November 2013 Archives

          The mind is the most complex and confusing thing to exist in this world. While some minds create greatness, others are lost in the world and some even suffer from issues that cannot fully be comprehended. Unfortunately, various people suffer from problems like down syndrome, schizophrenia, the list goes on... However, the disorder that has always made me wonder and feel unsettled about is the multi-personality disorder. I always heard about this problem where people can have a variety of personalities to a point where they have convinced themselves that they are an entirely different person. I was never sure if I believed that this misfortune could happen, until one of my close friends from middle school began to act like an entirely different person. She would always have these random outbursts and blame them on her "grumpy side-effects from [her] time of the month." Recently, she was diagnosed with "Dissociative Identity Disorder", which is the scientific name of multiple personality disorder. 

         People with the Dissociative Identity Disorder can experience issues like depression, psychotic-like symptoms, suicidal tendencies, blackouts, mood swings, eating disorders, compulsions, sleep disorders, etc. All of these possible side-effects are not positive or beneficial, so it makes me extremely concerned and upset that such a happy and upbeat person that I have known my entire life can be experiencing these things behind closed-doors. 

         There is a movie that I saw in my high school Human Development class, which you may have seen called Sybil. This movie was probably one of the most frightening movies that I have seen, because it is so realistic and it is hard to believe that people have dealt with issues similar to her. If you haven't seen it, it is about "a young woman whose childhood was so harrowing that she developed at least thirteen different personalities." Sure, this was an extreme and fictional case, but it still made me feel weary and heartbroken that these things can happen to anyone. She was not "born with" the disorder, but instead she was a victim of trauma. 
 
         Trauma is a huge factor to people developing multiple personalities. Emotional, physical, and sexual abuse can all trigger the mind to become traumatized and disoriented in some ways. People who have been in the war, in the holocaust, earthquakes, losing a loved one, or have been sexually assaulted can develop 'DID'. PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is proven to have been the cause for mental illnesses of 8% Americans. When so much stress is repeated emotionally and/or physically the brain can be extremely altered. "The Broca's Area and parts of the right hemisphere of the brain is reported to be markedly suppressed." The right hemisphere is shown to process visual images and experience emotions, and speech can be effected as well causing people to become conflicted and forming "more personalities".

          A lot of research has been done of Dissociative Identity Disorder, and "studies show that in the general population 1 to 3 percent meet full criteria of 'DID' making it as common as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia." This disorder can be caused by trauma in childhood, in the war, from a loss of a loved one (specifically a parent), and extreme stress. Many believe that there is no cure for this disorder, and a lot of people also believe that treatment can lead to the disorder to become worse. However, there have been measures taken along the lines of psychotherapy,  cognitive therapy, medication (revolving around depression and anxiety), family therapy, and clinical hypnosis. 

         My friend did experience a loss of her father, so that could be a main factor into what triggered her recently diagnosed disorder. Although, this disorder makes me so nervous and concerned about her health because there is not a obvious cure to help her. I hope she doesn't reach extremities like some people have, or what was demonstrated in the movie Sybil. The mind is the strangest and craziest thing that exists on this planet, and I hope people find ways to help the minds find their way back if lost. Has there ever been a moment where you have not felt like yourself, as if you were an entirely different person after being so stressed or tired, why do you think that happened?
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Works Cited: 

       "Dissociative Identity Disorder." AAMFT. 01 Dec. 2013. <http://www.aamft.org/imis15/content/Consumer_Updates/Dissociative_Identity_Disorder.aspx>


       "Dispelling Myths about Dissociative Identity Disorder | Psych Central." Psych Central. 29 Nov. 2013. <http://psychcentral.com/lib/dispelling-myths-about-dissociative-identity-disorder/0009785>


       "Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder): Signs, Symptoms, Treatment." WebMD. 29 Nov. 2013. <http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/dissociative-identity-disorder-multiple-personality-disorder?page=3>


       "Human Diseases and Conditions." Human Diseases and Conditions. 29 Nov. 2013. <http://www.humanillnesses.com/original/Men-Os/Multiple-Personality-Disorder-Dissociative-Identity-Disorder.html>

 

        "What is Dissociate Disorder?" Sidran Institute. 3 Dec. 2013.   <http://www.sidran.org/sub.cfm?contentID=75&sectionid=4>

            I see people all the time with dirt under their nails and men/women with long nails. I see several people on a daily basis biting their nails which is a gross habit. I see those who bite their nails even with dirt under them too. Every time I see this I want to gag. What is living under those nails that you just put in your mouth? 

           First off keratin is a protein that makes our nails flat and hard. This substance also creates our hair and "the top layer of our skin". Even in the womb we have finger nails/toenails. Our nails actually begin in what's known as the nail root. This is located under our skin behind the cuticle. The cuticle is where the nail touches the skin and the lunula is the "pale half circle just above the cuticle". Our nails continue to grow because new nail cells grow under our skin and force the old nail out. Under our nail is called the nail bed; it's made up of blood vessels that keep our nail healthy and that give it a pink tint. Our fingernails grow 2.5 millimeters per month and this is why it will take three to six months to replace a whole nail once you lose it. To keep our nails healthy it's recommended that we cut our fingernails and toenails straight across and to regularly put lotion on our nails and cuticles to add moisture. ("Your").

dirty-nails2.jpg

Dr. Anthony Hilton, a microbiologist from Aston University, held a study of nail clippings from fifty-five women and forty-five men. He had found enterobacteriaceae under 24% of men and 15% from women. Enterobacteriaceae causes vomiting, diarrhea, and gastroenteritis and is usually found "in the guts of animals or humans" ("Quarter"). Another study done by Dr. David Katz from Yale University swabbed several students with different fingernails lengths. He let the bacteria grow for three days in which he concluded the short, painted nails had the least bacteria under them. Unlike those with long unpainted nails, who had the most bacteria. Nails that are shorter are able to be cleaned easier and nail polish has a few chemicals that includes the chemical formaldehyde, which actually decreases bacteria growth ("Biting"). In another study it was found that "infectious outbreaks in neonatal intensive care units were linked to long nails". Eighteen health-care workers were tested and the study concluded that longer nails contained bacteria compared to 18% of the health-care workers who had shorter nails. Klebsiella, a bacteria that causes pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and a yeast that can cause blood stream infections were found under several of these nails. This is very scary especially when the workers help those who are already ill and vulnerable ("Study").

Nail-biting-92076276082_xlarge.jpeg

Onychophagia also known as nail biting occurs in about 45% of teenagers. Nail biting could be caused by stress, anxiety, OCD, or just a habit. When biting your nails you put all the bacteria under the nails into your mouth and gums, let alone possibly creating infection in your fingers by breaking the skin when biting. Nail biting can also damage your teeth by weakening and wearing down the enamel on the teeth ("Mouth").

            Many of these studies need more people to be involved in the tests to have stronger results. Also many third variables can play a role like the jobs of students and the environment they live in at home that can affect the bacteria under their nails. As you have read biting nails are not healthy so here are some tips on how to stop.


Works Cited:

"Biting Your Nails Part 2." Huffpost Healthy Living. 30 Nov. 2013   <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thomas-p-connelly-dds/stop-biting-nails-_b_604665.html>.

"Mouth Health: The Dish on Biting Your Nails." Huffpost Healthy Living. 30 Nov.  2013 <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thomas-p-connelly-dds/mouth-health-the-dish-on_b_574866.html>.

"Quarter of Men Have Germs Lurking Under Fingernails." Mail Online. 30 Nov. 2013 <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-472410/Quarter-men-germs-lurking-fingernails.html>.

"Study Links Long Fingernails and  Bacteria." ABC News. 30 Nov 2013     <http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=117161>.

"Your Nails." KidsHealth. 30 Nov. 2013 <http://kidshealth.org/kid/htbw/your_nails.html>.

Photo of dirty nails:

     <http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-nesvH_P-sK0/ToCh9ItJnsI/AAAAAAAAAes/YPBzOv6iYFQ/s1600/dirty-nails2.jpg>.

Photo of woman biting nails:

     <http://images.sodahead.com/polls/003298113/Nail-biting-92076276082_xlarge.jpeg>.

Little rats sitting around slot machines in a cage. That is the premise of this study

"In the 16-month study, a cohort of 32 laboratory rats responded to a series of three flashing lights before choosing between two levers. One combination of lights (all lights illuminated) signaled a win and seven combinations (zero, one or two lights) signaled a loss. A "cash-out" lever rewarded the rat with 10 sugar pellets on winning trials, but gave a 10-second "time out" penalty on losing trails. The "roll again" lever allowed the rats to begin a new trial without penalty, but provided no sugar pellets."

Much like humans, the rats showed excitement when they won and were upset when they lost. When rats had a near miss, they treated it almost like a win. 

Scientists used a D4 dopamine blocking medication on the rats, making the rats much less likely to "cash-out". Dopamine receptor has been linked to behavioral disorders for a long time. When rats were given the medication they showed reduced signs of problem gambling.

slots.jpg

Not all rat studies can be linked directly back to humans because their species are still quite different, but the study is promising because it eliminated many variables by just leaving the rats in the cage to do that. But, will rats keep gambling just because they are bored and have nothing else to do? It could be a similar effect like that of the rats in the Rat Morphine experiment. So maybe humans continue to feel compelled to gamble when they are bored or feel trapped.

My friend's grandmother had a gambling problem for a long time. She was there so often that the bouncers and dealers knew her and would put her at the best tables. Eventually, she made herself stop cold-turkey for good and hasn't turned back since.

I found this study to be quite interesting because it could lead to a medication for problem gamblers as well as other behavioral diseases, but it needs much more looking into. How could scientists design a study with humans to test this?

Okay, okay- we already know the morning after pill is controversial- not to mention  kind of confusing. So, where else to start but with the facts?:

·         Emergency contraceptives (let's call them ECs for short) are a form of birth control used to "prevent pregnancy after sex by preventing or delaying ovulation, interfering with fertilization of an egg, or preventing implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus by altering its lining," (WebMD).  

·         Side effects may include nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue, menstrual cramps, dizziness, vomiting.

·         The active ingredient for most ECs is levonorgestrel.

·         The sooner, the better.

o   If taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex, the pill can reduce pregnancy by up to 89% and 95% if taken within 24.

 

However, time may not be the only thing that plays a factor in the effectiveness of an emergency contraceptive. In Europe, HRA Pharma, a manufacturer of the emergency contraceptive Norvelo, is now putting new labels on the bottle, warning that weight may have a very major impact on the drug's effectiveness. See full story here

So the question is- does it really? And if it does, why aren't identical American ECs such as Plan B One-Step required to use similar labels?

In 2010, a study was conducted by Anna Glasier of the University of Edinburgh consisting of 3,445 women in order to identify factors associated with EC failure. The women were separated into two randomized control groups- one which took the EC 72 hours after unprotected intercourse and one which took EC 120 hours after unprotected sex. They recorded a number of things, including age, BMI, weight, ovulation times, and time from unprotected intercourse to treatment.

The results found that the most significant variable affecting the risk of pregnancy was BMI. The risk of pregnancy was 3 times higher for obese women and 1.5 times higher for overweight women. The hypothesis?: overweight women need a higher level of levonorgestrel.

This study was effective because took in to account third variables, from ovulation times to age. However, it didn't state how many obese or overweight women participated in the study. They also attempted to look at too many factors- they wanted to see which factors affected EC failure. Rather, the next study needs to focus primarily on the issue of weight in order to discover at which weight women should begin to take additional precaution.

Personally, I don't feel there is enough evidence for overweight women to not take oral contraception. It remains a good option; however, we know that weight has an effect on oral contraception, so additional precautions such as talking to a doctor should be considered. However, evidence is strong enough for HRA Pharma to begin issuing warning labels- and it's something American manufacturers should strongly consider.  

I love mornings. I love the peacefulness, the time to myself and the prospect of having the whole day at my fingertips.  I also love how much more productive I am when I get up early and apparently, I'm not the only one who reaps the early morning productivity benefits. 

In an article on The Huffington Post titled, "The One Thing Crazy Successful People Do Every Morning," it names numerous famously successful people such as Barack Obama, Anna Wintour and Maragaret Thatcher who have used the early morning hours to sneak in a little extra work or a workout.  The article also discusses how early risers have been linked to being happier, more proactive, getting better grades, and even sleeping better. What's not to like about that?

Psychologytoday.com theorizes that morning people are more productive and more successful because society is structured around a 8-5 schedule, with more emphasis being placed on the morning hours.  These early risers took advantage of the morning hours to do something that they loved, which automatically started their day off on the right note. 

That's not to say that night owls don't reap certain benefits themselves.  Psychologytoday.com states that night owls are typically more creative, more outgoing, and have a better sense of humor, yet they are consistently out of the loop with the normal corporate schedule. 

So how do you become a morning person? Health.usnews.com says you should start by setting a bed time so you can get enough sleep to get up early; so long are the days of trying to burn the candle at both ends.  Sleep is still vital to your mental and physical health so you should never skimp on that just to get up early. You should also start by making a short list of what you would like to accomplish to ease yourself into a new routine before it eventually becomes habitual.

For me, the morning provides those undisturbed hours to relax before the day needs to begin or sneak in some work without the pressure to be somewhere or feeling as though I am missing out on something else.  While I know I am not the norm, being a morning person college, I know it is a habit I'll be happy to have upon entering the real world, oh so soon. 

References:
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201208/early-risers-are-happier-healthier-and-more-productive-night-owls
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/17/the-first-thing-these-suc_n_3588482.html
http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2012/09/17/how-and-why-to-become-a-morning-person




Almonds, cashews, peanuts, you name it. Either way, these nuts may lead to a longer life. A recent study shows that men and women who eat nuts daily are 20% less likely to die(during a 30 year period) than those who never eat nuts.

During a 30 year study by Harvard, 119,000 men and women had to fill out surveys on food and lifestyle habits every two to four years, including how often they ate 1 ounce of nuts.

This study was observational, but they did at least take into account many other variables, having the participants record them in the survey. Exercise, smoking, and weight were just a few that were recorded. When the variables were taken into account, the nuts still proved to reduce risk of death. For example, most smokers who ate nuts lived longer than smokers who didn't.
mixednutl.jpg
The problem with this study is that people have to recall how often they ate nuts in a two or even four year span and that is very difficult to estimate. They could have bettered this study by making them record what they ate eat day and how much, so they could accurately account for the amount of nuts that they ate.

I like eating nuts, but I do not have them often at all. My mom is a vegetarian, so she always eats nuts and is still in very good health, so maybe I should take a lesson from her. Benefits of Eating Nuts

Now just because they ate nuts more often and some variables were accounted for, this does not rule out third variables. Maybe constantly choosing nuts as a snack as opposed to candy over 30 years really helps maintain good health. How do you feel about this study? And what other third variables may not have been accounted for?

       With all of this Black Friday hype and Christmas shopping coming up for the next month, I find that my shopping has become a problem... Can I actually get addicted to shopping? My roommate can tell you that every time I have free time you can find me at the mall or online shopping. The thing is I usually don't even buy anything; it relieves my stress, kind of like a therapy session. Is it possible to be addicted to shopping?

 

       I needed to research this, and it turns out there is actually a term for compulsive shopping... It is called "Oniomania" or one can be considered a "Shopoholic". The data holds that "only about 6% of the U.S. population is thought to have a shopping addiction." As well, it can be close to any disorder like anxiety, eating, impulse, or personality disorders. Like most disorders, a main symptom of being a Shopoholic is hiding the problem or denial . Other symptoms are spending over your budget even if you cannot afford it, compulsive buying, impairing your relationships, or thinking about it for almost all hours of the day. This has been considered an addiction "since the 19th century" and continues to be an issue. 


       In a recent study, researchers discovered that people who have ADHD are more prone to becoming obsessed with shopping. Impulse is a main reason to why one feels the need to shop at all times, especially those with ADHD. "Impulsivity makes it difficult for those with ADHD to think through the consequences of their actions and instead react only to what they are feeling at the present time." This makes them buy and spend more money without thinking about what can happen if they overspend. As well, another reason why people can become addicted to shopping and more for those with ADHD can be because of depression or anxiety, it can be used to "get away" and to make them feel happy. It is similar to a "natural high", or "like taking a happy pill", and chemicals are triggered in the brain almost as if a drug was taken. "The "fight or flight" hormone adrenaline, phenylethylamine and endorphins" are created to make us feel good and relax. These hormones are released when doing something to make us feel good. My old track coach would always announce that after running for a long period of time he would eventually feel this "natural high" that made him feel like he could run forever; he likes to exercise and run so doing something he liked repetitively created this good feeling which people believe shopping can do the same.

 

       So how can you cure this "addiction"? The first typical step is admitting that you have a problem. Therapy sessions are advised, as well as finding new hobbies and ways to spend time doing other activities, it is also strongly urged that people get rid of their checkbooks and credit cards. My stepmom went through a huge spending splurge and made my dad actually take all of her credit cards so she couldn't spend anymore money. Now, at least my issue isn't THAT badly where I needed other people to help me... YET AT LEAST.

 

        I suppose that I am not considered a "shopaholic", I just enjoy looking at the "shiny things I can't have" pretty much. Sales always get me though, many girls can agree when they see the TOBI 50% off the entire site your attention is instantly caught. Deals and sales increase people's interest in shopping by a lot. Only 6% of people admit to "almost always" buying items when their on sale, while 60% admitted to occasionally doing so. So while shopping can be an addiction it does not tend to be an extremely likely and common disorder. Just be careful with anything that can cause you to have an obsession, it is possible to become addicted to almost anything if you have any signs of addictive behavior. What would you do if you felt like you were developing an obsession or "natural high" with something you like that could potentially end badly, would you completely stop even if it made you feel better, would you find an alternative "high", what if it was not as easy to stop as you think? 

 shopping-2.jpg

Works Cited: 

"What Is Shopping Addiction?" Addictions. 30 Nov. 2013.

<http://addictions.about.com/od/lesserknownaddictions/a/shoppingadd.htm>


             "Shopping Spree, or Addiction?" WebMD. 30 Nov. 2013.

                <http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/shopping-spree-addiction>


             "Addictions.com." Shopping Addiction. 30 Nov. 2013

                <http://www.addictions.com/shopping/>


             "Survey: Shopping Addiction Statistics." CreditDonkey. 30 Nov. 2013.  

               <http://www.creditdonkey.com/shopping-addiction.html>

             

             "ADHD and Shopping Addiction." Health Central. 3 Dec 2013. 

<http://www.healthcentral.com/adhd/c/849319/118483/shopping-addiction/>

Do you ever wonder why you do what you do? I am a product of routine and have certain habits that I don't really notice are out of the ordinary, until I take the time to really think why I am doing them.  Like how on Tuesday's, I always get coffee from Starbucks before class.  Or how when I go for a run, I always sprint the last minute no matter what.  Or how every night before I go to bed, I have to wash my face and brush my teeth.  Simple things that to others might go unnoticed, yet slowly but surely they've found a way into my daily life.

So how do habits form?  NPR.org breaks it down, stating that every habit starts with a three prong habit loop.  First, there's a cue that tells your brain to let an action happen.  Second, there is the routine which is the actual behavior.  Third, is the reward which is something that the brain likes to allow you to remember your habit loop. 

According to NPR.org, "Neuroscientists have traced our habit-making behaviors to a part of the brain called the basal ganglia, which also plays a key role in the development of emotions, memories and pattern recognition. Decisions, meanwhile, are made in a different part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex. But as soon as a behavior becomes automatic, the decision-making part of your brain goes into a sleep mode of sorts."

This is actually beneficial because you use less brain activity once a habit is formed, allowing your brain more time to think about something else. In an article from nsf.gov, MIT professor Anne Graybiel discusses habits and how they can from from repetition and emotion.  Much of her research focuses on how we create good and bad habits and the loops which connect sensory signals to habits.  This research could help us to understand what goes on when bad habits and even addiction behaviors are formed. (http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=126567)

Habits make everyone unique and allow us to have our very own little quirks.

References:
http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=126567
http://www.npr.org/2012/03/05/147192599/habits-how-they-form-and-how-to-break-them

Happy Birthday!


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If you look in a newspaper you can find the Horoscope page telling you how your day is going to be and now that the weather is changing you will probably hear a statement, such as, "I'm a Summer baby I hate the cold". These statements about a person's birth are so common that nobody really gives any serious thought to it, but it would be very interesting to learn if one's time of birth really has a significant effect on a person. If there is an effect is it physical, mental, emotional, a combination of two, or all. I'm an Aquarius, and when I reviewed it's characteristics I agreed with a majority of them, however, I am also a winter baby who hates the cold. I predict that through my research I will find evidence that a people's birthdays do have a considerable effect on them. As infants we are not fully developed, thus making us very sensitive to the environment around us.

The Los Angeles Times  discovered several studies on this matter. A British scientist named David Phillips analyzed the weight of 1,750 British senior citizens and discovered that 13.8% of men born from January to March qualified as obese but only 9.4% those born from October to December qualified. He says "that exposure to low temperatures in early life might promote development of fatty tissue and predispose winter-borns to obesity in adulthood". This is intriguing but the percentages are too low to be persuasive.

 

A 2004 psychological questionnaire of 448 men and women ages twenty to forty-five born during the cold months (October to March) revealed that are more likely to be novelty seekers. The opposite resulted for participants over forty-five, which, to me showed a generational difference rather than genetic one, but upon further reading I learned that this behavior was vice versa for summer-borns, which suggests that people born in Winter are very adventurous in their younger years thus settling down faster because they experienced more excitement in a shorter amount time. According to  Lars-Göran Nilsson, a psychologist at Stockholm University in Sweden "Season of birth does influence temperament; we just don't know exactly why". He predicts that it is caused by the levels of serotonin and dopamine which are key brain chemicals involved in formation of personality. This makes sense but the effects of our brain chemicals are a factor in everyone's personality, so this prediction doesn't explain how the month and/or season have  a role. 

 

Business Insider states that a person's month of birth is an indicator of potential health problems someone will have. For example, people born in February (my birth month) are prone to sleep disorder narcolepsy. This is due to the fact that they prefer evening hours as a result of lack of sunlight exposure to sunlight in utero and in their first months of life.   

 

I didn't find any significant evidence that proves my hypothesis correct, however, there is a lot of highly considerable information. The studies mentioned in this blog are just a few articles on this subject, so it is definitely an important question. I believe that the effect that a person month and season of has is similar to how cigarettes cause lung cancer. No one knows the specific reason for causation but it certainly is a factor.

 

Concussions. They seem to be the hot topic circling around the sports industry and throughout the media.  As more players come out with serious lasting side effects from concussion injuries, it puts sports and its physicality into the spotlight.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines concussions as, "a type of traumatic brain injury, or TBI, caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that can change the way your brain normally works. Concussions can also occur from a fall or a blow to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth."    (Center for Disease Control ) 

So what makes concussions so serious and harmful? Well, to sum it up quite simply they are injuries to your brain.  The brain maintains a delicate balance of chemicals and is surrounded in the skull by fluid.  When it is hit, the brain is bounced around and may hit the skull, which also causes the chemicals to become out of whack.  Even more deadly is when people don't allow their concussions to fully heal and then get hit a second time.  This is called Second Impact Syndrome and the effects are even deadlier. (Concussion Info)

According to a CNN article, the CDC reports almost 4 million concussions caused by sports related injuries each year, with many occurring at the high school level.  There are very little regulations at school on how to control, prevent and how to also identify these serious injuries, making concussions a real issue in society.  Since many of the symptoms are relatively common such as nausea, dizziness, and headaches, parents and coaches are unprepared on how to recognize and treat this type of injury.  Thus, athletes return to play much sooner and risk even more serious brain injuries and lifelong effects. ( CNN Concussion Article)

Max Conradt, was a high school quarterback, who collapsed after a football game one night after receiving a devastating hit.  It was nothing he wasn't used to but doctors concluded that over the course of two weeks, he had numerous head injuries that went undiagnosed which caused significant and devastating brain injuries.  Three brain surgeries later, Conradt survived his brain injuries but with the mental capacity of a 9 year old.  As of 2010, he was living in an assisted living home, struggling with forming basic motor skills and dealing with depression.  Once a high school football star, his life was changed forever by the game he loved. (http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/02/03/concussions.teen.brains/)

This devastating story, while it may be extreme, shows just how serious concussions are.  Many schools have began establishing baseline tests that athletes are required to take at the beginning of a season, so doctors, trainers and coaches can gauge head injuries and try to diagnose concussions before it is too late.  These types of injuries are seen at all levels, even the professional.  Just as of a week ago, former NHL players filed a lawsuit claiming that the NHL did little to protect players from concussions.   The NFL also recently paid $765 million in claims to thousands of former players suffering from dementia and other concussion related injuries.  (http://espn.go.com/nhl/story/_/id/10036795/former-players-sue-nhl-concussions)

Needless to say, concussions are no joke and are slowly but surely becoming the silent killers of athletes and their careers.  Whether new equipment, new rules or new testing needs to be developed something needs to be changed.  Coming from a sports dominated household and as a former athlete myself, I know how important sports can be to one's life.  However, when they start negatively impacting your lifelong health, something needs to be changed.  Nothing is that important and until people start realizing that, these injuries like Max's will keep on occurring and changing people's lives forever. 

References:
http://espn.go.com/nhl/story/_/id/10036795/former-players-sue-nhl-concussions
http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/02/03/concussions.teen.brains/
http://www.healtheast.org/bethesda/outpatient-services/concussion-clinic/about-concussions.html


At some point in everyone's lives they've dealt with the feelings of thinking they need to shed a few pounds.  It's completely normal and in some cases, necessary to improve different health issues, however when it becomes cornerstone of a person's life, things start to get a little questionable.  Chronic dieting, yo-yo dieting or whatever you want to call it is becoming a real issue in today's society and one that many people are facing.  A lifestyle of constant restriction is one that no one should face and the negative physical and mental effects it can cause are quite alarming.

Michelle May author of "Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat," and frequent facilitator of mindful eating workshops discussed this phenomenon of chronic dieting and it's harmful effects in an article on The Huffington Post.  In it she discussed how humans are virtually programmed to deal with periods of starvation and overeating because of the prevalence of famine in world history, however recent studies haven't looked at the psychological toll dieting can take.

Many people get caught up in the vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting and can't maintain the strict food guidelines they place on themselves.  They let food become the enemy, feel ashamed when they can't stick with it, gain weight back and then start the whole messed up process over and over again.  This chronic dieting is not only harmful physically but causes serious emotional distress that lasts for years. 

Hala Madanat, Ph.D., who has wrote many articles on the idea of restraint stated that, "Dietary restraint may create biological and psychological feelings of deprivation that lead to greater reactivity to food cues, cravings, counterregulation, disinhibition, periodic overeating, and weight gain. Biologically, it is often associated with unhealthy changes in body composition, hormonal changes, reduced bone density, menstrual disturbances, and lower resting energy expenditure. Dietary restraint is further associated with numerous measures of negative affect, diminished cognitive functioning, body dissatisfaction, overvaluation of weight and shape, and eating disorders." ( huffingtonpost.com )

Why then is dieting restriction still so prevalent in today's society?  It is most likely due to the idea many have of needing to look a certain way to be happy and live the life they are supposed to.  While this idea is totally false and there is clearly not one way people need to look to achieve happiness, it is what many people believe.  Much of this blame could be placed on Hollywood, The Fashion Industry and the media putting unnecessary pressure on one's appearance yet those who fuel the fire and believe what they are saying are just as guilty. 

So how does one go about eating healthy and being mindful of the food they consume but not fall into the dark hole of restriction?  This is something everyone should be aware of and learn.  It is also important for many who still need to lose weight for various health related concerns.

That's where intuitive eating comes in.  Intuitiveeating.com describes this way of living saying, "Intuitive eating is an approach that teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with your food, mind, and body--where you ultimately become the expert of your own body.   You learn how to distinguish between physical and emotional feelings, and gain a sense of body wisdom.   It's also a process of making peace with food---so that you no longer have constant "food worry" thoughts.  It's knowing that your health and your worth as a person do not change, because you ate a food that you had labeled as "bad" or "fattening"." (intuitiveeating.com)

In it's most basic sense, intuitive eating is being mindful of what you are eating and changing your way of thinking when it comes to food.  For chronic dieters it allows you to stop restricting and realize that you can eat whatever you want and food or your weight does not define you or your happiness.  It allows you to live your life in the most health and balanced way possible.  Although making a complete 360 in how you live your life can be daunting, anything worthy having takes time. 

References:
http://www.intuitiveeating.com/content/what-intuitive-eating
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michelle-may-md/yoyo-dieting_b_1887283.html

Kids' Fitness on the Decline


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That's right, today's kids are less fit than their parents were at that age. Today's kids all across the globe take 90 seconds longer to run a mile than their parents' generation did in 1975 for ages 9-17. Kids vs. Parents

"The new study was led by Grant Tomkinson, an exercise physiologist at the University of South Australia. Researchers analyzed 50 studies on running fitness -- a key measure of cardiovascular health and endurance -- involving 25 million children ages 9 to 17 in 28 countries from 1964 to 2010.

The studies measured how far children could run in 5 to 15 minutes and how quickly they ran a certain distance, ranging from half a mile to two miles. Today's kids are about 15 percent less fit than their parents were, researchers concluded."

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This news is not surprising. With the obesity problem, video games, lack of physical education classes, dangerous neighborhoods, and better technology, kids have gotten lazier and more out of shape. A study on this large of a scale brings significant evidence to the table, even if it is only observational. Like all studies, there are many variables to keep in mind, but this study is on a very general, so I am fine with the variables not being taken account of. I am interested to know how just the United States kids compare to older generations. I am also interested to know if location plays a role in this, as well as time spent in front of the TV, eating habits, and hours of sleep each night play a role in the overall fitness difference between generations.

I have always had a feeling this may be true. Just hearing stories about the games my parents always played outside when they were younger, as well as my brother and his friends, I just don't see it with this younger generation. I know my generation was towards the beginning of this lazy era, but my friends and I were still outside all the time playing games. Now whenever I see younger kids whether it be cousins at a family gathering, going to my friend's house and seeing his little brothers, or simply going to the grocery store, they are always sitting around playing video games. They just bring their Gameboy wherever they go and play it all the time. They never use their imagination and make up a game or just run around playing. It is quite disturbing.

In all, I felt this study was very strong because of it's general, broad hypothesis, allowing a observational study to support it quite well. How do you feel about the study? If you have a problem with it, how do you think they could have improved it?

Check out this other Kids' Declining Fitness article.



This may seem like a funny topic, although I have always wondered what made a person a dog lover, or a cat lover. There has to be a reason, considering most people are very partial towards one or the other. I personally, have a dog, and have been a dog person all my life. I have grown up with Shih Tzu's, and am actually extremely partial towards Shih Tzu's as well, but that is another story. To me, I feel dogs have more of a personality and can act more as a family member.

            On the contrary, cat lovers really tend to find some kind of personality in their cat. Maybe, they feel that cats are easier going, quiet, and easy to take care of.

            I have made a theory, that people determine if they are dog or cat lovers based on their personality.

            Similarly, I have found an article that has done tests based on a similar theory. There was a study conducted at the Ball State University, where several pet owners were surveyed. They were surveyed about their personalities and the kind of pet they own. Similar to my theory, their results showed, "People believe their own personalities are similar to those of the pets they keep,. Cat owners saw themselves as being more independent while dog owners described themselves as being friendly".  I feel this makes complete sense for many reasons.

1)  1)  Dogs show the need for more love and emotion

2)   2 )Cats are more independent, thus working well with an independent person

3)   3 )Dogs need to be walked, owners have to leave the house

4)   4)  Dogs attract a lot of attention

5)    5) Cats are invisible during the day

6)    6) Dog will intrude on a persons activities if they are feeling lonely

The list can go on and on...

As for some statistics, the Associate Press/Petside.com poll has shown there are a significant amount of more dog people then cat people. Forty One percent of this testing sample preferred cats, while seventy four percent of this test sample preferred dogs.

Similarly, fifteen percent of adults showed that they disliked cats a lot, while only two percent of individuals said they dislike dogs. I feel this shows a lot about how the majority of the people feel about cats and dogs.

On a different note, studies have showen that pet owners who have both dogs and cats tend to show a personality similar to dog owners.

When thinking if personality is correlated with pet ownership, I believe this is absolutely correct. It is not often that people look into relationships such as this, but it has always sparked my curiosity.

I hope this topic has intrigued you as much as it has me!

http://moderndogmagazine.com/articles/dog-people-vs-cat-people/10716

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Tomatoes Can Help With Strokes


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It's a vegetable. No, it's a fruit. Regardless, this food can help save your life years down the road.

In a recent study, scientists found that men who had the highest levels of lycopene reduced their risk of strokes by 55%. Tomatoes and Strokes "The Finnish study involved 1,031 men who were part of a larger study looking at risk factors for the development of cardiovascular disease.
 The men were between ages 42 and 61 and living in and around the city of Kuopio in Eastern Finland when they first enrolled in the study in the early 1990s. Samples of blood were taken at the study's start and seven years later for most men. The men were followed an average of 12 years." In total, there were 67 strokes with 25 of them being in the group with the lowest levels of lycopene and 11 being in the highest level.
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When doing a study on strokes it is completely unethical to do an experimental study because strokes take such a long time to happen and you don't know when they are going to strike, so unless you lock men up for years to take out certain variables, you can only really do observational studies like this one. Now just because the group of men with the lowest levels of lycopene had more strokes than the group with the highest levels doesn't mean that lycopene is a significant factor or even a factor at all in the determination of strokes. No variables were isolated such as amount of exercise, eating habits, or amount of sleep. It was only a difference of 14 strokes.

I have a family with history of cholesterol and heart problems, so I have always tried to eat right and remain healthy. After reading about this study I plan to try to eat more tomatoes, but not go out of my way to attain them because simply exercising or eating other healthy foods seems to me like it would be just as efficient in stroke prevention.

Here are just a few ways to help avoid a stroke. If you have any suggestions or have found a different study on a new way to help prevent a stroke inform me in the comments section. Also, how do you feel about the study that was done? Do you feel it was efficient and reliable?

Growing up, we become defined by which hand we use and for what. In other words: you are either a "lefty" or a "righty". But who knew that such a characteristic could lead to deeper, more biological roots. Researchers at Yale Child Study Center found possible correlations between left-handedness and Schizophrenia. How could this connection be made between two characteristics on opposite sides of the spectrum? It all has to do with percentages. Researchers claim, "10% of the population is left-handed" and 40% of those diagnosed with Schizophrenia are left-handed as well (Sifferlin,TIME). Now there is also 11% of "lefties" that are affected by mood disorders in the population. If you look more closely at these percentages, it is evident that both the percentages of lefties affected by mood disorders and the population of lefties are quite similar (10 and 11 percent). This acted as a launchpad for scientists to start their research. 

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First things first, however, what exactly is Schizophrenia? Medical News Today defines the diagnosis as "a mental disorder that generally appears in late adolescence or early adulthood - however, it can emerge at any time in life. It is one of many brain diseases that may include delusions, loss of personality (flat affect), confusion, agitation, social withdrawal, psychosis, and bizarre behavior." (Schizophrenia,Medical News Today). 

What is occurring inside the brain of schizophrenics is that their neurotransmitters, that normally send messages to and from the brain, are affected and unable to transport messages properly. So how could this share a connection with those that are left-handed?

Recorded in the SAGE Open Journal, the study was conducted using 107 patients currently being treated at an outpatient psychiatric clinic. Neurologists proposed that because the brain is "asymmetrically divided when it comes to major skills and functions such as language and emotions" lefties are known to use the right side of the brain more often (SAGE, TIME). This side of the brain is associated with mood and emotions. However, because lefties are engaging their right side of the brain more so than the left, they are lacking to engage their language and personality traits. Lefties therefore can suffer from "higher rates of misconnections or failures in the neural network that then contribute to developmental issues or disorders."(Sifferlin,TIME).

The study was strictly observational and lacked to include results or actions of the patients mentioned before. The hypothesis that left-handedness is associated with Schizophrenia is a well-thought out proposal, however should be tested in order to back it up. I wish the author of this article went more in depth with the study and included how it was conducted. For future reference, I suggest more subjects to be tested with a wide range of characteristics: some right-handed, some left-handed, some diagnosed with Schizo, some not. That way researchers would be able to make connections to help support their hypothesis and fully accept it. 

As for now, there is no reason for a rational left-handed individual to worry. There may be a correlation, but no definite causation as of right now. And just so you left-handers don't stress too much over this article, here's an article of famous lefties to make you feel cooler for your unique characteristic!

Sources:
  1. Sifferlin, Alexandra, and Alexandra Sifferlin. "How Left-handedness Is Connected to Schizophrenia." Time. Time, 1 Nov. 2013. Web. 30 Nov. 2013
  2. Nordqvist, Christian. "What Is Schizophrenia?" Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, 20 Oct. 2013. Web. 30 Nov. 2013.
  3. "Famous Left-Handers." Famous Left-Handers. M.K. Holder, n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2013.







Teachers


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Teachers are like Sour Patch kids. First they're sour, then they are sweet leave a bad taste in your mouth.

 

These people are supposed to fill you with knowledge and help you become a well-rounded member of society in a way. Teachers are the only other adults besides your parents that you see on a regular basis. You spend ten months, give or take, with them...sadly. This is why they have some influence on us as we grow older.

 

I dislike science. My brain does not function in a scienc-y way. I'd like to think I define nonscience- "They answer questions which need answering but for which we have no scientific answers." Every teacher I have had that has taught me the subject doesn't seem to understand this because they have science brains; it comes easy to them. I feel as though most of them think that they know the answers to everything because they know science and put the rest of us down. This has made my dislike for science turn to dislike for teachers.

 

This article talks about a study of 100 students that covers their reasons for certain majors. They note that income is a major factor, but that "Faculty can positively or negatively influence student taste for a field -- some compelling teachers can get students engaged in fields that they previously disliked, while other, more uncharismatic faculty can alienate students from entire bodies of knowledge, sometimes permanently."

 

That last line could not ring any more true to my ears. I feel like my previous teachers have made it hell to understand condensation and how to balance an equation that now I have it in my head that all science is hard and my #1 enemy. This article notes that "An effect for teacher-student relationship quality assessed in kindergarten on achievement is found up to 8 years later, controlling for relevant baseline child characteristics". This is the foundation to our learning pyramid and maybe the reason I have never liked a teacher that has made the subject feel like every day lessons rather than solving a rubix cube with mittens on.

 

Taking this course, I thought maybe this would finally change since I was told this was a course for non-science majors taught by a cool teacher. Well...no, here I am again hating this course as well. It has nothing to do with Andrew himself, but maybe just what is expected out of us as well as my previous experience in science classes. I like the idea of us picking what topics interest us, but I have yet to learn anything because these topics get twisted into puzzles of facts I do not understand.

 

This goes back to my point that maybe science oriented people are more likely to understand the subject better and don't truly understand the struggles of those of us who see the course as climbing Mt. Everest. Having high expectations is great because it means they think highly of us, but how much is this affecting our views on the people teaching the subject?

 

I read an article about the relationships between teachers and their first grade students and their achievements. Although, we are not in first grade anymore, I wanted to read about how teachers influence kids of all ages. But one thing stuck out to me in the writing, "Rather than attribute poor grades or low test scores to faults within students or to deficits in their backgrounds, responsible teachers attribute much of the cause to their own efforts and behavior. At its best, responsibility represents a teacher's commitment to make learning happen for her students." Pure genius.

 

Instead of teachers calling us out about our bad grades or telling us how disappointed they are that we did not do well on an exam, they should be asking themselves what else they can do to make the material easier to learn. It is not entirely our fault that we don't understand their crazy concepts. It is, however, their job to make it relatable to us since after all, they are the ones who went to school to master the concepts.

 

Negative feedback has been a reason I have struggled with the subject. It has also made me dislike the people who teach me science. It feels like every single encounter I have had with it, someone has been there to stomp on me and remind me how bad I am at it. The discouraging grades from my teachers have also been a huge part on why I dread taking science classes. I once thought I wanted to be an architect till I looked at the course requirements and a good of it was science. But I am not the only one who changed her mind, according to this article, 40% of science/math majors end up switching to a different degree.

 

I hope one day my kids can be taught by people who think like them. I don't think there is anything worse in school than feeling like you've already failed because of your teacher alone.

 

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3-Second Rule


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You're sitting at the table with your friend when all of a sudden you drop your Twinkie on the floor. You quickly pick it up.
 "Gross," your friend says, "you're not actually going to eat that now are you?" 
"What's wrong with it?" You reply, "It was on the ground only for three seconds. Three-second rule."
You then shove the Twinkie in your mouth and enjoy the delicious, spongy substance.

But does the three-second rule actually work? Is it true that if a substance is on the ground for only 3-seconds than it will not have much bacteria on it? Scientists decided to test this theory out.

"Five food items were tested by Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) to see whether the three-second rule could be trusted. Bread with jam, cooked pasta, ham, a plain biscuit and dried fruit were all dropped on the floor and left for three, five and 10 second intervals. These were selected as they are commonly eaten foods and all have different water activity levels; a key factor in whether items will sustain bacterial growth in the three seconds before they are picked up from the floor." 3-Second Rule

The results of the study were that foods high in salt or sugar were safer to eat after being picked up off the ground because harmful bacteria has a more difficult time living on these substances. This means that fast food, ham, lebanon bologna, and other processed foods are safer to eat off the ground, whereas fruits, vegetables, pasta are not nearly as safe. The dried fruits contracted klebsiella after 5 and 10 seconds. This bacteria "can potentially lead to a wide range of diseases such as pneumonia, urinary tract infections, septicaemia and soft tissue conditions." And pasta contracted the harmful bacteria klebsiella after three seconds. Food low in water content such as biscuits, are also safe to eat off the ground in three-seconds because bacteria has a hard time thriving without water. 

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The conclusion of this study is hard to understand because the journalist failed to mention it. This was a poorly written article about the study. The journalist said dried fruit contracted klebsiella after three seconds, but quoted the article later saying that it displayed that type of bacteria after five and ten seconds. He concluded by saying how most people only apply the three-second rule at home, but not in public. From the data I found that the three second rule has less of an impact on the cleanliness of our food than most people would think. It is less about the duration the food is on the ground and more about the type of food that was dropped. Foods low in water or high in sugar or salt had significantly less harmful bacteria growing on them than other foods.

In all, I found this to be a poor study. This was strictly observational and no variables were taken into account. Just because certain foods developed harmful bacteria after being on the ground doesn't mean they picked it up from the ground. They may have caught it in the air on the fall to the ground. Other variables needed to be held in check as well. Lighting may be reason bacteria could grow better. The surface area of the food is a problem, larger surface area means it has a greater chance of picking up more bacteria. Certain areas of the floor may have been more infected than others. 

I would have done the study differently. Dropping the food onto a clean surface with only one type of harmful bacteria existent to see which ones picked it up and which didn't and do this with multiple types of bacteria for different durations of time. Here are a couple links on how the Five-Second doesn't work, which is only two second away from the three-second rule. Five-Second 2

After countless years of dropping food on the ground and eating it, I will probably continue to do so because this study was quite weak. I probably won't do it with fruits anymore though since they seem to soak up bacteria in a matter of milliseconds. If you have any suggestions as to how to better this study or if it may change your habits comment below.

Coffee Drinkers


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As a young girl, I loved to drink coffee.  I picked up a bad habit at a very young age.  I drank coffee just about every day.  I still drink coffee, but now I sometimes even drink it more than just once a day.  My grandparents always said that coffee was not good for me.  I have multiple state that coffee is not good for us because of all the caffeine.  This made me wonder if there were any benefits to drinking coffee other than the taste.  Can coffee have benefits for ones-self or is it all just bad for you?


After doing some research, I found that coffee does have its benefits.  One benefit is coffee can help boost the brain because coffee blocks the effects of adenosine which then increases brain activity.  Control studies have shown how the caffeine in coffee helps people's moods and brain functions.  A study was done which had 130,000 volunteers who were studied anywhere from 18-24 years.  These individual were all between the ages of 40-50.  The researchers kept track of how much coffee each person drank and took into account each person's life style.  They found that coffee does not increase the risk of cancer or death from anything.   By tracking each person's life style this accounts for any possible third variables.  So what does this mean?  That coffee is not bad like everyone once thought.  Some of the people they studied even drank up to six cups per day with no increase health risks.  


Also coffee is linked to fighting depression.  The national institutes of health along with the AARP, found that people who drink coffee are 10 percent less likely to become depressed.  The only thing about this study was it was never stated how many people were tested to prove that this could be the case.  Coffee was found to protect people from trying to commit suicide.  100,000 men and women were tested and the results showed that the risk of committing suicide lowered by fifty percent for coffee drinkers.  Studies show how coffee can even help lower the risks of getting dementia, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's by 30 to 60 percent.   People who drink around four or more cups of coffee are suspected to not have diabetes because the antioxidants in coffee helps regulate blood sugar.  Although studies suggest that decaf coffee would be even better for this.  


So are you going to continue drinking coffee?  I say why not, so far everything that was once considered bad about coffee has been looked at again.  There are many benefits to drinking coffee.  Still more studies need to be done, but I believe there are more benefits than drawbacks to drinking coffee.   Although, like anything else, drink in moderation.  Too much of anything is not good for one person. 


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http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/coffee/


http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-02/why-coffee-good-you-here-are-7-reasons


http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/health_reasons_to_drink_coffee_and_cons_to_consider?page=3


http://theweek.com/article/index/244468/ 


Life Beyond Our World


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This world is a messed up place sometimes. From corruption to discrimination to disasters that are out of our hands. There has been much talk about life outside our planet Earth. Scientists have researched planets in our own solar system, like Mars, and outside of it too. So is there life elsewhere?

 

A recent study by Science Magazine shows three new planets that show potential to be habited. These three planets are Kepler-62c, Kepler-62e and Kepler-62f. They orbit the Kepler-62 star, hence their names, but this star is 1,200 light-years away. A light-year is equivalent to 5.88 trillion miles.

 

CNN describes the planets as follows:

·         Kepler-62f:

o    40% larger than Earth

o   Potentially rocky

o   Has land mass and water

·         Kepler-62e:

o   60% larger than Earth

o   Potentially a "water world"

·         Kepler-62c:

o   70% larger than Earth

o   Potentially a "water world"

 

    So now that these planets have been added to the potentially habitable places outside Earth, how likely are the chances of us actually seeing life there?

 

Well, I would say not likely...yet.

 

          First off, think of the distance. These planets are ridiculously far and it would take what seems like a life time to get there to start up a civilization. And as for research, these planets are "so far away there are no telescopes envisioned -- or affordable -- that would be capable of observations that could be done to assess the planets' physical characteristics."

 

          Secondly, although these new planets looks habitable because they have water and land, could these two resources be enough for us to grow goods to survive on? Some scientist believe that as long as the basic resources are met, life could be started.

 

           Lastly, could our bodies survive space travel to another planet? "Space flight has some parallels with the natural aging process, which includes bone weakening and muscle atrophy." I would conclude that because our bodies were made to live on Earth, we may react to the different atmospheres, climates and/or ways of life differently. This could enhance or weaken our bodies as this article reads.

 

Scientists do not have enough data to rule these planets habitable or inhabitable yet, but I would assume that life outside of Earth is still quite far away. So much more research, planning and recruiting is needed before someone give this a legitimate try. I do not think it is not a possibility to live elsewhere, I just don't think we know enough right now to make a conclusion.

 

Maybe there are creatures in a different planet in a different galaxy wondering if anyone lives on Earth. But how do we know? How do we know there is life outside our planet? How do we know what scientists are telling us is true? I think for now, until strong evidence is presented to not only those researching our galaxy, but the average Joe as well, no answer is right or wrong. What do you think?

 

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Add a Pinch of Salt


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While listening to two of my roommates bicker over whether or not the myth of adding salt to water makes it boil faster I began to also wonder whether or not it was true. My one roommate, Athyna, supported the null hypothesis of that adding salt to a pot of water actually did nothing while my other roommate, Emilie, supported the alternative hypothesis saying that adding salt to a pot of water does cause it to boil faster. I on the other hand also threw out the idea that there may be confounding variables that allow you to believe that the water is boiling faster. I said that the unaccounted factor might be your mind. This placebo affect changes Emilie's perception of the boiling water because it causes her to think that there is less time going by as she boils water. By adding the salt to the pot of water Emilie may believe that the water is boiling faster in order to reduce dissonance from her original belief when in fact the boiling water could just occur by chance. Maybe she uses less water than Athyna; she could also be more distracted while cooking than Athyna and her completing other tasks may cause her to think that the water boiled relatively fast.

A scientific study that was performed was helpful because it provided a chemical explanation for the failure to reject the null hypothesis. The study showed that if you took two identical amounts of water and added salt to one then the pot with salt will not boil any faster than the pot without salt. The chemical explanation dealt with water's heat capacity. Although with 100 grams of water 80 grams contains pure water and 20 grams contains pure salt; the mixture would have a lower boiling point than pure water. "Please note that this will not hold true if you take two identical pots containing one gallon of water each and add the salt to one pot because then the volume of liquid in the salted pot will be greater than the one gallon starting point." The study was helpful because if you truly wanted to have a pot of water boil faster then you could do so by adjusting the proportions of salt and water in the pot.

Another study explains the hypothesis of whether or not salt helps water boil faster in terms of the vapor pressure in the presence of a solute. The addition of the salt content to the water "lower's the vapor pressure which means that a higher temperature is necessary to boil the water in the solution, hence boiling-point elevation."  On a positive note the study provided a possible confounding factor of a higher temperature that may have caused Emilie to believe her pot of water with salt in it boils at a faster rate than a pot without salt. The study was not helpful though in terms of providing truth to reject or fail to reject the null hypothesis in terms of boiling speed.

A third study provided truth in rejecting the null hypothesis concluding that there is a significance with the addition of salt added to a potential pot of boiling water. The experimenter provided evidence from an experimental study conducted and explained "when salt is added to the mix, the molecules start to move around rapidly and randomly making the water temperature rise and the water to boil faster." The study was unhelpful in terms of the consistency of each pot used. I was unable to tell if they had less water and a specific portion of salt in a pot as the first study had shown, or if both of the pots contained the same amount of water and the other just added salt.

With the chemical reasoning from each study I myself concluded to neither fail to reject or reject the null hypothesis. I believe that the speed of the water boiling with the addition of salt has to do with heat capacity. All three studies seem to agree on the fact that when salt is added to water its heat capacity rises allowing it to boil at a greater temperature. So therefore I am now faced with the task of informing my roommates that they were both wrong because salt only affects the temperature at which water boils not the speed. But what do you think? Is it the salt that helps the water boil faster because of the molecules bouncing around? Do you believe that the same results would hold true if a different compound was used in the place of salt? 

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                Its that time of the year again where just about everybody around you is sick and you're hearing all the coughing and sniffles in the silence of a test. The other day I had a congested nose and was wondering what the best way to clear it was. As I was searching I noticed that to keep blowing your nose was not the answer, and sadly I learned this the hard way. So why is blowing your stuffy nose bad?

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(This photo can be found here)

                For me I always blow my nose when I cannot breath through my nose and after reading this I realized how much time I've spent blowing my nose. In this article they talk about Dr. J Owen Hendley who did research on this theory and experimented by using dye to test the theory. Basically what Hendley found was that the dye was being found in the rear nasal cavity after blowing their nose. The participants also coughed and sneezed and there was almost never any dye found in the rear nasal cavity. According to Hendley stuff getting into your rear nasal cavity is harmless but if you are sick then you could further infection if you "shot" a virus or bacteria into that rear nasal cavity.

                When I was sick I learned here, that you never want to blow your nose when its congested and the only time you should is if your nose is actually running and even then you should take it easy. By blowing your nose while its congested, the membranes in your nostrils are becoming inflamed. When you blow your nose it apparently increases the blood flow in your nose. My way of thinking of it is if you have ever had anything swollen it just blows up like a balloon and from my understanding that is what happens here basically. It seems to me that the nasal cavities kind of get blocked due to increased blood flow in your nose. So, are you going to think twice about blowing your nose?

Nature's Clean Up Crew


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Maggots are a huge part of the ecosystem. They decompose many dead animals whether they're in the woods or even on the side of the road. They really are nature's clean up crew.

Maggots are fly eggs. So flies will lay their eggs in moist rotting material. A fly lays hundreds of eggs and they hatch between eight to twenty hours ("Maggots' Life"). Their color varies in light brown, yellow, and an off-white. They do not have legs but they have "one pair of tiny hook-like parts to aid in feeding" ("Maggot"). As soon as they hatch they start to eat on the surrounding area where the fly left them. They begin at a length of two to three millimeters. Once they reach ten millimeters in length they enter into the second larval stage. This stage is where the maggots shed their skin and continue to feed. They attain the third stage where they shed once they reach fifteen to twenty millimeters. The three stages are the main feeding stage of the maggot and they can eat for twenty-four hours straight. Flies last as maggots for eight to ten days in warm weather and about a month in cold weather ("Maggots' Life").

            Maggots can be used for several benefits to humans. One of the things their good for is to determine how long a body has been dead. Forensics figure out what stage the maggots are in and the weather of where the dead body is located to determine how long the body has been dead ("Forensics"). Another benefit maggots are to humans is that they can help save lives. Maggots are actually used today in the medical world. Doctors use them to eat the dead tissue of a burn or injury of a human being. When the maggots eat the tissue they actually disinfect the wound by killing the bacteria through eating it. For each square centimeter of damaged tissue the doctor will put five to ten maggots on it. Then the maggots would be covered with a wrapped bandaged that still allows them to breath for several days. When the maggots are feeding they can grow from two millimeters to ten millimeters while under the bandage. Patients find the maggots to not hurt while eating the dead tissue but they say it feels like an itch or a tickle. Maggots are only used as a last resort. So this means surgery or "conventional medic[ine]" did not work. This procedure has been found since the 1920's to the 1930's during the First World War. Men would save those who were injured for days and found that the ones who were still alive had maggots in their wounds ("Medical").

            A study done in Israel observed what happens to the bacteria while in the digestive tract of a maggot. The scientists chose "green fluorescent protein-producing Escherichia coli" as the bacteria and used a "laser scanning confocal microscope" to analyze the bacteria while in the digestive system. The results showed that in the mid-gut of the maggot the bacteria was the highest at 52.8%. Though the hind-gut had showed the bacteria had decreased significantly to 17.8%. Then towards the maggot's butt there was almost no bacteria left, so the feces of the maggot was either uncontaminated or had only a few bacteria left in it ("Destruction"). The study did not explain what kind of chemicals the mid-gut had that destroyed most of the bacteria. Also the study did not specify how many maggots were analyzed and how much bacteria they put in the maggots.

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Works Cited:

"Destruction of Bacteria in the Digestive Tract of the Maggot of Lucilia sericata."  BioOne. 29 Nov. 2013 <http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1603/0022-2585-38.2.161?journalCode=ment>.

"Forensic Entomology Or The Use Of Insects In Death Investigations." Investigating Forensics. 27 Nov. 2013 <http://www.sfu.museum/forensics/eng/pg_media-media_pg/entomologie-entomology/>.

"Maggot." ScienceDaily. 27 Nov. 2013     <http://www.sciencedaily.com/articles/m/maggot.htm>.

"Maggots' Life Cycle.' Buzzle. 27 Nov. 2013 <http://www.buzzle.com/articles/maggots-life-cycle.html>.

 "Medical Maggots Treat As They Eat." National Geographic News. 29 Nov. 2013 <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/10/1024_031024_maggotmedicine.html>.

Photo of Maggot:

<http://www.tellmeaboutdiabetes.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/maggot.jpg>.

Photo Of Close Up Maggot:

<http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01689/bluebottle-maggot_1689991i.jpg>.

After my last blog post on heart disease I found that meditation and yoga play essential roles in helping the body become more relaxed and lower stress levels. Stress is an issue that can worsen almost every unwanted emotion , health condition, and painful experience. I wanted to learn more on how , and why meditation specifically helps lower stress levels that lead you to have a much more healthier life. 
First things first : what is meditation ? Contrary to belief meditation is not just sitting pretzel style and closing your eyes really hard. True meditation is being in the state of "thoughtless awareness." Meaning you are thinking about nothing but your breathing. When meditating you simply forget about the world and focus in on nothing but being self aware. There are many ways people can meditate. One very popular way is to participate in Yoga, swimming , church services , even coloring. Meditation is anything you do , to get yourself into a silent and a thoughtless state.  
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Its a common phrase we hear all the time: meditation makes you feel better. If we are in a tense exchanging of words with someone they are often to blurt out : "why don't you go meditate somewhere and chill out !" Thinking on a more serious note : could this really help you lower your stress levels? Dr. Hedy Kober of Yale University said that meditation did more for the mind than just exercise. You can take a lot out of this TED Talk she gave earlier this year ! In the TED Talk she explains how meditation is a very successful method to use after a beak-up or intense reaction to any situation in your life. It is more effective that comfort foods and crying. 

What does meditation do?
Meditation changes our brain, through out our lives our brains are making new schemas or (mental molds) that shape how we store information and how we do different tasks that we learned from through experiences. We use our neurons and brain cells to connect these schemas. Through new experiences or stimuli we can "edit" these schemas and make new ones as time goes on. With meditation you are changing the way you view these experiences because your brain has Neuroplasticity, meaning it is resilient in changing its internal information.  It effects the neural circuits in your brain and helps you reintroduce experiences and help you to live a calmer life and how we react to things in our life. 

A study conducted by Stanford University , found that Meditation was the leading technique in reducing Psychological Stress. The meta analysis of a combined 146 independent studies of measuring stress levels and the technique of stress reliving showed that Meditation was the queen. It actually showed to be twice as effective in reducing stress when compared to concentration Reference the chart below for more information!  . - Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45 (1989): 957-974.    
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Many studies show that meditation can make improvement in many physiological areas. For example meditation can help with anxiety , addiction , eating disorders , and depression. Other areas that showed improvement with meditation are eating disorders , cognitive function, reducing blood pressure and pain response. Other emotional benefits of meditation to relieve stress are : gaining new perspectives on stressful situations , increasing self awareness, and reduced negative emotions! 


Dieting Adds Pounds


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There has been much debate on different diets and which work best and how. There is the Atkin's diet, the South Beach diet, the Dukan diet, and many more. The problem is, these diets may help us shed a few pounds in the short run, but studies have shown that dieting may make us fatter in the long run. Dieting Help

New evidence shows that slicing calories alters your brain and your metabolism, causing your body to store more fat when you eat. It also makes your mind go from craving food, to obsessing over it. 

Researchers took "50 obese men and women, and coached them through eight weeks of an extreme 500-to-550-calories-a-day diet (a quarter of the normal intake for women)." Dieting or Starving. "At the end, the dieters lost an average of 30lb. Proietto's team then spent a year giving them counselling support to stick to healthy eating habits. But during this time, the dieters regained an average of 11lb. They also reported feeling far hungrier and more preoccupied with food than before losing weight."

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Tests on the dieters showed that hormones were working extremely hard, telling the body that it was starving and needed to eat in order to store more fat. "Their levels of an appetite-stimulating hormone, ghrelin, were about 20 per cent higher than at the start of the study. Meanwhile their levels of an appetite suppressing hormone, peptide YY, were unusually low."  

Now the correlation between the ghrelin increase at the end of the study may not have been due to the previous strain of dieting because this was an observational study and no variables were taken out. This study could have been much more effective if a variable such as exercise been taken into account. The foods eaten also should have been recorded because they may not have been getting all of their needed nutrients.

The results of the study are due to the evolution and survival of the human race. Humans are able to store much more fat than most other animals when compared pound for pound. Keeping that in mind, dieters need to realize that starving oneself only helps in the short run, but hurts in the long run. Plus there are many other negative effects of too much calorie cutting such as depression, mood swings, and weak immune system as a result of malnutrition.

I have watched as my uncle has struggled with his weight over the years. From being a fit, star wrestler in his younger years, to being over 260lbs. His weight has fluctuated tremendously. He recently put on 20 more pounds after slimming down again. In his early struggles he tried to just diet and my parents said the weight would come back in a few months. Now, when he has combined healthy eating and regular exercise it tends to stay off longer, but when he feels content and stops exercising regularly, he starts to put the weight back on. 

To summarize, dieting can end up hurting the body more than helping. The only way to safely lose weight is to exercise regularly and eat healthy (in moderation). If you have any suggestions as to how this study could have been more properly conducted or any other additional information on dieting, inform me in the comments section.

Heart attack risk and weight gain are only a few scary effects of having heart conditions . Many types of heart conditions are caused by the persons diet and many other health habits. Its something we all don't want to think about , especially during the holidays , but it is a topic that is very important to think about especially as were are growing and getting older. Our health is very much effected by the types and quantity of the foods that we eat. Its a simple concept to think about that "if the food choices got me into this mess, if I change my eating habits can't I get out? " It was a very interesting concept to think about so I want to know more. 
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People who have high blood pressure , high cholesterol, and over weight are told by their doctors that they need to make major changes to their diet and exercise regiment. For most the end result diagnosis is CAD or coronary artery disease . Besides medications are there any other options to turn your life around? Most people don't realize it but the answer is- Yes.

Making changes to the foods you eat, how often you exercise , and even your stress levels truly play a huge role in your heart health . All of these things can defiantly improve your heart heath but unfortunately the factor of actually reversing the heart condition is a little more difficult to change.

"The founder and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute and clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, Dean Ornish, MD, says that you absolutely can reverse at least some of the damage of even severe heart disease." -WebMD Feature Reviewed by David T. Derrer , MD 

In Dean Ornish studies he claims that with dramatic lifestyle changes including the individuals in the study, their diet and exercise regiment have shown to improve blood flow to the heart and reduce chest pain up to 90% in as little as less than a month. In that study as well there was shown that with in a year of keeping up with the new lifestyle changes even the very severe blocked arteries in the heart had reduced blockage. After 5 years the blockage to the heart was reduced even more! Once that data was compared to the original history of the patients their symptoms would have obviously increased and gotten worse. 
 
Within that the studies the exercise portion of the study was specifically made up of each person walking for at least and hour and a half a day. Some other methods with in the study were individuals participating in yoga and meditation to help deal with reducing stress levels. With the diet , each individual in the study had their pantry and refrigerator completely emptied and restocked with appropriate foods that would aid the individual to a more healthy (natural) diet .
 
Once again no diet regimen is universal . Different plans work better for different people. In this case maybe medications or surgery would work better in treating a persons CAD than the diet , meditation and exercise plans. In conclusion , the specific study explained in my post can be very individuals in the help to reduce the harmful and scary effects of heart conditions like CAD , but it is not 100% certain that just diet , exercise and meditation alone can reverse the condition completely.  

Benefits of Massage


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We know that massage helps relieve sore muscles, but what exactly is it doing to our tissues? An article in the New York Times describes an experiment done that tested the exact effects that professional massage has. 
"On a first visit, they biopsied one leg of each subject at rest. At a second session, they had them vigorously exercise on a stationary bicycle for more than an hour until they could go no further. Then they massaged one thigh of each subject for 10 minutes, leaving the other to recover on its own. Immediately after the massage, they biopsied the thigh muscle in each leg again. After allowing another two-and-a-half hours of rest, they did a third biopsy to track the process of muscle injury and repair." 
The "biopsies" were done by making small incisions in the leg to obtain muscle tissue for analysis.
Former knowledge about muscles told us that when the muscles are worked hard, they make little tears and then become inflamed and the body works to repair them. The experiment showed that in the massaged leg, the production of cytokines (cause inflammation) was greatly reduced while mitochondria (turn glucose into energy to help cell repair) were stimulated. When athletes take pain relievers to combat soreness, they bring down the inflammation but slow down healing. Massage presents a "win-win" situation where inflammation is reduced AND muscle repair is enhanced.
For as long as I can remember, I have been told on Thanksgiving to blame my post-dinner sleepiness on the turkey. But after watching a Mythbuster's episode testing the theory that turkey makes you sleepy and busting it, I learned why it wasn't true.
The reasoning is that turkey has a lot of tryptophan, an amino acid that is used by the body to make niacin which is important to the creation of serotonin. Seratonin is a chemical in the brain that makes you feel relaxed. Though turkey is high in tryptophan, it has no more than other types of poultry. In fact, according to WebMD, it has slightly less than chicken.
So if it's not the turkey that's making us sleepy, what is? According to both WebMD and the Mythbuster team, the grogginess is caused by overeating. Digestion takes a lot of energy and that combined with the relaxing vacation atmosphere and possibly alcohol makes for a lots of post-dinner sleepiness.
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Does Sensa make any sense ?


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I remember seeing a commercial for Sensa , the "original sprinkle diet" and thinking : this has to be a joke right ? It looked so fake and bazaar . Sprinkle this magical diet powder on your food and lose weight ? That sounds completely stupid and illogical . How could eating food make you lose weight ? After seeing the wacky commercial again I decided to do some research and find out if its really true. 

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So what is it exactly? From my understanding Sensa is crystallized substance like salt . It contains maltodextrin , tricalcium phosphate, silica and flavoring.How it works is that the person who is using the product sprinkles it on their meal as if it was salt or pepper. Sensa claims to start the process of "sensory-specific satiety" This process claims to enhance the scents of the food that you are eating , from this your brain decides that it has had enough of what you are eating making you feel full, faster and eating less. The interesting part about the popular "Sensa diet" is that there is no regiment associated with the "diet". My next question is are there side effects ? How much is too much? and Does it really work? 

Some common side effects of Sensa are :

- upset stomach

- diarrhea

- vomiting 

- allergic reactions

- difficulty breathing 

- dizziness

- hives

Some other reported more serious reactions are: 

- rectal bleeding 

- intestinal blockage 

- severe kidney pains

Although like most diets results vary because all people are different and have different  reactions.  Different diet supplements work better than other for other people. My question still stands with does Sensa really work? 

Sensa creator Alan Hirsch, M.D says Sensa is proven to work because it proved effective in a six-month study that was conducted. Over the six months participants who used Sensa in their meals have shown that after the six month span they on average lost 15% of their body weight.  

I believe that though this statement above maybe true , I am not sold in the fact that Sensa is going to work for everyone. Especially that the trial is conducted by the same person who developed the diet makes me wonder how bias the study is . 

In conclusion from my research , I believe that for some people Sensa can be a helpful aid on the road towards weight loss. But the study doesn't say weather those who lost 15% of their body weight were also pairing that with healthy foods and exercise. It is very important to realize that losing weight is made from a lot of different components not just "magical powder" . If you really want to lose weight , eat healthy foods and exercise regularly. Thats the best and most effective diet plan one could do. Other weightless aids should be looked as , as an aid, not a solution.  

 

            Growing up in a wealthy area during my High School Career, there was a lot of talk whether an individual's parents were going to send their child to private or public school.  Many families felt their child would be better off and more prepared for college if they were sent to private school. On the contrary, our public school system was awarded Blue Ribbon, and in some families opinion; just as good as an education as a private school.

Reasons a parent would choose a private school:  (Cato Institute Study)

1)   Better Student Discipline

2)   Better Learning Environment

3)   Smaller Class Sizes

4)   Improved Student Safety

5)   More individual attention for child


Reasons Why a Family Would Choose Public School:

1)   Save a lot of money

2)   Education just as good

3)   Shorter and Easier Transportation

4)   Faith in their public education systems

5)   Wanted their taxes to be worth it

Personally, I have always grown up in the public education system. I went to middle school and high school in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. My town was known for its schooling system, with many people saying the education was just as good or better then private school. When I was in High School, my school was awarded blue ribbon. To be honest, barely any people I knew went to a private high school, and this has been a trend in Basking Ridge. It is evident why this happens to be the case. Living in a town of wealth, money is definitely not a factor of reasons to keep their child in public schooling.

 

            To go into the Study of Education Policy, they specifically worked to challenge the years of research that tried to prove advantages on public schooling. As said by Jack Jennings, president in the democratic controlled house, "Contrary to popular belief, we can find no evidence that private school's actually increase student's performance". They also explain, "Instead, it appears that private schools simply have higher percentages of students who would perform well in any environment based on their previous performance and background".  This perspective changed the view of many people, after hearing for years their child would only excel if sent to higher education.

 

            On the other hand, one huge factor of getting into college is an individual's SAT and ACTS scores. Many parents believe by sending their child to private schooling,  This same study worked to find differences in the child's scores.  They explain that these tests are "developed abilities". The developed abilities are defined by not inborn abilities, but honed competencies, more akin to athletic skill gained through practice rather then raw IQ.  In the end, it showed that private schooling out did children in public schooling very much.

            There are many other factors that go into differences in schooling. Besides the decision to choose public or private education, socioeconomic status can also make a huge difference. Other factors can be if the child's parents went to college or had an education at all. With research, their are an unlimited amount of factors that can truly effect a chid's education. 


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http://www.cato.org/blog/new-study-explains-how-why-parents-choose-private-schools

http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1670063,00.html

        Here I am, mentally preparing myself for the classic "food coma" I go into after Thanksgiving...  How after dinner each year my sisters and I lay on the floor until we can basically breathe again. For the first time I thought about how much each person eats every year, and then I came across an article explaining that the average calorie intake for ONE person at Thanksgiving dinner is 4,500 calories! Sure that includes the drinks, appetizers, and the dessert... But 4,500 calories? That makes me sick to my stomach!


        As well as calories, it is also said that about 229 grams of fat is taken in, "the equivalent of around three sticks of butter." All I can think about is what I can do to not intake all of that garbage. Even though it is one time of year, that is definitely unhealthy considering that only includes dinner and the average calorie intake for women "over age the of 20 is around 1,700 per day." That means 2,800 more calories than one should have in a day is being consumed in just one meal! What can we do about this? How can we just not eat all that turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, veggies, bread, desserts, cranberries, etc.?


         The only advice I can come across is "serving water with the meal instead of soft drinks... throw the football around during half time instead of sitting on the couch." Truthfully, the obvious solution is to just not eat all the food on your plate, and to stop when you're full... But let's be real, it's Thanksgiving... I suggest just working out extremely hard the week of Thanksgiving, and definitely in the morning and, if you can move afterwards, then exercise after dinner too. However, I read that a "160 lb. person would have to run at a moderate pace for four hours, swim for five hours, or walk 30 miles to burn off a Thanksgiving Day meal." So pretty much, exercise cannot even save you from this dinner. 

   

         It's been said that winter is the "hibernation" season, and it's been proven that "the average person gains 7-10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years." There is a combination of factors to weight gain in this period of time; holiday food, depression, less activity to do outdoors due to the cold weather, stress, etc. I do not know if it is fair to say that "the average person" gains that much, but it is possible that people do. Why do we gain wait, and why do we overeat even after we're full, anyway? Of course, especially over the holidays the food is just delicious and you want to eat as much as possible... But why not save some for later or even the next day? There is actually a term called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that effects people mostly during the winter because of the colder and darker surroundings. When stressing over the holidays, or not feeling as well as usual, food is used as a comfort food- their thought process of how eating will make them feel better. 


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         So is this holiday season really worth the food comas and weight gain? My stomach says yes, but my mind says "you are so dumb, just do not do it." I am certain that food coma is the correct term to use after all of the research I have done for this, considering after all that butter and fat you can probably go into an actual coma after it. They key to surviving this season skinny and fit is to do your best to maintain a calm, relaxed, and happy outlook on everything to avoid depression and stress. As well, try to avoid overeating especially on the holidays. Finally, exercise and activity is a must this season, no matter how cold the temperatures are or if the weather is just not cooperating. What are some other ways you could relieve your stress and avoid depression in the winter besides eating? What can we do to help others we see gaining weight and becoming lazier during the season?


Works Cited:


"The Thanksgiving Dinner Diet Bust! How the Average American Will Eat 4,500 Calories and 229 Grams of Fat on Turkey Day." Mail Online. 26 Nov. 2013. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2513312/The-Thanksgiving-dinner-diet-bust-How-average-American-eat-4-500-calories-229-grams-fat-Turkey-Day.html>.


"Thanksgiving Survival Guide." SparkPeople. 27 Nov. 2013. <http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=324>.


"Hard to Believe: Average Thanksgiving Meal Equals 3,000 Calories and 229 Grams of Fat." ACE Fitness. 27 Nov. 2013. <http://www.acefitness.org/pressroom/392/hard-to-believe-average-thanksgiving-meal-equals-3>.


"Average Daily Calorie Intake." Healthy Eating. 27 Nov. 2013. <http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/average-daily-calorie-intake-women-5067.html>.

Have you ever heard of Venus being called Earth's sister planet? Well scientists believe that Venus could have had an abundance of water in the past just like Earth has today. Though some scientists feel that maybe Venus is a warning sign to us that Earth may someday end up like her.

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"Venus's atmosphere of carbon dioxide reaches nearly 900 degrees Fahrenheit and a surface pressure 100 times that of Earth's. It is considered a twin to our planet because of their similar sizes, masses, rocky compositions and close orbits." The sulfuric acid clouds are what gives Venus the bright complexion ("Cassini"). Venus has about a million times more sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere than Earth. Scientists believe the sulfur dioxide came from hundreds of volcanoes on Venus ("Have"). In the higher levels of the clouds from East-West wind speeds reach 400km/h around the equatorial latitude and the lower clouds reach 230 km/h around the tropical latitudes. But from the North-South there is approximately no wind in the lower clouds and 35 km/h in the higher clouds around the tropical latitudes. The winds on Venus are faster than the actual planet's rotation ("Venus Express"). Due to the wind the entire planet only takes four Earth days for the atmosphere to circulate. This makes it difficult for scientists to pinpoint where and how many active volcanoes there are on the planet that is erupting. The sulfur dioxide is destroyed when hit by sunlight and this shows scientists that there is something on Venus that keeps regenerating sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere ("Have").

A new investigation of both Mars's and Venus's atmosphere has been launched by NASA. The Venus Spectral Rocket, known as VeSpR, launched just a few days ago on November 25, 2013. The study is suppose to determine the amount of UV light that is coming off of the planet. The UV light will help scientists to determine the "history of the planet's water". Scientists are still trying to figure out whether Venus had water on its surface or only in the higher levels of the atmosphere. "Venus today has a thick atmosphere that contains very little water, but we think the planet started out with an ocean's work of water", said John T. Clarke of Boston University, the mission's principal investigator. The scientists are going to calculate the amount of hydrogen and deuterium that is in the atmosphere since both ions need oxygen to form water. The UV light coming from the sun separates the molecules where water evaporates and the hydrogen wafts into space. ("Sounding").

            Scientists cannot view Venus's surface due to the sulfuric acid clouds. These clouds develop when volcanoes emit sulfur dioxide and water vapor that mix to cause sulfuric acid droplets. Scientists believe the sulfuric acid droplets could evaporate due to the sunlight and releasing sulfur dioxide gas into the atmosphere. This was found by Xi Zhang, California Institute of Technology, USA and colleagues from America. Also, Paul Crutzen, a Nobel Prize winner, believes that if we put large quantities of sulfur dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere it will help to "counteract the global warming" because of the greenhouse gases. He came to his hypothesis because of the Mount Pinatubo located in the Philippines erupted in 1991 that released sulfuric acid into the atmosphere like that of Venus' clouds, and cooled Earth by 0.5 degrees Celsius by reflecting the "sun's rays back into space". But by the way Venus's clouds evaporate the sulfuric acid scientists are figuring out how fast the droplets evaporate back into the sulfuric acid gas before they can actually experiment with Earth's atmosphere ("Venus Holds").

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Dr. Emmanuel Marcq of the LATMOS laboratory in France suggests that "Venus was probably more humid and Earth-like in the distant past" because the water containing hydrogen is pulled out of the atmosphere by Venus's gravity faster since it is two times higher in the atmosphere than the water with deuterium, a heavier water ("Venus Express"). Though the Venus Express spacecraft has discovered that the solar wind that the sun emits hits Venus's upper atmosphere and transfers some of the particles off into space because Venus does not have a magnetic field. The magnetic field that Earth provides is what saves us from the solar wind from the Sun. The solar wind is where scientists believe that some of the water went from Venus ("Where").

           Do you think that some time far in the future Earth may someday end up like Venus? Will Paul Crutzen's hypothesis work and how could scientists test his hypothesis? Andrew had showed us a picture of Earth during class that Cassini, a spacecraft equipped with high tech cameras, had taken of Saturn towards the sun. In the same picture is Venus that had also been spotted through Saturn's rings. 


Works Cited:

"Cassini Spies Bright Venus From Saturn Orbit." ScienceDaily. 27 Nov. 2013 <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130304125306.htm>.

"Have Venusian Volcanoes Been Caught in the Act?" ScienceDaily. 27 Nov. 2013 <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121203081838.htm>.

"Sounding Rocket to Peek at Atmosphere of Venus." ScienceDaily. 26 Nov. 2013 <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131125172111.htm>.

"Venus Express Adds Evidence For Atmospheric Water Loss on Earth's Twin." ScienceDaily. 27 Nov. 2013 <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009

       /09/090916092536.htm>.

"Venus Holds Warning for Earth." ScienceDaily. 26 Nov. 2013 <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101130122035.htm>.

 "Where Did Venus's Water Go?" ScienceDaily. 27 Nov. 2013 <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081218094605.htm>.

Photo of Venus:

       <http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-  qA8eSj3FJpI/TjAbzO42X6I/AAAAAAAADF4/6lWqfvfpy7Y/s1600/planet-venus-d-screensaver-7640.jpg>.

Photo of Solar Wind:

       <http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41MCSRVBA8L.jpg>.

After writing (In and) Out of My Mind- Part 1, I began thinking more and more about the earworm phenomenon and Kraemer's findings. That's when I remembered something that I learned about last year in my PSYCH 100 class called Gestalt psychology.

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Gestalt psychology deals with visual perception and how the human mind tends to complete patterns of visual stimuli even though they may not be whole. In other words, when the brain receives bits of disconnected information, it automatically tries to consolidate it into a form that is more usable. For example, when a person sees a dotted outline of an image, often they can still tell what that image is because their brain fills in the spaces. This seems like it is very similar to how the auditory cortex behaved in Kraemer's experiment. When songs that that the subjects were familiar with were played and then muted for 2-5 seconds, their brains seemed to fill the gap, effectively "completing the pattern" of auditory stimuli. In my research, I still haven't been able to find a direct biological mechanism for why this happens, but I find the connection fascinating.

 

In my opinion, there are probably multiple triggers for the earworm response, but it seems to me that it is unpreventable given the amount of information scientists currently have and uncontrollable. All in all, a song getting stuck in your head may be a nuisance but it is ultimately harmless.

 

Now, what if you have a song stuck in your head already and want to get it out?

 

Many people that I've asked believe that the best way to do this is simple; listen to another song. However, when I tried this, the new song would sometimes get stuck in my head and I'd be left with the same problem.

 

Ira Hyman, a professor of psychology at Western Washington University, came up with a different solution. She "surveyed 299 students, playing songs by Lady Gaga, Carly Rae Jepsen, Beyoncé, the Beatles, Rihanna and Taylor Swift. The students rated the songs [based on personal preference], then completed puzzle tasks [of different difficulties], reporting back immediately after the puzzles, and then again 24 hours later on whether the song had returned." After all the participants' responses were in, Hyman concluded that, "The return of intrusive songs depended on cognitive resources: people reported that intrusive songs returned during low cognitive load activities, and we found that overloading the cognitive systems with challenging activities increased intrusive song frequency." Following this logic, the best way to get a song out of your head is to do a puzzle that is neither too easy nor too difficult. In the study, 5 letter anagram puzzles fit this definition best. However, assuming the findings are accurate, I'm guessing that the best activity for each person varies based on their intelligence level.

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Of course, Hyman's study is observational and must be treated as such. Unlike the Kraemer study that I addressed, Hyman never took quantitative measurements of the subjects' brain activity during and after listening to the songs. His results were based entirely on what songs the participants reported as getting stuck in their heads. This means that the results could have been subject to both interviewer and participant bias. Possible interviewer bias might be that Hyman somehow intentionally or unintentionally influenced the responses of the subjects. On the other hand, the participants in the study could have answered the survey questions about which song stuck around based on what they believed should have happened.

 

As a result, I don't put much faith into the accuracy of Hyman's findings, but I find no harm in seeing if they work for me. I already have some puzzle games on my phone, so it'd be pretty easy to try them out next time a song gets stuck in my head. After all, I'd do just about anything to get "Call Me Maybe" out of my brain.

 

 

The honest ladies and gentlemen at the New York Times reported on the Tesla model S electric car a few months back, and didn't have too much good to say. It seemed as if they were trying to start a flash mob to take down the horrid electric car before the wheels began spinning, pun intended.

 

The Tesla Model S is a revolutionary electric car making way east from its birthplace of California. The company claimed that the Model S could carry itself 300 miles on a single charge. Yet in an Op-Ed on the car from NYT, John Broder claimed that the car was terrible. It couldn't make the trip. The Model S was bad. More or less.

 

"Tesla Motors' chief executive officer says a Times story that found the electric-vehicle maker's Model S sedan fell short of its estimated range erased $100 million of the company's stock-market value in a matter of days," Forbes reported on Feb. 26, 2013, 18 days after the NYT criticism.

 

This started a huge social media feud between the author and Tesla CEO, Elon Musk. Musk cited documents and logs and Broder argued back. It went on and on, and in the end an NYT editor stated that there could have been "problems with precision and judgment, but not integrity."

 

And that got me thinking of the almost creepy bias in the media. Since then Ford has recalled the 2013 Escape SUV's 5 times due to engine fires. There were a few hundred thousand cars recalled worldwide. The Detroit News has reported on the recall in this story, but otherwise it's gone under-reported, if you ask me.

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It just seems like the media picks the winners and losers, and if you're the latter, be prepared for a fire storm.

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TIME Magazine speculates that a chemical released in the brain of a male when in love will lead to him being monogamous. This chemical is known as Oxytocin which is "a relatively short polypeptide hormone composed of nine amino acids. It is produced primarily in the hypothalamus and acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. Best known for its role in female reproduction, it is actually found in both male and female mammals."(WiseGeek). Oxytocin is famous for its role in love-whether its hugging, kissing or uhm...you know, Oxytocin is sure to be affected. 

Oxytocin, better known as the "love-hormone" is said to make a man's significant other appear "more attractive than strangers to men, even if both are objectively equally good looking." (Szalavitz,TIME). The hormone in men, "improves the ability to identify competitive relationships" thus making them more monogamous/loyal to their lover. 

The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, where scientists tested the hypothesis that Oxytocin in males allows them to be more monogamous. The null hypothesis: Oxytocin in males has no affect on their outlook of relationships. The experiment involved 40 young men, all recorded as being "passionately in love with their partners" of six-months or more (Szalavitz,TIME). Scientists tested the male subjects by putting them through a brain scanner as they inhaled either a placebo or oxytocin nasal spray. Therefore, it is confirmed that the trial was one-sided blind. Scientists then provided the male test subjects pictures of their significant other, women they knew and women that were complete strangers to them while they inhaled either solution. What was being measured was how the men's brain responded to the images. Scientists looked specifically at areas of the brain in which responded to desire and pleasure. 

The brain scanner showed that the areas of desire and pleasure lit up when men who inhaled the oxytocin viewed images of their loved ones-but not when they viewed pictures of female strangers. However, these areas of the brain did light up when viewing pictures of female acquaintances, just not as strongly in comparison to viewing pictures of their loved ones. 

So how does this relate to a male's ability of being monogamous? "Once men receive oxytocin, the attractiveness of the partner increases compared to the attractiveness value recorded for other females" (Hurlemann,TIME). Therefore, men feel little desire to veer away from their loved ones and pursue outside relationships-instead they remain monogamous because (as shown in the brain scanner) their desires are fulfilled by one significant other.

The study conducted in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has given every reason to accept the hypothesis that Oxytocin in males allows them to be more monogamous. Therefore, we will reject the null hypothesis that Oxytocin in males has no affect on their outlook of relationships. The only area of critique is the amount of men tested-being a small portion of only 40 subjects. If the experiment were to test a significant number of subjects (ranging from 100 or more), the results would be far more convincing. Another issue is the fact that the experiment was only one-sided blind. This creates opportunity for bias behavior on the scientist's part. If it were to be double-blind, then the chance of bias is ruled out and the results again, would be more concrete. 

So next time your man's eyes begin to wander...maybe offer him an extra dose of oxytocin nasal spray? All in all, oxytocin has been proven to affect men and their view towards relationships. Who knew a hormone could do so much!


Sources:
  1. Szalavitz, Maia, and Maia Szalavitz. "How Oxytocin Makes Men (Almost) Monogamous." Time. Time, 27 Nov. 2013. Web. 27 Nov. 2013.
  2. "What Is Oxytocin?" WiseGEEK. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2013.
  3. "'Love Hormone' Oxytocin: Difference in Social Perception Between Men and Women."ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 July 2013. Web. 27 Nov. 2013.



Do you know what the most annoying thing in the world is? Now some of you might answer, "world hunger" or "sickness" or "taxes", but I'd beg to differ. For me, the most annoying thing in the world is when Carly Rae Jepsen's song "Call Me Maybe" comes on the radio. That's because even though I turn the radio off within a few seconds, that's all it takes for the chorus to start playing over and over on an endless loop inside my brain.


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In an attempt to learn more about why this happens and possibly how to prevent it, I decided to investigate what happens in a person's brain when a song gets stuck in their head.

The phenomenon, commonly referred to by scientists as "earworms" or "auditory imagery", occurs within the auditory cortex of the brain and has been the subject of numerous research studies.

 

One of the most prominent and most referenced of these studies was published in March of 2005 by a team of scientists led by David Kraemer, a graduate student at Dartmouth University. First, the subjects (15 Dartmouth students) were asked to sort songs from a list into those that they were familiar with and those that they weren't. Some of these songs had lyrics, and others were purely instrumental. Later, the subjects' brain activity was monitored using an fMRI scanner while each song from the initial list was played. However, at certain points in each song the sound would cut out completely for 2-5 seconds before resuming. In other words, the songs weren't paused, but were silenced and then resumed after 2-5 seconds of the song had passed. The measurements of the neural activity during these gaps revealed which songs got "stuck" in the subjects' heads and which didn't. 

 

For both lyrical and instrumental songs, "Silent gaps embedded in familiar songs induced greater activation in auditory association areas then did silent gaps embedded in unknown songs".  Similarly, after the study was over, the participants reported "hearing" a continuation of the familiar songs when the audio went silent and not the unfamiliar. One of the most important findings of this experiment though was that, "in contrast to the gap responses, listening to unknown songs produced greater activity in auditory association areas [as a whole] than did familiar songs" because it provides evidence to support the claim that the momentary silences are what triggered the "earworm" response.

 

While these results seem logical, it is important to acknowledge that they could've been due to chance or experimental flaws. One major problem that I had with Kraemer's study is that it only involved 15 participants, which is a very small sample size. Furthermore, there was no demographic, health, or psychological information provided on the subjects that took part in the experiment. Yet, the findings of Kraemer's experiment imply that they apply to the human brain in general. This conclusion cannot be effectively drawn from such an unrepresentative sample.

 

With all this being said, Kraemer's findings still seem to make sense when I take my own experiences into consideration. Every once and awhile, I'll be listening to my iPod before a class when a professor starts to begin the day's lesson, forcing me to cut my current song short. Depending on which song I was listening too and how far in I was when I paused it, the music sometimes gets stuck in my head and distracts me from the lecture. Most often, it seems like the songs that  "stick around" are those that I've been exposed to the most (my favorites) and therefore am most familiar with. However, these are just my personal observations and may not apply to most people. 

 

Yet, I still wonder what other factors play a role in creating the earworm phenomenon. Some of the questions that I still have but did not have enough blog space to address are listed below:


1. Why do some "familiar" songs get stuck in your head while others don't?

2. How does the genre of music and a person's personal preferences affect the earworm phenomenon?

3. What determines how much of a song you have to listen before it gets stuck in your head?

4. Once a song is in your head, what's the best way to get it out?

 

I plan on examining Question #4 in the Part 2 of this blog post, but I'm interested in hearing what people have to say about Part 1. Feel free to leave comments and/or questions and I'll address them to the best of my abilities.  

 

Splenda is the no calorie sweetener that is popping up everywhere . You can use it just like regular sugar. In coffee, baking, iced teas --anything. It is a relatively new product but many artificial sweeteners have come after Splenda. I was very interested in this topic because ever since it came out my mother always told me how not to use it because it "isn't good for you" . I always took her word for it but I never knew what were the actual reasons why and if that was even true or not. I had other people tell me that Splenda can cause cancer! That sounded s bazaar to me so I really needed to do some research. 

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The chairman of the national consumer education group Citizens for Health , James Turner was "in shock and in outrage" after reading recent reports on the effects of Splenda also known as (sucralose)  . Many studies were tested on animals. Through these studies they explained how Sucralose (Splenda) reduced by 50% the amount of "good" bacteria located in the intestines, The pH levels increased in the intestines as well. Because of this body weight was increasing in those who chose Splenda over natural sugar. This was a direct contributor to the P-glycoprotein levels . This can be dangerous because if this is present the individual became at risk because important health related drugs can be rejected by the body.

Like anything else everything is safe if its in moderation, but if Splenda is a daily part of your life you may be unaware of the building side effects . There are reported side effects from Splenda . They are all "short term effects" but occur more than once. Some examples are...

1) Stomach pain and aches 

2) Bladder issues 

3) Skin redness , itching , and swelling

4) Heart palpitations 

5) Joint pain

6) Blurred vision 

7) Blood sugar increases 

8) Weight gain

9) Gastrointestinal problems

10) Migraines   

There are many more effects but it depends on the person and varies the extent of the side effects.   Splenda has reported that the makeup of their product can cause major liver problems in humans if consumed in excess but not a recommended doses .  

Nowadays Splenda is made of both dextrose, and sometimes with maltodextrin, different from when it just started out with just the Suralose (which is a good thing). The effects of the Suralose as stated before in this post have been prevailing and accumulating a lot of issues and no positive effects . They are growing slowly but surely.  Majority of the food testing was perfumed by the food industry and is showing the strong indicator there is issues with the artificial sweetener. 

No matter what the study, the end product is always the same : Splenda the artificial sweetener is hazardous . 

What makes someone attractive?


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Have you ever wondered what makes someone attractive?  What is it about one person that makes them more attractive than someone else?  My friends and I talk about this all the time so I decided to look into it.  

Obviously different people find different features attractive.  Eyes, smile, jaw line, hair color are some of the different features that make people attracted to someone else. Researchers found that symmetrical characteristics are something that many people look for when they are looking for a loved one.  What are can be defined as symmetrical characteristics?  The distance between the eyes, and the the space between your lips and chin are just a few of the characteristics.  

Researchers at the Massachusetts institute of technology studied what features men and women mostly prefer.  According to these researchers the features that women prefer to see in men include characteristics like "Hyper-feminine facial characteristics, such as a small pointed chin, Youthful features like full lips, thick hair, muscle tone and smooth skin and, A proportioned, hour-glass figure." 

And on the other hand, the features that men prefer to see in women include characteristics such as "The angle between their eyes and mouth, Cheekbone prominence and facial length, Those with higher levels of testosterone are typically ranked as having more masculine faces, Broader at the shoulder and narrower at the hips (the general V shape)." (MIT Study

Those aren't the only things that people look for in a significant other.  Have you ever heard that women sometimes date men that look like their father?  According to a biologist at the University of Mexico, this is actually true.  "Studies conducted concluded that men who are symmetrical give off a scent that attracts women. While women give off a scent during menstruation that attracts men. Men and women are unawarely attracted to people with similar genetics" (University of Mexico)

Obviously there are a lot of other features that make someone attracted to someone else... like personality, and things along those lines, but these are some of the scientifically proven features that make people attracted to someone! 

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Cites:
http://lerablog.org/home-and-family/what-make-people-attractive-or-unatractive/
http://german.fansshare.com/gallery/photos/259466/Paul-Walker-Smile/?displaying

Flight


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Ever since I started school at Penn State, I have been flying lots of planes back and forth across the country. I love sitting by the window to watch the changing skies and landscapes, but also to watch the flaps on the wings. I have never taken physics so I didn't fully understand how lift and all that worked so I did some research and what I found out was very interesting.
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The website HowStuffWorks clarifies that flight can be explained using fluid mechanics. Gases are classified as fluids along with liquids and considering their movement, it makes a lot of sense. What makes flight possible is the relationship between four factors: lift, weight, drag, and thrust.Obviously, the force of lift and thrust have to be stronger than that of weight and drag in order to get forward and upward movement. I learned that lift is possible only when the fluid is moving around a stationary object (like a kite) or when the object is moving through a stationary fluid (like a plane through air). When air is split over and under the wing, the air above it is faster , creating lower pressure than below and this is what causes the aircraft to gain altitude. In order to turn, the pilot alters the angle of the wings using flaps to dive down on one side, while going up on the other in order to roll into the turn.
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                As a RPTM major, I strongly believe that leisure is an important aspect to life. I have learned that you need to include leisure into your schedules to maintain your mental health. When I think about leisure I think about something that is personally fun to you and when I think of fun I think of things that make me laugh. Many times in my life I have heard that laughing can increase life expectancy and I just wanted to see if this is true and why it does or why it doesn't increase life expectancy.

                I read in the Kaplinsky Article that laughing "counters the negative effects that stress causes on the body. When you laugh, natural chemicals are released that help you feel and look great." Laughing apparently clears away negative energy but they're also saying that you'll look great. I wonder if the "look great" part of that is based off of self-esteem, where one can just feel better about themselves so they think they look good. Anyway, the article continues into talking about how our body's natural painkiller, endorphin, is released while laughing which, increases the cells that help your body fight off sickness known as T-cells. The level of stress hormone, also known as epinephrine, are said to be lower, which keeps blood pressure at a normal level. All this information proves that laughing is good for you and can help keep you healthy but it doesn't actually prove if laughing can increase your life expectancy.

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(This picture was found here)

                From every article I have looked at, such as Laughter is the Best Medicine, I realized they were just saying how laughing was good for you and that all these good things adding up were possible ways of adding time to your life. It is never really proven.  I tried looking for studies on the topic but can't seem to find anything on it. I may not be looking for the right thing or this does not have any good studies that were published on it. What I learned from all of this is that laughing can keep you healthy and mentally stable and if that counts as prolonging your life then I guess I found my answer but to me I see it as not proven. Would you believe that laughing extends your life? I mean, what do you have to lose really if you just laugh its proven to help you stay healthy so why not? 


         Over the past few weeks, I have not been able to sleep that well. Due to my concern, I spoke with a doctor who recommended that I shut off all electronics especially my cellphone because the "radiation and light can alter my sleep."

          Now, I am here just as suspicious as you probably are... Can I really not sleep because of the minuscule light shining from my cellphone? I tried to think of the explanations of how cellphones could really ruin a night of sleep- maybe it just wakes people up with calls and texts throughout the night, the alarms could go off at a random time, or it is possible people could be so obsessed with playing games and checking social media that they can't sleep. 

           I am constantly texting, on social media, playing the famous Candy Crush especially right before I fall asleep. I feel a sense of guilt if I do not have my phone near me while I sleep. I set up events for my sorority, so I feel like I must answer at all times immediately, also if someone needed help I would want to be able to get in touch with them at any time. Right before I fall asleep I check my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Researchers say that 63% of people 18-25 years old check social media before they fall asleep. They also say that half of them agreed to play games or Skype after checking social media. I know that I play games right before I fall asleep almost every night, because I think that it tires me out...But writing all of this down now I sound like I have a problem! Now that I think about it, it just keeps me awake and does the complete opposite of tiring me out. Is it because of the light that is radiating from the phone?

        Countless studies have been done to prove this concept, and I am beginning to believe it myself. "Light affects our circadian rhythms more powerfully than any drug," and many problems can occur in people especially "concentration problems in children." I definitely tend to have problems focusing, specifically this year... THIS IS ALL MAKING SENSE NOW. Even Penn State Hershey's, Dr. Harish Rao, has been researching this study as well. He claims that, "Using [phones] before bedtime can... lead to poor quantity and quality of sleep... [And] teens are particularly sensitive to the blue-green spectrum of light emitted by these devices."       

        So what can you do to prevent phones from altering your sleep? Many say to sleep with the devices at least 6-feet away from your bed, and some even believe to not have it in the room at all while asleep. I didn't even realize how many people sleep right next to their phones until I came across an eye-opening graph. The graph claims that out of ages 18-65+, 64.52% of them have their phones right next to their beds so that they can access it anytime throughout the night, 16.31% have it in their room, but somewhere that they can't reach it, and the rest have it out of their rooms in another location. However, those numbers are extraordinary... No one knows the long-term effect that phones can have on all of us, but all I know is that I do not want to be a subject to prove that it can end negatively. Even though I use my cellphone as an alarm clock I am going to put it on the other side of the room just in case! If you sleep with the phone close to you, would the knowledge of it altering your sleep cycle actually encourage you to stop? Would something tragic have to happen, like learning that it really does cause cancer, or the radiation is altering your brain completely, would anything stop you from sleeping by your phone? If so, what would have to happen or be said to have you never sleep by your phone again?

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Works Cited:

       "Terrible Night's Sleep? Blame Your Mobile Phone." Mail Online. 26 Nov. 2013. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2329068/Terrible-nights-sleep-Blame-mobile-phone-How-exposure-artificial-light-fools-brain-staying-awake.html>.

       "The Medical Minute: Want to Get Some Sleep? Charge up by Shutting down." Penn State News. 26 Nov. 2013. <http://news.psu.edu/story/290800/2013/10/09/medical-minute-want-get-some-sleep-charge-shutting-down>.

       Hall, Katy. "How Mobile Phones Affect Sleep (INFOGRAPHIC)." The Huffington Post. 26 Nov. 2013. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/15/phones-sleep-mobile-_n_2680805.html>.

        "Sleep Deprivation: The Surprising Causes and Solutions." CBS News. 4 Dec. 2013. 

       <http://www.cbsnews.com/news/sleep-deprivation-the-surprising-causes-and-solutions/>

Stone-heads and Human History


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dnews-files-2013-11-ancient-spearhead-point-660x440-gallery-jpg.jpgSome archeologists seemed to have uncovered a sharpened stone predating our species by about 85,000 years.

 

The stone was made from obsidian, and found around Ethiopia. In not the greatest article ever, Discovery filled in some info on the subject, specifically by interviewing Yonatan Sahle, a researcher at University of California at Berkley.

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At first the article seemed to point at our very own species being responsible for this, rewriting all that's know about human history, and greatly extending what we really know about ourselves. But after Sahle was questioned, he put to rest that notion.

 

"Technological advances were not necessarily associated with anatomical changes (among Homo species)," he said. "The advances might have started earlier."

 

Basically saying that humans are not the only species that could craft up useful tools and that, yes, other species within our genealogical tree knew how to get stuff done.

 

The amazing thing is that these spearheads were crafted specifically for distance hunting, rather than stab or thrust hunting. Which is very significant. Any discovery from our deep past, no matter how small should be praised. It's who we are and what we were, and maybe after learning of our past it can guide us into what we will become.

 

To read the paper Sahle and friends published click here.


Hourly Morality


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Science tackles many issues behind factors involved in material reactions, but what about human reactions? Psychology is the study behind human choices and behavior, so psychological science is simply the connection between our reactions with our surroundings. I've seen multiple commercials for energy supplements, such as 5 Hour Energy , that mention the afternoon blues, but what about the afternoon impulses that, according to this article, exist as well?


Harvard and University of Utah paired together to create the means to test this hypothesis. In their results, it seemed that participants lost integrity and honest feedback by the end of the day. I personally think that a lot of people like to start their day off on a good note and after being subjected to bad luck, or being a witness to unmoral actions, they are either frustrated and lose willpower, or they seek other means to reinstate their dominance in a different way. 


While reading, I couldn't help but think of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde . In this well-known story, a righteous, do-good doctor lives during the day, but at night, his reckless, manipulate counterpart, Mr. Hyde comes out at night. In today's world, one could relate this to bipolar disorder , or more commonly a split personalitysituation. It's interesting to look into why people act as they do. Are we really who we think we are, what we'd like to be, or what the day happens to make us?


Nevertheless, it's research like this that aims to answer these questions. With further understanding, we could start to find remedies to decisions that lack morality. From teaching a child right from wrong, to making an adult remember that right is better than wrong, society may not be so inclined to hide from Mr. Hyde, and to accept help from Dr. Jekyll. My only concern is those that are evil from the start of the day to the end. Hopefully more research will come out to tackle that, but for now, we can understand what hits the masses.

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Picture Source: (http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2010/moral-control-0330.html)

 

Dimming Lights


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Every so often, a solar cycle reaches a so-called solar maximum. This is when numerous forms of energy are emitted from solar sunspots. They blast away miraculously explosions in every direction. Just recently, as this article states, we were experiencing the peak of the solar cycle, yet nothing happened. I'm afraid people may take this to mean that our activities are having an effect on the sun, as well as the Earth. Hopefully the solar system is too large for Earth to have that strong of an effect on the center of the galaxy.


This is yet another unanswered question in space, but surely a welcome one. Less sporadic activity on the sun means less danger for us. Some sunspots came up here and there in the last 5 years, but nothing substantial. I feel that the sun slacking off is just another player in a world where slacking off is the new thing to do.


As a student leader, it becomes increasingly difficult over the years to find students willing to do anything past the bare minimum. This trend of halfhearted effort is certainly welcome on the sun, but shouldn't be welcome here as well. Comparing what we don't know to finding out more about what we do know may be an important area of growth scientifically and socially.


The sun can give warmth, guidance, solace and even the time of day, but really does have the power to do more. In deep thought, I can say with confidence that people are the same. We greet special friends with a warm friend, give guidance to our younger siblings, solace to our grieving classmates that may have failed an exam and then whip out our smart phones to let inquiring minds know of the time. But why stop there? People have great power that should be unleashed. As the sun holds back, it may be a good thing, but as we hold back in society, it doesn't do anyone any favors.


Weakening potential is a dangerous trend and I'm interested in seeing what it means as the years come along, as the sun hasn't been this dormant in a long time. Maybe this happens once in a century, but people can use this opportunity to consider their own level of activity in the cycle of a month, year or even a decade.

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Picture Source: ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corona)

 

Every Halloween, people go through a sugar craze of candy, but when that holiday passes are we still experience a less prevalent sugar craze? Chances are, yes. In a day and age where fat gets most of the blame for weight gain, people tend to overlook the true amount of sugar in foods. From glucose, to sucrose, to fructose, to syrup, there's just too many names to keep up with and sum together.


So, how much sugar is really hiding in our food? BBC looks into it in this article . I'm surprised and interested to know how much sugar I actually consume in a given day. On a college campus, salt and sugar are added to food to preserve and add favorable taste. Manufacturers use the same technique. Not only are many dishes high in sodium, but those low in fat have to be compensated with sugar to offset the bland taste. This sugar, if not burned, is eventually converted to fat by the body's processes.


Instant gratification in food and in decisions seems to be a downfall in society. Bad consequences add up overtime and seem to bring truth to "No pain, no gain." I argue that there is gain, just nothing desirable. No pain adds to a buildup of pain. Eating sugar all day leads to a number of diseases. Also, sugar rushes followed by energy crashes tend to leave people less likely to do anything more than falling back to sweet treats. This negative feedback loop gets more and more difficult to fight, and even when one musters interest in limiting sugar intake, that alone is increasingly difficult.


The biggest trick in analyzing food labels for sugar is just by paying attention to the amount of carbohydrates. This is just a fancy term for sugar molecules. So what does this all mean for scientific discovery? If enough people get outraged by this unhealthy food production, maybe we can see a rise in demand for healthy food. Though typically more expensive, science could be used to discover new methods of delivering what we need rather than being manipulated to hide what we don't.

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Picture Source: (https://blogs.ksre.ksu.edu/nutrition-education/added-sugars-add-up-in-our-diets/)

There have been hundreds of films on the prospect of extraterrestrial life. There have been billions of dollars put into space exploration. But in this study of space, people have found out of this world results, literally.


In an article by the New York Times based on a journal from the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences we learn about the existence of hundreds of thousands to even billions of Earth sized planets in the universe. With the universe seemingly expanding each and every day, even more could be in the process of forming. Matter is mysterious, yet representative of new opportunities.


As humans, we aim to make the most of our resources and in a world that seems to be running low on resources of value, it makes sense to look elsewhere for possibilities. In movies like Avatar , the interest in exploiting other planets is making way into the general public as well. The idea isn't too farfetched, it's just a matter of making it economical. Another area of concern involves the existence of aliens. What if these possible entities are intelligent, or what if they're unbelievably simple? Also, could these planets be possible homes for our growing population if need be?


Questions like these are generally raised in excitement. I know I personally would prefer something life-changing enough to redefine what we call home. I'd want intelligent life that was cooperative. I only hope we wouldn't take as much advantage of that opportunity as we have with past opportunities given by various species on Earth already.


While reading this, I was thinking about how we have segmented Earth's human population into different countries. What if we had actually segmented ourselves onto different planets. With numerous Earth sized planets, and some maybe even favorable to our preferred living conditions, we could split up and avoid international wars. Though, an interesting thought, it would be difficult to promote that interconnected growth and each planet may revert into re-segmenting anyhow.


Overall, of the many different areas to study within fields of science, I feel that space exploration and discovery is one that is ever-growing as substantially more creativity and dreams have been left in the stars. When I wish upon a star, I know that it can grow and shine with a power that cannot be handled by any technology on Earth. It's amazing how intricate nature really is. We should not only continue to see this intricacy in the galaxies, but also in the undiscovered regions on Earth.

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Picture Source: (http://www.esa.int/ESA/Competition/Explore_After_Earth_with_us)

Cancer: One Hit of Many


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We've been discussing breast cancer in class recently and THIS ARTICLE caught my eye. Typically, younger generations seem to be more resilient than their elder counterparts. It's interesting that in the case of cancer, a disease full of questions, the younger victims seem to face the higher fatalities.


As a young person myself, I feel that it's common to disregard a lot of symptoms because death or serious illnesses aren't much of a reality. Most exposure is either to those born with them, or those too old to fight anything off. Many people don't take action to investigate matters unless they have both time and money to do so, alongside increasingly serious symptoms.


For poorer, minority women, it should be obvious that breast cancer would be more deadly. The amount of single moms across the nation goes up, especially in more populated cities. They really don't have the means to investigate any irregularities in their breasts. It's a shame because this population already has the shorter end of the stick in many situations.


I think the purpose of this study is not only to point this fact out but it could add to science in less of a technical way as more of a social awareness factor. Instead of focusing on helping those who are able to help themselves in a health care system, we need to start focusing on those who have been helping others at the expense of themselves.


I give kudos to ScienceDaily and Wiley for sharing an article about a group of people that is too often ignored. Despite ending legal oppression of minorities and poorer groups of people, oppression still exists in the forms of means toward social and economic growth within these populations. With a boost in awareness in regards to disasters that not only strike once, but in disasters that are ongoing in our societal structure, we can give help to others in becoming more resilient to their own troubles. In this sense, sustainability is not only about conserving resources, but conserving the means for others to get resources. Ultimately, directing the power of science to the hope of disestablishing unfavorable social forces would help to push our country from not only the land of the free, but to the land of the happy as well.


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Picture Source: ( http://atlantablackstar.com/2013/10/15/things-may-cause-breast-cancer/)


HIV As Medicine?


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Here at Penn State we are always being exposed to the effects and horrors that are pediatric cancer due to our involvement in THON. This story is about a little girl, Emily "Emma" Whitehead who was a 7 year old girl who was being treated for ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia). After repeated attempts at traditional chemotherapy, there was no improvement. She had to find another idea to make an attempt at combating her cancer. This is when she went to CHOP, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where Dr. Susan Rheingold insisted she would continue to investigate options for Emily's specific case. 

This is where the story takes a turn for the bizarre. 

In Emily's cancer, as well as other cancers, a certain cell, the B cell in the immune system, becomes leukemia. This is tricky because the T cells that normally seek out and destroy disease causing cells, do not recognize the B cells as a threat thus allowing the B cells to carry on their disease causing endeavors. Naturally, the doctors needed to find a way to get the body to fight back against these cells. 

Now before we go any further, lets take a full 180 degree turn and talk about HIV. Seems unrelated, but bare with me here. HIV, which leads to AIDS, is a virus that is nearly impossible to treat due to some of its inherent characteristics. HIV enters the body and embeds itself into the one's DNA within the immune system which is why later on the body cant fight the disease because the disease literally controls the immune system. With this said, we know that HIV has some properties that allow it to attach itself to the DNA and manipulate normal practice in the immune system. 

So, in Emily's case, it seemed like a possibility to use HIV to enter the genes in her immune system and manipulate its functionality. 

"In the experimental treatment Emily qualified for, her T cells would be collected from her blood, then reengineered in a lab to recognize and attach to a protein called CD19 that is found only on the surface of B cells". They would use the T cells and a deactivated form of HIV to enter the immune system and let the reengineered T cells go to work against its own cancerous B cells. 

When administering the treatment Emily got as sick as possible, the doctors actually told the parents that if she got any sicker she would be dead. "All the activated T cells produced inflammatory proteins and one of the proteins -- interleukin 6 (IL6) -- went through the roof. Someone in the research lab hit upon an idea. June's (a nurse) daughter had taken a drug to aid her rheumatoid arthritis, which is exacerbated by IL6." Within hours of taking the arthritis medication to alleviate the inflamed proteins Emily was almost back to perfect health and was in remission. 

 

Seems like a miracle, fighting one evil with another evil and coming out cured. This story sheds light on the idea of using HIV in the future in order to enter and manipulate someone's immune system for the better. However, this is only one case, and very few have been recorded since. So with that in mind I don't think it's feasible to conclude that this will be a successful treatment for anyone with ALL but it should definitely be investigated further. I think, with what I've learned, that this could be a potential catalyst to a slew of future discoveries. I think, other than saving Emily's life, the key discovery here is seeing that we can use HIV as a hypothetical transporter into and negotiator for the human immune system, and with  that, we can begin to teach our immune systems how to work in a quick and safe manner. 

 

I learned about Emily through these articles: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/9738355/Emily-Whitehead-girl-whose-cancer-was-cured-by-HIV.html

http://www.chop.edu/service/oncology/patient-stories-cancer/leukemia-story-emily.html

http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/07/29/v-fullstory/3529382/doctors-use-engineered-hiv-to.html

 

How HIV affects the body: http://www.healthline.com/health/hiv-aids/how-hiv-affects-the-body#2


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/07/29/v-fullstory/3529382/doctors-use-engineered-hiv-to.html#storylink=cpy
This Thursday almost all families throughout the US will be celebrating Thanksgiving. Eating delicious food from stuffing to pumpkin pie, but we cannot forget about the turkey! In the online article from Scientific American, Does Turkey Make You Sleepy?, it questions whether or not turkey is the blame for causing americans to feel drowsy after their traditional Thanksgiving meal.

"Turkey allegedly causes drowsiness because it is packed with a nutrient called tryptophan. Tryptophan is one of 20 naturally occurring amino acids - the building blocks of proteins. Because the body is unable to manufacture the tryptophan on its own, it must be obtained from food protein." Tryptophan is used by the body to make serotonin and studies have shown that one function of serotonin is promoting slow-wave sleep in nonhuman mammals, this may do the same for humans. Although the facts may seem like turkey is actually causing you to be sleepy after your meal, it probably isn't the case. 

Turkey and other protein-rich foods contain many amino acids, and tryptophan is the scarcest among them. Tryptophan is competing with five other amino acids to transport to the brain through the blood stream. Because it is fighting against five other amino acids, tryptophan usually doesn't make it, causing the sleep to be coming from somewhere else. 

Where you ask? The dessert, of course!

"Gobbling a slice of sweet pumpkin pie, for instance, causes beta cells in the pancreas to secrete insulin, a hormone that allows the uptake of glucose and most amino acids into the tissues. But insulin has little effect on tryptophan, a large percentage of which travels the bloodstream bound to the protein albumin and therefor is unavailable to the tissues, the notable exception being the brain." 

All in all, turkey is not the leading cause to drowsiness after consuming, and the pumpkin pie probably isn't either. It is natural to feel tired after eating a large thanksgiving meal, trust me I know. Personally, I always take naps after eating Thanksgiving dinner because the feeling of moving after all that food sounds horrible. It is almost tradition down that after eating turkey dinner to watch some football and pass out in the process. I think by now it is almost programmed in our minds that turkey is the reason why we are lazy after our feast, and I am not complaining about that!

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fart.png"It's not nasty, it's normal. Everybody farts." We have heard this for the longest. Even though releasing gas is nasty you have to do it. I remember my mom telling my sisters and me to never hold our gas in and I always wondered why. She stated how it could mess up our insides, so I took a look into it.

            Flatulence is made in the stomach and intestines as your body breaks down food into energy. It releases gas through the digestive system through the anus. There are a lot of things that can cause gas. As embarrassing it might be to let loose, the question is, it worth it? I think it is bad to hold gas because you can really harm your insides and cause internal problems and not think too much of it. HeathLine article, explains some of the causes of having gas. It explains how swallowing air is one of the factors of having gas. They say chewing gum is a cause because you are swallowing gas bubbles as you eat. Also, you dietary choices are also a factor, don't eat foods that make you gassy or eat less of it.

            Some people always say, "Hold your gas, until we get outside" or "just try and hold it." What they fail to realize is that they are giving the gassy person the wrong type of help. According to Dr. Ben Kim, holding gas can seriously put your health in danger. When you hold gas, you are blocking and stretching wall cells that can cause bloating. Also, you can have constipation and abdominal pain. Studies also, say this can cause bad breathe, halitosis.

            So the choice is up to you. Would you rather just let is loose right there and then? Say excuse, smile and carry on with your errands? Or would you hold it in and possibly damage your insides and have gas get into your bloodstreams, and suffer abdominal pain all day?

My Poor Dog


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Shay.jpgWhen the weather starts to change, my sinus starts to act up. However, I am not the only one with this problem, my grandma's dog has sinus as well. Shay is a Lhasa Apso and when her sinus acts up, she doesn't know how to behave. She gets very dry skin on her belly which is very scabby because she scratches it constantly. She also drags her butt across the carpet, which is annoying and when she sneezes she sneezes out mucus. It's the most disgusting, yet saddest thing I've ever seen. No one wants to see their dog in pain.

To help Shay, my grandma gives her Benadryl, which is the same medicine my aunt gives her dog. I know that Benadryl is known for causing drowsiness and helping with runny nose, itching, watery eyes and other symptoms from having allergies. I know she is giving this to her to help her, but I wonder, is this bad for her?

Benadryl is an antihistamine that is commonly used in both people and pets. According to different articles, Benadryl is an okay medicine to use. In the article, Can You Give a dog Benadryl, explains why it is okay to give your dog Benadryl. It states that it helps relive their allergies and other factors like eye infections, skin irritations, and fleas. However, there are side effects of Benadryl. In the article,Pet MD, it states how dangerous Benadryl can be to animals, such as hyper excitability in cats, loss of appetite and even diarrhea in animals. I wonder is Benadryl the best way to relieve animals allergies and sinus?

 

            Every time I work out or go for a run I always drink chocolate milk afterwards. I first started doing this  because I heard that it was good for you and even though I thought it was weird, I still believed it and tried it. Now I'm curious and dying to know if it really is better for us to drink something like chocolate milk versus drinking just water. Although I do not get as much vigorous activity into my schedule as I would like I always wonder, "What are the healthiest things I can do for my body?" I thought water would be the source of many of my dieting habit issues, such as staying hydrated day after day. As we all know we need more than just water to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Like I said in my last post, Too Much Water Can Kill! However, water is not the only necessity to healthy living; you need protein and nutrients to maintain a healthy balance.

As I was searching for support on drinking chocolate milk after workouts I came across the Got Chocolate Milk? campaign. The Got Chocolate Milk? campaign explains how there are multiple vitamins and electrolytes to refuel your body more efficiently than a typical sports drink or water. I find the campaign very interesting as it is practically the same campaign as Got Milk? but it goes into more detail about after workouts. It shows many famous athletes to promote the campaign as well; I'm sure most are familiar with Got Milk? posters in school cafeterias with athletes and celebrities with their milk mustaches. However, just because we see famous people smiling with milk mustaches and saying something they were told to say does not mean we should completely believe it; so I continued my search.

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This photo can be found here.

            As seen in this article, you can benefit from chocolate milk after a workout in four ways; you can rehydrate, recover, build muscles, and improve your performance overall. Water does not contain electrolytes or protein so drinking chocolate milk to rehydrate will not only quench your thirst but provide you with all the nutrients you lost through sweating. Chocolate milk can also help heal any micro tears that could have happened in the muscles. Speaking of muscles, chocolate milk can help build your muscles and help get rid of unwanted fat. Lastly chocolate milk can improve your overall performance by increasing your endurance.

            The study they mention in this WebMD article uses a double-blind placebo trail on athletic men to see whether they benefit more from a sports beverage or a glass of chocolate milk but this study only included men, where women are unaccounted for. Although men and women are both human they assume that women will have the same effect, however, women are very different from men and assuming things in experiments never prove anything. It makes sense that it would have the same effect on women as it does to men but can we be sure that this assumption is correct? I know some people may not approve of the assumption that women have the same effect with chocolate milk but I believe it is a safe assumption to make.

Acetaminophen is a word that I have heard a lot of in the last few years. How bad is it? Does it help? Who cares?

It's the active ingredient found in most over the counter pain suppressants, such as Tylenol and Aleive. And now we are hearing that this very common drug may not be as safe as once believed.

Johnson & Johnson, the company that makes Tylenol, have been scrutinized many times in the past for the small gap between "recommended dosage," and "dangerous dosage," within their famous brand name drug. One might say Tylenol is as American as apple pie, or McDonalds.


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The most recent study, conducted by the University of Oslo, in Norway, tested 48,000 children whose mothers filled out questionnaires on their medication usage during pregnancy (week 17 and week 30), along with a follow up 6 months after birth. Then the mothers reported on their children's development three years later.

About 4% of women took at least a month worth of Tylenol during pregnancy, and the study reported that these children had slower development, i.e. walking later, poorer communication skills, harder time grasping language, etc. . .

 " . . .this study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, involved a large number of women, and researchers also looked for any link to ibuprofen, a pain-relief alternative without acetaminophen.

"They found no development problems tied to ibuprofen," Reuters health reported Nov 22 of this year.

"Long-term use of (acetaminophen) increased the risk of behavior problems by 70 percent at age three," Ragnhild Eek Brandlistuen, leader of the study at Oloso, said.

Company PR has always been there to mop up the damage of these claims though. A spokesperson for Johnson & Johnson said that, "As the authors note in the study, there are no prospective, randomized controlled studies demonstrating a causal link between acetaminophen use during pregnancy and adverse effects on child development."

Brandlistuen said that there needs to be more research done on this topic. And people shouldn't be prepared to jump to any conclusions.

All I can believe is what I see, and while I never will be a pregnant mother, I do try and avoid medication as much as possible. At a doctor's visit, not to long ago, I made note of his advice to, "Stay away from acetaminophen, as much as you can." And I personally intend to do just that.


Resources:

The actual study : prenatal paracetamol exposure and child neurodevelopment: a sibling-controlled cohort study, Published October 24, 2013. http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2013/10/24/ije.dyt183.short?rss=1

Reuters article: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/22/us-tylenol-pregnancy-idUSBRE9AL15L20131122

Picture: http://www.healthnowmedical.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/tylenol.jpg

My freshman year I was a victim of this horrible cough. It would come and go, but when I had it it was the most annoying thing ever. It was constant and loud and I felt so bad for my roommate. I tried everything from cough medicine to cough drops but nothing seemed to make it stop for good. It was beyond awkward going to class because I coughed every five seconds (or so it felt like it) so I started bringing tea and cough drops to class. I ended up going threw numerous amounts of cough drops and it eventually got me thinking, are cough drops even helping me?

In the article from abcnews.go.com, Throw Out Those Cough Drops, Group Says, the American College of Chest Physicians is quoted saying, "Throw out those cough drops and most syrups because there's little medical evidence to show that they work."

Most adults are recommended to use antihistamines along with a decongestant. Products such as Robitussin Allergy or Vicks NyQuil are commonly suggested. When I had my cough, I actually used DayQuil and NyQuil and although over time I got better I don't think it was because of those antihistamines. Over the weeks I had this cough it gradually got better just from me getting enough sleep and taking care of my body. Sometimes, I think there is no medicine that can cure a sick person, especially a cough. All you need is time and eventually it will run its course and you will be healthy again!

Previously at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, a 2012 issue of Pulmonary Pharmacology and Therapeutics printed and article on what helped people with a cough. "12 healthy, young adults inhaled from a nebulizer containing capsaicin, the burning ingredient in chili peppers and potent chemical stimulus for cough." After each inhalation, the amount of capsaicin was doubled. This procedure continued until the subject coughed three times within 10 seconds. The capsaicin concentration that induced the three coughs was labeled as the individual's cough threshold.  

"In some sessions, the subjects held either a very sweet sucrose or plain water in their 
mouths for three seconds, spat the liquid into a sink, and then inhaled from the 
nebulizer. In other sessions, subjects inhaled three breaths of either menthol-saturated air or clean air before each capsaicin inhalation. The menthol concentration was selected to approximate the cooling intensity of a menthol cigarette."After this study was done, evidence showed that the sweet sucrose helped to stop the patients cough quickest.

Comparing this study with the abc article it is clear that there are many different opinions to whether cough drops actually work. Ultimately, I think it is up to the patient to determine if cough drops are the cure for their symptoms. For me, it helps to use cough drops not necessarily because it makes my cough go away but because they take my mind off my cough and suppress it for a little while. Honestly, I would have done anything to get that cough away!

http://www.monell.org/images/uploads/Cough_final.pdf

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How Healthy is Kissing?


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Kissing is happening everywhere; among all cultures, people groups, and ages. There are endless types of kisses from affectionate love, romantic love, friendship kisses, greeting kisses, ritual kisses, religious kisses, kisses of respect, peace kisses and so on. In physiology, kissing is an act which involves a tremendous amount of muscle coordination. This complicated behavior requires the movement of 34 facial muscles and 112 postural muscles 

Kissing is known to have its good and bad effects. For many "kissers" this act can lower stress, and therefore help your health and well being. In controlled studies kissing has helped lower stress and positively impact couples in relationships, because of this cholesterol levels are naturally lowered. Kissing also activates adrenaline in the body which is heathy for the cardiovascular system. In a study done by Dr. Alexader DeWees, heavy kissing has showed to burn from 2-3 calories a minute solely by the mouth and neck muscles. 

Although mouth-to-mouth lip kissing can have its benefits, there are many more possible negative repercussions. From a regular person's perspective, kissing might seem magical; however, a scientist's perspective on this might be something like two cesspools mixing together. Gross! Think about it... you're touching two different people's mucous membranes to each other. Oral interaction makes it possible for transmission of many diseases such as "mono" and cold sores (herpes simplex). And although HIV is nearly impossible to transfer from one to another by kissing, it has happened before in cases when individuals have gum disease. 

Did you know that the human mouth houses 500 to 1,000 different kinds of bacteria? It is known that most infections grow best in a warm and moist habitat. What place is better than your own mouth? Oral hygiene is extremely important not only to the health of your teeth, but also to your immune system and heart; all of these things are directly related. Partaking in kissing is one of the worst things you can do for oral hygiene due to all the bacteria swapping. It has even been said that kissing multiple people can almost be as harmful as having multiple sex partners. 

So is it worth it to kiss some one? Personally, I'd say so, however, after researching this it will definitely make me think twice before I kiss someone. You don't know what's growing in  that mouth or where those lips have been! 

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if you are further interested, here are some articles where I gathered information on this topic.

You smell the fresh baked pumpkin pie from your room. You follow the smell until you find yourself in the kitchen where the smell of spices, fruit, turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, etc. overwhelms your nostrils with the different smells of food. So we found our way into the kitchen and are able to take in all of these wonderful smells because of our nose. 

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As we know our nose has two nostrils. Both the nostrils and nasal cavity have mucous and cilia that help to filter the air and harmful substances from entering the body/lungs. Cartilage shapes the nose from the nasal bridge down. This is where many people will have plastic surgery done to change the shape of their nose. From the nasal bridge up to our eyes, we have bones that serve as a support for the nose. In between the eyes there are two nasal bones that form into one to create the nasal bridge. The nasal septum divides the nose into two nostrils and the "turbinate or conchae, are bones that divide [the] nasal cavity into air passages" ("Anatomy").

To enable us to smell, molecules called Volatile, evaporate off materials. We breathe these molecules in and at the "top of [our] nasal passages" neurons are located. They have Cilia, hair-like features that capture these molecules and allow us to smell. Receptors are also located throughout our nose and each receptor is created by a certain gene. If a gene was damaged in the process it could cause you to not be able to detect certain kinds of smells. When we smell foods or flowers we are actually breathing in organic molecules called Esters. Esters can be made artificially and this is how artificial flavors are created. We are able to smell over 10,000 different odors ("How").

When comparing male to female you might have noticed that a man's nose is bigger than a female's nose. Men's noses are bigger than women's noses by ten percent because they need more oxygen since they have more lean muscle mass than women. Male's noses do not start growing bigger than female's until they reach puberty. Humans today have smaller noses than the Neanderthals had in the past. Though because Neanderthals had bigger bodies they resulted in more muscle so scientists believe they had bigger noses to accommodate and bring more oxygen in for their muscles ("Why Are").

Many people have different shaped noses. There are all kinds: big, small, bony, long, etc. A postdoctoral researcher at the University of Iowa, Nathan Holton, scanned forty peoples' noses with half being of European/Americans and the other half being African Americans/Native South Africans. Holton believes that the reason humans have different shaped noses is because of the different climates we live in or are associated with. So Caucasians have more narrow noses because of the colder climate and since the mucosal surface of our noses supply moisture, the colder air would dry this moisture out. Hence the fact that sometimes when breathing in cold air that our nose tends to burn this is because the air drys it out ("Why Our"). This can lead to nose bleed because the mucous membrane gets very dry or cracks and the nose contains a ton of blood vessels ("What"). So this is why the noses are smaller/narrower to adapt to the climate. African Americans are associated with warmer weather and therefore do not need to worry about colder air which allows them to have bigger noses ("Why Our").

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Abraham Tamir, an Iraeli scientist, chemical engineer professor, and also teaches the connection between science and art, photographed and looked at 1,800 photos to compare the shapes of noses. Out of the 1,800, 400 were pieces of art, 600 were women noses and 1,200 were male noses. He took pictures of people from Israel, Holland, Belgium and France. He found that there are fourteen different shapes of noses ("There"). The problem with his study is that he should have an even number of both males and females and one of the biggest flaws in his study was that he did not include other ethnicities like Asians, African Americans, etc. He also did not list how many of pictures of the males and females were from which country. So we don't know if he had gotten an even amount from each country. This could change the study significantly if he had taken into account these other factors.

 

Works Cited:

"Anatomy of the Nose." Rhinoplasty Online. 20 Nov. 2013 <http://www.rhinoplastyonline.com/anatomynose.html>.

 "How Does the Sense of Smell Work" Howstuffworks. 20 Nov. 2013 <http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/human-biology/question139.htm>.

"There Are 14 Different Kinds of Noses, Study Claims." NBC News Health. 21 Nov. 2013 <http://www.nbcnews.com/health/there-are-14-different-kinds-noses-study-claims-1C6437205>.

"What Is A Nosebleed? What Causes Nosebleeds?" Medical News Today. 20 Nov. 2013 <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/164823.php>.

 "Why Are Men's Noses Bigger Than Women's?" Discovery News. 20 Nov. 2013 <http://news.discovery.com/human/evolution/why-are-mens-noses-bigger-than-womens-131120.htm>.

"Why Our Noses Are Different Shapes." CNN Health. 20 Nov. 2013 <http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2013/03/20/why-our-noses-are-different-shapes/>.

Photo of different shaped noses:<http://chestofbooks.com/arts/photography/Practical-Photography-2/images/Illustration-No-38-Character-Chart-Noses.jpg>.

Photo of the nose anatomy: <http://www.uofmchildrenshospital.org/fv/groups/public/documents/images/133840.jpg>.

Everyone loves his or her hometown. There is no better feeling in the world than going home. Most people would say that their town is the best place to grow up and live . Though everyone is entitled to their own opinions recent studies have shown that the country side is the most beneficial place to live in if you are planning on starting a family. But why?  

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According to Foundation for Child Development (which put out its annual Child Well Being Index (CWI), in state to state comparison of quality for children life) New Jersey rated top of the list according to different measurements in 28 different indicators. Some of these factors are the families economic wellness, health, safe and risky behavior, education attainment, community involvement, different social relationships and emotional status. They put all of these factors together and then calculated the overall child's level of well-being.

New Jersey ranked number one overall and especially in the "Social relationships" category. Coming in second was Massachusetts which was also in the top ten and ranked number one in the education portion of the study. 

There are many different factors that make New Jersey and other country estate places a great to live. The high ranking of these scores is based on environmental factors people are experiencing from the area around them . Contrary to belief the layout of New Jersey is very rural . Yes there are urban areas, but most of the State is not. According to research from Changing Landscapes only 30% of the state is urban the other 70% is open areas and even farmland! 

According to DailyMail.UK they said : "The Countryside Living Index carried out to record how people feel about their lives, found that the satisfaction ratings of people living in the countryside leapt by 10.7 per cent between the first and second quarters of 2013, with their views about the cost of living, education and crime all improving. "

People living in the countryside said they had profound feelings of optimism concerning health, education, and their environment. This is significantly larger than the amount of city inhabitants who reported saying they had higher stress levels regarding concerns of crime.

Rural affair specialist, Tim Price at NFU Mutual carried out this study. He said that the recession in particular made country life a struggle but that the numbers are turning around. He said many environmental factors of county side living come into place like the clean air, open spaces, locally grown fresh food and physical activities...all factors that cannot be found in urban areas. This contributes to healthier life styles, resulting in a more "optimistic" feeling of being. 

 

At night when I am feeling very stressed, I sometimes will take out my sketch book and draw. I always feel that drawing relaxes me.  It is something that I enjoy, but it is also very calming to me.  This made me wonder if drawing could be used not only to relax people, but to help them heal from medical conditions.  I once saw somewhere that this could be possible so I wanted to see if it was a myth or the truth. 


Art therapy is used to help people heal.  It helps those that are sick express their emotions whether it be fear, anxiety, and freedom and it reduces stress.  Art therapy is used for people dealing with eating disorders, patients who need a bone marrow transplant, patience who have been sexually abused, people who are addicts, the people taking care of a cancer patient, ill people, disabled people, and so many others.  The goal of art therapy is to get people to open up and even express unconscious thoughts.  So, does this healing process actually work?


So far, studies have shown that art therapy has helped cancer patience by helping with distress, improving their life quality, reducing the pain they feel, and helping their physical and psychological health.  Also studies revealed that cancer patiences going through chemotherapy are not as depressed and have lower fatigue with the help of art therapy.  Does this mean that art therapy is used as a cure to cancer? No, it does not serves as a cure, but only helps the patient feel less distressed and more relaxed while undergoing their journey.  The patients still need cancer treatments, but art therapy just helps make them a little more comfortable. 


Art therapy can also be used for children with asthma.  A randomized trial was conducted which showed how children with asthma had a reduced amount of anxiety and a higher quality of life just after seven weeks of art therapy. This study took 22 children and broke them up into two groups: ones that received art therapy and the control group which did not.  The children's ages ranged from 7 to 14; the children in the art therapy group showed a big change in problem solving, communicating with each other, quality of life, and less anxiety.   Researchers believe that art therapy works because it allows for people to separate themselves from their illness.  One problem with the study,was a small group tested.  Only 22 children were tested; to make this study more legit more children would need to be tested.  Although, so far studies have shown that art therapy does not necessarily help heal patients but rather help patients deal with their illness.  More research would need to be done to prove if it helped heal patients.  

  

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References:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100512141914.htm


http://cancer.stanford.edu/information/alternativeTherapy/senses.html


http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-healing-arts/201302/yes-virginia-there-is-some-art-therapy-research


http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/mindbodyandspirit/art-therapy


Too Much Water Can Kill!


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            As far as I can remember people have always said that water was a major part of life in general; any living thing needs water to survive.  After seeing the words "water intoxication" I didn't know what to expect because it just seems impossible to me. I always imagined intoxication as something that was affiliated with drugs and alcohol. I never thought drinking too much water could kill you and when I first read the Woman Dies After Drinking Contest article, I was distraught, which lead me to my research. I'm not saying that taking sips of water throughout the day to stay hydrated is going to kill you; I'm talking about people chugging excessive amounts of water in very little time. Mainly what I think about are people who are trying to flush their system for whatever reason that may be.

            As seen in this article on about.com, water intoxication is more likely to happen to infants or athletes. This makes sense since babies are very delicate and if you give them a bottle they will just drink all of it and they are unable to determine when enough is enough. In the about.com article it talks about how sometimes bottles can be diluted too much causing water intoxication. So if the infant's parent mixed the babies formula wrong it could lead to water intoxication. On the other hand for athlete's, I remember growing up and my coaches telling me during my time outs to take sips of my water instead of taking large gulps. My coaches could never really explain why sipping was necessary but I believe water intoxication could be a factor of this whether they knew it or not.

            According to Runner's World, studies have shown that 13 percent of runners in the 2002 Boston Marathon have suffered symptoms from over hydration. In the Runner's World article it talks about how many runners believed in the 1980's that drinking excessive amounts of water would help them in marathons but in reality it was hurting them and they were suffering water intoxication. By the looks of it your body knows how much water it needs and when it needs it. Basically what they are saying is that you should not force yourself to drink water if your body is not telling you that you need it.

            Although it is very uncommon for water intoxication to happen it's still something to think about. I know somebody who has tried to flush their system before because they didn't want to get in trouble with the cops, which is a pretty dumb thing to do because they can tell. Also, the water intoxication side of it could lead to death. We're all getting older as well and will most likely start a family in a few years, if you had a child would you worry about giving your baby too much water? Or what if you're a coach for little league or something, would you warn the children to take sips of their water rather than just let them chug a whole water bottle? Would you take this into consideration or am I just panicking too much?

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The website this picture can be found


A Dinosaur's Brain


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Many people would think that because dinosaurs were gigantic they would have big brains but research these days show the opposite.

Scientists discovered that the largest dinosaur called Ampelosaurus, 70 million years old and found in 2007 from Spain, had the size of a tennis ball for a brain. Ampelosaurus are herbivores that have both long necks and tails and "armor like scales" all over their body. Its body is 15 meters long and the brain is only 3 inches big. In the CT Scan they also found a "small inner ear". The ear was in charge of their balance and the dinosaur probably could not hear very well. So instead it might have heard through vibrations from the ground. Scientists also believe that the dinosaur made slow movements because of the inner ear being small compared to the ratio of the dinosaur's body ("Biggest").

            Scientists are able to tell the features of a dinosaur brain by seeing the imprints of what their brain left on the skull. These imprints help scientists to determine the size and shape of the brain. They have determined six parts of the brain that was for "complex behavior such as processing visual information and learning and making sounds". Erich Jarvis initiated the study of the brains of both alligators and birds at Duke University. Some dinosaurs evolved from alligators while birds had evolved from dinosaurs. So Jarvis concludes that dinosaur brains range between an alligator and a bird. He put both an alligator and a bird in separate quiet rooms where he played "alligator grunts" to the alligator and "bird songs" to the bird. Then he quickly removed their brains to find what genes were activated in the brain. He found that both had vocal learning skills so he concludes that dinosaurs would also have this capability of learning vocal skills. Both an alligator and a bird have big cortexes and he relates this as the dinosaurs to have a large cortex too, meaning they "were capable of pretty sophisticated behaviors" ("Scientists"). Scientists are still learning about the brains of dinosaurs but it's hard to experiment when brain findings are extremely rare to none as well as to find a perfect brain that has been preserved through fossils.

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So in general huge, large dinosaurs from the past had very small brains compared to their body but these days species on the planet have bigger brains compared to their smaller body. So why did evolution do this? Many scientists are still contemplating this question too. But what are your thoughts?


Works Cited:
       "Biggest Dinosaurs Had Brains the Size of Tennis Balls." LiveScience. 21 Nov. 2013 <http://www.livescience.com/26539-giant-sauropods-small-brains.html>.

 "Scientists Create Detailed Map of Dinosaur Brian." theguardian. 21 Nov. 2013 <http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/nov/13/scientists-map-dinosaur-brain-tyrannosaurus-rex>.

Photo of alligator before dinosaurs:<http://www.search4dinosaurs.com/miller_mosasaur.jpg>. 

Photo of dinosaurs: <http://img.naij.com/n/04/0/dinosaurs-wallpaper-4_1_.jpg>.

Photo of birds: <http://hometown-pasadena.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/birds.jpg>.

Do wild animals have emotions?


| 6 Comments
This is a question that leaves many wondering whether what they are seeing from their household pets is actually emotions. Often we see a dog wagging their tail or barking excitedly, but did living and being raised by humans cause this?  According to Animal Planet, scientists believe that animal's actions are because they are trying to tell us something, such as a dog eating a shoe, which may mean that he/she is lonely while being home alone.  Many people still do not buy the emotions card.  I think a good question to factor in is do wild animals have emotions?  This is because many people could say that household animals have emotions because their owners have instilled them into the pet.  A popular emotion seen in humans is mourning.  I have decided to research the topic to see if wild animals are known to mourn over loss of habitat or even another dead animal.  I found that according to the Botswana Wildlife Guide elephants have been known to "mourn over a dead member of their species".  It also explained that elephants will "touch and scent a carcass - and even old bones".  I find this a bit similar to the funerals that humans attend when a friend or family member passes away, praying and remembering the good times with a dead body in the room.  It even goes as far as when the friends and family members of the passed pray over the casket of the deceased.  This topic is hard to experiment, unless someone is willing to expose a wild animal to a dead member of their species, which I consider very cruel.  Many scientists study this subject through observation of the species on their own, mourning the loss of an animal who had passed due to nature in their natural habitat.  Other animals stated to have been observed in the Wildlife Guide by scientists include lions, buffalo, zebras, and baboons.  All of these animals had different ways of mourning, but all showed the same emotion.  "A baboon mother carried her dead baby for days".  "Zebras reacting to a deformed newborn foal".  One scientist even observed a male buffalo, "mount a near-to-death adversary that had been mauled by lions".  This evidence shows that while household pets may be known to have more easily recognized emotions due to living directly with humans, wild animals also have emotions, but are acted out in different ways.

Works Cited: http://animal.discovery.com/animal-facts/animals-have-emotions.htm

http://www.botswana.co.za/Botswana_Wildlife_Behaviour-travel/emotions.html


Psychology of Learning Styles


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In my Philosophy of Education class, we discuss what is best for students in an educational system. What is the best learning environment? What subjects should be required? One topic that has recently caught my attention is whether there should be a uniform way students are taught or if teachers should pay attention to individual learning styles. To me, this decision has a huge effect on a child's overall learning experience. 

In my gradeschool years, teachers expected us to learn things their way. Many times this was through sitting in silence and listening to them lecture. They never took into account that maybe we did not want to learn this way. Maybe there was a more efficient way to do it.

Little did I know back in gradeschool that there are three different types of learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Through research, I discovered that each type of learner has unique traits.

  • Visual learners tend to sit close to the front and take detailed notes. They benefit from illustrations or colorful presentations and often close their eyes in order to recall information they had memorized previously. 

  • Auditory learners do not tend to care where they sit in a classroom, as long as they can hear what is being said. They tend to acquire knowledge by reading aloud.

  • Kinesthetic learners use gestures and talk with their hands. They often remember actions that were done in the classroom but have difficulty recalling what was seen or said. They like to learn through hands on experiences and like to experiment. They also like to take breaks and move around every once in a while.

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After thinking about these different learning styles, I tried to picture a kinesthetic learner forced into an auditory learning environment. They would feel stifled, bored, and would definitely feel that they could not reach their full learning potential. The effect this could have on that student's self-esteem, attitude towards learning, and learning skills could be extremely detrimental. When you think into the psychology of learning styles, it is easy to see how not catering to a child's educational needs could be harmful. This is why I feel school's need to focus on integrating these learning styles so that each type of student can benefit. In addition, some students may be auditory learners in one subject and visual learners in another. Incorporating all three learning styles would make for a beneficial education all around. 

What was your educational experience like in terms of learning styles?

Discovering your own learning style may help you in your educational experience. Take this quiz to see for yourself!

Sources:
http://sunburst.usd.edu/~bwjames/tut/learning-style/
http://psychology.about.com/od/educationalpsychology/a/vark-learning-styles.htm

Each fall, after we hang up the pumpkins and Halloween costumes for another year, the holiday season is upon us.  In most cases it brings about quality time with family and friends and as the popular song says, it is supposed to be "the most wonderful time of the year." But when you think about, are people actually that much happier during the holiday season? Sure you have your diehards who have their Christmas tree up November 1st and live for cookie exchanges and beating the crowds to score the best gifts.  However, it has been proven that the holidays can actually be quite a disappointing and depressing time for many.

In a series of articles written in 2012 by contributors to The New York Times, professor of psychology at The University of California Riverside, Sonja Lyumbomirsky discusses this interesting phenomenon.  She points out that the reasons people probably aren't any happier during the holidays is because people set unrealistic expectations for this time of year and then are typically let down.  People create a fantasy that everything will go according to plan during the holiday season and then when little everyday problems pop up, people cannot handle it. (http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/12/23/why-arent-people-happier-during-the-holidays/the-fantasy-vs-the-reality-of-the-holidays)

This is a very easy concept for many to relate to. Speaking from personal experience, I always felt this way anytime I had a dance to attend in junior high or high school.  I would see how awesome and magical they were portrayed during TV shows and movies and then the real thing more often than not, turned out to be a total let down.  While it may not be the same level of letdown people feel during the Christmas season, the feeling is the same nonetheless.

On another note, the holidays can be a particularly difficult time for people who might be experiencing financial difficulties or coping with the loss of a loved one.  The influx of advertisements and media that promote the holidays as a time to give gifts and spend time with friends and family could cause many people serious distress.  While this is true and I've seen it happen firsthand, an article by NYU Langone Medical Center's website says that the common misconception of depression, anxiety and suicide rates rising this time of year is completely false.

"Various studies have found that depression and suicide rates are not linked to the holidays. Despite the media focus on suicides during the holiday season, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics report that suicide rates in the United States are lowest during the winter months and highest in the springtime (the reasons for this are not clear). Some authorities speculate that during springtime, when moods tend to improve after dark, winter days, those with depression may not feel happier while others around them do, thus encouraging suicidal feelings."  (http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=156980)

So while the holidays can bring joy and happiness into many homes, it can also be a tough time of year for just as many.  Instead of living in your own little happiness bubble, I think it is important to consider why many people may have negative feelings this time of year and count your blessings a little harder.  Or if you are someone who doesn't find the joy this time of year, to think of things that do make you happy and know that as quickly as the holidays come upon us, are as quickly as they leave.


http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=156980

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/12/23/why-arent-people-happier-during-the-holidays/the-fantasy-vs-the-reality-of-the-holidays

What the heck, Apples?


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Apples are my favorite fruit. I love apple juice , apple pie, and apples with peanut butter ! They are all very healthy and good tasting. I can't imagine waking up one day and not being able to enjoy one of my favorite fruits . Sadly this has been the case for many people recently !

As usual apple lovers they go to enjoy a healthy snack but this time around something is very different ! With every bite they are realizing that their mouth and throat is getting itchy and eventually swollen ! How is this possible? What is happening ? They were never allergic to the fruit before so what is going on now?

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Dr. Chris Webber of Denver , Colorado is an allergy and immunology specialist said that the weird new allergic reaction can be "surprisingly common". - Nbc.com Its called Oral Allergy Syndrome also known as (OAS) . OAS can occur in adults who have hay fever reactions when eating raw fruits and vegetables. These reactions are not life threatening but are very bothersome and uncomfortable. It is usually described as an itchiness of the throat and mouth. In some people there has also swelling of the throat (yikes).

Moving on; the big question to me is how can this happen if people are eating apples their whole life ? Why is it all of a sudden a problem? The answer I found is very surprising. It turns out that the OAS reaction is not coming directly from the food that you think it is. What is actually happening is you are having an allergy to pollen. The OAS is your body "overreacting" to this allergy. This is effects of you immune system trying to protect you.

 

What happens is when your body produces a pollen allergy your body produces anti-bodies that are created in order to fight off illness. What happens is when you are eating your apple your body picks up the trace if the pollen! And all at once your snack has triggered a very unpleasant itchy experience.

I found a study testing this experience exactly.

The study took 37 people some with OAS and those without. They exposed them to the apples with traces of the birch pollen on them. Those who had OAS did in fact have reactions fitting descriptions as shown above. The conclusion is that you will only get the reaction from the apple with birch pollen if you have devolved an allergy to the pollen and currently have the OAS. If you do not have OAS the individuals body did not react to the pollen that was present. This explains why some people have this reaction and other do not. It also explains why some people do not have the allergy yet but may develop it later in life.   

Study credit :  D. G. Ebo, C. H. Bridts, M. M. Verweij, K. J. De Knop, M. M. Hagendorens, L. S. De Clerck and W. J. Stevens, Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 2010 (40) 339- 347.

GOOD NEWS! There is a way that you can avoid this if you have OAS and still enjoy your apple! The pollen traces your body picks up come from the outer skin of the apple! If you eat around the skin or peel it , you should avoid the triggering OAS from the traces of pollen left from the apple!

The Holiday Blues


| 2 Comments

With the holidays coming up there is no doubt that people are very busy.  The whole point of the holidays is not only to celebrate, but to bring people together.  It is a time to be kind and helpful to others during the holiday season.  It is about being with your family and friends and enjoying your time together.  Sometimes, I feel as though people get too caught up in preparation for the holidays that they do not take time out to reflect on the important things.  Instead they sometimes become miserable during this time of year.  The holiday season is my favorite time of the year.  I love everything that comes along with the holidays, and I find that I am always in a good mood at this time of year.  I recently heard that people get very depressed during the holidays and was wondering  how this could be? So, why is it that the holiday season causes depression?


I read an article which states why people feel depressed during the holidays.  This article states that many people are unable to handle the stress of the holiday as well as being able to exercise which means that people gain weight. Another article says that a survey was done which showed that 45 percent of people dread the holidays.  Many people want the holiday season to be perfect like they are shown on television so expectations are set very high.  If people do not meet these expectations then they can become depressed.  Also, the gifts that are advertised could cause depression for some people with trying to meet the demands for the best gifts ever for family and friends.  Another factor that could cause people to be depressed during the holidays is gatherings with family, neighbors, friends, and coworkers that they do not want to meet with or even people who get seasonal depression can still be depressed during the holidays.  People who are spending there holidays alone due to a loved one passing away may also experience depression.  The symptoms of holiday blues include drinking heavily, insomnia, over eating, and headaches. 


Another article states that two-thirds of women deal with depression during the holidays.  The trigger of depression during the holidays can be just about anything; it is very hard to pinpoint.  This study did find three very plausible causes which are relationships, finances, and physical demands.  This would make sense because I know even my mother tries to make the holidays perfect.  She slaves over the perfect dinners for the holidays and if one thing goes wrong then she worries that she ruined the event.  The holidays like I stated before are about being with family and friends so stop worrying about making it perfect and just enjoy yourself.

                                                     

                                                        images baby pic.jpg


http://www.cbn.com/health/emotionalwellness/rebeltaylor_holidaydepression.aspx


http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/200912/why-people-get-depressed-christmas


http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/emotional-survival-guide-for-holidays?page=3


http://www.medicinenet.com/holiday_depression_and_stress/page3.htm



Scientists Discover New Bone


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You're probably thinking the same thing I am.  How in the world have humans been around for millions of years and doctors have just discovered a new bone?  After thousands of surgeries by the smartest people in the world knowing that doctors just discovered a new bone blows my mind.  You would think that after decades of extensive and amazing technology that doctors would already know every single bone thats in your body.  

So the real question is.. how did this ligament go unknown for pretty much all of human existence?  In a recent article by science daily two Belgian doctors by the names of Steven Claes and Johan Bellemans started their research by re-evaluating an article that was written by a french surgeon in 1879.  From this article they discovered that there was in fact a new ligament in the knee. The Belgian doctors had 41 patients that they studied and found that the ligament was found in all but one of the patients.  

It took the two scientists about four years to make the discovery based off of the 1879 article.  The new ligament is called the anterolateral ligament, or ALL for short. The discovery of this new ligament could be crucial for fixing ACL injuries.  Although this could be crucial to fixing the ACL injuries, the two scientists are still trying to figure out how to surgically repair the ALL and ACL injuries.  

Why is this important?  Well as you can imagine, finding a new ligament in the body is simply amazing and could be a huge breakthrough for those athletes who suffer from ACL injuries.  Maybe there are other ligaments that a haven't been found yet as well. Especially with all the new technology, this new discovery could lead to many more discoveries!

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http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131105081352.htm
http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/11/06/your-knee-bones-connected-to-your-what-scientists-discover-new-body-part/

Photo: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/06/new-ligament-human-knee-anterolateral_n_4221043.html 

Spray on Skin


| 4 Comments

If you've ever been burned, cut, scraped or suffered from an ulcer anywhere on your skin you know how painful and time consuming the healing process can be. Ulcers most commonly found with older people just above the ankle can be painful as they become larger and more inflamed. These leg ulcers can take anywhere from 6 months to a year weeks to heal through compression socks, bandages, and elevation while sleeping. With the healing process in such a long frame of time it's easy for these ulcers to become infected or worse.

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In response to not only ulcers but also all types of skin wounds doctors and scientist have come together to create a spray on skin which helps wounds heal faster without the need for skin grafts or other expensive surgeries. Healthpoint Biotherapetics, a company just out of Fort Worth, Texas has come up with a solution to treat these bothersome ulcers and other types of skin cuts, scrapes, and burns with their successfully tested spray on skin treatment. The small cylinder syringe spray bottle is the product of Healthpoint Biotherepetics created by doctors and scientists which is still in the testing stage. According to Healthpoint Biotherepetics the spray currently named HP802-2547 is made up of fibroblasts, an anti-clotting agent and keratinocytes, donated skin cells. These two substances work together in creating new skin for patients in an incredibly fast amount of time. With these two substances working together they speed up the body's ability to heal and cover a wound. This spray on skin could prove to be a significant medical breakthrough if it passes through the testing stage as skin graphs and other types of surgeries can be costly and time consuming. Time is cut significantly on wounds healing through the spray on skin because the minimal effort of spraying the substance on the wound and wrapping it in bandages is all that is needed. Although this may affect jobs such as plastic surgeons negatively because of how cheap the treatment is less people would have a need for plastic surgery but in a larger perspective the benefits defiantly outweigh the downfalls.

In the first successfully tested spray on treatment, patient's wounds and ulcers were sprayed every fourteen days and after 3 months 70 percent of the patients had completely healed from the spray on skin. In the control group 46 percent of the patients who had been using a placebo spray didn't heal any faster. The patients who sprayed every 14 days saw great results as their wounds healed in as short as 50 days compared to the control group who healed after 71 days. With a positive 21 day quicker healing process the spray on skin proved to be quite successful in its first trial. Patients using the spray on skin could visually see the wound starting to shrink almost instantly after applying the spray.

In perspective just think about the positive influence this spray could have in the medical world if it were implemented in ER's and Hospitals. Patient's recovery time would not only be increasingly faster but it would also cut down on pain. Burn victims especially would benefit from the spray as the healing process can be expensive with skin graphs and long term in the healing process. Ultimately this miracle spray could cut down on hospital stays and costs, and eventually could be used at home.

Photo Source:

http://d12tusb9bq3y6m.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/enhanced-buzz-19212-1355862934-1-590x358.jpg

 

Sometimes in people's lives they experience an event that impacts them in a way that can cause damage to themselves and their mental state. whether it be witnessing the death of a close friend or loved one, to a person's actions directly affecting the life or livelihood of a different person, traumatic affects like these can have drastic effects on the physique of person and can even have physical effects as well in some cases. There are some remedies to this in the form of psychiatric treatment and the use of medication, but there also seems to be another helpful tool in treating mental illness and even sometimes physical conditions brought on by mental illness and that is writing. But how does writing help someone who has been through a traumatic event and suffered mental illness? Or can writing also help someone heal after a negative physical ailment? According to one study, it can help a lot more then people think it can.

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This article talks about a study that was preformed by researchers in New Zealand conducted a study in which they wanted to figure out if expressive writing could help older adults heal faster. The surprising thing that this study found was that quite possibly expressive writing can heal physical aliments as well as mental. A control group of older people who had a biopsy on their arms were told to write about whatever they wanted to for 20 minutes a day, while another group did not right during the period. After the 20 day study period, the study concluded that on the 11th day that 76 percent of the group that did the expressive writing had fully healed compared with the 42 percent of the control group.

So maybe telling a patient to write about what they are feeling or other things can be a good treatment as well as medicine. But of course there is a possibility that these people healing faster is a result of chance or a 3rd variable because not all people are the same when it comes to healing from an injury. But this study does seem to raise a question as to how we humans can heal by doing something as simple as writing about it.


What is perfection? It is very likely that most women would reply with: "Skinny waist, big breasts, long legs, shiny long hair, clear skin, blah blah blah". The list could go on forever. You can't blame women for having this ideal image of perfection because it is forced down our throats everywhere we go, look, and turn.
  
There is one main thing to blame this on: the media.  Research shows that appearance satisfaction and self-esteem are strongly correlated. It's no wonder why women feel horrible about themselves; the media makes it seem as though perfection is achievable. 

It's one thing if a women daily does her make up, primps her hair, and picks out a fashionable outfit to enhance her looks, but it's another thing when she decides to go further with procedures such as plastic surgery and botox.  Studies have also shown that when a women feels that she is good looking, her self-esteem is through the roof.  But on the other hand, if a women is unsatisfied with her appearance, she will constantly feel horribly about herself.  Of course, self-esteem starts with underlying psychological issues, but the media reinforces these thoughts that women have to be perfect in order to have a successful, happy life.

Approximately 2,000,000 Americans undergo some type of surgical procedure each year in order to enhance their looks. Obviously something is wrong with this picture.  We think that cosmetic surgery is okay because the media makes it seem to be okay.  Many celebrities such as Jwoww, Ashley Tisdale, Victoria Beckham, and Heidi Montag have all had procedures done. These celebrities range from Disney Channel to MTV to reality TV; it's everywhere. An estimated 33-65,000 children (under the age of 18) have a procedure done annually. The pure fact that even children are feeling this need for perfection is sickening.

Here is a before and after picture of Heidi Montag, as if she wasn't already beautiful before, right? Heidi had 10 surgeries all at once (listed on the picture). This goes to show that women are becoming obsessed with the idea of "perfection". 

Other types of media such as the runway, billboards, and magazines are just as guilty as television stars. We all know how bone-skinny runway models are forced to be. I don't think i have to go into how this negatively impacts a women's mind.  That's self explanatory.  Something not as obvious is the amount of work that goes into each photo that shows up in magazines and on billboards. This short video blew my mind when I first saw it.  The model before the makeup and photoshop doesn't look like a model at all; she looks like an average person, but by looking at the final picture there is absolutely no way of knowing that. This is the prime reason why women are so harsh on themselves.  Advertisements are pretty much lying to our faces.  The women that we all look up to and praise for their beauty are not even capable of looking that way without hours upon hours of professional digital enhancement and makeup artists. Beauty does not have to be a perfect figure and flawless face no matter how much the media tries to persuade us of this.

Remember: you are beautiful just the way you are :)

Bibliography:

Dumenco, S. (2006). Reality bytes: Welcome to our photoshopped future. Advertising Age, (77.39), 28.

İnceoğlu, Y., & Kar, A. (2009). New Beauty Icons: Freedom or Conviction to the Human Body. Ileti-S-Im, (10), 7-31.

Abraham, A., Zuckerman, D., (2011). Adolescents, Celebrity Worship, and Cosmetic Surgery. Journal of Adolescent Health, (45), 453-454.

 


Being the small grain of sand that we are on the massive beach that is our universe, it's tough not to wonder if there are others somewhere out there like us. According to the Washington Post, the Milky Way galaxy alone could harbor tens of billions of rocky worlds where water might be liquid at the surface (The Atlantic). That's tens of BILLIONS, with so many other planets out there that are similar to earth it's almost hard to believe that there isn't life somewhere out there.

            Life is "the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death" (Oxford).  There's life all around us from the smallest germ to the tallest tree, but why do we have such a strong yearning to find other beings like this? We strive to answer the age-old question, "are we alone in this universe," but do we really want to know the answer?

            Who's to say that we will even benefit from finding life on another planet? If we make this discovery in our lifetime how will it change our lives? Personally I am perfectly fine with never witnessing life from another planet. Don't get me wrong, good could come from life forms from outer space, maybe they could bring us hover boards or some renewable energy, but there is also so much bad that could come from contact with these other beings that I would rather not even risk it.

            Discovering and coming in contact with life outside of earth could be catastrophic for the human race. If an unidentified object landed on earth and life emerged, whether it be a small microorganism or a human like creature it could end very badly. Being exposed to new life that we have never encountered before could expose us to new germs or diseases that could wipe out our human race. Over time humans have adapted to viruses, germs, and other diseases so now we are immune to them, but a new life form carrying different kinds of pathogens would expose us to foreign substances that our bodies have never encountered, therefore potentially having no defense to them (Astro Biology). For all we know an alien, once come in contact with, could spread an extremely harmful or even deadly disease that we've never seen before and have no cure for. There are diseases that are specific to each country let alone each planet. There have been no reports of the Ebola virus in the US, but if the disease were to be carried from Africa into the United States the results would be devastating (ABC News). We have enough trouble trying to contain and cure the disease from our own planet let alone another one.

            Not all aliens can be like the Great Gazoo from The Jetsons, some might not be as friendly, haven't you ever seen Independence Day? Who's to say if we find life out there they're going to want to help us? We have resources that they will also most likely need to survive, resources that are scarce to us and most likely also scarce to them. If our same resources can run out, if these life forms are in need of more who's to stop them? An advanced alien race with no regard for human life could potentially just strip our planet of it's resources and be on it's merry way leaving us with nothing, that's to say if they don't harvest us for slave labor instead.

            Seeing beings from another planet or from another galaxy would be cool, but I don't think "cool" is worth the potential extinction of the human race. How's that saying go again, the one with the curious cat?

The_Great_Gazoo.jpg  


Resources:

 

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/11/there-are-probably-billions-of-earth-like-planets-in-the-universe/281138/

 

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/life

 

http://www.astrobio.net/exclusive/570/alien-infection

 

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He enters the room and your eyes cast down. You lip quivers ever so slightly and you immediately bite down to rid any chances of him seeing you nervous. Your hands and feet begin to fidget as you twist and turn in your seat, only stealing a glance for a moment to see if he notices you like you notice him. As butterflies begin to erupt from the pit of your stomach, you shakily retrieve your phone from your pocket and shoot out a quick text, "hey :)". Whew, you exhale for the first time in minutes and anxiously wait for his answer.

The relationship of texting. What adolescents and even young adults now use as a gateway to forming relationships with their significant others. And as the relationship blossoms, the texting only continues. However, relationships tend to differ from one another-even in the texting realm. TIME Magazine took notice of this in its article, "Textual Relations: Couples Who Text Too Much Aren't As In Love As They Want You To Think". TIME evaluates the frequency of texts and how they associate with the stability of a couple's relationship by looking closely at one study in particular. 

The hypothesis: The higher the frequency of texts, the more successful the relationship. 

The null hypothesis: The lower the frequency of texts, the less successful the relationship. 

The study published in the "Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy", conducted an experiment involving 276 male and female test subjects. Within the test group, there were 38% serious relationships, 46% engaged and 16% married. Scientists assessed results by recording the frequency of texts along with the individual's satisfaction with the relationship. What they found was intriguing. Men and women differed from one another when it came to the results. Men who seemed to have a higher frequency of texts, reported a lower satisfaction with their relationship. However, women with higher frequency of texts reported a higher satisfaction with their relationship. In conclusion, the results were ambiguous. 

Scientists pondered as to why there was a difference between genders. Experimenters hypothesized that men resort to more texting because "as men disconnect from a relationship, or consider a break-up, they replace face-to-face interactions with less intimate communication in the form of increased texting." (Sifferlin,TIME). In apposition, women resort to more texting in order to "apologize, work out their differences and make decisions -- in other words, when their relationship was in trouble. As their connection with their loved one deteriorated, women attempted to make up or resolve their differences via text, which the scientists believe is the online version of the need to "talk things out."" (Sifferlin,TIME). In conclusion, both genders seem to have different motives when it comes to texting. 

TIME's article lacked to provide information as to what was concluded in the study. But after further research, results show that it depends mainly on the content of the message. "For both men and women, sending loving text messages was linked to relationship satisfaction" (Bean,BYU). So in this case, we are going to accept the hypothesis that the higher the frequency of texts results in a more successful relationship considering a third variable is involved- the content of the message. The study could have been conducted more properly if they studied a higher, more even number of subjects in order to create an even ratio between male and female. That way, results could have found one conclusion that was not gender based.

LOL, ROFL, JK, ILY...texting is not something to give up, nor depend upon. But when sending texts to your significant other, it may be more helpful if the message includes more hearts than usual. 



Sources:
  1. Sifferlin, Alexandra, and Alexandra Sifferlin. "Textual Relations: Couples Who Text Too Much Aren't as in Love as They Want You to Think." Time. Time, 31 Oct. 2013. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.
  2. Szathmary, Zoey. "Texting in Relationships Increases Intimacy...but Makes You More Likely to Misread Partner's Emotions in Person." Mail Online. N.p., 10 Nov. 2013. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.
  3. Bean, Roy, Dean Busby, Sarah Coyne, Schade, and Sandberg. "News." Too Much Texting Can Disconnect Couples, Research Finds. Brigham Young University, n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.

FDA in the Spotlight


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My previous post discussed the harmful/or not so harmful effects of heating up food in the microwave using plastic containers.  Although the post does not have a direct connection to this current post, both discussed the Food and Drug Administration.  However, this instance seems to hinder the credibility of the FDA and its influence on dietary supplements.

 

The USA Today article states, "For the second time in recent weeks, scientists have found a "non-natural" amphetamine-like compound in dietary supplements - yet federal regulators have issued no warnings to consumers about the ingredient."  The non-natural amphetamine- like compound that they are talking about is known as acacia rigidula.  The compound is found in a bushy like plant in Texas and New Mexico, however, "the FDA scientists reported they couldn't find the substance in verified samples of the plant."  In addition, the compound has never been tested for safety on humans.

 

I struggled to find a lot of information on the compound acacia rigidula because of the fact above, the compound has never been tested for human safety.  The article also goes into depth about dietary supplement companies using harmful compounds in their products.  For instance, the FDA recently seized $2 million from the company Hi-Tech for their use of a harmful compound known as DMAA.  In addition, the Federal Trade Commission is seeking to send the president of Hi-Tech back to prison for his use of false advertising years ago. 

 

All of this is a lot to handle, however I think that it should have a great impact on the science community for the safety of dietary supplement users.  Many individuals are now seeking to lose weight by taking supplements that ultimately speed up their metabolic rate and decrease their hunger.  However, if it is found that acacia rigidula is said to have harmful effects on humans the FDA will be under great fire.  The FDA should take immediate action on testing the unknown compound (obviously with correct controls and experimental values)  because numerous producers are using it in their products.  The FDA should not allow companies to use an unknown substance for the sole protection of the consumer.

 

We often discuss in class how science affects us, and this is a prime example.  However, it does not seem that it is grasping much attention.  That is truly something to think about when discussion scientific matters: why do they not grasp attention?  It will be interesting to see the outcome of tests done by the FDA on acacia rigidula.  If it is found to be harmful, many companies will ultimately face federal repercussions.


1.  http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/11/18/fda-scientists-find-amphetamine-   like-compound-in-dietary-supplements/3627963/              

I've been a picky eater all my life. When I was a kid, my mom would have to make me a separate dinner on certain nights because I refused to eat what she was making for the rest of my family. I was an extremely annoying kid. Thankfully as I have gotten older, I have been willing to try more exotic foods and I can say that my mom no longer has to make me a different meal from my family. However, I would always get mad when my family would get frustrated with me if I didn't like a particular food. It was once thing if I just refused to try it, but if I didn't like it, you can only blame that on my taste buds right?
For a simple overview of tastebuds, there are around 10,000 of them and each of them picks up sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami tastes. Although taste buds allow us to enjoy all the savory, rich flavors there are in foods, their main purpose is to protect us against poisonous food we could potentially eat on accident. So it seems like taste buds do all the work when it comes to eating and tasting certain flavors, however there is another component that is equally important.
Smell plays a huge role when someone is eating food. We've all heard of the trick of plugging your nose when you have to eat something you don't like and this is why that is a good recommendation. As this article states, we may think a particular food tastes like another food, but our taste buds only recognize 5 specific tastes so our sense of smell had to effect our perception of taste. If you're interested on some theories as to why men and women crave different foods or how texture and culture effect what foods we like, I suggest reading that second article, it's pretty interesting and you can see what theories hold true for you.
So how do scientists know smell effects taste? At the end of the second article, people in a newsroom tried three different flavors of jelly beans: black licorice, banana, and cappuccino. Each person closed their eyes and plugged their nose and as they ate a jelly bean they had to guess what flavor they were eating. On average only 33% of the people guessed right. I think that definitely says something about how smell effects your taste considering how different all three of those flavors are. However, this study was not very professionally done. Yes, it was already a pretty sure thing that smell effected taste, but if you were to just go off this one test, it's not too reliable. They only used people in the newsroom and chances are that wasn't too many people. So not only is the study small, but it doesn't give a good variety of people. 
With that being said, it's pretty clear that taste buds don't act on their own when dealing with taste and flavors of foods. So for those of you who are like me who are pretty picky when it comes to food, you can explain this to the people who make fun of you and maybe they'll lighten up with the jokes.

Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 10.46.49 AM.png
Photo courtesy of http://www.deltadentalarblog.com


 Are you shortening your own life without even knowing it?
  New studies suggest that daily behavioral routines are affecting the length of people's lives.

 The University of Rochester conducted a study and found that people who did not share their emotions were 35% more likely to die in a 12-year period than people who shared their emotions with others.

 In 1996, 729 people were administered an emotion suppression scale and in 2008 111 deaths were recorded in the 12-year period.  Another study also suggests that personality may be linked to one's longevity and overall quality of life.

 The Rochester U study's coauthor, Benjamin Chapman says that people who suppress their emotions tend to engage in "unhealthy coping behaviors" such as drinking and drug use.  Chapman also said that the accumulation of stress weakens the immune system and impacts the body's inflammation levels (Chapman).

 Researchers at Michigan University conducted a study on women and found that when they chitchatted with friends their levels of progesterone went up, which is a hormone that demonstrates the ability to shrink anxiety and stress levels.  Progesterone comes from ovaries in women and supports gestation and good sleep (Gossip). The intensity of this hormone increases when women gossip!

 So instead of suppressing your emotions, gossip with a friend!  Stephanie Brown, who led the research at Michigan, suggests hanging out with some friends to increase your progesterone levels (Black).

 "The act of benefiting another person is a way to predict longevity," she says. "It suggests that altruism is beneficial for health, whether volunteering, caregiving or making sacrifices for others."

 Who knew that being a good person is also good for your health?  Socialization and the way humans socialize with each other is a growing platform.  People are expressing themselves less and less in person and more on social network sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter (just to name a few).  Socialization proves to have very few cons and so the pros should be enough of a reason to want to relieve some stress and gossip with a friend.




Sources:

Black, Rosemary. "Women Who Gossip Can Live a Happy and Healthier Life, Study

Finds." NY Daily News. NYDailyNews, 14 June 2009. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.

 

Chapman, Benjamin P. "Emotion Suppression and Mortality Risk over a 12-year Follow-

up." Journal of Psychosomatic Research. Elsevier, 16 July 2013. Web.

 

Chapman, Benjamin P. "Personality and Longevity: Knowns, Unknowns, and

Implications for Public Health and Personalized Medicine." Personality and

Longevity: Knowns, Unknowns, and Implications for Public Health and

Personalized Medicine. Journal of Aging Research, n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.

 

"Gossip Is Good for Women's Health, Scientists Claim." The Telegraph. Telegraph

Media Group, 10 June 2009. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.

Have you ever wondered why we are able to hear sound? What it is in our ears that enables us to listen to things. I never realized how many crucial parts there are in our ears that play a huge role for us to hear!

ear-anatomy.jpg

There are three parts of the ear: the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. The outer ear (the thing that sticks out of both sides of your head) is called the Pinna. It's shaped oddly because it funnels the sound waves through the ear canal. The ear canal acts as an "amplifier [to] focus the sound" to the eardrum. When the sound funnels because of the Pinna, it causes different "variations in the frequency response and the amplitude". This is how we can tell where a sound is coming from. The middle ear is made up of the Ossicles, which are three bones that are attached to the inside of the eardrum. They control the pressure changes entering from the outer ear to the inner ear. One of the bones from the Ossicles is called the Stapes. It's connected to the Oval Window, which is known as the "gateway to the inner ear". There is also a tube called the Eustachian Tube that helps to balance the air pressure as it connects the middle ear to the throat. This is why when your travelling on a plane that is either increasing or decreasing in altitude you find the need to pop your ears by swallowing to relieve that pressure. This is why the Eustachian Tube comes in handy! The inner ear has the Cochlea, a pea-size shape, that is filled with fluid that when the sound waves go through the Oval Window the fluid inside "sloshes around in waves". As the fluid swishes back and forth, the Basilar Membrane inside the Cochlea is coated with hair cells. The hair cells signals the nervous system, that sends electrochemical signals to the brain and creates what we know as sound ("Anatomy"). It's shocking how many pieces of the ear contribute to allow us to be able to hear a single sound!

            In July 1993, nineteen members of the Thames faculty of the Royal College of General Practitioners had four general practitioners measure 206 patients' ears ranging from the age 30-93 years old. They found that when a person gets older their ears get bigger by about 0.22 millimeters a year. Though they measured patients with different ethnicities and to have had a better experiment they should have separated each race and also expand the experiment to include more people of all ethnicities. This would have given an accurate measurement on each race and then they could have compared the difference between ear growths in all races ("Heathcotel"). But why is it that our ears continue to grow bigger but our bodies stop growing?

            One of the ancient beliefs in the Chinese culture is that a person's facial features tell a great deal about their personality and future. The length of the earlobe symbolizes the lifespan and the thickness of the earlobe represents wealth. So in both, the ideal ear would be to have a longer and thicker earlobe. The statue of the Buddha represents this feature as he has both long and thick earlobes ("Heathcotel").

lobes.gif

Also depending on what kind of earlobes you have, attached or free, it genetically comes from your parents. One strand from your father and one strand from your mother form to combine a chromosome pair. Then it depends which gene is more dominant and that decides whether or not you have attached earlobes like your father or free earlobes like your mother or vice versa ("Ear Genes"). So next time compare your earlobes to your parents and see which parent's gene was more dominant.

Another thing that is found in ears is earwax. Earwax develops due to the ear canal self-cleaning itself but it doesn't start to form until it becomes closer to the outside of the ear in the ear canal. The earwax helps to protect the inside of the ear from bacteria, dust, and water. Earwax contains skin cells that come from the eardrum to the outer ear by our chewing/jaw motion ("Earwax"; "Ear Wax"). So there is actually a purpose to that nasty earwax. As we learned in class from the gene discussion there are two types of earwax: wet and dry. We found that a gene actually decides which type we have. The dry gene is more common in East Asians, 80-95%, and the wet gene is 97-100% more common in those who have African and European ancestry. Scientists have found a mutation in the gene that "alters the shape of a channel that controls the flow of molecules" that is suppose to create wet earwax for East Asians but instead causes them to have dry earwax. They also believe that due to the colder climate the dry earwax could have been an adaptation ("Is"). What do you think could have been the cause for there being two different types of earwax?


Works Cited:

"Anatomy of the Ear." Music Production School. 17 Nov. 2013 <http://www.music-production-guide.com/anatomy-of-the-ear.html>.

"Ear Genes." Robert Krampf the Happy Scientist. 17 Nov. 2013 <http://thehappyscientist.com/science-experiment/ear-genes>.

"Earwax." American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery. 17 Nov. 2013 <http://www.entnet.org/healthinformation/earwax.cfm>.

"Ear Wax." Medline Plus. 17 Nov. 2013 <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000979.htm>.

Heathcotel, JA. "Why Do Old Men Have Big Ears?" BMJ 1995; 311:1668 (23-30 December <http://www.medicine.mcgill.ca/epidemiology/hanley/tmp/surveys/big ears.pdf>.

"Is Your Earwax Wet or Dry?" LiveScience. 18 Nov. 2013 <http://www.livescience.com/593-earwax-wet-dry.html>.

Photo of the anatomy of the ear:

<http://www.biographixmedia.com/human/ear-anatomy.jpg>.

Photo of the different earlobes:

<http://korrektivpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2005/10/lobes.gif>.

The power of smell


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Have you ever found yourself being attracted to a man who is not your type whatsoever? This happens to many women all of the time and was curious as to why this may be. I know we are attracted to the opposite sex due to our 5 senses but it can't be all physical. I decided to research what is the main cause to sexual attraction:

 

The scent of another human can influence sexual attraction for the better or worse. "Pheromones are odorless chemicals that can signal an individual's identity, arousal or sexual receptivity (Wright 1994". Everyone has them but women are more sensitive to the smell of men. This doesn't mean that women enjoy the scent of a mans sweat, because pheromones are odorless but they are when oxygen and your pheromones intermingle and are easy for women's smell receptors to point out. We do not notice pheromones consciously because they do not have a specific smell to them. If a woman subconsciously finds a males scent pleasant she will be more sexually attracted to him. "In short, smell assists with the most important tasks: finding mates and food"
says, Monell's director, Gary Beauchamp, Ph. D. This is why colognes and perfumes can cover your natural smell you give off, but they are still there. Many women seem to get confused and believe that they are in love with a man because of lust or sexual appeal. However, some come to realize that the only reason they were attracted was due to pheromones. If a woman loves her man but does not love the way he smells this could mean that this is a bad genetic combination. There are certain men for certain women and the smell needs to match up with the liking of a woman. So if you ever find yourself being attracted to a man, think about his smell. 

Sources:

http://www.menshealth.com/sex-women/sexual-attraction-and-scent

http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200910/the-smell-love

http://www.examiner.com/article/the-truth-about-sexual-smell-pheromones-and-attraction-to-men-and-dating-part-2

http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/men/sweating-odor/attractive-man-smell.htm

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There's a well-known stereotype that those of Irish descent can hold their alcohol better than others. St. Patrick's Day, a traditional Irish holiday, has become more of a drinking holiday than anything else (and, as we all know, State Patty's Day takes that to a whole new level). But does ethnicity actually determine how much a person can drink?

According to an article on ABC News, yes and no. They say that while some ethnicities (such as Asians) do actually have a genetic inability to metabolize alcohol. However, they say that Irish people do not necessarily have a higher ability, but rather a higher culture for drinking. So, the fact is that Irish people DO drink more, not necessarily that they can. Where does the Irish drinking culture come from? According to an article on Medical Daily, the major cause behind why the Irish drink so much is based on the alcohol consumption of their parents and older siblings. This still raises the question of where it started (somebody had to start drinking a lot in order for it to be passed down, right?). Since the Irish are famous for an abundance of potatoes (y'know, other than the whole Potato Famine thing....) and potatoes can be fermented to produce alcohol, this is a possible explanation as to why drinking became so popular; everyone had easy access! But, for now, this article simply states that the more your parents drink, the more you're likely to drink. 

 On the other hand, Asians specifically have a genetic mutation that, as I mentioned, causes them to lack an important enzyme called acetaldehyde dehydrogenase. Consequently, this slows down the rate at which they metabolize alcohol, causing rosy cheeks and increased heart rate after consuming a small amount of alcohol. The whole process is explained here. Essentially, the enzyme that Asians lack is the enzyme changes alcohol into a substance that the liver can process. Those who lack the enzyme get drunk more quickly.

In short, Irish people don't actually have a genetic tolerance for alcohol; they simply drink more because they want to and their culture has set high alcohol consumption levels as the "standard" of sorts, according to this article. These statements are based on observational study which looked at data involving multiple ethnicities and their drinking habits. I believe that experimental studies should be done on specific tolerance levels between cultures, possibly by studying the metabolism in different ethnicities or combinations of ethnicities and measuring their tolerance for alcohol. Each person in the trial should consume the same amount of alcohol after consuming the same amount/type of food. Then measure their intoxication or rate of metabolism. Their height, weight, age, and gender should also be taken into account, as those factors could also impact their ability to metabolize alcohol.

So, next St. (or State) Patty's Day, watch your Irish friends vs. your English friends vs. your Asian friends. There just might be some science behind why one is falling down a lot more than the other.

With the passing of the month of October we said goodbye to our beloved Halloween season, full of yummy candy and quirky costumes. However, the end of October also marked the end of the month long breast cancer awareness efforts, brought on by many organizations and athletic teams across the country.  People love to rally behind a cause. Therefore, the month of October typically involves seeing pink ribbon this and pink ribbon that, but I doubt that many people put much thought into it after October ends and we aren't seeing it flashed in our faces 24/7. 

I consider myself lucky because I have not had a close friend or family member be diagnosed with cancer, however I've been a THON Captain for the last three years and have seen firsthand how devastating cancer is when it enters a home and turns a family inside and out.  Surely no one would ever voluntarily welcome cancer into their household, but instead jump at the chance to stop it before it even has the chance to start. 

So what if you knew there was a way to test your chances of developing the terrible, life-altering disease and potentially do something to fight back? Many women today have the chance to do just that. "BRCA1 and BRCA2 are human genes that produce tumor suppressor proteins," said an article on cancer.gov. "These proteins help repair damaged DNA and, therefore, play a role in ensuring the stability of the cell's genetic material.  Specific inherited mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 increase the risk of female breast and ovarian cancers."

For the normal women population, roughly 1.4% will develop ovarian cancer and about 12% will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.  Now for those women who inherit the BRCA1 gene and the BRCA2 gene those numbers increase exponentially. Women who inherit the BRCA1 gene have a 39% chance of developing ovarian cancer and a 55-65% chance of developing breast cancer.  With the BRCA2 gene, those numbers change to 11-17% chance risk with ovarian cancer and then a 45% chance with breast cancer.(http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/BRCA)

These startling numbers speak volumes by themselves. The risks women face of developing these cancers when carrying the mutated genes is much greater than those women who are not carriers.  While the development of these genes is still very rare, women who have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer at an early age, family members with two or more cancers and male breast cancer are likely to be at a greater risk.  There is gene testing that can be done which can reveal whether or not you carry the gene, however whether the results yield a positive or negative outcome, it still does not predict if you will actually develop the cancer within your lifetime. (cancer.gov) http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/BRCA

Much of the public was made more aware about the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene when famous actress Angelina Jolie announced she had a preventative double mastectomy when she learned she had an 87% chance of developing breast cancer and a 50% chance of ovarian cancer.  Her mother died a few years ago at an early age after a long fought battle with cancer, which is likely what sparked her to get tested in the first place. (http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/breast-cancer-genetic-testing-soars-after-angelina-jolies-double-mastectomy-20131112-2xelm.html)  Since then, doctors have talked about the "Angelina effect" throughout the public, where they have seen women taking more preventative action since hearing about Jolie's story. (www.smh.com)

So the question that remains is, what would you do? Many might see Jolie's actions as abrupt and crazy, since she was never diagnosed with cancer.  Her actions were merely proactive, rather than sitting around and waiting to see if she would face a fate similar to her mother's.  In this type of situation it is impossible to pass judgment until you are faced with a similar decision; however, it sparks many interesting thoughts on what you might do. Would you sit back and let whatever happens to happen or would you stand up in the face of adversity and make a change?


Sources Used:

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/BRCA

http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/breast-cancer-genetic-testing-soars-after-angelina-jolies-double-mastectomy-20131112-2xelm.html

Today, while I was taking a test with some of my classmates, I began to ponder upon an interesting question. What does it mean to actually be smart?

Many of my classmates in high school always classified a "smart" person by just a few things.

1)   GPA

2)   SAT SCORES

3)   Honors or AP classes

I definitely classified people as smart with these kind of factors as well. Although, I am beginning to not believe in this because there are so many other things that go into being smart. I, for one, feel I am smart. I may not have been in many AP classes, but I got good grades and I have common sense. I am smart in other ways then just book smart.

According to the article, in business, smartness was defined as "the ability to solve problems and understand things quickly.

Gardner and Armstrong were able to provide us with some more insight as to factors that can consider a person smart. They call them the "Seven Multiple Intelligences".

The Seven Multiple Intelligences:

1)   Verbal- the ability to use words

2)   Visual- the ability to see things in your mind

3)   Physical- the ability to use your body well

4)   Musical - the ability to understand and use music

5)   Mathematical and Logical- the ability to understand thoughts and feelings in yourself

6)   Interpersonal-the ability to relate well to others, people smarts

It is obvious, that Gardner and Armstrong were able to make a valid argument to disapprove the single definition that defines being intelligent or smart. This also contradicts the argument of my high school classmates, who defined smart as an individual's GPA, sat scores, and the level of classes that they are in.  If an individual has mastered all seven intelligences, he or she is THAN qualified to be considered smart. 

For example, an straight a student in all AP classes might have the mathematical and logical part of intelligence. Although, he may lack the physical and intrapersonal means to intelligence. I have noticed many people like this lack their social skills, thus in my argument, not making them completely intelligent.

I personally feel, I qualify for the musical, intrapersonal, and visual intelligences very well. I grew up as a competitive dancer, thus making me intelligent in other areas such as physical and visual, rather then just good at my studies. This article boosted my confidence greatly about feeling intelligent. I hope it made you feel better too!


http://www.academia.edu/624021/The_Difference_Between_Being_Smart_Educated_and_IntelligentUnknown.jpg

Accents: Why are they Attractive?


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