of the individuals diet or activity level as shown in the image below.  Other side effects include infection, cancer, and heart problems so it is not a recommended method of weight loss.

               While not common and or not entirely healthy it is possible for a person to eat large amounts of food and not gain weight.  Part 2 of the Big Eater is


               Humans have the ability to ingest large amounts of food in a short period of time and not gain weight. While it is not entire healthy or recommended big eaters are

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Anime Biology

August 8, 2014

               Welcome to Anime Science 101 where any and all science concepts found in your favorite anime will be poked prodded and thoroughly examined to determine their veracity.  Now before the non-science types run away screaming, I will be keeping the science material to the middle school and high school level so all are welcome.  Each concept will be examined using the following format, plausible, confirmed and busted.  Warning given the nature of this blog spoilers may occur for the purpose of explaining a particular topic, but I will limit them as much as possible.

Plausible- While the idea depicted in anime is not currently true it could potentially happen in the future, when technology advances, or could happen in nature in the future given certain circumstances.
Confirmed- The idea as depicted in anime is true and currently occurs in nature or is something we are currently able to do
Busted- It does not currently occur in nature and is something that is impossible to accomplish or build.
               Now a few words about my background and how Anime Science 101 began.  I am a former medical school student and current anime addict turned science teacher for the last six years.  It is my students who first planted the idea for this blog into my brain as they were the ones to first ask me if what they saw depicted in anime could possibly be true.  My adorable little seventh graders asked if a person could naturally have blue, pink, or silver hair and if you could genetically modify people to make them superior to normal people.  If there are any mecha fans reading this then I am sure you know what series they were watching, Gundam Seed, which just so happens to be one of my favorites.  When I asked if he was referring to Kira from the aptly named show, one third of the class cheered, one third groaned my teacher is a dork, and the last third asked what the hell is he talking about and furiously wrote everything down.  From then on I had a number of students at rapt attention and some interesting questions.

               My first post will be in their honor delving into the reason why Rau Le Creuset from Gundam seed had debilitating bouts of pain, and needed to take an unknown medication.  Tsunade from Naruto will also be mentioned for her Creation Rebirth technique.

The Hayflick Limit

               The Hayflick limit was discovered in 1961 by Dr. Leonard Hayflick and refuted the prevailing of the day that animal cells were for all purposes immortal.  In simple terms the Hayflick limit is the maximum number of times that an animal cell can divide.  In humans this turns out to be around 60 times before the cell can no longer divide.  This limit in the number of times a cell can divide to due to a shortening of the cells telomeres.

               Telomeres are segments of DNA found at the ends of chromosomes (the green segments in the picture above).  They can be thought of as the blank pages you find at the beginning and end of a book, if they get ripped out you do not lose any of the story.  Unlike a book where the blank pages remain in place for the life of the book, telomeres shorten every time a cell divides until the segments are worn down to nothing as a person ages.  Thus as a person ages the telomeres shorten and has everything to do with Rau Le Creuset and Tsunade.

               Rau Le Creuset is the 28 year old ace pilot and commander from ZAFT who needs to take medication to manage unnamed but clearly debilitating symptoms due to his being a clone.  A clone is an organism whose DNA is identical to the original and at the present time the technology does not exist to create a human clone.  It has been done with other animals such as sheep, shown below.

               Now sheep have an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years, but Dolly only lived for 7 years despite being born healthy.  The reason for this is due to the genetic age or the telomere length of the donor sheep.  While Dolly was only seven years old chronologically the DNA in her cells was 12 years old effectively shortening her lifespan.  Commander Creuset stated to be 28 years old in Gundam Seed (pictured on the left), and we can assume due to having a child Al Da Flaga (pictured on the right) was likely between 30-50 when he had a clone created.

               This makes Creuset’s genetic age somewhere between 58 to 78 years old.  While the commander still looks young his cells are entering or are well into old age by the start of Gundam Seed.  The medication he is seen taking is most likely being used to treat the cellular breakdown of his own body.  While these medications do not exist at this time there is no scientific reason why drugs to treat cellular breakdown and the degradation of DNA will not exist at some point in the future.

               While the technology to create and treat the medical conditions faced by cloning the science is there so the existence of Rau Le Creuset is ruled


               Now for the Naruto fans out there we have Tsunade and her Creation Rebirth technique both shown below.  The following is taken from the Naruto wiki as I haven’t seen the mange volume or anime episode that covers this.  The creation rebirth technique is a skill where Tsunade uses her chakra to stimulate the rapid growth and development of new cells instead of regenerating old cells.

               The actual technique is not what is going to be covered here but the stated downside of this skill, namely shortening her lifespan.  The healing of injuries by using rapid cell division would quickly cause the cells of the body to reach the Hayflick limit raising the individual’s genetic age faster and higher than their chronological age, effetely giving Tsunade the same problem’s faced by Rau Le Creuset and Dolly the sheep.  It also makes her look extremely old given the way other characters react to her true form (sorry no picture guys).  As such while the actual technique is not possible but the side effects of that skill are 

               Thank you for reading and questions, comments, or suggestions are welcome.

               Oh and if anyone is interested in Mongolia you can check out my Musings on Mongolia blog