Sneeze Reflex

As weird as it may seem, many people have reported that when looking at the sun, they sneeze. This is known as Photic Sneeze Reflex. Aristotle began questioning this but he thought it was from the heat of the sun. Francis Bacon refuted this by stepped into the heated sun with his eyes shut and there was no sneeze. It is not definite as to why his happens but it seems to be that when there is a crossing of pathways in the brain between the pupillary light reflex arc and the sneezing reflex arc. Therefore, when you look at the light (not only sunlight), your brain triggers your sneezing reflex arc causing nasal stimulation and you to sneeze.

It is said that this reflex trait is prominent in 17-23% of the worlds population. Also, in a study done with 460 blood donors, Photic Sneezing was found in 24%. Now the question may be how could this trait be helpful in any way. Well, the reflex exists in animals for which the smell sensation is vital to survive and can be used to clean the nasal cavity. And since we’re closely related to animals that may be why some people have this trait. However, it could cause negative results. If you have ever sneezed while driving you know how scary it can be. It feels like you lose control of everything for a split second but usually you can hold you sneeze back. Lets say you’re coming out of a tunnel after not having light, being exposed after the tunnel is going to make you sneeze and potentially cause an accident.

Do Cell Phones Cause Cancer?

I am constantly using my phone, whether I’m texting, talking on it, or checking various social media apps such as twitter and instagram. When I heard a rumor that your cell phone could cause cancer, it kind of freaked me out considering  I’m on mine 24/7. I decided to do some research to see if this was true.

The National Cancer Institute says that there is not a consistent link between cell phones an cancer. Although cell phones do give off radiofrequency energy, usually it is not enough to actually cause any sort of tissue damage. The National Cancer institute says that cancer is caused by damage in the DNA, and the radiofrequency waves do not cause DNA damage. One way they tested if cell phone use causes cancer is by utilizing a comparing the cell phone use of people with tumors to the cell phone use of people without tumors.

Another study done found a small link between cell phones and cancer of the salivary glands. This study may not be accurate because of the small amount of participants. It could very easily just be chance that caused the positive correlation between cell phone use and salivary gland cancer. Overall, this article also agreed that there is no link between cell phone use and cancer.

A different study done in Sweden concluded that cell phone use does in fact cause Glioma, a deadly form of brain cancer. The study says that people who have been talking on a cell phone for 25 years or more had triple the risk of developing this deadly cancer. The article says that since my generations uses there phones so much, in about 10 years we will see a drastic spike in brain tumors. It also says that most of the other studies done have been financed by the cell phone industry. That could make sense as to why this study found a link, but the others didn’t. A correlation between cell phones and cancer could cause the cell phone business to lose business or be forced to put large amounts of money into research for new technologies for cell phones so that they do not cause cancer. There could also be a confounding third variable that instead causes the cancer. Perhaps there is something in the water that all the participants are drinking that actually causes the cancer.

Overall, there may be a link between cancer and cell phones, but there also may not be. Findings could easily be due to chance or a confounding third variable. It is also hard to come to a conclusion because of the constant changing of cell phone technology. Cell phones from 20 years ago are much different than cell phones now. Maybe the cell phones now do not cause cancer, but cell phones from 20 years ago did, or vice versa.   In conclusion, I will probably continue to use my cell phone, but it is interesting and scary that there could possible be a link to cancer.



Are you still scared of the monsters under your bed?


Many if not all kids growing up are scared if not absolutely of the dark, including me.  Even now sometimes if I know I’m home alone and I hear a creaking floorboard, window shutting, or a bump in the dark, I still get a little cautious and at least look for something I could use as a weapon just in case.  The chances that someone or something is actually in the house to hurt me are very slim, but there’s still a chance and that gives me caution.  I know for a fact that people my age (23) are even STILL scared of the dark.  You can’t tell me after you turn off the lights downstairs you don’t run as fast as you can upstairs just to be out of the dark, it’s just unsettling to be in the dark.  But, why?
As it turns out, it’s not the actual dark that people are scared of, it’s the unknown.  When you cannot see into that dark corner of your closet, your mind starts imagining shapes, noises, and many other “scary” things.  It’s human nature to be curious so when you remove one way we can explore, like our ability to be able to see, it throws our senses into disarray which causes fear and panic.  Some individuals are way less prone to letting this panic overwhelm them.  To some, it’s the exact opposite and they have no way to calm down unless they regain that sense.  This fear acts as a checks and balances system to avoid reckless behavior such as running around the African safari at nighttime.  For a very large portion of humanities early days, we were not at the top of the food chain or even close.  Very quickly humans learned that many dangerous predators like to use the cover of darkness for hunting so they learned to avoid the nighttime for movement.

Studies have shown that darkness is actually good for us and not embracing it might actually be harmful.  Prolonged exposure to light before one goes to sleep suppresses the the sleep hormone melatonin which may increase risk of mood disorders, obesity, and sleep disorders.  It’s completely natural to be scared of the dark, but should we be any more worried about violent crime happening after the sun sets?  The U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey shows us that most violent crimes occur just before 6pm and right  around midnight.  So though many people are afraid of the dark, crime statistics do not show that this fear is justified solely on the premise of their being more crime during the dark.

All in all, this is not me telling you that it’s completely safe to walk down that dimly lit alleyway just because it’ll take shorter, but it is me telling you that your fear of the dark is justified all the way back to the cavemen.  So fortunately, there will be no monsters hiding in the dark corner of your closet when you get home, but it never hurts to check and ease your conscience.


Why do I twirl my hair?

Hair twirling is a habit I have struggled with for years. I do it almost constantly, and no matter how many times I have tried to stop this habit it always remains. Habits are kind of a strange thing, when I started to think about it. I mean, why do I twirl my hair, and why can’t I quit it? Is there any reason behind this? I decided to find out.

Personally, habits have always come across as something people do constantly with no underlying purpose. However, it was hard for me to believe that this habit has been happening for me since the seventh grade for no reason. At this point it occurs almost unconsciously, without me even realizing. I decided to run an experiment, as I was told that twirling hair could be a result of stress or anxiety. I definitely have a lot of anxiety, so I thought that maybe this could be the cause for my hair twirling.

To conduct this experiment, I decided to try and pay attention to every time that I was twirling my hair. Doing so would help to me to determine why I was starting to do it at that specific instance, and if there were any similarities in the times that it was occurring. I got my friends to tell me when I was twirling my hair, too. When I started to do this, I noticed interesting results.

In the observational study I conducted, my hair twirling increased whenever I was thinking about exams, when I was studying, and specifically when I was thinking about or talking to my friends about housing. It also occurred when I was planning my schedule. Hair twirling for me does not happen frequently when I am in a relaxed state, but instead it happens when I am thinking about a situation that gives me anxiety and stress. Even with coming to this conclusion though, I was still confused. The correlation between stress and hair twirling did not make sense to me, so I did some research to find an answer.

It turns out that many people suffer from hair twirling, and it can take place in both adulthood and childhood for some different reasons. An article I read from Kids+ Pediatrics was of particular interest to me, because it seemed to line up with what I am experiencing. The article noted that hair-twirling for toddlers was a “self-soothing activity” (LaMendola). That behavior can continue into adolescence and adulthood, especially for people who have anxiety. Twirling my hair seems to be a way for me to calm myself down, or at least I have begun to associate it with doing that. I twirl my hair as a way to comfort myself, similar to how people bite their nails or participate in other habitual actions. Still not understanding why this association happens, I searched for more scientific research.

Looking at stimming can help to shed light on the situation. Many children who have Autism typically participate in stims. These are repetitive motions done “because it feels good in some way”, according to Autism Aspergers Digest . Hair twirling is also considered a stim, and I believe that I do this for a similar reason that it occurs in children with Autism. Hair twirling helps to “self-soothe a child and help him regain emotional balance”, states Autism Aspergers Digest. Stimming is also done purposefully, according to BBC, as a way to bring distraction to a situation and block out other thoughts. I would be willing to bet hair twirling for me is a distraction so I will stop thinking about what I’m stressing about and focus on something else– my hair.

Take test taking, for example. I get extremely nervous before a test and have increased heart rate and muscle tension. Of course my hair starts twirling at this time, as I want to try and calm myself down. Hair twirling is an action that creates a distraction for me from thinking about the test at hand. I always notice my mind starts to wander when I twirl my hair, so in a way it is taking me from reality in an attempt to cope with a certain situation.

Hopefully one day I will be able to stop doing this, but the issue with stims is that once you have one- and most people do- they work to help one deal with something. In that sense fully ridding the stim is unlikely, and instead I should find a replacement for this stim that would be more acceptable to society and to myself.


LaMendola, Katie. “Hair Pulling & Twirling.” Kids Plus Pediatrics. Kids Plus Pediatrics, 2012. Web. 04 Dec. 2014.

“Why Do Kids with Autism Stim?” Autism Aspergers Digest. Autism Aspergers Digest, 2012. Web. 04 Dec. 2014.

“Stimming: What Autistic People Do to Feel Calmer.” BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2014.

Is the “gay gene” real?

The saying that someone has caught the “gay gene” may seem sort of rude and ignorant…but could it also be true? All the way into my start of high school I always had thought being gay was caused by your enviorment, how you were raised, or even by what interests you in society. I was amazed when I found out people were actually born with the gene. If there are genes that effect our height and some that effect our eye color, would it make sense that there are genes that effect our sexual orientation?

Well, the answer is yes. It is a proven fact that we are born this way, whether it be gay or straight. There was a study taken that looked at 409 pairs of gay brothers. What was found was a similar on the X chromosone across the board.


But with that being said, does society affect homosexuality at all? The only science found in this is that people who stated they were influenced by society were more likely to come out about their sexuality earlier than others. There is little to no proof that society can determine someones sexual preference at all. In a 1991 study by Richard Pillard, a gay man, stated that even though it seems to be DNA, enviorment seems to be a part of the reasoning. He goes on to saying that there is now a master gene that makes someone gay. There is no way to predict if someone will be gay.

There have been several studies showing that genes are what causes someone to have their certain sexual orientation. But what I do not understand is if one person has a gay gene, why doesn’t more people in the family have that gene? Its like in my family, there is not one person that does not have brown hair and blue eyes– should we treat this x chromosone gene the same as all other genes?

Overall, it is highly likely that we are born with your sexuality even though we might not realize it until we are of an older age. And even though people argue that is is all enviorment, it is not certain that that may play a small role! Either way, we are perfectly fine the way we are, even if we are shaped from DNA or from the society we are in.


Coffee… Yay or Nay?



Mornings are the worst. Waking up all tired knowing that you have to roll out of bed to go to work or school. It sucks. You’re moping around your home like a zombie throwing on clothes and dragging yourself out the door. However, you just have to have your typical cup of coffee in the morning to hype you up and get you wide awake for your day! Wait, a drink that can wake you up? Is this amazing or just flat out unhealthy?

Coffee is made from coffee beans that expand when exposed to humid climates at altitudes over 6,000 feet above sea level(All 1). Also, coffee is the second most traded item in the world, behind oil(All 1). How important! Coffee is usually drank in the morning and it comes in regular and decaf (no caffeine). You can add additives such as milk, cream, or sugar to enhance the taste or flavor of your drink.

clipart-sad-hot-coffee-cup-256x256-834bEveryone’s initial thought is that coffee is bad for you. Coffee is known for being very sugary once adding sugar and it also stains your teeth. It can get you on a sugar high if you drink too much of it as well. However, the worst part is that you can easily get addicted to coffee, almost acting like a drug. I was reading an article where the author was stating how “At times I’d quit coffee for up to a month but then eventually I’d come crawling back to it (normally triggered and lured back in by the sight and smell of it whilst catching up with friends)” and also stating, “I literally tried so many times to quit coffee during this time; I tried to tell myself that I didn’t have an addiction and that I deserved these 1-2 coffees a day”(Coffee 1). It is quotes like those which make coffee seem like heroin or crack. It is crazy to here how a person can rely so much on a hot beverage. The most unhealthy part about coffee is the caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulate of the neurotransmitter serotonin, a hormone in our brain which controls sleeping(Coffee 1). When our body depends on this hormone too much, it “impacts on the body’s natural ability to regulate healthy serotonin production”(Coffee 1). This leads to the random and sudden highs and lows after drinking coffee(Coffee 1). So, isn’t it clear that coffee is awful for you?

gty_smiley_coffee_jt_120929_wblogOn the other hand, coffee could be considered good for you. Studies have shown that coffee improves mood and brain function because the caffeine blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter inside of the brain, which starts a net stimulant effect(Gunnar 1). Also, coffee raises a person’s metabolism which mobilizes fatty acids from fat tissues; in the long run, it burns fat and improves ones physical performance(Gunnar 1). Another shocking finding concludes that coffee decreases your risk of receiving Type II Diabetes. There is a indirect correlation which states that the more coffee you drink per day, the less likely you get diabetes(Gunnar 1). Finally, drinking coffee could decrease your risk of receiving Alzheimer and Parkinson Disease(Gunnar 1). So drinking coffee leads to better health in the long run and it can protect your from very serious diseases in the future. So, isn’t it clear that coffee is good for you?

There were a variety of 18 studies done in a huge review article which tested out if coffee actually lowered the risk of diabetes. There were 457.922 participants total in the 18 studies and each of them had to drink coffee every single day(Gunnar 1). The data showed that each additional coffee drank per day, led to a whopping 7% decreases in the risk of diabetes(Gunnar 1). Other studies have proven that four cups of coffee per day would lower the risk of cirrhosis by 80%(Gunnar 1). There are so many different other reasons and studies that show why coffee is good for you. Since there were so many random participants in these studies and so many different types of studies, it is quite obvious that the data is most likely valid. Reverse causation would not work in this case and it is possible that this information could be due to chance, but it is doubtful.

So coffee might be good for you… Thoughts?

Is coffee good or bad for you?

Is coffee good or bad for you?

Works Cited

“All about Coffee.” Indigo Coffee: What Is Coffee? N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2014.

“Coffee: 10 Shocking Reasons Why It’s Soooo Bad For You.” Nurture Pod Health Coaching Yoga In Sydney RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2014.

Gunnars, Kris. “Why Is Coffee Good For You? Here Are 7 Reasons.” Authority Nutrition. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2014.

“Top 10 Most Underrated Health Foods.” Summer Tomato RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2014.

Rats Find the Fountain of Youth


Photo courtesy of

According to a study conducted by researchers at Harvard University, rats may just have found the fountain of youth.  Scientists injected older mice with the blood of younger mice, and what they found is astonishing.  After the young blood was injected into the old mice, the brain and muscles started to show improvement in function.  They also found that after four weeks neurons and muscle tissue were being produced.  They then took the old mice that were injected with young blood and compared them to control old mice while they performed various tasks like maze navigating, and running on a treadmill.  The old mice easily outperformed the control group.  When the reverse happened, and young mice were injected with old blood, there seemed to be reverse effects.  The young mice seemed to reverse in aging.

While animal studies are almost always intriguing with new and interesting ideas, it is hard to say that the implications that this has on human beings is reliable.  There is always the possibility of chance, and with more studies in the future, I think there could be some reliable data for rats.  For humans however I think that is a completely different story.  There is also the problem of third-confounding variables.  What were the living conditions like for the rats?  Their diets?  There may also be complications with their genetic predispositions.  I do however like the use of a control group to compare the injected mice with.  I don’t think there is a problem with reverse causation however, because the control group helps to eliminate that problem.

This study may be a breakthrough for mice, but when it comes to the implications it has on humans, I think there is much left to be desired.

Works Cited:

“New Studies Show That Young Blood Reverses the Effects of Aging When Put into Older Mice.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2014. <>.

Rat Study Offers Insight on Why Men Love Lingerie



One of the most famous psychological studies ever conducted, “Pavlov’s dogs” was an experiment in which scientist Ian Pavlov took a group of dog’s and studied their salivating activity. Using a special measurement tool, Pavlov was able to record the amount of saliva dogs produced when presented with food. Later on in the experiment, however, Pavlov noticed that the dogs were salivating when they weren’t supposed to, such as when they saw the lab assistants walk in with the food bowls, or when they heard the clattering of plates in the kitchen. Pavlov then took the experiment further, and discovered that he could get the dogs to salivate without the presence of food. He did this by conducting a number of trials in which he would first ring a bell, then quickly after present the dogs with their food. Soon enough, through the concept of “classical conditioning”, the dogs began to salivate just at the sound of the bell, even though no food followed.

The dogs were found to associate the ringing of the bell with the presentation of food, so every time the bell rang they expected an assistant to walk in with the bowls. In a recent study conducted with rats, the same concept of Pavlov’s experiment can be applied, leading researchers to understand why men love lingerie so much. In the study, researchers allowed virgin male rats to mate with female rats wearing special “jackets”. Later, the researchers presented the male rats with the opportunity to mate again, and most chose to mate with the females wearing the special jackets rather than the females not wearing anything. It was also found that the male rats ejaculated at a quicker rate when mating with the females wearing the jackets. During the mating process, the male rat mounts the female from behind and grabs hold of both sides of her. When the female rats were wearing the jackets, the male rats could feel the special cloth with their whiskers as they mated.

Just as the dogs in Pavlov’s experiment salivated at the sound of the bell due to its association with the presentation of food, the male rats showed an increase in sexual arousal with the jacketed females, because the jackets became associated with mating. This gives us more insight whereas to why men love lingerie on women, as the study indicates that a similar mental reaction occurs when men see their woman wearing lingerie. In other words, when a man sees his wife or girlfriend in lingerie, he knows he’s about to get lucky.


“Why Men Love Lingerie: Rat Study Offers Hints” by Tanya Lewis


Concussions: NCAA Regulations and Reality


Just a few weeks ago, a friend of mine sustained a concussion playing football in his final regular season college game of the season. This caused me to look further into the NCAA’s regulations concerning athlete education and reporting rules for this injury. While a variety of colleges and universities have introduced programs to help protect athletes from concussions, a recent Harvard study has concluded that, when examining the specific components of those plans, many schools still fail to meet accepted standards.

According to an article from, the most common and least severe type of traumatic brain injury is a concussion. Between the years 2001 and 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, estimated that 173,285 people under the age 19 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for concussion related sports and activities. Concussions can be difficult to diagnose and signs may not appear for days or weeks after the injury.

Surprisingly, universities are not actually required to report a plan to the NCAA. This is likely to result in each school having a divergent set of actions from the recommended guidelines. However, integrity is dependent on self-reporting practices. While these rules have been in place for a number of years, only until recently have they been evaluated with a systematic study.

Researchers just conducted a comprehensive examination of whether universities actually comply with the Concussion Policy and Legislation adopted by the NCAA in 2010. They found these results through the use of a surveys sent to 1,066 NCAA institutions. They asked population-specific questions about institutional concussion management. Due to the use of surveys, some degree of response bias will be inevitable. However, the large sample size used in the study allowed researchers to increase the accuracy of their results and gain information from a representative group.

Interestingly, 92 percent of schools specified that they have instituted a concussion management plan. This should include the availability of a team doctor, an athletic trainer, and annual athlete concussion education. However, the conclusions suggested that, “many schools could improve in a number of areas, particularly enhanced education of coaches and athletes on the risks of concussion and increasing sports medicine staffing.”

Specifically in the study, researchers found that athlete and coach education on concussions positively correlates with compliance to reporting situations. This is an area that researchers suggest schools can improve. However, it is indefinite whether causation is a factor. The authors, Christine Baugh, a Harvard Health Policy Ph.D. student, and Emily Kroshus, a Post Doctoral Fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, both desire that the results of the study will serve to motivate the NCAA to use its regulatory capabilities to improve concussion policies and increase medical staffing.

As Kroshus asserts, “figuring out how to most effectively and feasibly encourage implementation is a difficult proposition, given the multifaceted nature of effective concussion management.” Nevertheless, this study may serve as the first step in helping the NCAA recognize the challenges that they and schools will face in encouraging compliance. More research that provides evidence of the seriousness of this injury may be necessary to convince the NCAA to use its regulatory capabilities to ensure athlete safety.


Obesity and Life Expectancy: More Weight, Less Life


Photo courtesy of

In a recent study conducted at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) and McGill University, researchers looked at the link between obesity and life expectancy.  They took statistics from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (from years 2003 to 2010) and found that very obese individuals could lose up to eight years of life, obese individuals could lose up to six years of life, and overweight individuals could lose up to three years of life.  They also found that healthy life-years lost were two to four times higher for overweight and obese individuals compared to those who had a healthy weight.  The researchers used a sample size of 4,000 people to pull results from.

This study is an observational study, but it was conducted with results that already occurred before the researchers began to collect the information.  Therefore there was no bias on the side of the people being studied.  However, the study was conducted with results from Americans, so the implications in other countries are questionable.  There are also many other third confiding variables that aren’t taken into account.  What if a majority of the people studied died in accidents and things completely unrelated to their weight or BMI?  There is also always the possibility of chance.  Correlation does not always equal causation so the relationship between BMI and years off of one’s life could be completely due to chance.

I believe there may be some truth to this study, but the only way we’ll be able to draw conclusive evidence is to keep replicating these studies to try and eliminate chance as much as possible.  This could have a lot to say about the future implications of this information.

Works Cited:

“Obesity May Shorten Life Expectancy up to Eight Years.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2014. <>.


Cuckoo for coffee

The world we live in today is crazy, to be frank. Between social media insanity and higher standards in academics and the professional world, our society is constantly on the move. What doesn’t help is the habit of abusing caffeine, which Americans tend to do very frequently. Coffee is considered healthy within one or two cups, yet how many can stop at just there? One or two cups turns into three or four, and the caffeine intake becomes unnecessary. Similar to coffee, high energy drinks such as Red Bull, Rock Star, and Monster have been integrated into our society like any other drink. These drinks have high concentrations of caffeine and vitamins as well as other stimulants that are simply not healthy for the body.

The most famous energy drink is Red Bull. Besides the expected 27 grams of sugar and 80 mg of caffeine, other ingredients include Taurine, Glucuronolactone, and a mixture of specific vitamins like vitamin B-5. Taurine, as stated by the Organic Authority website, can be considered a stimulant with similar effects as caffeine; Red Bull contains about 1000 mg of it, on top of the 80 mg of caffeine. Glucuronolactone is another stimulant that yields “mild anti-depressant effects.” Meanwhile, the mix of vitamins in Red Bull is not entirely bad for you, yet in the concentrations that the drink has them in may affect your body negatively (i.e. crash). Lastly, the vitamin B-5, also referred to as D-Panthothenol, has been connected to positive and negative results on the body. Some of the positive effects include improved mood and increased metabolism while the negative effects are possible acne, fatigue, and muscle cramps.

Rock Star and Monster both have similar ingredients, but with more unnecessary stimulants. Carnitine, guarana, and panax ginseng are three ingredients specific to Rock Star and Monster that may cause the body to have adverse affects, according to a publication by the University of California-Davis. Carnitine is advertised to improve endurance and fight against cardiovascular disease, yet scientific studies have been unable to prove these statements true. Guarana is boasted to increase energy and physical performance; guarana (which is mostly caffeine) yields caffeine’s positives yet the public has no idea what its true negatives are. Lastly, panax ginseng is supposed to speed up recovery from sickness and improve mental and physical aspects of the body. These claims are bold, and scientific studies again disprove them.

These ingredients are hyped up in the advertisements, yet they simply do not do for the body what they are claimed to do. The worst part, moreover, is that our society has yet to see the long term affects of these energy drinks. Products like Red Bull and Rock Star have only been in the market for maybe two decades, meaning the permanent effects to the body have yet to be revealed. Another scary factor about these drinks are the linked deaths and illnesses. WebMD discusses a FDA report in 2012 where forty cases of sickness and five deaths were correlated with Monster energy drink, while thirteen cases and “two lasting disabilities” are connected to Rockstar. These figures are intimidating, because in the end, is death or a long-term disability worth the five dollars one spent on an energy drink?



Crop Circles: The Unexplained Phenomena

While it is relatively easy for science and researchers to use fact to disprove many of the “supernatural” elements of our world (bigfoot, ghosts/spirits, etc.), there’s one phenomena that, when it comes to scientific explanation, cannot be dismissed; crop circles. For those of you that are unfamiliar, crop circles are strange and intricate patterns created in the crop fields of farmers from all around the world. The patterns range from all different kinds of shapes and sizes, but most contain a series of circular designs, hence the name “crop circle”. These patterns are created as crops are laid and pressed down against the ground, forming an empty and open space. The patterns can really only be seen in full from a bird’s eye view, and most are so complex and bizarre that the possibility of man-made creation seems unlikely.



Many researchers and theorists have credited the creation of crop circles to “hoaxers”, as the circles are often found in areas that are easily accessed by roads and paths. Also, the patterns are always created overnight, which would allow hoaxers to get the time needed for the work while not being seen. However, there are many questions that draw in reasonable skepticism; How would these so-called “hoaxers” create such intricate and complicated patterns (such as the one photographed above) in the matter of one night, let alone at all? What would be the motivation behind spending so much time completing such tedious work, just to be dismissed as some stupid prank? These theories involving “man-made” creation seem more like a loose cover-up rather than actual evidence. Other theorists have accredited the patterns to very specific and local wind patterns in the areas in which the crop circles are created. However, if the patterns are result of wind patterns, wouldn’t there be hard evidence proving so?


These wonderfully peculiar creations continue to pop up around the world, even today. According to some research, these unexplained phenomena are estimated to appear in locations around the world at least once a week. Since the majority of crop circles are dismissed as “hoaxes”, the media does not cover many. However, if you were to look up photographs of these patterns, many appear to be so complex that no human could possibly be responsible for them. In class we learned that there is no concrete evidence of communication with extra-terrestrial intelligence. Are these patterns methods of communication from life outside of our galaxy? If so, the real question that should be on everyone’s minds is, why aren’t crop circles getting the attention they deserve?




“Crop Circles Explained” by Benjamin Radford







Myth or Fact?

Does chocolate cause acne? Myth or fact? There have been all sorts of findings that say foods high in antioxidants are good for our skin. On the contrary, some sources say that dairy and carbohydrates can lead to acne but have yet to be proven true. The truth is that many factors affect the beauty of our skin as hormones and diets vary between people. The idea that chocolate causes acne has been an on-going myth without a true end.

In 1969 study done by James E. Fulton Jr., Gerd Plewig, and Alber M. Kligman found no connection between acne and chocolate consumption. In this study, “Sixty five subjects were assigned to consume either a chocolate bar that contained 10 times the amount of bittersweet chocolate of a normal 45g chocolate bar or a chocolate-less placebo bar that contained 28 percent vegetable fat corresponding with the fat content in chocolate liqueur and cocoa butter.” Although no difference was found in the subjects skin, a study done in May 2014 found a possible link. Caroline Caperton and others conducted a, “Double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, controlled trial.” As stated in the abstract in this study, “Fourteen men between the ages of 18 and 35 were assigned to swallow capsules filled with either unsweetened 100-percent cocoa, hydrolyzed gelatin powder, or a combination of the two, at baseline.” The results of this study found that the men experienced an intensification of their already present acne. This could be a warning for men with acne-prone skin but doesn’t prove anything for women.

I’d say if you are chocolate lover to keep on eating because more research needs to be done in order to determine whether chocolate really causes acne. Duke dermatologist Diana McShane (MD) says, “‘Studies that specifically address the association of diet and acne are difficult to design with enough power to determine true cause and effect.’” The best way to determine if something is bad for your skin specifically is to test it out yourself!

Works Cited

“Is Chocolate Bad for Your Skin?” How Stuff Works. Ed. Elizabeth Whitmore. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2014. <>.

The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2014. <>.

“Myth or Fact: eating chocolate causes acne.” Duke Medicine. N.p., 26 Aug. 2013. Web. 30 Nov. 2014. <>.

“New Study Shows Chocolate Causes Acne.” Acne Einstein. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2014. <>.




Facebook leading to lower GPA?

Social media plays a huge role in the life of high school and college kids. Many of us can’t even imagine our lives without the use of Facebook, Instagram and twitter and it is somewhat pathetic. I am constantly on social media, I’m on it before bed and it’s probably the first thing I check when I wake up in the morning. Curious as to what effects it had on me, I came across an article that said Facebook lowers grades by 20%, compared to those who do not use it. I never thought about this before, could it be true?

The study was conducted by Paul A. Kirschnera and Aryn C. Karpinskib. Paul is a psychologist from the Center for Learning Sciences and Technologies in the Netherlands and Aryn a professor at Ohio State. According to the article, they studied 219 college students (University not mentioned), the participants ranged in age from 19 to 54, so I’m assuming graduate students were involved also. After analyzing the results, they were able to conclude that the students who used Facebook had an average GPA of 3.06, while non Facebook users has an average of 3.82.

The experiment mentioned was very vague, we don’t know how it was conducted or how they gathered their results. Only 219 students were tested, this may have just been the case at the specific University they were at. The students with lower GPA’s could just in fact be less intelligent then those with higher GPA’s, and it not have anything to do with Facebook at all. Maybe it is due to reverse causation, and those that are less intelligent use Facebook more often than those with greater intelligence. Do the students just need to have a Facebook, or do they need to use it frequently. Did the participants who used Facebook more have lower GPA’s than those who had one but barely used it? We do not know how long the participants were studied for, maybe they just had a bad semester. We cannot just assume that Facebook is the reason for the lower GPA, there are other factors that can lead to it such as lack of studying. If Facebook is the absolute cause, it can maybe be due to the fact that us young people are the Queens of double tasking. Doing homework online and switching back and forth between writing a paper and checking what’s going on on Facebook. Maybe it is the distraction that causes that lower grades and not just Facebook, perhaps a game tab could be open instead and they would be just as distracted from their work.

We need a lot more information on the study to conclude that the lower GPA’s are due to Facebook. If I were to do the experiment, I would probably take a larger sample size from various Universities. I would give them some sort of IQ test to see the range of intelligence of my participants. Then, I would have them fill out a questionnaire that allowed me to understand their Facebook usage. With permission, I would maybe even get access to their computers to track when they worked on assignments and how long it took. I would record my results and see if Facebook and other distractions played a role on their GPA. I do believe that Facebook can play a role in lowering GPA, but I feel like it is distractions as a whole that do this. When completing work we should try and blur out distractions, although it is defiantly hard when we are bored. There are studies to show that less work gets done containing more mistakes when we multi task. After analyzing this study, I would not blame the lower GPA on Facebook itself but a compiling of distractions, a cell phone, a TV, anything. The article is not saying get rid of your Facebook, but instead suggesting that it could be negatively having an effect on your grades. So maybe keep the usage to a minimum and see if this helps get work done.

Hot Weather Making you a Hothead?

Ever start to feel angry, anxious, irritable or cranky when the weather gets hot? I know personally if I’m in a hot room, I can’t focus and get extremely agitated. Is there a reason we start to feel this way?

The reason we feel so short-tempered in hot weather is because it increases our physical arousal. We can experience an increased heart rate and a rise in blood pressure. However, the main reason we begin to feel cranky is because we are dehydrated so it is important to drink plenty of fluids. A study done in 2012 found that after loosing just 1.5 percent of the body’s normal water volume subjects experienced trouble concentrating, were fatigued and distressed. When the hot weather dehydrates us the plasma osmolarity, which measures hydration status in the hypothalamus suffers and therefore prevents the hypothalamus from maintaining homeostasis in the human body. In a study done on cats where they were able to measure the blood volume, hydration status and the evaporative heat loss in response to the heating of the hypothalamus researchers found that the dehydration decreased thermal response of the central neural structures.

There are many other factors that link increased anger to the heat however, the bottom line is the hot weather does make us hot heads. Ellen Cohn a criminologist at Florida International University also stated in an NBC article, “‘Generally, what we find is as it gets hotter, crime tends to go up.’” The rise in crime rates results from the heat increasing our aggressive behavior. Similarly, Brad Bushman an Ohio State University psychologist also said in the article that, “‘If someone cuts you off in traffic, you’re much more likely to honk at them or flip them off if it’s a hot day rather than a cool day.’” The hot weather can definitely make us act out of character so it’s important to stay hydrated and in the air conditioning.

Works Cited

Dahl, Melissa. “Heat Waves Lead to Hot Tempers — and Here’s Why.” Today Health. N.p., 4 July 2013. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <>.

“Definition of Plasma Osmolarity.” N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <>.

“Effect of Dehydration on Hypothalamic Control of Evaporation in the Cat.” PMC. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <>.

“Hypothalamus.” You and Your Hormones. N.p., 24 Oct. 2013. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <>.

“Mild dehydration affects mood in healthy young women.” PubMed. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <>.





What’s Up With the Buds?

Ever wonder why when you were little you didn’t like a certain food but now you do? Did you know that more than 75% of your taste comes from your sense of smell? Molecules in the foods and drinks we consume land on olfactory cells in the nose, which then send a message to the brain to produce a smell. We have roughly 10,000 taste buds; these taste buds combined with our sense of smell are able to give us sweet, salty, sour, and bitter tastes. So how exactly do our taste buds change?

When you are little your taste buds are fresh and still developing so all tastes are strong making you fear the broccoli and lima beans. Your taste buds do the tasting but your nose interprets that taste so at a young age you’re more likely to turn away from a foul or strong smelling food. As you age, your taste buds age with you and you become less sensitive to taste. Other factors that effect the diminishing of our taste is exposure to smoke or consuming hot liquids.

Interesting factors that can play into the alterations in taste are hormones. According to an article from Woman’s Day, Dr. Bartoshuck stated that pregnant women shy away from vegetables because, “‘the taste of bitter is hardwired to be a cue for poison, early in pregnancy your brain becomes sensitized to avoid it in order to guard your baby.’” Pregnant women instead crave carbs and sweets, foods that are high in energy. In a 2008 Danish study done at The Faculty of Life Sciences at The University of Copenhagen 8,900 school children participated in the largest study on taste. The studies found that girls have a better sense of taste than boys; they were better at identifying sour and sweet tastes. Overall, as we grow older not only do our taste buds change but so does our perspective on food. We begin to appreciate healthy foods as our senses mature and taste buds dull.

Works Cited

“The Brain and the Senses.” The Childern’s University of Manchester. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <>.

“Do Your Taste Buds Change?” Wonderopolis. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <>.

“Girls Have Superior Sense of Taste to Boys.” Science Daly. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <>.

Greene, Amanda. “7 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Taste Buds.” Woman’s Day. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <>.






Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

Our body language affects the way others see and perceive us. Based on someone’s body language, others can learn numerous things about them. Someone who is slumped over gives off a weak, or depressed feel. On the other hand, somebody who stands firm and tall gives off the impression of dominance or importance. Furthermore, a recent study demonstrates how even the sound of our voice affects others perception of us on many different levels. But, enough about how our body language alters other’s perception of us, let’s focus on how our own body language affects us.

Social psychologist and Harvard Professor, Amy Cuddy, speaks about how nonverbal behavior affects people from the classroom to the boardroom. This TED talk focuses on a thing dubbed “power posing”, which can have a monumental effect on one’s confidence. How it works is that if you stand in a posture of confidence, even if you are not actually confident, it tricks the brain into thinking that you are actually confident. “Power posing” works because it affects cortisone and testosterone levels in the brain, which in turn gives us a confidence boost. Amy Cuddy herself is a prime case study that demonstrates that this actually works. As an undergrad, she got into a car accident that damaged her brain. Doctors said that she would never regain her full mental capacity and she would have a tough time graduating school. But, she was determined to prove them wrong; nothing was going to stop her. So she adapted her new “fake it until you make it” lifestyle. What this is that she utilized “power posing” to help her brain think that it was at it’s 100% capacity and that she could achieve her goals. It is evident that it worked as she is incredibly successful and is a professor at the Harvard Business School.


I firmly believe that this is very relevant and helpful information that everyone should know, especially college students. When you feel nervous or scared about an upcoming presentation,
 you can utilize “power posing” to give yourself the confidence and the poise  you need to deliver and get an A. Personally, I find it astonishing that we can do this and trick our brains into helping us out when we need it. Now, I want to know if there is anything else like this that can be done.



How do contact lenses work? Should people use them?

Contacts are basically very small eyeglasses made from a plastic material as oppose to glass. Contacts change the direction of rays of light to focus that light properly onto your retina and the nerves within it. There are contacts that correct both nearsightedness and farsightedness. If a person is nearsighted, the focus point of light rays is in front of your retina. If you are nearsighted, the light rays are not able to form a focus point before reaching the retina. Contacts fix both of these issues. Contact lens powers are calculated and expressed in diopters. Nearsighted lenses begin with a negative sign while farsighted lenses begin with a positive sign. The reason that contacts are so much thinner than eyeglasses is that they are a different distance from your eye. Contact lenses rest directly on our cornea so we can see everything without the feeling of looking into a lens. Eyeglasses are a bit further away from your eye and therefore need to be thicker to have a larger optic zone; you can only see through those lenses, most people with glasses have poor peripheral vision. You can think of this concept as if you were in your house loping out a window. If you are very close to the window you have a larger range of what you can see. If you were on the other side of the room you would only be able to see a much smaller percentage of what is outside. Eyeglasses are also thicker so that they do not break upon impact. Contacts don’t really fall off like glasses may. People should use contacts because they seem to be more convenient than glasses. Glasses can break pretty easily and also change a person’s appearance quite dramatically. I would recommend to anybody who needs to where glasses that they should at least try to wear contacts.


Lowering Your Calories Dangerous

Have you ever heard that using diet soda as a chaser will get you intoxicated faster? Who would’ve thought there could be a difference? There has been some research that leads this statement to be true.

In a study done in 2006, a group of scientists studied 8 males and each day they were either given a mixed drink with regular sugar or with diet soda. The results of this study found that the diet-mixed-drink had an effect on the rate of gastric emptying and the blood alcohol response. During this study, as stated in a New York Times article by Anahad O’Connor, “In the diet-mixer conditions, the alcohol entered the subjects’ bloodstream about 15 minutes faster, and their blood-alcohol concentration was higher, peaking at 0.05 percent, compared with 0.03 percent with the regular mixer.” The reasoning as to why the alcohol is absorbed quickly with a diet soda is thought to be because the sugar isn’t present to slow it down.

In another study done on 16 males who were either given a Smirnoff Red Label plus Squirt or Diet Squirt and it was discovered that the diet drink increased the men’s BAC by 18%. The most alarming part is that the subjects didn’t feel more intoxicated than then the subjects that received the non-diet drink. Next time you plan on using a chaser it is recommend that you stick to flat mixers such as orange or cranberry juice and stay away from the diet soda!

Works Cited

“Artificial sweeteners versus regular mixers increase breath alcohol concentrations in male and female social drinkers.” N.p., 6 Dec. 2012. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <>.

O’Connor, Anahad. “The Claim: Beware of Drink Mixers Based on Diet Soda.” The New York Times. N.p., 8 July 2008. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <>.

Szalavitz, Maia. “Diet-Soda Mixers Can Lead to Quicker Intoxication.” Time Magazine. N.p., 6 Feb. 2013. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <>.



Is music like a drug?

Most people only think of drugs as something a person can eat, smoke, or place into their blood stream. Thats the way I think of drugs as well. They make you feel better when you don’t feel good and can change your mood from angry or sad to happy in a matter of seconds. The only problem with drugs is that they are not good for your body and can be insanely addictive. Now think about music. Everybody listens to music, but why? Listening to your favorite song, makes you happy. This is because of a chemical called Dopamine. Dopamine is commonly released in the brain and makes you feel good so that you will do that thing again. It is released during times when you are doing things that feel good like eating your favorite food or having sexual intercourse. Listening to a certain genre of music can make you feel entirely different than another genre may have you feeling. It can bring on very intense feelings as well. Songs can bring back memories of good or bad times that a person never forgets. From my personal experience, when I’m down or tired, my favorite songs make me feel like I’m in heaven or utopia. I also know of a few songs that will put me in a horrible mood because they remind me of difficult times, or better times that I no longer have. Music can bring us into what feels like a different place, far away from the problems going on in our lives. Although it can’t make us hallucinate, music brings on a lot of the same feelings that we experience when we are high on drugs like marijuana, various prescription pills, or ecstasy. Dopamine is a very interesting chemical; it is basically what keeps us happy.