Author Archives: Jiang Shan

Green tea slows down cancer cells?

Green tea plays a huge part in my life and in my culture. Growing up, I remember everyone in my family drinking green tea. I depend on green tea like the way everyone in college depends on coffee to survive. While drinking green tea one day, I began wondering if there are any benefits from drinking it. Turned out, there are a lot of benefits from drinking green tea, but the most surprising benefit that I found was that green tea can slow down breast cancer cells. Due to this information, I began researching if there is a correlation between drinking green tea and the growth of breast cancer cells.

According to one article, studies found that polyphenols in green tea is the main factor that slows down the growth of breast cancer cells. So what exactly are polyphenols? Polyphenols are the chemical compounds that affect the flavor and mouth feel after drinking tea. There are also many benefits of eating polyphenols, however, in the breast cancer case; polyphenols actually does have the ability to slow down cancer cell’s growth. According to Dr. Akramiene, “Polyphenols can also block the action of enzymes that cancers need for growth and they can deactivate substances that promote the growth of cancers.”

In one breast cancer study, researchers gathered 472 women with various stages of breast cancer and had them drink certain mounts of green per day. As a result, they found that women who drank the largest amount of green tea had the least spread of cancer. Also, women with early stages of breast cancer who drank 5 cups or more of green tea everyday were less likely to have the cancer come back after treatment. However, the disappointing part of the study is that drinking green tea does not have any affect on women with late stage of breast cancer.

Even though the research showed signs of breast cancer cells slowing down, there is still no clear evidence that proved green tea slows down or stops cancer cells. Even though the study group is very large, the study still lacked some important details. For example, did each woman drink the same amount of green tea? Confounding variables is also a possibility in this experiment. One confounding variable is that everyone’s body is different; therefore, some women may improve faster and better than others. In another study, researchers found that there was no correlation that green tea reduced the risk of breast cancer. However, researchers did find that “women under the age of 50 who consumed 3 or more cups of tea per day were 37% less likely to develop breast cancer compared to women who didn’t drink tea.”

After reading this study, we cannot conclude that there is a correlation between polyphenols and cancer cell growth. However, I did form many questions of my own. Is green tea the only tea that’s consumed? What if researchers used other teas that also contain polyphenols? Does green tea slow down other cancers besides breast cancers? Hopefully, one day, researchers can finally find a cure for cancer.

green tea



The benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar (improved)

Vinegar plays a great role in my life and in my culture. Back home, every night for dinner, we usually would have a small dish of vinegar to go with our food. One day while eating, something occurred to me. I asked myself, what are the benefits of eating vinegar? After some research, I found that one type of vinegar was especially beneficial for our body. This vinegar is known as Apple Cider Vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar lowers blood sugar levels and it is very useful for type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is defined as a chronic condition that affects the way that our body metabolizes sugar. According to this article “Numerous studies, in both rats and humans, show that vinegar can increase insulin sensitivity and significantly lower blood sugar responses during meals”. Apple cider vinegar also causes weight loss. Apple cider vinegar plays a big role in regulating blood glucose levels due to its acidic nature. It reduces the rate at which glucose is released into the blood stream. Due to this, lower amount of insulin hormone is being released into the blood stream. This is a good thing because if large amounts of insulin were in the blood stream, it would be impossible to lose the fat in our body.

According to a 2004 research, “the American Diabetes Foundation’s publication Diabetes Care1 found that taking vinegar before meals significantly increased insulin sensitivity and dramatically reduced the insulin and glucose spikes that occur after meals.” The study involved 29 people and they were divided into three groups: healthy group, pre-diabetic group and type 2 diabetes group, the groups are also the independent variable in the study. The dependent variable is drinking the vinegar before dinner. As a result, studies found that people with pre-diabetic symptoms benefited the most from the vinegar. People with diabetes also improved in blood glucose levels by 25 percent. From this, we can see that vinegar plays a big part in improving blood glucose levels.

Even though the study showed evidence that Apple Cider Vinegar benefits us, especially people with diabetes, the study still contains errors. To start off, the study group in this experiment is too small. As we know, small study groups tend to cause inaccuracies in studies. In this study, the possibilities of confounding variables are also present. What if drinking vinegar plus the dinner afterwards both contributes to improving the blood glucose concentrations. Of course, the dinner in this situation has to be a healthy. Vise versa, what if we drink vinegar and then consume a very fattening dinner, and then would the vinegar still improve the blood glucose levels? I believe a new study needs to be conducted with a larger study group. In this new study, a couple of things need to be consistent. For example, everyone eats the same food for dinner, everyone eats at the same time, everyone drinks the same amount of vinegar, etc.

Overall, I would say that there is no harm in consuming vinegar. I know that most people don’t really like vinegar due to its sour taste. However, adding some vinegar in many dishes like the salad makes the dish more delicious and healthy. I know for sure that I would continue to consume my vinegar every night for dinner and I will never break this healthy habit.




How your Sleep Position describes your personality

During a recent sleep over at my friend’s house, I was the last one to sleep. While walking around all my sleeping friends, I noticed that many of them have different sleeping positions. For example, one friend was lying on her back while another friend was lying on her side. Between these two friends, they have very different personalities. Due of this, it made me wonder if our individual sleep positions affects our overall personality.

While looking for an answer, I found an article that described a sleep study. According to the article, a British sleep expert conducted a sleep study questioning 1,000 men and women on how they sleep. The study categorized the sleep positions into six positions: the Free-Fallers, Yearners, Log, the Soldier, Fetal position, and Starfish. Here are the results.

Free-Fallers: generally sleep on their stomach with arms at the head. A person who sleeps like this has a confidant personality and tends to respond badly to criticism.

Yearners: about 13 percent of the people in the research make up this group. Yearners lay on their sides with their hands outstretched. A person who sleeps like this may indicate a suspicious and cynical person who’s very indecisive.

Log: about 15 percent of the people in the research make up this group. These people sleep on their sides with arms at the side. Log’s are very easygoing people, very social and can be gullible.

Soldiers: these people’s sleeping positions are very similar to Log but sleeps flat on their backs. People that sleeps like this indicated someone who is quiet and reserved and has high standards for themselves. About 8 percent of the people in the research sleep like this.

Fetal Position: this position is the most popular position and the sleeping position is exactly like its name, curled up on the side with hands in near the face. People with fetal position tend to look tough on the outside but have a sensitive heart and tends to be shy.

Starfish: generally sleeps on his/her back with arms in the air. These people are easy friend makers and shine under spotlights.

After categorizing the sleep positions, researchers then did a general study on each individual’s personality. As a result, “the study claims to have found a correlation between a person’s sleep position and their personality.”

Based on the results, I do not agree with the study’s findings. To start off, correlation does not mean causation, therefore, I can’t assume sleep positions directly affects personality. Even though the study group is very large, but because the study is based on observational studies, we can’t rule out the possibility of response bias and inaccuracy. For example, the study said people with fetal position tend to look tough on the outside but have a sensitive heart and tends to be shy. In my case, I tend to sleep in the fetal position and my personality is different from the one described above. This proves that not everyone’s personality correlates with the sleep position.

After rejecting the result of the experiment, I thought deeper into this topic. If our sleep position doesn’t have an impact on our personalities then why does some people act so grumpy after waking up. Then I realized that there might be a correlation between our sleep position and our mood the next day. Turned out I was correct. According to Professor Chris Idzikowski, director of the Sleep Assessment and Advisory experiment, “one thing can be accurately concluded from this study, if you sleep in a bad position, you’re more likely to be grumpy the next day.”

Even though sleep positions have no effect on our personalities, it does not mean we shouldn’t care about our sleep positions. As I stated before, sleep positions does play a part on our mood the next day. So, make sure to sleep in your most comfortable sleeping position every night!

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Can our looks determine our intelligence?

When we meet someone new in person, we can’t help ourselves and tends to start judging the person based on his/her looks. I know we’ve all done this. I’ve done it to almost everyone I’ve met. I believe this is part of human nature. While judging the person based off of first impression, I can usually get a few points correct, for example, if he/she is friendly or attractive. The one thing that I can’t judge accurately is the person’s intelligence. However, recently research from the Czech Republic found that people could accurately judge intelligence by looking at faces of men, but not women.

According to a research team led by Karel Kleisner, of Charles University in Prague, he “suggest that a perceiver can accurately gauge the real intelligence of men, but not women, by viewing their faces in photographs.” The study involved 160 participants that looked at photographs of 40 men and 40 women from Czech university. The photos were all close-ups of the student’s faces and all featured a non-smiling expression, no jewelry and cosmetics. Each of the students also had to take a Czech version of the Intelligence Structure Test to measure his/her intelligence.

When the experiment began, all the participants had to rate all 80 photos for either intelligence or attractiveness using a one-to-seven scale. As a result, researchers found that “Our raters (men and women alike) were able to estimate intelligence with an accuracy higher than chance from static facial photographs of men, but not from photos of women.” Also, based on the experiment, researchers found two factors of general intelligence closely associated with men’s features, fluid intelligence and figural intelligence.

After reading through this experiment, I find some parts of the experiment to be poorly conducted. To start off, what I liked about the experiment is that its study group is large. Also, I liked that all the photographs of the Czech students are kept the same (no jewelry and same facial expression). By doing this, it eliminates any outside factors that can influence the overall judgment. What I don’t like about the experiment is that it is biased in race. The study only consists of Czech students and I’m assuming most of the participants are from Czech Republic also. In a different situation, what if we change all the photographs to Asians, then would we still have the same result? Also, because it’s based on observational studies, we can’t rule out the possibility of response bias and inaccuracy. Due to this, we can’t say that intelligence can be judged based on looking at someone’s face.

Additionally, based on the results concluded earlier, two questions still puzzle me. The questions are what exactly make us spot intelligence? How come this study only worked on men but not women? Turns out, there isn’t an accurate answer on how exactly intelligence is spotted. However, there are speculations that the eyes or gaze, color of eyes, hair and skin/skin texture plays a part in judging intelligence. There also isn’t an exact reason why participants can’t accurately judge women’s intelligence. But, there are two possibilities. Higher intelligence is only apparent on men’s faces due to genetic developments and that women’s attractiveness may prevent the accurate judging of intelligence. What do you guys think?

intelligent and looks



Baroque music makes us smarter?

I remember one time I did my homework at my friend’s dorm. While doing the homework, I also put on music, pop music. When my friend heard it, she questioned my choice of music. I remember her saying to me “doesn’t this music distract you from your work? Because I can’t focus right now.” After hearing this, it made me wonder if different types of music affect our intelligence.

After doing some research, I found a study that reveals how certain music makes us smarter. According to the study, “music raises performance levels and productivity by reducing stress and tension, masking irritating sounds and contributing to a sense of privacy.” The type of music the study is talking about is baroque music, with a beat pattern of about 60 beats per minute.

According to Dr. Georgi Lozanov, a renowned Bulgarian psychologist, he stated that while listening to baroque music and memorizing vocabulary and phrases, students learned in a fraction of the normal time. In one day, about 1000 words or phrases were learned and students had an average of 92% retention of what they learned. Another study done by Dr. Lozanov showed that “by using certain Baroque pieces, foreign languages can be mastered with 85-100% effectiveness in 30 days, when the usual time is 2 years.” Also, afterwards students would recall the new language with nearly 100% accuracy. This result is amazing because now foreign languages can be easily mastered. However, because of this easiness, it made me wonder exactly why does listening to certain Baroque pieces help us memorize things easier.

From the article, I learned that Baroque pieces, with the right tempo, activate the brain for the maximum learning effect. The music activates the right brain and then the vocabulary we are learning activates the left-brain. Due to this, there is an increase in learning potential. Also, when our body hears the even beating of the music, our heart and pulse relax to the beat and our blood pressure decreases.

Even though this study sounds amazing, there are still some parts that seem doubtful. This study did not explain exactly how the experiment was conducted nor did he mention how large the sample size is and where the students are from. Therefore, we don’t know if the study is bias or not and can’t fully trust the results. Also, there is always the possibility of chance and confounding variables. What if the students tested had higher than average memories? In order to make this experiment better, Dr. Lozanov should gather a large group of diverse students with different IQ levels. Separate them into two groups, independent (with music) and dependent (without music). Afterwards, compare the results to see if Baroque music really has an affect on learning.

I don’t know for sure if there is a correlation between listening to Baroque music and learning, but I really hope there is a correlation so the next time I study I’ll actually remember the things by the next day.




Intelligence decreases as we age?

About a week ago, I was helping my friend studying psychology. During that time, I learned many interesting things about different topics. The topic that caught my attention the most was the topic on as we increase in age, or intelligence decreases. I find this interesting because this made me think about my grandparents and I don’t recall any of them having a decrease in intelligence. Due to this, I wanted to find out if the statement, intelligence decreases as age increases, is true.

After a few search on the Internet, I came across something called The Seattle Longitudinal Study conducted by Schaie. The Seattle Longitudinal Study, apparently, stands as the most accurate research on intellectual maturation. This study started testing individuals from 1957 for a period of 30 years. The study group consisted of seven age groups ranging from 21-year-old college students to 63 year olds. Each of the volunteers was then given a variety of intelligence tests that tested inductive reasoning, numerical ability, spatial orientation, verbal understanding, and word fluency. Then Schaie would test the same group again in seven years (21 year olds were tested at 28, 63 years olds were tested at 70) and after that, he tested them again after another seven years (28 year olds were tested again at 35, 70 years olds were tested at 77). According to the article, as a result, “the Seattle Longitudinal study suggested that intellectual performance remained stable from age 21 to 56, but noticeable declines characterized individuals who were aged 63, 70, and 77.”

Even though this study did show that as we increase in age, especially after 63 years of age, intelligence decreases, the Seattle Longitudinal Study, however, rejected the theory that intelligence decreases as age increases. The reason why they rejected the theory is because this study did not find the scores of every older individual to decrease. “In fact, the majority (i.e., more than 65%) of the older adult groups did not experience any significant intellectual decline with aging as indicated by the stability of their scores across the five measures.”

As a result, Schaie concluded that a decrease in intelligence among older adults is not natural. Based on his conclusion, I believed that third variables play a huge part in this experiment. For the adults that did have a decrease in intelligence as age increased, I believe they are affected by third variables like poor nutrition, lack of social support, a lower level of education, or certain diseases. Of course we can’t ignore the possibility of chance in this experiment.

I believe the study was well conducted. However, I believe another similar experiment should be conducted, but this time with people of similar IQ range, similar health and wealth. This way most part of the confounding variables can be eliminated and will make the experiment more convincing. Overall, I agree with the conclusion that Schaie formed because if there were a decrease in intelligence, I would see it in my grandparents and other elder family members. What do you guys think?



Does having a larger head make you smarter?

While growing up, my mother would always compare me with kids that were smarter than me. This always gets me upset as a child and I would get angry with my mom for comparing me in such an unfair way. However, after going back home recently and seeing all my childhood friends that I got compared to when I was little, I realized one thing, almost all of them have larger heads than me. As a result of this, it made me curious to find out if having a larger head correlates with higher intelligence.

According to the guardian website, scientists found close correlation between the size of a person’s skull and the results of intelligence and memory tests. According to Dr. Christopher Martyn of Southampton University’s environmental epidemiology unit, “The larger a person’s head, the less likely their cognitive abilities are to decline in later years.” Martyn and his team conducted their studies based on a sample of 215 men and women aged from 75 to 80. Each person was given an initial IQ test and a memory test. After three years, the same group was asked to retake these exams and each person’s cognitive powers were then calculated. Then, individual’s head circumference were measured and recorded. As a result, it was clearly shown that there is a link between head size and the loss of memory and cognitive ability in later life.

Even though this study is very well conducted, it still can’t accurately prove that having a larger head means having higher intelligence. In other words, we cannot assume correlation means causation and there is always the possibility of chance happening. Confounding variables also plays a part in this situation. Did all the participants go to school? Are all the participants properly nourished at a young age? Are all the participants in good health? Another thing is this experiment is biased in age. They only experimented on older people. However, would we get the same result if the experiment were experimented on younger people?

As a result, we can’t assume that bigger heads means higher intelligence based on the data collected. We have to consider many more outside factors. Knowing this, it made me feel better that I have a chance to catch up to my friends even though my head is smaller than theirs.

big head


Does your sleep schedule affect your GPA?

It is 2AM in the morning and you are about to head to bed, however, just as you turn off your laptop you suddenly remember you have an English paper due tomorrow. After minutes of debating whether to do it or not, you turn your laptop back on and you say good-bye to your sleep. Had this situation ever happened to you? As a recent college student, the situation above happened to me many times. I would often pull all nighters in order to finish my work on time. However, the side effect with all nighters is that I would get so tired during class that I would zoon out often or even fall asleep. After realizing my problem, I begin questioning if my terrible sleep habit would affect my GPA. After some research, I found my answer.

According to this article “Larks and Owls: How sleep habits affect grades”, Psychologist Jennifer Peszka did a study on a group of 89 incoming Hendrix College freshman. These college freshmen are in-between ages 17 to 20 and they are asked to fill out a questionnaire about their sleep preferences before arriving on campus. After a year, Peszka asked the same question again to the same group of 89 freshmen in Hendrix College. As a result, it turned out that the night owls (people that sleeps late) averaged a 2.84 GPA at the end of their freshman year. Larks and Robins (people that sleeps relatively early) both averaged a 3.18 GPA. From this we can see that getting more sleep can contribute more positively to one group’s average, while getting less sleep can contribute more negatively to the other group’s average.

Even though this study answered my question, I can’t just assume that sleep schedule directly affects GPA; even though there might be a correlation. However, because this experiment is based on observational studies, we can’t rule out the possibility of response bias and inaccuracy. There is a chance the students from the college may have lied about his/her final GPA on the survey. Also, because the study group of 89 college students is relatively small, this can cause an inaccuracy on the end result. From the experiment, there is also the possibility of chance and third factors that affects the GPA. For example: the person’s IQ, effort, and study habits. As a result, we can’t conclude that sleeping schedules have a direct affect on GPA.

As a result, it can be concluded that one’s sleep schedule does not necessarily affect one’s GPA. Even though the study done by Jennifer Peszka has some flaws, her study still offers evidence that supports the idea of sleep schedule affecting GPA. Personally, I believe sleep does play a part on our GPA and this is why I will plan out my schedule and try to sleep early each night.

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Would shaving cause hair to grow back faster, darker and thicker?

Everyone had shaved at one point in his or her life. Whether it’s the face, legs, arms, or the head, we’ve all done it. When I first started shaving however, people told me that shaving is not good for you. They told me that shaving would cause your hair to grow back faster, darker and thicker. This statement scared me. Do I really want to shave my leg and end up looking like a gorilla? From my curiosity, I began doing a little research on this topic.

According to scientific American, the theory of hair growing faster, darker and thicker is not true. One of the reasons we believe there is a change in hair growth is the limitation of human perception. The act of cutting hair may actually make the hair appear thicker for a short time period. This happens when a razor slices the tip of the hair, the remaining hair (the root) may appear thicker and darker than it was before the cut. However, this doesn’t change the hair regrowth process. According to Amy McMichael, chair of the Department of Dermatology at Wake Forest Baptist Health said, “People are just not very good observers, but there’s just no science behind hair growing back thicker.”

I know that I can’t just base my conclusion on human perception; therefore, I found studies done to prove that shaving will not cause hair to grow back faster, thicker and darker. The first study was done in 1928. Four men shaved a portion of their faces in one downward stroke while using the same brand of soap, razors and constant water temperature. Then 100 shorn hairs were collected and compared. As a conclusion, there is no evidence that proved shaving speeds up the rate of hair growth. Another shaving study was done more recently. This research made five young white male to repeatedly shave one leg weekly for several months while leaving the other leg as the control. As the result, no significant changes in hair width and the rate of growth were found.

From these two researches, it’s very likely to conclude that shaving does not make hair grow back faster, thicker and darker. However, even though these two experiments were well conducted, there are still other factors to consider. To start off, the studies were biased. The researchers only experimented on white males. This led me to think what if the result of hair growth would be different on females? Would hair growth also be different for people of different races? Besides the bias part, there can also be coincidence. What if a teen’s facial hair grew thicker due to puberty? Third variables also play a part in this case. For example, the food that the volunteers ate might play a role on hair growth.

As a result, it is very hard to conclude that shaving does not cause hair to grow back faster, thicker and darker.




Will eating fruits and vegetables improve your skin tone?

Did you know that eating fruits and vegetables improve your skin tone? I didn’t know this information until my friend pointed it out one day while I was eating carrots. She told me that carrots could turn your skin to an orange color. At first I didn’t believe her, however, after asking Google, I found out that eating fruits and vegetables does in fact slightly change your skin color. I was amazed at this fact and I wanted to learn more on this topic.

I found out that the main reason skin color can change is due to carotenoids. Carotenoids are known to be powerful antioxidant substances playing an essential role in the reactions of neutralization of free radicals. Our human skin, on the other hand, is constantly under the influence of free radicals. Therefore, we can find carotenoids most closely associated with our skin. Carotenoids are found in a variety of fruits and vegetable, especially in those that are red, orange, and green in color. When we eat fruits and vegetables with carotenoids, we can assume that our skin tone can have a slight change due to the carotenoids being closely associated with our skin.

According to Huffington post, an experiment had been done to see if fruits and vegetable consumption changed the redness and yellowness of the people’s skin. Researchers examined 35 white university students between the ages of 18 and 25 for a period of six weeks. These students then answered questions about their vegetable intake and researchers recorded their skin-color. As a result, study found that students who ate the most produce turned yellower than those eating pizza and fries; the students eating vegetables looked slightly rosier.

From the experiment, we cannot assume correlation causes causation and there is always the possibility of chance. Even though the experiment showed that it is very likely that carotenoids can change our skin tone slightly, but there are still other factors to consider. To start off, the experiment preformed is not perfect. The sample size of 35 university students is very small. Also, the data collected might not be accurate. The experimenters were not given a specific meal; instead the study was based on their own eating habits. The study is also biased because all the university students in the experiment were white. Would the skin tone change for people in other races? Confounding variables also play apart in this case. A person getting sick during the time period and not sleeping well can also have an affect on skin color.

As a result based on the study, I would say it is very hard to conclude that eating fruits and vegetables will definitely improve our skin tones.

skin color

Change in skin color


Does the Chinese Diet Tea really work?

Have you ever heard of the diet tea? Well if you haven’t, the diet tea is a tea that’s supposed to help you lose weight. Many people believe this tea would work because the tea carries almost no calories and the caffeine in the tea is potent enough to increase body function to help burn off calories. However, according to experts, the tea is made from plants that can cause certain disorders like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, fainting, chronic constipation and even death.

According to this site, “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) once stressed that the laxative teas and dietary supplements of most concern are those containing one or more of the substances, such as aloe, senna, rhubarb root, buckthorn, castor oil, and cascara.” These laxative substances are known to have the ability to relieve constipation and promote bowel movements. However, studies have shown that laxative- induced diarrhea does not reduce the absorption of calories. The reason for this is because laxatives don’t work in the small intestine, where calories are absorbed; instead it works in the large intestine.

From the previous statement, it made me wonder that if laxatives don’t work in it’s rightful place (the large intestine) then can it harm our body? The answer to that is yes. Overdosing on laxatives can permanently damage the gastrointestinal tract and weaken and soften the bone, a condition known as osteomalacia. Osteomalacia is usually caused by many factors like Vitamin D deficiency, certain surgeries, kidney or liver disorders, etc. In this case, it is caused by the lack of vitamin D. As I mentioned before, laxative- induced diarrhea does not reduce the absorption of calories because calories are absorbed in the small intestine. However, vitamins, on the other hand, are absorbed in the large intestine, where the laxatives take place. Therefore, overdosing on laxatives means you are actually taking away the vitamins D’s that your body needs for bone support. Due to this, overdosing on laxatives can cause you may serious issues like osteomalacia.

Besides the serious disorders there are some less serious issues that can occur from drinking diet teas. These problems include stomach cramps, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. However, these symptoms only last for several days.

Due to all the problems with drinking diet tea, the FDA is now making all manufactures of Chinese diet tea to put a warning label on the product box. So the next time you plan on drinking diet tea for weight loss, please think about the consequences before drinking it.


china slim tea

Funny bones aren’t funny

Have you ever accidently hit your elbow on something and immediately you experience a very strange numb feeling on your hand? Well congratulations, you just hit your funny bone. As you probably know, hitting the funny bone isn’t very funny, so why call it the funny bone? According to this article, there is no exact answer for it, but there are two suggested ideas. One idea is that it’s an anatomic pun; the nerve runs along the humerus, which sounds like “humorous”. (Haha) Another idea that the funny bone got its name is because of the funny (odd) feeling experienced once we hit it. However, the real reason behind the name funny bone is still a mystery.

The funny bone is actually not a bone but an ulnar nerve. This nerve runs from the neck to the hand, and then it innervates several muscles in the hands. Like the other nerves in our body, the ulnar nerve is protected by bones and muscles. However, as the nerve pass through the elbow, it runs through the cubital tunnel. Since the cubital tunnel is protected only by fats and skin, it is vulnerable to hits. Once we hit that spot we are actually hitting the nerve against our bone and compressing it. This is also the reason why we feel the numbness, tingling and pain that travels down our forearm and into our hands.

Most of us probably hate the feeling we get from hitting our funny bone, however thankfully for us; the pain goes away in a few seconds. For some people, that is not the case. There is a syndrome out there called the cubital tunnel syndrome and basically the pain from hitting the funny bone just doesn’t go away. The cubital tunnel syndrome occurs when there’s a prolonged period of disruption when the ulnar nerve is making its trip to the elbow. According to, over time,”Muscle weakness in the forearm and hand can set in, and the pinkie and ring finger can curl up in a position called the “ulnar claw.”” However there are ways to fix the cubital tunnel syndrome, for example elbow splinting, hand therapy, and surgery. So the next time you hit your funny bone, be thankful that it only lasts for a few seconds.

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The sensitive plant

I remember one day in school my teacher brought in a very interesting plant. The name of this plant is Mimosa Pudica, aka the sensitive plant. This plant is probably the cutest plant I’ve ever seen. Once you touch the leaves of this plant, the leaves slowly close one by one. Never in my life had I seen a plant move by itself, so after seeing the leaves close on it’s own just made me speechless. All I want to do is to learn more about this plant.

The plant Mimosa Pudica is native to tropical America, it is found as a weed in the tropics. This plant can grow up to 50-70 centimeters. Its stems can be bristly or can be hairless. The leaves of this plant are the most interesting part of the plant. According to “The leaves are alternate, bipinnate (twice compound), do not have prickles and are very sensitive to touch.” It was discovered by Robert Hooke that the reason why the leaves fold was due to the internal movement of water. A stimulus triggers certain areas of the stem in order to release chemicals. These chemicals cause water to move out of the cell vacuoles, and therefore, lead to cell collapse.

Besides being used for entertainment, the Mimosa Pudica has been used widely in traditional medicine. In India, the leaves are used for glandular swellings and in the Republic of Congo, the plant is rubbed onto people’s body sides to reduce pains. Also the plant has been used to combat glandular tumors and uterine cancer.  In Asia, Mimosa Pudica has been used to treat sleep disorders. As you can see, this plant is wildly used in different countries and can be used to treat all kind of disorders. What an amazing plant!





Mosquitoes Suck

On a sunny summer day, you go out for a walk by the park. However, when you come back you noticed something on your leg. There is a red bump forming on your leg and by now it’s probably itchy. That’s right, you just got a mosquito bite. Everyone experienced mosquito bites before and as we all know, mosquito bites are annoying, itchy and ugly. Many people believe that mosquitos are only attracted to a certain blood type, blood type O. However, this isn’t necessarily true. There are more to it than a simple blood type.

It is true that mosquitoes prefer to bite some people over others, however the preference is not based on the blood type. To start off, not all mosquitoes bite humans. Only female mosquitoes bite humans because they need blood to develop fertile eggs. According to Jerry Butler, PhD, professor emeritus at the University of Florida, “People with high concentrations of steroids or cholesterol on their skin surface attract mosquitoes.” However, this doesn’t mean the person must have higher overall levels of cholesterol. This could mean that some people may be more efficient at processing cholesterol and the result remains on the surface of the skin.

“Mosquitoes also target people who produce excess amounts of certain acids, such as uric acid,” explains entomologist John Edman, PhD, spokesman for the Entomological Society of America. Mosquitoes can smell their food from up to a distance of fifty meters. So once the acid scent is out from our body, we become dinner for the mosquitoes.

Surprisingly, carbon dioxide also attracts mosquitoes. Since adults tend to give off more carbon dioxide, this is why mosquitos prefer “eating” adults to small children. According to, Pregnant women are more likely to attract mosquitoes because they produce a greater than normal amount of carbon dioxide. So the next time someone tells you mosquitoes are attracted to blood type O, don’t be shy to correct them!



Tapioca’s in bubble tea can cause cancer?

Bubble tea is, perhaps in my opinion, the best drink in the whole world. There is nothing better than having a cold bubble tea on a hot sunny day. For those of you that don’t know what bubble tea is here is a simple description. Bubble tea is a cold drink made with iced tea, sweetened milk or any other flavor available. It usually comes with sweet little black “pearl” balls called tapioca. Many people love the drink just for its tapioca’s. However, there had been many controversies about the small “pearl” shaped balls.

A report from Germany had showed that the chewy tapioca balls may contain cancer- causing chemicals known as aspolychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs. The chemical PCB is a man-made organic chemical manufactured between 1929 and 1979. It has been proven that PCBs can cause cancer. According to scientist Manfred Möller, of the Institute of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine at the University Hospital Aachen, who’s doing research on tapioca, stated, “[What we found] includes in particular styrene, acetophenone, and brominated substances that shouldn’t be in food at all.”

After the German report, the Taiwanese government quickly became involved. According to the “The Consumer Protection Committee in Taiwan did a round of testing, collecting 22 samples of tapioca pearls from seven manufacturers, and concluded that none contained styrene.” However, acetophenone and brominated biphenyls were found in the tapioca. But, the agency did state that the quantity of these compounds in the tapioca is too small to create any health problems.

Besides the Taiwanese government’s involvement, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also joined the research. According to Noah Bartolucci, an FDA spokesperson, “acetophenone and styrene are not PCBs because they are neither chlorinated nor biphenyls.” Turned out acetophenone and styrene are aromatic compounds and they are not toxic at all. These compounds are not even classified as PCBs and are legal food flavoring substances.

So there you have it, tapioca’s are indeed safe to consume. Next time you’re craving tapiocas, feel free to eat as many as you want.

bubble tea


The benefits of consuming vinegar

Vinegar plays a great role in my life and in my culture. Back home, every night for dinner, we usually would have a small dish of vinegar to go with our food. One day while eating, something occurred to me. I asked myself, what are the benefits of eating vinegar? After some research, I wasn’t disappointed with my findings.

Vinegars are high in acetic acid. By consuming vinegar, the acetic acids help release the calcium from the food we consume. The acids also assist the body in absorbing the calcium released. As we all know, calcium is a crucial element we need in our body to keep our bones strong. I know that many of you are probably wondering “aren’t calcium most abundant in dairy products, so why eat vinegar?” This statement is very true, however because many people are lactose intolerant eating vinegar is another way to gain the calcium our body needs.

One type of vinegar called the apple cider vinegar lowers blood sugar levels and it is very useful for type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is defined as a chronic condition that affects the way that our body metabolizes sugar. According to “Numerous studies, in both rats and humans, show that vinegar can increase insulin sensitivity and significantly lower blood sugar responses during meals”. Due to the success of these experiments, if you have type 2 diabetes, you may want to start consuming apple cider vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar also causes weight loss. Apple cider vinegar plays a big role in regulating blood glucose levels due to its acidic nature. It reduces the rate at which glucose is released into the blood stream.  Due to this, lower amount of insulin hormone is being released into the blood stream. This is a good thing because if large amounts of insulin were in the blood stream, it would be impossible to lose the fat in our body. Once again, consuming vinegar helps us keep our bodies fit.

Overall, I would say that consuming vinegar is very beneficial. I know that most people don’t really like vinegar due to its sour taste. However, adding some vinegar in many dishes like the salad makes the dish more delicious and healthy. I know for sure that I would continue to consume my vinegar every night for dinner and I will never break this healthy habit.

apple cider vinegar


The Mexican Axolotl

When I visited Barcelona’s aquarium last year, I came across a very strange animal. This animal had a body of a dog and a fish combined. However, the most interesting part about this animal is it’s head. This animal had ears that look like tridents and it had the cutest facial expression. It looks like the happiest animal on earth. The name of this animal is Axolotl.

The name Axolotl comes from the Aztec language. When translated, this name means “water-dog”. The Axolotl was native to both Lake Xochimilco and Lack Chalco, which are both located in Mexico. However, Axolotls are losing their habitats due to the increase in city expansions in Mexico. Axolotls also suffer from many different invasive species like the carp and tilapia. According to Mother Nature Network, “Axolotls are considered a delicacy in Mexico.” The people there like to eat roasted Axolotls.  (Sounds pretty gross) Also due to its cute features, many people capture Axolotls for aquarium trades and some keep them as pets. Due to these factors, there are fewer than 1,200 Mexican Axolotls left and they are currently listed in the endangered species list.

Axolotls are amphibians and they can survive up to 15 year. Their main diet consists of mollusks, worms, insect larvae, crustaceans, and some fish. Axolotls weight around 2.11oz to 8oz and can grow up to a foot in size. Axolotls also vary in color. The colors are: melanoid (black), albino (white in color with red or pink eyes), golden albino, copper, and leucistic (white in color with black eyes). Axolotls live permanently in water and they have rudimentary lungs, which means they can travel on land. However, they breathe primarily through their gills.

The most interesting thing about Axolotls is probably their amazing regeneration abilities and neoteny. As we all know, if we lose our feet it is impossible for us to grow another one back. However, this is possible for Axolotls. If Axolotls lost one of their feet, the feet would usually grow back in a few weeks. (This ability is pretty amazing!). Besides having the awesome ability of regeneration, Axolotls are also “young forever”. This phenomenon is known as neoteny. Neoteny basically means that Axolotls live its whole life in its larval form. It even reaches its sexual maturity in its larval form. After learning about Axolotls, I believe they had just become my favorite aquatic animal.




First Post

Hi everyone! My name is Jiang Shan Long but everyone calls me Linda. I’m a freshman and I plan on majoring in marketing. I was born in China but I was raised in Queens, New York. I heard about this course from my roommate and I thought this course is perfect for me because I’m really not into science. Due to my dislike of learning about science, I will never be in a science major. hangzhou