Media, weight loss and F1

I happened to chance upon this Big Bang Theory meme in social media today (spot on for guessing, a typical valentine’s day meme).

But then this image got me thinking about the influence of regular mainstream media on our science knowledge. Most of the time at home, I have TV running in the background. Living with a bunch of science geeks it is natural that we end up discussing the science behind much of what we watch and read in the media.

One such day, I was watching the show ‘The Big Idea’, this particular episode on weight loss. It started simple by introducing some new technology developed in Japan that makes the food appear bigger so that we psychologically end up eating less than we would otherwise. Of course these experiments are in infant stages and more such recent research were shown. As like what happens in most television shows, the info before the break caught my attention. The host was making his way to McLaren office to know more about losing weight. Within my limited knowledge, all I know about McLaren was they make cars and have a F1 team. As the commercial break was being played, I immediately asked my friends what a car company has got to do with weight-loss. My friends with engineering brains and a passion for cars told that F1 racers lose 3-5 kgs at the end of each race. Not-so surprisingly I popped the ‘why?’ question. I was told it is because the drivers are exposed to high G forces. The conversation drifted to the car designs and aerodynamics to explain the G forces by which time I was lost. I turned to good old google to read up about this fascinating topic and found some resources to explain the science in simple terms.

“The braking capabilities of the car mean that the drivers can experience a longitudinal g-force up to 5g on a regular basis under heavy braking. Given that the weight of the head is about 7-8kg once you include the helmet, if you are braking at 5g you have a weight of up to 40kg effectively trying to rip your head off your shoulders whenever you brake.”

Is F1 a weight loss solution for all those wanting to lose the extra flab? NO, the drivers perform relevant exercise, compensate for this weight loss by drinking enough fluids before the race and gain the lost weight back after the race.

If you are wondering if this is what was shown in the television show, of course not ! They went to discussing about a new wearable health monitoring technology that McLaren is developing.

In all learnt about a few different things – thanks to television shows and unexpected science communication at home.

 

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