Extra credit: Dr. Nathan Wolfe

Dr. Nathan Wolfe

                                                           Dr. Nathan Wolfe

On April 5th, I attended the 6th Annual Global Health Conference in the Life Sciences building. The guest speaker was Dr. Nathan Wolfe who is a microbiologist that travels the world studying viruses. Dr. Wolfe explained the world of microbiology in a metaphor, which really caught my attention. If there was an encyclopedia about all living organisms, 27 out of 30 volumes would be entirely about the unknown (micro) world. Most microorganisms have not been discovered yet, and new ones are being discovered every day. To think that there are so many unknown organisms that surround us daily was absolutely mind-blowing.

Dr. Wolfe went on to explain how our interconnected world is the reason certain viruses can spread across the globe and wreak havoc. A hundred years ago, there was not a deeply interconnected system of planes that allow people to travel across the world in less than a day. Nowadays, a small viral outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has the potential to spread any where in the world if an infected individual would hop on a plane. To think that a deadly virus halfway across the world could randomly show up here is alarming, especially with the recent scare of the swine flu.

Dr. Wolfe went on to describe how humans have added to the threat of spreading viruses by simply exploring the world. He shared an example about how fungus on a traveler’s boot was carried to a pond where it killed the entire population of frogs. While the fungus was harmless to the traveler, it was deadly to the frogs that had never come in contact with it.

Although AIDS is one of the only bad viral epidemics we’ve seen, another viral outbreak–potentially worse–could happen at any time. Microbiologists like Dr. Wolfe work to discover these viruses so as to prevent future global health issues. While a deadly viral outbreak could occur anywhere at any time, Dr. Wolfe is taking steps to preventing such a possibility. It may take centuries to discover all of the “unknown world,” but microbiologists are making progress one day at a time.

“Your Love” – The Outfield

the outfield

For some reason, I’ve recently been listening to a lot of old classics. Maybe it’s because I haven’t listened to any older songs in awhile, or maybe it’s because I miss listening to these songs with my dad. Either way, I’ve enjoyed reminiscing about these older songs. One of my favorites is “Your Love” by The Outfield, which was released in 1986. Undoubtedly everyone recognizes it as an 80’s classic, and for good reason. It’s happy, upbeat, and just a great classic rock song. The song is about a one-night stand that occurs when the singer’s current girlfriend, “Josie”, is away. The first verse explains this:

Josie’s on a vacation far away
Come around and talk it over
So many things that I want to say
You know I like my girls a little bit older
I just wanna use your love tonight
I don’t wanna lose your love tonight

The first line, “Josie’s on a vacation far away”, indicates that his girlfriend is away. The following two lines, “Come around and talk it over / So many things that I want to say”, refers to his interest in talking to his old love, his ex-girlfriend. He hasn’t seen her in a while, and he misses her. The final three lines reveal this truth, showing the sexual tension between he past lovers. Although he has a girlfriend, the singer can’t help but want something with his past love again. The second verse explains this desire:

I ain’t got many friends left to talk to
Nowhere to run when I’m in trouble
You know I’d do anything for you
Stay the night but keep it undercover
I just wanna use your love tonight, whoa
I don’t wanna lose your love tonight

The first three lines explain how the singer is all alone. He has no friends around, no one to get his back if he needs it. At the time, the only person he knows is his past love and he can’t help but want to spend time with her. The fourth line reveals his intentions, which are for the girl to “Stay the night but keep it undercover.” While he’ll be cheating on Josie, he can’t help himself. Sometimes old feelings are just too hard to ignore. He does have trouble doing it, however, which the next verse describes:

Try to stop my hands from shakin’
‘Cause somethin’ in my mind’s not makin’ sense
It’s been awhile since we were all alone
I can’t hide the way I’m feelin’

The singer wasn’t expecting to run into his past love, but because he does he’s flooded with all sorts of emotions. His hands are shaking from these emotions and his own nervousness. He knows that what he’s doing is wrong but he can’t help it. As he says, “I can’t hide the way I’m feelin'”. Sometimes old feelings never go away, and when they come back it’s impossible to control them. The singer can’t control his old emotions, and just for a night he decides to let them control him. He may regret it in the morning, but for the night he’s in love once again.

Love is a very interesting emotion that is almost impossible to accurately describe. It consists of so many different feelings wrapped into one emotion. In my opinion, a lot of older songs capture love better than more current songs. Whenever I listen to these classics, I’m filled with emotions that I don’t get when I listen to songs today. Classics are called classics because they are timeless, and “Your Love” in certainly a timeless song.

Listen to it below. You’ll recognize it:


WIP: Issue Brief Thoughts

So I’ve been working on my issue brief, which is about overpopulation. As I’ve really gotten into it, I’ve found that overpopulation and sustainability really go hand in hand. To be more sustainable, we can’t just cut our resources. If we simply cut our resources but increase the number of people using resources, we aren’t completing anything. My paper has begun to center around this idea, which I think is very interesting. I’m also considering expanding the idea further for my advocacy project, but we shall see.

The paper is due Tuesday, so we’ll see how it turns out. I’m very excited about it.

WIP: Issue Brief

Our next assignment is an issue brief written in similar fashion to those found on Center for American Progress. I’m thinking about expanding on my civic issues topic, yet I’m not entirely sure how to. If I don’t figure out a way to, I may write about a separate issue entirely.

Harnessing the Power of the Earth

Out of all alternative energies I’ve researched, geothermal energy is in my opinion the most interesting. Geothermal energy is harnessing the heat from below the earth’s surface. By drilling holes in the earth’s surface, steam from underground water is captured to turn turbines. This power’s generators that can hold and transfer electricity. Capturing geothermal energy is extremely popular in some countries because it is an easy and renewable alternative energy source. In fact, more than 25 percent of all electricity in the Philippines  Iceland, and El Salvador is produced by geothermal energy.

A basic diagram of how geothermal energy works.

A basic diagram of how geothermal energy works.

A Look at the United States

The United States has more geothermal capacity than any other country, producing over 3,000 megawatts of electricity from plants in eight different states. Of this capacity, 80% is from California, where over 40 plants provide 5% of the state’s electricity. Although there are plenty of places across the United States that could provide geothermal energy, heat pumps aren’t installed more places because it can be costly. However, some businesses have heat pumps installed so that their buildings can have electricity virtually free of charge.

So what really is below Earth’s surface?

Underneath Earth’s crust there is a layer of hot molten rock known as magma. This magma is constantly producing heat from decaying radioactive materials, such as uranium and potassium. To put this heat into perspective, the amount of heat within 10,000 meters of the Earth’s surface produces about 50,000 times the amount of all energy oil and natural gas provide. Some areas are hotter than others, however, with the hottest areas being around active or young volcanoes. These regions are called “hot spots” because of how much hotter they are. The reason “hot spots” are so hot is because they are located at tectonic plate boundaries, where most volcanoes are located. One of the greatest known “hot spots” near the United States is the Ring of Fire, which is located along the Pacific Ocean. This region affects the entire western side of the United States, giving it temperatures below the surface almost twice that of the East coast. Altogether, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that 13 of the hottest western states could produce electricity estimates of 8,000-73,000 megawatts, which is significantly more than the United States’ current production.

The Pacific Coast is notably warmer than the Atlantic.

Unerneath the surface, the Pacific Coast is notably warmer than the Atlantic.

Geothermal Energy in the Future

Geothermal energy is truly a fascinating form of alternative energy. It’s completely renewable, clean, and doesn’t affect the environment like other ways of capturing energy do. If established in more places across the United States and the world, reliance on oil and natural gas will no longer be necessary. Our harmful impacts on the environment will also be cut, increasing sustainability. While geothermal energy may not become a major energy source for a long time, it could (and probably will) one day become the largest energy resource of all.






“Chicken Fried” by Zac Brown Band


The Zac Brown Band. Zac Brown is second from the right.

To follow up with my last post, I thought I’d talk about another country favorite of mine. As I revealed last time, country was a genre of music I only recently got into. In fact, I heard “Chicken Fried” for the first time this past summer and fell in love with it. The song is about the simple things in life and how important they are. The singer recollects things he grew up on and their importance to him, such as chicken fried, watching the sun rise, and enjoying a cold beer at night. The song begins with the chorus:

Cold beer on a Friday night
A pair of jeans that fit just right
And the radio on
I like to see the sun rise
See the love in my woman’s eyes
Feel the touch of a precious child
And know a mother’s love

The chorus lists the small things in life that are most important to the singer. Relaxing with a beer, wearing comfortable jeans, listening to the radio, watching the sun rise, spending his life with the perfect woman, having a child, and still having his mother’s love. Money, power, or fame have no meaning to him. He has everything he needs in life and he’s happy. The first verse talks more about the importance of little things:

Well I was raised up beneath the shade of a Georgia Pine
And that’s home you know
Sweet tea, pecan pie, and homemade wine where the peaches grow
And my house it’s not much to talk about
But it’s filled with love that’s grown in southern ground

The singer grew up in the south, so he has an affinity for southern customs, like “sweet tea, pecan pie, and homemade wine.” He says his house is “not much to talk about / But it’s filled with love that’s grown in southern ground.” While his house may be small or run-down, he wouldn’t trade it for anything else. His house is a by-product of the southern customs he grew up on, which makes it a part of him. The second verse expands former ideas in a less-specific way:

Well it’s funny how it’s the little things in life that mean the most
Not where you live, what you drive or the price tag on your clothes
There’s no dollar sign on a piece of mind, this I’ve come to know
So if you agree, have a drink with me
Raise you glasses for a toast

The first line sums up the song the best: “Well it’s funny how it’s the little things in life that mean the most.” Although he has said it indirectly plenty of times already, the singer directly explains how happy he is with his life. As he continues he explains how money has no importance in life. All it does is cause worry, so why bother? He’s as happy as can be, and he invites the audience to join him with a toast to the simple things.

mqdefaultI have to say, experiencing country music has done so much more than expand my music library. Songs like this one have broadened how I think. Having a flashy car or a great home may be nice, but having a lot of money doesn’t leave a mark on the world. Raising a family, enjoying doing so, and preparing your children to live their own, happy lives is the most important thing a man can ever do. Money may make doing so easier, but money can’t develop a powerful relationship with your children or teach them how to live. The Zac Brown Band might just be on to something with their music.


Listen to the song for yourself here:

“Sorority Girl” by Luke Bryan

Luke Bryan

Although I grew up never being a fan of country, spending my summer enjoying various country concerts with friends opened me up to loving it. Of the country artists I’ve come to love, Luke Bryan is one of my favorites. One of his newest songs is “Sorority Girl”, which was released on March 5, 2012 as a part of “Spring Break… Here to Party”, Bryan’s newest album. The song celebrates Bryan’s love for sorority girls during his college experience. The first verse recollects the amazing experience we all know and love: game day.

You got your sundress on for game day
Just to drink beer on an old tailgate
You were born and raised to be a southern belle
But in a place like this you like to raise a little hell
You got your year-round tan
You’re on the five year plan
You shake your little pom poms up in the stands

Bryan begins by describing the view of a beautiful girl at a tailgate: “You got your sundress on for game day / Just to drink beer on an old tailgate.” In the South, sundresses are the most common type of clothing worn by women. As Bryan sees this girl, he recognizes she was “born and raised to be a southern belle.” College is a different time, however, and Bryan knows this girl is at college to have fun. He can tell from the tailgate that she “likes to raise a little hell” and she’s “on a five year plan” because she won’t want to leave after four. Bryan’s chorus expresses his disbelief at all the pretty girls in all of the different sororities.

My my my little ADPi
Kappa Delta
Tri Delts you look so fine
Ooo don’t know what I’m gonna do around those
Chi O’s
and little Phi Mu’s
Hey Yea Hey Yea
My my sorority girl
My my sorority girl


Out of all parts of college, perhaps the best part is college football. Here at Penn State, we have tens of thousands of people drive in every weekend for game day. Walking outside on a Saturday at 11 am is a spectacular site; thousands of people line the streets, yelling and jumping because of all the excitement. In the South, college football is just as huge, especially because of the nicer weather. The South is also known for Greek Life, in some cases more so than Penn State. Alabama is a great example, with 29% of men in fraternities and 38% of females in sororities (as of 2010). Luke Bryan’s song celebrates the experience of being a part of Greek Life when it comes to came day. In his opinion, few things compare to a college tailgate with Greeks, especially the beautiful sorority girls. The song is fun and upbeat and I can relate to it, which is why I like it so much. Have a listen for yourself down below, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!

Penn State tailgate

The fun that is Penn State football tailgating.



One of the oldest and readily available forms of alternative energy exists on 71% of the Earth’s surface. Water, a vital part of all life, is used as power around the world. For rivers, dams can control the flow of water and harness it’s natural flow to turn generators. Perhaps the most common dam that Americans think of is the Hoover Dam, which is a dam on the Colorado River that generates up to 10.348 Terawatt-hours of electricity each year. The amount of electricity produced by the Hoover Dam is enough to sustain over 1.3 million homes in Colorado, Nevada, and California.


Hoover Dam.

Hydropower is one of the oldest forms of energy that has been utilized for over 2,000. The earliest way hydropower was used was with water wheels (pictured below). These water wheels would be attached to farms because the wheel would turn a series of gears that would grind grain, saw wood, etc. After setting up a water wheel, it required little or no maintenance. Harnessing hydropower allowed farmers to do multiple tasks at a time because water wheels were self-automated.


An old-style water wheel.

Over the years, more efficient ways of harnessing hydropower were created, such as dams like the Hoover Dam. These dams have a lot of advantages. First, they increase the water level of a river which in turn increases the energy potential. Along with this, dam operators can control water flow to suit whatever situation. If the dam is getting too blocked up, flood-gates can be opened wider to increase water flow. In addition, having a large amount of water available means that energy can still be captured even during times of drought. One of the interesting advantages of hydroelectric dams is that if electricity does not need to be created, then electricity produced by water flow can be used to pump that water back into the reservoir. This creates a situation where nothing is wasted.

Although dams are a great way to harness cheap and clean hydropower, they do have downsides. When a dam is installed, the reservoir created floods land upstream, killing plants and driving animals out of their habitats. Also, the dam itself creates a barrier for migrating fish. Fish that have traveled upstream for centuries are forced to remain where they are because of the dam, changing their entire way of life. Finally, dams interrupt the normal development of floodplains downstream. Installing dams to control water flow is a great idea in theory, but it completely changes the environment it is placed in.


A dam in Ontario.

Harnessing hydropower is a great form of alternative energy. It’s cheap, clean, and readily available. Unfortunately, modern-day dams have a ton of environmental impacts that other alternative energy-capturing methods don’t. Wind farms and solar panels produce energy just like hydropower, except they have little or no environmental impact. Environmental impacts aside, hydroelectric dams do produce a lot of electricity. In fact, the United States alone has over 80,000 dams. Altogether, hydropower makes up 7.1% of the United States total energy usage. While this doesn’t seem like a lot, other renewable energies only make up 2.4%. Hydropower is clearly a successful renewable energy source, even if it does have some environmental impacts. However, the question remains: Are these environmental impacts too much?









Tomorrowland 2012 Day 1Although I usually discuss a song each week, I’m going to try something a little different. This week I’m going to talk about Tomorrowland, which is an annual huge EDM concert that takes place in Belgium. The concert is meant to be an international event, bringing together thousands of people from across the world to share their love of dance and music. Last year, over 75 countries were represented out of 180,000 attendees. The first Tomorrowland occurred on August 14, 2005 and had only 10,000 attendees. Tomorrowland 2006 only saw a slight increase in popularity, with 15,000 attending. It was until 2007 that Tomorrowland began to grow both in attendance and magnitude. 2007 was the first year Tomorrowland lasted 2 days with around 50,000 attendees. From 2007 on, Tomorrowland became incredibly popular, allowing the show to have more artists, more stages, and more fun.


The theme of Tomorrowland is entering into a fairytale with thousands of other people and having an experience you’ll never forget. The entire set for Tomorrowland is decorated like a fairytale, with larger-than-life costumes and special effects. Recent artists included David Guetta (who has participated since 2006), Swedish House Mafia, Avicii, Afrojack, Steve Aoki, Skrillex, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Nervo, and Hardwell. These are some of the biggest artists in EDM, which attracts a lot of attention from fans. Tomorrowland 2012 consisted of 400 DJs spread out across 15 stages. Having such a variety of DJs and stages gives fans a ton of options and endless possibilities.

Because Tomorrowland has grown so popular, the creators decided to start “Tomorrow World.” No information has been given about Tomorrow World yet besides that the show will be held between September 27-29 this fall. Rumors have pointed to a possible North American venue, but no confirmation has been given.


Tomorrowland is truly amazing. While music festivals tend to be popular, few compare to what Tomorrowland does. Hundreds of thousands of people come from all over the world because of how amazing it truly is. I plan to attend Tomorrowland during the Summer of 2014 and I couldn’t be more excited!

You MUST watch Tomorrowland to truly see how crazy it is. Here’s the 2012 aftermovie:

WIP – Post Sustainability Deliberation

This past Tuesday marked the end of our deliberation on sustainability. After three days of discussion, I got a lot of experience being a part of a non-biased deliberation. Although I expected there to be arguments between competing viewpoints, I found that our group agreed on most things. From here, we are to get involved in an online deliberation which I expect to be a lot more aggressive than the physical one. Because people are hidden behind a computer, they tend to speak their mind more. This may cause people to disagree more, pulling away from a respectable deliberation atmosphere. There is also no real moderator, which may make things interesting. We shall see what happens over the next 2 weeks.