Ask Questions


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Looking at your blogs, it seems that half of you are asking open questions at the end of your posts. Make sure that you ask in depth questions--a large portion of your blog grade comes from comments, so give your classmates a chance to respond to something concrete. Something other than a "yes" or "no" question is preferable.

In addition, while you guys are looking up very interesting articles and doing great research, try not to just present the facts. I mean, it's easy enough to google the difference between organic and non-organic food, but your job is to take a certain angle on it. I've found that writing blogs from an "either/or" standpoint works best. So there may be a food that is good for our bodies, but has negative effects on the environment.

I know I've stressed human behavior blogs, but for those interested in psychology, those posts work great because we cannot reach a definitive decision about what motivates each individual. We can make close estimations, but there is a constant grey area. For instance, being in college, I'm sure many of you have thought about what it means to be successful and how we can motivate ourselves to keep pushing? This triggers the question: are we more likely to be successful from fear of failing (i.e. not being able to find a job/house/marriage) or from passion for a certain activity/the need to follow that career?

Food for thought. Maybe some of you can blog about it. It's a question that has been bugging me for weeks.

Happy blogging! :)

Hybrids


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Everyone has heard of them as being the best car out there, mainly cause of gas prices. Hybrids are sweeping the nation, but are we really doing better for our environment by using them, or are they doing more harm than good?

According to The Week, the worst part of hybrids is their production process. In the process of making the batteries, a lot of carbon emissions are produced. And, compared to a normal car with one battery, hybrids need many. This being said, however, when they are actually running they emit way less, and if a better way of producing the batteries can be found, they really will be healthier for the environment.

However, you can find a link on this page that proves otherwise. While those emissions may be bad, in the long run hybrid cars really do save quite a bit of the environment. In fact, the website states that the fuel savings you get outweigh the emissions by quite a bit.

Is it worth it still to buy these cars though? I thought they were expensive, but again, I was proved wrong. They are reasonably priced, and continue to drop as they become even more of "old news".

Should we be more careful with the battery production? Is there any form of more efficient way to produce these batteries that make hybrids truly environmentally safe?

I hope so, because the Honda Civic hybrid is on the top of my wishlist; saving the planet is up there, too.

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Break-Ups


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People everywhere are breaking up, just in time for the holidays. And the more couples I see parting ways, the more I notice that the girl always seems more miserable. This raised a few questions in my head.

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1) Do boys tend to break up with girls more than the other way around?

Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything on this really, but if so that could be a possible explanation for my next question.

2) Why are girls seemingly more upset than guys? And why does it also seem to take girls longer to get over the relationship?

There are quite a few different explanations for this, but a few of my favorite can be found in this article. The one I hadn't thought of that really seemed like a "duh" moment for me is the first: Guys are typically pressured to go out and explore their options by friends much sooner than girls. This can speed up the healing process for them. Also, because they're afraid of judgement from friends, males will tend to put on a braver face so that it seems like they're moving on... even if they're not.

Another thing that I know I have at least thought of is the fact that guys will use a rebound to make themselves feel better and move on, as a writer in the Huffington Post says. Since they can't cry to their friends or family about it because it would "ruin their macho image", they decide that they have to move on quickly to avoid seeming like their break up is bothering them (which it, in fact, is).

A theory that was presented to me by a friend that actually makes some sense, though I can't find any evidence of it, actually relates the speed of moving-on to our primal instincts. Males animals, for example, are destined to just reproduce. Many will move from female to female without even sticking around for the birth of the offspring. Females, on the other hand, are born to nurture, to care. Even female animals that are with a mate that moves to different people will often only stay with that original mate (and will not mate again if that one dies). These are their survival instincts and what keeps the species alive. In the case of break-ups, humans could possibly have the same subconscious instincts.

Is there any evidence of this being possible? Do YOU think it's possible? I'm not sure, but it would make me feel a little bit better to know that when I'm falling apart, there's an actual scientific reason why the guy isn't.



Pregnancy Tests


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While browsing Andrew's blog and looking to see all of the posts that I missed (I'm pretty sure I haven't looked at the instructor blog more than once this semester), I saw his post about the behavior problems in class. While the comment on the wall about semen on a pregnancy test and skewed the results was very crude and inappropriate, it got me thinking. Could that actually happen?

The first step I took in finding this answer was to look at the science behind a pregnancy test. How does it work?

As this website explains, both types of pregnancy tests test for a hormone called hCG or human chorionic gonadotropin, whether in the blood or in the urine. Higher levels of this hormone indicate pregnancy.

So does semen have this hormone?

News Medical says it does not. Semen is composed mainly of sperm, fructose, and other enzymes. If you're curious, the full list of what makes up semen can be found here.

Obviously, semen then cannot skew the results of a pregnancy test. But now I am even more curious: What causes those false positives? What can cause elevated levels of hCG other than pregnancy?

JustMommies.com has an interesting article on this very subject. Certain medications, for example, contain hCG as it is useful for fertility conditions. Also, if you have a medical problem (like certain cancers, for example), your hCG levels may be elevated from that. And perhaps the most interesting, one that piques my curiosity even more, is that if there is too much protein in your urine, the test could also come up possible.

I haven't been able to find much information on this, so maybe you guys can. Is there any definitive explanation for as to why protein will show on a pregnancy test as elevated hCG levels? Also, given these abilities for a false positive, should you trust an at-home pregnancy test or just go to the doctors?


Emotions in Animals


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After reading an interesting blog on whether or not animals could communicate with humans, I started to wonder if animals have emotions. I know they can feel things like hunger, obviously, but can they be happy or mad or sad? There are times when I can almost see the smile on my cats face, and others when I think she's glaring at me across the room, but am I just imagining these things?

New studies on rats are suggesting that I am not. In this particular case, when two rats were placed in a cage with one of them trapped in an uncomfortably small box, the free rat would ignore treats also placed in the cage to try and help the other one get out. Astonishingly, the free rat would save some of the treats as well for the other rat to eat once it was free. There was no reward for freeing the other rat, which leads researchers (and myself!) to believe that there is no other explanation other than feelings. The free rat feels bad for the caged rat, and gets relief from setting his or her companion free.

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Some scientific proof that animals are capable of emotions lies in their brains. As this article points out, human brains have spindle cells which are known to play a key roll in processing emotions. Scientists are now finding that these spindle cells are also present in the same regions of the brain in animals. These regions are responsible for empathy, intuition, and social skills. As of yet, researchers have only found them in whales, apes, and a few other animals, but who knows if they are in even more and yet to be discovered?

Many scientists are still in debate about this, but what about you? Do you think animals have emotions? Or are they just acting on instinct and not really feeling?

As for me, I'll choose to believe that my cat loves me as much as I love her.

Underage Drinking


| 1 Comment
I was reading a few blogs about the effects of drinking, and it got me thinking. I know that they say younger people just don't have the rationality to drink safely, and that is why the drinking age is 21. However, I was curious to know, is there something scientific behind it, too?

This article reminded me of Andrew's lecture on the benefits of antibiotics. It points out that the age laws of anything are based upon weighing the risks and the benefits out of doing such a thing at that age. The article also answers my question fairly straightforwardly: The brain is known to continue to develop into your mid-twenties, so drinking can cause developmental problems.

Drinking (especially heavily) can affect the brain in many ways. I found another article that describes some of the most obvious.

Not only does heavy drinking destroy brain cells (and the links between them) and slow development of key areas of the brain, but it also causes damage in people who wouldn't be considered alcoholics! While this may not completely get rid of the brain cells, it does lessen the quality of the connections between them (the white matter) which is how the brain gets information around all the different sections as well as to the rest of the body.

 

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 On the less scientific side, the original article does point out the interesting fact that the younger you are, the more likely you are to act impulsively. This being said, if your mind is already impaired by alcohol, you are going to make even riskier decisions.

As sad as it is to admit it, yes I have drank and yes I am underage. Was it worth the risk? Probably not. But is there really that much of a difference between 18 and 21, especially if your brain is continuing to develop until your MID twenties, a few years after you become legal?

We've all heard of Four Lokos (or "blackout in a can") and the drama surrounding them when they first came out. I'm sure many of you have had one, or a redbull and vodka, or have just had an energy drink before a night of partying. This is dangerous to our systems though.

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Caffeine tricks the body into thinking it is actually more sober than it is. If you think you are more sober than you actually are you are going to drink more than you normally would and this could lead to alcohol poisoning. Also, if you think you are more sober than you really are you are more likely to do something like drive your car when in fact you're really in no position to do that and it could be extremely dangerous to yourself and others.

The energy drinks don't affect how alcohol affects your body it only affects the way you perceive it. You think you're less impaired than you really are. The feeling is called "wide awake and drunk". Energy drinks also have a lot more caffeine than a regular soda; about three times more.

http://www.drugfree.org/join-together/alcohol/combining-energy-drinks-with-alcohol-more-dangerous-than-drinking-alcohol-alone

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/alcohol-abuse/news/20100212/dangerous-cocktail-energy-drinks-alcohol

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/dangers-alcoholic-energy-drinks/story?id=13384522

Many girls who have naturally curly, wavy, or frizzy hair have started looking into getting keratin treatments at their local hair salons.

Keratin is naturally found in "fibrous structural protein of hair, nails, horn, hoofs, wool, feathers, and of the epithelial cells in the outermost layers of the skin" In this post I will be focusing on Keratin in hair.

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It is the addition of more keratin to ones hair that makes the "keratin treatment" so worth the expense. Yes, keratin treatments are very expensive (ranging from $200-$400) but it is most definitely worth it. Although during the 90 minutes process (give or take depending on the length of your hair), it is not the product that decides whether it will be beneficial to your hair's strength. To summarize New York dermatologist Neil Sadick, MD beliefs, he simply explains that the amount of time the treatment lasts all depends on the straightening iron used to seal the treatment you first got.

Keratin treatments not only save the hair particles from undergoing as much damage as they normally would but also saves time. It shortens your time blow drying your hair by 40-60 percent and with that takes the blasting heat off of the hair particles for that amount of time too. Hand in hand with that, the amount of time, and degree of heat of straightening your hair is also shortened.


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Keratin treatments help control hair that at times may seem like it is unable to be tamed. I have not gotten one of these treatments, but after doing research on it, it seems to be something I may want to do in the near future. I have naturally curly hair that frizzes without product. To make getting ready easier, getting a keratin treatment can help! Would you pay the expense? 


Many girls who have naturally curly, wavy, or frizzy hair have started looking into getting keratin treatments at their local hair salons.

Keratin is naturally found in "fibrous structural protein of hair, nails, horn, hoofs, wool, feathers, and of the epithelial cells in the outermost layers of the skin" In this post I will be focusing on Keratin in hair.

keratin-hair-straightening.png

It is the addition of more keratin to ones hair that makes the "keratin treatment" so worth the expense. Yes, keratin treatments are very expensive (ranging from $200-$400) but it is most definitely worth it. Although during the 90 minutes process (give or take depending on the length of your hair), it is not the product that decides whether it will be beneficial to your hair's strength. To summarize New York dermatologist Neil Sadick, MD beliefs, he simply explains that the amount of time the treatment lasts all depends on the straightening iron used to seal the treatment you first got.

Keratin treatments not only save the hair particles from undergoing as much damage as they normally would but also saves time. It shortens your time blow drying your hair by 40-60 percent and with that takes the blasting heat off of the hair particles for that amount of time too. Hand in hand with that, the amount of time, and degree of heat of straightening your hair is also shortened.


a7.jpg
Keratin treatments help control hair that at times may seem like it is unable to be tamed. I have not gotten one of these treatments, but after doing research on it, it seems to be something I may want to do in the near future. I have naturally curly hair that frizzes without product. To make getting ready easier, getting a keratin treatment can help! Would you pay the expense? 


I'm pretty lucky in that my grandparents on my dad's side of the family "sharp" for their age.  They keep up with current events, my grandma has an iPad (though I'm not sure she knows how to use it), and my grandfather is always on his laptop.  They are still do some of the weird things that old people tend to do, but for the most part, they're the youngest 78 and 79 year olds that I know.

So, while looking for articles, it made me sad to stumble across this particular one because it made me immediately think of my grandparents.  Despite their ability to keep up with society and not hang too much in the past, are they more at risk of being scammed than someone like my sister or I?
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image citation: http://www.trbimg.com/img-50bd0cce/turbine/la-sci-sn-elderly-people-scams-brain-study-201-001/600


The article I'm referring to was published in ScienceMag, but I saw similar articles on various other news sites.  Basically the article makes this very assumption that I was talking about, stating that older people are less likely to spot people who are untrustworthy as a result of a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  They argue that this is mostly because older people tend to see the glass as half full and do not overreact to small problems that a teenager or young adult would.  They are more rational-- but sometimes this lends them to be more naive when it comes to scams.


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