Beyond the Laughs, 'The Office' Delivers Some Hard Science. But How Does It Hold Up?

Beyond the Laughs, 'The Office' Delivers Some Hard Science. But How Does It Hold Up?

2021-01-08 23:25:00

Fast! Everyone enters the conference room. Today we're going to discuss what science has to say about some of the most memorable scenes from the persistently hit TV series, The office.

The office ended in 2013, but the show continues to delight longtime fans and attract new ones through streaming services. The success of the Office ladies podcast, hosted by Jenna Fischer (Pam) and Angela Kinsey (Angela), confirms the show's enduring popularity. Obviously, people are not going to quit the lovable employees of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company anytime soon.

The bizarre scenes still make for interesting water coolers, and you might wonder if there's any truth to it. Let's take a coffee break and take an educational look at five classic moments from the show.

Angela’s Beet Juice Cleanse

In S6: E23, Dwight and Angela meet with a lawyer to discuss their fruitful contract. Point five, point & # 39; B & # 39; states that Angela a & # 39; beet juice cleanse & # 39; must complete. When Dwight asks for a stool sample to verify that she is doing the cleaning, Angela blinks her red-colored teeth as proof.

Juice cleansing is a controversial food trend. During the cleansing period, which is performed for 3–10 days to reportedly detoxify and lose weight, the participants usually consume nothing but juices extracted from fruits and vegetables. Beets are a root vegetable and a good source of some nutrients such as folic acid, magnesium and vitamin C. Betalain pigments, which give beets the deep red color that stained Angela & # 39; s teeth, are antioxidants that also have anti-inflammatory effects. In addition, beets contain nitrates that dilate blood vessels, which can lower blood pressure and reduce blood pressure increase blood flow to the brain. One downside to juicing is the loss of fiber, an important nutrient in this vegetable.

Due to the sharp drop in calorie intake, people who use a juice cure often lose a little weight. Unfortunately, it is usually regained once a normal diet is resumed. In addition, many juicers are likely to have low blood sugar and a depleted energy level. Limiting the juice diet to a single fruit or vegetable also deprives the individual of other essential nutrients, including protein.

Sometimes, especially in people with pre-existing conditions, Juicing can lead to excessive oxalate in the body, causing acute kidney stones or damage. Given the lack of calories, limited nutrients, and possible adverse effects, a juice cleanse would not be advisable during pregnancy or while trying to conceive.

Incidentally, Dwight was not quite from scratch requesting a stool sample to verify that Angela was complying with the beet cleanse. In some people, the betalains can cause the stool to darken and the urine to turn red (a side effect known as beeturia).

Dwight & # 39; s & # 39; hygiene hypothesis & # 39;

In S7: E7, Pam leads a discussion on how to limit the spread of germs around the office. In response to putting up hand sanitizers in the workplace, Dwight protests, “The worst thing you can do for your immune system is pamper it. … If Saber really cared about our well-being, they'd set up hand sanitizing stations. A simple bowl filled with dirt, vomit, feces at any time. "

Dwight seems to be referring to the so-called "Hygiene Hypothesis", suggesting that our modern germaphobic tendencies are detrimental to our immune system. The idea is especially applicable during childhood, when the immune system is still in the very early stages of development. If the immune system is not properly trained during this critical period, it can malfunction. With no germs to fight, some think the immune system could resort to attacking harmless things or the body, leading to allergies and autoimmune diseases, respectively.

The idea is supported by studies that include the presence of microbes during childhood with reduced allergies. For example, some studies report a reduced incidence of hay fever in people who grew up on a farm as opposed to in a city. In some studies this effect may be linked to animal exposure; even in an urban environment, pets, especially dogs, can have a protective effect against the development of allergies.

It is doubtful that the hygiene hypothesis applies to adults, as the development window has on the immune system largely closed after 3 – 4 years. So Dwight's idea of ​​getting the office dirty isn't just dirty, it's scientifically flawed. In addition, the hygiene hypothesis is far from proven, and many confounding variables, such as genes, diet and prevalence of antibiotics and pollutants likely to conspire to shape a person's immune system.

Since it was first proposed in 1989, the hygiene hypothesis has been controversial. Some scientists have argued that use of the word hygiene is an unfortunate misnomer that keeps people from being hygienic. Returning to an age of filth would only increase infection rates and detract from finding the real explanation behind the rise of asthma and allergy in developed societies. A more recent version of the idea known as the Hypothesis of "old friends" distinguishes between good and bad microbes. It states that we should definitely protect ourselves and children from dangerous pathogens, such as those lurking in stool, vomit, or unclean food, but not overly concerned about beneficial or harmless microbes routinely found. These are already present in and around our body and can be important for training the immune system properly.

Rabies Awareness Fun Run

In S4: E1, Michael hits Meredith with his car and sends her to hospital with a pelvic break. At the hospital, Meredith reveals that she has also been bitten by a bat, raccoon and rat on several occasions recently. This prompts doctors to begin treatment for rabies. And it inspires Michael to host "Michael Scott's Dunder Mifflin Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Pro-Am Fun Run Race for the Cure."

But how big is the threat of rabies in reality? Rabies is common in wildlife but is rarely seen in domestic animals and humans living in developed countries today. From 2009 to 2018, only 25 cases of human rabies were reported in the US; that's normal one to three cases per year. Any mammal can be infected with rabies, but it is the most often transmitted to people by raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes.

Rabies is a spherical virus that slowly creeps through the nerves until it finds the brain, where it causes a terrifying transformation that blurs the line between humans and animals. Rabid animals foam at the mouth and become ferociously aggressive; the disease can turn a lamb into a lion. Also, as Michael Scott points out, people who suffer from rabies develop an intense aversion to water known as hydrophobia.

The rabies virus is concentrated in the saliva and can be transmitted by biting. You might think that a virus capable of such wizardry would be very complex, but it contains only five genes. One of these genes makes a protein that probably appears to disrupt communication between cells in the brain contributes to the behavioral changes caused by rabies. Fun fact: The hangover remedy known as "the dog's hair" has its origins in an alleged rabies treatment devised by Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder. Pliny suggested that rabies victims should "stick into the wound ashes of hair from the tail of the dog that caused the bite." Don't try this. It does not work.

As for Michael's efforts, his Rabies Fun Run would have been more relevant before the 1880s, before Louis Pasteur developed the first rabies vaccine; or, in other parts of the world where rabies cases are more common. Rabies kills worldwide nearly 60,000 people a year, largely due to a lack of resources and access to medical care.

Lice Bug Bomb

Pediculus humanus capitis was the featured guest on S9: E10 and caused a plague in cubicles at 1725 Slough Avenue. While everyone assumed the head lice was from Meredith, the source was actually Pam, which she contracted from her daughter Cece.

Lice are small insect parasites that take up residence on the scalp. These so-called skull vampires suck blood for nourishment and glue their eggs (nits) firmly to the hair. The insects cannot jump or fly, but can be passed between people sharing hairbrushes, clips, bedding, towels, clothing, or hats. The most common source of transmission is through direct contact with the hair of an infected person. While head lice are an annoyance, they are do not carry a known disease.

Our friends on The office put their heads together (not literally, thankfully) and offered different solutions. On Erin's advice, infected employees spread generous blobs of mayonnaise on each other's hair to try to suffocate the lice. Meredith became more radical and shaved her head. As usual, Dwight overreacts and tries to rid the office of lice with an insect bomb grenade. Of course it explodes before he leaves the room, and the toxic fumes make him hallucinate and pass out.

Of all the solutions tried, Meredith certainly works. By robbing the lice of hair, they get no place to lay eggs, and the adults are easily washed away. But many people are unwilling to sacrifice their locks. Although a popular home remedy, Erin's idea is to smother the lice with mayonnaise (petroleum jelly is also common) rarely works, according to (the aptly named) Mayo Clinic. And, as this episode illustrates, bug bombs are much more trouble than they are worth. Lice cannot survive for more than a day without a host, so there is no need to decontaminate and risk exposure to dangerous chemicals. More than 3,200 cases of insect bomb-related diseases, including four human deaths, were reported in the US between 2007 and 2015.

An effective way to treat lice is to use a shampoo that contains an insecticide such as permethrin. Permethrin is an insect neurotoxin that causes paralysis in the louse by disrupting sodium transport through cell membranes. Nitro combs can be used in conjunction with the shampoo treatment to physically remove eggs that have not been affected by the insecticide. Multiple treatments are recommended to ensure all lice are eradicated.

Kevin's smelly feet

Jim and Pam's wedding in S6: E4 was filled with unforgettable moments, including the revelation that Kevin has a serious foot odor problem. Kevin left his shoes in front of his hotel to be cleaned, only to find that they had disappeared overnight. The hotel manager said to him, "Mr. Malone, your shoes are gone. … When the bag was opened by our shoe polish, the smell caught him. I smelled them too and made the choice that they should be thrown away. Actually burnt."

Scientists have tracked down the cause of bromodosis (foot odor), and it can be traced to a bacteria called Brevibacterium bedding. Our bodies are likely home to trillions of bacteria more than 10,000 different species, which are on or in our lives. B. linens are harmless inhabitants of our skin, where they eat dead cells. As they digest the dead skin cells, they release foul-smelling sulfur-containing compounds called S-methylthioesters as waste products.

Sweaty feet provide a moist and salty environment in which this bacterial species can thrive and generate pungent odors as they secrete more and more S-methylthioesters. These are the same bacteria that they are used to produce the rind of smelly cheeses like Limburger.

Kevin could have reduced his foot odor by depriving the bacteria of the sweat they need to grow. He could have accomplished this by wearing open-toed shoes whenever possible, using powder, or bringing an extra pair of dry, fresh socks. There may also be extra hope on the horizon for the likes of Kevin, cursed by industrial strength. Scientists recently found that socks coated with zinc oxide nanoparticles, which have a powerful antibacterial activity, are effective in preventing foot odor.

Armed with that knowledge, you can now comfortably support your feet and marathon through all nine seasons of The office. Or at least look up these striking episodes – with a view to science.


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