Friday, March 5, 2010

The integral of e to the 2 x squared plus 2 x minus one

There I was, studying (okay, cramming) Calculus II at 8:00 a.m. the morning before the test. Why had I not studied the nights before? Because I was studying for my Marine Biology and Microbiology Lab Practicals, that’s why. One class had to get the boot, and I picked Calc since I knew weeks ago this exam was a lost cause anyway.

In between cursing my three back-to-back exams, feverishly erasing, and peering at figures with shaded regions under curves from x = 0 to x = 5 with no comprehension whatsoever, I fantasized about having a photographic memory. Wouldn’t that be great? Sorry Studying, but it’s over; I’m dating your hotter younger sister, Alcohol.

Anyway, I spaced out once or twice due to the fact that I was running on about two hours of sleep over the past week, and my mind wandered to an episode of Monk. Randy loses all of his money at Blackjack, and Monk (who has a photographic memory) wins it all back for him – not by counting cards, but by memorizing the order of the cards while he watches the dealer shuffle the deck. Think Rainman, but as a detective for the San Francisco PD.
If I had a photographic memory like that, I wouldn’t be in this predicament.

Well, I may not have a photographic memory, but there may be a way to have the next-best thing. Every few years, ads for those miracle “memory pills” (Ginkgo biloba) resurface.
Apparently, they help boost memory or cognitive ability or something. Or they could just be a placebo. I went to the Google search page to start my quest for answers (Bing fails at life).

According to this website by the University of Maryland Medical Center, all the studies about this leaf (the medicine is made from the leaves of a certain yew tree) may not agree, but the common benefits seem to be:
  • Treating circulatory disorders
  • Enhances thinking, learning, memory, and cognitive function
  • Treating dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease)
  • Reduces feelings of depression (for people with Alzheimer’s disease)

But what is in these leaves that makes them so effective?
“More than 40 components isolated from the ginkgo tree have been identified, but only two are believed to be responsible for the herb's medicinal effects: flavonoids and terpenoids. Flavonoids are plant-based antioxidants. Laboratory and animal studies have shown that flavonoids protect the nerves, heart muscle, blood vessels, and retina from damage. Terpenoids (such as ginkgolides) improve blood flow by dilating blood vessels and reducing the stickiness of platelets.”

Cool. Maybe if I give them a try, I’ll actually pass a Calc test for once.


  1. Of course, I scoured the internet, but could only find the first half of that Monk episode, which doesn’t have the Blackjack game scene. I’m sure it’s on Hulu or something. You can probably just download it illegally like everybody else.

    And the University of Maryland’s page was very scientific and professional – until they went and used the phrase “reduces the stickiness of platelets.” It just sounds…off.

  2. haha "stickiness of platelets" does sound quite odd...

  3. Why be jargony when "stickiness" says it all.

  4. Well, it only seems off since it seemed like a very professional site until then. If they had used layman's terms the whole time it wouldn't have bothered me - it was more the sudden change that bothered me.
    The sudden shift from jargon to "English" just seemed abrupt and out of place.

  5. Then again, maybe it's just me...I'm kind of a Grammar Nazi. Stuff like this jumps off the page at me.

  6. This is a great post Patrick!!!