Category Archives: Science & Mathematics

Trust evolution

It seems that not wearing running shoes is best for the foot when running: The Barefoot Professor. Bare-foot runners do not land on the heel but on the more flexible (and therefore shock-absorbing) forefoot: the pad under the distal metatarsal joints. I found this presentation fascinating for two reasons. First I had an interest in foot biomechanics some years ago that started with a marathon runner. The ‘heel strike’ mentioned in the video has a resonance for runners because the impact pulse really does travel up the spine. The problem not mentioned is sharp debris that might be in one’s path. The bigger message for me was that this ‘back to basics’ must be a useful starting point in checking any solutions we develop to improve on what evolution has already provided for us. Having developed a shoe, it seemed that the obvious route was to improve it for running rather than to improve on no-shoe for running.

On the matter of foot cuts and infections from running barefoot a distant memory surfaced. My English teacher at school, Mr Oswald Alan Thorpe, had been with the British Army in Europe in WWII. Among his many stories (this was less than 10 years after the end of the war) he mentioned how he used to walk barefoot as much as possible so that the soles of his feet became ‘as tough as old leather’. So after a few weeks of running barefoot you won’t have a problem if you watch out for larger debris as you go.

An example to be followed

I have been reading David Colquhoun’s blog for some time, and this entry is brilliant: Queueing for beds, Andrei Andreevich Markov, and why I still love the NHS. This shows the real scientist – a personal experience is turned into a small investigation. I am thanking David for the example to follow; there is a lot to learn to write a good blog.

I have to evolve; even prions do it: Prion evolution takes lessons on diversification from viruses.