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Volume 85 Issue 47 | p. 64 | Newscripts
Issue Date: November 19, 2007

Newscripts

Department: Newscripts
8547nsstrc
 
Parking: Three spots for everyone.
Credit: ISTOCK
8547nslot
 
Parking: Three spots for everyone.
Credit: ISTOCK

Designated Parking

Never find a parking space when you need one? It shouldn't happen, according to a study by Purdue University researchers, who say PARKING SPACES outnumber drivers 3:1.

Bryan C. Pijanowski, an associate professor of forestry and natural resources, led a land-use study that found the total parking area in Tippecanoe County, Ind., where Purdue is located, is more than 1,000 football fields. Pijanowski and coworkers estimate there are at minimum 355,000 parking spaces available for the population of 155,000 people. "Do we need this much parking space?" he asks.

Pijanowski is studying the issue because parking lots present environmental problems. In Tippecanoe County alone, parking lots are the source of some 1,000 lb of heavy-metal runoff each year from car battery and catalytic converter detritus, not to mention motor oil and antifreeze.

The answer to his question on how much parking we need is unclear. The answer is "not enough" if everyone wants to park near the front door of popular destinations. The answer is "too much" if everyone would leave their car parked in one spot and walk a little more.

'Lusuchemistry'

The 16-year-old son of a lung specialist working on a science project has found a simple test to determine whether people smoke, according to a Reuters report.

Athletes have cheated by using performance-enhancing substances ever since the original Greek Olympics. Not much has changed in 2,500 years, as DOPING IN SPORTS continues to make an inordinate number of headlines.

Barry Bonds, who broke Hank Aaron's career home run record this year, has been under scrutiny for steroid use. Marion Jones, an Olympic sprint champion who recently confessed that she used steroids, returned her Olympic gold medals. Floyd Landis, winner of the 2006 Tour de France, was punished for his steroid use by having his victory nullified.

For decades, there have been calls for those who govern sports to do something about the substance abuse. Although the drug-testing system has improved—with a lot of help from chemists—the chance of having drug-free competition has not.

Some pundits think the best way to manage the doping pandemic in sports is simply to allow it. One recent call for such action appeared in an editorial in the July 29 issue of Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, a major German newspaper. Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, a literary scholar and sports enthusiast at Stanford University, gave an overview of the topic.

Leave it to Stanford chemist Carl Djerassi to further codify this movement, even while opposing it. Recall that Djerassi has some experience in manipulating steroids as a developer of the birth-control pill and hormone-based pesticides.

"Gumbrecht argues that instead of pursuing a Sisyphean effort to criminalize such practice, drug (mis)use by athletes should simply be accepted as a manifestation of a modern effort to overcome natural limits to human performance," Djerassi wrote in a reply to the editorial that the paper later published. Djerassi expanded his ideas in his own editorial (ChemMedChem 2007, 2, 1533).

Djerassi makes the point that legalizing performanceenhancing drugs will naturally lead to a new industry of targeted performance enhancers, which has already started with designer steroids, such as tetrahydrogestrinone (shown), purportedly used by Bonds and Jones.

The crux of Djerassi's comments is that he proposes "lusuceutics" or "lusuchemistry," after the Latin lusus for play or sports, as a moniker for this new discipline. He writes that the concept of lusuceuticals naturally follows the model of "nutraceuticals" and "cosmeceuticals," which have "already crossed the sharply defined boundaries of standard pharmaceuticals designed to treat diseases."

Whatever might be done in terms of legalizing drug abuse in athletics, "we are heading in the direction of changing the Olympics from a competition of athletes to one between chemists," Djerassi writes. Such chemical efforts will be trivial, he adds, when genetic engineering advances into the realm of lusuceutics. "I dread such a future," he says.

 

This week's column was written by Steve Ritter. Please send comments and suggestions to newscripts@acs.org.

 
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