Author Archives: Allison Voegeli

Does your cell phone usage determine your GPA?

Wherever you are on campus, it is common that you will see students on their cell phones. Cell phones have become a major obsession with our generation and I will admit that I am guilty of using my cell phone quite often. Cell phones are distracting and cause students unnecessary anxiety throughout the day. A new study done in Ohio claims that students with high cell phone usage will have lower GPAs and higher anxiety.

kidswithcellphonesinclassThe study consisted of 500 randomly-chosen college students. The participants had to complete a survey about how often they use their cell phones. The students with low cell phone usage had a GPA of 3.2 and the high users had a GPA of 2.8. The data was collected over a 6 month period and over that time the study also showed that students who used their cell phone more had more anxiety.

Although the outcome of the study is realistic and most people can agree that cell phones are a big distraction in school, there are some flaws in the study. It was an observational study, therefore third variables were not ruled out. The study mentioned that students who used their cell phones more often also had more anxiety. Anxiety could be the third variable here. Students with higher anxiety could be drawn to use their cell phone more because they have a fear of missing out on what their friends are doing. Also, students with anxiety are found to have lower GPAs because they cannot focus in class. In addition to this, reverse causation could be a possible reason for the given correlation. Less intelligent students could be more likely to use their cell phones more. Also, students with high anxiety can look to their cell phone for some sort of comfort. Also, the study’s findings can always be due to chance and it is important to remember that correlation does not equal causation.

The size of the study is decent size. Observing 500 students will give you accurate results but surveying thousands of students would be more assuring. The study also consisted of the students filling out a survey. Surveys are not always accurate because students are not always clear on how to evaluate themselves. Therefore, a student with “high cell phone usage” might classify themselves as a moderate user because they do not know the criteria for the given category. In order for the study to have more accurate results, the researchers should have followed a student throughout his/her day and record how many hours they use their phone. Of course this would take a lot more time to complete but it would present us with more trustworthy results.

I think that this study will have different effects on every student. Everyone values their time differently. Some students value their social life more and others value their grades more. Some students reading this study will significantly decrease their cell phone usage because they will do anything to get close to perfect grades. Others might look at this and think that there is no big difference between a 2.8 GPA and a 3.2 GPA. Those students would not decrease their cell phone usage because in their opinion keeping up with their friends is more important.

Cell phones are a common topic in today’s world. Everyone has their different views on them, but in reality most of us are all addicted to our gadgets. I am very against cell phone use, especially during classes. However, I am guilty of looking at my phone in class even though I know it is wrong. I think that although this study had some errors, students should strongly consider to reduce their cell phone usage.

Are Athletes More Likely to Have Cavities?

Throughout high school I was a very active person. I played multiple sports and when I was not in season, I would always run on my own or go to the gym. However, I have also always had close to perfect teeth. I have never had a cavity in my life and I was very shocked to see an article stating that exercise could be bad for your teeth.

According to the New York Times, there was a study done in London at the 2012 Summer Olympics, dentists examined 278 athletes and majority of them had poor oral health. To further examine this a second study was conducted to see why this was happening. Researchers from the dental school at University Hospital Heidelberg in Germany recruited 35 competitive athletes and 35 adults who were not athletes. All of the volunteers had to have an oral examination before the study began. During the examination, dentists took samples of their saliva. They also had to fill out surveys about their diet. After everyone had their mouths looked at and completed the surveys, the athletes had to go on a 35 minute run. Their saliva was collected multiple times throughout the workout. The saliva samples were compared from when the athletes were just sitting to when they were completing their workout. The overall results was that the more time you spent working out, the more likely you were to get cavities. The reasons for this is because working out caused the amount of saliva to decrease and the athletes mouths became drier. The saliva also grew more alkaline as the workout progressed. More alkaline in the saliva will cause more plaque on teeth which can cause cavities. The scientists did further research to test if water or sports drinks would contribute to this, but no direct link was found.


There are some errors I found in the study that do not make it very accurate. First of all, the study was very small. Only 70 people participated in the study. If the amount of participants was larger, the final outcome would be more accurate if the correlation was found in majority of the participants. This study was also short-term. The scientists should create a study that tests the long-term effects as well. Personally, this study would not stop me from exercising because I would rather risk getting a cavity than lose all of the other benefits that come with exercising. If a study came out with serious long-term effects such as it leading to mouth cancer than I would most likely reduce my amount exercise greatly.

The article states that the 35 athletes and 35 non-athletes matched in age and gender. However, they were not specific with the range of ages. I am curious what age group they tested and if it is more common in a certain age group. Also, if they only tested one specific age group, I wonder if the same correlation would appear in other age groups. Age could potentially play a big role in the results.

I also think that the scientists should have conducted more studies analyzing the role of sports drinks and water. They found no direct link, but I think that sugary drinks can effect oral health problems so it would be interesting to see further results on that topic.

I found this to be a very interesting study. It seems as if scientists and doctors are always promoting exercise because it has unlimited benefits for our health. The possible cause of oral health problems that might arise from exercise is one of the few disadvantages to exercising. Keep in mind that this study is not 100% accurate and the athletes that participated worked out about 9 hours per week on average. The average person exercises 30 minutes a day which would equal 3.5 hours per week. (Mayo Clinic). This study is not trying to discourage people from exercising, instead it is only trying to spread awareness of a possible short-term effect.


Depression in young women can increase chance of heart disease

My grandfather died of a heart attack at the age of 49. Heart disease runs in my family and I am always interested in new risk factors. I came across an article explaining a possible link between depression and heart disease and it intrigued me. I am eighteen years old and although that seems young for someone to have a heart attack, it is possible. I am not depressed and I consider myself to have a stable mindset, but I found this article interesting because I always want to be aware of what could increase my chances of having a heart attack.


According to a CNN article, a new study suggests that women are twice as likely to suffer from heart disease if they have depression. 3,237 people with anticipated or established heart disease participated in the study. On the same day of the study they were asked to answer questions about their state of mind. The results showed that women under the age of 55 who had moderate to severe depression had double the chance of experiencing a heart attack and they were twice as likely to have heart disease. Participants older than 55 with moderate to severe depression did not show the same risk. Previous research also supports these results. A study done in 2012 by John Hopkins University concluded that depressed women between the ages of 17 to 39 were more likely to have heart disease after testing 7,000 adults.

Although both of these studies showed the same results and both studies tested a large amount of people for the study to be accurate, the results still are not convincing. First of all this study does not rule out reverse causation. There is a clear correlation between depression and heart disease/ heart attacks in young women. However, it is possible that the early onset of heart disease or heart attack could cause the patient to be depressed. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “People with heart disease are more likely to suffer from depression than otherwise healthy people” (Depression and Heart Disease). This proves that it is very likely that the results could be due to reverse causation. The study is also observational and therefore it does not rule out third variables.  An outside variable could be causing young women to undergo depression and get heart disease.

The article also states that people are sometimes not aware that they are depressed. This could be a major error in the results. When the participants answered the survey questions about their state of mind, they could have answered incorrectly because they might be unaware of how to classify their current feelings. In addition to this, the final result states that young women who have depression are twice as likely to have heart disease. This statement is a relative risk. There is no comparison presented here, it is unclear as to what the original risk is and therefore the severity of the risk is unknown.

In conclusion, there is no evidence to accurately prove that depression causes heart disease but there is a distinct correlation between the two.  Scientists say that it is important to treat both depression and heart disease in order to prevent yourself from having either of them. The best way to do that is to exercise. The reason why exercise helps both depression and heart problems is because exercising causes your body to release endorphins which will interact with the receptors in your brain that lower your pain perception (WebMD).

Do we convince ourselves that exercise makes us smarter?

In a previous blog I wrote, I talked about a study done at Purdue University. The results showed that students who went to the gym more often had higher GPAs then those who did not go to the gym. I did not find the study to be accurate but there is still a possibility that exercising can effect our intelligence. I wanted to further my research for my previous blog because I was debating if I should go to the gym more since finals are approaching and I found an interesting study done about whether exercise makes us smarter or not.

Most studies that measure exercise and intelligence look for correlations between exercising and an improvement on memory and thinking skills. However, the study that I researched tests to find if the relationship between exercise and cognitive benefits is real or undergoes the placebo effect. The scientists that created the experiment wanted to test the placebo effect on exercising. A placebo is, “a substance containing no medication and prescribed or given to reinforce a patient’s expectation to get well” (The Free Dictionary). Successful studies consist of randomized control trials with a control group receiving the placebo. However, there is no placebo for exercise because the participants are going to be aware if they are exercising or not.

According to the New York Times, scientists came up with a way to test a placebo in the exercise study. They surveyed 171 people online. Half of the participants were asked to estimate how much of an effect a stretching and toning program would have on their thinking skills and the other half was asked to estimate how a walking program would effect their thinking skills. The results showed that the participants thought that stretching and toning would have a greater impact on improving cognitive skills than walking would. Studies show that walking has the bigger impact on improving cognitive skills. Since this particular study did not involve any exercise, the only conclusion that scientists can make is that the benefits of aerobic exercise are real and are not due to the placebo effect.


I found this study to be very interesting. I agree with the final outcome that the scientists discovered and I believe that the relationship between any exercise and intelligence is real as well. It is very difficult to prove this theory since there is no placebo for exercising but I think with further studies done it can eventually be proven. The size of the study concerned me a bit. Accurate studies usually have a larger number of participants but I think that 171 participants is a fair amount of people.

Reverse causation can be ruled out of this study because no actual exercise is being done. If exercise was being done than there could be a possible reverse causality such as smarter people exercise more. However, this study consisted only of a survey that asked participants to estimate how a certain exercise would effect cognitive skills.

This study was also observational. You might think that it is not accurate because it is an observational study but there is no other way to conduct this study as of right now. The results that the scientists received are realistic and I do not think an experimental study is needed for this research.

In conclusion, I think that exercise does have some impact on our thinking skills and there is no placebo effect in place. However, remember it was only proven that the placebo effect does not take place in aerobic exercises and it is still not proven if other exercises allow people to only assume they are smarter.

Can Poor Sleep Habits Shrink Your Brain?

My grandma and I have always been very close. She is my role model and I talk to her about everything. It has been very difficult for me to see my best friend begin to slowly lose her mind. She has not yet been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s but I was just informed that she is getting an MRI on her brain tomorrow afternoon. I am anxiously waiting for the results and praying for the best. In the meantime, I came across an article claiming that a lack of sleep causes your brain to shrink. Sleep problems could be a cause of dementia or Alzheimer’s and I immediately thought it could be true since my grandma has a lot of trouble sleeping.

According to the article in CNN, a study was done to see if there is a link between sleep problems and participants’ brain volume. Only 147 people participated in the study and the participants were adults between the ages of 20 and 84. All participants were required to fill out a questionnaire about their sleeping habits and 35% of them were categorized as people with poor sleep habits. The participants had two MRI scans done. The first scan was done before they completed the questionnaire and the second one was done 3.5 years later. The study showed that people with sleep problems had a more rapid decline in brain volume compared to those who slept well. Adults who were over the age of 60 had even more significant results.

At first this article seems as if poor sleep habits could be a realistic cause of shrinking brain especially because I am trying to make sense of why my grandma is slowly losing her mind. However, I think there are some faults within this study and I do not agree with it. First of all, this could definitely be due to reverse causation. It is possible that a decrease in the size of your brain could cause you to develop poor sleeping habits. Your brain shrinking could be the cause of all of it. For example, not only could it lead to poor sleeping habits, but also to dementia and Alzheimer’s and any memory loss that people experience.

Another reason why this study was not accurate is because it was a very small study. Only 147 people participated in it. In order to obtain accurate results, you need to test it on a lot more people. In addition to this, correlation does not equal causation. This was an observational study, therefore third variables were not ruled out. This means that an outside variable could be causing the relationship between brain size and sleeping habits. It is also important to remember that the results can also be due to chance. It is impossible to ever rule out chance so it is always a possibility that the results randomly showed a correlation. Also, the two MRI scans were taken 3.5 years apart. This is not a very long time. I think the results would have been more accurate if the two scans were taken at least 10 years apart. I also think that more than two scans should have been taken in order to make it a more accurate study.

In addition to that, how do we know if the questionnaire about sleep habits was reliable or not? According to the article, “The questionnaire showed that 35% of those in the study met the criteria for poor sleep health.” However, the article does not state what the criteria for poor sleep health are. Using a questionnaire in a study is not reliable. In order to make the study more accurate, the investigators should have studied each participants sleeping habits themselves, in addition to asking them to fill out the questionnaire.

In conclusion, I do not think there is a link between a lack of sleep and brain size. There is not enough evidence presented in the study to conclude that poor sleeping habits will decrease the size of your brain. People may assume that this study is accurate because they might know someone who is experiencing memory loss and they are probably looking for answers, as I am. However, there is not enough evidence yet to make that accusation.




Benefits of Giving

With less than a month until Christmas, it is time to begin your holiday shopping! Christmas is my favorite holiday for many reasons. I love spending time with my family and listening to the holiday music and eating all of the delicious food but most of all I love seeing people’s faces when they open the presents I purchase for them. Now, I am aware that some people enjoy receiving gifts rather than giving them. However, I always thought this personal choice did not come with any additional benefits, I always assumed that whichever you enjoy; receiving or giving made you equally happy.

giftsThere was a study done to determine whether giving or receiving resulted in greater benefits. A social psychologist at University of British Colombia in Vancouver, Canada surveyed 109 students on campus to find out if there was an advantage to how you spent your money. The participants were given an envelope with either a $5.00 bill or a $20.00 bill and they were told how to spend it. The students who were told to give the money to charity or to buy someone a gift were happier at the end of the day. This correlation was found in two additional studies as well.

My first instinct is to believe that this study shows accurate results because I personally get more joy out of buying things for other people than buying things for myself. However, when evaluating the results, it is clear that this study is not the most reliable. The results seem plausible but there needs to be more information to prove these findings. There are few reasons why this study is not accurate. First of all, this is an observational study. This means that third variables are not ruled out. There could be an additional factor that caused the social psychologist to find a correlation between spending money on others and happiness. The results can also be due to chance. That is why it is important to further your research on studies because there is a lot of factors to consider before accepting that the correlation is true. We can conclude that this study found a false positive result. Even if spending money on other people does not cause happiness, something in the result caused the correlation therefore something was found in the study.

The size of the study is another reason why the findings can be classified as unreliable. Only 109 students were observed in the study. This is not enough people to get an accurate result. Economist Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick in the U.K. agrees that the study needs to test a larger group of people. The article states, “Still, Oswald notes that the work needs to be replicated in larger samples, closer to 1000 people, to be completely convincing” (The Secret to Happiness? Giving).

The correlation shown can also be because of reverse causation. It is possible that happy people are more likely to spend their money on other people. In the study mentioned above the participants were told whether to spend their money on themselves or someone else. However, in the other two studies that had matching correlations, people were not assigned how to spend their money. Instead, they surveyed how people felt before and after receiving work bonuses and they analyzed data from 632 people on income, spending and happiness. Both groups had the same result; that happiness correlated with the amount of money people spent on others. In 2/3 of the studies, reverse causality is a possibility for the correlation shown.

One of the biggest reasons why these studies are not accurate is because they do not explain how happiness was measured. Everyone has their own definition of happiness and it is very challenging to measure someone elses happiness. I am interested to know how happiness was measured within these studies. In my opinion, the experimenter would have to measure a person’s brain waves in order to prove the participants happiness and from the data shown, it does not seem like that was tested. According to Peak Achievement Training, “Research shows when we feel good feelings such as happiness and love, the brain produces brainwaves around 40 cycles per second.” This would be the most accurate way to measure a person’s happiness and to discover a truthful correlation between spending money and happiness.


In conclusion, these studies do not prove that spending money on others cause happiness. People might believe these results because for them they might get more satisfaction out of buying gifts for other people than for themselves. However, the study does not prove this assumption. In order to support this correlation, a controlled experimental study would have to be conducted and more participants would have to be tested.


Online Education vs. The Classroom

It is that time again, time to schedule classes for the upcoming semester. Personally, I have never been interested in taking an online class. I feel as if I would not be motivated to teach myself the material and I think it would be difficult to remember due dates of exams and other assignments. I understand that everyone’s minds work differently and some people enjoy taking online classes. I am in the middle of deciding if I should take an online class or not and I was actually surprised with the research that I found.

College-Classroom1   online classes

There was a study done by U.S. News at six universities during the fall of 2011. Researchers split students up into two groups. One group completed the traditional course while the other group completed a hybrid version. The hybrid version consisted of an online class with an in-class instruction once a week for an hour. All participants had to take a test before and after the course. The results showed that students in the online class had slightly better scores.

The groups that the students were split into were successfully randomized. They separated them by age, gender, ethnicity, academic background and family income. However, they could not control differences in teacher quality. One way that I would change the study is to have the same teacher teach both classes. This would be the only way you could rule out teacher quality. Even if the teacher is not high quality, at least the students in both groups would be exposed to the same teaching style. Also, the same teacher should travel from university to university and that one teacher should teach the two classes at each university that the study was completed at.

Now it is important to remember that correlation does not equal causation. This study is observational, so researchers cannot prove that learning through an online class is better than learning in a traditional classroom setting. We also have to remember that the results can always be due to chance. Something that the article did not mention was how the tests were administrated. If the students who were enrolled in the online class took their tests online they would have access to other resources to complete the test. Students in the traditional classroom would not be able to use any notes or online materials to help them with the test. This could be a big reason why students in the online class scored higher on the tests.

Overall, I do not think that this study favors one side or the other given the evidence. As I mentioned previously, every student has their own personal preference on how they enjoy learning. If online classes benefits your learning, then I recommend taking them. If you have never taken an online class before, Penn State has recently released an online survey that students can complete to figure out if they are ready to take an online class or not. Take the survey to see which environment you learn best in!



Extinction Of Honeybees

Although there is not a current threat to a honeybee extinction, beekeepers have been noticing an increase in the number of bees dying since 2006. If honeybees do eventually become extinct, it can have serious effects on the human population. Albert Einstein once said, “Mankind will not survive the honeybees’ disappearance for more than five years” (Good Reads). So, was he right by saying that?

When I first came across this, I did not think anything bad could come of bees becoming extinct. Personally, I am not a fan of bees. When they are around me, I am always scared of them stinging me. Although bees do have that one negative effect, the advantages that they bring us outweigh the disadvantages by far. According to NBC News, “Honeybees don’t just make honey; they pollinate more than 90 of the tastiest flowering crops we have. Among them: apples, nuts, avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash and cucumbers. And lots of the really sweet and tart stuff, too, including citrus fruit, peaches, kiwi, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, cantaloupe and other melons. In fact, about one-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture” (NBC News). Our food industry heavily relies on bees to pollinate our crops. If honeybees were to go extinct, the human population would have to seriously change their diets, or else Albert Einstein might be correct with his statement; we might not live longer than 5 years after the extinction of bees.


Unfortunately, nobody can prove if humans will survive without honeybees until honeybees actually go extinct. There has been research supporting each side of the argument. No matter which side is correct, it is clear that if honeybees went extinct, it would be catastrophic for our agriculture. Some scientists are confident that over time other pollinators would take over for the bees. Several groups of pollination experts are already exploring this issue and trying to find an alternative (Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens).

Other scientists are not as confident. If we do not find an alternative to pollinate, the extinction of honeybees will have an effect on all animals. Animals eat plants as well and without honeybees pollinating the plants, they will die off too. If humans’ main source of meat such as cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys etc also die off then humans’ will have a shortage of fruits, vegetables and meat. This could lead to a serious problem down the road (Future).

Since scientists cannot be sure if we will survive without honeybees or not, I recommend that we take serious precautions in helping the bee population survive. Here is a list of things you can do to help keep the bee population alive:

  1. Make your gardens bee-friendly
    • Plant flowers that bees like, they get their food from flowers.
    • Give the bees a water source in your garden. Such as a birth bath or a small pond.
  2. Eliminate your use of pesticides.
  3. Buy organic foods.
  4. Support local bee-keepers.
  5. Encourage other people to protect the bees as well.

It is important that we take these precautions seriously and spread awareness of this possible honeybee extinction and the consequences it will bring. As I mentioned previously, it is not a current threat but beekeepers are noticing less and less bees so if we do not take action now, this could turn into a real threat soon!


Does Exercising Increase Your GPA?

Throughout high school I participated in fall and spring sports. I could never understand why I got higher grades when I was in a sports season then when I was out of season. I assumed that participating in these sports would cause my GPA to fall since I had a minimum amount of time to devote to my schoolwork. However, the opposite occurred. Does this happen for everyone?

Exercising is an important part of everyone’s daily routine. Staying active will control your weight, prevent health problems, improve your mood, boost your energy, promote better sleep and it is fun (Mayo Clinic). But can it now be proven that exercise can lead to better grades?

white building.image

I do not compete in sports at the collegiate level, but after researching the relationship between exercising and good grades, I realize that I should motivate myself to go to the gym more often. A study was conducted at Purdue University in order to prove if exercising did improve a student’s grade point average. The study showed that students who attended the gym at least 16 times a month had a GPA of 3.16 or higher. Even students who were moderate users of the gym had a GPA of 3.06 or higher. According to Tricia Zelaya, the assistant director for student development and assessment at Purdue’s Division of Recreational Sports, “Going to the gym is so much more than going to the gym. Students who are motivated by fitness and wellness tend to have better time management skills, and research shows that being fit is good for the mind. It all ties together” (Purdue News). Although this study seems to present a valid connection between exercising and getting good grades, I cannot conclude that right away.

First of all this study is observational. Researchers have found a correlation with students attending the gym and those same students getting good grades. However, correlation does not equal causation. Only one college was tested in this study. In order to have more accurate results, more colleges would have to participate in the study and the correlations from every school would have to result in a similar outcome. The data is also only based on one semester. Purdue is currently in the process of renovating their gym facilities and could not continue their study yet. Only retrieving data from one semester is not accurate because there could be other reasons why those students got good grades. For example, the students could have had less busy schedules compared to other semesters or they could be taking easier classes that semester. Until Purdue collects data from multiple semesters, the current assumption that exercising improves grades cannot be proven.

This study also does not rule out reverse causation. It is possible that getting good grades causes people to exercise more. Many students use exercise as a relaxation technique and after they do well on an exam many students enjoy going for a run to reward themselves. Purdue’s study may have proven that there is a correlation between exercising and getting good grades but the correlation could be due to reverse causation.

Although I cannot conclude if exercising improves a student’s GPA or not, the study did show a lot of evidence in support of the idea. I feel that every student is different. We all have our own study habits and techniques and we need to find one that works best for us. There is a lot of evidence that exercising is good for our physical health and staying active is recommended for people of all ages. It may or may not boost your grades, but exercising will most likely have a positive effect on you no matter what.


In-vitro Meat

Hamburgers are an American classic. In one year, Americans eat about 50 billion burgers (Huffington Post). There is no hiding how much we love eating meat and how much we crave those tasty burgers. But, will this craving disappear if we replace our hamburger meat with in-vitro meat?

About a year ago, Professor Mark Post from Maastricht Univeristy served the first test-tube hamburger. He had been persistent at attempting to grow meat in the laboratory since 2008. Unlike imitation meat such as soy protein, this burger is made from a real animal. It is created by muscle stem cells from cows. According to Popular Science, the meat was formed from 20,000 cells mixed with bread crumbs and eggs. This lab grown burger was served to two brave volunteers. Both of them agreed that it had a good taste and that it was close to meat.

in-vitro meat

Dr. Post was thrilled that he was finally successful, but he was concerned that it will take at least 10 to 20 years before the in-vitro meat can be mass produced. Dr. Post also shared that it would be possible to create the meat from any animal cells. This would cause an increase in supply of the meat.

To be honest, I have mixed feelings about eating a burger that was created in a laboratory. I do realize that there are many advantages to producing meat this way. For example, this process is more ethical because there is no harm done to the animals when creating this meat. Their cells are taken painlessly from them and we would no longer be killing off livestock for our meat. This is seen very positively in the eyes of many vegetarians. For those who do not eat meat because they are against animal cruelty, they will no longer have to worry about animals suffering in this process.  In addition to this, it is cheaper to produce in-vitro meat with our current technology. In-vitro meat is also healthier for us because scientists can control the fat content and the nutritional content (In-Vitro Meat).

On the other hand, there are also some disadvantages to this new discovery. I mentioned previously that it is cheaper to produce the in-vitro meat, but it is very expensive to fund research and development for making the meat. Also, one of the biggest disadvantages is that majority of the public is not in favor of change. Most people assume that the lab grown meat will taste disgusting and they are not interested in trying new meat since they are already satisfied with the meat they have been eating for years (Huffington Post). Many people argue that the in-vitro meat is not solving anything. There are already cheaper diet solutions for vegans and vegetarians and people who do enjoy meat are not looking for an alternative.

I found this to be a very interesting topic. After researching, I think I am against the in-vitro meat. Even though it may bring some advantages to the table, I think the disadvantages out weigh them. Personally, I am a very picky eater and I know that I would not be willing to try a burger that was grown in a lab. Also, each of the articles claim that the in-vitro meat is healthier but I am worried that it could have long term health risks that no one is aware of yet. It might be healthier in the nutritional aspect but how can we be sure that no serious health risks will come out of it.  I think it will be difficult for in-vitro meat to become popular since no one knows what to expect in regards to taste, side-effects, etc.


Should You Get the Flu Shot?

It’s that time again. Flu season. Everyone is trying their best to stay healthy but it is not always easy to do so. Doctors encourage everyone to get the flu shot but, how do we know if the vaccine is safe?

In past years, I have always received the flu vaccination. To be honest, I did not really have a say in this decision. My mom always made me get a flu shot when I lived at home. However, this year is different. I am in college now and I get to choose whether or not I get vaccinated. Now, my first choice was not to get the vaccine because I hate getting shots. Since the flu shot is not a required vaccine, I would gladly choose not to get it. But, I decided to do some research to make the best decision.

It turns out that my research supported my choice of not getting the vaccine. Doctors always encourage patients to get the flu shot, but according to multiple studies, flu shots do not usually prevent the flu and in most cases the side effects from the shot can make you more sick. It is incredibly dangerous to get the flu shot if you are already sick. You need to have a strong immune system in order for it to be safe for you to receive the shot. However, in most cases doctors or pharmacists do not inform patients of this danger. There are also controversial additives that are in the vaccine. Majority of flu shots contain 25 mcg of the toxin thimerosal which is a mercury-based preservative that is commonly associated with brain and immune system dysfunction. Other ingredients include aluminum salts, sugars, gelatin, egg protein, formaldehyde, and neomycin. None of these ingredients are healthy for us. This means that the flu shot is injecting harmful toxins in us, and in most cases these ingredients will do more damage to our bodies than it will help our bodies (Natural News).

flu and vaccine graph

Take a look at the graph above. It shows the mortality rate of people who had the influenza virus. The number of deaths began to decrease tremendously around the 1970s, but once people began taking the flu shot, the number of deaths started to rise again (Global Research).

Another reason why you should not get the flu vaccine is because the Center of Disease Control and Prevention guess which influenza shot to give each year. They cannot prove which influenza virus will spread during flu season, so the vaccine is based on their best guess. This concludes that there is no guarantee that the flu shot will prevent the flu because there is no guarantee that the vaccine will even relate to the virus that is spreading in that given year! (Natural News)

Personally, all of these facts convinced me not to get the flu shot this year. It is up to you whether or not you receive the vaccine. Either way, here are some ways to boost your immune system. These tips could help prevent you from getting the flu and in my opinion they are a lot more effective then the flu shot!

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and running water for 20 seconds.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.
  • Cough into a tissue (and throw it away), or into your elbow.
  • Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay Hydrated
  • Make Smart Food Choices
  • Exercise
  • Get Good Sleep
  • Reduce Stress

In conclusion, the flu virus is preventable but getting the flu shot is not effective in preventing the virus. If your doctor tries to convince you to get the flu shot, make sure you consider all of your options before agreeing! Good luck to everyone with surviving this flu season!



Sibling Telepathy?

For those of you who have siblings, do you ever feel like you can read each others mind? My sister and I always jokingly say that we have “sister telepathy” when we finish each others sentences or we wear the same outfit on the same day. Although we joked about it, we would always just assume that things like that were just a coincidence. I never thought that siblings could actually telepathically send messages to one another because we have been taught that the only ways to communicate are with our five senses. I was interested in learning if it is possible to communicate by sending thoughts to someone else and I found some studies that tested telepathy between siblings. Maybe my sister and I can relay messages through our thoughts after all.


People first became interested in telepathy because twins started to share their experiences of “crisis telepathy.” An example of crisis telepathy is that one twin reported agonizing pain on the left side of her body, then later she found out that at the exact moment she experienced the pain, her twin sister had gotten in a car crash. For some people, anecdotes such as this one is enough evidence to convince them that telepathy exists, but unfortunately there is no scientific evidence to prove this yet.

Most of the studies that have been conducted to test if telepathy exists involve testing telepathy in twins. A study done by a Swedish psychologist was reported by ABC News. Twins were randomly chosen to participate in the experiment. All of the twins that were chosen had reported that they had experienced crisis telepathy at some point in their life. In the study, one twin was hooked up to a four channel polygraph machine that measures physiological changes in the body. The other twin was exposed to physical surprises such as dipping their hands into a bucket of ice. The goal is to see if physiological changes occur in the twin who is not exposed to the physical surprises. There was no final proof found, but the results did encourage a follow up experiment. Even though some twins did show evidence of telepathy, there can be many additional explanations to the results such as genetics, coincidence, and empathy.

Personally, I think that it is near impossible to ever prove if telepathy is real. I do not think we can choose to mentally send a message to one another but in time of need our bodies can sense a message from our siblings. This relates back to the ‘crisis telepathy’ that I mentioned earlier. I think that it is more common that our bodies receive messages from one another in moments of crisis. Overall, I think that in most instances the best reasoning would be that it happens by chance. I hope that we can eventually create new technology that allows us to further our research on this topic. I would love for it to be proven that sibling telepathy can happen. It would be very interesting if we could purposely send a message through our minds instead of it just happening in moments of crisis.

What do you guys think about telepathy? Do you think it could be real? I want to hear your opinions and feel free to share any stories you have relating to telepathy! I know that a lot of people have had some experience and they assume that they have telepathy! Also, if anyone is a twin I’d love to hear your experiences since it is more likely to occur in twins!

Do Dogs Feel Pain?

About a year ago my nine year old dog became blind in one eye. The veterinarian insisted that he was having extreme headaches due to the blindness and that it was crucial that we buy $80 eye drops. Now, $80 may not seem that bad, but the bottle was so small that it only lasted us two weeks. My parents continued purchasing the medicine because they did not want my dog to suffer. However, this got me thinking. Although my dog’s eye looked disgusting due to the blindness, he did not act any different. He still ran around outside, ate his food, slept through the night etc. He never cried or whimpered and never showed any other signs that he might be experiencing pain. So, I’m curious how the vet knew he was having “extreme headaches.”

According to Psychology Today, dogs do in fact feel pain but they have a good way of hiding it. Dogs want to feel in control, especially male dogs. Therefore, they do not act as if they are in pain. They get this instinct from being in the wild. If a dog showed signs of pain within their pack, they would be vulnerable to an attack. Because of this, it is difficult for dog owners to know when their pup is hurting.

Similar to humans, dogs recover quicker when given relief to their injuries. Studies show that when dogs are given medicine to help them through the pain they will have advantages in recovery. Their stress levels will decrease, it will decrease time in the hospital and improve healing rates. Although it may not be 100% proven that my dog was experiencing headaches, the vet was being cautious because dogs show such mild signs of pain.

Are you worried that your dog might be sick or injured? There are some specific signs that you can look out for. A decrease in appetite is one of the biggest signs. If your dog is not eating as much as he/she normally does, I would bring them to the vet immediately. Some other signs would be if your dog is pacing, panting, shivering, growling or avoiding humans. These are key signs that your dog might be experiencing pain. Be sure to take note that this pain might not be physical. According to The Daily Puppy, dogs will use the same signs to show their owners of mental pain. If you are not spending enough time with your dog, they will be sure to notify you somehow!

In conclusion, I assume my vet was being cautious when prescribing the eye drops for my dog because there is no solid evidence that he is experiencing pain. I am curious if veterinarians will ever create a test to prove that animals are experiencing pain. This would help pet owners tremendously. I’ve included a picture of my dog, Jake. Fortunately, it is a picture before he became blind.




Should Everyone Drink Coffee Daily?

Growing up, I could never understand why my Dad would drink a minimum of two cups of coffee every morning. As I got older, it became clearer that he needed the caffeine to wake him up before work in the morning. Now that I am in college, I have realized that it is not just my Dad who has multiple cups of coffee everyday. Walking to class, you will definitely find many students and adults with a coffee cup. Personally, I have never liked drinking coffee but after seeing so many people “obsessed” with their morning coffee, I wonder if I should start drinking it too.


I have been trying to decide if I should make a cup of coffee apart of my daily routine and by researching it, I have found that there are a lot of advantages to drinking coffee. The Huffington Post shared an article explaining eleven advantages to drinking coffee. Some of their reasoning really stood out to me. Boosting your mood is one of the perks that was listed in the article. Coffee contains antioxidants which allow people to feel happier when they drink it. In addition, people who drink four or more cups of coffee a day are 10% less likely to be depressed and drinking coffee is linked to lower levels of suicide. Suicide reduces up to 50% with people who drink coffee daily. It has even been proven that just smelling coffee can make you feel less stressed.

Drinking coffee also has perks that will directly interest college students. According to the article from Huffington Post, coffee may make you more intelligent. People are prone to drinking coffee when they are sleep deprived because the caffeine makes them feel awake. Coffee allows your brain to work in a much more efficient way. Also, coffee can make you a better athlete. If you are at Penn State to play a sport, try drinking coffee before you perform because caffeine is known for jolting athletic performance. Coffee is also great for your liver, especially if you drink alcohol. People who drink a cup of coffee a day are 20% less likely to develop liver cirrhosis. This disease is caused by excessive alcohol consumption but drinking coffee can lower your chances of getting it.

Coffee may also have a big impact on long term effects for us. According to Authority Nutrition, coffee can lower your risk of getting type II diabetes, it may protect you from getting Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, it could lower your risk of getting Parkinson’s disease, it can lower your chances of having a stroke and it can even help to prevent you from getting certain kinds of cancer. It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle in order to reduce our chance of getting any of these diseases and according to this article, maybe coffee can help!

After reading through these advantages, I have concluded that I this popular beverage is something I should try. But first, I must acquire a taste for it! What are your thoughts on coffee consumption?

Are Eating Disorders Influenced by the Media?

Today’s media portrays the average women size as fat, overweight and obese. It manipulates young girls into thinking that they need to be size double zero in order to have the perfect body and to be accepted in society. However, what the viewers do not realize is that most of the models are photo shopped and having that “perfect” body is unrealistic.

This has become a major problem, especially in the last ten years. Media has become more and more common and people have quicker access to it. This causes girls to feel ugly and fat which can lead them to having anorexia and/or bulimia. In my hometown, I knew many people that had eating disorders. My best friend had really low self-esteem and she would always compare herself to women in magazines and on television. She began to develop bulimia and the signs were obvious to me. She would wear baggy clothes, skip meals, and go to the bathroom immediately after eating. Her self-confidence pummeled. She would say comments such as, “I need to lose weight” or “I look so fat in this outfit.” In reality she was less than 120 pounds and already looked too skinny. This shows how the media controls our mind to make us think we look fat because compared to the models we are. However, the models are so skinny it is unhealthy and our appearance is much more attractive then what we assume.

eating disorders

Eating disorders are common in both men and women. However, the media has a bigger impact on a women’s body image than it does on men. According to Health Care Communication, fifty percent of commercials directed to girls were about physical attractiveness while no commercials aimed at boys dealt with body image. This proves that the media targets women and their advertisements are convincing girls into thinking that they have to be skinnier.

There was a study done by the National Association of Anorexia Nervous and Associated Disorders. It proved that nearly seventy percent of girls from fifth to twelfth grade are influenced by magazines as to what the perfect body image is. Also, almost fifty percent of girls in that same age group reported that they wanted to lose weight. This was shocking to me, especially because these numbers are taken from children at a young age. It is more common for a high school student to struggle with their appearance but fifth and sixth graders should not be concerned with what they look like or how much they weigh.

Eating disorders are only going to become more common in the future. Girls are being exposed to the media at younger ages now and they are easily influenced to have slim body types from a young age. We need to somehow change the way society thinks of women and teach everyone that size double zero is not attainable for most women and bigger sizes are still beautiful. In addition to this, we need to make sure that the media does not start directing there advertisements at men. If the media targets men to change their body types, it can have the same negative effect as it does on women.

Need a Mood Booster? Eat Chocolate.

Eating sweets is something that we all look forward to. It is a craving that most of us cannot resist. However, many of us try to avoid sweets because they are unhealthy, bad for your teeth and sometimes if you eat too many at one time than they can make you feel sick. Although all of that might be true, eating chocolate in moderation is proven to boost your mood.


Eating chocolate is the number one craving for American women. According to a study done by CNN, eating chocolate causes the brain to release endorphins which are chemicals that make us feel good. It has been proven that we crave chocolate when we have anxiety, stress, or are experiencing pain. Chocolate acts as a pain killer in these situations. It was also found that Chocolate is linked to serotonin, a brain chemical that makes us feel relaxed. Most people assume that it is only the ingredients that causes chocolate to have this huge mood boosting affect on us. However, the texture, smell and taste of the chocolate all play a big role in making us feel happy.

Do you still need more evidence to convince yourself that chocolate is indeed good for your mood? If so, take a look at this study that was conducted by a professor at Drexel University. This professor discovered that our eyes become dilated when a brain chemical dopamine is released. This usually happens when someone experiences feelings of love or lust. Then, the professor examined the participants’ eyes as a piece of chocolate was placed on her tongue. It caused her pupils  to dilate. This further proves that chocolate will boost your mood.

I recommend everyone to take a break from their homework and go eat some chocolate! It will make you feel more relaxed and less stressed!

The Affects Cell Phones Have on Social Skills

In this day and age, smartphones has caused my generation to enter a whole new world. We are currently obsessed with the modern technology and often get lost in all of the social media. People are mesmerized by instant interactions and information we can receive and are constantly checking their phones for new updates. A group of friends could all be sitting together but no one would be talking to one another because everyone would be reading their twitter or Facebook page. This type of communication is anything but social. We lose social skills by always communicating with people over phones and computers. This modern technology is like a cave that we cannot escape from. However, when one does leave the cave for a substantial amount of time, he realizes that communicating in person has far better perks than through a screen. Our society needs to educate the population that this technology is only good in small amounts and that it should not consume our life because it is not reality.


Cell phones force us to be anti-social, lose patience easily, use incorrect spelling and grammar and it limits our face-to-face interactions with one another. Many people that are my age received their first cell phone around sixth grade, and many of us struggle with social interaction. Nowadays, children are getting their own cell phones as early as the age of five and they are exposed to these gadgets even earlier. There is a big concern for children who are given cell phones at a young age. According to an article in the Huffington Post, children do not know how to handle face-to-face conflict because so much of their interactions occur through some sort of technology. In preschool, children are taught how to share, wait their turn, make friends, and good manners. Cell phones are now preventing these social skills from being taught because children are too caught up in technology than the real world. Since our face-to-face conflict is so limited, it causes us to be anti-social and lose patience quickly. Cell phones allow us to have immediate access to information and when we have to wait more than a split second for something we start to get anxious. Children already lose patience quickly but by exposing them to technology at early ages we will be decreasing their chances to learn how to wait for anything.

Cell phones have also caused a big issue with spelling and grammar. Since texting and social media is now our main form of communication, people have began to use abbreviations to speak to one another. In addition to abbreviations, people add extra letters to words, include punctuation marks to look like smiley faces and they do not use the necessary grammar skills such as capitalizing the first word in a sentence. This eases our ways of communication when we send a quick text message to a friend but a problem occurs when we are no longer texting and we are now typing an important paper. Students are now using texting lingo in all of their schoolwork. Children are not practicing the proper skills that they are going to need in the real world which could lead to having a large negative effect in their futures. Can you imagine someone typing a resume for a new job using texting lingo? On top of that, they would struggle through the job interview because of the lack of social skills that they have. As you can see, there are many negative effects to cell phones and we need to change our ways of communication while we still can.



First Post

Hi everyone! My name is Ally Voegeli and I chose to take Science 200 to fulfill my general education science requirement. I also heard from many students that it is a fun and interesting class and I am excited to take this course! I’ve always been interested in science and I enjoyed science classes in high school, however my interest was not strong enough that I wanted to major in science. I am currently in the Division of Undergraduate Studies but I am planning to major in Business.