September 2013 Archives

I noticed that when I exercise a lot my knees tend to hurt. This always confuses me because exercising is supposed to be good for you, but yet when I finish exercising my body tends to feel worse. It is known that exercising is good for people, but is it possible for it to have the opposite affect? 

 Exercising, in general, is healthy for people, but too much exercise is not a good thing. According to Kathleen Doheny, running marathons and triathlons can damage people's cardio after years of running. Any over intense activity that people train for can also damage the heart's chambers by stretching it. Training can really damage the right ventricle by not being able to pump as fast as usual. However, after training these things can go back to normal. This article goes to state that if the training is so intense sometimes it can leave permanent damage such as scarring, stiffening, or stretching of the heart. 

 A study was done which showed that the marathon runners had a higher risk of their heart scarring than those who did not run marathons. These runners were also more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than those who do not participate in over intense exercises. Another article states that exercise can ruin people's joints and cause people to age. Many runners end up with tendonitis which is friction within the joints. Your body and organs can begin to fail from too much exercise which causes people to look older than they really are.

 Does this mean that you should not exercise? Of course not! Researchers proved that people who did not exercise have a higher risk of death compared to those who exercise in moderation. Moderation is key! runner.jpg

Feeling Sad? Eat.


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            It isn't until after you go away to college that you really can appreciate a home-cooked meal. This past weekend, I couldn't wait to head back to my hometown to can for THON, and I certainly couldn't have been more excited for my mom's cooking. Despite the lack of sleep over the past two days, I found myself in an overall excellent mood. Interestingly enough, science claims that my consistent happiness could have been due to the delicious food I was eating non-stop all weekend.

Thanks to the work of neurobiologist Norman Salem, Jr., Ph.D., we know today that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a particular type of omega-3 fat, is prevalent in the brain. Miraculously, our brains do not produce DHA - we get it entirely from the foods we eat. Joe Hibbeln was shocked by this discovery and suggested that too much or too little intake of these fats can affect the way our brain operates - and he was right.

Low omega-3 levels can lead to a reduced amount of dopamine, therefore making it impossible for dopamine to fulfill the ""reward" chemical that the brain releases in response to pleasurable experiences." Basically, straying away from foods that make us happy can lead to negative emotions, such as depression. Scientifically speaking, "serotonin is the neurotransmitter most linked to happiness, since you need it to regulate sleep and pain. It's also a powerhouse at counteracting excitatory neurotransmitters." These excitatory neurotransmitters stimulate our body and mind; the more neurotransmitters a food's compounds can produce, the "happier" it makes us.

It seems too good to be true that a gourmet meal or dessert can turn a bad day around, and to be honest, it is. Food does make us happy, and a lot of the reasoning is behind comfort eating, which "work[s] at a molecular level to lift our mood" when we are feeling down. Comfort eating can also lead to serious problems like obesity; people become addicted the "high" feeling food gives them the same way that drug addicts are addicted to the "high" due to drug abuse.

I don't think I'm addicted to food, but I do love to eat. I'll admit it; being at home this past weekend may have lead to me comfort eat a little bit too much... However, I've never felt like I was eating in a way that was out of my control. To avoid the dangers of excessive comfort eating, everyone must understand the basic fact that food can be addictive. All in all, a good meal never fails to put me in a good mood, and I'm just glad to know that I'm not the only one - it's scientifically proven! 

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Is Honey Good for You?


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Waking up with a sore throat is just about the worst thing ever. The only thing that soothes my sore throat is tea with a ton of honey. Honey always seemed to do the trick for me. I was once told honey was good for us, and if so then why is honey good for us? 

  According to Benefits of Honey  honey contains many vitamins such as B6, thiamin, amino acids, riboflavin, and many more. Honey also contains calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and potassium which all is very good for you. Not only does it contain these vitamins and minerals, but even the sugar in honey is not bad for you. The sugars help with digestion since they go in through the blood stream. I also found from research that honey helps cure the sick. Honey can get rid of the harmful chemicals that could possibly even result in cancer according to this website. Many people all over use honey to cure others. Honey is used also to help the skin with aging and dryness. It is used in different lotions and even hair care products to hydrate dry hair. Another website states that honey is now being used more commonly for treatment.  Honey is even used to help wounds heal.  Researchers looked at 18 different studies on honey that was used as treatment in the past 60 years and found that is helped people's wounds heal even the ones that were infected.  Is 18 studies enough to prove that using honey can be very beneficial?  This might not have convinced me but as i read on i found that honey was even shown to help people who were burned.  This article says, "Researchers in India found that when burn victims' wounds were treated with honey, they experienced less pain and scarring than those treated with more conventional medications."  All of this had me convinced that honey was good for us, but is this really the case? 

  According to Authority Nutritionhoney may be better than sugar, but it is still not good for you. Studies have been done that prove that honey is not good for people who are diabetic because their blood glucose levels raised, but did help as far as cholesterol goes. Also, the amount of fructose in honey is very high. However, a study was done on rats showing that the rats who were fed honey were less likely to gain weight, less stressed, and had lower triglycerides than those that were fed real sugar and fructose. For the rats, honey seemed to not be so bad. 

 With this being said, then is honey good for you or bad for you? The answer would be honey in small moderations is not bad for you. Honey is a good substitute for sugar because it is healthier, but too much of it is never a good thing especially for diabetic and over weight people.  As far as using honey to substitute for certain medicines, I say why not.  Research proves that it can help your skin, help with wounds, and burns.  Are you willing to try using honey?  

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Effects of Agent Orange


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I'm sure all of you have learned about the use of agent orange in the Vietnam War. To remind you, agent orange was an herbicide used by the U.S. military from 1962-1975 in an attempt to destroy the forests in Vietnam and Cambodia, which were used as cover for the Viet Cong, as well as the crops grown for the peasants in these countries. This forced the peasants to flee to cities that were being controlled by the U.S. military and as a result, the Viet Cong had a significantly decreased amount of food supply.

My father was drafted to serve in the U.S. Army in Vietnam between 1967-1969, which means he had high exposure to agent orange. I have an older sister who was born with Spina Bifida, which is a birth defect known to be caused by dioxin/agent orange. Veterans who were exposed to this herbicide have an increased chance of getting these diseases: Al Amyloidosis, chronic B-cell Leukemia, Chloracne, Diabetes Type II, Hodgkin's Disease, Ischemic Heart Disease, Multiple Myeloma, Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Parkinson's Disease, Peripheral Neuropathy (early onset), Porphyria Cutanea Tarda, prostate cancer, respiratory cancers, and soft tissue sarcomas, and many more. There is also a long list of birth defects associated with children and grandchildren of Vietnam Veterans. This list includes, but is not limited to Spina Bifida, Achondroplasia, cleft lip, cleft palate, congenital heart disease, congenital talipses equinovarus (clubfoot), esophageal and intestinal atresia, Hallerman-Streiff Syndrome, hip dysplasia, Hischprung's Disease, hydrocephalus due to aqueductal stenosis, hypospadias, imperforate anus, neural tube defects, Poland Syndrome (webbed fingers), Pyloric Stenosis, Syndactyly, Tracheosophageal Fistula, undescended testicles, and Williams Syndrome (thyroid defects).

So the question that remains is why did Agent Orange cause so many defects. Agent Orange is made from two herbicides: 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T, which was contagent orange.jpgaminated with a dioxin.

A dioxin is a highly toxic compound. This combination caused multiple gene mutations and chromosomal abberations (found in several experiments). Unfortunately, millions of people in both the United States of America and Vietnam are still dealing with the devastating effects of Agent Orange today. For more information, take a look at some of the links below.

Veteran's Diseases Associated with Agent Orange:

http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/diseases.asp

Information about Agent Orange:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agent_Orange#Use_in_the_Vietnam_War

Children of Vietnam Vet's Exposed to Agent Orange:

http://covvha.net/

http://www.vva.org/Guides/AgentOrangeGuide.pdf

 


cRaZy SKinNy


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Woman all over the country are constantly trying to lose weight or remain skinny. People have this idea or image in their minds that woman need to look a certain way to look "good". Overweight woman are looked down upon and sometimes men won't even look at them. I find it interesting that in other countries being overweight is beautiful. According to the World of Psychology "80 percent of women in the U.S. are dissatisfied with their appetence". In the 1800's woman's bodies were supposed to be big and strong but as later generations have come and gone now women see thin as the new in. Women who are overweight are viewed negatively because they may "lack self-control". In recent years we have all witnessed women go through crazy eating habits and changes. Many women will go to extremes to stay thin or become skinny. 

 Many women believe they should be skinny because of what society has created for us. Women all over the country watch TV shows, movies, read magazines and are influenced by what the media perceives as "beautiful". Before women would look up to women who were normal size, now they look up to celebrities who of course have a strict diet and personal trainers all of the time. Lots of young girls are faced with the issue of watching their weight. This way of thinking leads to eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. I have had many friends and family members struggle with this. Even when I was in the 7th grade I would only eat Honey Bunches of Oats cereal, and lost 8 pounds. No young girl should be thinking about that. "According to the National Eating Disorders Association, 42 percent of first- to third-grade girls want to lose weight, and 81 percent of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat.

 Women also worry that men will only find them attractive if they meet the quota for being thin. Honestly, most men prefer average size women. They do not like women to be too thin. It's just unattractive. I personally always watch the foods I eat because I want to stay fit. However, I do also eat what I want and simply work out. I would give this advice to any girl out there. Eat what you want, work out, and you'll feel great!

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Imagine showing up at the hospital, all signs of pregnancy, thinking you're about to give birth. You're rushed into a room by a doctor to find out you're not really pregnant. Pseudocyesis or false pregnancy is the appearance of physiological signs of pregnancy without conception. One to six for every 22,000 births is a case of this false pregnancy. It is even possible for patients with this disorder to test positive on pregnancy tests. All pregnancy symptoms can be prevalent  except you will not hear heart tones from the fetus, you will not see the fetus in an ultrasound, and there is clearly no delivery of a baby. 

There are plenty of psychological theories about this condition, although much is just speculation at the moment. Dating back to Sigmund Freud, his most famous patient, Anna O thought she was indeed pregnant with the baby or her previous psychoanalyst. Freud linked it to transference which the the strong attachment of patients to their psychoanalysts. Other psychiatrists, in more recent years, believe that women who desperately want to become pregnant or have a strong attachment to a family member's pregnancy are the ones who develop this issue. 

Opposed to the psychological view, there is also the biological explanation. Many patients have increases levels of hormones such as estrogen and prolactin which are hormones that cause physical symptoms of abnormal swelling and milk excretion. There can also form the psychological symptoms such as just wanting to bond with the baby. 

Putting the psychological and biological views together causes a feedback loop where an initial emotional state causes hormone secretion which causes the affects. There is no positive answer to why pseudocyesis happens due to the complete lack of test subjects, but Dr. Paul Paulman of the University of Nebraska Medical Center hopes to study man individual cases to get a better insight into how the phenomena occurs. No large-scale studies have ever been conducted either and there is a low possibility of that ever happening. It is difficult with such a rare occurrence to document much at all, but I feel it is very probable that this combination of the psychological and biological are very reasonable. As we all know, women are the emotional type and once they have their heart set, convincing their body may not be as hard as we all would have thought. It can really be a very disappointing experience for the women and couples put through this pseudocyesis as they may truly believe in their pregnancy. It can be a scarring event.

Many people have either seen or heard of the movie, Day After Tomorrow. I guess, in a way, it raised somewhat of a short-lived concern among the general public regarding climate change. I say somewhat short-lived because it was drastically exaggerated. I mean, how realistic is the formation of three ice age-like super-storms in a matter of a couple of days across the globe?

 

Scientists have been studying super-storms lately, and after the horrors of Hurricane Katrina and Tropical Storm Sandy, I don't see why they shouldn't. Concerns about climate change have been growing, and not necessarily because of Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth, or Hollywood's Day After Tomorrow. Schools and news stations have talked extensively about global heat rises. I don't even take that many science classes, but anytime it's a hot day, I'll inevitably hear a student talk about how the weather of today is related to the long-term climate of the future.

 

What I'm more concerned about is the long-term effect. What does this mean for various structures? We know full well that the levees didn't hold up against Hurricane Katrina down on the Gulf Coast. I'm pretty sure New Orleans still doesn't know how to rebuild completely. Now THIS ARTICLE doesn't particularly mention any correlation with past disasters to climate change, or any future connection either. It just states that severe weather is coming and hot air promotes air movement and rainy days.


All in all, I'm growing worried about current infrastructures life-span, as well as coastal dependence on commerce worldwide. After seeing Sandy desecrate parts of New Jersey and New York, I'm a little worried about the economical impact alongside the environmental. I mean, I guess we have until 2040 to see the real effects, according to Dr. Diffenbaugh, at least.


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 Picture Source: (http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/the-curious-wavefunction/2013/05/08/climate-change-deniers-and-skeptics-whats-the-difference/)

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Binge Drinking: the consumption of an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period of time; ten or more alcoholic beverages in a single sitting. One drink is defined as a 12-ounce can or bottle of beer, a four-ounce glass of wine,  12-ounce bottle or can of wine cooler, a mixed drink, or shot glass of the equivalent amount. 

Binge drinking has become very common, especially in recent years, among high school teens. For high school seniors, it is reported that one in ten have recently engaged in extreme binge drinking. Specifically young men, students from rural areas, individuals of the white race, and teens from the Midwest are more reported for extreme binge drinking according to the Monitoring the Future Study done by the U-M Institute for Social Research

Extreme binge drinking can put many teens at risk. For one, once teens engage in this enough, they can become accustomed to the amount of alcohol. This can lead to teens needing more to drink to feel the same effects others do at lower consumption of alcohol. It can also cause reckless driving, car accidents, and alcohol poisoning. This binge drinking can explain why hospitalizations for alcohol overdose among teens and young adults are at a high. Besides from the life threatening affects, it can also cause increased rate of blacking out, making choices one would not make when sober or even drinking less, and passing out. 

A survey done in 2012 by this same group reported that one in four people ages nineteen to thirty had consumed ten drinks or more in a row. One in ten people had at least fifteen drinks in a row. Even earlier, in the 1980s, before 21 was the drinking age, more than 40% of high school seniors drank more than five drinks in a row. Binge drinking has been a problem for years and clearly in a large age range, but mainly most common in high school seniors. This is most likely due to the ignorance of teens on the dangerous affects of alcohol. Many do not realize the simple things to prevent this, such as eating before you drink, spacing drinking out, and drinking water between drinks. Binge drinking can be extremely dangerous, especially when done on a regular basis. 

In my opinion, I feel binge drinking can be dangerous in all walks of life, even in college. Those high school students that come to college and have never drank before tend to take it to a whole new level, not knowing limits. Especially at a college like Penn State; we have the most hospital trips due to drugs and alcohol in the country. It makes complete sense that teens would be the individuals with the most issues with this problem, but as people become sad or angry and drink too much, it could truly happen at any age. Everyone should keep track of how much they drink and always be safe, no matter how old they are. 

Psoriasis


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I'm sure many of you have seen people or know of someone with pink, scabby looking stuff on their elbows or legs. So what is this stuff? It's called Psoriasis.

"Scientists believe that at least 10% of the general population inherits one or more of the genes that create a predisposition to psoriasis [and] only 2%-3% of the population develops the disease [on their own]." Scientists have also found that a person has twenty-five genetic variants that makes them able to develop psoriasis diseases. This means that these people inherited psoriasis from the genes their parent(s) carried. Researcher Anne Bowcock and her colleagues from Washington University School of Medicine of St. Louis found a rare mutation in the gene called CARD14 that triggers due to a negative environmental circumstance to the body that results in plaque psoriasis. -("Psoriasis") Environmental circumstances like stress, injury to skin or even medications provoke this disease. Stress causes psoriasis because just like a cut, the immune system sends chemicals that would heal a wound that causes inflammation. The same concept applies when a person is dealing with a lot of stress, the immune system sends chemicals that cause inflammation to the skin ("Stress"). Due to the mutation of CARD14, the protein NF-kappaB develops inflammatory cells faster and sends them to the top layer of the skin. This causes skin cells to quickly mature and create thick, itchy, pink/white patches on the skins surface ("First").

Psoriasis has five different types that a person can develop. Plaque is the most common form. This is the typical red/white patch of Psoriasis found on the back, legs, elbows and scalp. This picture below represents a person with Plaque Psoriasis.

what_is_psoriasis_large.jpgThe second most common form is Guttate Psoriasis that begins during childhood. These are smaller red patches that almost remind one of Chicken Pox. Inverse Psoriasis is found mostly in genitals or body folds like an armpit. It's red without the white scaly part because of the moist environment and usually it's sweat that irritates the psoriasis. Pustular Psoriasis is when blisters evolve from the psoriasis, most commonly found on feet and hands but can cover the body as well. The blisters are full of pus that contains white blood cells. The last type of psoriasis is Erythrodermic, which covers the body and is life-threatening by the body losing protein and fluid. -("Types")

Other health problems can occur due to psoriasis like Psoriatic Arthritis where people feel pain and swelling in their joints, Depression, and Type 2 Diabetes. Cardiovascular Disease has been linked to lab mice who have a similar disease close to psoriasis where "chronic inflammation over large areas of the body led to inflammation in major arteries" but it is still unsure for humans even though the correlation of many patients who have psoriasis are overweight ("National"). Psoriasis can be treated but for most it doesn't go away. Treatments like the use of prescription medications that go through the whole body, topical medications are used mainly for those patients who have mild psoriasis, and UVB light has been found to slow the growth of the cells. -("Topical")

With all the environmental triggers why aren't there more people who do have psoriasis? How can we stop the immune system from overreacting and causing inflammation?

 

Works Cited:

"First Gene linked to common form of psoriasis identified." Washington University in St. Louis. 28 Sept. 2013 <news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/23726.aspx>.

"Health Conditions Associated with Psoriasis." National Psoriasis Foundation. 28 Sept 2013 <www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/related-conditions>.

"National Psoriasis Foundations-Funded Study Discovers How Psoriasis and Cardiovascular Disease Are Connected Shows Treatment Reduces Risk." National Psoriasis Foundation. 28 Sept. 2013 <www.psoriasis.org/news/2012/05/14/NPF-funded-study-shows-connection-between-psoriasis-and-cardiovascular-disease>.

"Psoriasis Causes and Known Triggers." National Psoriasis Foundation. 28 Sept. 2013 <www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/causes>.

"Stress." National Psoriasis Foundation. 28 Sept. 2013 <http://www.psoriasis.org/life-with-psoriasis/stress>.

"Topical Treatments." National Psoriasis Foundation. 28 Sept 2013 <www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/treatments/topicals>.

"Types of Psoriasis." National Psoriasis Foundation. 28 Sept. 2013 <http://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/types>.

Photo of Psoriasis:

<http://www.askdrshah.com/app/psoriasis/images/what_is_psoriasis_large.jpg>.

        There is a new illegal street drug that has recently arrived in the United States. This drug is called crocodile or "krokodil" and it chemically similar to heroin and morphine. The drug got is name from the way it affects addicts. Two things usually happen, which are they get dark, scaly lesions on there skin and the drug starts to eat the addicts alive, like a crocodile.
        In the United States there have been two cases where people have been addicted in Arizona. These are the only cases that the Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Center know as of now. However, this is still very worrying because the drug is known to be highly addictive and to spread like wildfire.
        The drug was first found in Russia a few years ago. It became popular because it was a lot cheaper than heroin, and it could be made in a kitchen. The drug was made by combining codeine with oil, gasoline, paint thinner, or alcohol. 
        Krokodil is injected with a needle but what is freighting is that necrosis, the death and decaying of skin, can happen very quickly after injecting it. The effect of krokodil is about ten times greater than morphine, but also three times as toxic. Addicts that do not quit the drug commonly have gangrene and amputations, and often die after two or three years. Those who do manage to quit are still severely disfigured for life with severe scarring, amputated limbs, bone damage, speech impediments, varying degrees of brain damage, and poor motor skills.
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The picture shown is a very minor reaction to the drug. I did not put in worse reactions because some cannot handle the images. If you do want to check out worse reactions click here.
Source:
I was driving towards Pittsburgh with my family to visit my aunt, uncle and cousins just this past weekend. It's about a two to three hour drive so I wanted to try to get some work done and be productive with my time. About ten minutes into the drive I started to get a headache and feel nausea. This isn't the first time this has happened to me, and every time I get so frustrated. I see my dad in the front seat reading the newspaper the whole trip and not being affected at all. So why and how did I get the unfortunate genes of not being able to do any work at all in the car? It's called motion sickness, which I'm sure many of you have heard of. As I started doing my research on the topic, I came across an article discussing experiments scienctists are doing to understand why motion sickness happens. In short, the researchers put their subjects in a room that simulated swaying back and forth. They put sensors on the subject's head to examine how "wobbly" their body movements were after they experienced the swaying. Some researchers debate this test because it's testing how people get that wobbly feeling and then the get sick. That goes against what you would think would make more sense, which would be people get sick and then you experience that wobbly feeling. Which order of feelings do you think makes more sense?Screen Shot 2013-09-29 at 11.36.31 AM.png
There are, of course, other theories behind why someone could suffer from motion sickness. Perceptual differences has been tested to see its role in people how suffer from motion sickness. Dr. Stoffregen has done experiments with this, and his results show that movement plays a bigger role than perceptual differences. After putting his subjects through motion sickness tests, he saw that the people who suffered from it tended to move more often. Even when they were strapped to a stretcher, they still managed to wiggle their body. However, no where in the article does it mention that the subjects were randomly selected. It doesn't discuss age or gender either. One could assume that the subjects were randomly chosen but you really don't know for sure. So, my question for you is, would you believe Dr. Stoffregen's results?
If you prefer watching video rather than reading, click here to learn more about the idea that perceptual differences causes motion sickness. After watching this video, I find it pretty convincing that perceptual differences is the reason behind motion sickness, but what do you think? What other tests do you think could be done to either prove or disprove one of these theories?

Photo courtesy of ironshrink.com

Our recent lecture examining the dissonance between medicine and science prompted me to look into nonconventional methods of treatment; when dallying the topic, acupuncture usually comes to mind. This well-known practice has been the subject of controversy, and most western medical researchers reject the idea of manipulating, "meridians through which gi vital energy runs," which has been, traditionally, the claimed area of expertise for its Chinese practitioners. 

This post is not about acupuncture, however. If it was, perhaps the following paragraphs would be much, much less offensive and mind-numbingly horrific. That being said, precede at your own risk.

China has had a lengthy history of practicing morally bankrupt methods of nonconventional medicine. Slews of snake oils and illegitimate narcotics have passed through the east, heralding false claims of increased libidos and improved so-and-so. Despite their obvious failings, these products have maintained their popularity over centuries. Even currently, black markets in Asia are circulating tiger penises, which have long been thought to enhance sexual performance.

But if this post was about the misuse of tiger penis, the following paragraphs would perhaps be less off-putting, less jaw-clenchingly awful. (Note that all of the following information was taken from this source.) 

Fetuses. China has them in overabundance, due to its strict adherence to the one-child policy. The next logical step is not to dry them in medical microwaves, ground them into powder, compact that powder into pills and sell those pills as "stamina boosters."

Regardless, this is what has been happening.

Not only does the ethical quandary of cannibalism arise when discussing these pills, but the repercussions of said cannibalism as well (and I do not hesitate in using 'cannibalism' - the pills have been found to be 99.7% human tissue). Neurodegenerative prion diseases, which are usually native to Papua New Guinea, have been endangering places like South Korea, where the product has been seized by local authorities at a staggering rate. 17,500 of the pills have already been confiscated.

Baby consumption on this scale, inadvertent as it may be, is unprecedented, mostly because of our inherent capacity to understand right from wrong.

This incident just goes to show: if there is a market to be made, a market will be made. Whether it be for acupuncture, tiger genitalia, or, well, you know...  

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I Am Watson


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Ever hear of Watson?  The computer from Jeopardy? Well, a brain and a computer may have a number of similarities after all. THIS ARTICLE explains the ability a brain has toward connecting memories with unfamiliar situations.

Science Daily is a news source that specifically writes about science. Students, professors, researchers, and grant givers use this site all the time to discover new and upcoming discoveries. The couple that started the site in 1995 come from science-based backgrounds and have moved their pursuits to creating a website that markets science of the future. From prehistoric life to computerized futures, this site has it all.

Today, I found out that computer programmers created this "pointer system" to do the same thing with computer processes. For example, when the Blue and White Society sends you a weekly reminder that you haven't joined yet, the email typically says your name specifically. This makes the email more personal for recipients, but it doesn't mean that the email was personally written and sent forward. The computer's "pointer system" fills in an empty hole for names in the email. Similar to how our brain acts when remembering a face.

I find it interesting that in one blog, I can write about how technology learns from nature, but in this one, I'm writing about how we're learning of our nature through technology. Even though the technology is still reflecting on the natural traits, it's teaching us just how the nature of our brain works.

This paradigm just shows how interconnected science and nature truly are, and how humanity has embraced this fact to further it's own natural, and sometimes unnatural, existence.

I'm not sure how this research is really going to help further scientific discovery. It could lead to memory manipulations. All in all, I think it looks as though we've grown to be so obsessed with technology that we're starting to compare ourselves to it on a whole new level. Next thing you know, we'll be living like Will Smith in iRobot and have friends and helpers in enhanced "pointer system" operating robots. Maybe not in our life time, but the precursors are definitely there. From this research to the Roomba vacuum cleaners, which seem to have some sort of pointer toward dirt, I can't see droid robots being too far off.


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Picture Source: (http://blogs.plos.org/retort/2011/02/14/how-ibm's-watson-computer-will-excel-at-jeopardy/)

No, I'm not talking about Transformers. Turns out some researchers are looking for help from bees to stabilize micro air vehicles.

When I first read micro air vehicles in THIS ARTICLE, I thought of the world becoming like The Jetsons. A little Google search ended up showing me a flying object looking like a military-esque bug. Even though it's not Bumblebee, the Camaro, bumblebees are in the lab to help shed light on the strategic handling of strong winds.

 

What's interesting to me, is the dependence technology has on nature, along with the forced dependence nature is going to have on technology in time. The irony is that technology alienates people from the natural world. This happens because technology is so unnatural, and is used to find a way to expedite natural processes. For example, it's natural to collect milk and churn it up to make butter. Except nowadays, technology has made it possible for people to not even see the cow, the milk, or even the butter until they unwrap a sealed up package shipped in from a factory.


Adaptation is one of the strongest aspects of nature that humans can learn the most from. Harvard researchers know this and have designed a method to analyze it. When the winds get strong, the bumblebee adapts in a way that a robot has trouble doing. Humans even have trouble understanding what adaptation has to be made to ride with the winds smoothly. It'll be interesting to see a pursuit in creating a robot that uses sensors, rather than using our own decision making to respond to changing wind patterns.


I don't doubt Harvard has the means to make this happen. Colleges make the most of research opportunities, and can ask news sources, such as the BBC to help collect grants by writing about it. This article comes from two very distinguished corporations, but one must realize that it's written not only to entertain and inform the audience, but also to raise awareness of a scientific stride toward the implementation of new technology.


In the end, it's amazing how many things people can learn from studying natural processes, just to apply them to unnatural means. From studying buoyancy factors in aquatic life, to swinging tactics of monkeys, and so on. What happens when nature takes a hit it can't handle and human progress ceases with it?

 

 

 

 


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Picture Source: (http://people.wku.edu/heather.power660/index.html/adaptations/theory.html) 

When was the last time you went shopping and you thought to yourself after seeing an item that has caught your eye "I just GOT to have this!"? This happens a lot in our society with most of the times the item that is being bought is not a need, it is a want. Impulsing buying can be a dangerous thing as it sometimes leads to people buying things that they really didn't need in the first place. A lot of these impulse buys are done by credit cards, so is it easier for people to spend money on things via a credit card then it is to spend using cash?

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The answer to that question is yes, we find it easier to spend money on things when we pay for it via credit/credit cards. Don't just take my word for it, this guide also says that spending with credit helps people splurge on luxury/need items. They say that "A Dunn & Bradstreet study found that people spend 12-18% more when using credit cards than when using cash." (Sound Money Tips). Clearly the one(s) who gain the most from this spending are the credit card company's such as Visa or MasterCard, while the credit card holder is sometimes left with thousands and thousands of dollars in debt. But why do we find it easier to hand over our money so easily when using a credit card? It is easy because of a physiological feeling we get when we either use a card or cash. With cash, you have to physically have the currency on you and you take it out of your wallet or purse to give it away to a seller to acquire the item one desires  With credit cards you hand them your card, they swipe, then it comes right back and you get the item. This gives us the illusion that we didn't need to spend money at all, plus the difference between cash and credit is that cash is gone at the point of sale, while credit basically no cash is deducted at the sale. Although that money that we "did not" have to pay WILL need to be paid later on via a bill. With credit cards we tend to create the illusion that the money was never withdrawn and that the user still has it.

That is where the problem lies sometimes with credit cards. Sure, you may have not had to spend the money right when you got it, but that money STILL has to be paid to someone, and that is the credit card company's. This is where a lot of people struggle with being in debt, they spend a large amount of money on their card and soon run out then keep on spending with money that isn't their's/ they can't pay back and then when the bill is due they can not pay it back and then they are in a large amount of trouble. It is ok to have a credit card and is the only way to build up (or in negative cases destroy) your credit score which allows you to get certain things like cars and houses. But using a credit card comes with a responsibility to pay your dues back, it is not a card that allows you to get free stuff. So the basic rules of the credit card is to spend wisely, shop smart, and pay your bills on time and then you have nothing to worry about when it comes to credit cards. 

Now if you will excuse me, I think I saw a sale over at Amazon for Buy one, Get one free Blu rays.

A lost limb is difficult to recover from. Be it a hand, an arm, a foot or leg, the life of an amputee is often beset by difficulties able-bodied people will never have to experience. Though prosthetics serve to help the handicapped, they are weak substitutes for the genuine article. And with science as it exists today, prospects for technological advancements are grim.

Or are they?

Bionic limbs may seem the subject of science fiction, but researchers working with DARPA (The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) have been developing a new method of moving artificial prosthetics via thought. (Note that the information from the following paragraph was drawn from this source). What once seemed so far-fetched is now a stone's throw from completion.

The concept is not a terribly complex one. It works off of preexisting nerves still in use near the site of amputation. Targeted muscle reinnervation (colloquially known as TMR) allows the wielder to interact with their prosthesis via the aforementioned nerve centers by channeling brain waves that are then intercepted by said reassigned nerves. Here is a video demoing the device.

Testing is planned to continue into 2016, but at the moment, the RIC (Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago) is already gathering candidates to undergo fitting. Details about the process can be found here.

According to the RIC's website, potential users of TMR must meet a strict list of criteria, that of which removes those unfortunate few who were, "born missing part or all of their arm and those suffering nerve damage, degeneration or paralysis..."

Though technology now exists that can assist the average amputee, there will still be those who do not benefit due to extenuating circumstances.

Still, such advancements are cause for celebration. It is no implausible prediction to say that prosthetics might function as well as natural limbs by the year 2020.

By 2030, prosthetics and flesh could be indistinguishable.

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Win McNamee/Getty Images

Nobel Prize Winner Dies


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I came across an article in the New York Times about a Nobel prize winner.  His name is Dr. David Hubel and he, unfortunately, died on Sunday at the age of 87.  The article caught my eye due to Dr. Agre coming in and speaking to our class.  Dr. Hubel was responsible for finding the notion that visual information is processed in the retina.  Dr. Hubel and his partner Dr. Wiesel also found that sensory deprivation at a young age can cause visual birth defects.   They measured the electrical impulses in the visual cortex in order to make the discovery.  

I found the article very interesting because it is not often that we hear about scientific discoveries in everyday life.  However, I never understood why.  Scientific discoveries should be put on a higher stage because they often times relate to the untold mysteries of the world.  I don't understand why people do not find scientific discoveries interesting but I don't think that this cultural norm will change.  Just as Andrew has spoke about in class, scientists often time spend years in order to make one discovery and the hard work that they gave is often times not appreciated.  Even if I do not learn much about actual science in this class, I have already learned to appreciate science and all that it does for society.   

Throughout middle school and high school I had acne. Bad acne. Terrible, awful, painful, embarrassing acne that made me really self conscious about how I looked. My mom did everything, she bought me every cream, soap, scrubber, and system that claimed it would fix my skin. Nothing worked for years. We went to see a dermatologist who prescribed pill after pill, harsh creams, and weird face masks. After years of struggling, we sat down with her and asked "Why isn't anything working?" Her response was to tell us about a miracle acne cure-all, Accutane. Six months from that day I could be nearly acne free. The catch though, and the reason that wasn't the first, second, or third thing we tried, were the side effects.
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That chart doesn't mention birth defects. The birth defects from Accutane are terrifying and dangerous, so every female prescribed the drug has to commit to the iPledge program.

The March of Dimes website lists the potential birth defects as heart defects, intellectual disabilities, cleft palate, ear and eye defects,microcephaly, and hydrocephalus.

Here's my summary of the iPledge program:
The day your dermatologist suggests Accutane and outlines the potential side effects and overall results of the drug, male and female patients sign a document promising not to share the drug with other people, take the drug in any way other than the one prescribed, and not to donate blood. Female patients must also agree to always use two forms of birth control (abstinence, condoms, the pill, etc.)

Female patients will then have blood drawn. The office will make sure you aren't pregnant and check other things such as cholesterol that can be affected by Accutane. They must wait one month, take another pregnancy test and have their other circumstances checked before being administered the drug.

The blood tests and pregnancy tests continue every month until one month after you have stopped taking the drug. It is a pain in the ass but obviously necessary to protect yourself and prevent pregnancy complications and life threatening birth defects.

Read more about the iPledge program here.


I Like Doing My Work Late At Night


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Here I am posting to the blog at almost 5 in the morning. I had a lot of work to do this week and had been trying to get ahead almost all week. Everyday I would try to do my work between classes or after dinner but it never seemed to work because of all the distractions. So tonight I decided to try and do all my work in one sitting and see how that went. I made my way over to the commons around 11-1130 and got to work. As students started to leave one by one I got more and more work done. I have worked for about 5 hours straight and as of right now I have everything due this week completely done. With that being said, I decided to look into late night studying.

According to this article late night studying can be very beneficial, especially when compared to early morning studying. Blood sugar is higher in the evening and increases a persons ability to concentrate. Melatonin for those of us who are used to staying up late peaks around 530, which means that we are the most tired at that time. Besides, I would rather wake up tired without work to do than wake up tired with tests to study for. Going to sleep after studying allows a student to retain information much better than early morning cramming. 

Late night studying is not for everyone. As I wrote in a previous blog, sleep is a key factor in a students productivity and health. I would recommend starting homework right before your usual bed time, but it doesn't always go that smoothly. Next time you have a big test the next day and you have left all of your studying until 1130 the night before, staying up late and being productive may be the best bet to help you absorb the most information possible

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Why Do We Lie?


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Lying. Something that everyone can say they have had an experience with. Lying usually just gets you in trouble or makes you feel guilty. So why do we do it?

There is no exact answer as to why we lie. Reasons why we lie are psychological and include protecting ourselves, trying to look "cool", trying to save someone's feelings, or to avoid punishment. 

Studies have been conducted and there are assumed reasons as to why people lie, but no definite answer. Robert Feldman, a psychologist from the University of Massachusetts, suggests lies occur when people become self-conscious.  Feldman experimented with a group of people and learned that 60% of them lied once during a 10- minute conversation. When you think about that, it is almost scary. Everyone at least has one conversation with someone everyday. How do we know if they are lying, but we just do not know it?

Shaul Shalvi of the University of Amsterdam and Ori Eldar and Yoella Bereby-Meyer of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev also did a study on why people lie. They formed two hypothesizes about why people lie. The first is that people lie because it could be beneficial financially to them. The second hypothesis is "when people are not under time pressure, they are unlikely to lie if there is no opportunity to rationalize their behavior." (2012, Association for Psychological Science). The researchers preformed a single blind experiment at first where the experimenters could not see the die. They gathered 70 adults to roll a die three times and to report the highest roll. The higher the roll, the more money they earned. Some participants were asked to answer within 20 seconds and others were not timed. The second experiment, the participants only had one chance to roll the dice. After the results were in, Shalvi came to the conclusion that both groups lied but the group that lied the most were the ones pressured under time. The conclusion made from this experiment was that people lie more under time pressure. If there is no time pressure, people lie when they have justification to do so.

Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 11.08.29 PM.pngSo what is your reason to lie? Cracking under pressure? Trying to make yourself better? Or just scared of the truth? 

Chit Chat


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If you talk to any guy, they will say girls talk way more than guys, pretty much nonstop. If you ask girls, they will say they talk just as much as guys. So what is the truth? On average, girls talk three times more than guys. Yes, three times more. If you've walked passed South Halls at all the past week or two and heard all of the sorority recruitment going on, this ouldn't be hard for you to believe. You don't even need to be near the buildings to hear the sound of the constant chatter from all those girls cramped into tiny dorm rooms. According to a study done by Dr. Luan Brizendine, women's brains actually have more brain cells directed toward talking than men. If that doesn't surprise you enough, women actually get a buzz out hearing their own voice. If you ask me, it sounds like women are biologically made to be narcissistic. What's the actual science behind this? According to Dr. Brizendine, the difference in the genders happens in the womb. Testosterone actually prohibits some of the growth of the brain, which makes the brain have less cells to devote towards talking.
As we have often discussed in class, a group of scientist conducted a study to find a real reason as to why women talk more. The scientists used rats to test their level of Foxp2. They looked to see which gender had a higher level of it and which gender was more "chatty." When looking at the rats, men had more of the Foxp2 and were more talkative than women. After looking at the rats, the scientists did the study on young children and they found that the girls had more of Foxp2 than the boys, and they were also more talkative. After the study, it was clear that there was some correlation. As I was reading through this study, I couldn't help but think back to the example we talked about in class when scientists used mice to test if worms affect performance. That was a very well done test to try and prove correlation. Since the test for determining the answer to which gender talks more is so similar, I find the results to be pretty reliable, don't you?
My question for you is, do you think men will ever before more talkative than women? If so, what could cause a change in men and women's make up of the brain? For you ladies, do you think you really three times more than the guys you're around? Think about it, three times more is quite a bit, no wonder guys never listen to us girls when we talk.20091211-women-talking-350x263.jpg
Photo courtesy of theheartlinknetwork.com

A new popular alternative to acrylic nails is the gel nail polish. Gel nail polish is said to be less damaging for nails, and it also lasts up to weeks longer than regular nail polish. Upon learning of gel nail polish, I decided to give it a try, and was pleased with the results. My nails seemed thick and strong with the polish on, and also the polish did last significantly longer than regular polish without chipping.

While reading a Huffington Post article about the new craze, gel nail polish, I was disappointed by some facts that have been uncovered about it. Dr. Susan Taylor uncovered five negative side effects of gel nail polish. One can develop a rash known as contact dermatitis because of a certain chemical that some gel nail polishes contain. The chemical is methyl acrylate which can cause a red, itchy skin reaction that can even spread to areas of your body that one might rub, for instance eyelids. A second chemical found in gel nail polish is actually cancer causing.  Butylated hydroxyanisol is found in certain polishes, and can be avoided by checking polish ingredients before application. A third negative side effect and most obvious, is the fact that the polish must be dried using ultraviolet light. UV light is notorious for being connected with skin cancer, and so it is important to realize that any exposure to it is damaging. Now I let my gel polish come off on its own, but if you go to the salon to have them take it off, they will use acetone to rid your nail of the polish. After it is taken off, your nails are weaker and thinner than they were before. So the myth that gel polish makes nails stronger is only true when the gel polish is actually on the nail. So be aware. The final negative effect of gel nail polish that Dr. Taylor uncovered is related to the last effect, in that before gel polish is applied, your nails are filed down to create a smoother surface, for the gel and in turn making your nails ultra-thin. Not just thin, but this could lead to infection according to the article.

So as I jumped on the gel nail polish bandwagon, like a lot of women I know, I feel like some of these negative side effects outweigh the positive ones of gel polish. I am wondering what all you ladies think about this information, and if you have any opinion on the polish craze.

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Do Coupons Make us Spend or Save?


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            I'm sure I'm not the only person who got a bunch of Dunkin Donuts coupons in their mailbox this month. Not going to lie, I was really excited about it... until I saw the money in my bank account going down. Initially I was confused; I thought these coupons were supposed to be saving me money? Could coupons really be making me spend more money?

            After doing some research, I came to the conclusion that coupons may just be the smartest form of advertisement out there. Most of the time, even just seeing coupons "can get you thinking about buying things you might not have otherwise." Advertisements are good exposure for a company, but when coupons are involved, people are more likely to go out and actually spend their money. Coupons can also entice a new customer by offering discounts for "first time visitors" with the intention that these customers will continue to return. 

Additionally, most of the time coupons "offer enticing promotions with a minimum spending requirement." Coupons are usually only valid for a short amount of time, making us feel like a sense of urgency to use them and ultimately leading to more spending.  We find ourselves willing to spend a lot more money in a short amount of time just to save a small amount in the long run - but why? Spending and saving money is all psychological. According to MediaPost, "...coupons play on short-term gratification, introducing the promise of reward, compounded by the dopamine rush that comes from snagging a great deal." Coupons literally give us a "rush" - they make us feel good.

Lastly, consumers who get coupons are more likely to use them within a week of getting them due to the "excitement" and "urgency" caused by them. According to Investopedia, "...three to four weeks later, there might be a sale where the item is 50% off or buy one, get one free. If consumers hold on to their coupons and wait for a sale, they can maximize their savings." Manufacturers know how consumers work and when they are more likely to use their money; however, most consumers do not understand the logic behind manufacturers. Instead of using coupons immediately for a small discount on expensive items, consumers need to learn to just wait for the items to go on sale.

In my case, the Dunkin Donuts coupons I received were only available to be used in September, so I found myself going more often since it is almost the end of the month. Don't get me wrong: I love Dunkin Donuts, but I don't think I would have gone nearly as much as I have recently if I wouldn't have had those coupons. I also started buying items that I had coupons for just so I could get another item discounted. Did I need a breakfast sandwich with my coffee? No, but buying a breakfast sandwich made my coffee cheaper. Was it a lot cheaper? No, but at the time it seemed like a great deal. Then the realization hit me: the more coupons I had, the more often I found myself going to Dunkin, even if it was out of the way.

While I don't agree with the hidden motives behind coupons, I can't blame companies for their "discrete advertising." As college students, any opportunity to save money is appealing; however, we need to understand the hidden dangers behind coupons to avoid being fooled by manufacturers.

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Sleep is Apart of Studying


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How many of have pulled an all-nighter for an exam?  Although the extra hours may be efficient, making yourself exhausted deteriorates your memory capability.  Researchers have discovered that a person that studies and then goes to bed will have a less-clogged mind when taking the exam.  The brain processes information as you are sleeping, which causes people to do better on tests.
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Researches at Harvard completed an experiment where they had students memorize two sets of words.  One group studied the vocabulary at 9 A.M. while the other group did at 9 P.M. before sleeping, and researchers discovered that the group that studied before sleeping memorized the word groups significantly better.

The issue with this experiment is that there is no control group that resembles a normal student that studies at a certain point during the day.  Additionally, the group that memorized the words at 9 A.M. had all day to forget the words because so much goes on in a college student's life. It is a known fact though that a good night sleep does help one do better on an exam because the brain needs to rest, which is crucial.

Harvard researchers are content with this possible discovery, thus "there are sure to be follow-up studies" (GOOD, March 28th, 2012).  It is going to be very interesting to see how this affects a students study habits.  Will they stop with the all-nighters, and just review before going to sleep?  Your brain needs rest, so when studying be sure to plan out time for sleep.   

References:



In my PL SC 419 course (The Bureaucracy), we've been discussing organizational theory. Last week, we specifically looked at the Three Mile Island incident, and the organizational disconnects that led to the human error that produced the partial meltdown. Now, most of us were not yet alive when this disaster happened (my fellow SC 200 classmates), but the view of nuclear power after the partial meltdown at TMI was grim. Even though it produced clean energy, the public wanted no more nuclear power plants to be built because of the possible damage it could cause if something went wrong, like it did on March 28th,1979 at TMI. The fear of a mismanaged plant was greater than the benefit of clean energy without carbon emissions (fossil fuel plants give off carbon emissions). American's problem with nuclear power lied more so in the management aspect of it than the actual technical process.  
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So, 34 years after the partial meltdown, we are finally starting to see nuclear power plants being built. Nuclear power has numerous benefits; it is a clean source of energy, it is a cost effective source of energy, and the technology to develop these plants is readily available. Some drawbacks people see in nuclear power is the disastrous reality if a complete meltdown were to occur (Chernobyl). Another concern is what to do with the radioactive waste that is produced. From a political standpoint, nuclear power plants could become targets of terror attacks, if the attack that happened on the World Trade Center was to happen on a nuclear power plant, the results would be devastating to the entire globe.
Currently, there are many plans for nuclear plants in the process of coming on line.  I believe that nuclear power is a good source to use to produce clean energy. Yes, the radioactive waste is a concern, but it is one that can be dealt with. The carbon emissions from fossil fuel plants are more of a demon than dealing with where to keep the radioactive waste from a nuclear plant. Another reason why I believe nuclear power is beneficial is because the threat of another accident has been greatly reduced since the Three Mile Island partial meltdown. The official report on why the partial meltdown occurred was lack of communication between plants (the valve that failed had also failed in several other instances, but had never led to a meltdown), and because human intervention of the controllers stopped the system from fixing the problem itself. Nuclear power is designed with checks and balances to make sure that if one of the pieces fails, there is a backup mechanism to correct it. When that valve failed, the system had started to fix it by running the water over the core like it was supposed to. It was only when the human controllers shut off the water did the meltdown begin. After the TMI incident, nuclear power plant companies realized they cannot operate a nuclear plant like a fossil fuel plant. They began reforming the managerial system as well as training employees to be knowledgeable in nuclear power to know what to do when something does go wrong.

So, do you feel nuclear power is a good thing? Or that it is simply too risky and we shouldn't be building plants?



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! :)

Does Emergen-C work?


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It's that time of year again when everyone seems to be catching a cold. One of the most common things I've heard from my peers is to take Emergen-C. For those of you who don't know, Emergen-C is a 1,000mg (about 11 glasses of OJ) supplement of vitamin C. 

There is still ongoing research, but nothing has proven that these supplements can cure the common cold. A few years back, the makers of Airborne claimed that it would ward off colds. Without any evidence to prove their product, they got sued for $23.3 million dollars. 

Many professionals have agreed that it is not an effective treatment for the common cold. On the other hand, there is no proof that it is extremely beneficial nor harmful. There is one thing to consider though before taking too much of this supplement. If one takes way too much vitamin C, it can cause side effects like cramps, nausea, and diarrhea. 

One study has shown that taking a daily vitamin C supplement reduced the frequency of catching a cold. This study was conducted by a double-blind, 5 year randomized controlled trial. In the end, they concluded that it reduces the frequency catching a cold, but does not change the duration or severity of the cold. You can find the details of the experiment here.

In conclusion, taking large amounts of vitamin C might reduce the frequency of getting colds, but there is nothing to support that Emergen-C can help prevent or treat sicknesses. 

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Healthier People Pray


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We have been discussing in class if prayer heals and I am not completely sold on the whole thing nor am I completely against the idea. I think that if prayer is what you want to do then you should because it gives you something to hold on to. I was doing some more research into what praying can do for you physically and I came across a very informative article in The Huffington Post.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-schiffman/why-people-who-pray-are-heathier_b_1197313.html

The article states that, "Dr. Herbert Benson, a cardiovascular specialist at Harvard Medical School and a pioneer in the field of mind/ body medicine discovered what he calls "the relaxation response," which occurs during periods of prayer and meditation. At such times, the body's metabolism decreases, the heart rate slows, blood pressure goes down, and our breath becomes calmer and more regular." This reaction can create a sense of control and a feeling of relaxation because the brain waves slow down.

Because of the relaxation felt, this can decrease headaches and stress which can contribute to your chances of being less likely to get an illness. This conclusion is stating that prayer can promote physical health and decrease the chances of getting sick. I think this is an interesting, different side to what we are looking at because this is stating that prayer can prevent sickness which helps convince me that prayer can also help someone who is sick, heal faster.

The only other issue on the subject of if prayer heals or makes you better off physically, is that there could be another factor that is not being looked at. What if people who pray do this because they are physically well, rather than the reversal? I could not find any answer to this question but I definitely think it is an important question to ask. I think an observational experiment of asking people who are physically well versus not well if they pray could show us if there is a correlation the other way around. In class we could also discuss if people who have a better health history are the ones praying versus those who have a bad health history are not praying. I think that this could really change the ball game of our discussions. 

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The Pixel Painter


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Naturally, growing up with technology has allowed me to adjust and really understand why technology is important. Although I have read numerous articles about how social media has made my generation narcissistic and lazy, there are times when I myself even consider that as the truth. 

After watching this video: The Pixel Painter (I would definitely encourage watching it, it is quite moving), I felt like our generation's ways was finally making a difference.

I did some research regarding what Hal Lasko is suffering from, and according to Mayo Clinic, wet macular degeneration is caused from abnormal blood vessels that leak fluid or blood into the Macula. The patient suffers from losing their vision in the center of their vision. By being able to zoom in with Microsoft Paint, he is able to create artwork by using a very small paintbrush tool. It is astounding to learn about things like this in which simple programs allow older people to substitute what they are missing in life. So the next time you hear someone criticize technology, feel free to bring up an example like this.

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In another article, from the NYT, Paula Span talks about the impact technology makes on an elderly's person's needs. The ability for them to talk to other instantly while reading and writing, really caters to their emotional needs. Although it takes them time to learn something new (who doesn't?), it can really make an impact on their lifestyle. 

With this post, I am solely just talking about personal entertainment and satisfaction. I can't even begin to start naming the advancements in medical care and medicines due to technology. With that being said, what other things do you think technology could do for older people?

While reading the USA Today, I came across an article that directly relates to our discussions in class.  The article that those with cancer have a greater risk of survival if they are married concluding that "Married people with cancer were 20% less likely to die from their disease, compared to people who are separated, divorced, widowed or never married, according to study published online Monday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology."

To the average paper reader, the article may be viewed as a historical study that is ground breaking in the science community.  However, as a Sci200 student, one must dive in and further examine the article and its scientific content.  Thinking more and more about the study, I came to the conclusion that this truly could never be proved due to the inability to perform and experiment on humans.  You would have to divide each group up into control, having the disease, married, and/or single for what ever reason.  It is unethical to do so in a scientific environment due to the fact that you cannot make someone have cancer and you also cannot make someone be married. Therefore, the only way that this could be further examined is if more observational studies are done on the subject.  

However, the article also talks about things such as having someone there for you makes you more comfortable, patients that have someone are more likely to get diagnosed at an earlier stage, and that people who are single are more likely to heavily smoke and drink than married people.  All of these variables play into the question of whether or not being married increases your chances of surviving cancer which makes it a very difficult question to scientifically study.      

I can still remember being a little kid when my mom came home with a used Nintendo Entertainment System.  This is one of my earliest memories.  I used to love playing the duck hunter game in Mario, Contra, Mike Tyson's Punch Out, and of course my favorite Super Mario 3.  As I aged so did my progression of consoles in order starting with the Sega Genesis, Nintendo 64, Playstation 2, and currently the Xbox 360.  I've never been a full out gamer, but it's definitely provided me with something to do when I've been bored or provide me and my friends some leisure.  However, kids rarely seem to be encouraged to play video games, so this got me pondering if there are benefits to playing video games.  It may be surprising to some but there are indeed many benefits associated with it.

                This article from The Week actually gave a list of seven ways playing video games can benefit a person, in which I'll name a few.  A big one that stood out for me as a college student is that these games can help reduce stress and depression.  The player is able to take out any pent up aggression out while playing the game, all the while keeping one's mind occupied.  They are also known to relieve pain.  This one sort of relates back to the previous benefit as games can be used as a distraction.  The most surprising one though for me is that video games can improve vision.  This is apparent for first person shooters such as Call of Duty because the attention to detail one must gain during the fast paced action

                An article from ABC gave benefits for young kids and adults.  Video games with educational ties played by 4 to 5 year olds around parents and teachers have been shown to increase in early literary skills.  Another big one for anyone our age or older is that video games can improve our multi-tasking ability.  The perfect example used for this one is the old classic Pac Man.  One if forced to move around a course all the while keeping an eye out for enemies.

                These two articles posted are definitely worth a read as I only gave a few abridged versions of some of the benefits mentioned in them.  However, when you're bored you might as well play some video games and maybe you'll end up a more developed person than you were before.

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"I'll never let go, Jack!"


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            We've all seen the movie, and if you haven't, I highly recommend it. However, I think sometimes we all forget that the Titanic was more than just a movie; it was an actual event in American history. The Titanic (which ironically was created to be "unsinkable") sank on April 14, 1912 and killed 1,517 people in the process. But how did something meant to stay afloat sink completely within 3 hours? There had to be some science behind it.

            Scientists have been examining the reasoning behind the ship's doom for years and have come to the conclusion that it was not due to one specific event. The sinking was a result of "a perfect storm of circumstances" also known as an "event cascade."

The first problem was regarding the construction of the ship; in what appears to have been an effort to save money, "the rivets that held the ship's hull together were not uniform in composition or quality and not been inserted in a uniform fashion." Because of this, the hull part of the ship that hit the iceberg was much weaker than the rest of the Titanic's body, which resulted in serious damage upon impact. Science writer Richard Corefield noted, "...six compartments flooded when, if it had only been four, the ship would not have sunk." If these particular rivets had not been used, the stress that in this case severely damaged the hull of the boat could have been avoided.

Secondly, it is speculated that tides "dislodged icebergs that were stuck in the Labrador Sea, sending more of them toward the waters traversed by the Titanic a couple of months later." In addition, according to historian Tim Maltin, "the air column [from the Labrador Current] was cooling from the bottom up, creating layers of cold air below layers of warmer air," which is known as thermal inversion. This phenomenon causes light to refract in abnormal ways, which can cause a mirage known as a false horizon. Science Illustrated noted, "the mirage between the false horizon and the real one prevented the lookout from seeing the iceberg until it was only a mile away." The "distorted air" also led to communication problems between the Titanic and the Californian (a nearby ship), making it nearly impossible for either ship to see the other's lamp signals.

There are many other reasons why the Titanic sank: the ship was moving too fast, the iceberg warnings were not sent as urgent, the binoculars were locked up, etc. Whatever the case, it's still horrifying to me that thousands of Americans set fourth on a luxurious cruise vacation that took such a horrible turn for the worst. Unfortunately, during the times of the Titanic, nothing could have been done to stop the combination of multiple unfortunate events that lead to this catastrophe. 

How can we prevent tragedies like this from happening? Well, there's no way to guarantee safety at all times, but thankfully our world today is a lot more technologically advanced now than it was back in the days of the Titanic. There were too many small mistakes that were overlooked before sending the Titanic out to sea. It's important that we are prepared for the worst at all times, and the Titanic was definitely not prepared. Everything comes back to science, and many aspects of this tragedy could have been different if things were looked at a bit more in depth. 

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The Celeb We Love to Hate


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Two words and I will have a reaction- Kim Kardashian. Do you like her or do you hate her? I personally love to dislike her.

Kim Kardashian has been such a successful story going from being the daughter of a wealthy lawyer, to organizing Paris Hilton's closet to now having million of dollars and Twitter followers. She kind of came from the "bottom" (but not really because she was already rich according to this article) and now she's here- on our TVs, magazines, timelines, clothing stores, make-up ads, movie trailers, everywhere!

We all know she came about because of her famous sex tape with Ray J, but she was already in the Hollywood scene even before we knew her. It's not like she just all of a sudden one day turned up but a lot of us do not get how she is famous.

If my name got out there because I did what she did, I would be so embarrassed and my family would be very upset. But her family cashed in on it and now they are, I would say the most famous family in America! But how did she blow up from rolling around in a bed with her boyfriend? Because he didn't. He is no bigger now than he was then.

Well, it is people love to watch because according to the E! Network's President "people aspire to be them or to befriend them." So does this mean that we watch her show because we want to be whiny brats with the ugliest cry face known to man kind? Or because we want to be her when she is on that yacht in the beautiful blue seas in Greece?

I think we watch because we like to live vicariously through her. I personally watch because I love to dislike her. I love to see her life play out on my TV, but I dislike her because here I am, a broke college girl who wishes she could afford those awesome eyelash extensions she has, or those red bottom Louboutin's. 

However, it makes me so mad that there are people who work hard, go to college, invest their life saving into a business, leave their families behind in hopes of becoming someone well known and rich and they can't. Yet, this girl just gets a show handed to her after a hefty $5 million dollar offer for her sex tape. Then come the sponsors, extended TV seasons, the chance to start a clothing line, etc. And now she is the most well known celebrity in the US.

An article shows that people petitioned to ban her show in 2011 because they were sick of her, but even if that were ever an option, it wouldn't take away any of her fame or fortune. She is already a house hold name and I do not see her fizzling out like some other celebrities. She is here to stay whether we like it or not. So should we keep turning in every Sunday night to watch her adventures? Should we keep following her on Instagram to see her post pictures from 2006 when she was actually hot? Or should be stop wearing her make up to boycott her business? I doubt any of those things would have any real effect.

There is no stopping the millionaire anytime soon sadly. I can't stand her, but I can't help contribute to her success. How do we stop this? Maybe we should just all take notes and bank on a small opportunity because look at the girl, she has so much money now it is ridiculous.

 

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A Planet where it rains glass


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Though sometimes rainy days their plus sides, most of the time, I hate rainy weather. But imagine a planet where it's over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, and has winds over 4500 miles per hour. On top of all that, it rains glass.....

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               Wow, that's a planet nobody wants to live on. This planet is called HD 18733B and it's extremely close to its star that it orbits (2.9 million miles), giving it the extremely extreme temperatures. So close that even its gravitational pull is locked, making one side of the planet completely light, while the other side completely dark, giving it the fierce winds. They believe that its cobalt blue color comes from the glass particles that the planet rains down. The nature of the planet has been observed by the Hubble extensively, and its dramatic weather causes hazes and violent flares on the planet itself. They hope to "slowly [paint] a more complete picture of this exotic plant."

 

Who wants to visit this planet? Only scorching temperatures of over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, winds at 4500 miles per hour, and chances of glass showers.

 For more information on the blue planet you can click here

 

Information for this entry found here

http://www.scienceagogo.com/news/20130611212435data_trunc_sys.shtml

Down syndrome may be reversible?


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From 2010-2012, I went to a facility every Saturday for 6 hours to volunteer for kids and adults with Down syndrome and autism. I fell in love with these people and for that reason this article really drew me in with its title giving the possibility the Down syndrome might be reversible. As a prerequisite for volunteering at the facility, I had to take a classes for a couple weeks in order to learn a little bit about people with Down syndrome and Autism. People with Down syndrome have three copies of chromosome 21 instead of two, giving them intellectual disabilities, and distinctive facial features that is common among people with Down syndrome.

               The research began with mice that had a condition very similar to Down syndrome. They injected a "sonic hedgehog pathway agonist" to the "sonic hedgehog pathway" which is a "pathway that triggers growth and development.

Wait, like the video game character?

Researcher Roger Reeves from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine explained that "[they] treated the Down syndrome-like mice with a compound [they] thought might normalize the cerebellum's growth, and it worked beautifully. [They] were able to completely normalize growth of the cerebellum through adulthood with that single injection."

               After reading that section, I suddenly found a realized hope. If this can be manipulated for human injections, babies born at birth could grow up with a normal sized brain and with no mental disabilities. But, further research is needed in order to find how exactly the treatment works, and the problems it brings also has to be put into consideration. This drug could lead to risks of cancer because of the artificial triggering of inappropriate growth in the brain.

 

More information on just Down syndrome click here

Information from here:

http://www.scienceagogo.com/news/20130804022329data_trunc_sys.shtml

 

So I want to ask you guys. Do you guys have any family or friends that have Down syndrome?

Phobias


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Everyone should have heard of phobias, and you or someone you know might even have one. But what are phobias and how can people get over them?

People can be fearful from small things such as breaking a nail to more serious issues like being scared of people. When people get so fearful of something that they make sure it is never in their life is when a real phobia begins. Some phobias, such as fears of snakes, do not affect people's regular days because they are not something seen everyday. Phobias can start to consume people's lives if they are fearful of something that occurs everyday such as interacting with people (agoraphobia). Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 9.53.31 AM.png

Phobias usually begin in the childhood stage of people's lives. Simple phobias are more learned and reflect your life experiences. If your parent or someone you are around a lot at a young age has a phobia, you can pick it up from them. Experiences are all apart of our lives and if we experience something scary or stressful, that could cause a phobia as well. Scientists are unsure how complex phobias, such as agoraphobia, are started. It could be because of chemicals in our brain, genes, or from life experiences.

Overcoming a phobia is important. Living a life of fear can cause many other mental issues such as depression ad make you miss out on things in life. There are different ways that act as therapy to help face your phobias. Exposure therapy is the most common procedure of trying to overcome it. Being close to the object or activity you are afraid of can help overcome it.  Since anxiety is an effect of phobias, you can be put on medicine to help control that. A new study shows that watching someone else face your fear or "harmful" object safely can help you overcome the phobia.

The Association for Psychological Science has been conducting research that favors watching someone else to overcome a phobia. There is a Sociocultural Perspective in Psychology that researches how people influence each other. When we see people do an action, we think that it is a norm and we should act like that as well. Armita Golka (from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden) and colleagues believe that people can learn through social settings and even gain fears from the settings. They tested this by doing an experiment. The control group who just saw actual human faces, but still received the electrical shock, was less scared than the experimental group. 

" "Our findings suggest that model-based learning may help to optimize exposure treatment by attenuating the recovery of learned fears," the researchers write." (quote found here. 

My question is: why do we fear such small things, such as spiders, when we are larger then them and more powerful? 

Resources: 

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/249347.php

http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/tc/phobias-topic-overview?page=3

Psych 100 class notes

smokes-meth-and-is-gorgeous.jpgJessie Pinkman.jpgIf I would have to guess, I'd say 90% of you know what character this is, or at least what show he is from. That's right, I'm going to be that girl who blogs about Breaking Bad. In my opinion, Breaking Bad is one of the most popular/best televison shows ever to be aired on television. There's action, adventure, sex, drugs, & comedy, what else can you possibly ask for?! But, nothing is perfect and everything has flaws, even Breaking Bad. 

                                                       One huge misconception that kinda grinds my gears about Br Ba is the realness of drug addiction, or lack of it rather. In the show there are several scenes of Jesse Pinkman (the guy in the pictures) smoking meth. Look at the man, he's beautiful, but yet he smokes meth. I feel like this is a horrible influence on the younger audiences watching the TV show because they might think, "Oh I can smoke meth a few times too and it won't effect me at all either", that's not the case. Even with smoking meth a few times it could start the "meth mouth" process, which is the least of a meth smoker's problems. When I watched Br Ba with my mom she didn't take the show as seriously when she saw Jesse smoking meth but had the most perfect, white teeth. My point is, drugs are not sexy or glamorous like they are cracked up to be on television and in movies. You may not see a difference in yourself physically or mentally right away, but it will catch up to you eventually and when it does there is no turning back. Drug addicts can stop using and stop putting new chemicals in their bodies, yeah, but they can't take back what they've already done. Besides the fact that Jesse smokes meth and has beautiful teeth, Breaking Bad puts out a real, harsh and true message and that is drugs ruin everything. Drugs change the person you are, take over your mind, and basically own you. I've seen real people and real lives go up in flames multiple times and it's the scariest thing to ever witness, espesically when you knew them before the drugs.

Anyway, on a lighter note, Breaking Bad is absolutely amazing and if there's anyone who hasn't tried watching it yet I would highly recommend doing so. It really is all it's hyped up to be. All of the seasons and episodes that were ever aired on TV are on instant watch on Netflix! Thanks for reading! :)

 

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I hate to be "that girl" who brings up how the incessant pandering to One Direction and Bieber fans via radio is ruining our culture's ability to function musically, but I'm gonna be her anyway. 

Here goes.

I would like to first point out how vital radio is to society. Without its ability to broadcast imperative information to people everywhere, culturally and informatively speaking, we would be very lost humans. However, from a strictly music-based standpoint, I have this inkling that radio is slowly, but absolutely surely, aiding in the demise of music- or at least the demand for talent in musicianship. Bands like One Direction and Justin Bieber, with the obsessive fangirls and catchy, bubble-gum lyrics are more of an homage to media-driven PR moves than pure, hardworking talent. Granted, the Biebs was "discovered" on youtube, and that's great. In fact, I thought he was actually pretty talented. However, the pandemonium that seemed to begin with his single "Baby" hitting the airwaves propelled this decently talented kid into superstardom. I can't remember exactly how many times that song was played on the radio, but my strictly German-speaking grandmother began humming the tune after awhile. 

Radio is a powerful tool that brings people of all opinions and ideas together, but with the type of music constantly being played like a broken record over and over, it is only natural for listeners to grow accustomed to normality, and lose their own distinctive taste in music. In fact, "a new study shows that 82% of those polled identified radio as having the greatest single influence on their music listening." This wasn't really a shock for me, but to have a crazily high statistic in front of my eyes was a little scary. I recently interned at a radio station, and found that even I, a die-hard No Directioner immune to Bieber-fever, was singing along to some of their hits. And let's be honest, the audience most catered to by these tight-pants-wearing boys typically still has a curfew. 

Another downside to today's top hit radio stations is the overplaying of good music! It seems that even when an artist releases a brand new single that really exemplifies true musicianship, the unrelenting broadcast of the song every 5 minutes really lowers one's appreciation for its artistry. According to an article conducted by TechDirt, "no longer does a song hit sell a million copies. The copious stream of music poured out by Radio puts a song quickly to death. The average song's life has dwindled from 18 months to 90 days; composers are forced to turn out a dozen songs a year instead of the oldtime two or three." This struck a chord with me (haha) because I had never really given much thought as to how music was produced and released back in the day, or how much it has changed since. 

I love music, and radio, and media, but there needs to be a line drawn on how much is too much, and the talent bar needs to be raised from Miley Cyrus to Beyonce at all times. 

Cited: "Mel Phillips Now And Then..." : Radio Remains The Greatest Influence On Music Listening & "WRKO...The Launch"... N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2013.

"Radio Is Killing Music." Techdirt. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2013.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQOFRZ1wNLw

            I think we can all agree that Saturday afternoon wasn't ideal weather for the Penn State vs. Kent State football game, but that didn't stop thousands of fans from supporting the Nittany Lions out in the pouring rain. I left the game early and on my way home I heard countless people saying how they were definitely going to get sick from being outside in the cold rain. Immediately that got me worried... But then I stopped and thought about it. My mom always warned me, but is it actually possible to get sick from cold weather?

            A study in the New England Journal of Medicine was one of the first to put this question to the test in 1968. In the experiment, "Subjects were exposed to germs of the common cold under various conditions. Those who were exposed to cold water or chilly air were not more likely to get sick than those who were kept in room temperature conditions." Simply put, the cold weather itself does not make you sick: only viruses can cause the flu and other common colds. So then why is it typically during the winter (when it's coldest) that "flu season" strikes?

            When it is cold, people tend to spend more time indoors where they are in closer contact with each other, making it easier for germs to spread. Additionally, scientists have found that when it is cold outside, the air is drier, which allows viruses to spread more easily. Many people turn on their heaters during the cold winter months, making the air in their homes drier as well. These conditions are the reason that "flu season" takes place when it gets cold, which in our case is during the winter.

            I'm shocked every single time I learn the truth behind something I've been told my entire life, and this is no exception. Lesson learned: just because your mom tells you that you can get sick from being in the cold doesn't mean it's actually true (even if half of the Penn State football spectators think so too).

The bottom line: if you're one of the many people decided to leave the game early and have everybody over at your place to watch the game on your flat screen, you might be more likely to get a cold than you would've been had you stayed outside at the game. Oh and contrary to popular belief, there's no cure for the common cold, so if you did get sick from this weekend you'll just have to suck it up like the rest of us.

This actually happened, by the way:

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more harm than good


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I'm sitting in the HUB looking outside the window that overlooks Osmond Lab and people walking by the HUB. Everyone knows that students on campus smoke, it's no secret, but the amount of people is actually astonishing to me. I've been sitting here for about fifteen minutes while I was figuring out what I wanted to write about and I would have to say about half of the people that walk by or are sitting outside are smoking a cigarette.
To me, cigarettes are really gross. According to the American Lung Assoc. cigarettes contain more than 4,800 chemicals, some of those chemicals being known to directly cause cancer. Even if you don't smoke you can be harmed by cigarettes. Secondhand smoke (smoke inhaled by non-smokers) has resulted in 3,400 cases of non-smokers contracting lung cancer and dying. The American Lung Association explains just how addicting nicotine can be. The article says that nicotine reacts quicker in your brain than drugs you eject intro your body through a vein, which makes it a really difficult habit to break.
Not only can cigarettes give you lung cancer or any other diseases, but it takes many years off your life span. While I was reading through Medical News Today, the author compares a 30-year-old non-smoker with a 30-year-old-smoker. In comparison, the non-smoker would have approximately 53+ years to live, while the continuous smoker would only have about 35 more years left of their life. To put that in perspective, smoking one pack of cigarettes has an approximate equivalent of taking 28 minutes off your life.
After reading the bad facts about people getting lung cancer, or people dying at young ages from cigarettes I decided to look up random facts. The 30 Fascinating Cigarette Smoking Facts has some pretty interesting things stated. For one- apparently cigarettes are the most traded item on the planet, with a global take of $400 billion, it's one of the largest industries. If you didn't really like my other 2 links this last one with the facts is worth looking at. I don't smoke, but a lot of statements that the website has listed are actually really interesting, whether you are a smoker or not.
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Dress for Success


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closet-clothes-donate-600.jpgIn High School, I had many teachers who were avid on practicing the "Dress for Success" rule when test day arrived. Extra credit would be handed out if you rocked your sleekest heels or shrugged on your iron-pressed blazer. I always struggled to follow this rule (considering I am most comfortable in my over-worn grey sweatpants and large Penn State hoodie), but I did wonder what the reasoning was behind this so-called "Dress for Success". 

Turns out that your outfit of choice can have an almost direct impact on your educational/psychological performance. This is referred to as "enclothed cognition", which involves the co-occurance of two independent factors- the symbolic meaning of the clothes and the physical experience of wearing them (Brokaw, MITSloan). Clothing that pertains to a certain role in society (for example: doctor's lab coat) can affect our psychological performance when wearing them. Because it is a lab coat, studies have shown an increase in subject's attention when wearing it. Because the clothing has a feeling of "importance", people respond accordingly.

Everyone knows the feeling after purchasing a desired good. Whether it be a suit, new set of pumps, or a cute pair of skinny jeans- we all embrace these goods by wearing them confidently the next day. By doing this, Kellogg professor Adam Galinsky believes, "we are not only giving impressions to other people, but we are also giving an impression to ourselves." By embracing our newly-worn clothes we are meanwhile feeling confident in ourselves, helping us to perform better. Don't get me wrong, wearing a business suit to an interview will look good to the boss, but it's your own boost of self-confidence that can really seal the deal. 

So next time you take a step into the mall, remember: what you buy can really affect your performance. That suit you spot in the corner may help with your presentation at work. Those cute boots over in the next session may boost your confidence for your upcoming blind-date. Or those jeans may be the next step towards getting you an A. Either way clothing has a bigger impact than we think, so dress accordingly. 


Here's a link to a book that digs deeper into the congnition behind clothing, if intereted-check it out!


Sources:

  • Wear, Gty Clothes Dm 120405 Wblog You Are What You. "You Are What You Wear."ABC News. ABC News Network, 5 Apr. 2012. Web. 24 Sept. 2013.
  • Brokaw, Leslie. "MIT Sloan Management Review." MIT Sloan Management Review RSS. MITSloan, 5 Apr. 2012. Web. 24 Sept. 2013.

It's something that most of us have probably experienced. It can be the most terrifying, confusing feeling and there's really nothing you can do to stop it from happening. What is this "it" thing I'm talking about? "It" is that feeling of falling while you're just about to be asleep and then WHAM your entire body twitches and wakes you up. For a second or two you are confused and baffled as to where you are and what you're doing, then you realize you are safely in your bed and in no danger of falling to your death. You roll over and try to fall back to sleep, hoping you don't experience that kind of fear again. These full body twitches you experience as you try to fall asleep are unpredictable and are just as terrifying the tenth time it's happen to you as it was the first time. So why do our body's do this to us? According to Dr. William Kohler, this sensation is referred to as sleep starts or hypnic jerks. What is the difference between these two? Sleep starts occur when you're falling sleep, while hypnic jerks are myoclonic twitches.   Explaining this feeling is difficult to do, but Dr. Kohler does it well, "It involves a total body experience where your muscle contracts therefore your limbs jerk and your body twitches."
Researchers and studies show that these full body twitches are due to something called rapid eye movement or REM. REM's don't play a role when it comes down to hypnic jerks, but most of the time REMs are the reason behind that feeling of falling to your death. Researchers also think that these jerks and twitches may be amplified if a person's level of anxiety or stress is high.
For those of you who have been unlucky enough to experience these know that the most harm they cause is disturbing your sleep and creating a millisecond moment of panic. To read some more about these alarming twitches click here. And if any of you can find any remedies or tricks to prevent this from happening let me know, I know my sleeping schedule would greatly appreciate it. 

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Photo courtesy of wiseGEEK.

Tap Out the Stress!


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It's Sunday night. 9:00. You haven't even touched your backpack since Friday when you threw it on the floor and jumped up and down in thanksgiving for the weekend. Exhausted from this past weekend's festivities, you sluggishly sit down at your desk and look at your planner. Your eyes bulge out of your head as you realize the very large amount of work you need to complete before tomorrow's classes. You attempt to start your work but find yourself too stressed and upset to even focus. "There is absolutely nothing I can do to calm myself down," you think. WRONG!

Although what I'm about to talk about is a very unconventional technique, keep an open mind and learn what its about! Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), also known as "tapping" has been making a difference for people all over the world. It has helped people with problems such as chronic physical pain, emotional trauma, addictions, phobias, PTSD, and even physical diseases. Tapping, as stated from the official Tapping Solution website, is defined as "a set of techniques which utilize the body's energy meridian points." To perform the therapy on yourself, you simply tap these specific areas to literally "tap out" the negative energy your body is hoarding. In addition, you talk yourself through the stress you are feeling. For example, "I have so much work to do. I am so stressed." The reason you do this is so that your brain can fully register the emotions you are having or the physical pain you are feeling and begin the process of letting go of that negative energy. 

Tapping approaches health with a very holistic attitude. It addresses all aspects of a person's health as well as addressing the cause of a problem instead of just treating symptoms. As college students, we face a lot of stress, anxiety, or even a bad memory or two. These negative experiences create negative emotions, which in turn take a toll on the body and can show up as physical or emotional pain. Tapping forces a person to deal with the root of the problem. 

Tapping faces its fair share of skepticism, as do most alternative medicine techniques. However, in the past few years, studies have shown that tapping really does work. For example, a study at Harvard Medical School proved that the amygdala, which controls stress and fear in the brain, is soothed by stimulating the body's meridian points.

This picture depicts the body's meridian points.meridian.jpg

In This video, Jessica Ortner, one of the producers of the documentary film "The Tapping Solution gives instructions on how to go through the Tapping Sequence. I highly suggest watching it. I think it will really bring everything together and provide a better understanding of this technique.

So, before starting that immense amount of homework at 9:00 on Sunday night, give this a try! I must say, it does take practice and a few tries to get the hang of it and feel comfortable with it, but I can say from experience that the Tapping Solution has truly helped me with stress and emotions. Give it a try!


Sources:
- http://thetappingsolution.com/about/
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=pAclBdj20ZU


BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP. Snooze. BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP. Snooze. BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP... Snooze.  BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP. On the 5th snooze, you groggily swing your feet out of bed. Tired and miserable, you just want to go back to your cozy bed and your dream that was so rudely interrupted. For most people, this is the worst part of the day. It is for me- bar none. Sometimes the soul thing that gets me through the day is knowing I'll be able to go back to bed. Even as I sit here writing this on this dreary, my eyes are drooping and I'm drinking what is my third cup of coffee, anticipating going to bed and dreading Monday morning.

But why do we hate to get up? Can't we just hear our alarm and wake up refreshed from the joyous sleep we just got? While it's possible, it's not probable. This is because our biological clock- the part of our brain that tells us when to go to sleep and when to wake up (located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus)-  is mismatched with the demands of our lives. It may tell you to go to sleep late and sleep late, when in reality we have to wake up to go to class or work. Due to research at the University of California,  we now know that our internal clock is regulated by a single amino acid. Hopefully, there will one day be a drug to regulate it.

Few people also from inherited sleep disorders, including delayed sleep phase syndrome, which causes bedtimes of between 1 and 4 AM.

Now when we do fall asleep, the body goes through 4-6 cycles, ranging for light (stage 1) to deep sleep (stage 4). Waking up from a stage 4 sleep is the most difficult and people generally hit it around 6 AM, making it all the harder to put your feet on the floor.  

What can you do to make getting out of bed easier?

·        - Get 7.5 hours. Some people need six, some need 9, but get around 7.5 to allow your body to go through each sleep cycle.

·      -  Shut off electronic media or bright lights. Exposure to light makes you feel less rested.

·       -  Exercise

·         -No sleeping in on weekends! This throws off your body's sleep schedule and makes it all the harder to get up on Monday. Stick to a schedule. 


Click here for some more tips from Oprah.


Alcohol's Affects


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It's Saturday night and Penn State just had a great win on the football field. You stood out in the pouring rain all afternoon and you deserve to have a good night. Penn State won so why wouldn't you go out and celebrate? You take a few shots or maybe pound down some beers and you're feeling good for the rest of the night. But how? How does something that can look like water have such a strong affect on your body, motor skills, and decision making? I've asked myself this so many times because I've never understood how alcohol actually works and gets you drunk.Well my friends, I think I have finally found my answer.
As most of us know, alcohol can refer to many things; beer, vodka, whiskey, gin, etc. However, when people say "alcohol" they really are referring to ethanol. When you go and buy alcohol in the liquor store, when it says 40% alcohol on the bottle, what that actually means is 40% of that drink is ethanol. To see the alcohol chemical make up of ethanol click on that link above.
As far as how alcohol actually affects your body, about 20% of what you drink does directly into your bloodstream. Alcohol's main affect is that it tries to slow the brain down and as you drink more, more and more parts of the brain are being slowed down. Ever wonder why you don't feel pain as much when you're drunk? No, you didn't become invisible with a few sips of alcohol. Since your brain is being slowed down, when you experience physical pain your body is still feeling it but your brain can't send that message to the rest of your body quickly enough. What's the scientific reasoning behind eating before you drink you ask? Well the 80% of what you drink that doesn't go straight to your bloodstream goes to your small intestine. If you eat more, the alcohol won't go into your stomach walls as quickly.
So clearly there are many different ways alcohol gets you drunk. To read why you always have to use the bathroom when you drink or to get more detail on how the brain is affected, check out the second link I posted.
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Photo by WritersCafe.org

Record Breaking Sound


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        On Sunday September 15 during the Seattle Seahawk versus San Francisco 49ers game the record was broken for loudest human generated sound. The previous record for loudest human generated sound was 131.76 decibels, which was set by a soccer match at the Ali Sami Yen Sport Complex in Istanbul, Turkey in 2011. The Seattle Seahawk fans have always been known for being loud fans, and they proved it that night.
        The 12th man of the Seattle Seahawks broke the record when their defensive end Michael Bennett sacked the 49er's quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and the crowd hit an explosive 131.9 decibels. That is impressive for the crowd to get that loud, but what is incredible is that the crowd beat their own record later in the game. Then in the fourth quarter the Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch walked into the end-zone for his second touchdown of the night. This caused the crown to erupt to an astonishing 136.6 decibels, which beat their previous record of the night by 4.7 decibels. There were about 68,000 people in the stadium that night, which makes it more impressive because that is not even that many people for a football game. To put it into perspective that crowd of 68,000 was almost as loud as a gunshot, which can cause immediate hearing damage. The Seattle Seahawks ended up winning that game 29 to 3, which makes them still undefeated at 2-0 as their record.20130915seahawks620.jpg 
SOURCE

            Down Syndrome affects one baby in every 691 just in the United States ("Down"). People used to think there was not a cure for Down Syndrome but scientists believe they have just found a way to reverse this genetic disorder. But first we need to start off with how Down Syndrome is developed.

"The nucleus of each cell contains twenty-three pairs of chromosomes, half of which are inherited from each parent. Down Syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of the chromosome 21" ("Down").                     

The most common form of Down Syndrome is caused when an embryo, instead of just having the original two chromosome 21, has three of the same. When the embryo grows, the extra chromosome 21 is copied in every cell throughout the body and this is known as Trisomy 21. The second known cause is called Mosaicism. The same concept with the chromosomes happens again but only in just one of the cells. Therefore, instead of having forty-six chromosomes, one of the cells has forty-seven chromosomes meaning, there are two kinds of cells. Translocation is the third type of cause for Down Syndrome. During the cell division, chromosome 21 separates and connects to chromosome 14, which then creates an extra chromosome leading to Down Syndrome ("Down").

Scientists believe they can reverse Down Syndrome by using "a small molecule known as a sonic hedgehog pathway agonist". This was trialed with mice that had developed a form of Down Syndrome-like condition from birth. This compound was given to the Down Syndrome mice born that day and this treatment is only done once and shows that the cerebellum of the mices' brains form to the normal size it was initially suppose to be. Scientists had experimented with the Down Syndrome-like condition mice and found that many of the mice traits were similar to people who were born with Down Syndrome. Researcher Roger Reeves believes that the "treatment improved learning by strengthening communication between the cerebellum and the hippocampus" ("Down Syndrome May"). The cerebellum is in charge of "balance, motor control, [and] is also involved in some cognitive functions such as attention, language and emotional functions." The hippocampus controls the " memory functions and behavior" ("Parts"). This treatment has not yet been determined safe for the use of humans. Here is a website that gives information on the functions of each specific chromosome and gene in the body.

downsyndrome-617x416.jpg

Do you think this same procedure that worked on mice will work on humans? Can we actually reverse Down Syndrome?

           

 

Works Cited:

 

"Down Syndrome." National Down Syndrome Society. 21 September 2013 <http://www.ndss.org/Down-Syndrome/What-Is-Down-Syndrome/>.

 

"Down Syndrome May Be Reversible." Science A Go Go. 21 September 2013 <www.scienceagogo.com/news/20130804022329data_trunc_sys.shtml>.

 

"Parts of the Brain." The Human Memory. 21 September 2013 <http://www.human-memory.net/brain_parts.html>.

 

Photo of Down Syndrome Child:

<http://www.redorbit.com/media/uploads/2013/09/downsyndrome-617x416.jpg>.

Did You Procrastinate?


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The first blogging period is done and it made me realize something that always happens with people- procrastination.  The website was taking such a long time to work the last two days because there were so many of us trying to cram in our last few things to get the grade we wanted.  Everyone knows how stressful it is to wait until the last minute, yet so many of us are always doing it.  So, why?  What's make people so easily procrastinate for everything we do?

The "world's leading experts on procrastination, Joseph Ferrari, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at De Paul University in Chicago, and Timothy Pychyl, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada", they have answers as to why people do this and neither of them have ever fell under this category of being a procrastinator.

According to these men, "twenty percent of people say they are chronic procrastinators."  While knowing when they live this "lifestyle" it has nothing but negative effects on their life and opportunities that have arisen for them.  Surprisingly though, procrastination is not correlated with "time management" or planning, they can estimate time just as well as others.  Dr. Ferrari states: "Telling someone who procrastinates to buy a weekly planner is like telling someone with chronic depression to just cheer up." 

Another fact of procrastination is you can't blame this on genetics; it is something indirectly learned from the world around you (ex: friends and family).  These procrastinators usually turn towards friends over family in these times because friends are more accepting of their excuses and "tolerate" this behavior.  They are also found to drink "higher levels of alcohol" due to their problems with self-regulation. 

What else?  They lie to themselves: "I'll feel more like doing this tomorrow."  No, they will not feel like doing it tomorrow either.  Once they realize they don't feel like doing it at all they will continue to lie to themselves with saying it's not important.  These are all extremely common traits in procrastinators, but there are three main different types.

1.     The first is an "arousal type" or thrill seeking.  This gives them a type of rush to finish everything at the last minute.

2.     The second type is avoiders, they are concerned about others thoughts on them, whether failure of success, by procrastinating people will think that lack effort than possible failure. 

3.     The last type is "decisional", which means they just can't make up their mind.  Making it impossible to start their work because they won't decide how exactly they want to go about it.

So, besides the stress that can come along with it, are there any real reasons to not be doing this? Of course there are.  It can affect your health.  College students especially, they are more likely to get a cold/flu, have GI problems and have insomnia.  Also, the responsibilities they are dodging don't just disappear, they go onto others and it can make friends, family and group partners resent the person for their "lack of responsibility." 

Timothy Pychyl, Ph.D. in Psychology working at Carleton University, talks about an observational study him and his students did on procrastination.  He said they used electronic pagers and the participants were randomly paged for research thought the day for about two weeks.  When paged they were asked questions: "What are you doing?  Is there something else you should be doing?" and "How are you feeling?  What are you thinking?"  When asked these questions they would ask them to rate on a scale of 1-10 how stressful the tasks were that they were suppose to be doing.  One of the most interesting findings from the study were the change in their view on their "stressful tasks" after they had completed them.  One of the main findings from this study was the way people falsely perceive things to put them off.  The students would say they have these terrible, stressful tasks to do.  But, once they completed the tasks, they would come back to say how easy and un-stressful it really was.

Overall, procrastinators can change, but it will take a lot of commitment and some possible "cognitive behavioral therapy."  We all do it at times, but if you feel like you procrastinate everything in your life and possibly fall under one of the three types, you might want to start thinking about getting help for it to better your life in the long run.


Sources:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200308/procrastination-ten-things-know

 

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_U3nGRwM2EZk/TAZ8jNZIJTI/AAAAAAAAAII/9r_-9l5YqGM/s1600/procrastination.jpg


http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/dont-delay/200803/just-get-started


Your high school chemistry teacher probably told you that the element silicon is used for making computer chips but have you ever wondered why that is the top choice of computer manufactures?  How exactly is this metalloid used and what part of the chip is actually made of silicon?  

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Silicon is a semiconductor that becomes more conductive as its temperature rises making it perfect for use in microchips.  It is also the second most abundant element on the earth, oxygen being the first,  and is found in many of our day to day surroundings.  The silicon used for microchips must be extremely pure.  The rule of thumb is "nine nines" meaning that the silicon must be 99.9999999% pure.  Silicon must be purified since the element very rarely occurs in its purest form naturally.  It can be purified by a few different methods but the most common is the Czochralski method which grows a pure silicon crystal that is then sliced into wafers to be used by microchip manufacturers.     

The pure silicon wafer is coated with a thin layer of silicon dioxide which is then etched away to reveal certain parts of the pure silicon beneath.  The etching process creates pathways that alter the conductivity at different sections on the chip.  Other elements are also used to dope the pure silicon to create the perfect amount of conductivity.  Oh, and doping in this context means to intentionally introduce impurities to semiconductors to make them act as conductors.


tiny-microchip.jpg

Each wafer that has been etched with individual pathways and components become a layer of the whole microchip.  Intel declared that as many as 30 layers can go into one chip!  Microchips are truly incredible works of modern technology and are becoming an increasing part of our everyday lives. 


Sources: http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/history/museum-making-silicon.html

http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/72461/Making_Microchips

http://www.southalabama.edu/engineering/ece/faculty/akhan/Courses/EE539-Fall04/Lecture-slides/lecture-4-crystal%20growth.pdf


Photo sources: http://www.pcb-sw.com/wp-content/uploads/path//tiny-microchip.jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SiliconCroda.jpg



Sleeping is the Best Diet


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Coming back to college can be tough on your weight with all the stress, drinking, and  the fact that your mom isn't there to make you eat veggies with all of your dinners. Everyone is an advocate for their own kind of health tips, whether it be dieting or working out. I recently came across an article that talks about how weight gain can actually be attributed to a lack of sleep. The article talks about an experiment that was done to try to prove this and the findings are surprising. They found that adults who loss sleep " consumed 6 percent more calories when they got too little sleep." Not only did these people eat more, but they also consumed more carbs. They also found that the people with less sleep ate less in the morning and more later at night. I found this interesting because I would have never thought that sleeping less would affect how I ate, but in retrospect it actually does make sense. So maybe next time you're feeling like you are starting to gain some weight, instead of trying that radical diet, the best thing to do would be to maybe just get a little more sleep

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Sources:
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/18/lost-sleep-can-lead-to-weight-gain/?_r=0

Why do we Yawn?


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Have you ever wondered why we yawn? I know I have. A yawn is defined as "to open the mouth somewhat involuntarily with a prolonged,deep inhalation and sighing or heavy exhalation, as from drowsiness or boredom" (dictionary.com) and it comes as a result of a team effort from the thoracic muscles in the chest, the diaphragm, the larynx, and palate in the mouth. 

No one really knows why exactly we yawn but there are various theories in existence. Hippocrates once hypothesized that yawning is how we get rid of bad air in the lungs. Later on, scientists hypothesized that we yawn in order to improve our motor function and alertness. A much more recent hypothesis links yawning to cerebral homeostasis. There's a lot of work being done on the subject but even more work to be done before we come to a conclusion. Stay tuned! 
gilygirl.jpgSources





Are Bats Actually Blind?


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We've all heard the phrase "blind as a bat." But is that really true? Nope.

 

In fact, all bats can see, and they can see especially well in dim light. There are several types of bats, and some see better than others. Primarily, fruit-eating bats have bigger eyes and find food through sight, according to an article by Discovery Kids.

 

However, bats that eat insects at night can still see, but they rely on their hearing more to capture prey. They use something called "echolocation," which is when a bat "sends out streams of high-pitched sounds through its mouth or nose," according to Discovery Kids. These signals reach other objects and bounce off them, letting the bat know what is around it. From there, the bat will interpret the signal and determine the "distance, location, size, texture and shape" of the object. Unfortunately, humans can't hear the bats' signals because they are too high-pitched.

 

Here is a video on bats and echolocation. It has a lot of cool video on bats!

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Photo by Radio Times

 

Time Travel


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The idea of time travel seems so ridiculous that it cant be true. There is just no way it can be done. However, some scientists throughout history have provided equally baffling explanations of how it can be possible.

 

Einstein's theories on time travel are some of the most popular. Einstein believed that a person's perspective of time could be affected by speed and gravity. This means that a person who travels fast enough can time travel and people farther away from earth's gravitational pull age slower. Check out what I'm talking about here. http://www.space.com/21675-time-travel.html

 

Another explanation for how time travel could be possible is through the use of wormholes. The only problem with wormholes is that we have never seen one, but they are theorized to be possible. Wormholes are kind of like black holes in the sense that they have a lot of mass. Because these things are so massive their strong gravitational pull would have the ability to bend time, which would lead to time travel. http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/13/opinion/opinion-time-travel-paul-davies/index.html

 

It is my belief that one day we will understand the interworking's of time travel fully, but I don't know if we will ever be able to survive it. How could it be possible to survive a wormhole with gravitational pull so strong it can bend time?


References:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/13/opinion/opinion-time-travel-paul-davies/index.html

http://www.space.com/21675-time-travel.html

The Joy of Stem Cells


| 2 Comments

Polio, leprosy, small pox and many other health obstacles have been overcome with the help of dedicated researchers, doctors and of course technological advancement over the last century. So, it is more exciting than surprising to know that science is thriving on the cellular level to find long lasting solutions to health problems. Currently, there are multiple research on using stem cells to repaire tissues of organs, correct spinal problems, and even heal blindness. As a brief overview, there are two main types of stem cells; embryonic stem cells and somatic stem cells. The former, as the name suggests, is found in embryos that are less than a week old. The somatic stem cells are adult stem cells and the national institute of health has defines it as follows:

An adult stem cell is thought to be an undifferentiated cell, found among differentiated cells in a tissue or organ that can renew itself and can differentiate to yield some or all of the major specialized cell types of the tissue or organ.

Since scientists discovered how to obtain embryonic stem cells from mice in 1981, they have gone on to replicate it in humans and have even been using bone marrow stem cells to make up for deficiency in the blood components such as replicating white blood cells and red blood cells for over 40 years. Research on adult stem cells continues in its fruition as in 2006, Japanese researchers were able to reprogram mature stem cells of mice to behave like embryonic stem cells. This is a huge gain since embryonic stem cells are more efficient in proliferating. Also, considering the many ethical arguments surrounding carrying experiments on potential babies, being able to recode mature stem cells to act like embryonic stem cells is a phenomenal achievement.

The main set back to the use of stem cells is that the immune systems of patients undergoing treatment tend to reject reprogrammed stem cells from other donors. So it is very exciting to know that early last year, researchers Tel Aviv were able to change skin cells from elderly men with heart failure to stem cells and successfully transposed them into rats. The stem cells then attached to the hearts of the rats to form new tissues, while overcoming the immune system barrier. More research needs to be done to understand the special forms of treatment that may be needed to treat human patients, according to the lead research Professor Lior Gepstein. However, the future is bright for stem cell research and potential health usefulness seems boundless.Thumbnail image for stemcelltree.jpg

Works Cited
http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/basics/pages/basics4.aspx

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Therapy/bone-marrow-transplant

http://stemcells.nih.gov/research/scilit/highlights/Pages/highlights2007.aspx

http://www.shalomlife.com/health/19718/skin-cells-to-help-restoration-of-damaged-hearts-says-israeli-researchers/

Best If Used By...


| 5 Comments
We all dread looking at that expiration date on something that we forgot we had in the fridge for a while. I know that I always hate throwing out food, especially now that I'm a college student who purchases my own food. But what does the expiration date really mean? According to this 

article they do not mean what we think they mean. Apparently the words "best if used by" are just referring to the quality of the food and not whether or not we can still eat it. This was a surprise to me. I, along with probably most people, have always thrown out food as soon as the expiration date hits. Expiration dates aren't even required everywhere. Now the question at hand is when is it time to throw out the food? Obviously if it gets moldy, it's got to go. But the article also says that as long as it was kept refrigerated and packaged well, you have the green light on eating it. 

When it comes to "sell by" dates, that's just referring to how long the store should keep it out on the shelves, according to this article. How long you keep foods after the sell by date basically depends on the kind of food. The best thing to do is to trust your intuition. Once you feel like its starting to get a bad smell, the safest thing to do would be to throw it away. There is also always the trusty google search to see when different types of food usually go bad by. So know you know: "used by" doesn't always mean "throw out by". 

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Adderall and Creativity


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All of us probably know that Adderall helps to improve concentration and focus for those with ADD. (If you don't believe me look here (http://www.webmd.com/drugs/drug-63163-Adderall+Oral.aspx?drugid=63163&drugname=Adderall+Oral). Also, there is this general belief that Adderall makes you a better student. I wanted to initially explore what about Adderall makes you a better student. But, I quickly discovered just by skimming the Web MD link above that it is just the active ingredient, amphetamine salts, among other stimulants that is giving a person abusing Adderall for study purposes the drive to fight off the need for breaks and sleep. I was just about to move on to a different topic when I stumbled on this study (http://www.psych.upenn.edu/~mfarah/pdfs/Creativity-Psychopharm.pdf) which was done to see if Adderall hurt the users ability to be creative.  Initially I though that this made a lot of sense because of the fact that Adderall improves your focus so your mind only concentrates on your initial thought process and doesn't explore others. What I found surprised me.

 

In a double-blind study 16 people participated in different creativity tests. It turns out that those who had a high creativity baseline generally did not increase creativity through Adderall usage. However, those with a low creativity baseline did see improvement through the use of Adderall.

 

The one problem that I have with this study is that they used only 16 people. This means that in a double-blind study where placebos were used only 8 people had their creativity tested while under the influence of Adderall. This makes it too easy to sway the results with just a few outliers. However, a similar study (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S089085670963598X) came to similar conclusions, so I guess I am going to have to believe it.

References:

http://www.webmd.com/drugs/drug-63163-Adderall+Oral.aspx?drugid=63163&drugname=Adderall+Oral

http://www.psych.upenn.edu/~mfarah/pdfs/Creativity-Psychopharm.pdf

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S089085670963598X 


Ever since I was little, my mother used to always mention how cold showers are way healthier than hot ones. I must've been a very un-curious child for just as I did with many other things she taught me and mentioned, I never questioned her or asked why. I pretty much just took it as it was and continued with life. Now that I am older and wiser, I am often curious as to why my mother would recommend such a things. Well, when it comes to cold showers, turns out she might've been right. 


Although I couldn't find many empirical researches done on the topic, I did find one that tested three different methods(rest, abdominal cold packs, and cold showers)  in relieving fatigue after strenuous exercise sessions. Cold showers came in on second, rest came in on third. I was also able to find a vast number of articles that listed benefits from taking cold showers. Most of them seemed to be referring to post-work out session showers though. 


These were the benefits that prevailed from list to list: 


1. Strengthens Immunity

2. Improves Blood Circulation

3. Alleviates Depression/ improves mood

4. Deepens Breathing/better breathing

5. Increases Energy and Wellbeing

6. Increases Hormone Production


I would really like to see more lab experiments on the benefits of cold showers both after work out sessions, and in less active people. The six benefits listed above are already more than enough reason to quit bathing in hot water as often; who knows what other hidden benefits we might be able to discover?


So I encourage you guys to take cold showers. It might be uncomfortable, but it also might be good for you!

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Sources:

http://wakeup-world.com/2012/04/11/ten-health-benefits-of-cold-showers/

http://www.normalbreathing.com/l-cold-shower.php\

http://blog.iamgary.com/how-to-take-a-cold-shower-and-why-to-do-it/


Addiction


| 1 Comment

I have often heard the phrase "addictive personality" tossed around a lot, but have never know for sure if there is such a thing or if this is just a figure of speech. It turns out that there has never been something discovered like a gene that makes people prone to addictions, but some people are more likely to get addictions than others.

 

One theory is that the systems in the brain that control the way you feel may have deficiencies that cause people to seek stimulation somewhere else. Someone who is depressed may be prone to abusing stimulants to increase their energy to make themselves feel better. However this is not the only explanation. There are also the chemical properties of the drugs themselves that cause powerful withdrawal symptoms. In order to remedy these symptoms the user needs to come back for more and more or the drug. You can see where I got these facts and more here http://www.nbcnews.com/id/3076712/t/big-mystery-what-causes-addiction/#.Ujt4nmTioVk

 

Not all addictions are to a physical substance. There are also behavioral addictions, which are caused by things like gambling. People with this type of addiction are often using a certain behavior as a distraction from something in their lives. This leads to obsessively thinking and acting on whatever the person is addicted to. Some people are more likely to develop a behavioral addiction than others. Someone is more likely to develop a gambling addiction if they are male and have a family history with gambling addictions. To see where I got these facts on behavioral addictions look here http://www.livestrong.com/article/138027-what-causes-gambling-addiction/

 

It seems as though the phrase addictive personality has some truth to it, but it is not the whole story. Sure certain chemical imbalances can cause addictions, but there are also addictions caused by people just trying to escape their lives.

 

References:

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/3076712/t/big-mystery-what-causes-addiction/#.Ujt4nmTioVk

http://www.livestrong.com/article/138027-what-causes-gambling-addiction/

I have always been a pretty big tea drinker myself.  I find there is no greater pleasure than finishing the day off with a good cup of tea.  This led me to wondering, what kind of health benefits are contained in those tiny 1X1 bags of tea.  As it turns out, quite a few!  While black tea is arguably the most common type of tea, I chose to focus this article on the benefits of green tea.  Green tea is made from the Camellias Sinensis flower.

One of the major benefits of tea is that it is full of antioxidants.  These antioxidants protect against numerous different types of cancers, such as skin, stomach, and oral cancer.  They can also help prevent the development of lung cancer, which is especially beneficial for smokers.
Studies in Japan involving green tea and its cardiovascular benefits have shown that the drinking tea leads to longer life and decreased risk of heart disease.  Green tea delivers these benefits due to its high content of flavonoids, which keep the capillaries healthy.
Studies also show that green tea is beneficial in combatting diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.  For patients suffering from diabetes, it is found that green tea helps lower glucose levels.  Given the extensive benefits associated with green tea, it is really surprising that it is not more popular.green tea.jpg

Working Under Pressure


| 3 Comments

Some people say that they are better and more efficient workers when they are running up against their deadline. Some others specifically save their work until as late as they possibly safely can because they feel that they won't be distracted and will be able to work more efficiently. But is there a science behind this?

In a great article, researcher Ari Putkonen disagrees with this theory, and says that although some people may feel that they are more productive when they have a tight window to work with, Dr. Putkonen says that productivity levels are actually down than from that of a normally planned out project. He also says that timing pressure also leads to delayed mental fatigue, which can cause the brain to deteriorate and become less effective over longer periods of time. By putting things off until the last minute, we get into bad habits which cause the brain to constantly believe that you are working under pressure, which will put added and unnecessary stress on the brain at times where you are not under pressure and the stress is not needed.

These factors contribute to the overall innovativeness of the mind. Mental fatigue, caused by constantly working under stress, decreases creativity, delays the thought processes, and generally makes the person working less effective. So, don't save these blogs for the last day like this one next blog period!

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Stop With The Fossil Fuels, Ok?


| 0 Comments

So you don't need to hear the details about what fossil fuels can do to the Earth. But  fossil fuel burning on this campus is out of control


 Ok so we don't literally have furnaces on campus where we shovel coal in, our energy use burns coal elsewhere, but I want to shed some light on how much electricity University Park uses. This university campus's energy use burns superfluous amounts of fossil fuels and we need to take responsible action.


Less than three years ago a reporter from Penn State Live, Laura Miller, wrote that our school spends over $13 million every year on electricity alone. Thats enough for over 1,600 students to go to school free of charge. Think of all that scholarship money possibilities!  In 2011 Patricia Craig said that our campus consumes 300 million kilowatts of electricity annually. Craig also reported that we use 75,000 tons of coal per year. This amount of coal is enough to fill Beaver Stadium. We fill it every year, metaphorically, of course, but imagine it filled to the top with coal. 


 Another mind blowing figure is 257 thousand 612 tons of Carbon Dioxide. According to Craig, that is what Penn State emitted last year.  Craig states that University Park purchases its electricity from Allegheny Power. This source produces 95% of its generated electricity from coal burning. Allegheny provides all kinds of electric power to buildings on campus and we as a community are responsible for a lot of environmental damage caused by our continued and excessive burning of fossil fuels.


The green efforts on campus are spreading rapidly and the majority of the community is engaging in eco-friendly recycling practices. In December of 2011 Richard Emanuel of The International Journal reported that the majority of college students care about their personal environmental impact and that of their college campus. This is great, and student efforts are helping quite a bit to reduce the amount of trash our school produces, but these habits are not enough to eliminate or even make a dent in Penn State's enormous carbon foot print, one that has been developing for over one hundred fifty years.


So one hundred and fifty Beaver Stadiums of coal later, we're still faced with this problem of fossil fuels as our energy source. It's great that the school is attempting to reduce the effects of what we have spent, but the time has come for us to change the direction of our thinking. Penn State needs to invest in an alternative fuel source. There are hundreds of alternative fuel solutions, it's time to pick the one that is a good fit for our school and our community.

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Gentle Hearts


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Although I am not one of those gung-ho animal activist, I do have a gentle heart for animals and animal cruelty. It pained my heart to come across on this video Facebook the other day about a mother elephant rejecting her baby elephant. The thought of a baby crying for five hours straight and could not be comforted at all was so sad. As a Human Development and Family Studies major, I know the impact rejection from your mother can do for a child but who knew the same would apply for animals. Rejection from a parent more importantly a mother can really hinder the emotional development of anyone and any animal.
 
There are studies that suggest that elephants are one of the most expressive animals walking this Earth. As we see elephants in the zoo and on the animal channel, these humble animals are really too themselves and above all peaceful. Through years of research, scientists have found that elephants are capable of complex thought and deep feeling. Some of the emotions elephant are capable of displaying include joy, guilt, shame and love. How beautiful is that? Now knowing this, when I see animal cruelty, I will speak up a little more because animals just have human have emotions and it's not fair to put them through such torture.

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Ever since you were young you have been aware that salt is bad for you. Probably to this day before you put salt on your food it crosses your mind that what you are about to do is bad for you. This blog (http://beta.active.com/nutrition/articles/get-enough-protein-post-workout) is all about whether too much salt really is bad for you and what are some of the benefits of salt in your diet?

 

One of the health risks dealing with eating too much salt is high blood pressure. Salt causes high blood pressure because it lowers the amount of nitric oxide in the body.  Nitric oxide helps open up the blood vessels. When there are low levels of nitric oxide it is harder for blood to flow so blood pressure goes up. Another risk of a high salt diet is osteoporosis. This is because salt promotes the removal of calcium from the body through urine. Calcium is important for bone strength, so low calcium levels because of a high salt diet can easily lead to osteoporosis. You can see where I got my facts here (http://www.news-medical.net/news/20120521/Salt-intake-why-is-it-bad-for-you.aspx)

 

Salt is necessary for our survival though so it is not wise to eliminate it completely from our diets. One of the important benefits of salt is it helps our bodies hold water, which obviously is important for all bodily functions. I was a little surprised to read this because whenever I eat something high in salt it always seems to dehydrate me. Have you ever looked at the nutrition facts on a bottle of Gatorade? If you have then you have probably noticed that there is a lot of sodium in that bottle. This is because salt is important when doing strenuous physical activity because salt also helps to prevent cramping and heatstroke. You can check out more benefits of salt here is you want (http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/the-importance-of-salt-in-your-diet.html#b)

 

I guess the rule of thumb with salt is the same as everything else in life: Everything in moderation.


References:

 http://beta.active.com/nutrition/articles/get-enough-protein-post-workout 

 http://www.news-medical.net/news/20120521/Salt-intake-why-is-it-bad-for-you.aspx 

http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/the-importance-of-salt-in-your-diet.html#b

My last blog was about motorcycle helmets so I figured I'd make another another about football helmets this time.  

We all want to know the technology behind football helmets to see how they work.  I found an interesting article by National Geographic that shows us the efforts to improve old technology. This study talks about the lawsuits arising from brain damaging blows to the head, the NFL reaching out to the military to seek help for more information, and the studies that demonstrate how helmets protect the head.  "More than 200 have been reported in each of the last three NFL seasons, according to Ellenbogen. Last years count -- excluding postseason and including preseason -- was 217." (National Geographic) To test whether or not helmets provide the right type of protection "labs in Ottawa, Canada, and outside Knoxville, Tennessee, the push to monitor hits that can cause concussions is on dramatic display:  Football helmets sit on dummy heads while a piece of machinery slams into them at a set speed." (National Geographic)  What I found extremely interesting from this particular article was that National Geographic quoted a man by the name of Guskiewicz saying, "helmets are supposed to stop catastrophic brain injury, like hemorrhages.  They do a good job of that, but we want a helmet that does that as well as prevent concussions."

The next article I found amusing was one by CBS explaining the risks of injury by high school football players. CBS found from Dr. Robert Cantu, "Cantu points out that even though concussions and hard hits at pro and college levels have gotten more attention lately, there are 55,000 concussions in high school football each year.  Just last year two high school players died of head injuries.  Nine suffered permanent disabilities." 

Basically, without helmets the game of football we know today wouldn't be played and we're all grateful for our helmets. Technology needs to keep improving so that we can play the game without having to worry about injury. 

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My last blog was about motorcycle helmets so I figured I'd make another another about football helmets this time.  

We all want to know the technology behind football helmets to see how they work.  I found an interesting article by National Geographic that shows us the efforts to improve old technology. This study talks about the lawsuits arising from brain damaging blows to the head, the NFL reaching out to the military to seek help for more information, and the studies that demonstrate how helmets protect the head.  "More than 200 have been reported in each of the last three NFL seasons, according to Ellenbogen. Last years count -- excluding postseason and including preseason -- was 217." (National Geographic) To test whether or not helmets provide the right type of protection "labs in Ottawa, Canada, and outside Knoxville, Tennessee, the push to monitor hits that can cause concussions is on dramatic display:  Football helmets sit on dummy heads while a piece of machinery slams into them at a set speed." (National Geographic)  What i found extremely interesting from this particular article was that National Geographic quoted a man by the name of Guskiewicz saying, "helmets are supposed to stop catastrophic brain injury, like hemorrhages.  They do a good job of that, but we want a helmet that does that as well as prevent concussions."

The next article I found amusing was one by CBS explaining the risks of injury by high school football players. CBS found from Dr. Robert Cantu, "Cantu points out that even though concussions and hard hits at pro and college levels have gotten more attention lately, there are 55,000 concussions in high school football each year.  Just last year two high school players died of head injuries.  Nine suffered permanent disabilities." 

Basically, without helmets the game of football we know today wouldn't be played and we're all grateful for our helmets. Technology needs to keep improving so that we can play the game without having to worry about injury. 

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We Need More Sleep


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Lets face it just about all of us are tired all the time. College is not good for our sleeping patterns. With so much to do socially and academically, sleep is at the bottom of most of our lists. I know for me personally if I get 8 hours of sleep, That's a lot. 

We need sleep. Sleep restores our energy and keeps our immune systems strong. I don't know about everyone else, but I have heard and awful lot of coughing in all of my classes this week. Most adult need between 6-10 hours of sleep per night (depending on the person) and 8 hours of sleep is usually considered a good night sleep. In College this can be a tough number to get to. Some consequences of sleep loss include: illness, stress, and lower GPA. So how can we get more sleep?

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine a routine is the key to a good night of sleep. The Academy recommend going to bed early. We should avoid unnecessary late night events like playing video games or watching movies. Another recommendation is to get right out of bed in the morning. We should not set multiple alarms and wake up and fall back to sleep, but wake up one time and get right out of bed. Another suggestion is not limit naps. Naps should only be taken before 3pm and for no longer than an hour to allow a good night sleep. We should also avoid caffeine. I know this is a tough thing for most of us to do but caffeine late at night will only push off our bed time. Finally, have a wind down period of 10-30 minutes to allow yourself to settle down and get a good night sleep

In conclusion, the best way to get more sleep is to make the most out of the time we have to sleep. Remember, get to bed at a decent hour, limit your napping, and get right out of bed in the morning. 

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Its time to get heart healthy


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Most kids our age aren't really concerned about taking care of their heart. Maybe its because we associate strokes, heart disease and other heart related issues with older people and don't see it as something we need to worry about right now. Or maybe its because we think that because we don't smoke, we eat well (the majority of the time), and we maintain a healthy weight we are safe from developing heart disease. Regardless of why we think its ok not to worry about our hearts now while we in our late teens and early twenties, the truth of the matter is this; Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the UNited States and more and more people in their thirties are realizing that they have developed or are developing conditions that can lead to heart disease. Even though heart disease may not be affecting us right now it is a problem we could be facing in ten years or less. So now is the perfect time to do everything we can to protect our heart and keep it as healthy as possible. 

There are a lot of ways to be heart healthy. It can come from changing your actions or even switching up your diet.  A huge thing you can do is putting the cigarette down. We all know that smoking and even second hand smoke can lead to lung cancer but they can also increase your risk of heart disease. Staying within a healthy weight range and eating correctly can also help you avoid heart disease. Being over weight means that your body needs more blood flow which in turn means your heart is working overtime, so by staying in shape you are putting less stress on your heart to do more for your body. Other things that can help include limiting caffeine and alcohol intake, reduce stress, regularly visiting your doctor and much more which you can learn about here

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Heart disease may not be something we have right now or will be diagnosed with in the coming few years but it is important that we start taking the steps now to prevent being diagnosed at all. The steps you can take to maintaining a healthy heart are so easy and are only going to help in the long run. 

Chocolate is good for you


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I know we discussed briefly in class how chocolate makes you smarter, but that's not the only benefit that chocolate has for you! The biggest factor that improves health is the flavonoids. These can help prevent stokes, protect skin against UV rays, and improve mental math skills. Chocolate can also slows blood clotting and improves blood flow which reduces likelihood of a heart attack and protects against blood inflammation.
This helpful article also explains how chocolate can also prevent cancer, reduce the risk of diabetes, control coughs, and make you live longer. They don't even get into how it makes you happy!
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Truth About Acai Berries


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Recently, a craze for these tiny fruits has emerged. But why? And should I listen to everything thats being said about it's wondrous properties?
Well, some accusations hold more truth than others.
For starters, these berries will NOT help you lose 20 pounds in two weeks. They aren't magic beans that get rid of fat. However, they do have many good qualities
Many studies have been done, and none have proven that these berries will speed up your metabolism or suppress your appetite. It's crazy how quick these rumors spread, and how much money people will spend on diet products. Soon after Oprah Winfrey mentioned this fruit on her show, people blew it out of proportion. Advertisements made false claims about Acai, claiming it was a health miracle.
The truth is, acai berries are good for your health. They are rich in antioxidants, and aid in killing "free radical" cells. Any healthy diet for weight loss should include more fruits and vegetables, with a balance of calorie intake and exercise. Yes, adding these berries to your diet will be beneficial, but they arent you to change your life drastically. Many of the products being sold along with the "acai berry diet/cleanse" are not regulated by the government because they are over the counter drugs. Most of these drug companies are just scamming you with their false advertisements and claims for a drug to work.
If you plan on going on a diet, do it the right way. Don't fall for these "incredible fruits" with their "incredible results". Would you take another drug that claimed it was proven for weight loss if it was made of apples? ... No. The acai berry is just more rich in antioxidants, but it is still a fruit no matter what. There is no proof that the acai berry will make you skinny, so read more about the truth of a product before you enter your credit card on that website.

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What less than twenty years ago was completely unheard of, is now one of the main components of our everyday lives; of course I am talking about social media sites and applications. We are constantly posting things in our Facebook wall, tweeting absurdities, instagraming our food and basically ignoring everything and anything that is not contained in our phones. Social media is the new way of getting close to others, and yet I believe we've never been so far. 

Whether being overly active in social medias is healthy or not, has become a very controversial and often discussed topic. A 2012 article on The Atlantic argues that social media can result in users experiencing increased levels of loneliness, which actually makes sense. As the article says "We meet fewer people. We gather less. And when we gather, our bonds are less meaningful and less easy.". I have actually experienced in the flesh the words expressed on this article and can give testimony as to how many of my relationships seem weightless and platonic. Still, I guess the real question is what is lonelier: being consumed by the social media along with everyone else and accepting the meaningless relationships, or breaking free from it when everyone else is still lost inside?  




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Put the Coffee Cup Down!


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Coffee-Skull.jpgEveryone loves after they wake up, to head to the kitchen and brew up some coffee. I especially loved it. I would make up to 6 cups of coffee a day. I love the taste, and the energy it can give you is always a plus. However, that much caffeine intake a day, although at first it can be exhilarating, can come back to haunt you in the end.

In fact, more than four cups of coffee day can heighten your mortality rate. Coffee has aways been associated with anxiety, headaches, fatigue, etc. However, who knew that excessive coffee drinking could be associated with death? It was recently found that excessive coffee drinkers, could be linked to a 21% higher mortality rate for people of all ages. Even scarier, it can be 50% higher for avid coffee drinkers under the age of 55 years old. There is a high correlation between coffee consumption, smoking, and low-fitness levels. This extensive use of coffee can increase the risk of death from any cause. You can learn more about how coffee can increase your chance of death here.

After learning about this information, I decided to cut down on my coffee intake. In this article, you can learn how to limit your caffeine intake & how it can vastly improve your health.

However, coffee is not just all "cons". In fact coffee has many pros such as reducing the risk of diabetes, fighting free radicals, etc. You can learn more about the pros & cons of coffee drinking, here.

The future with 3D Printers


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Imagine a world where you didn't have to go to Auto Zone to get a spare part for your car or Home Depo to get a nail for your lofted bed.  While it may seem impossible the entire world of manufacturing is about to be turned on its head.  3D printers are the future of what seems to be a far less expensive world.  A world where all you need is the computer code to a certain part and a printer can construct it for you out of thin air.  While this may seem fair off its not because these printers are already for sale to the public.  3D Systems has already rolled out a new printer which while not cheap will solve almost everyones problems.  Do you want a nail? or a Screw?  just enter the computer code for those products and the printer and create them using a custom laser jet that will cut the material you want into the custom part you desire.  This is also an investment that I see exploding on the market and finishing 2013 up 10%.  Just be ready for a world in 15 years that you will be able to craft a custom part to fit your needs without having to go to the hardware store.  Just enter the code and there it is. 3D printers are the future.ORDbot_quantum.jpg

Why drink Protein


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Everyone that goes to the gym to lift drinks a protein shake after his or her workout. I am one of those people, but I have never really understood the science behind the protein shake. I decided to do a little research into protein and here is what I found.

 

I found in this article (http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/guide-to-protein/protein-after-workout.php) the basics of what protein does for your muscles. Basically, the protein has things like amino acids that help you repair your muscles after a workout. Your muscles need to be repaired because when you work out you are actually breaking down your muscles. Whey protein is the protein supplement of choice for bodybuilders because it has extremely high quantities of the amino acids that you need to repair your muscles.

 

Post workout is the best time to refuel your body with protein. In this article (http://beta.active.com/nutrition/articles/get-enough-protein-post-workout) it says that even after a full day since the last workout protein synthesis is up by 109%. So, when you see someone walking home from the gym and they are drinking a protein shake that is a good start, but it seems that a consistent diet of protein is very important because it does take a considerable amount of time for your body to recover from the muscular breakdown that a workout causes.


References:

http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/guide-to-protein/protein-after-workout.php

http://beta.active.com/nutrition/articles/get-enough-protein-post-workout)

Do We Really Need to be Here?


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Everyone loves college when it comes to the friends they make and parties they go to. But do they love college for the education?

Personally, I like a small part of the college education, but definitely not all of it. I feel like I learn concepts professors tell me I need to know for an exam, but as soon as it is over, I forget it all. So maybe I am not really learning, I am just retaining information for the time being. And I also don't learn anything from classes I am not interested in!

So, why am I here? Why am I taking 11 credits this semester of classes that don't really tie up with my major? I get it to be well rounded in all aspects, but do I really need to be here?

Parents and teachers have told us since we were young that we needed to come to college. That it was crucial to get a college education to be well off in "the real world". But what if it just isn't for us? What if we take a different route and go to a short technical school to be an electrician or just start your own business with the experience from watching your dad manage his business?

This article online says that "some recent college graduates are not faring too well in the job market." That is so scary since we get in debt trying to get a degree. If we can't get a job to pay for the 4 years of college we just went through, is it worth it? The price for an education is always so expensive no matter if you go to a private or public school. The debt piles up even if you had savings because you never know what setbacks you may have. And to not have a job opportunity out of college just brings down your accomplishments.

This article by The Atlantic says that "In a recent study, Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney of the Hamilton Project conducted a seemingly simple cost-benefit analysis: While four years of college today can cost in excess of $100,000, a typical college graduate earns roughly $13,000 more per year than a high school graduate." Is the difference really worth it?

I think it is all personal opinion. I think it is a choice one makes because they are the only ones that will be affected by the choice. Going to college doesn't make you or break you, but it can give you a leg up in an industry due to the experience that you gain during it.

But there are tons of successful people in this world that didn't go to college or maybe dropped out! Some of these people are household names such as:

  • Bill Gates
  • Mark Zuckerberg
  • Steven Spielberg
  • John D. Rockefeller
  • Richard Branson

We are all in college, clearly, but I hope most of us are here because we want to be here and not because we were brainwashed into thinking we have to be here in order to be successful. I think that is a personal myth some choose to believe or not to.

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Photo by http://toddmillarspeaking.com/tag/you-dont-need-a-degree-to-reach-goals/

 

As we've all seen or heard, motorcycles can be very risky and fatal. But when we see or hear about an accident we ask ourselves "why wouldn't you just wear the helmet?" 

I found an article about Michigan's law for wearing helmets. It assesses the differences between non-helmet to helmeted riders' percentages of injury.  This article shows that 5% of non-helmeted riders are more likely to be killed compared to 2% of riders who wear helmets.  While 15% of non-helmeted riders opposed to 20% of helmeted riders are more likely to have no injuries. 

Additionally, take a look at this other post on NewsOk by Jack Wagner about fatalities and freedom.  Wagner found from National Transportation Safety Board that "unhelmeted riders are three times more likely to suffer a fatal head injury than those wearing helmets."  Jack  also mentions how one should not argue lack of freedom by laws stating to wear a helmet because as he says "it's about saving lives."

I want to point out one more important fact about laws stating (or not stating) to wear helmets while on a motorcycle.  Provided by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), state's including Illinois, California, Washington, and Louisiana "data showed approximately the same trend: When universal helmet laws are enacted, helmet use increases, and fatalities and serious injuries decrease. When these laws are repealed, helmet use decreases, and injuries and associated costs increase, far exceeding the number of new motorcycles registered." Lastly, "motorcyclist fatalities increase when a helmet law is repealed." 

I'm going to have to agree with Wagner in this case. As he says "it's about saving lives." -Jack Wagner

This is my brother. He just bought his first bike on Wednesday. Notice, he's wearing a helmet. 

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 Lately, I've been extremely stressed out. My schedule is jam-packed with all of my least favorite activities. Graduate school is around the corner for me and it took everything out of me to get to the bookstore and finally buy that GRE prep book. I'm starting to cram for exams that all seem to be piled up in the same week and my working hours are less than pleasant. So, all of this has lead me to feel less than my best. To be blunt, I've been feeling sad and anxious these past few weeks. Luckily, I found this article of 5 minute solutions for my bad mood: http://www.womansday.com/health-fitness/stress-management/improve-your-mood-in-5-minutes-75319.
The article recommends listening to music to stimulate pleasure centers in the brain and soothe you. It suggests something I've been doing quite a bit of recently, so why aren't I bursting with endorphins yet? Apparently blogging can help improve someone's mood! While some of the advice offered is corny and unoriginal (what if it's raining out and I can't step in the sunshine?), some of it is novel and quite clever to me. A lot of what is suggested has to do with generosity. Making other people feel good makes you feel good too! It recommends simply tipping generously or sending out three texts, each with a compliment for your friends. It's as easy as planting a tree or reenacting a scene from your favorite movie and imagining you're the star to change your perspective. One thing I'm going to do right now is change one of my passwords to something that's comical or that I'm especially fond of.
Home to the global football federation, FIFA, France has nurtured and grown an enviable number of football enthusiasts nationwide. The sport is most popular in the country and in 2009 alone, the Sports Ministry issued 96,000 football licenses (insee.fr). The people's love for the game has been rewarded by stellar performance by the national team during the late 20th century with an unforgettable upset of the world football giants, Brazil, in the 1998 World Cup Final being the epitome of football excellence in France. France is a relatively multicultural country, as the popular phrase "black, blanc, beur" suggests. So it was not surprising that France's 23 man squad, in the late 1990s, had 17 minorities in it.  Zinidine Zidane, Franck Ribery and of course New York Red Bulls' very own Thierry Henry are among the minority football idols France has produced. The nature of the French national team receives constant criticism form detractors as not being "French enough". However the trend of increasing presence of minorities in the French national team continues even at the national league level.

Unlike the English Premier League, the Ligue 1, as it is known in France, has a fairly distributed title-winning potential among most of the teams. 12 out of the 20 teams in the league this season have been crowned champions before. Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, Marseille, Lille and many other culturally rich regions in France are endowed with clubs that give fans hope of seeing tantalizing football matches every season. As expected, many historical champions would mean accumulating reasons for tense rivalries among teams. Rivalries are no less intense than they are in England, and matches of this nature are always coupled with some degree of hooliganism. Le Classique is the most famous football rivalry in France.  It is the name for a match day rivalry between Olympique de Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). Bad blood between fans and sympathizers of both teams is fuelled by history, politics, regional pride and of course adults ribbing each other till the next Le Classique. Out of 82 fixtures, Marseille has won 32 and PSG 30, with the remaining 20 settled as draws.

PSG is a playesr-purchasing mogul in Europe. Last year, it spent a whopping $171.9 million in one summer transfer window; making up 70% of all the money transfers made in France during the window (sports business). Their expenditure paid off excellently, as they won the league title and 4 out of 5 Le Classique fixtures in the 2012-2013 season.  The party may not last long though, as newly promoted and current table topper, AS Monaco, has started reaping profits from the extravaganza spending spree during the summer.  The team is also negotiating with the French FA to allow them to continue evading payment of taxes- no residential income tax in the state of Monaco; so much for financial fair play.

Although the Euro is gradually pushing aside even competitiveness in French football, the game will never lose its beauty. French love for the game is still strong and the multicultural nature of France will ensure a continuous inflow of wonderful talent into the national team and clubs across Europe.

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Works Cited

http://www.insee.fr/fr/themes/document.asp?reg_id=17&ref_id=16699#art2

http://blog.gmfus.org/2010/07/22/national-soccer-teams-and-integration-minorities-are-cheered-as-long-as-they-are-winners/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ligue_1

http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Global/Issues/2012/08/17/International-Football/PSG.aspx

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Classique


Do horses smell fear?


| 1 Comment
Everyone has heard that horses can sense when you are afraid, but is this true? I believe it is, and I think it is simply a part of how horses and people can communicate. Horses receive signals from the human via body language and by sensing intent. It is said that this sixth sense can even allow zebras to sense when lions are hungry or full. The last day I saw my horse I think he knew that it was our last day together just from how I acted. He was very calm and obedient, which is by no means normal for him.
The way you hold your body, move around the horse, or even how you look at them also send signals revealing your mood or intent. When lunging (exercising the horse on a long lead line from the ground), if you hunch over and step forward purposefully towards their hind end, they will see an aggressive stance and speed up. If you stand straight and relaxed, body lined up with the shoulder and not looking directly at the horse, they will be put more at ease and will slow down.
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When sitting on the horse, you can use different techniques to communicate including leg, seat, and rein aids, and shifting body weight. For example, when I want the horse to shift his weight back onto his haunches more, I sit deeper into the saddle, as if to mimick that movement. If the horse is drifting to the left, I use left leg and rein as if to "close the door". At shows when my horse is very nervous and on edge, I have to take some deep breaths and steady myself in order to calm him down. A steady hand and heart rate will make it easier to reassure him that everything is going to be ok. Here's another article that goes into some detail about communication between horse and rider.

Fruit Salad; Yummy, Yummy


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            Fruits and vegetables are always linked together, but what is the difference? We all know the general difference that fruits are sweeter than vegetables because they have more sugar. But how does some just decide what's a fruit and what's a vegetable; especially when that fruit isn't generally sweet? "According to botanists (those who study plants) a fruit is the part of the plant that develops from a flower" (Nelson). Fruits are also apart of the portion of the plant that includes the seeds. "The other parts of the plants are considered vegetables. The following are technically fruits: avocado, beans, peapods, corn kernels, cucumbers, grains, nuts, olive peppers, pumpkin, squash, sunflower seeds, and tomatoes. Vegetables include: celery (stem), lettuce (leaves), cauliflower and broccoli (buds), beets, carrots, and potatoes (roots)".

            In terms of a consumer stand point, both of these types of foods are rich with "fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients" (Reinagel). "The biggest difference is that fruits tend to be higher in sugar". The fact that fruit has more sugars infused in it causes people to think that vegetables are healthier, and since vegetables have less sugar nutritionist's say that a person should have more servings of vegetables than fruit.

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            Diet plans call for a person to eat more vegetables than fruit also due to the sugar in the fruit. The nutrients in vegetables also help the person who is dieting. The fiber helps lower the person's risk for constipation. The potassium in vegetables plays a role in regulating a person's blood pressure. "Folate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells" (Choose My Plate). These ingredients in vegetables are also present in fruit but just not as abundant. Vegetables are just slightly healthier for you because they have less sugar and more prevalent vitamins.

            For those who are dieting or just simply trying to lead a healthier lifestyle a helpful tip is to leave vegetables out on a table. When they are in your line of sight you are more tempted to reach for them instead of that bag of chips when you want a snack. 

Drug Test 0_o


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It is common that at every university that there are sport jockeys who gets held on a slight pedestal. While they not be the most active contributor during class discussion or be involved in too many extracurricular activities, when it comes to their particular sport, they dominate. We all notice them as they walk through the HUB and the dinning commons thinking that we know them but in reality, we actually don't have an idea as to how things are going in their athletic world.
There has been much debates in the past decasde to discuss the status of student athletes and what should be the benefits of being an athlete and to an extent a representative of the university. If you recall, there was much debate about whether or not student athletes should be paid or not. There were also debates as to whether or not students athletes should be drug tested. While some universities dd not conform to this idea of drug testing, Linn State did.

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Linn State is one of the few colleges that required all incoming student athletes to provide drug test. Furthermore, those who refused to take the drug test were denied from the program overall. Mind blowing, right? This mean that their quest to higher education was disrupted because they did not want to take a drug test.  Although it took long enough, law enforcement finally decided to speak out against this non sense and support the constitutional rights of these student athletes. In recent news, law enforcer have found this to be unconstitutional and have banded the idea of allowing student athletes to undergo this procedure stating that those drug test have no place in education.

I personally think that drug testing student athletes is ridiculous. Furthermore, denying them into the program when to actually practiced their constitutional right of the 4 Amendment is down right wrong. What do you think? 




'Like' At Your Own Risk?


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This article in Psychology today caught my eye: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/psyched/201303/the-trail. It is entitled "The Like Trail" with a subtitle of: "What you Like on Facebook says more than you know." As an avid Facebook user and a psychology major, I couldn't help but dig deeper. Liking things on Facebook is something I try to abstain from because among my list of 900 'friends,' I'd be lucky if ten care even a little bit about my personal interests and preferences. On occasion though, I find myself unable to resist the urge to click the 'like' button when my favorite actress or a recipe for snickerdoodles pops up on my newsfeed. I always wondered if this caused people to make inferences about my personal life. If I like a type of cookie on Facebook, are people who haven't seen in years going to assume I eat unhealthy foods? Maybe it means I make poor lifestyle choices and don't care enough about my physique. Come to think of it, I really haven't been the gym in a while. So, it's probably safe to say I chose to read this article to find out if it's true: does what people Like on Facebook reveal more about them they mean to. Could I unintentionally be sharing information about my personal life to strangers?

According to the article, researchers could accurately measure personal attributes of people based on Facebook Likes. The data determining whether or not someone is White or Black, , is male or female, and is democrat or republican seems to be easier to detect and is believable to me. However, the scales with which the data are measured are not straightforward or comprehensive. The first slew of data's accuracy "probability of correctly categorizing two randomly selected people, one from each of the two paired categories." To me, this is not necessarily indicative of much. If accuracy is 65% for 'Uses Drugs," then did one of the people partake in occasional recreational drug use when the researchers assumed consistent drug use or did both randomly selected individuals partake in heavy drug use when the researchers assumed occasional drug use? Other data assessing Likes being correlated with personality type are even more ambiguous. The data could largely be based on volunteer bias as well. To me, the results are inconclusive. While 'liking' something on Facebook could be a strong indicator of your personal preferences, I don't think it provides a peephole into your personal life or reveals much about your character. Since what I like on Facebook is public knowledge, I only like items that I wouldn't be ashamed of if the immediate world knew about my appreciation. I assume that most Facebook users are aware of this and screen what they like as well. If people are going to assume someone is unsatisfied with life based on a Facebook Like, then maybe they should re-evaluate their own happiness. Whenever I see a friend has 'liked' a new meme or an old movie, I only take notice if we have a shared interest in the item. I have yet to be enlightened or provoked by a simple Facebook Like. Just yesterday, I accidentally 'liked' Miley Cyrus. 

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Soo...  I've always liked chewing gum. If I wasn't chewing food, I was probably chewing gum, kind of like that kid from Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryAlong with my unhealthy obsession with chewing gum I frequently swallowed the gum when I was tired of chewing it, it was just more efficient than spitting it out and having to find a suitable place to rid of my gum.  A couple of years ago my  gran, the lovely soul that she is, told me that  it takes seven years for the body to digest gum and that if I continue to swallow gum it will all accumulate in my digestive system and clog up my bum hole.  The idea seemed preposterous to me, how could the gum I've been chewing stay in my bowels for seven years. Baffled as I was I never questioned my gran's statement; after all, she was much older and presumably wiser. So I have stopped swallowing my gum but one question that stays lingering in my mind is what really happens to gum if you swallow it?

In 1998 the Journal of Paediatrics discussed three cases where children swallowing gum caused nearly fatal problems:

"The first tale was of a four and a half year old boy who had been addicted to chewing since he was two. By the time his parents finally took him to get help, he was up to seven pieces of gum a day--each one he had conveniently disposed of down his throat. When the mass created a blockage, his doctors had to pull the "taffy like substance" from him manually. The next subject, also four, would indulge in gum several times a day as a reward from her parents. The subject was known to gulp down her first piece just so she was allowed another. In the end "multiple spheres of chewed gum congealed into a multicoloured rectal mass" had to be extracted. The final tale comes from a regular gum-chewing one and a half year old. The girl apparently decided to spice things up by taking in four coins with what she was chewing. The mass had to be pulled out via a special coin-in-body retrieval system. " 

(adapted from gizmodo.com)

To understand what happens to gum after you swallow it you must first understand what it is made from. Chewing gum is made of either synthetic or natural materials such as gum resin or gum base, preservatives, flavorings  and sweeteners. According to David E. Milov, MD, the body is able to absorb sweeteners, such as sugar, and they can add up to a lot of calories if you chew a lot of sugary gum. So if you are watching your calorie intake remember each piece of gum is about 5 calories! Unfortunately, for anyone who has swallowed their gum, the human digestive tract can't digest the gum resin. But luckily it is moved through the digestive tract by the peristaltic actions of the gut. Doctors estimate that it takes roughly two days to digest and eliminate any gum you have swallowed. So for any avid gum chewers like me and Violet Beauregard out there, the fact that myth that gum takes seven years to digest has been proven false has come as a godsend. Now I can rest easy and not worry about a clogged bum hole. 

expired milk.jpgThis morning when I went to pour milk on my cereal the date on the milk jug said 9/19/13, realizing that today was the 20th only a day after the expiration date, I shrugged it off and poured the milk on my cereal anyways. Was eating cereal with expired milk this morning really that big of a deal?

 

An article from ABC news (Is it OK to Eat Expired Food) claims that the consensus between food scientists is that most expired food can be eaten without serious side effects. However, it seems that there is little research to back up this claim. Most scientists maintain that expired food is considered safe to be eaten, but it will not taste as good. It has been proved that if you are pregnant, an infant, or have some auto immune disease, eating expired food will cause food poisoning in most cases. Further, if the food was not handled properly before it got to the store, such as not being refrigerated, this can magnify the effects of eating expired food. The USDA supports the opinion of food scientists and maintains the viewpoint that expired food is not harmful, but that it will simply just not taste as good.

 

Another article that I read (Health Effects of Eating Expired Food) stated that eating expired food will likely lead to food poisoning. Food poisoning consists of diarrhea and vomiting that can last for weeks and in some extreme cases can lead to a fever. Further, certain foods such as nuts, apples, and grapes can grow mold called mycotoxins, which can cause itchiness, diarrhea, vomiting, and dizziness.

 

Typically I am very paranoid about eating expired food. Even though I have personally not gotten food poisoning, some of my family members have, so I am very conscious of it. So this morning when I made the decision to drink expired milk, I was mildly concerned that I might end up puking later in the day. The article from ABC news has claimed my fears that the one cup of milk I consumed this morning will lead me to vomit and have a fever. While I seem to have avoided food poisoning today, to stay on the safe side from now on I think I'll stick with eating food that is not expired.

You're sitting in Forum building on exam day, hundreds of other students quietly working on their exams around you. Douchebag luck, you feel a sneeze coming on. You do every thing in your power to thwart this sneeze- rubbing your nose, breathing a little differently... Unlucky you, after many valiant attempts to get rid of this oncoming sneeze, it persists and in less than a few moments, you're going to be the person who breaks the silence with some loud, obnoxious sneeze. You have no tissues to blow your nose with after and you're dreading the impending disaster sneeze from hell. At the last second, you make the smart decision to hold in your sneeze so as not to 1) interrupt the silence and 2) make a huge snotty mess.  Ew.

Wake up call folks -- according to WebMDsneezes travel at about 100 miles an hour. Holding something so forceful in, could practically blast your brains out. Seriously. An article released by Live Science reports that, "A violent sneeze by someone who had sinus surgery can push air into the space around the eye and cause it to bulge, or push air into the brain cavity and cause an intense headache or even stroke."  

It's up to you. If you don't care about running the risk of having a STROKE over a sneeze, by all means, continue holding your sneezes in. Just don't be surprised if instead of walking out of your classroom, you're being carried out on a stretcher or, even worse, this happens.


 

Trust me. Just let it out. This girl didn't and I bet she regrets it!

Ah-choo!

Sources:
http://www.webmd.com/allergies/features/11-surprising-sneezing-facts

http://www.livescience.com/32776-is-it-safe-to-hold-in-a-sneeze.html 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1223959/Burst-eardrums-broken-backs-death--dangers-sneezing.html

The Future of Your Pocket!


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While I really cannot comment on the future of pockets, I can excitedly explain the advancement of one of our favorite pocket companions: the mobile phone. 

Earlier this month, a new idea for a cell phone was shared with the world: Phonebloks. Dave Hakkens, the creator of Phonebloks, has come up with an invention idea worth spreading the news about! Phonebloks will be a smart phone with each tech component a little 'lego' block. 

According to the most recent information"Phoneblok is made of detachable bloks. The bloks are connected to the base which locks everything together into a solid phone. If a blok breaks you can easily replace it; if it's getting old just upgrade" which is, in my opinion a revolutionary and fantastic idea!

The need for a product like this comes from what we have developed over the last century: electronic waste. When our cell phones, laptops, and other electronic devices don't work, we assume the whole thing is done for and it's time to upgrade. All of the discarded parts and chips and modules have been creating this problem of 'E-waste'. Has this been needless? 

One of the great things about Phonebloks is that if the phone is beginning to malfunction, you can easily take out the ill performing blok and replace or update it! You can still keep over 70% of your phone and contribute much less product to the mountain to E-waste. 

Not only is this great for the environmentally conscious, but for those of us who love to have options! Dave Hakkens likens Phonebloks to an app store;  "In the store you buy your bloks, read reviews and sell old bloks. Small and big companies develop and sell their bloks. You can buy a pre-assembled phone or assemble it yourself by selecting the brands you want to support. The choice is yours!"

And don't you know I love having options! I can format and configure my Phoneblok phone to fit my needs and lifestyle! 'Choose the bloks you want, support the brands you like, or even develop your own bloks'.  How exciting!

To make this dream come true, Dave Hakkens is asking people to 'join the thunderclap'. We can easily do this by spreading it via social media, blogging about it to our science class, or donating some spare change to making this thing happen! 

Would you want to use this phone? I think it's a marvelous idea! I want to know what you all think! Is this worth investing in? Do you think the science will work? Let me know!

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Cold Hands and Feet?


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