Quartzy co-founder Adam Regelmann is an MD-PhD. He bypassed a career in gastroenterology to launch Quartzy with Columbia colleague Jayant Kulkarni. Each week Adam answers five questions about science, medicine, and pop-culture.
Are caffeine crashes/withdrawal real or mythical?
Caffeine withdrawal is real, and caffeine-withdrawal headaches are definitely real. If you’re a two-cup-a-day coffee drinker and you stop drinking it, you will withdraw. You’ll get tired, you’ll have headaches, and they can be severe. The thought is that this is due to vasodilation of the blood vessels in the brain. Blood vessels have a lot of pain fibers around them, and when they dilate, it causes pain. The treatment for that is, unfortunately, to have a headache for a day or two and stop drinking coffee altogether, or drink coffee to get rid of your headache and get back on the wagon.
Is it more important to eat organic versions of some foods than others?
There was a pretty broad study in 2012 that said there’s no nutritional difference between organic and non-organic food. Organic has a definition, so all food companies race to the bottom to determine what’s the absolute minimum they can do to reach those standards. Organic foods sometimes have more pesticides on them than non-organic foods—it’s just usually naturally occurring (so are cyanide and arsenic), and in some cases at higher concentrations.
There are food categories that are just bad for you whether they’re organic or non-organic, like candy bars. Then there are food categories where it doesn’t really matter, like vegetables—you’re going to get pretty much the same nutritional benefit from organic vs. non-organic broccoli. I’d say the most important thing is just to thoroughly wash your produce.
What’s your favorite piece of science lab equipment?
The Li-Cor Odyssey Infrared Blot Imager. I love that thing. It shaved months off my PhD because I could signal two images on a Western blot at once instead of stripping and reblotting. I could also get quantitative results.
Are carbonated beverages inherently unhealthy?
There are some data that show that even artificially sweetened soft drinks increase risk for stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. This is a very controversial topic because people at risk for those diseases are often the same people who think, “I need to lose weight, so I’m going to drink diet soda.” So there’s a causation vs. correlation issue.
The carbonation process creates carbonic acid, which slowly breaks down tooth enamel. So if you had to pick between sparkling water and regular water, you should choose regular water.
New Quartzy is now available to all users. What has the initial reception been?
For longtime users, the vast majority really appreciate the new interface and find it easier to work with. Of course there are people who had their own workflows, and us changing the interface on them affects their workflows. We’re listening to any and all feedback to make sure we can accommodate those workflows in the new interface. But in general, it’s received a very good reception.
New users haven’t known anything else, so the way we measure that is simple: how fast it takes people to learn how to use new Quartzy. Those are all qualitative data right now, but from our customer-support calls, the number of support tickets from new users has gone down, and at least qualitatively when you ask people “Does this make sense?” we’re getting way more yeses than we used to. It’s much easier to understand.
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