This semester has had its ups and downs for me, personally and campus wide. The ritual of attending this science class on Tuesdays and Thursdays took on a therapeutic angle. Whether it's hearing ridiculous statements in other classes or witnessing people abuse the current sad state of science literacy in the country, Hammond 220 on Tuesdays and Thursdays became a source of comfort. Comforting in that I knew I would always be challenged to think rationally and logically while suppressing the power our intuition has over us.

I came into the class with a love for science, although I'm not sure what a "fan" of science means. I wouldn't call myself that. I do not have the math skills to pursue a field in hard sciences, so I am left in my own area of study to apply my love for all the sciences (namely astronomy because I can reference Pink Floyd on a consistent basis).

Being an International Relations major means I come into contact regularly with politics and global issues. There isn't a field that doesn't incorporate science, so on that end I'm fortunate. Often the political arena is filled with legacies of pseudo-science or just a complete lack of understanding and/or appreciation for science itself. It is frustrating when ignorance is at the core of oppressing others, denying them better lives. Deniers, not skeptics. 

I have to say that the class participation was always great through the comment wall or by raising hands. Being 26 means I am a bit older than the average student and hearing what is important to people younger than me is a very interesting thing. When I hear birth dates creeping into the mid-90s, I almost faint, but I was always compelled at the diversity in questions and observations on the topics discussed. 

I remain skeptical. But that's a good thing.

Now here is something nice for finals:
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Spermurder


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reg-16922.jpgWell, technically it's called spermicide but then again, that's not exactly what's going on with the electromagnetic waves given off by your laptop's WiFi.

In a study conducted by the journal Fertility and Sterility, it was found that sperm, when in close proximity to a laptop connecting wirelessly to the internet, had a tendency to stop swimming and even undergo DNA changes.

While the results of the study seem to be in favor of the WiFi doing damage to the sperm, it still seems a bit overblown to me.  More studies need to be done in order for this to be more conclusive.  And frankly, in my opinion, the results did not account for the male body in the experiment so who is to say that the physical presence of the body would interfere, absorb or dissipate the harmful effects of the electromagnetic radiation on the sperm.

Additionally, it did not claim to have any permanent side effects on the male reproductive system as that had not been a part of the test; only the sperm was tested.  So all we know so far is that sperm SEEMS to be effected when exposed SEPARATELY from the man's body to electromagnetic waves.

So while the bottom line of the article seems to point towards there being a connection and a genuine threat to the reproductive capacities of the male, I would hesitate before panicking and throwing your laptop away from you in a frantic effort to preserve your mother's grandchildren.

Beam Me Up, Scotty


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Well, the original entry was so much better and more informational and all, but the site crashed and deleted the whole thing, so I had to rewrite it in about 3 minutes. Thanks Penn State.

According to this article, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/breakthrough-brings-star-trek-teleport-a-step-closer-451673.html researchers are making headway on teleportation technology.  Through the science of quantum teleportation, researchers have been able to send data 89 miles, which is over 10 times farther than they previously could with this technology.

Before you get too excited, in its current state, there's no way this technology could be used to teleport humans, or even objects.  However, they speculate that it could be used to send important information with a virtually uncrackable code.

What does this mean for humans?  Do you think that we could develop the technology far enough to transport ourselves using teleportation?  The theory of quantum entanglement certainly allows for it, although a whole lot more research needs to be done for that to be possible.

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An article says that passing through a doorway into another room actually can cause a person to forget things.  The example used in the study is that when someone leaves a room to go to the kitchen to get food, the frequently forget what they went into the room for.  In the study performed by the University of Notre Dame, they had participants walk across the room and try to perform memory tasks, then do the same when walking through a doorway into another room.  When they did this, the results showed a significant decrease in basic memory.  They believe that the brain categorizes rooms into "episodes" and once the room is left it becomes harder to access the information from the previous episode.

This is an interested revelation, but it would be more interesting to find out why this happens.  If they could find a reason the brain does this, it could be possible to not only solve the problem, but gain a greater understanding for how the brain processes memory as a whole.  Doing so could actually unlock an answer to people that suffer from more serious amnesia, such as dementia.
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Are there colors that exist that we just can't see? I've read about certain animals that can see in infrared, some snakes, and ultraviolet, bees. These are colors we can't see naturally, but have the scientific tools to see what they see, so technically we can. After surfing the world wide web I didn't exactly find anything directly addressing my question. I did find this article, that explains humans can't see certain combinations of color. This has to do with the way our eyes work. The color combinations in our eyes are blue/yellow, red/green, and black/white. Basically, we can't see a blueish yellow or a greenish red. These combinations explain color blindness. Here is the Ishihara Color Blindness test, which is pretty cool. And here is the definition, right here

There is also the after color effect. Basically if you look at something long enough and then look at, say a blank piece of paper you will see an after effect. We saw this in Psych and its pretty interesting. 
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Now, I have digressed. No one except someone on Yahoo Answers has speculated this. Maybe we just dont have the scientific tools to study this yet, like the super natural. I guess we will just have to wait and see. Do you see what I did there?

Skinny...yet Obese?


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Skinny... yet Obese?

 

 

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We may look at ultra thin people and think, "How can they eat so much fast food and not even partake in one minute of exercise, and still not be obese? The fact of the matter is that they are actually obese. How can this be? They have such a low BMI index! Being slim doesn't mean you're healthy. Thin bodies can still carry plenty of visceral, or intra-abdominal, fat. This means you may have a low BMI, but a high percentage of body fat, leading to problems such as high blood pressure or high blood sugar. Be aware of the warning signs.

 

Warning Sign #1: Your family has a history of heart disease.  An individual whose family has a prominent history of heart disease is more prone for accumulating plaque in the arteries in which this buildup may lead to coronary disease or possibly a heart attack. A parent with an early-age heart attack should be a red flag for you and your siblings, explains Massen, a cardiologist at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital/Texas Heart Institute. "If your father had a heart attack at age 40, that's different from a father with a heart attack at age 65 or a grandfather at 90."

"The more family members you have with [blood vessel] problems, the closer they are related to you, and probably the younger the age when they had their problems -- those are the significant risk factors," says Massen.

 

Warning Sign # 2: You Exercise less than 3 times per week. Exercise is extremely vital to maintaining a healthy body inside and out. Exercise contributes to a healthy blood flow, allowing "fresh" blood to reach all parts of your body, thereby clearing away blocked arteries and allowing for more blood to reach vital organs. Additionally, regular and consistent exercise promotes a healthy youthful look, (which I know many of us are in the prime of our lives and don't need to look any younger). However take this fact: My mother who is turning 50 next year looks the same as she did when she was 20 yrs old How does she do it?  She exercises and follows a healthy diet. I understand that I have no scientific evidence consistent with the fact of my mother's appearance but it does demonstrate a significant correlation. Research shows that you should do cardio first. Published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, one study examined how many calories exercisers burned doing one of four workout combinations: running only, strength training only, running followed by strength training, and strength training followed by running. "Researchers found that while all exercisers experienced a strong "after burn" (a higher rate of calories burned when at rest after exercise) for the two hours after working out, the strength-training and run-strength training groups had the highest exercise after burn of all."

 

 

junk food.jpgWarning Sign #3: You eat fast food and/or junk food more than once a week. You may look thin and trim, but hidden inside, your body is struggling to pump blood through your blocked arteries. You may have the body of a 20yr old but your heart is working as though you were 200 lbs and 40 years old. So please, you may think that if you are thin that you can eat whatever you want. False! You are still harming and affecting the way your body functions and operates. A person with a higher BMI than a thin person may be in way better shape. Yes, they look bigger on the outside but on the inside their blood flow and metabolism is healthier compared to a thin person consuming large amounts of fast food/junk food (anything that isn't simple and basic and over processed).

 

So be safe and watch out for your well- being!

Don't simply think because you are thin it foregoes the need to eat right and exercise.

 

Here is a website that offers the variety of cardio exercises that will really get you into shape!

 

Here is a live link about family history and predisposed diseases.

In Search of Life...


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Since Andrew was talking about the existence of aliens on Tuesday I found this article about how we will go about searching for life on other planets. The Kepler space telescope has been searching for planets, and has found over 2000 since its launch on March 7th 2009.

Scientists have proposed 2 new classification systems the first is called the Earth Similarity index, it's basically how close a planet matches earth in terms of size and temperature. This is important because water is essential for life and there needs to be liquid water on the planet. Size is important because a planet that's too small doesn't have enough gravity to support an atmosphere and one that's too large will have too much gravity and crush anything on them. This may not be true though, like Andrew said, maybe they didn't' need water and aren't carbon-based.

The second is the Planetary Habitability Index, this one looks for solid surface, and if it has an atmosphere, it bypasses the Earth-centric thought about life.  It's a lot more wide-open in terms of the planets we can look for and it may be the system of the future because life may have been able to evolve in different conditions than earth.

I'm hoping that these mission are a success....I really want to find a habitable planet, or even better one with life.

 

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It was Pamela Anderson who said that chocolate was better than sex. Well, there is proof now that chocolate is better than at least kissing.

 

Dr. David Lewis, a neuropathologist, led a study in which he gathered 12 young adults and hooked them up to electrodes and had their heart rates measured as they consumed dark chocolate and as they kissed their partners they were in a relationship with. The electrodes were placed on the tops of their heads in order to observe their brain activity and heart monitors were used to measure their heart activity. Without chewing the chocolate, the volunteers the scientists know when it began to melt. Then, the couples came into the lab to kiss each other. Lewis found that as the dark chocolate melted on their tongues, it caused a buzz that in a lot of cases, last 4 times longer than the buzz from the make-out session. If that wasn't crazy enough, the scientists noticed that as the chocolate slowly to melt on their tongues, all of the regions of the brain received an intense spark that blasted away the kind of boost the volunteers got from kissing. The article said in spite of the opinion that women like chocolate more than men, the effects were equal in both sexes. Dr. Lewis was very surprised by the results. He said, " While we fully expected chocolate--especially dark chocolate-- to increase heart rates due to the fact it contains some highly stimulating substances, both the length of the increase together with the powerful effects it had on the mind were something none of us anticipated." It also said that chocolate contains a number of substances that give 'natural highs', including phenylethylamine, which is produced by the body when people are in love, and theobromine. It also contains caffeine.

 

Love of all things chocolate isn't just a modern thing: the Mayans had a sweet tooth for it too. According to this site, "were the first true chocolate aficionados, treasuring cacao as a restorative, mood-enhancing cure-all.  It became an integral part of their society, used in ceremonies, given as gifts and incorporated into their mythologies. Burial tombs have been found that contain offerings, including ancient potteries that bear witness to cacao's importance.  The vases are covered with paintings showing Mayan gods fighting over beans and kings waiting to be served cacao creations.

 


  Okay, so chicks like chocolate and our love of chocolate goes back centuries. So the next question is, does eating chocolate help your sex life? According to this article, yes! There are researchers who claim that women who eat candy chocolate actually have a better sex life than women who do not. The research shows that chocolate eating females have higher levels of desire, higher levels of arousal and obtain more satisfaction from their sex lives. Thus, chocolate or chocolate bars have a positive physiological effect on women. Dark chocolate is particularly being connected with a healthy sex life. Researchers always believe that there are other added effects of chocolate like reducing anxiety and helping a woman through her period.


So ladies, even men, next time your feeling stressed or even if you want to spice up your sex life, don't feel so guilty about unwrapping that next chocolate bar. I mean, its for your health...

    It's no secret that climate change isn't a uniform occurrence over the whole planet, different parts of the globe are experiencing changes in temperature and other climate factors faster than others.  One of the hardest hit parts of the globe is the Arctic region which, as I'm sure many of you know, has been experiencing rapid increases in temperature and this change is having a profound, noticeable effect on the environment.

    Below is a NASA image of the North Pole in 1980 and 2003 and the decrease in ice coverage is easy to see, about 1.6 million km^2 less.    Source.

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    An article on Reuters today titled, "Whales win, walruses lose in warmer Arctic" guided me to a great piece of global warming literature that's put out every year.  The Arctic Report Card has been released annually since 2006, and this years was prepared with the work of 121 scientists from 14 different countries.  The report card gives an extremely in depth look at what is happening in the arctic especially in regards to the effects of global warming.  The Reuters article summarizes some of the more interesting findings and highlights a lot of the important stuff.

    One of the most astounding findings is the rise in average temperature of 2.5 degrees F since the baseline average from 30 years ago.  2.5 degrees may not sound like much but it is more than enough to have drastic repercussions on a delicate earth ecosystem.  The report states that the decrease in reflective surface ice and the increase in heat-absorbing deep ocean water will feed off of each other to only make the problem worse.  Likewise, all of that lost ice will cause global temperatures to rise because the Arctic ice has long acted as a sort of air conditioner for the world.  

    As profound an effect that these developments may have on the rest of the world, the damage being to the Arctic already is still considerable.  The scientists routinely referred to "a new normal" for the Arctic, in the sense that the changes that have occurred may never go away and that at least for now they are the new norm.  These changed include an increase in tundra vegetation, particularly taller shrubs and grasses that will out-compete the successful mosses and lichens that grow there now.  The loss of sea ice weighs most heavily on polar bears and walruses who relied on the ice for hunting.  Without it, or at least with such a drastic loss, these animals will have to adapt to new ways of life or face extinction.

   The report does detail a few silver linings if you want to call them that.  The warmer waters and decrease in ice is actually good for the many species of whales that migrate to and from the arctic.  They have access to more parts of the arctic ocean and can stay longer thanks to the higher temperatures.  The report also points out that these changes can have some pluses for humans as well.  Greater access to shipping routes and easier travel for tourists were the most prominent ones.


The Price of Mono


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Mono is a serious illness that plagues many young adults, especially those in college.  A few days ago, I went to the doctors because I was sick and found out that I have mono so I am currently at home resting until I get better.  And I can tell you firsthand, mono is no fun. 

 

Mononucleosis, also known as mono or the Kissing Disease is a common illness that can leave those infected feeling weak for weeks and even months.  Mono is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus.  It is most often seen in young adults.  Children can get the virus but it usually goes unnoticed since the symptoms are mild.  Older adults do not usually get mono because they eventually become immune to it.

 

Mono is spread through contact with saliva, mucus from the nose and mouth, and sometimes tears.  The virus can be spread through kissing so it has been nicknamed the kissing disease.  If you have mono, avoid spreading the illness by not kissing anyone or sharing drinking glasses, eating utensils, or toothbrushes. Basically anything that touches your mouth.

 

Once you get mono, you won't get it again and the symptoms go away for good.  But the virus can still be spread as the virus becomes active from time to time.

 

The most common symptoms of mono are a severe sore throat, swollen glands and tonsils, high fever, inability or difficulty swallowing, weakness and fatigue.  These symptoms start four to six weeks after you become exposed to the virus.  Mono also caused your spleen to enlarge.  Severe pain in your upper left abdomen means your spleen has burst and that could be life-threatening if not treated immediately.  All the symptoms besides weakness and fatigue usually go away after 3-4 weeks.  The fatigue and weakness may last several weeks to several months.

 

Mono is diagnosed and confirmed by a blood test.  Self-care is the main treatment for mono.  You need to get plenty of rest and may even have to be on bed rest which may keep you from school or work for a while, like me.  Avoid heavy-lifting and contact sports because these may also cause your spleen to burst.  Take acetaminophen and ibuprofen to relieve sore throats and headaches and reduce fevers.

 

So basically avoid getting mono at all costs.  Do not share drinks with people or kiss someone you think may be infected.  It's not fun to be sitting at home doing nothing all day because you have to rest.  Since it is so prevelant in college students, we need to be extra cautious and be aware of the causes.

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