Gadget: Wireless Smart Thermometer

Chris Albrecht wrote . . . . . . . . .

Yummly, the digital recipe and cooking platform acquired by Whirlpool, announced the new Yummly Smart Thermometer at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) today.

The wireless thermometer keeps track of both internal food temperature and ambient cooking temperatures, and can be monitored via an accompanying app that sends alerts when the food is ready.

At first, this sounds a lot like the Meater smart thermometer. Smart thermometers can actually be pretty great because they allow you to remotely monitor your cooking without opening your oven and letting all the heat out.

But what differentiates Yummly’s Smart Thermometer from Meater and others is its ability to integrate with both the Whirlpool and Yummly ecosystems. So if a person is cooking from a Yummly recipe, the Yummly Thermometer will know what step the user is on and be able to communicate with a Whirlpool oven to adjust the temperature or switch from roasting to broiling automatically. According to the press release, this type of integration will be available in late 2020.

The Yummly Smart Thermometer also seems to be helping Yummly create something akin to a deconstructed June Oven. The Yummly mobile app can be used to recognized ingredients and suggest recipes. Those recipes can be communicated to a compatible Whirlpool oven and the thermometer can talk with the oven to create an automated cook program. While this requires a number of different pieces to create a smart oven, it also means you don’t have to take up countertop space with an additional cooking appliance.

The Yummly Smart Thermometer will be available for purchase in early 2020 with an MSRP of US$129.

Source: The Spoon

Cod Fish with Potatoes, Fennel and Carrots


2 tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into thin slices, a few fronds reserved
4 small potatoes, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, peeled and shaved into large pieces
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 Tbsp tomato paste
3 wide strips orange peel, white pith removed
4 cod fillets (4 oz each)


  1. In large non-stick pan, heat canola oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onion is soft, about 6 to 7 minutes.
  2. Add fennel and continue to cook until fennel is tender crisp, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add potatoes and carrots. Continue cooking.
  4. Whisk together chicken broth and tomato paste and add to pan along with orange peel. Simmer 10 minutes, covered.
  5. Place cod fillets on top of vegetables. Cover pan and cook 10 minutes longer or until fish is cooked throughout.
  6. To serve, garnish with fennel fronds.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

Study: Ooh là là! Music evokes at least 13 emotions

Yasmin Anwar wrote . . . . . . . . .

The “Star-Spangled Banner” stirs pride. Ed Sheeran’s “The Shape of You” sparks joy. And “ooh là là!” best sums up the seductive power of George Michael’s “Careless Whispers.”

UC Berkeley scientists have surveyed more than 2,500 people in the United States and China about their emotional responses to these and thousands of other songs from genres including rock, folk, jazz, classical, marching band, experimental and heavy metal.

The upshot? The subjective experience of music across cultures can be mapped within at least 13 overarching feelings: Amusement, joy, eroticism, beauty, relaxation, sadness, dreaminess, triumph, anxiety, scariness, annoyance, defiance, and feeling pumped up.

“Imagine organizing a massively eclectic music library by emotion and capturing the combination of feelings associated with each track. That’s essentially what our study has done,” said study lead author Alan Cowen, a UC Berkeley doctoral student in neuroscience.

The findings are set to appear this week in the online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We have rigorously documented the largest array of emotions that are universally felt through the language of music,” said study senior author Dacher Keltner, a UC Berkeley professor of psychology.

Cowen and fellow researchers have translated the data into an interactive audio map where visitors can move their cursors to listen to any of thousands of music snippets to find out, among other things, if their emotional reactions match how people from different cultures respond to the music.

Potential applications for these research findings range from informing psychological and psychiatric therapies designed to evoke certain feelings to helping music streaming services like Spotify adjust their algorithms to satisfy their customers’ audio cravings or set the mood.

While both U.S. and Chinese study participants identified similar emotions — such as feeling fear when hearing the “Jaws” movie score — they differed on whether those emotions made them feel good or bad.

“People from different cultures can agree that a song is angry, but can differ on whether that feeling is positive or negative,” said Cowen, noting that positive and negative values, known in psychology parlance as “valence,” are more culture-specific.

Across cultures, study participants mostly agreed on general emotional characterizations of musical sounds, such as anger, joy and annoyance. But their opinions varied on the level of “arousal,” which refers in the study to the degree of calmness or stimulation evoked by a piece of music.

How they conducted the study

For the study, more than 2,500 people in the United States and China were recruited via Amazon Mechanical Turk’s crowdsourcing platform.

First, volunteers scanned thousands of videos on YouTube for music evoking a variety of emotions. From those, the researchers built a collection of audio clips to use in their experiments.

Next, nearly 2,000 study participants in the United States and China each rated some 40 music samples based on 28 different categories of emotion, as well as on a scale of positivity and negativity, and for levels of arousal.

Using statistical analyses, the researchers arrived at 13 overall categories of experience that were preserved across cultures and found to correspond to specific feelings, such as “depressing” or “dreamy.”

To ensure the accuracy of these findings in a second experiment, nearly 1,000 people from the United States and China rated over 300 additional Western and traditional Chinese music samples that were specifically intended to evoke variations in valence and arousal. Their responses validated the 13 categories.

Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” made people feel energized. The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah” pumped them up. Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” evoked sensuality and Israel (Iz) Kamakawiwoʻole’s “Somewhere over the Rainbow” elicited joy.

Meanwhile, heavy metal was widely viewed as defiant and, just as its composer intended, the shower scene score from the movie “Psycho” triggered fear.

Researchers acknowledge that some of these associations may be based on the context in which the study participants had previously heard a certain piece of music, such as in a movie or YouTube video. But this is less likely the case with traditional Chinese music, with which the findings were validated.

Cowen and Keltner previously conducted a study in which they identified 27 emotions in response to visually evocative YouTube video clips. For Cowen, who comes from a family of musicians, studying the emotional effects of music seemed like the next logical step.

“Music is a universal language, but we don’t always pay enough attention to what it’s saying and how it’s being understood,” Cowen said. “We wanted to take an important first step toward solving the mystery of how music can evoke so many nuanced emotions.”

Source: UC Berkerley

Could Hydration Levels Influence Cognitive Function?

Maria Cohut wrote . . . . . . . . .

Dehydration can cause headaches and several physiological issues, and older adults are most at risk of experiencing it. Does it also affect cognitive function, however? And might overhydration also affect mental performance?

Dehydration can cause headaches, lethargy, dizziness, and many other issues, depending on how severe it is.

Studies have tended to focus on the effects of dehydration in younger populations — especially in the context of sports and fitness, where overexertion and abundant sweating can cause people to lose more fluids than they than ingest.

However, one segment of the population is particularly susceptible to dehydration: older adults.

“As we age, our water reserves decline due to reductions in muscle mass, our kidneys become less effective at retaining water, and hormonal signals that trigger thirst and motivate water intake become blunted,” explains Hilary Bethancourt, Ph.D., from the Pennsylvania State University College of Health and Human Development in State College.

Older adults also have a higher risk of cognitive impairment. Are their hydration levels and their cognitive performance linked in any way? Bethancourt and colleagues set out to answer this question in a new study. Their findings now appear in the European Journal of Nutrition.

“[W]e felt like it was particularly important to look at cognitive performance in relation to hydration status and water intake among older adults, who may be underhydrated on a regular basis,” says Bethancourt, the study’s first author.

Under and overhydration are both nonideal

In their study, the researchers analyzed the data of 2,506 participants — 1,271 women and 1,235 men — aged 60 and over. The Nutrition and Health Examination Survey collected these data in 2011–2014.

All the participants involved in the study were able to give blood samples. They also provided information about what they had consumed throughout the day preceding the blood sample collection.

To measure each participant’s hydration levels, the investigators looked at the concentration of different substances and compounds — including sodium, potassium, glucose, and urea nitrogen — in their blood.

All participants also undertook cognitive function tests, including tasks designed to assess verbal recall and fluency, and exercises focused on attention levels and working memory.

At first glance, the researchers found an association between appropriate hydration and good scores in the cognitive function tests. However, the results became less clear when the researchers adjusted their analysis for confounding factors.

“Once we accounted for age, education, hours of sleep, physical activity level, and diabetes status and analyzed the data separately for men and women, the associations with hydration status and water intake were diminished,” says Bethancourt.

After these readjustments, only some of the links remained of interest. In particular, the researchers saw that women appeared to display poorer cognitive performance when they were underhydrated. The same applied when they were overhydrated.

“A trend toward lower scores on [one of the cognitive function tests] among women who were categorized as either underhydrated or overhydrated was the most prominent finding that remained after we accounted for other influential factors,” explains Bethancourt.

The test that those who were overhydrated or underhydrated performed the worst in was “the test of attention, processing speed, and working memory,” she says.

“It was interesting that even though [this test] took only a few minutes, it was the one most strongly associated with lower hydration levels,” notes Bethancourt.

“Other research has similarly suggested that attention may be one of the cognitive domains most affected by hydration status. This left us wondering what the effects of inadequate hydration might be on more difficult tasks requiring longer periods of concentration and focus,” she adds.

However, the researchers were unable to confirm whether nonideal hydration levels caused worse cognitive performance, or whether individuals who may already have had some cognitive impairments were also likelier to drink too few or too many liquids.

The lack of a link between hydration levels and cognitive performance in older men also remains a mystery.

Although many questions remain to be answered, study co-author Prof. Asher Rosinger advises that older adults should not risk their health by overlooking proper hydration.

“Because older adults may not necessarily feel thirsty when their body is reaching a state of underhydration and may be taking diuretics that can increase salt excretion, it is important for older adults and their physicians to better understand the symptoms of being both under and overhydrated.” Prof. Asher Rosinger said.

Source: Medical News Today

Testosterone Supplements Won’t Help Most Men, Doctors’ Group Says

Amy Norton wrote . . . . . . . . .

Testosterone therapy is no fountain of youth for older men, though it might help some who are impotent.

That’s according to new guidelines from the American College of Physicians — the first from the group to address the issue of treating age-related “low T.”

It’s known that men’s testosterone levels decline with age. And for years industry has promoted the idea that men suffer a range of symptoms caused by what’s sometimes described as “male menopause.” The list includes fatigue, weakness, muscle loss, dulled memory and thinking, depression, and dampened libido and erectile dysfunction.

Yet for nearly all of those problems, there is no good evidence testosterone therapy helps, the college found in a research review.

The only area where there is some benefit, the group says, is in treating sexual dysfunction. On average, studies have found “small improvements” in sexual and erectile function.

The lackluster performance in clinical trials is “a bit surprising,” said ACP president Dr. Robert McLean. But, he pointed out, the fact that testosterone wanes with age does not automatically mean that’s behind men’s health issues. And that means replacing testosterone will not necessarily help.

That never stopped manufacturers of supplemental testosterone, however. For years, they launched aggressive marketing campaigns warning men of the health effects of age-related declines of the male hormone.

Between 2009 and 2013, the number of U.S. men on testosterone shot up from 1.3 million to 2.3 million, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And most, the agency said, were not using it for an established indication — namely, certain medical conditions that cause testosterone deficiency.

Instead, they were using it to counter the aging process.

The tide has turned in more recent years. One study found that Americans’ testosterone use dropped substantially between 2013 and 2016 after questions were raised about the risks of heart disease or prostate cancer.

“The enthusiasm for it is less than it used to be,” said Dr. Victor Adlin, an endocrinologist from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Still, it remains something men ask about, Adlin said. He wrote an editorial published with the guidelines Jan. 7 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Two other medical groups — the Endocrine Society and the American Urological Association — have guidelines on treating age-related low testosterone, Adlin said. And they agree with the ACP on the central point: Testosterone might help some men with sexual dysfunction, but it should not be prescribed for vague symptoms like fatigue and low energy.

The ACP recommends trying injection testosterone over patches or other skin preparations. Both methods are similarly effective, McLean said, but injection therapy is far cheaper: $156 per year, versus $2,135, based on Medicare claims.

As for safety, the overall evidence from 20 studies suggests that testosterone does not raise the risks of heart problems, blood clots or prostate cancer, McLean said. Those studies followed men for up to 10 years, he added, so it’s not possible to say what the risks are beyond that.

How can men with sexual dysfunction know if they do, in fact, have low testosterone? Blood levels of the hormone should be measured on two separate days to confirm the results, Adlin said. And both should be done in the morning, he added. Testosterone levels fluctuate and are typically highest early in the day.

“If you have confirmed low levels, and your sexual symptoms are bothersome enough to need treatment, it’s reasonable to start testosterone,” Adlin said. “But don’t start it and forget it.”

The ACP says men should have their symptoms reevaluated within a year — and if they are not better, stop using testosterone. Adlin said the six-month mark can be a good time for that check-in.

Low testosterone is very common among older men, according to the ACP. It’s seen in 20% of U.S. men over age 60, 30% of those over age 70, and half of men older than 80.

But based on the evidence, only select men will gain any benefit from taking testosterone.

“It is not a fountain of youth,” McLean said.

Source: HealthDay

Today’s Comic