Author Archives: Alexandra Elizabeth Brooks

Are science and religion compatible?


After reading an article on the Huffington post website, it seems as though more Americans think that there is more common ground between science and religion than many believe. In the article, it says that 10,000 American’s were surveyed and an overwhelmingly large amount thought that there was more common ground, and only 27% of people surveyed thought that they had conflict. Along with these things found in the survey, about half of scientists and evangelicalist’s believe that science and religion can work together. I think this evidence is interesting, since previously the separation of church and state has been an overwhelmingly large debated topic. Me, being not particularly passionate on either of these subjects, finds their relationship interesting. If science and religion started to work together, I think there would be many more discoveries that would benefit the scientific world and the religious world alike. While some scientists argue that keeping the two subjects separate is crucial “keeping peace” between the two communities, I think a great deal of useful information would be formed. If there was a scientific or religious theory, if the two worked together to “solve” the theory, the other community may have the missing puzzle piece, so to speak. If modern society was more open to the thought of the two communities, the possibilities could be endless, and I truly believe something amazing would come out of the woodwork. In due time, I believe these two extremely important fields of study will come to realize the importance the other field carries, and when they do come together, incredible things will be discovered.


Here is the link in which I found this article

Can Domestic Violence Abusers Change?

In a recent study, it is said that 60-70% of abusers who seek treatment and get help, can change their behavior and the way they act. After the recent Ray Rice scandal, I thought this was an extremely interesting article and idea. I would think, once an abuser always an abuser, but modern day research has found a different conclusion. If the male abuser seeks treatment, they can change, and 75% of them feel remorse and guilt about hurting their partner. In this instance, it seems really hard to think that 60-70% of aggressors got better on their own, making the chance that this can happen on it’s own pretty slim. Reverse causation in this case would say that if you change your violent behavior towards your partner, you get help, which doesn’t make sense either, because you would change your behavior after you seek help.

This study is a huge breakthrough when it comes to domestic violence, because if that high of a percent of people who are getting help with their aggression issues are getting better, that means that a large population of men in the country could heal themselves. The abusers who found themselves ridded of violent behavior towards their partner went to therapy once a week for four to twelve months, depending on the severity of their abuse towards their partner, which is a third variable used in this study. Overall, I think this news is going to help many couples around the world who are struggling with violence in their relationships, and help many people come to peace with their past struggles and problems.

Here is a link to the article I found about this topic.

Here is a link to the photo of Ray Rice and his Fiance above.

Does Geographic Location in the Classroom Matter?

Does where you sit in class determine your grade?


A study done by Penn State Altoona has revealed that students who sit in the front and middle of the classroom are achieving higher grades. Students sitting in the front of the class scored an average of 80% on an exam, the middle students scored a 71.6% on the exam, and back row students scored a 68.1% respectively. The difference between sitting in the front and back of the classroom is an astounding 11.9%, just solely based on your geographic location. This seems too good to be true, and I think there are some important third variables that have yet to be ruled out. I think it’s common knowledge that smarter people tend to sit in the front of the classroom, and slackers who don’t really care much sit in the back. IQ is an important third variable to consider, what if we switched the front and back row students? Would their geographic location in the classroom make their exam grades go up even though they tend to “slack” more? Or would the back row students this time around score higher, because their branded to be smarter? I think that study would have interesting results, and would help rule out that third variable, or even prove that this study is having skewed results, because smarter people tend to sit in the front of the classroom anyways, and that this experiment produced a false positive, saying something is going on with geographic location in the classroom, when in reality we have a number of third variables, such as IQ, motivation, and overall attentiveness to blame for the higher exam grades. Reverse causation in this study would say that getting higher scores on an exam causes students to sit in the front, which also could be true, but also could be false. If a student receives a good score on an exam, they may be motivated to keep up the good work and continue on achieving a good grade in the class. On the other hand, if a student receives a bad score on an exam, this may set off an alarm in their head saying I need to do better, and maybe if I sit towards the front of the classroom, my grade in the class will get better. I still have a lot of questions about this study, but I think it was an interesting subject to look at.


Here is a link to the study I found published by PSU Altoona.

Here is the link to the photo I used above

Killer Whales in Captivity

After watching the documentary, Blackfish, I’ve become very interested in the captivity of Orca whales. I’ve been to SeaWorld, and I won’t lie, the Shamu shows are really cool to watch. As of today, there are 55 killer whales in captivity in aquariums and parks. It is said that killer whales that are in captivity are likely to have premature deaths, collapsed dorsal fins, are more likely to become aggressive towards their trainers, and many other unhealthy habits.e6a62a8414b78b0e3959a3490020-blackfish-should-killer-whales-be-kept-in-captivity-at-zoos-and-seaworld

While the orcas are killing their trainers and becoming obviously psychotic, their captivity is being compared to living in a bathtub your entire human life. Although this information is interesting, and I agree that orcas should not be kept in captivity, I think there is a bias on the information shared. Whales in captivity hurt their trainers, yes, but if killer whales in the ocean are never exposed to human trainers, I don’t think it’s a fair comparison. They have done experiments on this, but there hasn’t been a control group, the whales are either in the wild or in captivity being raised by humans. I guess there is no way to have a control group, because the whales either grow up in captivity of they do not. While it is abundantly clear orcas shouldn’t be kept in captivity, we still have over 50 of them for show and our own entertainment. The sites I used to gather this information are here and here.

My Sisters Keeper?

There have been many movies and books written involving a sick child, and the parents reproduce in hopes that the new child’s cord blood can help cure their sick first born. Many doctors, and people alike, think this is cruel, being that most often of times the parents get pregnant with a child just to cure their sick one. Often, the cord blood isn’t a match for the sick child or it isn’t enough, and the baby is forgotten about. This is incredibly sad, but at the University de Montreal, a new molecule allows for the multiplication of stem cells in cord blood, and now the single unit of cord blood can help many. This is the newest and safest way to do a stem cell transplant. If in the unfortunate situation that a child is born only for their cord blood, they will at least be able to help many. I’m not saying I agree with the idea of creating a baby just for their cord blood, but the hematopoietic cells will now be able to benefit many, up to 10x as many of the cells can be replicated, and many more lives will be saved (University de Montreal).

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Works Cited:

Universite de Montreal. “New molecule allows for up to 10-fold increase in stem cell transplants.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 September 2014. <>.

Ocean acidification effects on coral reefs

According to the Carnegie Institution, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has had coral growth rates plummet since the mid 1970’s (Carnegie Institution). The reason for this happening is due to ocean acidification. At the beginning of the industrial revolution, more than 1/3 of the carbon dioxide that was released from fossil fuels was absorbed by the ocean (Carnegie Institution).


When a substantially large amount of carbon dioxide is absorbed into the ocean, it damages the coral reefs. These high levels of carbon dioxide are to blame for the decay in reef growth, and it isn’t just the great barrier that’s being affected. Studies have shown that the coral in southern Thailand and the central Red Sea have been affected as well, with between 13% and 24% of their coral growth stunned (Carnegie Institution). According to the Carnegie Institution, it isn’t just the carbon dioxide that’s harming the reefs, the combination of global warming, overfishing, and coastal pollution are all to blame as well. I think it is incredibly sad that something that has been around for thousands of years is starting to diminish so quickly, just because of our inability to control resources responsibly. If we do not change the way we treat our ecosystems, there is a good chance they won’t be in existence for our grandchildren to see them. The article containing this information can be found here, and I hope you enjoyed this information.


Works Cited:

Carnegie Institution. “Effect of ocean acidification: Coral growth rate on Great Barrier Reef plummets in 30-year comparison.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 September 2014. <>.


Chimpanzees and Violence


When people think of our closest relative in the animal world, the first animal that comes to mind is the chimpanzee. It has been found that the only two primates in the world that will engage in coordinated attacks on their own species (Lincoln Park Zoo). This being said, there has been a lot of debate whether or not human interaction and influence has caused this to occur, but recently that speculation has been put to sleep. According to the Lincoln Park Zoo, the suggestion that human encroachment on chimpanzees does not affect their violent behavior. In a study that was performed, over 18 chimp communities were studied, all having a varying degree of human influence. What was found, is that the majority of violent attackers and victims of attack are male chimpanzees (Lincoln Park Zoo). The information found in this data suggested that the acts of violence performed were driven by adaptive fitness benefits rather than human impacts (Lincoln Park Zoo). These results were critical, because scientists use chimpanzees as a model for understanding human violence, and they needed to figure out why they are being violent, if it was an outside variable, or just the chimps acting independently (Lincoln Park Zoo). With all of this data and interesting information, reading about the studies and things we use chimps for to help us understand ourselves is really interesting. The article containing this information can be found here, and I hope you find this information as interesting as I did.

Works Cited:

Lincoln Park Zoo. “Nature of war: Chimps inherently violent; Study disproves theory that ‘chimpanzee wars’ are sparked by human influence.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 September 2014. <>.


Lung Health for Marijuana Smokers


Since we know how bad smoking cigarettes are for your lungs and their health, it could be inferred that smoking marijuana would have the same effects, if not worst. But according to a new large government study, smoking marijuana on a regular basis, even for many years, does not impair your lung function (O’Connor). The researchers followed over 2 decades more than 5,000 people and indeed found that smoking up to a “joint” a day does not impair your lung health. Actually, they found “in something of a twist” that compared to nonsmokers, marijuana users had slightly better results on lung function tests (O’Connor). Dr. Stefan Kertesz said that he “doubts that there are any real increases in lung health, but the tests reflect how marijuana smokers have years of “training” in taking deep breaths and inhaling smoke”.  On the other hand, people who smoke both marijuana and cigarettes still have worsening lung conditions, but Dr. Donald Tashkin, a pulmonologist, thinks that the cigarettes are mainly to blame for this. Dr. Tashkin again found that even smoking up to 3 joints a day didn’t appear to impair lung function. With all of this overwhelming evidence, it is hard to believe that so many people are fighting for the legalization of marijuana to be shot down, when all the other health benefits it brings are amazing, and your lungs seem to be staying completely healthy. Within the next 5 to 8 years, I assume marijuana will become 100% legal in almost all 50 states, and that people will start reaping the benefits this plant could bring to so many sick people across the country.


Here is a link to article that I found in the New York Times.

Senior Year Physics

During my senior year of high school, I decided to take the standard physics class offered at my school. Throughout the semester, my teacher made it clear that he was going to make my life more difficult by constantly answer problems and explain abstract concepts, because he thought I needed to be “held to a higher standard than the rest of the students”. Learning about gravity and having to draw free body diagrams were two things I particularly hated, but I was constantly being forced to try and work my way through these problems. Throughout the 18 week course, I was working tirelessly to try and maintain an A, because at the time I had been deferred from the University of Michigan, and getting a 4.0 the first semester of my senior year was my only hope of getting in at all. My teacher was oddly obsessed with the Nobel Prize winners in Physics, and he had a bunch of the previous winners photos and autographs framed and hanging in the back of his room. The only form of extra credit offered in his physics class was to get a new Nobel Prize winner in Physics to send you an autographed photo back, if you wrote to them. He promised a full 5% extra credit boost if we got a letter back. This being said, I wrote to one of the newest winners, Peter Higgs, of the University of Edinburgh, with little to no hope of a response. As the semester came to an end in January, I never got a response from Peter Higgs, and I ended with an 89%. I completely forgot I had written to Peter Higgs and about 10 other Nobel Prize winning physicists, until the middle of April when I received a letter from the University of Edinburgh. To my own surprise, Peter Higgs had sent me back his autographed photo, and it just so happened that he just had won the Nobel Prize in 2013, so when I showed my teacher, he was ecstatic. Not only did he give me the 5% after the semester ended, it was a huge “in your face” to him, having to give me the A I had worked so hard for. Here’s a link to the Nobel Prize of Physics winner Peter Higgs, he’s quite an interesting dude.

peter higgs

Not a Science Major

Hi guys, my names Alex Brooks and I’m from Battle Creek, Michigan. I’m taking SC 200 because a friend who is older than myself took it last year and said nothing but good things about the course and specifically Andrew. I’m not a science major because I had a terrible experience with a creepy physics teacher in high school, but my freshman and sophomore year of high school I participated in my school’s Science Olympiad club. Attached is a photo of my friend, Alisha, and I with our model of an atom we built the night before the competition in 2012 at Western Michigan University. If you’re bored and want to look through the high school science olympiad homepage, click here. Thanks! science