Thursday, March 15, 2007 03/14/07-The Glove

In today's excerpt--the author gets a demonstration of new human performance technology :

"I've spent the last 40 minutes on a treadmill angled at a 9 percent grade. My face is chili-red, my shirt soaked with sweat. ... Then Dennis Grahn, a lumpy Stanford University biologist and former minor league hockey player, walks into the room. He nods in my direction and smiles at the technician. 'Looks like he's ready,' Grahn says. He takes my hand and slips it into a clear coffee-pot looking contraption he calls the Glove. Inside is a hemisphere of metal, cool to the touch. He tightens a seal around my hand, and the cold metal chills my blood before it travels through my veins back to my core. After five minutes, I feel rejuvenated. ... I keep going for another half hour. ...

"Grahn and his research partner, biologist Craig Heller, started working on the Glove at Stanford in the late 1990s as part of their research on improving physical performance. Even they were astounded at how well it seemed to work. Vinh Cao, their squat, barrel-chested lab technician, used to do almost 100 pull-ups every time he worked out. Then one day he cooled himself off with an early prototype. The next round of pull-ups--his 11th--was a strong as his first. Within six weeks, Cao was doing 180 pull-ups a session. Six weeks after that, he went from 180 to more than 600. ...

"In trying to figure out why the Glove worked so well, its inventors ended up challenging conventional scientific wisdom on fatigue. Muscles don't wear out because they use up stored sugars, the researchers said. Instead, muscles tire because they get too hot, and sweating is just a back-up cooling system for the lattices of blood vessels in the hands and feet. The Glove, in other words, overclocks the heat exchange system. 'It's like giving a Honda the radiator of a Mack truck,' Heller says. After four months of using it himself, Heller did 1,000 push-ups on his 60th birthday in April 2003."

Noah Shachtman, "Be More Than You Can Be," Wired, March, 2007, pp. 114-118.


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