October 2010 Archives

Pimple Poppin'!?


Ok so I'm pretty sure that everyone has popped atleast one pimple/zit or two in their lifetime; you've probably performed surgery on a much higher number than that. But wait, are you helping or harming yourself by doing this?


 According to this article    acne.about.com/od/acnefaqs/f/popping.htm    "Clearly a hands-off policy is the best choice when it comes to your skin." It's kind of disappointing to hear news like this because myself, like many others, is a victim. People are pretty sensitive when it comes to acne, so the chances that they are going to be totally "hands-off" is quite unlikely. It seems to me there are situations where you really can't avoid interfering (I'm sure you all can think of some examples). So, what do you do? Honestly, I don't really believe I have the strenght to remain hands-off. How about you?

After reading a couple posts on the BP oil spill I remembered a picture that I had stumbled upon a couple moths ago when the BP oil spill was in effect. Its a picture that shows how minuscule the BP and Exxon spills are compared to ones in the past. Although what BP did was absolutely horrible, i think we should take a look at some of the other spills that have happened. They say that it takes 50 years to clean up the average oil spill of 35,000 tons. BP's was 68,000+. Just take a look at these recent spills and tell me what you think.

The picture is too big so just use the link http://cdn.wpbeginner.com/digg/oilinfographics.gif                                                     

this article claims that processed red meats, such as; salami, hot dogs, beef jerkey, and many other, greatly increase your chance of getting cancer because of carciogenic ingredients such as sodium nitrate being present in these products.  the article qoutes from a World Cancer Research Fund Study that state that processed meats are too dangerous for human consumption.  While this seems a little exagerrated there have been over 7,000 clinical studies and their is strong evidence to support a relationship between carciogenic ingredients and cancer.  The article also brings up a very interesting and relevant question to this class, which is: If these foods are so dangerous why are they not being banned?  The answer the article provides is that the food industry has tremendous power and involvement in the USDA and regulation agencies, which causes a conflict of interest.  Much like lysenko and how the media and regulation can be corrupted by the relationship between what is supposed to be objective agencies and the producers.   check out the article here

yawning helps your brain

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I read this interesting article about yawning.  this article makes many novel assertions, however like many topics we have discussed in class it fails to show very convincing and unassiable data.  in fact it does not show any data, merely refers to studies.  Regardless it is very interesting and provocative, as yawning as viewed as rude, and this author claims it can improve your cognitive abilities in many different aspects.  he states, "Several recent brain-scan studies have shown that yawning evokes a unique neural activity in the areas of the brain that are directly involved in generating social awareness and creating feelings of empathy."  Supposedly yawning evokes a response from the precuneus a portion of your brain linked to conciousness, self-reflection and memory retrieval. Anyway, take a look and see what you think

As I'm sitting her in the HUB in front of the big TV, they have HLN on running different news stories. One that just came up was about BP and the oil spill. Well, new news has been surfaced saying that BP actually knew there was a problem before this horrible disaster happened. According to msnbc, BP and their cement contractor, Halliburton actually knew WEEKS before that the cement mixture created for the wall wasn't actually stable. 

This oil spill actually killed 11 workers and harmed thousands of animals. This news seriously upset me, knowing that there could have been more care put into this making sure it never even happened. 

Fish Aren't Stupid!

It is worldly known that goldfish have only a three second short term memory. So when I sat during class, I was thinking, does it matter if the fish are being killed if they forget it by the time it's over? But first, I wanted to check if this "worldly known" myth was indeed true.  I thought that all fish would be "slow" like Dorey, from Finding Nemo.

Instead, I found that fish indeed have good memory and showcase their knowledge with strange behavior. So I guess we have to treat the fish accordingly? What would be some ways we can treat fish better? At least we aren't torturing them. Whatever the case, I love sushi! 

Hurricane Igor


Hurrican Igor Article




        This article is about how this Hurricane Igor had fallen apart in mid september of this year. The hurricane took a similar path of Hurricane Bill in August of 2009. It began well off the coast of Africa, and then began heading north. The distance of this hurricane was said to be from Boston, Massachusetts to Richmond, Virginia which is about a 10 hour distance. The hurricane took winds up to 135 milles per hour, and would have been devestating if it had been in the United States somewhere. It also hit as a Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. If anyone has any stories that they can relate to any hurricanes they have witnessed or anything, that would be great!

Too much technology?

When I was reading the Collegian this morning I came across an article about an inventor who spoke about technology at the Schwab Auditorium last night. Ray Kurzweil says that the technology of the future of the health industry includes putting computerized devices in our bodies when something goes wrong. This new form of health care is opposite to the old way of "accidentally discovering things". He talked about an electronic pancreatic device that is only the
size of a red blood cell, that will allow a person to hold their breath and run a sprint or even stay under water for hours. He goes on to talk about that we have the information to increase technology that will get us to the point that will allow us to live forever. Personally, I am not sure if such technology is really a good thing..humans aren't meant to live forever and it is almost a scary concept to think about. Do you guys think all of this new technology, especially medical is actually a good thing?Also, Ray spoke about robots and their greater-than-human intellectual reasoning ability. The one thing that robots cannot surpass a human in is interpreting and expressing emotion. It's amazing to think that robots can be smarter than the very thing that created them.

Pain Problems

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Today in class Victoria decribed the feeling of pain and how it affects us. She specifically pointed out that it is subjective and specific to every person and exists so that we protect ourselves from it. I immediately thought of an article one of my teachers discussed in a bio class a couple years back. It describes how a girl was born without pain receptors and is unable to feel pain. I remember immediately thinking that was great, because most people don't enjoy pain sensations. However as the article and Victoria described this actually presents huge health problems. Especially at a young age like in the article, you could easily and frequently injure yourself, get sick, not respond to temperature changes, etc. and not know that you are actually harming your body. I think having no pain receptors would definitely lead to a more dangerous lifestyle because there would be no fear factor or direct understanding of how you hurting yourself. After thinking about this effect on humans I started thinking of pain on animals and fish as we are learning about in class. If you were a person with no pain receptors you would never complain of feeling of pain so people might not always know when you are in pain especially if it is internal. I'm interested to see (if it is true that fish feel pain) if there is a way fish can communicate they are in pain, because if not, they are similar to humans with no pain receptors, lacking an ability to alert others their health is in danger.

Why do we get goosebumps?

When I was watching a movie the other day, my whole body suddenly was filled with goosebumps. I was curious as to why we get these and decided to look it up. I found out that it all
has to do with our emotions. Goosebumps form from a rush of adrenaline which causes a contraction of skin muscles. In humans adrenaline can be released when we feel cold or afraid and also when we feel strong emotions. For humans, goosebumps don't have much of a purpose, but in animals can help with insulation. For example when a cat's hair stands up on its back it creates more insulation which keeps the cat warmer. In addition, the risen hair makes the cat appear larger which they may try to use as a form of protection.


Evolution, Continued

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I know we've already talked about evolution in class, but I just came across a series on NPR called The Human Edge that I thought was really interesting.  The topics covered in this series range from what they call "un-natural selection" to the purpose of tears to the importance of bipedalism and more.  For anyone who prefers to listen to news stories, this is a great site, because you can either read the transcripts or download the audio versions.

I found the idea of "un-natural selection" especially interesting, because it refers to the ways in which modern life and technology are allowing us to perhaps circumvent natural selection.  Many aspects of modern medicine deal with mutations or genes that don't have the desired outcome. 

For example, with my awful nearsightedness, it's a pretty good bet I would never have survived in less modern times.  I probably wouldn't have even seen a predator coming to eat me until it was much too late to run.  But now I can wear glasses, contacts, or even have Lasik to deal with my vision problems, and that means I'll also be able to pass on my less than stellar vision genes, rather than being naturally removed from the gene pool. 

Of course I'm happy to be here, but it does make me think about the meaning of natural selection in our times. 

Check out the other parts of this evolution series and chime in on your thoughts  on the natural selection question - what (if any) downsides are there to our ability to create adaptive technologies to address any genetic issues like my vision example?

Fishy Feelings


In light of our upcoming guest speaker, I decided to research the topic of "Do fish have feelings?". I am not sure if anyone else had the same reaction, but I had never previously heard this theory/question prior to this class, and, to be quite frank, had no interest in learning about this topic. However, when I began analyzing this thought, I actually became more interested. Think about this: whefishing-cartoon.gifn people fish recreationally and throw back their catches, how does that affect the fish? Surely I am not the only one who has pricked herself on a fishing hook, so it would make sense for the fish to feel pain, right?

After researching a little, I actually found an article summarizing findings by our guest speaker, Victoria Braithwaite. In this article, it states that fish feel pain AND have emotions, something that I hope Dr. Braithwaite will elaborate on for us.

In another article which elaborates PETA's "fish empathy" project, it claims that fish have "congnitive" reasoning and behaviors, which basically alludes to the fact that fish have reasoning and emotions, something that many people have previously denied and did not believe.

Finally, in this opinion piece that, once again, sites our guest speaker as part of their evidence/argument, it asks whether fishing practices, as done today, are ethical.

This leaves me with a lot of questions: if fish feel pain, how much? If they can have emotion, what is it like (is it similar to human emotion)? If this research proves that fish feel pain, why are we still allowed to fish with live bait, etc.?

I hope that Dr. Braithwaite can answer some of these questions!

breast awareness.jpg

Since this month is Breast Cancer Awareness month, I thought that this would be an interesting topic to blog about. Recent Studies have shown that exposure to relatively bright articficial lighting at night can increase a womans chance of developing breast cancer and a males chance of developing prostate cancer. It was revealed that lighting at night disrupts the body's production of melatonin which is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain which regulates our body's circadian rhythmn ( when we sleep, and wake up). Melatonin is also responsible for a host of other things including regulating a women's menstural cycle, and may play a role in aging. When melatonin is supressed it increases the occurance of cancer, some say when melatonin increases woman hormones like estrogen increases which increases the risk of breast cancer, and other theories say that low levels of melatonin may promote tumor growth.


 ABC news: Low melatonin increases breast cancer risk

The Melatonin Hormone

More Information and Studies


frogs with salmonella


I found an article about a study that found pet frogs are transferring salmonella. Amphibians as well as reptiles can carry salmonella bacteria without ever appearing sick. These seemingly harmless pet frogs have made 113 people sick, mostly children under the age of 10. Although there were no patient deaths, a sampling of the patients revealed 1/3 of them needed to be hospitalized. The transmission of the virus took several forms; direct contact with the frog wasn't the only way you could catch its salmonella. For example, one women cleaned a frog's aquarium in the sink and then proceeded to bathe her 3 month old infant in it. They traced the infection to a specific breeding facility that distributes around 1 million African Dwarf frogs and sells them. Health authorities are "now working with the facility's owner to implement cleanup procedures designed to limit salmonella among the animals," but it hasn't been shutdown. The frogs are still open for the public to buy, however, health officials warn, "children should avoid all contact with frogs and keep them out of the home."

Click here for the full article

After reading another recent post about how hair is being used to help solve the oil crisis as a "hair broom," I remembered that my hair was always just a BIT too short and I wanted to know why my very long, 9 3/4" donation of hair was considered unsuitable. How can a half a inch REALLY prevent a wig from being made? I never knew, so I decided to look at the Wigs for Kids website to see if there was a reasoning. While they didn't explain themselves, they DID state that hair tied into 4 or 6 ponytails provides a more generous donation (a single ponytail cut wouldn't provide as much hair). 

The website says to make sure the hair is securely fastened into the ponytail when shipped, because if it's loose it can't be used. This doesn't make sense to me-- the US can invent the atom bomb, lights that turn on when you clap, and HD tv but if the hair is LOOSE you can't make a wig???

I then went to another website to find out how wigs are made, and if it would explain these weird constrictions. Apparently, for theater wigs, mostly Asian and European hair is used. Asian hair is bleached and chosen for its more durable quality; European hair apparently moves more naturally. 

I still could not find why a half inch of hair would negatively impact wig making, but I did read that it takes 40-60 hours to tie a wig. Maybe they throw out the loose hair that arrives because it will further increase the amount of time? Still, I read about the "ventilating technique" that is used to tie the wig. Comparable to tying a rug, a certain style of knot is done 30-40,000 times to complete the wig... are there machines that can make wigs??

Apparently, 1 kilo of hair costs $2,000.


Locks of Love logo

The Anti-Addiction Vaccine



Yesterday In class a pretty heated topic arose, The anti drug-drug, Personally I feel that this drug could be revolutionary but only if given by choice- bottom line. I don't know how I would feel if my parents vaccinated me against alcohol or cigarette use, especially because there's already an age limit on cigarettes and alcohol, the government has already regulated the use of the things that feel are harmful to public health so why take it any further especially if the person had no say in the matter. I do agree with the vaccine possibly being used in rehab center because that is a logical way to help with treatment and intervention but other then that is should be taken by choice just like any other vaccine on the market. As I searched the web I couldn't find much taliking about this topic but I did come across an article that I felt was legit from newsweek.

An article: The Anti Addiction Vaccine


If you care, donate hair!

Crazy Hair.jpg

Around six months ago, disaster occurred in the Gulf coast of Mexico. A BP-owned offshore rig exploded creating a massive leak 5,000 feet below the Gulf of Mexico. The now three known leaks currently release 5,000 barrels of oil per day into the Gulf. This disaster has been deemed the largest environmental disaster in the United States and quite possibly, the world.

People from all over are trying to think of ways to collect the large amount of oil and remove it from the Gulf as soon as possible. As I was taking a look at all of these methods, I found one that was rather interesting.

A non-profit organization called Matter of Trust  came up with a relatively inexpensive idea on how to rid the Gulf of the harmful oil. Matter of Trust takes hair pet groomers and hair salons and places it into donated nylons which will then be placed into the water to soak up the oil. The invention is being referred to as a hair broom. 

hair broom.jpeg

The idea makes perfect sense, hair is great for soaking up soil and it is something that costs virtually nothing!Take a look on how exactly the process is done:


Ouch !


Have you ever been taking a nice stroll around campus and all of a sudden... BAM! Your leg muscles feel excruciating pain! The pain is so severe you are not able to continue on with your exercise and are forced to stop wherever you may be. This cramp of the leg is referred to as a Charlie Horse. The story behind the origin of the term Charlie Horse is unknown. Some say the term was named after a baseball player named Charlie who complained a lot about leg cramps. Other Stories indicate it was named after a horse. Whatever the case may be, Charlie Horses are extremely undesirable. I myself often experience Charlie Horses therefore I became very curious and wanted to do more research on these leg cramps. Here's what I found:


The causes of Charlie Horses are:


·        Overuse

·        Dehydration

·        Circulatory Problems

·        Extreme changes in temperature

·        Lack of oxygen to muscles

·        Maintaining the same muscle motion or positioning for long periods of time

·        Lack of stretching prior or exercise

·        Lack/imbalance of electrolytes

·        Side effects of some medications

·        Pregnancy


The recommended measures to get less frequent Charlie Horses are simply to maintain hydrated, stretch your muscles, and stock up on electrolytes. Most energy drinks for athletes are loaded with electrolytes providing your body with a great source! Lack of stretching is also the number one cause as to why people do get Charlie Horses.


So today as I was looking at my jack-o-lantern I asked myself, why are pumpkins orange? I looked it up and it is actually because of a high content of carotene pigments such as lutein, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene.
But as I continued reading I learned a lot more about pumpkins that I would have never even guessed!

  • Pumpkins were believed to help eliminate freckles.

  • Pumpkins were once used as a remedy for snakebites.

  • A number of facial and anti-wrinkle cremes include pumpkins.

  • Pumpkins have zero cholesterol, zero...

  • Pumpkins are low in salt, real low.

  • Pumpkins contain beta carotene which helps to reduce certain types of cancer and lowers the risk of heart disease.

  • Pumpkin seeds help to reduce the risk of prostrate cancer.

    So next time you carve, eat, or pick a pumpkin, remember all of these interesting facts!


Got Stress?

As a college student, I am often so beyond stressed that I begin to even feel pains in my chest!  It sounds stupid to make myself feel bad just because of something like an exam, but I just can't help it.  And it doesn't only happen with school work, I feel this pain when I am stressed out about little things like what I have to do today, or if I'm going to catch the bus on time.  I was told by many people that I may just have anxiety, but there are levels of anxiety and some are more severe than others.  Could you be facing symptoms of anxiety when you get stressed out?

Anxiety is defined as feelings of apprehension, danger, dread, uncertainty, accompanied by restlessness and tension. Also, anxiety can be characterized by physical symptoms such as palpitations, sweating, and feelings of stress. Anxiety is considered a normal emotion when associated with the life-altering chronic disease arthritis and an impetus to better coping with arthritis.

There are two different types of anxiety- Normal or Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  Normal Anxiety tends to be the one that most people have or think they have. It is not as severe and may come and go from time to time due to your stress levels.  Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a mental disorder characterized by excessive worry and anxiety that is difficult for the person to control. GAD causes significant disruption in one's life. The following pages will guide you through more on what GAD is.  Thus, it is definitely a more severe case that must be diagnosed. 

1. "Severe" 
Although at times the anxiety that all people experience can be somewhat severe, a characteristic of GAD is that this anxiety is usually more intense and long-lasting. If you have more severe anxiety than most other people you know, then it may be more than normal anxiety. 

2. "Disproportionate" 
The experience of anxiety for most people is proportionate to the intensity of the situation. For example, if there was a very minor anxiety-provoking situation, then the experience of anxiety is typically minor as well. People with GAD tend to become more anxious than the situation appears to warrant. Therefore, if you are someone who has more severe anxiety over "things that shouldn't be a big deal," it may be more than normal anxiety. 

3. "About Everything" 
When people experience normal anxiety they tend to worry about things related to the anxiety-provoking situation, or several other things that make them fearful. People with GAD tend to be described as "worrying about everything all the time". If that describes you, it may be more than normal anxiety. 

4. "No Control" 
Most people can reduce and control their anxiety through a variety of coping techniques and the ability to calm oneself. However, people with GAD have significant difficulty finding relaxation, calm, and time away from their worries. If you have more difficulty than other people you know in controlling your anxiety, it may be more than normal anxiety. 

Thus, as a college student you will obviously face a lot of stressful situations, but everyone stresses out in different ways.  If you feel completely overloaded with work and just don't know what to do with yourself anymore, just stop and take a break.  Go for a walk, work out, grab a snack, something to take your mind off of it and relax you for a bit.  Stress is going to help you in anyway, so why let it control you?  


Urine as an ingredient...WOW

So I was looking for an article related to jewelry and its reaction in the skin, but instead I came across this particular one that shocked me completely.

The Title...

"Fake perfumes may contain bacteria, antifreeze-EVEN URINE."


According to ABCNews.com, these counterfeited perfumes contain all this nasty "ingredients" which eventually will be absorbed by the skin.

Valerie Salem, senior vice president and published of Harper's Bazaar give the warning on "Good Morning America."
"You're putting something on your face, on your neck, on your wrists," she said on "GMA." "Those are sensitive parts of the body, so, to have active ingredients that could endanger your life is a very serious health risk."


These was publicated in the January issue, which exposed counterfeit perfumes.

Dermatologist Jeannette Graf, also told ABC that more cases of dermatitis and skin inflammation have been caused by  these fake perfumes.

"They will invariably say that they felt different as soon as they put it on. They felt burning. They saw redness. It felt uncomfortable, it didn't smell right. And that's almost immediate." Said Graf.

She also believes that the development of these cases is do to the fact that people are having access to these fragrances on the streets as well as the web.

According to the report on ABC, urine might be used to balance the ph in the fragrances and also for its color.

Now you know, AVOID buying fake perfumes. 


So ever since I have arrived at Penn State I have been taking a yoga class once every week.  I had never tried yoga before coming here, but knew that it would be something that I'd love.  I have always heard that it's good for your health and can increase your flexibility but I never understood why or if it is even true.

While researching, I discovered that yoga benefits your health in four ways- flexibility, strength, balance, and is an incredible stress reliever.

The series of yoga poses called asanas work by safely stretching your muscles. This releases the lactic acid that builds up with muscle use and causes stiffness, tension, pain, and fatigue. In addition, yoga increases the range of motion in joints. It may also increase lubrication in the joints. The outcome is a sense of ease and fluidity throughout your body.  Some people believe that they are too old to do yoga, but the truth is that you're actually never too old to improve your flexibility!  For instance, my yoga instructor is 60 years old, and he can do WAY more than any of these college students can do.  After about 8 weeks of yoga, participants had up to 35 % improvement in flexibility.

Yoga has so many different poses with different benefits.  For example, many of the poses, such as Downward Dog, Upward Dog, and Plank pose, build upper-body strength. This becomes crucial as people age. The standing poses, especially if you hold them for several long breaths, build strength in your hamstrings, quadriceps, and abdominal muscles.  When practiced correctly, nearly all poses build core strength in the deep abdominal muscles.  In class, we learned a pose that, when done correctly, has the same benefit as ten minutes on the treadmill!! So crazy.  To prove it, we take our pulse before and after and the difference really is astounding.  

Breathing is an important part of yoga and is what helps to center your mind and body.  Most forms of yoga emphasize deepening and lengthening your breath. This stimulates the relaxation response -- the opposite of the fight-or-flight adrenaline boost of the stress response.  While performing yoga, you are supposed to clear your mind of all thoughts and solely concentrate on your breathing.  This helps you to relax and clear your mind of anything that could possibly stress you out.

All of this information has made me even more in love with yoga!  I can't believe all of the positive outcomes that come from something as simple as concentrating on how you breathe.  These are only just a few benefits of yoga, and there are so many more.  So stop by the White Building, or any other gym and grab a class schedule so you can check out a yoga class.  It is definitely worth it and a great way to relieve all of that college stress!  Trust me, once you go once, you will be hooked forever :)

You Make Me Sick

Did you know that being pessimistic can actually make you sick?  When pessimists put a more positive spin on calamities in their lives, they have less stress and better health.  

This fact pertains most to us college students.."A classic UCLA study found that law students who began their first semester optimistic about the experience had more helper T cells mid semester, which can amplify the immune response, and more powerful natural killer cells, than students who had a more pessimistic perspective."

This can also occur because optimists tend to take better care of themselves, have more confidence, and tend to work harder to achieve their goals.  Studies have shown that people who look at the glass half empty don't live as long as the people that see the glass as half full.

How can you stay positive?  Keep positive people around you!  If you have pessimistic friends, try to find some more optimistic friends that can help keep you positive as well. As a stressed out college student, it definitely is not easy to stay happy at times around midterms and finals, but stay positive will keep you healthier and happier.  

So stay happy, Happy Valley, and you will be benefiting your immune system in the long run!


Many parents today believe that the cause of their child's autism is due to a vaccine. It seems that we have Dr. Andrew Wakefield, a former physician in England to thank for spreading wrong information. In 1998, Dr. Andrew Wakefiled, co-authored a study that reported traces of the measles virus in the biopsies of autistic children studied. The study has since been found unethical, and Wakefield lost his medical license in May. Dr. Deandra Clark, a pediatrician at AnMed Health Children's Health Center looked into the study and discovered that he falsified data. Clark wrote an editorial about Wakefield's unethical study and the lack of scientific evidence to back a connection between vaccines and autism. It will soon be published in Clark wrote an editorial about Wakefield's unethical study and the lack of scientific evidence to back a connection between vaccines and autism. It will be published in October in the Journal of the South Carolina Medical Association.

            This association between autism and vaccines seems to have scared many parents and as a result, children are not receiving the vaccine. Dr. Clark feels that other factors have led parents to reject the vaccine. Autism has been on a steady rise since 1979, and the MMR vaccine was introduced in 1988, according to Clark. The definition of autism also has broadened over the years, adding to the number of new diagnoses. "The problem is, we don't start seeing social behavior until about a year of life," Clark said. "But autism isn't diagnosed until 2. That's the age we give immunizations."

            One parent, Lori Mosley sees no need to risk the possibility. She said that although there's no proof of a link, she intends to err on the side of caution. "There's nothing stating it's not the cause either," she said. She believes that one way for parents to protect their children is to have the MMR vaccine spread out over time and to make sure it is green (not containing mercury). One star, Jenny McCarthy, whose son has autism, has lead the fight to stop giving vaccines to children.

            I am not sure if I agree with Jenny McCarthy. Although Dr. Clark advises against not vaccinating children, I agree with Lori Mosley's solution. Although not perfect, I believe that the MMR vaccine has saved the lives of millions of children. There is a risk with any medication or vaccine given. Parents have to stay informed and make an educated decision.

Controversy continues about autism and vaccines

By Jennifer Crossley Howard


In an article in USA TODAY, it explains how we all went through that awful puberty stage with the embarrassing acne which we seemed to never be able to hide.  Acne is not caused by anything the person does but rather it is hormonal and an inherited disorder. Studies have found five easy ways to minimize acne. 


1.      Take diet advice with a grain of salt.

There's no evidence that chocolate or pizza or French fries are special culprits unless you get that pizza grease on your face. It's very unlikely that a couple pieces of Halloween candy will cause an outbreak. That said, it's always wise to eat your fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean protein.

2.      Don't touch!

Popping and picking at pimples isn't just an unattractive habit. It can make breakouts and scarring worse.

3. Keep it clean.

Wash once in the morning, once at night and "when your skin gets sticky or sweaty," The night time is the most important time because you must wash away the oil, the makeup and the sunscreen before you go to sleep.

4. Keep it light.

It is perfectly fine to wear makeup and especially sunscreen because skin cancer is much worse than acne. But choose formulas labeled "oil-free" or "non-comedogenic."

5. Watch your hair care.

The hairline is a prime acne spot. And many people make the problem worse by using hair products that can irritate the skin or clog pores.


In an article in the USA TODAYit states that for women past menopause who have had breast cancer, a higher intake of soy may help reduce the risk of the disease's recurrence, a new study of Chinese women suggests. The study, while called intriguing by U.S. experts, was not large and included only women with breast cancer receiving care in China. It's not known if the results would apply to other groups of women. The researchers measured the women's dietary intake of soy isoflavones at the start of the study, and then followed them for about five years to see if breast cancer recurred. For the premenopausal women, soy had no apparent effect on the risk of subsequent breast cancer. But postmenopausal women with the highest intake of soy of more than 42.3 milligrams of soy isoflavones a day had a 33% reduced risk of cancer recurrence. There have been concerns about the effect of soy consumption on women with estrogen receptor-positive and progesterone receptor-positive breast cancer because soy isoflavones are similar to estrogen in chemical structure, and because tumor growth is dependent on estrogen. According to current American Cancer Society guidelines, which are under review, up to three servings a day of soy foods is considered safe. I think that this experiment needs to be studied on other types of women as well. Do you think these scientists are on to something or just another theory that will be proven wrong?

In an article in the USA TODAY, researchers have found that Down syndrome patients tend to age prematurely as if they aged overnight.  They suspect that this unique genetic profile also protects people with Down syndrome from many common ailments.

Often times about half of these babies are born with a correctable heart defect.  When they age, they may have trouble with high cholesterol from obesity. Researchers still do not know why they don't seem to develop high blood pressure or heart attacks like people who do not have Down syndrome.

Also doctors once believed that people with Down syndrome never had cancer because they did not live long enough.  Last May, a researcher from the University of Pennsylvania named Sandra Ryeom and her colleagues found genes on the 21st chromosome that inhibited the growth of blood vessels necessary for tumor growth.  Getting an extra copy of these genes may actually help the body keep cancers in check by depriving them of blood.

Although people with Down syndrome are at higher risk for cataracts, they rarely develop a form of blindness called macular degeneration, caused by an overgrowth of blood vessels in the retina. Doctors suspect that the same genes that restrict blood vessel growth in tumors may also prevent abnormal blood vessel growth in the eye.

Doctors don't yet know exactly how an extra copy of chromosome 21 causes or prevents diseases. It is a possibility that getting a 50% larger "dose" of a gene affects the body's susceptibility to a disease. Or, it's possible that the extra genetic material simply makes the entire genome more unstable. The Down syndrome community has taught scientists so much and they are grateful for that.

The reason I chose to write about this topic is because I have a younger brother with Down syndrome and I found it fascinating to hear these interesting facts.  I never knew that he was immune to different diseases that I could one day get.  I hope these researchers are able to find out more information so it can help out our world in the field of medicine in some way.


Rare Earth Elements

I'm sure most have you have heard of Neodymium Magnets. Well, these magnets that are used in a vast network of electronic devices around the world aren't easy to find. Neodymium is one of many rare earth elements that China has been digging up for a long time now, and according to popsci, they are hogging these elements more than ever. Because of this, the well known company Boeing is starting to look for possible rare-earth mines in the United states. These rare-earth elements are indeed rare, and as rare, they cost some money, so it is understandable that Boeing is interested.

I would wager that every single person in our class owns over 5 neodymium magnets and probably more rare-earth metals, so this research and plan for excavation on Boeing's part is a good one. From headphones to missiles, these rare-earth elements are vital in our advancement of many technological devices. The work that Boeing is doing will give us a steady flow of valuable resources and helps the advancement of major and minor technologies throughout the world.

So I say, +1 Boeing.




      Recently in class the topic arose about vaccines being related to the autism diagnose and i thought that I would share my personal experience with autism. My younger sister is 8 years old and she was diagnosed with autism; like many other parents of children with autism my mother noticed something different about my sister. My sister was a normal developing child until one day she stopped responding to sound, stop looking people in they eye, and just seemed unfocused as if she was unaware of her surroundings and just in her own little world. Of course like any concerned parent my mother took her to the hospital her guesses as to what was wrong with my sister was that she was death but that was not that case eventually the diagnosis of autism arose and immediately following this newfound knowledge was plenty of research within my family as to what this disorder was?, what are the effects? and lastly What caused it? of course the theory of vaccines causing autism was in our pool of research but as a family we never dwelled on this cause, we took the disorder for what it was and focused on intervention methods for my sister. Which I believe should be the main focus of the media also! My sister is what you would say is the typical autistic child she has many of the main traits that characterizes a child as autistic; this blog was mainly Just an awarness message because i can say i had never heard of this disorder let alone knew what it was until my sister was diagnosed with it and immediately after that I started hearing more and more about it: below are just a few of the common behaviors of autistic children and a video example . Any questions about my experience or sister feel free to ask in a comment!:

Common behaviors of Autistic children

Video example of autistic behaviors







virus.jpgI recently came across this question when a friend of mines came across a   mysterious rash, she went to the University health center; and found out this rash was known as Pityriasis Rosa; It was expected to be caused by a virus but not definite. It was not contagious nor able to be cured; all she could do was hope that it didn't get worse and let the virus run its term. Fortunately it didn't get worse and gradually dissappeared but it makes me upset that at this day and age there are still ailments that are uncurable especially something as simple as a rash; and it made me ask the question if viruses are not contagious where do they come from? How do you get them? and how do they enter your body? after doing research I came across a simple but very helpful illustration of the process:

Click and scroll down: to see how viruses enter the body


Viruses are everywhere in the environment  and the linger around awaiting for a host but they don't always cause an infection; an infection is caused when a disease causing organism enters the body through respiratory (mouth,nose), reproductive, or digestive system or any open area including eyes and ears; almost all viruses follow the same steps when infecting someone known as the lytic cycle:

  1. A virus particle attaches to a host cell.
  2. The particle releases its genetic instructions into the host cell.
  3. The injected genetic material recruits the host cell's enzymes.
  4. The enzymes make parts for more new virus particles.
  5. The new particles assemble the parts into new viruses.
  6. The new particles break free from the host cell

Here's an example "The Common Cold"

  1. An infected person sneezes near you.
  2. You inhale the virus particle, and it attaches to cells lining the sinuses in your nose.
  3. The virus attacks the cells lining the sinuses and rapidly reproduces new viruses.
  4. The host cells break, and new viruses spread into your bloodstream and also into your lungs. Because you have lost cells lining your sinuses, fluid can flow into your nasal passages and give you a runny nose.
  5. Viruses in the fluid that drips down your throat attack the cells lining your throat and give you a sore throat.
  6. Viruses in your bloodstream can attack muscle cells and cause you to have muscle aches.

Your immune system responds to the infection, and in the process of fighting, it produces chemicals called pyrogens that cause your body temperature to increase. This fever actually helps you to fight the infection by slowing down the rate of viral reproduction, because most of your body's chemical reactions have an optimal temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius). If your temperature rises slightly above this, the reactions slow down. This immune response continues until the viruses are eliminated from your body. However, if you sneeze, you can spread thousands of new viruses into the environment to await another host. 

Discover Health "How Viruses Work"   Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D.

Yes it's that easy and as i searched the web for ways to prevent common viruses the number one solution was......GOOD HYGEINE! so remember to wash your hands guys=]

Stop! Don't dye your hair.


In my environmental science class we were talking about how some hair products could be linked to cancer; I decided to do some research on this.  In one article I found out that African American women get breast cancer at twice the rate as White women.  Many doctors and scientists think there might be a link between the two.  In another article I found there had been some research on the link between hair dyes and cancer.  Dr. Zahm results were that people that dyed their hair, especially with dark colors had a 50 percent chance higher than non-hair dye users to get cancer.  Dr. Zahm herself said this was not a definite study but it is very interesting and scary to see how hair dyes, something used by many women could one of the causes of cancer.

The big question constantly asked by the media and citizens of our country, is what will be our alternative energy source once we run out of oil? After doing some research on alternative energy sources I came across Cold Fusion which I found to be a skeptical but potential answer to this ongoing riddle.

The process of Cold fusion starts with the nuclear fusion of atoms at conditions close to room temperature, in contrast to the conditions of well-understood fusion reactions such as those inside stars and high energy experiments. Interest in the field increased dramatically after nuclear fusion was reported in a tabletop experiment involving electrolysis of heavy water on a palladium (Pd) electroded by Martin Fleischmann, then one of the world's leading electro-chemists, and Stanley Pons in 1989. They reported anomalous heat production ("excess heat") of a magnitude they asserted would defy explanation except in terms of nuclear processes. They further reported measuring small amounts of nuclear reaction byproducts; including neutrons and tritium. These reports raised hopes of a cheap and abundant source of energy. By the year 1989, most scientists considered cold fusion claims dead and cold fusion subsequently gained a reputation of a false concept. Many years after it was considered a dead concept, some researchers continue to investigate cold fusion, and have reported positive results at mainstream conferences and in peer-reviewed journals. Cold fusion research sometimes is referred to as low energy nuclear reaction (LENR) studies or condensed matter nuclear science, in order  for people not to have negative views of the research. 

Explanation of Cold Fusion 

Mosquito.gifAs Mr. Read briefly went over in class, the pesky little critters, mosquitos, are beginning to evolve in to something more. Not just any mosquito, but Malaria induced ones. Researchers have recently reported that these mosquitos are becoming a different type of species entirely. Apparently 300 million people are infected by Malaria each year, worldwide, and around 1 to 1.5 million people die from it; most of these people live in Africa. Scientists have been studying and looking at "two strains" of Anopheles gambiae mosquitos, which are the kinds responsible for spreading Malaria. The two different types of strains, M and S, are physically identical but have been noticed to be different genetically, which in turn causes each one to be a different species. This leads to a harder time in trying to control the population of them. When people use insecticides, researchers now have to be sure that the insecticides will work on both strains. George Christophides, a lead researcher in the Division of Cell and Molecular Biology at Imperial College London, expressed a few words about the topic. 

"Malaria is a deadly disease that affects millions of people across the world and amongst children in Africa, it causes one in every five deaths. We know that the best way to reduce the number of people who contract malaria is to control the mosquitoes that carry the disease. Our studies help us to understand the makeup of the mosquitoes that transmit malaria, so that we can find new ways of preventing them from infecting people."

The works carried out by researcher came to the conclusion of two separate claims. The first study showed that the M and S strains vary genetically and the variations are dispersed around the entire genome. "The work suggested that many of the genetic regions that differ between the M and S genomes are likely to affect mosquito development, feeding behaviour, and reproduction."

The second study looked at the differences between the M and S strains, as well as a third strain called Bamako. Each one was compared to 400,000 different points where a difference in their genetics showed. This exhibited an obvious answer that the strains are evolving differently than each other. The researchers believe that the evolution process is due to the exposure to different environments.

All of these different strains and what not are very confusing to most, I'm sure. But the point here is that mosquitos are populating and that they are branching off in to different species than before. Basically just stay away from mosquitos at all costs.

The Science of Food? Tasty!

I've mentioned once or twice that I don't particularly enjoy science but THIS class I'd be more than enthusiastic about.

At Harvard University, there is a class being offered called the "Science of Food," a course designed to use the kitchen to teach the basics of physics and chemistry, quite the unconventional science class indeed.  Students make dishes such as chewy fruit gelées in a class titled "From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science."  This particular gelée dish was part of a lesson on elasticity, how easily a solid like gelatin can be squeezed or pulled, and viscosity, the speed of liquid flow.  Other foods like steak are used to demonstrate other scientific concepts.  Steak was used to show elasticity by measuring its thickness, applying weight to it, and seeing how much it was compressed.  A traditional science class would have used a spring, not a steak, to test this concept.

The students tackle on issues such as "dessert geometry."  At the restaurant Alinea, some desserts are "served by pouring them onto a latex sheet draped on the table."  The problem with this approach is that the cream from the dessert items pools into a circle.  However, the chocolate from the dessert flows into a square puddle.  Students are investigating the reason and science behind this phenomenon.

Bon appetit!


Magic Tricks and Autism


I found a little article yesterday about an interesting study they did on autistic people and how they follow social cues. Reseachers had a magician pretend to throw a ball in the air, and they hypothesised that people with autism would be less suspectible to having their social perceptions deceived (less likely to think he threw the ball). The reason being is because the magician uses social cues (like facial expressions) to make his trick more deceiving, and one of the effects of autism is that people who have it have a harder time picking up on social cues.


asdasdasdasdasd.pngHere is how the experiment was set up. They had15 teenagers with autism and 16 teenagers without autism watch a video of a magician pretending to throw a ball up in the air. The illusion is that people perceive that they saw the ball leave the magicians hand. So they asked each individual to point on the screen where they last thought the saw the ball leave the magician's hand.

To the researchers surprise, there was evidence to negate their original hypothesis. It ended up that "people with autism were more likely to think that the magician threw the ball". The researchers assumed that the subjects with autism wouldn't be as focused on the magician's face, but more so on the location of the ball in the magician's hand.

--> Some variables to consider in this study are that the people with autism that the reserachers choose were attending a school for autism, so they may have been educated on how to pay more attention to social cues. But I think it would be very interesting for this study to be conducted on children with autism that have not been taught about watching for social cues. If the experiment could be performed correctly, it might reveal some pretty interesting insights into autism that may disprove current thoughts we have about it's affects. Maybe lack of being able to follow social cues is actually not an affect...and it could be something else entirely.

Desiree Jennings Update


So here is the Inside Edition update on Desiree Jennings. Basically, what they did was tape her for awhile and then confront her about it. After being confronted by the crew, she starts talking in a foreign accent and walks sideways to her car. I found an update by her on youtube as well, which I'm fairly certain came after the above video.

After looking over the always-true-never-wrong top-notch source of basic information, Wikipedia of course, I found the Dystonia is incurable. With proven treatment, which means not the controversial ones she received from the doctor mentioned on Inside Edition, symptoms are toned down. They don't completely go away. That means if she had muscle spasms, she probably wouldn't be allowed to drive. Or shouldn't, anyway. Dystonia has nothing to do with her changed accent either, so where did that symptom come from?

This more recent article on her case from ABC News is intriguing too. She's basically taken a nose dive with her health. She claims she can't eat and "her brain forgets to tell her to breathe." The first one symptom, according to the MayoClinic, is characterized as a real symptom of dystonia. Her brain "forgetting" to tell her to breathe? That isn't.

The part that I find most interesting is the idea that her condition is psychogenic. Basically, because she 100% honestly believes she has dystonia, her brain causes her body to act in such a way as if she actually had the disorder. It's kind of a scary thing to think about. If you completely and honestly, really believed you had some kind of disorder or sickness, you could start showing symptoms. The only thing I can relate this to is Mass Hysteria, and the best example I have of this is from House. Apologies on the terrible quality here.

Everyone on the plane in this episode completely believed they had meningitis. They had rashes, and started showing classical symptoms of the disease. However, a shaking left hand is not a symptom, but when House revealed it as if it was, everyone's left hand started shaking. 

In my opinion on the Desiree Jennings scandal, she's faking at this point. Maybe she really believed she had Dystonia in the beginning, but the media has spun this story out of control to the degree that she can't go back on it.

For many of us, taking a Flintstone vitamin is a fond memory of our childhood.  However, recent studies are claiming that multivitamins may not be helping your body at all and may actually be doing some harm.



Some people believe that multivitamins will boost your immunity or fill in the gaps that your diet isn't covering, but a recent article in Prevention magaine says otherwise.  it states that "  the average American woman--whether a healthy eater or not--probably won't benefit from a multivitamin."  For so many years we have assumed that a multivitamin is a good thing, but if you don't know what you're putting into your body, you may be getting too much of a certain vitamin,which could do some serious damage.  For example, too much vitatmin C can cause kidney stones and an excess of vitamin A/Beta-Carotene can eventually lead to hairloss.

This speculation reminds me of the blood letting topic we discussed in class.  For a long time doctors just believe that blood letting worked without and real evidence that it did.  Is the multivitamin situation just another example of science not really happening?

I thought this would be a good topic to blog about because of the discussions of fertility,birth defects, and worms in class.  

Even with a healthy life style women start reproductive aging as early as their early 30's.  The oocytes (Unfertilized eggs) start to degrade in quality because of the excess secretion of the TGF-beta (Transforming Growth Factor beta) protein.  This process has been found to occur in Mammals and even worms- the C. Elegan worm is used in this study.  With the low quality of these eggs it increases the likely-hood of children being born with birth defects such as Down Syndrome. In this study they have experimented with the worms by mutating the TGF-Beta levels which have proven to extend female (worm) fertility.  However, at this point the researchers are uncertain wether TGF-Beta plays the same role in birth defects in worm off-spring as it does in Humans.  Although the worms showed an expanded reproductive ability it didn't extend life span and reproducing at an old age proved to be fatal.  Read more about this experiment here in the New York Times.


What is Ebola?

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When Dr. Read brought up the Ebola virus, to illustrate how low exposure but a really nasty virus could have the same risk as high exposure but low hazard virus, I realize that it is a disease that the class donsen't know much about

Ebola is a viral genus and is name after Ebola River Valley, which is near the site of the first recognized outbreak in the Democratic Republic of (formerly Zaire), in 1976 at a mission hospital run by Flemish nuns. It remained largely obscure until 1989 when several widely publicized outbreaks occurred among monkeys in the United States. The virus interferes with the endothelial cells lining the interior surface of blood vessels and with coagulation. As the blood vessel walls become damaged and destroyed, the platelets are unable to coagulate, patients succumb to hypovolemic shock. Ebola is transmitted through bodily fluids, while conjunctiva exposure may also lead to transmission.

Although the incubation period is generally 5-18 days, it ranges from 2 to 21 days Illness is characterized by the rapid onset of fever, malaise, muscle pain, headache, and the inflammation of the pharynx. Six days following vomiting and bloody diarrhea, individuals may develop maculopapular rash with bleeding at needle sites and bodily orifices.

There is no standard treatment for Ebola hemorrhagic fever. Treatment is primarily supportive and includes minimizing invasive procedures, balancing electrolytes Convalescent plasma (factors from those that have survived Ebola infection) shows promise as a treatment for the disease. In monkeys, administration of an inhibitor of coagulation (rNAPc2) has shown some benefit, protecting 33% of infected animals from a usually 100% (for monkeys) lethal infection (however, this inoculation does not work on humans).

In May 2010, a group of scientists from the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories at Boston University announced they had developed a drug containing small interfering RNAs packaged into Stable nucleic acid lipid particles (SNALPs) that prevented reproduction of the virus in monkeys.The group's leader Thomas Geisbert claimed the results of the group's study showed their experimental treatment resulted in "complete protection" of monkeys from the virus. Virologist Heinz Feldmann hailed the findings of the study as a "milestone" that could be used to combat similar viruses. Geisbert claimed a lack of market interest could impair the development of the treatment for humans, given the comparatively low number of Ebola cases worldwide. The trial on monkeys had been funded by the United States Department of Defense.

Ebola Video 


Pretty much everyone is familiar with the Mayan Doomsday Prophecy that the apocalypse is going to hit December 12, 2012. While many people are skeptical and not too worried about this prediction (myself included) there are also many people concerned about it being true, due to other predictions Mayans have been correct on. Well rest assured for those of you in the latter category because a new argument published determines that the conversions from the Mayan calender are actually off from our current accepted calender by anywhere from 50 - 100 years.

In this new study, data from a Mayan calender and almanac, the positions of Venus, and a conversion to our modern day calender disproves the original Mayan theory. However, while the study seems to prove that the Mayan calender is off from our calender the exact amount of years they're off by is unclear, making it impossible to match the Mayan 12/21/12 doomsday to our actual 12/21/12. Still not convinced that the Mayans are wrong? While reading this article I came across another link describing 10 other failed apocalypse prophecies. Among these 10 include Halley's Comet in 1910 emitting a deadly gas that would kill everyone, the Y2K predictions when the new millenium hit, and God's Church of Ministry that stated that by 2008 the U.S. would collapse and cease to be an independent nation.

Clearly I personally don't believe in doomsday prophecies. In terms of the Mayans' prophecy I honestly just think they had counted so many thousands of years in the future they had to stop somewhere. I think that this new argument that our calenders don't match up makes a lot of sense since they lived so many years before us. I believe that apcalpyse prophecies are just strong theories that may be feasible but have no real evidence to actually prove the world will end. These are my opinions about these kind of prophecies but I'm interested to know what anyone else thinks about them, especially those that disagree and why!

I thought it would be a good blog topic to find out what the deadliest animal on Earth was and scare you all with amazing facts about how it kills and how quickly. I was pretty shocked with what I found, and I learned some things in the process.

When determining how deadly a creature is, two criteria are measured. First, how many people can one ounce of the creatures venom kill, and second, how long does it take to die once the venom has been injected.

Turns out, the winner is this guy:


The Box jellyfish, also known as a "sea wasp" or "marine stinger"

One ounce of the Box jellyfish's venom can kill up to 60 adults. Venom is injected through harpoon like needles called cindocytes located on the jelly's tentacles. Each tentacle has hundreds of thousands of cindocytes. The venom is so deadly that a bad sting can kill a human in 4 minutes.

Luckily for us, the deadly Box Jellys are found exclusively in the Tropical Indo-Pacific Ocean (maybe not so lucky for Andrew). Many cases of stings are reported off of the Northern Shores of Australia, the first one dating back to 1883. It has since been discovered that protection as thin as pantyhose is enough to protect from the venom. Australian lifeguards can often be seen patrolling beaches with pantyhose covering their arms and legs.

Box Jellys have been responsible for at least 64 deaths in Australia. An anti-venom has been developed that is effective, but the trouble is treating a victim quickly before the venom can kill. Sadly, the majority of the victims are children because they have a smaller body mass. In countries such as the Philippines, where health care in general is not as good, deaths are more common.

I mean really, a jellyfish? At least I found it interesting. I know someone who hasn't been in the ocean since seeing the film Jaws, if only they knew the deadly potential of the Box Jellyfish.



Fear-- Tis' the Season

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To follow up on previous blog entries on phobias, I love Halloween and scary movies, so I figured it would be an interesting to subject to look more into.  I wanted to look more into if fears are learned or are actually in our genetic make-up. Another topic that has been intriguing me lately is why some people love scary movies and why some people hate them. 

The reason I was mostly interested in if phobias were inherited is that my father and I both share the same fear of clowns. When I read the previous blog on how our phobias might be passed down from our ancestors, I wondered if my father passed this fear onto me.  I found articles supporting both the nature and nurture opinions.  The articles below show support that some fears are genetic. Past studies shown on identical twins could support the theory that it is due to genetics. Both of the twins were put through treatments showing images of ordinary objects and objects that they could be afriad of. The doctors would measure the levels of anxiety that the twins exhibited. The results matched up in the end of the study. Other studies have revealed the same thing in identical twins.  .

 Twin Study (http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2003/08/04/914237.htm

Opinions on Simple vs. Social Fear (http://www.phobia-fear-release.com/are-phobias-hereditary.html)

According to other articles, there are other explanations for fear. Fear could be attributed to the anxiety disorder itself being passed down through genetics. There is also the nurture concept, where the fear is learned through frightful experiences. A child could learn to be fearful of something because they see their parent is afraid of the object (this might be my case with the clowns).

Anxiety explanation (http://anxiety-and-phobias.com/uncategorized/inherited-an-anxiety-disorder)

More on types and explanations (http://www.unexplainedstuff.com/Mysteries-of-the-Mind/Phobias.html)

So, the support shown could still make the theory of inherited fear go either way. What do you guys think, is fear passed down or learned?



The other subject I wanted to blog about is some of the explanations for why some people like horror movies and some do not. Horror is my favorite genre, but most of my friends refuse to go see them with me. I have been wondering, what makes one person hate them and one person love them?

Some say people like them, because society is obsessed with violence. There is also the idea of escaping the real world and not being in control of what is to come on the screen and scare you. There is also the explanation that the audience will find relief in the end of the movie.  (Explanations http://www.wisegeek.com/why-do-people-like-to-watch-scary-movies.htm) The other article I found talked about another explanation. This would be that people just enjoy being scared and like the rush of adrenaline. I believe this is the reason I love them so much, because I am an adrenaline junkie. adrenaline (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070725152040.htm)

Why do you love or hate scary movies? I am interested in if people think there is something different in the psychological make-up of the 2 groups? Or, going back to the phobia subject, if maybe people have experienced something and do not want the movie to remind them of that?



                          Matthew Lacek in the center, in the company of his siblings, recovered from his infection with Hib in 2006.   

Over the past week we have analyzed the questions of whether or not vaccines are safe and whether or not childhood vaccines can lead to autism. I recently read an article that gave a personal account of the adverse effects of not receiving vaccines. Kelly Lacek chose not to have her two youngest kids vaccinated. She based this choice on the skepticism surrounding vaccines, such as the number of shots required, the ingredients, and the potential link between vaccines and autism. In 2006 their youngest son Matthew developed a high fever, hunched over, and struggled to breathe. When they arrived at the hospital, doctors immediately asked if Matthew had been vaccinated. 

Matthew had acquired a bacterial infection known as Hib, which can cause brain damage and deafness (1 and 20 that acquire Hib die). Hib is very unknown due to the fact that it is vaccine-preventable. Matthew was near-death but survived. Professionals in the field argue that vaccines are effective to the point that "people don't even know what the disease looks like or what problems it can cause." Other professionals say that it is important to provide truthful information to parents regarding vaccines. Vaccines are NOT 100% effective because every person's immune system reacts differently. However, the article states that vaccines are considered the "greatest public health success in reducing infectious diseases." 

The story of the Matthew Lacek shows what can happen when a child is not vaccinated. While his parents feared that vaccines would cause autism or other negative effects, they failed to accept the alternative hypothesis that vaccines prevent disease. Also, when analyzing whether or not vaccines cause autism there is insufficient evidence to reject the null hypothesis that vaccines do not cause autism. 

This article provides a real-life example of the debate over vaccines. While it might seem like common sense to us, after our class lectures, parents still fear that vaccinations will have negative health effects on their child. 

         I was watching a TV show and came upon some rare children diseases that I found quite fascinating.  One of the diseases was progeria, at first I did not know what this was, and then they explained it.  Progeria is a disease which affects children; this gives them an appearance of accelerated aging.  Progeria comes from the Greek word 'progeros,' meaning prematurely old.  After hearing this I had a better idea of what progeria was, and I wanted to find research on it.  The reason I mentioned the mysterious case of Benjamin Button is because this movie can be linked to this disease.  Benjamin was born but started being seventy years old instead of a baby.

Progeria doesn't really work like this, but I thought it was a nice example.  Children with progeria usually get diagnosed from the age of 10 to 24 months.  Children with this disease usually die from the age of 8-21, generally from some sort of heart problem.  Progeria is not a disease that's due to heritability; it is due to a rare gene change that happens by chance.    There is no known cure for progeria but scientists believe that if they find a cure for this it might bring benefits to curing adults with diseases linked to aging.  This disease is very rare; there are only 53 reported cases of this disease.  It has nothing to do with your race or sex it happens randomly by chance.

Here is the link if you want to learn more about rare but very interesting disease:


I read the NY Times a lot, and now that we have to blog about science events I have become more interested in the science section of the paper.  The article I just read was about the astonishing number of surgical procedures that are done wrong, despite the regulations put forth by the hospitals.  Many surgeries are being performed or the wrong patient or the wrong body part of the right patient.  This goes much much deeper than what we discussed in class, because that was when no science was being done to prove certain ideas and procedures wrong.  This is just plain awful.  These kind of simple mistakes should not be made, and the amount of times they occur has increased over the years.  You would think with current technology mistakes like this would not happen.  I find it quite odd that a lot of current problems in science can be found in the medical field, but I think it ties back to what Andrew said about how doctors are so set in their own practiced ideas of right and wrong.

Even though these mistakes don't exactly tie into that, they are just plain stupid.  Errors like that should never occur when someone's life is at risk.

While discussing the flu season in class, I remembered what I had once heard- Toilet seats have less germs than an office desk.  But I find it very hard to believe that idea, so I looked to one of the most reliable sources..CNN

And I found that "A study by the University of Arizona in 2002 found the typical worker's desk has hundreds of times more bacteria per square inch than an office toilet seat. If that's not disturbing enough, desks, phones and other private surfaces are also prime habitats for the viruses that cause colds and flu." 

That's crazy! I continued researching and found that office toilet seats had 49 germs per square inch, desktops had almost 21,000 germs per square inch, and phones were even worse.. more than 25,000 germs per square inch!

Wiping down these surfaces with disinfectant sprays and wipes will definitely reduce the bacteria.  The reason that these tend to be so gross is because people don't usually wipe down their office desks or even cell phones as often as they should.  You forget about all the times you sit at your desk and eat and drink, or talking on the phone after going for a run, or texting after playing a sport.  Germs are everywhere, it's just up to you to fight them off and be aware of the places that they lurk. Stay healthy this year and be sure to break out the lysol wipes!!


Most Distant Galaxy Article


This article is about how a Galaxy that was originally discovered by the Hubble, has now been identified as the most remote Galaxy in the Universe. In the extremely large picture below I have added from the article, the Galaxy is being seen when it was only about 600 million years old. This shows how interesting Science is and how much we really don't know about the Universe, and Earth itself. I also find it hard to believe with all of the recent discoveries in the Universe, that this Galaxy will still be the most remote Galaxy in years to come. I also find it extremely interesting that we are viewing this Galaxy at the time of the Dark Ages, when the Universe was not fully transparent. If anyone has any other recent finds on articles in regards to the Universe please feel free to leave website links so that others as well as me can view them.



Scientist Dancers?!

So although this is not too informative I thought it was a pretty interesting article about a bunch of Ph. D. students who choreographed an interpretive dance about the research they were doing. The dance competition is dubbed, "Dance Your Ph. D. 2010" and the winner of the dance off goes home with a cash prize! So often people associate scientists with boring people (although Andrew has backed up this notion many a times .. as have the clips of scientist's on youtube.com he has showed us) yet this shows more of their laid back side. 

The winner, Maureen McKeague said that, "just like her research, 'this was a group effort that involved our whole lab.'" Although the dances might not have been THAT good (compared to most college students' standards) the judges loved watching and critiquing them! You can learn more about Maureen's research by reading the article.

You can access and watch the video by clicking on the article!

Don't Get Alcohol Poisoning!

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Don't Get Alcohol Poisoning!

                We all know too much drinking can be extremely dangerous to health.  Many of us might find it funny when someone we know, like a friend is drunk.  We laugh at the stupidities they say and do during this time, but do we know when it is enough and we should offer our help?  We might just be making fun of a friend that is in real danger because of alcohol poisoning.

                Alcohol affects nerves like breathing and gag reflex.  A large amount of alcohol might eventually stop these functions.  Also, there is always the danger of choking on vomit.  This could cause death because of intoxication.  Signs that should alert you that there might be alcohol poisoning are slow breathing, vomiting, irregular breathing, seizures, and/or hypothermia.  Not all of these symptoms need to happen for a person to have alcohol poisoning.  Do not wait to help the person out, help out as soon as you can, this could really be the difference between life or death.

     What was said on the comment wall on Thursday concerning the actress/activist Jenny McCarthy and her role in the fight against autism sparked my interest.  I figured I would look into what she actually believed and what she was promoting.  I found this really great, though somewhat lengthy, article from the TIME website detailing everything about McCarthy's mission as well as many critics views on the issue. 
      To give some background, McCarthy's son Evan (now 7) began having severe seizures around age 2.  He also had certain developmental delays compared to others his age.  Evan also exhibited some atypical behaviors, such as arm flapping, repetitive actions, and fixation on strange objects.  The thought was that he was exhibiting signs of autism.  McCarthy said that she started trying every therapy and treatment in the book, ranging from ABA therapy to changes in his diet.  To make a long story short, she believes that Evan has now recovered, possibly because of certain biomedical treatments.  McCarthy blames the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine for giving her son autism.  
      McCarthy's story is similar to some of the testimonies that Dr. Read showed us in class. In one interview, when mentioned that the vast majority of science to date did not support her assertion, McCarthy responded, "My science is Evan.  He's at home.  That's my science."  Other parents of autistic children applaud McCarthy for her efforts and for giving them a sense of hope in the fight against autism. McCarthy has been very vocal that parents should not give up; that is key.  
     However, the critics of McCarthy's claims have been far from silent.  They name McCarthy's testimony as anti-scientific clamor.  They've stated her claims to be the "emotional" and not the "scientific" truth.  Critics also reprimand her for giving families false hope of the idea of "recovery" when that may not be the likely outcome.  In addition, many question whether McCarthy's son Evan really ever had autism at all or if these symptoms were simply characteristic of another disorder.  Lastly, scientists and critics alike have named McCarthy as a "menace to the public health".  This quote from the beginning of the article summarizes that claim:

"Though close to 80% of American children receive the standard battery of vaccinations, skepticism about their safety remains widespread, in part because of the antiscientific clamor of the McCarthy camp. Enough parents are refusing to vaccinate that some long-dormant maladies, like measles and meningitis, have re-emerged. Nonvaccination rates among kindergartners in some California counties have been reported at 10%."  

In relation to the risk discussion we had in class, the author also notes that the risk of injury from vaccination is far lower than the risk of disease from being unvaccinated. Personally, I am conflicted on the issue.  It has to be extremely difficult for parents to sit by the wayside while their child struggles with this supposedly not curable disease of autism.  On one hand, I applaud McCarthy for being a voice for this fight and giving parents of autistic children another option and a reason to fight.  However, the idea that vaccinations are the central cause has me conflicted.  I'm not sure it's worth the risk of other diseases re-emerging due to not vaccinating your child, when the scientific basis of vaccinations causing autism is slim to none.  I found this article really interesting, let me know what you think! 


Why do we sneeze??


My grandfather and mother often times seem to have spats where they can sneeze 7 or 8 times...I have never really had such a sneezing fit and began wondering why this happens.. I came across this  article about what causes a person to sneeze and why certain people have "sneezing fits while others just have the average 2-3 sneezes at a time. Sneezing is our body's way of getting unwanted particles out of our system in hopes of preventing possible problems down the road. There are many different things that can offset a sneeze and no, it is not a bad omen. Something in the article that I found extremely interesting was that a sneeze has the velocity of about 100mph, this is 20 times the velocity of a normal breath


I thought this was truly unbelievable when I read this! I was thinking about when Andrew was showing us the ironic facts between President Lincoln and President Kennedy and how many of their lives had weird similarities. I was looking around online and found an article about how this couple and their kids. They have three children, one of them born on 08/08/08, the other born on 09/09/09 and the most recent one born on 10/10/10! 

According to the article, "the odds of having three children with sequential, symmetrical birth dates must be sky high, but it turns out the Sopers weren't leaving the arrival dates of Cearra and Chloe to chance." 

Barbie Soper (the mother) has had health problems where the labor was actually induced for both of the daughters so their birthdays were actually chosen. But still, the fact that they all have special birthdays...that's pretty awesome! 

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(disclosure: in no way does this picture have to with the kids talked about in this entry, I just think it's adorable)

The Power of Friction

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Physics is a subject that I personally dread. I could not stand it in high school and I am trying to avoid it at all costs here at Penn State. But as I was flipping through channels, I came across the show Mythbusters. Mythbusters is a show where they basically try to prove or bust any myth through science. Although it incorporated physics, I could not help but be drawn to the intriguing case. There is a myth that two interlaced yellow books would be inseparable. So, at one page at a time, they took turns flipping pages until they two books were stuck together with pure friction. My mind was blown away. The static friction of more than 1600 pages alone took on A LOT of force. Take a look for yourself. 

The numbers always catch me by surprise. You never expect certain things to happen, yet they occur. With science, we always find a new discovery. What do you guys find as interesting topics? Do you guys know of any mind blowing tests or facts? 

UK Science Budget Cut

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BBC News posted an article today about science budget cuts in the United Kingdom.  However, these cuts were not totally unexpected.  The UK research community expected budget cuts of up to 25%, when in fact the cuts will be less than 10% over the next four years.  The science community has taken these cuts seemingly well, although they have admitted that these cuts will hurt the UK's "competiveness".  They have also mentioned how these cuts hurt especially when countries like the US, and Germany, are having budget increases.  I am interested to hear what Dr. Read has to say about these cuts...
BBC Link


When it comes to your own kids, every parent wants they best and when it comes to making life altering decisions for your child, you want all available information in front of you. Doctors are responsible for providing all of the pros and cons for that decision but then are required to leave it up to the parents to make their own decision in what they think is best. Determining on whether or not to give your child a vaccine or not is not an easy decision. We are all not doctor and do not understand everything about the vaccine. We just want what is best for our kids. Of course everyone whats their child to be protected from infectious diseases but at what risk.

In an article I read many things should be considered before making a decision.

  1. What is the risk or probability of the child getting the disease?

  2. What are the health consequences of the natural infection if contracted?

  3. How safe is the vaccine that is available?

  4. Is the immunity provided by the vaccine solid and long-lasting?

  5. Will the vaccine stimulate the appropriate parts of the immune system -- is the route of vaccine administration compatible with the route of natural infection?

  6. What is the child's health history and present health status?

  7. Are there alternatives to immunization, and if so, are they safe and effective?

People must take this seriously however, people can not be scared to have their kids vaccinated. Although no vaccine is 100% safe, in most cases the vaccine helps the child and does not hurt them. You just can never be too safe or do to much research before making the proper decision.  

Many blogs posts having been discussing whether or not love could be explained by science. Andrew mentioned today about how many different types of "love" could have been considered - and I decided to further research about the love of a mother to a child (a.k.a maternal instincts).

I found a study that took 13 mothers that each had 16-month-old babies and scanned the mothers' brains with an MRI to try and look for this "maternal instinct". What the researchers did was dress all the babies alike and then filmed each one smiling and then crying and reaching for their mothers. Then they had the mothers watch all of the babies on videotape and then scanned their brains.

What the researchers noticed was that when the mother saw images of her own child her brain patterns were definitely different than when she looked at others children. And there was a noticeable difference when a mother saw her own child in distress as opposed to smiling.



Cute-Baby.jpgSo what does this mean? An excerpt from the article says:

[The scans suggest that particular circuits in the brain are activated when a mother distinguishes the smiles and cries of her own baby from those of other infants. The fact that a woman responds more strongly to a child's crying than to smiling seems "to be biologically meaningful in terms of adaptation to specific demands associated with successful infant care," the study authors noted.]

There are a few things that strike my curiosity from this research. It never mentions whether or not the mothers admitted to being able to recognize their child, which I think would have a different effect on the mother's brain waves if she was clearly able to identify her child. And that is definitely a valid variable because the study was going for anonymity by dressing the children all alike.

Also, wouldn't you already assume that a woman's brain would act differently when her child is crying as opposed to smiling? A baby's crying would signify that the mom needs to help, whereas the smile would cause less stress because the baby is fine.

The study also says: "This type of knowledge provides the beginnings of a scientific understanding of human maternal behavior," said Dr. John H. Krystal, in a press release.

I'm just not too sure if we can say it provides the "beginnings" of understanding of maternal behavior in humans, as much as we can say it might "solidify" some of our understandings of maternal behavior in humans. Also, it is noted that this experiment was not conducted with men, which would clearly add a little twist to "maternal" instincts if they found the same brain patterns taking place in fathers!

So I was inspired to go home and research new up and coming vaccines and I found one that really sparked my attention:  A Brain Cancer Vaccine???  Is this really possible???

science blog- brain cancer vaccine.jpg

This UK News Article illustrates a new 2-year trial that is set to begin in the UK.  Scientists hope that the vaccine, IMA 950, will jump start the body's immune system in response to Glioblastoma, which is the most common form of brain cancer.  It will hopefully boost the immune system to fight off the cancer.  

This vaccine, however, is not like the normal vaccines we see today.  Whereas, it isn't a prevention vaccine (like the flu and smallpox) but a treatment vaccine.  Health correspondent Thomas Moore says, "We've got used to vaccines that prevent diseases - including some cancers. But this is a treatment vaccine.  Cancer normally evades the immune system. But this vaccine flags up the tumor as a threat, kick-starting an immune response.  It's a very exciting strategy that is likely to become increasingly common." 

The vaccine contains 11 peptides which is important because as Dr. Ian Walker states, "each peptide has a potential to cause an immune response. Usually, a vaccine will have one peptide, but this gives us 11 different possibilities or chances."

This could be an amazing breakthrough seeing as the prognosis for newly diagnosed Glioblastoma patients proves to be extremely grim, often only given months to live. If proven to be a success, the treatment vaccination will work along with standard treatments, such as surgery, chemo, and radiation.   

BBC News  says that45 newly diagnosed Glioblastoma patients will participate in the trial.  BBC also says that attempted trials have been put down in the past for lack of funding until the donor Cancer Research Technology stepped in to lend a HUGE helping hand.  They will not disclose how expenisve the trials actually are but it is estimated that 1 single trial costs 2 million Euros which in US is almost 3 million.

The leader of this study, Professor Roy Rampling of The University of Glasgow, says, "One of the hardest parts of my job is telling someone they have brain cancer.  Glioblastoma can be challenging to treat because there are limited options for therapy - there's a real need for new treatments for this disease."  Maybe this vaccine could be that new needed treatment.  

flu shot

Well Dr. Read, I just received a flu shot yesterday and was already paranoid about the Dystonia disease. Now I will be counting down the next 9 days!

BUT, here is an article relating to the cheerleader becoming "cured" as some people stated in class. 

The article says that a very incompetent doctor misdiagnosed her several times:

Color My Words



a1871_1333.jpgI used to love the book A Mango Shaped Space by Wendy Moss. It was about a girl who had a disease called synesthesia. To her every sound, letter, word, and number had a color. When she would hear words she would see certain colors. Synesthesia is a disease of joint perceptions, and there are many different types of this disease.

"The number "6" is a bright shade of pink. Listening to a cello smells like chocolate. And eating a slice of pizza creates a tickling sensation on the back of your neck. "

Personally, I don't think I would mind having this disease. I think it would be cool in its own way. It's like adding another dimension to life.

Would you want to have this disease?


According to Science Daily, an article published from Annals of Internal Medicine brought up the question about how there isn't a standard behind the placebo. According to the article a placebo-controlled trail is, "to be sure a treatment itself is effective, one needs to compare people whose only difference is whether or not they are taking the drug. Both groups should equally think they are on the drug - to protect aganist effects of factors like expectation."

When reading this article, they said that the author from the paper stated above, Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD, said that we don't actually know what is going to be physiologically inert. She also made a very interesting point that we don't actually know what goes into placebos and that what's actually in them is decided by the ones making the drugs (the non-placebo). These makers of the drugs are obviously bias towards the drug and it's results so they could be making a placebo that might have an affect on the study. 

According to a Nature article from about 15 years ago, it said "a positive or negative effect of the placebo can lead to the misleading appearance of a negative or positive effect of the drug. And an effect in the same direction as the drug can lead a true effect of the drug to be lost."

According to certain researchers, they found that some of the ingredients that go into the placebo pills were actually disclosed in less than 10 percent of the cases.

So, it's interesting because no one ever thinks of what's in the placebo, we just assume it's a "sugar" pill or something that is supposed to replicate the actual drug. The problem is that we don't know what's being put into these drugs. I would say that we should do a double-blind experiment, but the people making the placebo would still know what is going INTO the drug.




I know that most of you reading this blog have "possibly" already seen the YouTube video of the news report on a cheerleader who acquired a disorder called Dystonia from a flu shot. Here is the link to the video for those who have not seen it:

There are other videos that can be found that are interrelated with the same case on YouTube. One of the other videos that Fox 5 news had was saying how there were no problems with the batch of flu shots the girl was administered with. Her symptoms are somewhat related to what the Dystonia website has, such as "involuntary muscle contractions force the body into repetitive and often twisting movements as well as awkward, irregular postures." The reason for my post on this topic is that when I saw this video last year, I remember a lot of controversy regarding whether she was faking the disorder or not. I know it may be offensive to some people but on a serious side I was wondering what everyone thought, whether she is faking the disorder or not. There are reasons to believe both sides of the argument and hopefully there is more information that people have found out about this specific case to have me lean one way more than the other.

"The Stanky" Bug

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We've all seen them and we've all heard them. I am referring to the detrimental swarm of stink bugs that is taking over the country. Now that it is getting cooler out, it only means that more stink bugs are revving up their engines to saturate our homes. Apparently these stink bugs are leaving the natured environments of orchards and gardens to come to our suburban homes and offices. Stink Bugs are harmless to people but are causing quite the problem when it comes to fruits, trees, and shrubs.There does not exist exist an easy way to kill these little annoyances. On a recent blog website, however, there have been many inputs on how to uniquely kill these stink bugs. 21 ways in fact: 

  • Get a bat. Bats eat stink bugs! North American bats are invaluable natural resources. As primary predators of night-flying insects, bats play a vital role in maintaining the balance of nature. A single little brown bat can catch hundreds of mosquitoes in an hour. Bats that frequent bat houses eat insects that could damage crops, such as cucumber and June beetles, STINK BUGS, leafhoppers and corn worm moths. Most likely to inhabit bat houses are little brown bats, big brown bats, eastern pipistrelle and the eastern long-eared bat.
  • Fill a lidded jar with alcohol, and drop them in as you catch them -- dead in 15 seconds.
  • Treat the perimeter with a micro-encapsulated pest control product. The micro-cap holds up well for months and dries virtually clear, with mimimal odor. Two good pest control products that work well are Demand CS and Border Insecticide. Both can be purchased here.
    Treat well around the doors, windows, vents, wall-mounted air conditioners, and any place with a crack or crevice leading to the inside.

  • Wash the curtains, bed linens and send drapes to the cleaners, and will that deter the bugs from returning to the same spots in the house.
  • Spray them with hot sauce, or fill a lidded jar with hot sauce and drop them in.
  • Flush them. Still seems the easiest way to go as long as you're not knee-deep. Drives up the water bill tho ...
  • Fly paper. Line windowsills, door jams ... one stink bug attracts another, so the paper should fill up with bugs in the house.
  • A shot gun. One reader swears it's a sure fire way to kill them... downside could be the hole in your wall, and perhaps a visit from the cops...
  • Spray Axe on 'em. Of course then you have to stink your house up with Axe (though if you have a teenage boy, then it already is)
  • Mint leaves. Line windowsills and leave near any crevice ... one reader swears this works.
  • Regularly spray your plants, trees and grass with a soap and water solution; it will dehydrate most of the bugs.
  • Seal them in a zip lock bag. it might take 2 months for them to suffocate ... but they will eventually die.
  • Paralyze them with hairspray, then seal them in a jar with bleach or rubbing alcohol.
  • Orange Guard. it's an all-natural way to suffocate them.
  • Cats. One reader -- who says she was bit on the neck by a stink bug -- now keeps her cat inside. Bugs seem to be gone.
  • Spray them with a 32 oz bottle hot water and 1 3/4 cup of dawn soap; it's said to kill them fast. Since they hang out on fruit trees, a reader suggests spraying trees with 36 oz of dawn soap to 2 gallon of hot water.
  • Nicotine. Shred a pack of cigarettes and let it steep in a gallon of warm water over night, strain it through several layers of cheese cloth, and add two tablespoons of dish washing detergent to the mix, and spray that on the bugs and it will kill them for sure. (Wear gloves when handling the nicotine water; you don't want to poison yourself with too much nicotine absorbing through your skin.) The detergent will break down along with the nicotine. The detergent lessens the surface tension of the water, making it coat the bugs well, and the nicotine poisons them. Both decompose after a while.
  • Birds. Although I can't seem to find out which birds like to munch on them. Blue birds have been mentioned a few times...
  • Taser them. If you ever needed an excuse to use a taser ... now's your chance.
Some of these tactics seem a little farfetched such as using a shotgun or a taser but the techniques of using mint leaves and/or hair spray seem plausible. Personally, I just grab the stink bugs quickly with a paper towel and flush them down the toilet. Most of the time, though, I get my parents to do it for me. I know I am in college but EW, those stink bugs are NASTY!

I was browsing an article online linking dental work to cardiovascular disease when I came across an even more shocking and disturbing article stating that approximately 5.7 million Americans' heart disease risk has been miscalculated! Apparently there are two separate models physicians use to determine a person's risk. Both methods are called the Framingham method. The first (and standard) method uses age, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and smoking in a complicated math equation in order to effectively determine the risk of any future heart problems within the next 10 years. The other method is a more simplifed version of the Framingham model that does not use any equation. Both methods use their results to separate patients into a moderate, moderately high, and high risk group for developing any kind of heart disease. To determine if any differences occurred between the two methods, scientists tested about 2500 people and calculated their risks using both methods. Scientists concluded that approximately 15% of the people would be placed into the wrong risk group if their risk was determined by the simplified version. Because of this major difference there are millions of Americans that have been either under or over characterized in their risk, which is obviously a huge problem preventing people who need treatment or caution from getting it and giving people wrong ideas about their health when it is actually not in danger.

What I thought was particularly interesting is that it took so long for scientists to determine this major difference. I think it's easy to understand how such big differences occur with the two different models because simplified versions are never as accurate as a true calculation. I'm surprised physicians have still been using the simplified method even though they now have the technology to effectively determine an accurate risk. I sincerely hope that this finding will now cause physicians to use the standard model so everyone is placed into their proper risk group preventing any possible problems the simplified version has created.

Mono A Mano

MonoGirlSymptoms.jpgTalking about out Polio and Smallpox made me really think about the sicknesses today that are still around and that us teenagers, really anyone, are vulnerable to. A few of my friends have recently been diagnosed with the kissing disease, a.k.a. "Mono". The question arose in my head, is Mono really THAT bad for you and are teenagers the ONLY people that get this? Well mono is transferred through saliva so you don't necessarily need to be playing tonsil hockey. It is possible, however, for babies to get mono. They me become susceptible to Mono through sharing spoons, sippy cups, or even sharing toys with another kid. Symptoms of Mono usually don't come in until four to six weeks have passed until you notice some of the symptoms: soar throat, swollen glands, fever, and/or skin rash. It is said that being infected with Mono, mononucleosis, at a young age has better advantages then when a teenager or older. The symptoms are more mild and almost hardly there when infected as a child. Mono is most likely not dangerous but can affect your spleen pretty badly. In the case of this, doctors prescribe older teenagers and adults with the disease to lay off all kinds of physical activities for weeks. For example, my friend Maria recently got diagnosed with mono and is unable to be the girl quarterback for our flag football team. She cannot do anything physical for 6 weeks. This really puts a burden on our team, and on her own life. The best way to avoid this disease is to not share anything with anybody that involves your mouth, and if someone does have Mono, they should keep out of contact with people until it is gone. 


How many of you remember the Seinfeld episode when George's fiancé dies after licking all the wedding invitations? After doing some research online regarding if that could ever happen, I found out that this has been an urban legend that goes back to the seventies which is clearly not true. In order for this crazy tale to happen there would have to be a sequential list of events that would need to happen in a particular order. First there has to be roach eggs in the envelope glue, which it would be very difficult since the eggs are carried by the momma roach which are located in a hard protective capsule known as the ootheca.  Since this is the only place roach eggs can survive, it makes the probability of this happening very small. Even if the eggs could survive outside the ootheca, roach eggs are too large to pass unnoticed on an envelope.  If the unthinkable happens and some unusually small roach eggs managed to escape the ootheca of a pregnant roach, then wind would have to push the eggs into the glue vat before applied to an envelope, and that envelope has to be sold before the eggs hatch. In order to continue with the very improbable sequence of events, the person needs to have a cut on his/her tongue, the eggs need to transfer from the envelope to the victim's mouth, and then finally the eggs need to hatch live baby roaches creating an infection in the mouth.  So the next time you are thinking whether or not to lick an envelope before putting it in the mail box, you can go ahead and lick it and be sure what happened to Susan, George's fiancé, will never happen to you.        

Starvation in Africa is a problem. So much so, that some people will eat a dead elephant. Half of the population is without enough food. Zambia has been offered genetically modified food aid from first world countries like the US. But they don't want it. Zambia officials don't think it is safe to accept this untested aid. They don't want their people to become then guinea pigs for American scientists. Zimbabwe and a few other countries will only accept GM foods if they are milled.

Should these counties be accepting this GM food aid because their populations are starving?

Is it ethical to feed this GM food to people? Even if we are unsure of the long term effects?


In response to my previous blog post, I decided to further investigate science movies and, more specifically, mad scientists. In response to comments posted by both Andrew and another classmate, I further investigated both "normal" scientists in movies and the Nazi-Hollocaust era scientists.

First, I tried to research movies that depicted scientists as normal, everyday people. After researching and finding websites claiming they have "the best" or "top" science movies, it was very difficult to find a scientist, at least a lead character scientist, that was anything close to what I deemed "normal" (see Top Science Movies, Science Movies, and 25 Classic Science Fiction Movies to see examples). In fact, when I think of science movies that I have seen, there are NONE that I think include scientists that are normal. I mean, even thinking about my old favorite tv show- Bill Nye the Science Guy- he was NOT normal. Even the MythBusters guys that are on today... they are all seriously quirky and odd. But maybe there is some truth in all of these depictions of scientists; it certainly takes a certain type of person to become a scientist (and a really specific type of person to become a great scientist [look at Barry Marshall- he did something CRAZY for science!]). Maybe these movies, though overly dramatic for audience-attention purposes, show a bit of truth-scientists are odd! What do you think?

werewolfnazi3.jpgNext, I researched the science done by Nazis during WWII. First, I was initially stunned in response to the comment about the horrible experiments done during the Hollocaust; but, in fact, everything that the student stated WAS true (look at this course syllabus to see a basic list of the cruel experiments attempted). Here are the listed experiments, explained in detail, from the Hollocaust rememberance site. However, it should be noted that many good scientific advances were made during the Hollocaust by Nazi scientists, too. Since the Third Reich was in so much power, they acquired some of the brightest minds of the Eastern World and, due to this, came up with many advances (think the first missiles and realizing smoking was linked to lung cancer). So, while the era was ridden with chaos, destruction, and pain, there were also some positive outcomes from these experiments.

Long story short, I want your opinion- Are scientists crazy?

Like many other people, I love to read. Whether it's the Daily Collegian, Seventeen magazine, Twilight, or Anna Karenina, give me something to read and I'm a happy girl. I know that a lot of people don't like to read, but it's extremely good for your mind to keep reading!


According to LifeDev, here are the 8 reasons and benefits of reading:

1. Enhanced Smarts

Wow, this may be the most obvious statement of the post, right? Well, it turns out that reading helps in almost every area of smarts. Those that read have higher GPA's, higher intelligence, and general knowledge than those that don't. In Anne E. Cunningham's paper What Reading Does for the Mind (pdf version), she found that reading, in general, makes you smarter, and it keeps you sharp as you age.

No matter what you're wanting to do or become, you can't do it without more knowledge. Reading is an excellent way to get where you're wanting to go.

2. Reading reduces stress

When I'm reading a book, my mind shifts gears. Where I might have a had a stressful day, a book can easily distract me. Fiction is fantastic for this. Reading an awesome fiction book is perfect right before bed time. Though sometimes it's hard to put the book down if it's really good. Still, you'll be relaxed ;)

3. Greater tranquility

Reading can soothe like no other. Given that I'm a pretty high-energy person, reading forces me to sit and be still. This daily act of making myself be quiet and still has been nothing short of miraculous for my anxiety and my "fidgety factor".

4. Improved analytical thinking

That's right, ladies and germs. Cunningham's studies have found that analytical thinking is boosted by reading. Readers improve their general knowledge, and more importantly are able to spot patterns quicker. If you can spot patterns quicker, your analytical skills receive a boost.

5. Increased Vocabulary

It's no secret that reading increases your vocabulary and improves your spelling, but did you know that reading increases your vocabulary more than talking or direct teaching? Reading forces us to look at words that we might not have seen or heard recently at the pub. In fact, language in children's books are likely to be more sophisticated than your average conversation.

Increased vocabulary is especially crucial for bloggers or writers. All successful writers will tell you that in order to write well, you need to read. Every day. You'll be surprised at the words you start incorporating into your writing.

A beefier vocabulary isn't just for writers though. Knowing what other people are saying and using the perfect words to convey your feelings is a critical part of being a better human. Better listeners are more successful in life.

(Side note: If you're concerned with your well-being at previously mentioned pub, you might lay off the more obnoxious terms you've picked up.)

6. Improved memory

I have an awful memory. Just ask my fiancee. I usually can't remember what I've eaten for breakfast, let alone things like names and addresss. Yet I've been finding that I can remember stuff much easier when I've been reading consistently. Do I have any scientific data to match this up? Not really. But I'd say it's a pretty safe bet that reading has somehow given me memory mojo.

7. Improved writing skills

This isn't much of a stretch, considering that reading improves vocabulary and critical thinking. I feel like a better writer, as I'm constantly surrounding myself with works from people who are better than me. That's why English classes in High School make you read "the classics". That's why art students learn to copy masterpieces, so they know what creating something incredible should feel like.

The more you read, the better of a writer you'll become.

8. Helps prioritize goals

Many times we're certain we know what we "really want" in life. Yet I've found that activities like reading show me things I didn't know about myself. My mind will drift to things that I'd really like to do, and it isn't long that these little lapses in reading start to cycle. The same sort of goals keep popping into my head, allowing me to see what I really want to do.

For example, I've been playing music on a consistent basis, but I've always wanted to produce and distribute my own music. As I've been reading, I've found that song ideas and other general thoughts on music keep popping into my head. It's my times reading that have really pushed me into giving music a serious go.

When you remove yourself from your work environment, you'll start to see things that you might really want to do, that you're not doing yet. Reading gives you a chance for your to wander.


While this article is a lot of a journalist's own experience, there have been many studies on the topic and reading does indeed make you smarter....yay! :)

Mental Retirement

In an article in the New York Times, two economists suggest that the earlier people retire, the more quickly their memories decline.  Researchers have found that those who retire seem to do less well on cognitive tests compared to those who are still working. Yet, they have also found that a possibility could be that those whose memories are declining are more like to retire than people whose cognitive skills remain sharp.  Do you think this is true? Does Sudoku or crossword puzzles actually help the cognitive behavior?  

Everyone remembers the DARE programs, right? Drug Abuse Resistance Education, where a police officer or someone of the sort comes in to school to teach you about drugs, peer pressure, and how to say no. Well as I was perusing the MSN homepage this morning something caught my eye, and I had to bring it to everyone elses attention because I think it's epic. I know it only loosely ties in with science, but I felt the need to post it.

An eleven year old boy reported his parents for smoking pot, and turned in one of their pot cigarettes when turning them in! The North Carolina 5th grader was clearly paying attention in class, and now the parents are both facing drug charges. They were both arrested and charged with two misdemeanor counts of marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. The boy & his sibling were removed from the house by social services and are now staying with relatives.

I think this story is unlike anything I've ever heard before. So many people regard pot as not that big of a deal, but I think it has been and is becoming a HUGE issue in society. If you want to go and do it on your own, be my guest. But if you have children in your house and they clearly know you're doing it then I think it's just sick. If the boy knew enough to report them then he's obviously not stupid, and the parents weren't trying to hide it that well if the boy knew about it and had easy enough access to turn in one of the cigarettes when he reported them. The boy had every right to get out of the bad situation he felt he was in, and the parents should be punished for endangering their children. Which makes me wonder - why are there no charges or child endangerment or child neglect? What do you guys think of this story?



With the upcoming Flu season around the corner, people are beginning to get worried. In a new article, evidence of cellphone usage may be linked to the virus. In a study done by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, they found that the flu virus could be traced back to communication patterns. Seventy cellphones where given out to college students with software on it that would give back data movement, calls and text messaging as well as having the students fill out daily surveys. After the study was concluded, "A characteristic signature of illness emerged from the data, which was gathered over a 10-week period in early 2009. Students who came down with a fever or full-blown flu tended to move around less and make fewer calls late at night and early in the morning. When Madan trained software to hunt for this signature in the cellphone data, a daily check correctly identified flu victims 90 per cent of the time." 

Before now, scientist and doctors only knew that the virus changed mobility patterns, however there was no way of tracking where the disease outbreaks went. With this new discovery, technology could be used to track and show early signs of the disease to prevent massive outbreaks. In addition, apps for software are now being developed for phones that anyone could download to help alert the person they're infected before the disease is full blown.

Skeptics out there say that cell phones can not take all the factors of the virus into mind. There are simply too many outside causes in the world. Examples like floods that could force people not to move is a factor that a phone could never process however, I believe that if a study big enough is done to gather most of the signature tell tall signs, then this new technology could be put to great use. 

We have seen scientific discovery found in researches involving dogs and mice. Today, I read an article in the New York Times about finding something in worm study.


The article "Looking to a Worm for Answers on Human Fertility" in New York Times reported that a study in the journal Cell may provide new insight into female fertility.


Usually, women's fertility ability start to decline at their 30s. study found that worm's fertility abitlity declines too as they ages. increased secretion of a protein called transforming growth factor beta, or TGF-beta was also found in the degrading process of oocytes. This kind of protin are in human and other mammals too. Scientists have tested the protein in mice and found a similar effect.


Reaserches are continuing studying the protin and effect of fertility, which may eventually provid knowlege to extend female fertility.

Moon Before Mars?

A NASA artist's rendering of possible activities during future space exploration missions at a manned lunar base.

This blog post I decided to do a couple of posts on Mars: life on Mars and the possibility of space travel to Mars. In some of my previous blog posts, I talked about the Phoenix mission, which deployed a robot-like lander that provided a live video feed to NASA, as well as performing various other tasks. In a recent article, famous astronaut Buzz Aldrin elaborates on the possibility of traveling to Mars. 

President Obama approved a new mission and budget with the long-term mission of eventually having a manned mission to Mars. Aldrin argues that before this mission can even be considered feasible, NASA needs to look about establishing a fueling station on the moon. This station would provide both fuel and water, and would significantly reduce the cost of transporting fuel from Earth. Many people agree that going to Mars requires "infrastructure in space." The underlying fact remains that traveling to Mars will take up to 8 months, and 8 months back. 

What is so important about all this buzz about space? The significance lies in the fact that it is happening now, in our lifetimes. As technology progresses we may see a manned mission to Mars in our lifetime. I think that it would be an incredible feat. What does everyone else think? With the current technology is a manned mission to Mars possible? I think that politics may get in the way of this feat in the sense that the initiatives of NASA are currently being influenced by their allocated budgets by the governments. As Aldrin states in this article "for decades we've been misdefining our transitional space programs." 

RNA Stem Cells

Derrick Rossi has taken an idea from Shinya Yamanakand and "has figured out how to turn a skin cell into a stem cell without genetic modifications, and to do it efficiently," said Doug Melton, codirector of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute" (taken from 1)

This is an incredible discovery. Not only does it have amazing potential to save lives and cure disease, but it bypasses, as technologyreview.com puts it, "political pitfalls". Although the discovery is not the exact same as an embryonic stem cell, it is a real stem cell. This could be a very large step in helping/healing people around the world without any resistance.

In addition to amazing possibilities of the produced stem cell, 2 quotes Derrick Rossi saying "If you have basic molecular biology tools, you can make these RNAs". Labs across the world can make these cells because of Rossi's research and publication. Rossi made Yamanakand's technique "roughly 100 times more efficient" and "twice as fast" notes sciencemag.org.

 What do you think of this discovery?

China and GM Crops

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After discussing GM crops in class I became more interested in the subject. I stumbled upon an article in Science Magazine online which discusses the controversy of GM crops, specifically rice, in China. China recently launched a $3.5 billion effort on GM crops in hopes of solving the "food problem" (Jiabao). The general public seem to be very skeptical of the GM crops and have been questioning scientists, mostly out of fear for their health, on the subject. One man asked if eating GM crops will suppress his (all males) sperm levels and if so he says this effect could lead to, "subjugation and genocide" throughout China. Although this seems very far-fetched there is a clear lack of communication between the scientists attempting to implement GM cropping the the lack of understanding from the Chinese. 

Although scientist, Zhu Zhen, admitted that GM crops are not "totally safe" this has not been the single reason for the fear among the Chinese public. The fear for their health is caused by the lack of communication between the scientists and the public, which seems to be the general argument of this article. 

This article allows the readers to open their eyes to one of the main problems with science, which is, that many people do not fully understand the pros and cons of what is going on (GM crops, vaccines, blood letting, etc ...). With better communication between scientists and the general public, the general public might be more apt to endorse government spending on research and more willing to support what is being researched/the findings. Yet with a clear lack of communication between the two groups, the public is left to be fearful. This article later discusses the science communicators whom inform the public on the accurate information and act as a "bridge" between the brianiacs we call scientists and the public. If we as a community have more of these "bridges'' I believe we will be much better off.

12 Health Myths Busted

So growing up you've always heard the "old wives tales" such as an apple a day keeps the doctor away, going out with wet hair will give you a cold and gum stays in your stomach for seven years.  In fact most of these are not true, just how doctors had been relying on methods for years that were actually harming patients.  The only difference is that these 12 myths won't harm you like blood letting would.  Here's the article on the CNN website.. you would be surprised which aren't correct.

You've Always Heard That...
You Shouldn't Cut Off the Bread's Crust. It's Full of Vitamins.

The truth is: In a 2002 German study, researchers found that the baking process produces a novel type of cancer-fighting antioxidant in bread that is eight times more abundant in the crust than in the crumb. That said, it's more important to serve whole-wheat bread, with or without the crust, because it's all around higher in nutrients, such as fiber, says New York City nutritionist Keri Glassman, author of The O2 Diet ($25, amazon.com). Make sure the ingredients list "100% whole-wheat flour." Breads simply labeled "wheat" are usually made with a mixture of enriched white flour and whole-wheat flour and have less fiber.

If You Go Out With Wet Hair, You'll Catch a Cold.

The truth is: You will feel cold but will be just fine healthwise, says Jim Sears, a board-certified pediatrician in San Clemente, California, and a cohost of the daytime-TV show The Doctors. He cites a study done at the Common Cold Research Unit, in Salisbury, England, in which a group of volunteers was inoculated with a cold virus up their noses. Half the group stayed in a warm room while the rest took a bath and stood dripping wet in a hallway for half an hour, then got dressed but wore wet socks for a few more hours. The wet group didn't catch any more colds than the dry. Sears's conclusion: "Feeling cold doesn't affect your immune system."

If You Cross Your Eyes, They'll Stay That Way.

The truth is: "There's no harm in voluntary eye crossing," says W. Walker Motley, an assistant professor of ophthalmology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. But if you notice your child doing this a lot (when he's not mimicking a cartoon character), he might have other vision problems.

You Should Feed a Cold and Starve a Fever.

The truth is: In both cases, eat and drink, then drink some more. "Staying hydrated is the most important thing to do, because you lose a lot of fluids when you're ill," says Sears, who adds that there's no need for special beverages containing electrolytes (like Gatorade) unless you're severely dehydrated from vomiting or diarrhea.

Gum Stays in Your Stomach for Seven Years.

The truth is: Your Little Leaguer's wad of Big League Chew won't (literally) stick around until high school graduation. "As with most nonfood objects that kids swallow, fluids carry gum through the intestinal tract, and within days it passes," says David Pollack, a senior physician in the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Care Network. And even though gum isn't easily broken down in the digestive system, it probably won't cause a stomachache, either.

An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away.

The truth is: A handful of blueberries a day will keep the doctor away more effectively. Blueberries are a nutritional jackpot, rich in antioxidants and fiber, and they're also easy to toss into cereal and yogurt. That said, eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is important to prevent many chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, down the road. (To find out how much earth-grown goodness your child should be getting, enter his or her age, sex, and level of physical activity at fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov.)

You Lose 75 Percent of Your Body Heat Through Your Head.

The truth is: "This adage was probably based on an infant's head size, which is a much greater percentage of the total body than an adult head," says Pollack. That's why it's important to make sure an infant's head remains covered in cold weather. (This also explains those ubiquitous newborn caps at the hospital.) But for an adult, the figure is more like 10 percent. And keep in mind that heat escapes from any exposed area (feet, arms, hands), so putting on a hat is no more important than slipping on gloves.

To Get Rid of Hiccups, Have Someone Startle You.

The truth is: Most home remedies, like holding your breath or drinking from a glass of water backward, haven't been medically proven to be effective, says Pollack. However, you can try this trick dating back to 1971, when it was published in The New England Journal of Medicine: Swallow one teaspoon of white granulated sugar. According to the study, this tactic resulted in the cessation of hiccups in 19 out of 20 afflicted patients. Sweet.

Eating Fish Makes You Smart.

The truth is: For kids up to age three or four, this is indeed the case. Fish, especially oily ones, such as salmon, are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). "DHA is particularly beneficial in the first two years of life for brain development, cognition, and visual acuity," says Beverly Hills pediatrician Scott W. Cohen, the author of Eat, Sleep, Poop: A Common Sense Guide to Your Baby's First Year ($16, amazon.com). And a 2008 study in Clinical Pediatrics showed an increase in vocabulary and comprehension for four-year-olds who were given daily DHA supplements. Omega-3 options for the fish-phobic? Try avocados, walnuts, and canola oil.

You Shouldn't Swim for an Hour After Eating.

The truth is: Splash away. "After you eat, more blood flows to the digestive system and away from the muscles," says Cohen. "The thinking was that if you exercised strenuously right after eating, that lack of blood would cause you to cramp up and drown." But that won't happen. Sears concurs: "You might have less energy to swim vigorously, but it shouldn't inhibit your ability to tread water or play."

Every Child Needs a Daily Multivitamin.

The truth is: Children who are solely breast-fed during their first year should be given a vitamin D supplement. After that, a multivitamin won't hurt anyone, but many experts say that even if your child is in a picky phase, there's no need to sneak Fred, Wilma, and company into his applesauce. "Even extremely fussy eaters grow normally," Cohen says. "Your kids will eventually get what they need, even if it seems as if they're subsisting on air and sunlight."

Warm Milk Will Help You Fall Asleep.

The truth is: Milk contains small amounts of tryptophan (the same amino acid in turkey), "but you would have to drink gallons to get any soporific effect," says Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist in Scottsdale, Arizona, who specializes in sleep disorders. "What is effective is a routine to help kids wind down," he says. And if a glass of warm milk is part of the process, it can have a placebo effect, regardless of science.

So now you know that you can walk outside with wet hair, with eyes crossed, swallowing gum, eating bread with no crusts and then jump in a pool and you will be perfectly fine.  And next time you reach for that apple in the commons to keep the doctor away, grab some blueberries you'll be much better off.

Speaking of Vaccines!

A recent article in the New York Times stated that the Rinderpest virus has been eliminated entirely. Rinderpest translates to "cattle plague" in German, and is responsible for killing millions of cattle and in effect leading to starvation of humans. This is only the second disease (the other one being smallpox) that has been wiped off the face of the Earth. The disease is devastating, having a mortality rate of 80%, higher than any other disease including measles. 

rinderpest virus : A bug's eye view of four young cattles in fields

The vaccine was created by British scientist Walter Plowright in the 1950s but the global effort to eliminate rinderpest did not begin until 1994. The last known case was seen in Kenya in 2001. The vaccine and the work of global field agents to track down the disease has lead to the declaration that it has been eliminated entirely. Dr. William White, director of the United States Department of Agriculture, said that "this is something the entire global community can be proud of." 

As I read this article I had a newfound appreciation for science in the sense that it truly saves lives'. This disease, although it can't affect humans, threatened human existence for centuries. It was responsible for widespread famine in Ethiopia, that left 1/3 of the population dead. The elimination of rinderpest, a disease I had never heard of prior to this research, was one of the deadliest diseases ever that has since been wiped out entirely. It truly is something that we can all appreciate. 



Genetically modified foods have been making the headlines for a while. Foods are modified by genetic engineering which is when a gene is taken from an organism with the desired traits, and is transplanted into another organism. And the question is; Is genetically modifying the food we beneficial to us or harmful. Just like most scientific discoveries there are many advantages and disadvantages. Almost everybody in the community benefits from the products of GM foods, from the farmers who can produce more of a better crop, to the consumer who pays less for better food. However the problem is that there are few laws to control the process and distribution of GM foods.


gm straw.jpg

One genetically modified food that caught my interest was the GM strawberry. Fact: Strawberries freeze easily. Early frost can ruin strawberry crops. Fact: Peanuts have a gene that prevents them from freezing. Can you see what the scientists were thinking? By isolating the gene in peanuts that prevents them from freezing and inserting that gene into strawberries, scientists have created a strawberry that won't freeze. They have created a stronger crop that will yield more.

022_t620.jpgAs many as 1.6% of Americans are allergic to peanuts, some are severely allergic; a bad allergy attack could cause death. The gene that prevents freezing is also related to the allergy attacks of those who are allergic to peanuts. There is no law about GM foods having to be labeled as having been modified.  So now people who are allergic to peanuts would also be allergic to strawberries. It would be possible for them to buy strawberries and have the peanut allergic reaction, possibly resulting in death. The problem with GM foods is people don't know when they're buying these genetically engineered foods.


YQdLyuuIp.jpg           Scientists are working on other ways to genetically modify the strawberry and tomato to prevent freezing without using the peanut gene. They have found a gene in fish that works similarly.


Ever since I was a wee little girl my Nana has be on my case about wearing a jacket. I've heard it forever! "Wear a jacket! You're going to get sick, Katy!" I'll forever have it engrained in my brain. Even now, at 18 years old, she still is on me about it. Just two weeks ago we went to the Bloomsburg Fair and she was unhappy with me for not wearing a warm enough jacket. She's completely convinced if you don't wear a coat you're going to get sick. And I guess because it's what I've always been told I just believed it. So I decided to look it up and it seems like my sweet old Nana has been wrong! Well, not completely wrong, but not completely right, either.

Turns out, colds & the flu are caused by viruses, not by the cold! The reason people get sick more often in the winter is because we are around others more. It's cold, and no one is outside as much. As such we spread our germs to the company we are keeping. It's also because the air is a lot dryer, and germs spread more easily in dry air. So it's not the cold weather that causes the illness, it just makes it easier to get sick.

NPR did a program on why kids hate to wear coats & they also mention it's not really the cold that makes you sick. So I guess my Nana wasn't right. Oh well, I still love her anyway. But I probably will continue to not bundle up like she thinks I should...


The Kissing Disease

Mononucleosis also know as "the kissing disease" -True
Kissing is the only way that Mononucleosis or "mono" can be spread.-False

According to: MedLine Plus     

Mononucleosis, or mono, is often spread by saliva and close contact. It is known as "the kissing disease," and occurs most often in those age 15 to 17. However, the infection may develop at any age.

Mono is usually linked to the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), but can also be caused by other organisms such as cytomegalovirus (CMV).


Mono may begin slowly with fatigue, a general ill feeling, headache, and sore throat. The sore throat slowly gets worse. Your tonsils become swollen and develop a whitish-yellow covering. The lymph nodes in the neck are frequently swollen and painful.

A pink, measles-like rash can occur and is more likely if you take the medicines ampicillin or amoxicillin for a throat infection. (Antibiotics should NOT be given without a positive Strep test.)

Symptoms of mononucleosis include:

Exams and Tests

During a physical examination, the doctor may find swollen lymph nodes in the front and back of your neck, as well as swollen tonsils with a whitish-yellow covering.

The doctor might also feel a swollen liveror swollen spleen when pushing on your belly. There may be a skin rash

Blood work often reveals a higher-than-normal white blood cell (WBC) count and unusual-looking white blood cells called atypical lymphocytes, which are seen when blood is examined under a microscope. Atypical lymphocytes and abnormal liver function tests are a hallmark sign of the disease.

  • A monospot test will be positive for infectious mononucleosis.
  • A special test called an antibody titercan help your doctor distinguish a current (acute) EBV infection from one that occured in the past.

The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms. Medicines such as steroids (prednisone) and antivirals (such as acyclovir) have little or no benefit.

To relieve typical symptoms:

  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Gargle with warm salt water to ease a sore throat.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain and fever.

You should also avoid contact sports while the spleen is swollen (to prevent it from rupturing).

Outlook (Prognosis)

The fever usually drops in 10 days, and swollen lymph glands and spleen heal in 4 weeks. Fatigue usually goes away within a few weeks, but may linger for 2 to 3 months.

This material is very informational. Although a stereotype about Mononucleosis is that it is spread through just kissing we have found in this reading is wrong. Another that I have heard and can not find is; Once having Mononucleosis it is always in your system and you can later give it to someone else because you have had it before.  Does anyone know if that is true or not? Please let me know...Thank you!

In Class this past week, we were talking about vaccines and one of the slides of diseases that really caught my attention was Smallpox.  Before this class, I have never really heard much about Smallpox. Of course, I knew it was a horrible disease and deadly and was more commonly spread years ago.  I wanted to learn more about what this disease was and what were the threats. I found this article and after reading it I have a better understanding of what exactly this disease is, how it can be spread and treated, and most interesting: when the last case occurred.

Facts About Smallpox Disease
U.S. plan developed for possible outbreak

From , former About.com Guide

Updated July 16, 2006

The disease

"According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smallpox is an acute, contagious, and sometimes fatal disease caused by the variola virus. Symptoms of smallpox begin with high fever, head and body aches, and sometimes vomiting. A rash follows that spreads and progresses to raised bumps and pus-filled blisters that crust, scab, and fall off after about three weeks, leaving a pitted scar.

A person exposed to smallpox virus will initially have no symptoms and is not contagious. Sometime between 7 and 17 days later, symptoms will begin. The person becomes most contagious once the rash begins, and remains contagious until the last smallpox scab falls off.

The threat of smallpox
Smallpox, if used as a weapon, would be a serious threat because:

  • it is spread through the air when an infected person breathes, talks, laughs, or coughs
  • it can also be spread by infected clothing or bed linens
  • it can spread in any climate or season
  • there is no treatment or cure
  • few doctors would know smallpox if they saw it
  • people who survive it are left with ugly scars on their bodies or face, and some become blind
  • 30% or more of people who contract smallpox die
Smallpox devastated the American population in the 1700s (see Elizabeth Fenn's book, Pox Americana, for the details). Anyone who knows about it fears it. Once a few cases were reported in the media there would be widespread concern, even panic

What is being done about a possible outbreak
Since the last case of smallpox occurred in 1977 in Somalia, scientists have had to rely on research that was done before then, plus their best educated guesses, when trying to plan for an outbreak. Here's what we know, and what is being done:

1. People vaccinated many years ago may not be immune.
Vaccination gives immunity to a disease, but not forever; scientists generally agree that full immunity only lasts 3-5 years. After that, it begins to fade. A study published in 1972 showed a death rate of 11% for people vaccinated more than 20 years prior to exposure to smallpox.

Scientists do know that if someone is exposed to smallpox, giving the person the vaccine within 4 days reduces the severity of the disease or even prevents him/her from getting it...

Want to know more?
The CDC has Smallpox Basics and a Vaccine Overview available for the general public. There is also an information page on What We Learn About Smallpox From Movies--Fact or Fiction which discusses the FX Networks 2005 TV movie "Smallpox" and the May 2002 ER finale."

How funny is it to think about big, bulky, and muscular football players tiptoeing and leaping around elegantly in a dance studio surrounded with mirrors instead of their usual surroundings: the football field and roaring fans.
The thought is pretty funny right?
Believe it or not MANY football players use dance and ballet in their daily exercises to prepare for games. The question is: WHY?
   Well think about it, according to:

Punt, pass and plié: Ballet has its Seahawks fans, too

                                     by a Seattle staff reporter, Stuart Eskenazi

"Ballet and football have as many similarities as differences. Both ballet dancers and football players are athletes who endure grueling practices under the watchful eyes of demanding taskmasters. They must be precise, disciplined and exhibit amazing balance and body control. Their careers peak at an early age and can be ruthlessly curtailed by injury. In fact, football players have been known to study ballet to help their game."

Football players have very tough and demanding exercises during practices.  Of course, they are stretching Before and After each practice but to ensure their muscles are not too tight they need to take the further step and the best one is by participating in Ballet. 
So football players...knowing that ballet helps with balance and keeping the muscles healthy, would you hand in your cleats for slippers?
Ballerinas and dancers, what about us? Does this mean to strengthen our bodies more we need to sign up for the All girls football team?
As an athlete, I was always told by coaches that the reason for stretching was to relieve our muscles from tension. And if you did not feel it, or if it did not hurt then you were not stretching hard or long enough.
According to an article, "Stretching When and How." provided by Canadian Medicine now.com states that the purpose of stretching before exercise is to prevent injuries.by lengthening the muscles and tendons in the body allowing us to move easier and swifter. Afterward, we should stretch again to further aid our muscles to recover from being overworked. 
The article goes into further explanation saying that stretching should ONLY be to the point of tension, NO further than that because instead of helping your muscles and tendons to relax, you would be hurting them more than helping them. At this time, the our body, having a mind of its own decides to turn on its "Muscle Reflax" where it tightens the muscles to avoid being stretched further. (This could be painful)

I found this article to be extremely helpful. Usually, I avoid or am just too lazy to stretch before working out, and then do stretch afterward. At this point, my muscles are already so tight that it hurts just to stretch even a little.   I better start changing my exercise habits and get back into what I was taught in sports.  What do you all think?

Some healthy stretching tips:
Stretch before and after every exercise activity
Stretching should feel relaxing and relieving, NOT painful


Give blood.

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In class on Thursday, somebody asked a question about smallpox and giving blood.  I looked up information on the Red Cross website about the topic, here's what I found: 
  • Smallpox vaccination and did not develop complications
    Wait 8 weeks (56 days) from the date of having a smallpox vaccination as long as you have had no complications. Complications may include skin reactions beyond the vaccination site or general illness related to the vaccination.
  • Smallpox vaccination and developed complications
    Wait 14 days after all vaccine complications have resolved or 8 weeks (56 days) from the date of having had the smallpox vaccination whichever is the longer period of time. You should discuss your particular situation with the health historian at the time of donation. Complications may include skin reactions beyond the vaccination site or general illness related to the vaccination.
  • Smallpox vaccination - close contact with someone who has had the smallpox vaccine in the last eight weeks and you did not develop any skin lesions or other symptoms.
    Eligible to donate.
  • Smallpox vaccination - close contact with someone who has had the vaccine in the last eight weeks and you have since developed skin lesions or symptoms.
    Wait 8 weeks (56 days) from the date of the first skin lesion or sore. You should discuss your particular situation with the health historian at the time of donation. Complications may include skin reactions or general illness related to the exposure. 
Hope that clears up a few questions. There are a bunch of other answers to FAQs about vaccinations, diseases, travel, and giving blood on the same webpage. The picture below made me chuckle :)  

I don't know about you guys, but I LOVE breakfast. My best friend and I would constantly go for breakfast at a little hole in the wall diner at home, and it was amazing. Be it eggs, pancakes, bacon, or waffles, I love any and all breakfast foods. I decided to see if this was a good thing or a bad thing. I always eat breakfast for dinner at home, and I didn't know if that was alright. According to Tricia Cunningham, author of "The Reverse Diet", she had horrible weight issues and then when she created The Reverse Diet she lost 150 lbs!. This says : "But the difference was in the portion sizes and meal combinations. You reverse your meal sizes, times, and content to better distribute your calories throughout the day. You eat like a king in the morning, a prince at lunch, and a pauper at dinner."

I think this is really interesting! It seems to make sense, but it always seems like there is a new miracle diet and it turns out to be bogus. If anyone is interested - try it! I personally could not do it, but I'd like to see if it really works. Until then...I'll continue to love breakfast. Yumm.


 Suddenly there's is a reason to wake up in the morning...it's called BACON!!!

I find nail biting as one of the worst habits a person can have and always thought that this was developed at an early age. However, as a child I never attempted to bite my nails, but now it has become a tendency. It is really annoying because my nails look horrible and I just don't find the way to stop it. So I decided to do some research and find tips that can help me improve this horrible habit. 


Most, if not all of us know that bitting our nails occurs when we are stressed out, bored, nervous, inactive and even when we fall in deep thoughts. When doing this we do not think about the negative consequences that this can bring. Some believe that reducing anxiety is the first step to cure it. 

Here are some tips to help with this issue: 

This is one of the most common and cheapest one, it consist of a clear nail polish, which you have to apply to the nails. Every time you try to introduce you finger nails into your mouth it releases a bitter flavor  which discourages the habit. 

There is also a habit reversal training (HTR), which has the objective to help the individual unlearn the habit of nail biting and possibly replace it with a productive one. The effectiveness of this therapy has been shown versus placebo in children and adults. Additionally this treatment stimulus control therapy is used to identify and get rid of the stimulus that causes the biting urge.

Considering the fact that this might also create an infection in your nails can help.  You do not want to start walking around with your fingers looking like this.


Influenza vaccine had sent 57 children into life-threatening convulsions, The Age out of Australia had reported. The vaccine was being administered to children under the age of five to prevent them from seasonal flu, but after receiving it the infants started going into convulsions. 


However, investigators have revealed that their is no quality control problem with the vaccine and that the cause of convulsions is being caused by what is purposefully added to the vaccine, not by any mistaken chemical contaminant. 

In addition, conventional doctors are starting to feel confuse, since they believe that vaccines are completely fine and would not harm any one. But instead of pausing and analyze what might be causing convulsions in children. They believe and recommend that more people should be getting vaccinated. 

Alan Hampson, chairman of Australia Influenza Specialist Group advised "young healthy individuals who want to get the flu vaccine to consider having the swine flu vaccine" reports The Age. There is not a full hand evidence that can make physicians change their mind about the vaccines. These children can be dropping right in front of their eyes convulsing and they will continue to push vaccines on even more children. 

We've all seen them, or maybe heard a screech from down the hall as someone finds one of these creepy crawlers in their room.  They cover countless vehicles at the infamous Penn State Tail Gates.  My friend said her puppy was relentlessly attacked by a swarm of them until her dad came to the rescue with a garden hose. Personally, I have found countless ones outside my window trying endlessly to sneak in (This article states that this is because they tend to harbor indoors when the weather begins to get cold, which means this only represents the beginning of their attack on our dorms.)  I am talking about stink bugs, and lately it seems like they are taking over the world.  


According to this New York Times article these pesky little critters arrived in the Unites States from Asia in the late 1990s.  This article suggests that they came over here from Asia most likely on a shipping container. Since that time they have multiplied and spread like wildfire.  They also have no known predators in the U.S.A so their numbers just continue to dramatically increase.  New York Times state that they are particularly rampant in the Mid-Atlantic States, particularly Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland.  And this article says that Entomology experts predict that stink bug population will show a sharp increase in the Allegheny's before the next Spring rolls around.  

So obviously they are SO obnoxious, but what else is wrong with these pesky little critters?  They are reeking havoc in the world of farming, which consequentially affects nearly each and every one of us.  They damage crops by boring holes into a variety of crops.  Penn State's very own Entomologist, Dr. John Tooker, told WJAC-TV that they have already damaged soybean crops, and treatments processes are still up in the air.  Dr. Tooker told WJAC-TV, "Insecticides are the easiest solution; a longer term biological based solution is going to take some research that we haven't had the time to do quite yet.  Next year will probably be worse than this year." Discouraging, right?


But scientist are working on a repellent for these disgusting little creatures.  The New York Times' article also says "a group of researchers led by Hiromitsu Nakajima, an agricultural chemist at Tottori University in Japan, declared that they had found a powerful natural repellent to the bugs. The repellent is derived from a fungus that infects green foxtail plants, a common weed found in Japan and the United States. An extract of the fungus strongly repelled stink bugs in laboratory tests, and could be capable of repelling up to 90 percent of stink bugs..."  

So I guess for now we just have to sit back and wait until scientists nail out a way to successfully get rid of these stink bugs.  Hopefully it will be sooner rather than later for both the farmers' sake and for ours.    



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Sorry if I am a bit late on the uptake, but I had ZERO idea that there were articles like this floating around. Since when has the ozone layer been healing itself??

NASA & the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) has declared that the Earth's ozone layer has been 'healing.' The image on the left is the ozone layer in 1997; the image on the right depicts the ozone layer as of 2006.


NASA/NOAA has also supplied a chart that compares stratospheric chlorine and the thickness of the ozone layer. Researches believe that the amount of ozone decreased from '79 till '97. But in 1987, nations followed a program called Montreal Protocol on the Substances that Deplete the Ozone. "The Montreal Protocols phased out many halogenated hydrocarbons that had played a role in ozone depletion."

It's a hot summer day.  You have been running errands all day and all you want to do is re-enter your nice, cool air-conditioned home.  But hark!  What's that you hear?  The welcoming jingle of an ice-cream truck.  You flag the truck down, choose the tastiest ice-cream delectable, and immediately wolf it down.  And then.....THE BRAIN FREEZE.

There are many common misconceptions about brain freezes.  According to the New York Times article "The Claim: 'Brain Freeze' Occurs Only on Warm Days" by Anahad O'Connor, researchers have found that only 1/3 of people actually experience brain freezes and that they are not limited to warm weather days.

The article dictates the study here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/12/health/12really.html?_r=1&ref=science. 

But all in all, you can get a brain freeze on a cold day or a warm day.  Unless you are in the 2/3 majority that doesn't experience brain freezes at all.


Alright. So, here's the deal. I don't know about you guys, but I have a problem. I am a constant "cracker". I can crack every single part of my body and it's the absolute worst habit ever. My family hates it, my friends hate hearing it, and I hate doing it...even though it feels SO good once you get the crack out!

cracking knuckles.jpg

I was really curious if all of the accusations about cracking were true! I wanted to know if I will in fact get arthritis in my hands when I'm older! It's hard to find any definitive answers or results but according to About.com, "cracking your knuckles does not cause arthritis. Understanding what physically occurs when you crack your knuckles will help you realize that the "knuckle cracking causes arthritis" theory is actually just a popular myth." SUCCESS! 

But, in the article, they do explain what cracking your knuckles really is! 

They explain that, "a joint is formed where the ends of two bones come together...inside the joint capsule, there is synovial fluid which serves as a lubricant for the joint and also as a source of nutrients for the cells that maintain the joint cartilage...when you crack your knuckles or when pressure is applied to a joint, the pressure inside the joint capsule expands but the expansion is limited by how much synovial fluid is contained in the joint." 

Interesting....but I still need to somehow break this habit because deep down I know that for some scientific reason, it's not a good thing to keep doing! 

(by the way, I've cracked my knuckles four separate times while writing this blog entry. I've also cracked my back and neck. WHOOPS)

Keep Walking People...

While looking for different blogs I could write across, I stumbled upon this article on walking. Doctors and nutritionists are always saying that you should always have some sort of exercise in your daily routine. Now, I belong to the gym here but I am guilty for having only gone twice. I just have no motivation! But, one thing that I do here more than ever imagined at home is walk.  

I'm sure all of you notice it, but the amount of walking we do at Penn State is insane. I have been curious before so I've calculated it and I walk more than two miles a day! 


In this article, they are claiming that if you walk at least six miles a week could be something that helps brains from actually shrinking and can fight off dementia. They did a stud in Pittsburgh, which involved 300 people, and kept track of how much they walked a week. The results showed that the ones who walked those six miles had less age-related shrinkage. 

One form of dementia that most people know is Alzheimer's disease, which can slowly kill brain cells and cause extreme memory loss. As of right now, there isn't a cure for dementia but if this theory is true, it could be a way to elongate the appearance of Alzheimer's or even reduce the number of cases. 

So, keep walking and I'm curious to know how many miles a week I actually walk! If anyone knows how much they do a week or if they know anything about walking and health feel free to comment! 

No More Study Breaks!

I don't know about all of you but I NEED my study breaks! Who likes sitting in their room for 5 hours straight looking at Psychology notes or reading English books? I sure don't! Well, according to Science Daily, that study break isn't as necessary as we all think it is. They've noted that a new study from Stanford psychologists are saying that this "want" for refresh is truly just in our head! 

In this article, they say that willpower, "defined as the ability to resist temptation and stay focused on a demanding task -is a limited resource." Over the years, Scientists have said that when you have your willpower drained, the only possible way of restoring it is by giving our bodies a rest. Well, this is where the Stanford psychologists are disagreeing. 

According to the article, the Stanford team said, "they've found that a person's mindset and personal beliefs about willpower determine how long and how well they'll be able to work on a tough mental exercise. 

The researchers wanted to further investigate this theory, so they conducted four experiments on Stanford students on their beliefs of willpower. After the tests were concluded, they discovered that the students who believed that there is only a specific amount of willpower preformed worse than the ones who believed willpower is something you can actually have control over. 

Side note number 1: according to this article, they said that the week of finals, students who believed that willpower is limited ate junk food 24 percent MORE than students who believed willpower is controlled. 

SIde note number 2: The students who believed willpower was limited were discovered to have procrastinated 35 percent more than the students who believed willpower is controlled! 

While this all makes complete sense, there should be time for students to take breaks. I know from personal experience, without a break, I will literally just stare at the computer screen and not obtain ANY information. So, Stanford psychologists, I'm going to need more proof to truly belief this might work! 

One thing I DO know...I am the world's BEST procrastinator =D



I decided to look up more information on the benefits of stretching before exercise, because I have personally been affected by injury from exercise. My doctor has told me that I definitely need to stretch before I exercise but after hearing different views being tossed around class, I became very curious about how much validity was behind my doctor's statement.

It turns out that there is still inconclusive evidence about whether or not stretching helps.  It turns out that it is difficult to get a proper study of this hypothesis, and that is why all the evidence keeps coming out inconclusive. Athletes just assume that they need to stretch and be flexible to be able to do well in their sport. Trying to get a control group to NOT stretch before an important match in a sport like football, running, or soccer is pretty hard. No one who is competing professionally wants to be the one to not stretch and potentially not do well.

The research evidence that has been compiled at least suggests that stretching is helpful in sports that are relevant for flexibility, like gymnasts and swimmers.

Another logical reason why they researchers have not considered this evidence as definite is because each one of the studies includes athletes also doing warm ups - not just stretching. It has been noticed that warming up with doing the range of motions that you will be doing in your particular activity have seemed to be more helpful in preventing injury.

Here is an interesting excerpt from the article about less-flexible people having to exert more energy than more stiff people. But you can still see the flaws in the experimental set-up:

"That study involved 100 people who were tested with 11 flexibility tests. Then they walked and ran while the researchers measured their efficiency. Those who were the most flexible expended 10 to 12 percent more energy to move at the same speed as compared with the least flexible. But that study did not involve stretching -- it could be that the most flexible people would have been flexible with or without stretching. And even when studies do ask whether performance changes after a stretching program, they usually involve artificial laboratory situations, said Christopher Morse, an exercise physiologist at Manchester Metropolitan University in England who has published papers on stretching and reviewed the stretching literature.

"The problem is that what is actually studied in the lab has very little intrinsic links to what is happening" when people actually exercise, he said."

So, basically what I've come up with is nothing. No solid evidence. I guess the best advice that can be concluded is to warm-up with your stretching, which is similar to what one student mentioned in class about football players doing ballet and actually moving.

Part Two of Phobias

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To follow up my previous entry about phobias possibly being passed down through generations, I thought I'd do some research on the most common phobias. According to livescience.com, the list is as follows:

10. The Dentist

9. Dogs

8. Frightful Flight (being on the airplane and crashing)

7. Thunder and Lightning

6. The Dark

5. Heights

4. Other People (social events and such)

3. Scary Spaces (afraid being stuck)

2. Creepy Crawlers (spiders)

1. Slithering Snakes

The top two phobias were the two that were "passed down". Does this prove that we inherited this phobia from the caveman era? I think it strongly supports the notion.

I was surprised that dogs was one of the top ten phobia, but everything else seems to make sense. I remember having a conversation about fears in general. I always thought death was the most common thing to be afraid of,  but apparently not. It's public speaking. I don't know why we fear it so much (including me). I guess we don't like making mistakes and look inferior to others? It's not even a big deal, but I for one, always choke.

The cool thing about fear is that it gives us an adrenaline rush. You get it from just watching a movie too. Adrenaline gives us the ability to do super human things. Like a woman lifting a car to save her child.

flood_1388761a.jpgAccording to National Geographic's Freshwater Initiative, there is 20% more freshwater flowing into our planet's oceans than there was 10 years ago. This a clear sign that our climate is changing, but maybe not for the good. Our "global water cycle" is kicking in to overdrive as melting ice sheets and rivers are supplying our oceans with 18% more water, from the years 1994 to 2006. You would think that more water is better for everyone and that water is the one source that we never want to get rid of. It's good for agriculture, cities, and for people to live off of. Although this is the right kinds of topics that we need water for, all of the water is being spilled out into places where there is too much water including the wet tropics, the Arctic, and water is also being spread out through massive weather storms. From these heavy amounts of water, scientists predict that we will be seeing more floods due to this rapid take off of our water cycle. To understand the extent of what these floods may look like, or even feel like, scientists predict that the floods will likely resemble the strength of the flood that consumed a fifth of Pakistan. The article goes more in depth to explain about why our global water cycle is speeding up:

"As the atmosphere warms from the addition of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, it can hold more moisture. As a result, more water evaporates from the oceans, leading to thicker clouds that then dump more rainfall over the land. That heavier-than-normal rain can then produce massive flooding as it runs back toward the sea, where the cycle begins all over again."

According to this article, alcohol when paired with regular exercise and maintaining a healthy BMI (stands for body mass index, more information can be found at Wikipedia) can help reduce the risk of breast cancer even in women who have a family history.  Dr. Robert Gramling researched if life styles had an effect on breast cancer risks.  Excluded from this survey were women pre-diagnosed with early-onset cancer or women with a personal history of breast cancer.  Gramling states that the main purpose of this study was to help discourage the wide held belief that if a family member had cancer than so will another person in the family.      

According to these two articles, consuming alcohol can increase the risk of breast cancer (this is directly related to the amount of alcohol consumed, thus the more alcohol consumed the higher the risk of cancer).  The interesting aspect that one of these articles introduces is the association between a half a glass of wine a day and the increase in risk of cancer. 

As you can see there seems to be a disparity between whether alcohol increases or decreases the risk of breast cancer.  Until further research is done it seems as if this might be a highly debated aspect for years to come.   One must remember that alcohol has been proven to help reduce the risk of heart disease, or does it, which brings one to wonder should I drink alcohol or shouldn't I?

Starbucks Survey

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Hey guys I figured I would try and make it a little bit easier for you.  Thus, you can either post your responses here or simply just send me an email. Thanks in advance for your reposes.

A Cold Heart

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Although this may seem strange, it also makes perfect sense. Surgeons/scientists have discovered a way to potentially reduce the percentage of deaths in trauma patients. The way this new technique works is by effectively cooling a patients body temperature so much that his/her bodily functions are slowed, thus giving surgeons more time to operate.  According to the "Massachusetts surgeon leading the research." in an article found on newser.com. "By cooling rapidly, we can convert almost certain death into a 90% survival rate"

I am skeptical of those numbers, but any gain in the survival rate of patients would obviously be great. The idea in and of itself seems brilliant, but just like any other new technique, I'm sure there are problems that will arise. Thoughts?

Love and science <3

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I came across an article called, ScienceShot: Love Conquers All-Even Pain, in ScienceNow. This small article described the findings of an experiment done to test if thinking about a loved one could actually lessen physical pain. To test his hypothesis the scientists put lovers together with their hands on small square block which was heated with the intention to cause, zero, moderate, and severe pain. While their hands were placed on one of the blocks they were told to look at multiple photos at different times, one of the photos included their partner.

The results showed that when the lover looked at the picture of their partner the person was distracted and therefore the pain they felt wasn't as painful otherwise. It's all in the brain .. Could this mean that people really do have "chemistry" with their partner? And is more science involved in the way partners feel about each other? 

Processed Meats Declard Too Dangerous For Consumption

In a study done by the World Cancer Research Fund, all processed meats were determined too harmful to eat. Ever. The subjects of this study include bacon, sausage, hot dogs, lunch meats, ham, and salami. Coincedentally, these are all the things in life that taste delicious. All of these meats are manufactured with a carcinogen called sodium nitrite. Sodium nitrite is used to recolor the meat, to make it look appealing to consumers. Unfortunately, it also kills them.

Researches recommend, first of all, to stop eating processed meats. Next, if you can't stay away from bacon, try eating more fresh produce with every meal. Vitamin C is known to prevent the formation of cancer causing nitrosamines. This article interests me because it goes along with our discussions earlier about how much evidence it would take to convince you to not do something. Would I never eat processed meats again after reading this? Personally, I say no. It'd take a little more hard evidence and even then I'm not sure. Maybe if they showed me a study about how common sodium nitrite is, or just how dangerous it is? But that's just me. You can decide for yourself what it takes.

In the article, Baseball's Zany Pitches Just a Visual Allusion, Phil Berardelli explains how scientists and baseball players/fans have debated over whether the, "eratic bahavior" of a baseball pitch is just a trick of the eye. They also had opposing viewpoints on how much the arc of the baseball is affected by the pitcher. 

Scientists finally decided to run an experiment to prove to those who opposed them (like in the film Flock Of the Dodos .. scientists can be veryyyy persistent when they believe they are correct) that pitching a baseball really is the trick of the eye. To do this experiment the scientists asked the question, how the human, in this case the pitcher's, eye and brain perceive the ball's movement. The experiment the scientists ran included 5 volunteers and two images of disks. Both images were presented on a computer screen. One of the disks was a light and dark spinning ball which dropped down to a stationary blue disk at the bottom of the screen. The scientists asked the volunteers to shift their eye gaze between the two disks.

The researcher's findings, were that, "when they [the volunteers] focused on the stationary disk, thereby using their peripheral vision to keep track of the spinning disk, the spinning disk appeared to veer away from the vertical. And shifting attention between the two disks made the spinning disk seem to behave even more erratically" (Berardelli).

This experiment proved more about vision than expected, from this experiment the scientists were able to gather a better understanding of the visual area in one's eye. Regarding baseball, the part of the eye called the fovea, detects motion but does not track it very well. Therefore, when a ball is coming toward a batter, the fovea creates the vision that the ball is off track when in reality it is not. Therefore, "curve balls seem to curve more, fastballs seem to break, and the best hitters in baseball succeed in getting a hit only about three times in every 10 at bats" (Berardelli). 

So the solution for all the baseball players .. always track the baseball with your central vision!

Love is the Drug

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In class yesterday Dr. Read was discussing the possibility of maybe discussing love in science in an upcoming class. I found this very interesting because I never thought of love and science being connected, though this may just be because I don't naturally think scientifically. I came across an article that did not fully explain the science of love but may provide some evidence that love does have noticeable effects on pain thresholds. After conducting experiments on love struck college students, scientists were able to conclude that when a person is looking at a picture of their loved one, dopamine is released which triggers "feel good mechanisms" and in turn reduced the amount of pain the person would normally feel. Similarly, scientists found that a distraction from pain creates a similar effect  but in the cognitive area of the brain instead. What's interesting though is at the end of the study it states that these results only hold up for new love.  I thought that this study was interesting but strange that the pain is only reduced when a person is looking at the picture. I wonder if the study would still hold up if the person was just thinking of a loved one and not actually looking at them. If it is only looking at the person and only true for new love, maybe the true pain reducer is lust, not love. This is just my guess, what does anyone else think?

During class on Tuesday Andrew brought up possible topics to be looked at during the remaining time left in the semester. One of the topics was, "How does placebo testing actually work?" My dad's girlfriend is a nurse in Rhode Island who does research for companies on certain medicines they are testing. She told me this past weekend when she was discussing a recent study she has been doing, that almost all of the research she does involves double blind placebo testing. 

She has to keep the patients completely unaware of what pill they are taking (the actual medicine or the placebo). Before giving the patients participating in the study the medicine, she must inform each of them the symptoms/side effects of the medicine. Everyday the participants must write down in a journal everything they feel (head aches, drowsiness, nausea, hunger, etc ...). She then reports what they record to those she's researching for. 

She told me that many a times, because the participants know the symptoms beforehand, they will automatically say in their journal or report to her that they experienced the side effects of the medicine. If they are taking the placebo (she knows which ones are and which ones are not) and reporting that they have the side effects she finds it humorous because she knows they are lying. The main point of this entry is to bring up the question, can their "belief" that what they are experiencing (headaches, drowsiness, etc..) are real lead to something more in double blind placebo testing? Also, can those participants (either the ones taking the placebo or the real medicine) cause false side effects if those researching do NOT know which participants are given the placebo? 

Maybe something to consider if we do end up looking into more into double blind placebo testing!

During class on Tuesday Andrew brought up possible topics to be looked at during the remaining time left in the semester. One of the topics was, "How does placebo testing actually work?" My dad's girlfriend is a nurse in Rhode Island who does research for companies on certain medicines they are testing. She told me this past weekend when she was discussing a recent study she has been doing, that almost all of the research she does involves double blind placebo testing. 

She has to keep the patients completely unaware of what pill they are taking (the actual medicine or the placebo). Before giving the patients participating in the study the medicine, she must inform each of them the symptoms/side effects of the medicine. Everyday the participants must write down in a journal everything they feel (head aches, drowsiness, nausea, hunger, etc ...). She then reports what they record to those she's researching for. 

She told me that many a times, because the participants know the symptoms beforehand, they will automatically say in their journal or report to her that they experienced the side effects of the medicine. If they are taking the placebo (she knows which ones are and which ones are not) and reporting that they have the side effects she finds it humorous because she knows they are lying. The main point of this entry is to bring up the question, can their "belief" that what they are experiencing (headaches, drowsiness, etc..) are real lead to something more in double blind placebo testing? Also, can those participants (either the ones taking the placebo or the real medicine) cause false side effects if those researching do NOT know which participants are given the placebo? 

Maybe something to consider if we do end up looking into more into double blind placebo testing!

When I think of global warming, I don't think of meat. Apparently, meat contributes to "global warming" because of the methane produced by the digestive processes of livestock. Methane is said to cause almost half of the "human-induced warming" that the Earth is experiencing. The article states simply, the best way to reduce climate change is to become a vegan or vegetarian. As if this was a simple task to accomplish, or a realistic task for that matter. 

Simon Fairlie, author of Meat: A Benign Extravagance, argues that eating meat will actually save the planet. In a Time Magazine article, he states that livestock have the benefits of keeping the soil fertilized. He states that the U.N. statistic that 18% of carbon emissions are produced by meat can be faulty because it attributes "all deforestation from ranching to cattle." He concludes by saying that attempting to remove meat completely is not the solution but instead to consume meat in moderation. 

The research that I did for this entry gave me quite a surprise. I had no idea that meat contributed to carbon emissions or methane emissions or that it had anything to do with climate change. The first article stated that having a vegan or vegetarian diet was the most prevalent solution to climate change. The second article argued that meat in moderation will actually help the planet.  So vegetarians, vegans, and carnivores alike...what do you think? Or are you like me and had no idea that meat had anything to do with climate change? 
I am currently watching the miners being rescued one by one.  I would just like to give an update to those who are not watching.  The 25th miner was just rescued (he also happens to be the brother of the 1st miner rescued.)  They estimate that by 1 or 2 a.m all 33 miners will be on the surface.  However, there are still the 5 rescuers that need to be brought up as well.
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 Doctors and medical professionals assessing each individual miner as they surface say that all seem to be in good physical and emotional stability.  

There are celebrations going on all over the place in Chile.  Jumbotrons and big screens are set up with parties filled with champagne.  At the mine site, when the first miner were pulled up champagne bottles were popped all around!  And they indeed have much reason to celebrate.  Think of all that has happened to this country in the past year.  First the devastating earthquake that the effects are still drastically evident, and now this mine catastrophe.    

If you would like to see the miracles unfold for yourself, go to CNN (channel 21 in my dorm).  OR you can see live feed on the BBC World News website.  I suggest everyone watch a little part of it because it truly is an incredible site!  Nothing can top witnessing the embrace of a miner with his family!  

First Miner Emerges!

I figured I'd give everybody an update on Emily's post, Trapped Miners' Rescued, from earlier today. I just read an article from the Los Angeles Times that provided an update.  Foreman Florencio Avalos (age 31) was the first miner to emerge from the underground through a shaft that was just over 28 inches in diameter.  There are many precautions in place in case the men suffer anxiety on the way up.  They are equipped with a small camera inside the capusle, as well as an oxygen mask, compression socks to prevent blood clots and a belt that continually measures pulse, temperature and respiration.

I greatly admire these men.  It is amazing how well they have survived for the past 69 days and how high morale has continued to be.  It is an amazing modern feat that so much supplies was even able to reach the men trapped in the mine.  It seems that there is so much in the news about mining disasters and tragedies, hopefully this will not turn into one of them.  Of course, the miners aren't out of the woods yet.  The remaining 33 men are expected to emerge within the next 2 days if all goes well. Feel free to comment and keep everybody posted, I will try to do the same! Everybody keep these miners in your thoughts! 

Everyday people wake up and put the news on to hear about another accident everyday. In fact, "A person dies in a car accident every 12 minutes and each year car crashes kill 40,000 people."
In addition, "Someone is injured by a car crash every 14 seconds and about two million of the people injured in car accidents each year suffer permanent injuries." All these accidents must come to an end and for years the idea of driverless has been a topic for discussion to alleviate the problem.

In a recent months, Google has been testing driverless cars in San Francisco. The car has in fact been tested on more than 100,000 miles of public road.  "The cars have successfully negotiated San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge as well as other parts of the city." This all raises the question of if driverless cars could someday be made to be safer then our current status of cars driven by humans.

Lets face it, computers will always be able to do things faster, more efficient and smarter then people, so why not put it into a car.  The question is will it be safer? I wonder that if humans are no longer able to drive and driverless cars become our future, will road become safer or worse off? Although computers can do things that a human could never dream of, people can be a lot more reliable.  With a computer, there will always be the fear of it failing, breaking or making an error that could be deadly in a car.  I am curious to see where this technology will go and if these cars can be made into something safer then what we are use to today.

Since we are having a class discussion about vaccines and if they are dangerous for us. I decided to look for interesting articles and I came across this particular one that speaks about the development of a vaccine that is associated with the prevention of breast cancer. 

Dr. Vicent Tuohy an immunologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, discovered that a protein called alpha-lactalbumin is encountered in 70% of cancerous tumours. 

Instead of targeting the cells in the tumour, he has looked at the issue from a different perspective and developed a vaccine which stimulates the immune system to destroy the protein. 

Centres in the United Kingdom are also doing similar work. Dr. Leatham, at the University College London who does research for the charity Against Breast Cancer, discovered that patients with breast cancer have lower levels of natural immunity and this one needs to be increased. 

As genius as this vaccine sounds, it has one problem. Alpha-lactalbumin, is also encountered in women's breast feeding milk. Which will not make it possible for them to do so, since the immune system will combat the protein. 

Young women who have a history of breast cancer in their family will receive the vaccine. As well as women who are around the age of 40, when the cancer development its most likely to occur and when breast feeding is less common. It will also be expected for the vaccine to shrink tumours again, as the immune system targets the protein. 

My question is, how effective can this vaccine turn out to be and what negative outcomes might it have? Will many women find the fact of not being able to breastfeed as an issue? 

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I know we have been discussing possibility of new life planets/other bodies in the solar system. So I came upon an article on National Geographic and I figured I should share:

Scientists discovered this past week that Titan, Saturn's largest moon, may have "the basic code for life on Earth," or ingredients for life.  Through a series of lab experiments, scientists have discovered that the thick atmoshpere of Titan posesses the 5 nucleotides that are the building blocks of our DNA and RNA, which we all should know are the building blocks of life.  But if you need a brush up of DNA here is a useful guide provided by National Geographic.  

This discovery provides much insight into what we arose from.  This discovery supports the theory that we may have arose from components that make up Earth's atmosphere.  One scientist said, "One of the reasons we think this is exciting is that Titan's atmosphere gives us a window into what kinds of molecules a similar atmosphere is capable of producing," Hörst said.  So...exactly what does this mean?  Scientists do not think there are humans or anything even close to a microbe roaming Titan (seeing as Titan contains no water and has an average temperature of  -290* F.  People these days in America can't even handle 30* F.  What they to get out of this discovery is to study the process and to further discover whether other planets or solar bodies with similar earth atmospheric components have or posses the potential to contain life.  

science blog titan.jpg

Another article illustrates another development of Saturn's moon, Titan.  A few months ago earth-like fog was discovered surrounding on of Titan's Lakes (Yes, I know I said Titan doesn't contain water but their lakes are believed to be filled with liquid methane.)  "The team thinks liquid evaporating from Titan's lakes makes the surrounding air increasingly humid. When moist air then brushes the cool surfaces of the lakes, the otherworldly fog is born." 

So whether millions of years from now Titan produces viable microbes or not, this is still an amazing discovery and one that I look forward to further delve into.  

China Hunts for Dollars to Hunt for Bigfoot


This article discusses how China is beginning to start a research organizaiton called the Hubei Wild Man Research Association or HWMRA. The purpose of this organization is to search for the mysterious creature that is in the remote Shennongjia forest region. The whole search is going to cost approximately $1.5 million dollars. If anybody else feels that this article is ridiculous to where that amount of money should not be spent on such a search plesae feel free to comment.


I have always wondered this question. How do we compare in intelligence, concentration, and overall productivity to those that lived in the pre-Internet era? I like the Internet as much of the next guy, it is fast and effective, and quite simply something that I could not live without. I also believe that it has some negative effects.

Head with binary data in background

In a recent article Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read, and Remember, elaborates on some of these negative aspects of the Internet. He argues that he personally experienced how the Internet made him lose "contemplation and concentration" because it provides constant stimulation and information. He cites various studies performed on the matter. In a study done by Stanford University, researchers tested subjects that perform frequent "media multitasking" and subjects that performed media multi-tasking less frequently. The results of the cognitive tests showed that the people who did frequent multi multi-tasking did poorly. Researchers concluded that their test results reflected their lack of concentration and ability to get distracted more easily. The results actually refuted the researchers hypothesis, which was that the heavy media multi-taskers would have a mental advantage. A notable neuroscientist Michael Merzenich went on to say that our brains are being "massively remodeled" by the increasing use of the web. He said that the constant distractions and lack of concentration could be deadly to intellectual thinking. 

So is the Internet a blessing or a curse? While it has revolutionized learning in a way that has never been seen before, it can also be a distraction. As the article claims, it could be detrimental to our overall ability to concentrate. 

Mosquitos in Malaysia

With all the talk about genetic modification I thought this would be an interesting subject to blog about.  In Malaysia, in order to reduce the number of people with the dengue fever, scientists are genetically engineering male mosquitos and releasing them, hoping that when they mate, the lives their offspring will be shorter.  The article talks about how prominent this fever is in Asia, and that all other attempts to reduce the fever have failed, so the scientists had to turn to more innovative methods.  One concern with this method of treatment is the unintended consequences that a new species can have on the environment.  What does everyone think?  I think that this could be a very useful method if it does work, but I don't know to what extent we could genetically alter insects and animals to eliminate diseases in our society.images.jpeg
Well I already wrote this blog but I clicked WRITE ENTRY again and it deleted everything, so don't make that mistake like I did.  Time to do it all over again.

A story I found in Monday's The USA Today talks about obesity, which was one of our topics in the past month.

A study done by researchers at Cornell Food and Brand Lab in New York took 125 people, showed half commercials for insurance and washing machines, and showed the other half exercise ads for running shoes and gyms.  They were all then served a buffet lunch and it turned out that the ones who watched the exercise-related ads consumed 22% less calories.

So apparently if you want to eat less, just watch more exercise commercials.

Asteroids came up in class today for some reason and I found this article on CNN.  For the second time this year, scientists have found water/ice on an asteroid between Mars and Jupiter.  They say in the article that it is evidence that the seed of human life may have began from an asteroid hitting earth (an important possibility worth investigating), but in my opinion, it at least bolsters our imagination of life out there.
We all know how controversial a topic stem cell research has become, the ethics on this subject alone could probably be debated for the next century or so.  But finally we have some good news regarding stem cells.  I was looking around on the Washington Post website and found an article about a young girl who had human embryonic cells injected into her spinal cord this past Friday at the Sheperd Center in Atlanta, which specializes in spinal cord and brain injuries.  This hospital is part of a program including 6 others that are beginning to use this therapy as part of a study.  
And seeing as this was a huge event in the area of human embryonic cells, of course it came with some controversy.  Scientists were thrilled that all this hard work is finally being shown, but there were still some who objected.  As great as a triumph as this is, scientists are worried that if by some chance this therapy in the long run does go wrong, it could send the whole field into chaos, as if it doesn't already have enough problems.

Dr. Read mentioned that there is a question of whether or not love can be explained by science. Some people believe that it can, due to vasopressin/vasopressin receptors and the ventral tegmental pathway. Neurotransmitters are like serotonin, which provide your motivational and positive thoughts that allegedly play a role in love related experiences. Sexual attraction can supposedly be explained by oxytocin.
I am skeptical as to whether or not love can explain love. I think that there may be some degree of science in physical attraction, however each person is so individual and has a very different personality. There are people who are raised to care about people, and some people who are raised differently. Each situation is different. Someone people think that knowing someone for an incredible length of time equates to love, and some search for those "sparks" (which may be the physical attraction). 

By definition, infatuation is "an unreasoning love or attraction-" maybe this is where chemical physical attraction can be illustrated?


Trapped Miners' Rescue

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If anyone has been following this horrific story in Chilie, hopefully the wait is over. These 33 miners have been stuck for sixty-eight days straight. Chilean rescuers are saying that the miners will be started to be removed at midnight. There were tests done on Monday by engineers that lowered what is called a escape capsule. According to Aol News, "The Miners will be extricated one by one in the claustrophobic capsule, and they'll be equipped with dynamite in case they get stuck and need to widen the escape shaft's sides." 

In the Aol article, The Washington Post was quoted having said, "The miners will be outfitted with sophisticated chest straps that monitor their heartbeats and blood pressure."

Hopefully everything will go well tonight and these fearless miners will finally get an escape and see light.  


Looking in today's syllabus, I realized that the topic of today is all about media and science. Well, as like many of our other classmates (check out this blog and this blog from other classmates about science in movies!) I am fascinated by how the media, especially movies, portrays scientists.

bride_of_frankenstein.jpgWhat I am currently interested in, seeing that Halloween is coming soon, is the notion of "mad scientists" and early movies that depict scientists as evil, misunderstood, or even stupid. When I searched the term "mad scientists", hundreds of links like this popped up, talking about mad scientists in both films and literature. However, its hard to find ANYTHING about real-life mad scientists... do they even exist?

It makes me wonder... if these films, books, novellas, etc. claim that these stories are base on legends that are real, where is the proof? Take the book (then turned movie) Frankenstein.. how could something like that be real without any evidence?

Hopefully, some of you can give me insight on these "mad scientists"... what are your opinions? Where do you think mad science originated? Is there any truth to the notion of mad scientists? What were your impressions about scientists after watching these movies?

IVF - 2010 Style


I was intrigued by the article in our test about IVF methods potentially being able to inseminate mothers more quickly with by watching the progression of embryos. I was looking for information on research conducted about this new method, but the stories of ethical implications were just too interesting to pass by! So I did a little research myself and found that there was recently a woman who set the record for longest embryo held before giving a live birth. This embryo was 20 years old. And really what is bizarre is that the embryo was donated from a man whose wife got pregnant from his embryo 20 years earlier. This means that the woman who just had a baby, her child has a sibling that is 20 years older but was conceived at the same time!

Its kind of mind blowing what medical science is able to do now. And another issue they touched on was that in 2007, a mother preserved her eggs for her 7 year old daughter because the daughter had a condition that would potentially make her infertile. Which means that she would be giving birth to one of her half siblings!

The ethical implications that can possibly arise are immense, who knows what other crazy combinations of births can be made. A "child" that is technically conceived 20 years ago will never know what his/her generation was actually like. Its cryogenic freezing before you having any idea what is going on in society!  I figured the topic of IVF could be a very interesting one to further discuss in class, there are many layers to this subject.

e.jpgStudies have recently been detailed and shown that airplane emissions kill more people than the plane actually crashing. On a yearly basis, about a thousand people died on plane crashes in recent years. On the other side, researchers are reporting that ten thousand people are dying yearly from airplanes' harmful emissions. It was first thought that people are getting sick and dying from just the lift off and the landing of the planes but it's much more than that. Planes flying above 3000 feet are apparently emitting these toxic gases into the air, causing people down below to get sick. Just like car exhausts, airplane exhausts contain air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide.Pollutants such as these are not good for your body as they can alter your body's DNA, such as reducing the size of your genes. People living near an airport are not necessarily the only people that can inhale these toxic gases, as the planes' gases can be brushed away through the air, causing the gases to land anywhere. We cannot have these pollutants roaming through our airways as they can severely speed up the process of melting our polar icecaps. Right now, sulfur is a big problem in airplanes' jet fuel. By easily spending five extra cents a gallon (in the U.S.), the majority of sulfur can be depleted. 

Time keeps on Slipin

During Thursdays lecture about the healing power of prayer, I noticed that many students had trouble with the idea that hospital patients could be prayed for 4-10 years after admittance to the hospital. It is basic logic to think that if you wish to pray for someone's recovery you must do it while they are sick. But if you think about it, the procedures of the double blind study are not so outrageous: People often pray for their continued good health and for the good health of loved ones even if they are currently healthy. If it seems plausible to pray for good health in the future then the same should be true for recovery in the past. If you believe in God doesn't it seem logical that God would know which subjects will be prayed for and which subjects will not?

If you have trouble understanding this concept, society is to blame. We live in a culture that views time as a linear process. Time goes in one direction (the future) at a steady pace and we place events in order one after the other. This may seem like the standard now, but views on time differ between cultures.


The calendar we live by today was roughly based on lunar patterns, but Buddhist cultures live by a much stricter lunar calendar. Buddhist monks meet for prayer at the beginning and end of every lunar cycle. Their calendar has 12 months like ours, but the months are a few days shorter. 

Some tribes in Africa see no distinction between past, present, and future. For them time is like a lake, ever flowing. A death is not necessarily an end of life, as the spirit remains in nature. Communication with the spirits of deceased ancestors re-enforces their belief that all time is connected.

In the Amazon rain forest, the Piraha tribe has no concept of time whatsoever. When things can no longer be perceived, they seem to just no longer exist. The Piraha do not tell stories about the past or where they came from, and they have no religious beliefs. They live every moment to the fullest because the present is all that exists to them.

Nomadic tribes of the middle east only live by the time of the seasons. In the Spring they migrate from the valleys to the mountains where they will find fertile grassland. After the summer, they migrate back. This cycle of migration is never ending.

Even in Western culture, there are competing theories of time. Presentists believe that only present objects and present experiences are real, and conscious beings recognize the special "vividness" of the present. According to the Growing Universe theory, the past and present are real, but the future is not, because it is only potential. The Block Universe theory, or "eternalism" states that there is no difference between past present and future because the differences we perceive are only subjective.

Bottom line: There are many diverse views of time. Who can say which one is right and wrong? But if you understand some of the various ideas, you can understand why you can pray for someone 10 years in the past. You can read more about time from the links posted below:




C-value Enigma


My previous post on the Paris Japonica (Previous Post) brings up a point which Professor Read commented on. I posted that I was curious about the flowers'  origin, life on earth, and possible uses due to it's large genome. Professor Read pointed out that the flowers large genome doesn't make it more complex than other living organisms with smaller genomes. The common misconception that it does is a large part of the C-value Enigma.

As Wikipedia points out,

"The C-value enigma or C-value paradox is a term used to describe the complex puzzle surrounding the extensive variation in nuclear genome size among eukaryotic species. At the center of the C-value enigma is the observation that genome size does not correlate with organismal complexity; for example, some single-celled protists have genomes much larger than that of humans."

This misconception, I would assume, is a widely held one. Before doing some reading on the C-value Enigma, I was unsure whether a larger genome would show more complexity or not, but as shown above, some single-celled protists have larger genomes than humans. Although it doesn't go against any rule or law in science, it is still surprising. What are all of those genes allocated to? Why are they there? What are your thoughts?

Can dogs be depressed?


sad-dog.jpgRecent biology research has found that over 50% of dogs may perform undesirable separation-related behavior, or SRB. When dogs are left at home alone for extended periods of time, they can show signs of seperation anxiety, just like a human. The study claims that dogs may experience instability and unhappiness which may lead to permanent bad moods. Do you guys think its realistic to believe that a dog could be depressed/have seperation anxiety just like we can?



I wake up in the morning (no, not feeling like P. Diddy =p) and turn on my computer. First thing I do is check Facebook. I go to class & when I come back I check Facebook again. The rest of my day is spent going back and forth from doing important things to checking Facebook. Ask me why, and I don't really know. Nothing extremely newsworthy has been going on. Some of my friends are hating their lives, others are madly in love, some are just bored. And I guess I'm bored too, which is why I'm on. I know that virtually everyone has a facebook; when someone doesn't my friends and I are often apalled. "He doesn't have a facebook?! What is wrong with him?!" my friend recently exclaimed when she couldn't find the boy she liked. Facebook can be great - it's a good way to keep in touch with people you don't see and to stay up to date on your friends. But did you know, that like alcohol, drugs, and sex...you can get addicted to it? This link can help diagnose the issue. Facebook Addiction Disorder (or FADS as it's called here) is becoming a huge issue. It's interfering with school work and it's getting people fired from their jobs.  So tell me...are you a facebook addict? Do you believe this is a problem, like an alcohol addiction or like a drug addiction, or do you think it's just a bunch of B.S.? While I hate to think of myself as actually being addicted to something, I definitely answered yes to one or more of the questions posed in the first link...uh oh!


Epic frustration. Just took the second class test on ANGEL. Going through it, there were a few that I was a bit ehhhh on, but for the most part I didn't think I'd do HORRIBLE. But then again, I had the same feeling last time. I was so confident in my answers, until I hit submit and got a 68. Going to take it the second time, I changed the answers I was unsure about...and got a lower score. While I have yet to do the second attempt for this one, I'm kind of betting it's going to result in the same thing as last, because I got the same score as last time. So I HAVE to ask, am I the only one this is happening to? I pay attention in class, I feel like I understand it...but when it's test time...BAM. Fail. I think my issue is that the questions and answers are so close..like, I sometimes think all the answers are okay, or that more than one would work! It's confusing, frustrating, and I really hope I'm not the only one!


Heeeeellllllpppp!!!! Frustration_Relief.gif

i just read a very interesting article about the first patient treated with human embryonic stem cells in the U.S.  it had been thought when this idea was very developed it would be decades before it could be applied but it appears this is false.  shows the speed of scientific development. heres the link
In a recent New York Times article, it states of the new invention that may change our world as we know it. A Toyota Prius is a project of Google, which is able to drive itself using artificial intelligence software that senses anything near the car and mimics the decisions made by a human driver. One even drove itself down Lombard Street in San Francisco, one of the steepest and curviest streets in the nation. The only accident, engineers said, was when one Google car was rear-ended while stopped at a traffic light.  Is our society ready for these changes in our technology?  These cars are years from mass production, but technologists who have long dreamed of them believe that they can transform society as profoundly as the Internet has. And in the event of an accident, who would be liable: the person behind the wheel or the maker of the software?  I guess we will have to wait for the answer in the future, but for now what do you think about this idea? Are we ready for it?


I learned that life came from the ancient sea and I remember that my textbook even have pictures about what the ancient sea animals looked like. Today, when I browsing websites, I came across an article that scientists suggested a new place---the sky!


This conclusion came from a new experiment on Earth which reveals that prebiological compounds may form in Titan's upper atmosphere. The article I found "Life may have started sky high" in Science News website described the experiment in detail.



 The experiment's results suggests that the Titan's atomosphere procuces coumpounds that can support life. More steps maybe involved in the trasition between those molecules to life. But currently, proof can't be made due to technology limit.



Evolution --> Phobias

I'm not going to lie, I am not the bravest guy out there. I don't like hooking worms. Not a fan of scary movies. And I get freaked out every once in awhile. I also fear snakes. But did you know that the fear of snakes is "genetic"? Think about it. Why is it that most humans fear snakes? Did you realize that most of us can quickly identify one and then run away from it? It is thought that the phobia is predisposed in humans. "The idea is that throughout evolutionary history, humans that learned quickly to fear snakes would have been at an advantage to survive and reproduce," They found the same effect in spiders as well. 

I guess it makes sense that this trait was passed down through generations. Cavemen did not have antidotes for venomous snake bites, so they must have tried to avoid them at all costs. There sure are a lot of things that are passed down: looks, genes, fears...

Would it be possible for humans to be immune to these poisonous bites, eventually?

I think the evolution theory is such an intriguing topic. I mean, is there a God? Such a hard question. I think so...
Recent studies have discovered there is a casual link between "enhanced visual abilities and reorganization of the part of the brain that usually handles auditory input in congenitally deaf cats." These findings can lead us to predict that the same may be true with humans. Researchers Stephen Lomber and his team from The University of Western Ontario two visual abilities enhanced in deaf cats including visual localization in the peripheral field and visual motion detection. These findings show individuals that the brain is very effective in that in areas where abilities are lacking, they are made up for in other areas. These findings raise the question of what happens when ones hearing is restored? Do these "super powers" remain in tact? I think these findings are absolutely phenominal. What are everyones thoughts or questions about this recent study? Here is the article link in case anyone is interested in doing some further research... http://esciencenews.com/articles/2010/10/10/research.discovers.how.deaf.have.super.vision

Prayer and Healing Article

             This article discusses a small group of researchers that try to conduct an experiment that uses  prayer to heal others. Some people (skeptics) say that the experiment is absurd to try to test supernatural things with modern science. I honestly feel that it too is also absurd to try to test such a thing. I remember when we talked about the prayer case in class, and how it contained a large number of people in the study. Studies that have a larger number of people means that its results are more likely to be true. This case study here also used a large number of poeple in the experiment. The article says also that "Two new studies are about to report that there no benefis of having people pray for the sick, the only study underway is nearing completion, and the largest, best-designed project is being published in two weeks."

             I am pretty interested in seeing the results from this new project that is said to be "best-designed" so far out of the studies testing this experiment. Does anyone have any ideas on whether this new study could show different results than any others in the past regarding prayer actually having an effect on healing people?

During my daily web browsing rituals, I came across some more great content on graphene. I figured I would add onto my last graphene blog post (last post).

One of my favorite youtube channels, "Sixty Symbols", posted a video on graphene which I thought had some good background and could really help people understand the material better. I hope you don't stop there though, as Sixty Symbols has some great videos.

Here is the video: Graphene (Professor Read should grow out his hair like this guy...)

Note added by Andrew ten hours later:  Jacob is so right about this guy's hair, I have to embed the video:

The other day I was thinking about doing a blog on the disappearing honey bees that I have heard about off and on for the past three of four years.  So I searched google for an article and to my surprise there was an article published in the New York Times today titled "Trouble in the Hive"

honey be.jpg

Four years ago when these honey bees started disappearing, scientists named the phenomenon "Colony Collapse Disorder."  For the past four years, it has been a total mystery of what exactly was occurring to make these honey bees die off.  It created such a panic that I really didn't understand.  That is, until I found out how much we depend on these tiny beings. 
Here is a short video of a commercial portraying our major dependence on these bees. 

Well now, scientists think they MAY have found the answer they were searching for.  Scientists of the United State's Army Chemical and Biologists Research Group discovered earlier this week a possible answer: a combination of a fungus and virus.

Before this discovery,  many experts believed the possible causes of CCD were pollution, use of pesticides,   and genetically modified seeds.  (*which is something we kind of touched on in class).

As of now, they have no specific name for this silent killer.  They just account the disappearances to this viral fungus combination.  So I guess we will have to wait for this story to develop.     

Therefore, I will definitely be continuing research into this and provide updates as these scientists further their studies and mission to save the honey bees.  

Codeine kills

I came across an article today about the painkiller codeine and how it can be lethal in some people. It is normally prescribed to treat mild to severe pain but can be very habit forming. When the metabolism works through the codeine, it turns into morphine. The problem is, depending on ones genetic makeup, the amount of morphine produced widely varies.

The majority of the deaths have occurred in infants who are still being breastfed by mothers who are taking codeine. A representative from the MHRA claims that only 1-2 percent of the population have the genetic makeup that would cause this fatal reaction..Do you guys think that codeine should be banned if it is potentially lethal?


Flower Power

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A flower named  Paris japonica (native to Japan) was found to have a genome 50 times larger than that of a human. I am curious what it's genetic traits are what exactly it looks, feels, and smells like in real life. I'm also curious what such a large genome implies for it's origin, life on earth, and uses. I'd say a trip to Japan is warranted.

Paris japonica
Kinugasa japonica.JPG



I found an article today that reminded me of the Barry Marshall case. It is about how the common knowledge of asthma in children is that is it caused by viruses (which cannot be treated). A few days ago, scientists from the Danish Paediatric Asthma Centre published a study with some evidence that asthma could also be caused by bacterial infections, which unlike viral infections, bacterial infections can be treated. This reminds me of the Barry Marshall case because of the notion that the currently held "truth" may not always be the case, and if you can think outside the box you could potentially make a discovery that can impact millions of lives!

Also, I think it is relevant for me to include the research methods that have taken place because as we've been learning, statistics could make some pretty interesting assumptions seem more rational than they really are:

" "We found a significant relationship between bacterial infections and acute asthma attacks -- above and beyond the expected relationship between viral infections and attacks," says Hans Bisgaard, a professor of pediatrics at the DPAC.

The study examined 361 children between the ages of four weeks and three years to determine the presence of viral and bacterial infections during severe asthma attacks. The results conclude that the number of attacks was just as high in children with bacterial respiratory infections as in those with viral infections."


  [Does the study seem reliable enough to conclude this hypothesis?]


All I can say it that I certainly hope so. This would mean that children would be able to get treated with antibiotics to help with their asthma during a bacterial infection, which would be a great improvement for treatment. Because of this study, the Danish Paediatric Asthma Centre will now be doing a large-scale clinical study using antibiotics. Lets hope that extensive research will shed more validity on this case and potentially bring a better understanding of asthma causation and treatments. 


"Grilled Cheesus"


Today's class particularly piqued my interest because on of my favorite shows, Glee, did an episode just this past Tuesday completely related to faith and whether it works. In fact, a character, Kurt, asked his friends to stop praying for his dad because he doesn't believe in God and he decided to try alternative medicine (accupuncture) instead because he thought it would be more effective. Today's topic, previous discussion about religion in science, and this episode made me wonder something: where is the line between science and religion? Can and do scientists believe that there is a superior beinglee-s2e3-Grilled-Cheesus-02-550x380.jpgg? Is science a religion in itself? After research, there is NO statistical evidence that seperates the two subjects finitely, and it is all opinion. For example, one website says that science is not a religion because it is based on evidence, rules, and principles, not just on faith. However, the definition of religion is just believing a set of practices or beliefs to be true. Couldn't anyone who follows any scientifc rules or theories without testing them be a "believer"? Another result I found was that many influential scientists (Einstein, Kelvin, etc.) believed in god and/or were spiritual. Could it be possible that their faith made them successful? Did their faith lead them to scientific discovery? There are so many questions unsolved, yet the only answers we have are opinion-based... Do you ever think there will be an answer to these questions that everyone will accept?


(Just an explanation of the title and picture: The episode was titled "Grilled Cheesus", and this is a picture of a football player praying to his grilled cheese that had an image of Jesus burned onto it. )

sugar and honey.png
Yesterday,  Caitlyn Doyle posted a blog on how cinnamon and other spices can help with issues such as weight-loss and digestive system problems.  So I decided to delve deeper into this subject and I found this amazing website.  

They focus mainly on the beneficial health effects of honey and cinnamon but they do explore numerous other substances as well.  They start off by saying that the Ayurvedic and Yunani (or Unani) medicine have utilized honey as one of their most vital remedies "for centuries."  According to this website, the Ayurvedic medicine is a system of alternative and traditional medicine stemming from India.  Yunani Medicine originates from Greece and focuses on traditional herbal healing.  


Here are FEW of the MANY remedies that "The Leaf Lady" website discusses: 
1.  Hair Loss-  Mix honey and cinnamon powder in with warm olive oil.  Make a paste and rub on your balding head, leave on for 15 minutes, and then wash out thoroughly.  
2.  Colds (which I am sure many of us can relate to right now)-  1 Tb. honey mixed with 1/4 tsp. cinnamon.  It is recommended that you do this 3 times a day.
3.  Bad Breath-  Gargle with one tsp. of honey and cinnamon powder dissolved into hot water when you first wake up.    

The Leaf Lady website also discusses remedies and prevention to everything from heart disease to arthritis to hearing loss.  I can't really attest to the hair balding but I may try the cinnamon and honey remedy for the common cold to see if it really works.  If it does truly work I don't know if I will ever pop a Tylenol Cold and Flu ever again, which would be very nice.   

Mandated Science Education

I'm not sure if any of you happened to catch it, but Leon Botstein, President of Bard College, was a guest on the Colbert Report a few nights ago.  The topic of discussion (in that Colbert-tastic way) was the importance of having an understanding of science in order to be a productive citizen, regardless of your discipline. 

I couldn't put my finger on it... but that idea certainly sounded familiar...  

At Bard, Botstein has mandated that incoming freshmen take an intensive 3 week program, which science plays a significant role in.  The rationale for Bard's decision is articulated in an open letter which you can feel free to read.  But there is one point of note in particular that I wanted to highlight:

"Colleges must counter the experience of conventional high school education in the United States, where learning is little more than a standardized test-driven chore with utilitarian benefits. In college, students should discover that most of the important writings and discoveries they will study were not generated for their benefit, but rather came into being in order to illuminate and improve life. It is precisely the connection between learning and living that justifies the life of the mind and makes study and inquiry a treasured form of human activity and among the most rewarding."

Two quick things worth mentioning.  First of all, a pat on the back to all of you for making the choice to join the ranks of the enlightened citizenry (even if you thought you were just fulfilling a GenEd requirement).  Secondly, though I and I'm sure Andrew believe that you will be all the wiser for having taken this course, you are certainly a minority - most of your peers will leave Penn State without the introductory scientific understanding that all of you will come away with.  

What do you think about Bard's approach?  Would you be happy if a course like SC200 was required for all incoming students at Penn State?  Would the world be better for it?

shapiro_storypage3.jpgBeth Shapiro is one my inspirational Faculty colleagues in the Biology Department.  Read why here.  

She didn't start out as a science major.  You gotta wonder how the 1st Blog Posts of SC200-2010 will look in, say, 2020. 


I was browsing Yahoo! when I stumbled upon this website which was so interesting!  If you want to add a little zest or sweetness to your meal but don't want to pack on the weight, then you should check-out these five spices!

Cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, mustard seed, and ginger are spices that can help you lose weight.  "A 2003 study published in Diabetes Care showed that as little as one teaspoon of cinnamon per day can boost the body's weight-loss ability by reducing blood sugar and promoting healthier processing of carbohydrates."  Cinnamon lowers bad cholesterol in the body but it is good to note that too much of anything is never good and if you have too much cinnamon then it may lead to liver damage!
Cayenne is known for its "fat-burning abilities and thermogenic properties (the stimulating of the central nervous system to produce heat in the body, leading to an increase in calorie burning)."
Black pepper boosts fat metabolism and improves digestion.  It is nice too because most households have this item sitting right on their kitchen table, so next time you are eating just add a dash to your dinner and see what happens!
Mustard seed, like the other hot spices, boosts metabolism and allows the body to burn fat easier. 
Lastly, ginger is an "effective diuretic (a substance that increases the elimination of urine). It improves gastric mobility (i.e. it pushes food and waste through the digestive system) and hinders the absorption of cholesterol."  Another diuretic that most people are familiar with, is coffee.  It is necessary to have these diuretics in your diet. 

So I dare you, try out a new spice and see what happens!  It will benefit everyone in the long run hopefully!


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According to this article, smaller studies have been conducted to determine whether diabetes and air pollution are connected. However, "new data provided more important and more rigorous evidence that real-world pollution may be tampering with blood sugar control in a large and growing number of people."  Although studies before haven't been able to prove this concept true, this new studies has made the first step forward in proving this idea true.

There have been two current studies that have found that " "an exploding pandemic, if you will, of type 2 diabetes, particularly in urbanized areas around the world" adds Sanjay Rajagopalan, a cardiologist of the Ohio State University College of Medicine. The new studies also go into saying that "they found that for every 10 micrograms per cubic meter increase in average PM-2.5, diabetes prevalence climbed."

This reopened concept has a lot of evidence proving that air pollution can be directly connected to diabettes however, from "1994 to 2004, U.S. particulate pollution fell somewhat, while the prevalence of diabetes increased by between 4 and 6 percent." While most of the evidence points towards a connection between the two, more studies are required to get to the bottom of this theory.

A recent article I came across discusses a Nobel Prize given to three men, Richard Heck, Ei-ichi Negishi, and Akira Suzuki, for their scientific work in chemistry. After hearing from Barry Marshall I thought it would be interesting to read and see other kinds of work that the prize is awarded for. In this particular case, the three men received this coveted prize for their discovery of bonding carbon atoms, which helps in the medical, agriculture, and electronic fields. While I'm clearly not a chemistry major and don't understand the specifics of bonding atoms, the article explains that carbon atoms do not naturally bond together and the men combined their knowledge to discover a method to bond the atoms, which enables organic bonding to come more easily after. This then allows compounds to be used in the fields previously mentioned. Clearly this discovery has advanced our society in many areas from cancer treatment, to prescription drugs, to computer screens.

What I found particularly interesting about this particular prize was that it was awarded 30-40 after the discovery had been made. Each of the men are now between the ages of 75-80 and while two indicated they would still like to continue working for a few years, one understandably stated he's too old to use his prize for good use. The article stated it is not uncommon for prizes to be awarded so many years after a discovery, especially if the effects are more prominent now. While I find this understandable, I also am slightly dismayed that the scientists did not receive the award sooner. While it was clearly deserved earlier on, I feel like the prize money and further research could have been put to use for so many more years if they had received it earlier. I'm glad they got the well deserved recognition for their contribution to society, though I strongly feel that if they had been rewarded earlier on in life they would have had more motivation and a greater strive to continue to work and progress their research earlier on and maybe they would've have produced more discoveries by now. Clearly this is just my opinion though, any thoughts?

Source: article

A few classes ago, Prof. Read piqued my interest with a topic that is always in the media: vaccinations. The controversy associated with vaccinations is still an issue that people, especially parents, must always evaluate and weigh the pros and cons. It makes sense-- how rational is it to voluntarily have a disease/bacteria/etc. injected into you? The vaccine that is and has been in national news vhpv.jpgery frequently is Gardasil. After searching the terms "Gardasil News" hundreds of news articles and web posts appeared, all comparing and contrasting the pros and cons of this vaccine. In this article from CBS News, it discusses that 29 deaths have occured in the past two years that have been associated with this vaccine. In an earlier article from CBS News, it reports that the Gardasil vaccine has many negative side affects, some that could cause long-term problems. Not only this, but in this recent article from CNN, Merk (the company that manufactures Gardasil) have been in financial issues because of this vaccine! Many parents don't even want their daughters to get the vaccine because they believe it only protects them from a virus only caught by having sex (cnn.com), A blog post from September touches on this issue. However, in the long run, I believe that this article from ABC News sums it up quite nicely; there are side effects and potential dangers from the vaccine, but, in general, it does protect you from this virus. It raises many questions for me. Are vaccines ALWAYS good, or should we wait a while to see? Aren't there always risks when you try to treat/prevent in the medical field?


It is hard to say just exactly what nothing look likes. It is what it is. Nothing is nothing but I feel as though there is more than that. The bible says god created light and dark which also means that he created the color black which is something. So I honestly don't have a clue what nothing looks like and I feel as though no one really does.

Levitating Frogs?

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I thought it was kind of funny that the IG Nobel Prize was brought up in class. I didn't know it was something that existed until it was brought up. I had never heard of Bart Knols before either. These two entries about the IG Nobel Prize and Geim winning the Nobel Prize for Graphene reference what I'm going to bring up, and what reminded me to blog about this.

Andre Geim is the winner this year for the Physics Nobel Prize for taking part in developing Graphene. And, as we all are aware of now, the IG Nobel Prize goes to people who do funny, but useful, science. Geim is the first person to win both prizes individually. Knols has done the same before Geim, but he didn't win a Nobel Prize individually. His win was apparently grouped in with a handful of other scientists.

Geim won the IG Nobel Prize for levitating frogs with magnets. It sounds kind of weird, but it won't really click until you watch the video.

Included in the related videos are a grasshopper levitating, as well as a strawberry. I'm not sure if that's part of Geim's research or not, but either way, it's kind of hilarious.



hand.jpgResearch has found that there in fact is no evidence to prove that ones natural handedness tendencies have anything to do with ones state of health. As we all know our overall state of health depends on our eating habits, excersize habits and our genetics.

Only about 10% of our population is left- handed. The reasons for why one is left or right handed are still very vague and no one has been able to clearly state why this occurs. Although, some ambiguous generalizations have been made such as most often left- handed people are less cautious and left- handed people are more creative. One fact about this matter is that there are more left- handed women than men and women tend to live longer. This finding would set the previous generalizations into bewilderment.

What are your alls thoughts as to why one is left or right handed? What effects do you believe these factors play on a persons health and characteristics?

Hope everybodys having a good day!:)


Samantha Narick Ebrey





cell phones and cancer.jpgI'm sure we've all heard the rumors that "talking on your cell phone too much causes cancer." I decided to do a little research on this deliema and found some interesting claims.

First, cell phones emit radiofrequency energy which is also know as radiation which is something that has been studied for several years for its effects on the human body.Radiofrequency energy is transmitted through the cell phone through the antenna. Research has found that cell phones do not produce a high enough level of radiofrequency energy to have any compelling effects on an individuals tissue heating or increased body temperature. Researchers have not been able to show a persistant link between cell phone use and cancer. Furthermore, cell phone users have showed no increased risks for the two most common types of brain tumors; giloma and meningioma.


To conclude, as of right now, cell phones impose no threats on increasing ones risk for cancer. It is as much innacurate as it is when someone tells you that ulcers are caused by stress. In order to prove an alternative hypothesis one must keep conduct a great experiement that is ethical.


What are peoples thought as to what the futrue might hold for this upcoming research? The link for this website is as follows... http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/cellphones 


Samantha Narick Ebrey





Word broke out this past week of new potential terrorist attacks in various major European cities.  This is supposedly the work of Al-Qaida and the elusive Osama Bin Laden.  It is unclear whether the United States or Pakistani Governments know more about these potential attacks.  Although the United States is taking action: there has been a serious increase in US Drone plane attacks.  The United States started using these unmanned aircraft bombers under the command of former US President George W. Bush, but the attacks have increased severely since Obama has taken office.  The Government attempts to kill terrorist parties deemed threats to the US by bombing them in there potential "hangout" spots.  These bombings have been categorized as somewhat of a success after a Taliban official told BBC that this weeks recent bombings have indeed damaged their party.
If this is the United States Governments only plan of attack to prevent against these possible terrorist attacks, maybe it's time for a new plan.  Possibly science could help?
Drone attacks to prevent terrorist attacks

I found a series of amazing photos released in National Geographic website. These photos are about new species under the sea.

"Prior to its final report, released Monday, the decade-long, globe-spanning inventory of ocean life, had already announced the discovery of roughly 6,000 new species."

Lets appreciate the marvellous forms of life.



Marine snail



Whale-eating worm




What do you guys think of the photos.

I think there are so many things that are undiscovered about Nature. I hope our science textbook can have exciting pictures like this to stimulate students' interests to discover the unkown.



Yes the popular Wiz Khalifa song happens to be one of my favorites but are you the type of person that truly does searh for the "trill" in life? My dad said for my 18th birthday he would take me sky diving but I couldn't seem to find time during my busy senior year of high school. My mom later asked me, "What could possibly make you want to sky dive?" I answered, "For the thrill of it!" But I didn't really know if that was true ...

Well, as I was just searching on the internet and stumbled upon an article that discusses the "thirst for excitement" is actually hidden within your genes! The sensation you seek to do exciting things is actually linked to the chemical, dopamine. A new study (click to read article) was done where scientists analyzed genes in the dopamine system and found that the group of mutations allows scientists to predict who is more inclined to seek sensations such as excitement. The scientists who published this article in Psychological Science compared the thrill sensation seekers to drug addicts. Although this sensation acts as an addiction does not mean, "everyone who's high on sensation seeking becomes a drug addict."

Through this study, scientists were able to see that the methods in which the scientists went about screening these mutations (in dopamine of 635 people) showed that the dopamine gene in all people studied on, had a significant effect. This type of detection method can be further used to study the link between biology and other behaviors (such as dopamine and drug use behaviors).

The methods used might one day be able to predict if someone is likely to have certain problems/addictions later in life. 

Growing up I participated in the sports almost every young child plays: soccer, basketball, t-ball, etc... I never once liked a sport I played. My dad grew up being the star of the football, basketball, and baseball teams in his hometown. He later went on to play college football. My mother never played sports in high school so naturally, when my older sister and I wanted to play sports, my dad was the coach our teams. It was fun but I was never the best player on the team and did not have the competitive edge most athletes have. Granted I was young, but the future athletic stars of my town were already emerging all around me. 

My dad's entire family is athletic and my some of my childhood memories recall my Grandmother bragging about how athletic all 4 of my younger cousins were. I was jealous and wished so badly to be the star of my basketball team or lacrosse team but none of the sports were for me. I felt I was never the best on the team and although I never missed a practice or a game, I just did not have the heart that I believe gives athletes their desire and drive.

Yet could desire, soul, passion, persistence, teamwork, and hardwork all lead to someone being a great athlete or is it something more than that? I began to wonder as I grew older if there were genetics which children inherit from their parents that lead to them to become athletic. My childhood sports years were over when I began to dance in 4th grade and became passionate for the art and had a flair which I knew would allow be to succeed as a dancer in a company. Although I believe dance, especially on a company team, takes athleticism, passion, teamwork, persistence ... all the things an athlete for say, a basketball team must possess ... I still wonder if there is such thing as an "athletic gene." This lead me to do some research and here are my findings .. let me know what you think and if you'd like Andrew to do a presentation on this subject in class!

According to newscientist.com, in 2003 Australian sports scientist discovered a specific gene that is linked to athletic performance. There are 2 variants of the gene, the 1st, angiotensin-converting enzyme, or ACE, is for those whom are predisposed to become sprinters and the 2nd are those who are more likely to excel in endurance events.  The article goes into further explanation of the experiment done to test the genes. 

More about obesity "virus

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When I searched on websites, I found a resent article about the obesity virus. The article in our quiz is from Fox News in 2009, this article comes out in the Oct issue of the magazine Science News.

The article "Obesity in children linked to common cold virus" reported that childhood obesity can be an infectious disease and be transmitted by a common cold virus. The article also described the experiment the researchers did to get the conclusion.

Besides increasing calorie intake and decreasing amount of exercise, other things may also contribute to obesity. Here is the list:

1. Older mother

studies have shown that the offspring of older moms are more likely to be obese.

2. Ari-conditioning

This is surpring, i didn't even think there is relation between obesity and air-conditioning. the article says that keep warm in cold weather and keep cool in hot can make people soft. But I can't spend winter and summer without air-conditioner.


certain drugs may cause gaining weight

4.Less sleep

I think one entry in our blog has already discussed this

5.Environmental Contaminants

Increase of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in environment can increase the possibility of the compounds interfering with hormones that regulate metabolism.




I'm not particularly a fan of science. I would guess that you aren't either, since we're both in this class. Which makes me wonder, why is there a science course designed for kids who are not good at/interested in/or majoring in science? I checked the University Bulletin of courses in the College of Communications (my college) and there is no "Communication in Our World: Certainty and Controversy". Other majors do not have classes dedicated to converting haters.  And when I gave it more thought, I realized this has been going on for most of my life. The government, the schools I've attended, and the media have all been trying to make my generation better at math and science by forcing it down our throats. I may sound like a conspiracy theorists, but the proof is there.  

Lets start with the Government. How do you think American kids compare with the rest of the world when it comes to math and science? Not very well. In 2006, American teenagers were 24th out of 30 industrialized nations in mathematics according to the Program for International Student Assessment. Similarly, the US was 17th out of 30 for the PISA science tests. Obviously such an embarrassing showing motivated the government to improve these scores. Results like these enacted policies such as No Child Left Behind, with heavy emphasis on math and science. The belief that math and scientific skills equate to "genius" gives the government reason to put so much emphasis on it

Next, the schools have to accommodate these policies. All through high school and even before, all my science classes were known as "labs" which meant a science period was longer than a period of any other subject. I remember in the early days of middle school, more time was spent on English than any other subject. To my dismay, that quickly changed in favor of double block periods of science. I was crushed. The school simply felt that math and science was more important. I understand their logic, but to a young kid who loved history and lit class it was a tough pill to swallow.

Finally we have the media. I'm always hearing about the importance of math and science. I'm always being told that jobs in these fields are better. I included the link to one of the commercials I found, which really just made me sad. Exxon-Mobile is not funding writing programs. They aren't developing strategies for history teachers to be better teachers. Occasionally I will see a commercial about some company supporting an art or music program, but that's only because the school had to cut it.

Please don't misunderstand what I'm trying to say here. I'm not bashing on math and science. They are very important and I'm sure very fun for those interested in them, and more power to those people. I just feel its disheartening that other fields of study are not given the same amount of attention that math and science are.




Thanks to two brilliant physicists, we now have an incredible substance known as graphene. For thier valient efforts and research with graphene they have been awarded the Nobel Prize. Graphene (click to find out more), is an incredible substance that is capable of countless uses. The one atom thick carbon sheet has the potential to be used for things ranging from quantum computing to use in composite materials.

To me graphene is a substance with possibilities that we can only dream of and I am very excited to see what it brings forth. It will no doubt help to support Moore's Law (click to find out more), and make computing smaller and faster, but I feel as though greater and greater things are to come. What are your thoughts on graphene?


Frito-Lay has recently begun packaging its chips in bags that are completely bio-degradable.  Yay!  Right?  You enjoy some tasty chips, and the earth doesn't have to pay for your snack by waiting decades for your chip bags to decompose.

So, while I think this is great, there has been an incredible "snacklash" against this new bio-degradable packaging.  Why, one may ask?  The bag is apparently "too crinkly." 

REALLY?  REALLY now?  Frito-Lay invented an entirely bio-degradable bags and instead of embracing this, costumers are complaining because it crinkles a little too loudly?  According to the New York TImes Article, "Snacklash: Junking a Virtuous Bag" by John Collins Rudolf, "Frito-Lay announced this week that it was scrapping the renewable bag for five of its six SunChips flavors. Original flavor SunChips, its top seller, will continue to be packaged in the biodegradable bag, however, said Aurora Gonzalez, a Frito-Lay spokeswoman."

Youtube bloggers complained that the bag was too noisy to deal with when watching TV.  Is this really the level our society has sunk to?

Watch this video...the bag really disappears.
After today's conversation in class, I researched "random, science" for the heck of it and found an article titled "God or Darwin? Randomness of life reminder may drive the decision."

The article's purpose is to reinforce Darwin's evolution theory; study leader Bastiaan Rutjens of the University of Amsterdam look at how "an explanation of evolution as an orderly process, rather than a random one, may increase [people's] believe [in Darwinism]."

The article states how even though there are hundreds of scientific findings to back Darwin's evolution theory, 44% of the U.S. still believe that it was God who "created man in his present form."

The point of the study was to present a selection of people with 3 various theories of evolution:

1. "natural selection is generally a random process in which unpredictable features of the natural environment determine the outcomes"
2. intelligent design theory ("a controlling designer, not random processes, provides the best way to explain the world")
3. "view of evolution by natural selection"

In terms of the subjects-- "Some were asked to recall a past threatening situation in their lives over which they had no control, and then they were asked to give three reasons why the future is uncontrollable. Others weren't asked anything."

The study results show that most subjects who WERE NOT asked to recall a threatening memory chose theory #1; the subjects that DID recall a threatening situation were 15% more likely to choose theory #2 and even more were 25% more likely to choose #3.


If Dorms Could Kill

Ever since I have arrived at this lovely campus I have been sick off and on and my voice has been hoarse nearly the entire time I have been here.  My parents account this to allergies or a virus.  But then I remembered what happened to my cousin at The University of Connecticut.  She was developing a lot of upper respiratory illnesses her first year of college.  They couldn't figure out what exactly was wrong with her until Christmas time when mold was discovered in the ceiling tiles of her dorm room.  She and her roommate and others on her floor were immediately moved to other dorm room so everything turned out okay.tn_mold_in_bedroom.jpg

But thinking back to this made me wonder...could this be what is happening to me and many others?   If it was just me getting sick I would shove this idea totally out of mind, but one of roommates (I have supplemental housing) has also been sick off and on since we got here as well.  So I decided that I needed to do some research:

Here are common symptoms and facts about black mold, which is one of the most common types of mold.
1.  Respiratory Problems
2.  Nausea
3.  Coughs
4.  Rashes on the skin
5.  Issues with memory loss.
6.  Asthma
7.  Dizziness
8.  UTI's (Urinary Tract Infections)
9.  Allergies- itchy/running nose, itchy/watery eyes
10.  Blood Pressure Problems

The Environmental Illness Resource Center said the mold is linked to the dampness in a particular student's dorm room.  They said that a mold allergy can produce reactions such as cough, stuffiness, itching, wheezing, and watery eyes.  All of these seem to be regular allergy ( such as an allergy to grass or pollen) symptoms though.  The symptoms of mold toxicity are much for severe and life-altering.  These symptoms include dizziness, headaches, extreme fatigue, disorientation, burning sensations in nose and mouth, weakness, nausea, memory problems, personality changes, gastrointestinal disorders, peripheral and sensory neuropathy (damage to the nerves).  This mold toxicity can become so detrimental to one's health that it can result in strokes, seizures, and paralysis.      

Therefore, I will definitely be blogging more about this topic in the near future with updates because this could be a potential issue for many college students.  

On Thursday, September 30th 2010, the annual IG Nobel Prizes were hosted by the Annals of Improbable Research journal and Harvard student groups. This special event honors real research "that first makes people laugh, and then makes them think." The one experiment that intrigued me was that swearing can actually be a pain reliever. This award-winning experiment was done by the U.K.'s Keele University. The experiment went as follows:

"Study subjects were asked to hold their hands in icy water for extended periods of time. Those allowed to repeat a swear word, rather than an ordinary one, were able to endure the pain almost 50 percent longer.

Cursers also exhibited accelerated heart rates and decreased pain perception, perhaps due to a beneficial "flight or fight" response that downplays threats."

Other experiments that won IG Nobel Prizes included "Snatching Whale Snot by Helicopter" and "Rollercoaster Riders Breathe Easier". Past winners of the 2009 IG Nobel Prizes include "Gas Mask Bra" and "Balancing Pregnant Women". I guess not all of scientific experiments have to be so serious and have to be spend in labs for hours. Science does have its fun sides sometimes. I'm sure if kids read this, they would be cursing out their parents left and right. Hopefully this will not be the case. But I guess it is good to know that we do not always have to be popping pills to relieve our pain, where as we simply can yell out %$#@ or *&%$!


Lack of Sleep causes Weight Gain

Okay so First came across this topic when i was perusing through my friends Psychology book and decided to further investigate the topic; turns out there are two main chemicals in your body that explain the sudden urge for a snack while up watching a late night movie or "blogging for your Sci 200 class" (currently typing while eating a chocolate cupcake) these two chemicals are known as ghrelin and leptin; Ghrelin is responsible for the voice in your head that says "go eat" and Leptin is the voice that says "stop eating! or else your gonna gain weight and blame it on the Obesity Virus". When your up the Ghrelin chemical is produced in your body a little bit more, why? because you need energy to stay awake; but lack of sleep also cause the metabolism to slow inturn causing weight gain; So lets all go get that 8 hours of sleep! or else!

Read this If you don't want to gain weight

i was reading a really interesting medical clinical article today because i was bored in math class.  It talked about how in clinical trials and in cases in hospitals, hypothermia was induced in patients to reduce cerebal ischemia which is a lack of blood and therefore oxygen to the brain which can cause brain damage. the idea behind this is that hypothermia slows the metabolism significantly and metabolism is related to oxygen needed and consumed by the body.  at significantly lowered core body temperatures the brain needs less oxygen because it is working slower so their is less incidence of ischemia.  this procedure seems to be growing in popularity, i have read or heard a half dozen or so articles or reports about this. I just wanted to share this because i thought it was very interesting and wondered if anyone had heard about it or if it makes sense to others.  (i have very little medical knowledge) but it seemed like a plausible idea.link to clinical article
After reading the Fox news "Obesity Virus" article in class last week I almost started to believe it, I went back to my dorm & thought "what if i have this virus", that would explain my sudden weight gain also known as the "freshman 15" and then I snapped back to reality. I was astonished at how easy i got sucked into an 'Illegit" cause of obesity and i thought to myself if i instantly believed it and blamed all my weight gain on this virus how many million others would do the exact same thing. I simply feel that this virus can go into the pile of exuses for obesity along w/ people blaming mcdonalds and the media. This article did not provide enough facts and evidence for it to be taken seriously.

Thoughts on evolution?

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Although evolution is a touchy subject, I always find myself interested in what others have to say on the topic.  I came across an article today that talks about evolution and the teaching of it in schools. Although Americans belief in evolution is definitely increasing each year, many feel that it should not be taught in school.. Although evolution has nothing to do with religion, should it be taught to children in public schools? Many parents are completely opposed to this especially if they have a strong belief in a religion. There will always be varying beliefs of how human life began but personally, I think that if they are going to teach evolution that they need to equally touch on other theories including creationism... what do you guys think?


Powered by Jellyfish

Scientist have recently discovered ways to create miniature fuel cells from liquidation of jellyfish, which produces green fluorescent protein.  These cells can be used to power nanodevices which can lead to cures for blindness and tumors.

Zackary Chiragwandi, a Swedish scientist at Chalmers University of Technology has developed a way of generating power, nonetheless extremely small, by dropping the green fluorescent protein into aluminum electrodes and exposing them to UV light.  He also claims that by using fireflies, the cells can be self-powered.

Although power generated is extremely small, it may lead to more development in the long-term future.

Scientists at Cambridge also found a way to generate power from any body of fresh and salt water, by turning living algae into biological solar cells.  They have run a digital clock already from this method.

These breakthroughs seem small initially, but I only hope they can lead to bigger developments within my lifetime.
After having Barry Marshall come to class and explain to us his reason for receiving his Nobel Prize, I was extremely excited to actually see someone win one. I now know the extreme struggles it takes for someone to be named a winner, so I was curious to see what this man did. 

According to Aol NewsRobert Edwards won the Nobel Prize TODAY for creating what is called "in-vitro fertilization". This wasn't just a win that was an easy award to give, it was actually very a controversial procedure for some people. The name might not sound very familiar, because I didn't even understand what "IVF" was, but most of you might know it as a "test tube baby". 

It was said in the article, "(Edwards') achievements have made it possible to treat infertility, a medical condition afflicting a large proportion of humanity, including more than 10 percent of all couples worldwide," the medicine prize committee in Stockholm said in its citation.

Unfortunately, Edward's wasn't in great health today when the committee tried to reach him for interviews. 

Tomorrow the physics award will be given, followed by chemistry on Wednesday, literature on Thursday, and the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday and finally, economics on Monday October 11. 

The medicine award was the first of the 2010 Nobel Prizes to be announced. It will be followed by physics on Tuesday, chemistry on Wednesday, literature on Thursday, the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday and economics on Monday Oct. 11.

Avoid those pesky mosquitoes

A couple of days ago, Ryan submitted a post containing a list of the 10 deadliest animals.  Number one on the list, the mosquito, got me thinking and a little bit scared!  I am one of those people who is constantly covered in mosquito bites, especially during the summer.  They just seem to love me.  After reading Ryan's post, I decided to look into what it is that attracts mosquitoes to certain people and how to prevent this deadly little insect from getting to me! 

I found an article on WebMD called Are You a Mosquito Magnet?  that gave me some insights, but did not put my mind at ease! The article by Elizabeth Heubeck states the following: 
-Mosquitoes do exhibit certain "blood-sucking preferences".  Actually, 1 in 10 people are highly attractive to mosquitoes.  This got me wondering what contributed to this attraction; as it turns out, there are many factors--
  1. Genetics (they are 85% to blame)
  2. Increased levels of carbon dioxide 
  3. If you produce excess amounts of certain acids
  4. High concentrations of cholesterol or steroids on the surface of your skin
  5. Increased movement (heavy breathing= higher levels of carbon dioxide & an increase in 
     lactic acid from your sweat glands, which attracts mosquitos) 
So, basically, people have little control over these attractions (you can thank your parents for that!) These mosquitos have been around for 170 million years, and don't seem to be going away anytime soon.  But, science has provided some pretty reliable defenses to these pesky creatures: 
  -For years, DEET has proven to be the most effective chemical repellant on the market.  This product also has an excellent safety record; but, I would like to know more about how these products are tested and proven effective for human use.   
  -Other defenses include mosquito traps which emit the substances that mosquitos find attractive, as well as insect shield repellant apparel (for all you outdoorsy folks!).  
   -The author also advises avoiding standing water which tends to attract mosquitos.  

Knowing that there are so many effective defenses towards mosquitos helped put my mind at ease a bit, until I reached the end of the article.  In the final paragraphs, Heubeck discusses various death statistics which correlated with what Ryan's post mentioned a couple days ago.  Heubeck noted how many diseases exist that are associated with mosquitos, such as West Nile virus, dengue fever, and malaria (which is not really present in the US, but affects millions abroad).  I would be interested in finding out which types of mosquitoes carry which type of virus.  How can you tell when you've been infected? 

So, I would like to thank my parents for giving me such great mosquito attracting genes and the makers of DEET for trying to beat those pesky insects! Needless to say, I will be avoiding standing water and physical activity whenever I'm outside on those mosquito-attracting summer days. Any of you guys lucky enough to be a mosquito magnet too? 



I would just like to post a blog saying how excited I am that I won the book in class on Thursday! I will blog again about any interesting quotes I stumble upon while reading.  November 2nd birthdays rock!

There is a reason why Greek is the best type of cuisine to eat and that is because, "Traditional Greek foods like dark leafy veggies, fresh fruit, high-fiber beans, lentils, grains, olive oil, and omega-3-rich fish deliver lots of immune-boosting and cancer-fighting ingredients that cut your risks of heart disease, diabetes, and other diet-related ailments," according to this website.  In fact, according to Harvard University's research, eating this type of diet is associated with 25 percent reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer.  Another reason this cuisine is so good for you is because of how the Greek's eat their food.  Typically, they have small plates and do not over-stuff themselves.  To me, that seems to be the main issue with obesity anyways.  I have always been told that portion-control is the best way to go because eating more plates than you can handle is never a good idea. 

Myths About Pimples

I've always had trouble with pimples. It all started around 7th grade and it hasn't stopped since. There were many ups and downs, but they never seem to go away permanently. I've developed many theories of my own. For instance, I thought there was a correlation of stress and pimples; the more stressed out I am about upcoming tests or whatever, the more pimples I would get. I've heard others tell me things like, if you eat fried foods, you would be prone to pimples. 

Kind of like gargling salt water, I find my skin in a better condition after a trip to the beach. I suppose that the salty beach water is good for my skin? It kind of burns though. 

Well, I found an article busting several myths. 

"Here are the top seven Acne Myths :

1. Popping pimples gets rid of them - no, sorry, that just does not work. When you pop a zit the germs and bacteria that cause it go under your skin. This can cause pain, redness, swelling and even infection. If you keep doing it, another possible problem that can develop is scarring which can be permanent.

2. Chocolate and fried foods cause pimples - although this sounds logical, it is also not true, which is a good thing if you love eating chocolate and the occassional hamburger or fried chicken. No studies have proven this and it may be only a psychological belief that this is true. Of course, it sure will not help if you have greasy hands and wipe them on your face while eating - that will not help.

3. Stress causes blemishes - not true either. Stress is a part of life, more now than likely anytime in history, and certainly a growing up and for that matter, all your life. Do you worry about tests at school, or your performance in sports events, or problems at home ? Will these things cause your body to explode with skin flare-ups ? No, fortunately, this is a falsehood - a good thing too, or we would all be visiting a dermatologist on a regular basis.

4. Exposure to the Sun will eliminate acne - I have to tell you that I too believed this one. The sun will damage your skin and cause it to become dry, burned and irritated and can even put you at risk for skin cancer later in life. This myth came about mostly because as your skin gets a tan, it becomes darker and pimples and zits are less noticeable.

If you need to be out in the sun, use sunscreen with an SPF factor of at least 30 and do not forget to wear sunglasses and a hat.

5. Washing your face as much as possible will clear your skin - not a bad idea to wash your face and the rest of your body on a regular basis too (your family, friends and co-workers will be happy you did - just kidding of course) too, but, this will not by itself do the trick.

Washing your face will remove excess oil, dirt and even dead skin cells, but over-doing it or rough scrubbing will irritate the skin and dry it out, which makes things worse. Wash your face once or twice a day using a mild cleanser and dry your skin with a soft towel.

6. Do not wear makeup - using noncomedogenic (will not clog pores and does not contain perfumes) makeup products in moderation should not be a problem. These products will not clog pores and some even contain contain acne fighting ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.

7. Using more medicine is better - too much acne medicine can irritate and cause your skin to turn red, and may dry it out. Using more over the counter or prescription medication than is recommended will cause more harm than taking none at all. Also, drugs do have side effects like nausea, headaches, and other unpleasant reactions if you overdo it. Best to stick with the directions provided"

After reading through this, I realize that I should probably stop popping pimples. But do you guys have any theories? What do you think is the main cause of pimples? Is it genetic? 


...This is what I might say after receiving a peculiar injection that has been found to cure phobias. Well... at least on goldfish.

Scientists have found a way to cure phobia by switching off a " fear centre" in the brain. They stated that by applying a common anaesthetic directly into the brain curing fears might be possible.

To support this, some scientist in the University of Hiroshima did an experiment on goldfish. The goldfish were taught to become afraid every time a light was flashed. Also, a low-voltage electric shock was applied to them every time the light was flashed, which they learned to associate.

Masayuki Yoshida, Lead researcher Professor said: "The goldfish soon became afraid of the flash of light because, whether or not we actually gave them a shock, they had quicklylearned to expect one. Fear was demonstrated by their heartbeat decreasing, in a similar way to how our heart rate increases when someone gives us a fright".

The goldfish that had the injection administered in the cerebellun with the anaesthetic lidocaine an hour before the experiment began had constant heart rates and no fear when the light was flashed. 

This experiment illustrates how the cerebellum also controls the way fish learn how to be afraid just like in human beings.

I read an article today that related to some of the topics discussed in class.  The article was about an experiment done in the 1940s were the United States government deliberately infected Guatemalan mental patients and prisoners with both Syphilis, and Gonorrhea.  The purpose of the experiment was to test a vaccine against these diseases.  The doctors wanted to see whether penicillin could prevent Syphilis.  At first, it sounds like this could be a beneficial experiment, but the practice turned out to be unethical.  None of the prisoners or patients gave consent and didn't know they were part of the experiment.  The patients were infected with Syphilis from a prostitute and it is unclear whether all the patients recovered.  I think its terrible that our own government would have this much lack of respect for human life.  To secretly give people sexually transmitted diseases and not even make sure the people recover is despicable.  I think that this is a situation where scientists did not do their job correctly, what does everyone else think?


Nothing, Postmortem


Astronomers and physicists can theorize what nothing looks like, but their data often comes from observing after-the-fact phenomena - like exploded supernovae.  This article exemplifies what can happen when theorists try to reconcile older suppositions with new proof.

Biggest Bang.jpg

"All stars balance gravity with pressure. As light elements such as hydrogen fuse in a star's core, the reactions generate photons that press outward, counteracting the pull of gravity. In larger stars, pressure at the core is high enough to fuse heavier elements such as oxygen and carbon, creating more photons. But in stars bigger than 100 solar masses or so, there's a hitch. When oxygen ions begin to fuse with one another, the reaction releases photons that are so energetic, they spontaneously transmute into electron-positron pairs. With no photons, there's no outward pressure--and the star begins to collapse."

What happens next?  According to Scientific American the solar mass can either turn into a "'pulsational' pair-instability supernova," or explode and leave nothing behind.  Before discovering this type of supernova, astronomers argued against the possibility of it even existing.  Now there's visual proof.  

What kind(s) of implications does this finding have for other not-yet-imaged phenomena?  More precisely, what is the relationship between theory and discovery?  It seems to me that theory typically precedes discovery.  Then again, astronomers and physicists often discover new phenomena before having the chance to outfit them with proper theory.  In this chicken vs. egg scenario, is there a way of 'solving the riddle' without accompanying visual proof, or vice versa?

Throughout history and even in today's world, the strongest male in the kingdom was the most attractive to any female. Now whether that has to deal with animals or humans, it carries out some sort of truth. Little did I know, this is even true when it comes to the case of flies. A newly identified species of flies found in Japan shocked my thought of the insect mating world. These flies didn't just fly, no, they danced. But what makes these flies dance? The fact that they have a protrusion shaped like a boxing glove on their legs that effect their flying abilities. Some had these on one leg, while others had it on both.

"One struggles to explain why they are asymmetric - it could mean that this thing sits down on a log and sticks one leg up in the air to attract females," said Adrian Plant, a taxonomist at the National Museum of Wales and one of the study's authors.

The study's authors admitted to needing more research with these flies and more observations to see the exact purpose of these"boxing glove look-alikes that are on their feet. Another purpose of them has even been accumulated that perhaps the flies use these things on their feet to capture prey and display it to their females as sort of bragging rights. In my opinion, I believe that these ornamentations are definitely there to attract the opposite sex, but there are many questions that I ask myself. Does size matter? Is it just a coincidence that they look like boxing gloves or does it mean that they will actually fight for the fairest fly in the land? Is there a certain dance that atracts the female flies more? Apparantly only more research can be done and hopefully, these questions will be answered.

article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/science/28obfly.html?_r=1&ref=science

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