Dear Ms. Scientist,
What’s the difference between light and dark meat?
- Sarah K.
For celebrations of Friendsgivings or traditional family evening Thanksgivings, you’ll all likely chowed down on turkey last week (and hopefully this week you have leftovers grandma gave you). The meat you ate is the turkey’s muscle, so the whiter meat is made up of different fibers than the darker meat. These muscle fibers have two categories: either fast-twitch (muscles used for uncommon activities, contracting quickly) or slow-twitch (muscles used for regular, long-term activities). White meat correlates with fast-twitch muscles while dark meat correlates with slow-twitch muscles. The muscle’s myoglobin plays a role in the degree of meat darkness; the more myoglobin, the darker the meat. Myoglobin is found in muscle tissue and helps store oxygen. When the regularly used muscles get tired, myoglobin helps by providing them oxygen. This is why your store-bought turkey drumsticks and thighs are darker than the wings and breasts!
?One more fun fact, turkey contains tryptophan. Tryptophan is one of the 20 amino acids, and it is known to make us all sleepy after the big feast. However, it may not be the only reason for sleepiness after a big meal! Other biochemical reactions are necessary first; tryptophan merely gets the process going. The large meal contains many other amino acids, so your bloodstream is quite overloaded and tryptophan likely won’t make the cut in hitching a ride to your brain. Therefore, it’s more likely all those sugars you consume in desserts that make you so sleepy, as an increased carbohydrate consumption causes a serotonin spike. There is also evidence that the stretching of the small intestine may lead to drowsiness. Your food coma likely was not solely induced by turkey, but simply overeating. So don’t blame the bird; blame your stomach!
Dear Ms. Scientist,
What is the best music to study to?
- Mark R.
It feels like midterms are never-ending and the studying is constant. Either you have a week with four tests or four straight weeks of tests - the midterm season feels more like the midterm semester until finals week. So, I bet a lot of students have a go-to playlist they listen to when they crack open the books or write an essay, but which songs are the best? Many studies have found that it varies from person to person. Here are a few general suggestions and findings that may help you perfect your playlist. Nature sounds may increase focus and your mood, but choosing songs you enjoy may boost your mood as well, increasing productivity and decreasing stress. In contrast, listening to songs you like may also distract you more, so be careful! Songs without lyrics have shown to be the best for increasing productivity and tempo also matters! Therefore, listen to music that is upbeat; research suggests music similar to classical Baroque. To wind down, research suggests listening to something around 60 beats per minute. And lastly, watch your volume! High volume may lower your brain’s ability to process information.
Ask Ms. Scientist is written by Julie Spitzer. If you have a burning science question you want her to answer, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.