Author Archives: Aubree Sylvia Rader

Can ‘crying it out’ have lasting effects?

I previously wrote a blog on the controversial topic of whether babies should be given a pacifier and if the pros outweigh the cons. That post got my thinking, what are some other controversial parenting topics out there and is there an obvious answer to what is better for the baby? Upon researching parenting styles I came across the Ferber Method.

Richard Ferber was a pediatrician and founder of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at the Children’s Hospital in Boston. He published the book, Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems, which he encouraged parents to let their children “cry it out” to soothe themselves to sleep. He recommends starting around the age of 3 to 5 months, proceed with a bedtime routine, and then lay the child down to sleep. The child should not be removed from the bed or fed, even if they cry, because it will train them to go to bed on their own. The parents will check on their child and comfort them by rubbing their hand across their back periodically, but should leave the child in their crib alone. The child will learn that crying is not getting their parents’ attention anymore and eventually stop, training them to fall asleep on their own and without hassle.

Some parents, pediatricians, and scientists argue that the Ferber Method can be emotionally scaring to the child, leaving lasting effects, and is down right cruel while others believe the method is effective and trains the child to not be dependent on the parents.

Those against Ferber’s views argue that he is only a pediatrician with no psychological training or background in the field. The child’s brain is developing during that time and learning to trust, so any traumatic experiences may hinder their development. Other critics argue that adults who suffer from insomnia were trained to sleep through the Ferber method as infants.

Behaviorist John Watson declared in 1928 that too much motherly love on a child can turn them into a spoiled, whiney, dependent adult…and many mothers believed him and followed his advice to later find out that little affection can actually damage the child. Ferber’s Method is very similar. While not as extreme as Watson’s declaration, it still encourages mothers to not soothe their crying children in order to make them more independent. Darcia Narvaez, associate professor at  Notre Dame found that babies’ bodies release cortisol, a hormone that kills brain cells, when stressed. Studies have found that  when babies have brain cells killed, there is an increased chance the child will develop ADHD, struggle with academics, and not socialize as much.

An increased level of cortisol has also been linked to the inability to manage stress in the future and the constant anxious feeling. It is within the first few years of life that infants form an attachment to their caregivers and it the bond is jeopardized, the relationship may be negatively effected for the remainder of their time together. But not only does it affect the child and the caregiver relationship, but also the child’s outlooks on relationships in general as he ages.

Rats were tested to understood the human mind and the importance of nurturing mothers. Rats with low nurturing mothers in the first week following their birth experienced anxiety as they aged in contrast to the newborn rats with nurturing mothers that did not experience anxiety when faced with new situations. The same has been found with humans. If a child’s needs are met by the caregiver and they are not left in distress, they will be more confident in their choices and become more independent rather than the opposite.

The choice is up to the parents in the end. There are always exceptions to the method such as a child with medical needs, disabilities, or those who do not take to the method and continue to cry into the second week. Critics discuss gentler options to train a child to sleep on their own besides the Ferber Method. These include maintaining a bedtime routine every night and laying with your child until they fall asleep. Considering the possible negative effects of the Ferber Method and other, gentler alternatives to train a child without letting them “cry it out,” it seems as though parents should opt for something less potentially harmful, but again, parents know best for their children.

What causes cravings?

You get back from class and instantly crave a 12 oz steak, fish tacos, Berkey Creamery ice cream, a freshly cut pineapple or the nearest chocolate lava cake. Cravings are a weird sensation. It is almost an uncontrollable urge that arises without warning and sends you off to retrieve whatever food is being longed for, regardless of what time it is or how inconvenient that may be. Pregnant women send their husbands out to bring back a gallon of ice cream and a jar of pickles deep in the middle of the night, but cravings are not only linked to expecting women.Regardless of what your personal craving may be, I am sure we are all wondering what brings on these cravings and if there is anyway to put an end to them?

Nutritional Deficiencies  

One possible explanation to food cravings is nutritional deficiencies. If our bodies are lacking a particular nutrient, the brain will send messages asking for that particular food in the form of a craving. Salty cravings is the consequence of reduced mineral intake. Cravings are not the only time when our brain sends us messages to make up for something we are missing. If our body is getting dehydrated, we get thirsty, if we are lacking sleep are body becomes sleepy and it is hard to keep our eyes open. Cravings are no different. A chocolate craving can be the result of a magnesium, chromium, B-vitamin, or essential fatty acid deficiency. Insulin resistance, hypoglycemia, and chromium deficiency may induce carbohydrate cravings. Cheese and fat cravings are due to a lack of fatty acids in one’s diet. While this list is only an indication of why someone may be craving separate types of foods, there are more explanations than just nutritional deficiencies.


Hormones fluctuate at different points in our lives, especially for females. During menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause among many other situations, testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen hormone levels will change, inducing certain cravings. It was reported that women tended to crave salts, carbohydrates, and sugary products as their menstrual cycle approached, even eating 25% more than they typically would nay other time of the month. Estrogen will oftentimes decrease one’s appetite but the progesterone hormones will reverse the messages the estrogen hormones sent to the brain, henceforth inducing cravings and increasing one’s appetite. During the beginning stages on pregnancy, a woman will have low estrogen levels and high progesterone levels, which may be an explanation for pregnancy cravings and a larger appetite. Stress can also play a role in altering one’s hormones, ultimately affecting their appetite and cravings.


Cravings may have no further explanation than appearing as a vivid image in one’s mind, creating a craving of that particular food. A study conducted revealed that the strength of someone’s craving depended on how vivid the image of the food item was in their mind. When the volunteers for the study were asked to imagine non-food related scents or vividly imagine another non-food related item such as rainbows, they reported that the food they longed for earlier either decreased or disappeared. A separate study had volunteers watch a screen with black and white dots  for some time. Afterwards, the volunteers reported that the food item they had previously been imagining was not as vivid and their craving strength was reduced. The authors of the study concluded by expressing that the findings may reveal more information on drug and alcohol addiction and in order to curb cravings, simply visualize other images besides food.

It may be hard to determine the main cause of your cravings, it may be a combination of those listed above, or even reasons I didn’t touch on such as comfort food, habit, or lifestyle, but understanding your cravings and why they arise can be an important step in stopping them. Not all cravings are dangerous, but when people begin to crave fattening or foods high in sugar often, it can lead to poor health and limited self control.

Do babies dream?

Parents look on at their sleeping newborn and speculate about what could be occupying his dreams. Is it the bottle that will greet him when he awakes or maybe the lullaby that drove him to sleep. But could it be that babies don’t dream at all?

While babies experience REM, or rapid eye movement sleep phase, more often than adults, averaging half of the time asleep in REM, David Foulkes, an expert on pediatric dreaming, observed that babies may not actually have the ability to dream at all. Adults spend a quarter of their time sleeping in REM, the sleep phase where dreams occur. Neuroscientists speculate that the role of REM in babies is not to induce dreams, but rather gives the brain the opportunity to create pathways, therefore developing language and expanding the child’s knowledge. Since the brain is actively working to grow, there is little room for dreams to form.

While asleep, humans cycle in and out of two sleep phases, REM and non-REM. The non-REM stage allows  the human body to repair itself and strengthen the immune system while the REM stage is a more restless sleep phase and the stage where dreams occur. One explanation as to why babies awake frequently in the night is because of the large length of time spent in REM. Although babies spend majority of their night in REM, it is speculated that their body spends all the time furthering its development during both REM and non-REM stages and none of the time dreaming. But no one can say for sure whether or not babies dream due to their inability to speak and the lack of technology to experience what is happening in another person’s mind.

The question of whether babies dream during the night has long been a controversial topic brought up among researchers. Those that say babies can not dream argue that the dreams we experience involve characters, dialogue, drama, and a plot line, which babies’ brains are not quite equipped to create dreams similar to ours. Our dreams can be past experiences we have been through or events that we have heard about or witnessed throughout the day. New neural pathways in the brain are created during a baby’s time asleep, therefore it would be difficult to experience dreaming until the child is much older and has more life experiences.

Although babies may have the ability to perceive reality, they do not have enough life experiences or maturity to dream for the first few years of life. Dreaming is thought to be a cognitive process that comes to children in early childhood. Foulkes found that 4 or 5 year olds describe dreams with limited characters, plots and memories. Vivid dreams typically occur around the age of 7 or 8 years old.

A study was done proving babies can learn during sleep time. Music was played for fifteen minutes while the child slept and when the music stopped, air was blown onto the child’s face. When the experiment was repeated, the child tightened their eyelids following the completion of the song in preparation of the gust of air. This experiment supports Foulkes claim that a child’s brain is too busy learning and developing during sleep that they are unable to dream.

But Foulkes studies were simply speculations and could not actually test the child to find out whether dreams occur.

Other researchers claim that the REM phase children endure for majority of their sleep occupies dreams on sensations experienced in the womb. Since it is known that babies spend majority of the time in the REM sleep phase, researchers argue that babies would have the ability to dream and therefore must do so.

Associate director of the Sleep Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Jodi Mindell argues that while a baby may experience dreaming, they differ from the dreams we have as they are silent and only contain imagery. She eliminates nightmares from possibly occupying a baby’s night because fears do not develop in children until around the age of 2.
It is hard to determine whether babies are capable of dreaming while asleep from the data I have gathered. The topic is hard to study due to the nature of dreams and limited technology available to look inside someone’s mind. Scientists can only really speculate about what the answer may be. The future may hold the definite answer but for now we are left to not only keep guessing about what may be in a baby’s dream but also whether or not dreams are actually happening.


Should parents give their newborn a pacifier?

Parents may try many things to soothe a wailing child, such as a diaper change, a feeding, or even burping the baby, but when nothing works some parents take to the magic of the pacifier. Other parents argue the damaging effects the pacifier has on a child and the lasting consequences. There are many different parenting styles and preferences in the world and this is one of them.

In order to make the decision of whether or not a baby will be given a pacifier, the parents must weigh the pros and cons. Since sucking is often a calming reflex to babies, the pacifier can soothe a fussy child and act as a temporary distraction. A pacifier during bedtime may also help a child fall asleep and there is evidence that a pacifier at bedtime may reduce the risk of SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome. Parents should wait a month before giving a pacifier to the child because of the interference with breast-feeding. A mother’s nipples and a bottle’s nipples require a different method of sucking, which may confuse the child and turn them away from breast-feeding. Another factor that may deter a parent from choosing to use a pacifier is the dependence some babies gain on the pacifier. If a child uses the pacifier for an extended length of time, they can develop dental problems in the future, such as misaligned teeth or teeth that do not come through the gums properly. Along with dental problems, the risk of middle ear infections are also increased.

A mechanism for the introduction of an ear infection as a result of frequent use of a pacifier is explained in the statement, “continuous sucking on a pacifier can cause the auditory tubes to become abnormally open, which allows secretions from the throat to seep into the middle ear,” Academy of General Dentistry spokesperson Maria Smith said. “Transmission of bacteria in secretions would lead to middle ear infections.” Antibiotics are often given to a child to ward off infections, but if a child suffers from ear infections often, a surgical procedure can be done. A parent may try weening a child off of the pacifier to reverse the damage being done to the ears. Correlation does not equal causation and all children will not experience this consequence from pacifier use. Along with increasing the risk for infection, pacifiers may potentially decrease the risk of SIDS.

SIDS takes the lives of around 3,000 babies  each y
ear and little is known about why this occurs or how to prevent it from happening. But pacifiers may offer one way to reduce the risk. Babies that suck on pacifiers while asleep are kept in a lighter state of sleep. The pacifier in the baby’s mouth will ensure that an airway is kept open and lessens the chance that the child will stop breathing. A study was done in which 185 mothers who lost a child to SIDS was interviewed as well as 312 mothers who were in a control group. The mechanism of how a pacifier reduces the risk is poorly understood, but the study found that pacifier use may reduce the risk of SIDS up to 90%.

Ultimately the decision of whether or not a child should be given a pacifier is solely in the parents’ hands and each child may have a different response to the object. While there are both pros and cons, most of the cons can be easily avoided. Starting the use of the pacifier after the baby is a month old will reduce the interference the pacifier has on breast-feeding and weening a child off of the pacifier by the time they are two-years old will prevent dental damage. Though pacifiers may become a dependency for children, they can easily be thrown away to encourage the child from ending the habit, but a child sucking their thumb is harder to break the habit. There is little to do to prevent the ear infections they may cause, but parents must have to take the risk. When compared to reducing the risk of the fatal SIDS, most parents will choose to take the risk of ear infections.

Which are healthier; Purebreds or Mutts?

There is a lot to take into consideration when welcoming a dog into the family such as size, maintenance, and health, but with thousands of options ranging from golden retrievers to golden doodles, a mix of poodle and golden retriever, the choice can be overwhelming. Is it true that a dog bred from two separate breeds will be healthier on average?

Researchers set out to find an answer to that exact question. An article published  in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association explained an observational study on 90,004 dogs, looking to find inherited conditions. The team pulled records from William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital over a 15-year period and searched for 24 genetic disorders, in which they found 27,254 of the dogs had been diagnosed. Hip dysplasia, hyperadrenocorticism, among 11 other genetic disorders did not correlate with the dog breed or whether or not it was a mix, but others did. Purebred dogs were found to be more common victims of 10 genetic disorders including elbow dyslplasia and mixed dogs were more likely to only suffer from one disorder-ruptured cranial cruciate ligament.

The study was not absent of flaws though. It most likely suffered from Texas SharpShooter fallacy, as the researchers sought to find over 20 disorders. Due to the large group of disorders being studied, researchers were bound to discover a possible correlation with at least one of them. Chance is also always a possibility and the team did not do a second round of studies following the first conclusion, which may have supported their results further. The team could have received records from more than one animal hospital to slightly lower the results being from chance. A positive approach from the study was the large group size of dogs being observed and fairly recent records from the veterinarian hospital. The study concluded that mixed-breed dogs have a lower chance of inheriting a genetic disorder, but due to some flaws in the study, the results must be approached with caution.

A second study published on PetMD provides a theory as to why a purebred may experience more health complications than mixed breeds. Inherited diseases contribute to large numbers of sick dogs and if two dogs with similar genetic make-up breed the chances of the disease getting passed down increase.

BBC has found that due to the Kennel Club’s rules that a dog must not be bred out of the breed, many dogs were inbred, leading to the genetic disorders that are still present today. Scientists from Imperial College discovered that 10,000 pugs in London only had the genetic diversity of 50 separate individuals as opposed to 10,000. The traits required by the Kennel Club (screw-tail, wrinkled face, etc) have poor consequences in terms of health. Dog breeds were developed by humans selective breeding over the years and as a result some bulldogs can not mate unassisted due to narrow hips or give birth naturally and some with flat faces have difficulty breathing, among other health problems that arose.

In conclusion, it has been found by multiple trustworthy sources, with a mechanism to support the claim, that mixed dogs are less likely to inherit genetic disorders than pure-bred dogs, but there are ways to reduce the chances as well. The dog breeder can assure that neither dog breeding has any pre-existing health conditions and can also look back into the dog’s family’s records. Not all dogs will inherit health complications, but it is a factor to consider when choosing a dog breed.

Does size matter?

There are thousands of mammals in the animal kingdom that differ in everything from color and appetite to size and habitat. Among body and paw size, brain size also varies among different animals. While a mouse’s brain weighs on average 0.4 grams, an Asian elephant’s brain typically weighs 4,602 grams grams but can that be related to the level of intelligence each animal possesses?

The first figure scientists took into account was the ratio of the brain to the body size, although elephant’s brains weigh around 11 lbs and human’s brains only weigh 2.7 lbs on average, our brains are usually 2% of our body weight compared to under .10% of the elephant’s weight. Elephants need the larger brains to adequately monitor and stabilize their large bodies.

Paul Manger, professor of health sciences at the University of the Witwatersand, speculated that intelligence does not come from the size of the brain in relation to the size of the body, but rather how the systems inside the brain are organized and operate; how the mind operates and processes information. He found that a dolphin’s brain is comparable to a human’s brain in size, but they are significantly less intelligent than humans. The fatty glial cells in a dolphins brain may add extra volume, but it’s main role is to provide warmth and does not contribute to a dolphin’s intelligence. But what Manger failed to do was define what constitutes as intelligence to him and how he measured that figure. This absence of explanation hurt his research. If it is IQ scores they are testing, how is an animal’s intelligence measured and is that a fair basis for humans, even though some struggle to take a test effectively? Does a standardized test successfully score intelligence a person uses from day to day?

Nacy Barrickman, a graduate student in Duke University’s Department of Biological Anthropology and Anatomy, took interest in the same topic, but found that species that have a relatively large brain in comparison to their body size have more “complex cognitive skills, such as innovative solutions to ecological problems, more efficient resource mapping and food acquisition, and more complex social strategies.” The differences between brain sizes and advanced cognitive skills exist, but are small, however. Since the differences are minimal, scientists have found it difficult to determine whether brain size plays a factor in intelligence or if there are confounding variables that take the responsibility. Possible variables could be the density of neurons or other matters that make-up the brain in each species. The culture they live in and any adaptations over the years may also effect any outcomes and make it difficult for scientists to find the real reason.

In a separate study, researchers collected and reviewed 21,151 brain scans to notice a correlation between certain genes and brain size. Genetic sequence, “HMGA2 gene on chromosome 12” was found to be related to determining how much one’s brain can grow. The lower the intracranial volume, the lower the IQ scores. A second gene sequence was found to increase memory with the increase in size of the hippocampus, a part of the brain that controls one’s memories. While correlation does not equal causation and this particular study was observational rather than experimental, the results are somewhat assuring that there is a link between brain size and intelligence, but I am still not convinced. This particular study may have suffered from Texas sharp-shooter problem, looking to find any relation the genes may have to brain development. The study does not address any of these problems nor rule out reverse causation.

Since there are multiple studies, some more reliable than others, on the topic each with differing perspectives, it is hard to say whether the size of a brain can be related to intelligence. The first step to solving this theory is for scientists to agree on a single definition of intelligence. The next step would be to perform more studies and rule out any Texas sharp-shooter problems, confounding variables, and reverse causation. Once that is completed, we may have a better understanding on the power of the size of one’s brain.

Does Dumbo live in the ocean?

It may seem with all of the creatures that have already been discovered, that there aren’t many unknown animals left for scientists to explore, but with 46 new creatures found a day in 2006, according to Arizona State University’s International Institute for Species Exploration, there are always new ones to learn about. Scientists predict up to 100 million more species are left to be found.

One of these creatures that is seldom heard of is the Grimpoteuthis, or Dumbo Octopus, nicknamed after the fins that resemble large ears protruding from the side of their bodies. The name comes from Disney character Dumbo, the elephant with large ears. As Dumbo the elephant used his ears to fly in the Disney movie, Grimpoteuthis uses its fins placed above its eyes to swim upward.  Since the creatures live deep in the ocean, fins allow them to travel easier in the high pressure rather than propelling, which is a means of transportation for other breeds of octopuses.

Grimpoteuthis’ live 13,000 ft below sea level, hovering on the ocean floor and making them the “deepest living of all octopus species” that are known. The species has so far been found in New Zealand, Australia, Monterey Bay, California, Oregon, Philippines, and New Guinea. Due to the cold water and lack of sunlight at the bottom of the ocean, the creatures have adapted their reproductive abilities in order to survive and not go extinct.

Dumbo octopuses are able to successfully reproduce upon seeing another one of its kind. In order to do this, females “carry eggs in different stages of development and they are able to store sperm for long periods of time after mating with a male”, which is necessary for survival considering their living circumstances. Females wait until the environmental conditions are adequate to fertilize the egg, using the stored sperm to do so, and then attaching the eggs to a hard surface on the ocean floor. There is never a specific breeding season for these creatures as it can happen at anytime and the males “have a separate protuberance on one of their arms that transports an encapsulated sperm packet into the female’s mantle.”

Another unique trait Grimpoteuthis possess is a “degenerated radula-type opening” in their mouth, which gives them the ability to swallow food whole. Their typical diet consists of “pelagic invertebrates,” commonly known as small plankton. They forage for floating “copepods, isopods, bristle worms, and amphipods.” Since the Grimpoteuthis prefer to live on the floor of the ocean, predators are limited for them and human behavior will not typically affect the species, but large marine  may dive down to find a meal. Some of these include sharks, whales, and dolphins.

Dumbo octopuses are smaller than the average common octopus, which averages in a length of 4.3 feet, dumbo octopuses only grow to around eight inches tall, weighing 13 pounds. Along with their short stature and large  fins, other noticeable features includes eight webbed tentacles, U or V shaped shell, beak mouth, large eyes, and they can be seen in an array of colors including blue, red, green, and semi-translucent.

The ocean is a large, vast place and home to millions of animals, plants, and other species. The Grimpoteuthis, or of course Dumbo Octopus, is oftentimes unknown, which is unfortunate due to their remarkable characteristics. They have adapted to their cold, dark home of the ocean floor in order to have a higher success rate when reproducing and eating small creatures they find. This animal only makes me more excited to see what else is lurking in the depths of the ocean.

Sunscreen may be protecting you, but killing marine life

A typical day at the beach necessitates some key products to make the day more enjoyable; a cooler, your favorite beach towel, a new book, and of course plenty of sun screen. It has been instilled in our minds since we were small kids that sunscreen protects our bodies from harmful rays and reduces the chances of getting sun burnt, which can cause cancer in the future. While sunscreen is protecting us from the discomfort of burnt skin and skin cancer down the future, it has been found to be creating a larger problem for sea creatures.

Sunscreen, which is made up of oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, octisalate, and zinc oxide among many others  absorbs and defers UV rays through the chemical particles, as well as reacting with the rays to reflect the radiation before it can absorb into the skin, which could have caused potential damage in the future. While oxybenzone is in most popular sunscreen brands, Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology confirmed scientist’s fears that the chemical is harming coral reefs all over the ocean floor.

Scientists found that oxybenzone “causes endocrine disruption, DNA damage and death of coral” to only name a few. The once colorful reefs are now becoming bleached white, that is if they are fortunate to survive the fatal effects. The coral’s growth becomes significantly slowed or halted altogether and planula, the larval form of coral, may “become trapped in their own skeleton.” Once the damage is done, it can not be reversed, nor will the negative consequences that may follow.

Avoiding to use sunscreen while swimming in the ocean will unfortunately not solve the problem if sunscreen brands continue to use the harmful chemicals. Any waste that is washed away from our bodies, whether from the showers or rain, will eventually combine into the ocean water, adding up to 14,000 tons of sun screen in the ocean each year. Considering “the effects of a chemical in sunscreen are toxic at the concentration equivalent to a drop of water in an Olympic pool,” 14,000 tons a year are irreversibly damaging the ecosystem across the globe. Scientist’s predict that if the current trend continues, reefs will completely disappear within the next few decades. 

The destruction of coral reefs will not have a small effect on the ecosystem, but rather large consequences to follow. Species of fish live in the coral reefs as a source of shelter and protection from prey. Scientists estimate that millions of undiscovered species may still be in the reefs as well as potential ingredients to future drugs in addition to the “4,000 species of fish 800 species of hard corals and hundreds of other species.” The organisms are food for more than 30 million people a year and are a source of income for the fishermen. Income also comes from the tourism the reefs attracts, diving excursions, and restaurants and hotels that are built close to the site. The reefs act as a barrier, protecting large waves from crashing on the shores and with the decay of the sites, there may be large property damage headed in the future.

One may think that there is less of a risk to apply sunscreen, than not and while that is true for the individual person, it is causing mass destruction to the coral reefs and therefore the ecosystem. It is not recommended that a person stop using sunscreen altogether, but simply look at the brands and ensure that your lotion does not contain oxybenzone or be aware when you go to the beach not to use that brand. The coral reefs are so valuable to our ecosystem, this destruction would affect us in more ways than known.

Three parents, one child

As a society, we have all come into this world through different means. Some were the conceived by two parents, some were conceived through in-vitro, or outside of the body, and others were conceived through a sperm donor and surrogate, yet the journey in which one was born can not be determined by the human eye nor offers much significance in the rest of their lives. Yet, a new manner in which one could potentially be conceived was legalized in Britain, in which babies will be conceived via in-vitro with three parents instead of two.
A child is naturally conceived by the impregnation of the sperm from a male into an egg from a female, however this new procedure takes an egg’s nucleus and adds it to a second egg, which had its nucleus removed and then fertilize the egg with sperm and implants it into a woman’s uterus. A second, more difficult method fertilizes both the mother’s and donor’s eggs and then discards the embryo in the donor egg and inserts the mother’s genetic information into the donor’s egg instead.

While this newly developed process is controversial and horrifies many bystanders, scientists have legalized the new idea to potentially end inherited conditions and birth defects that can be passed down by a mother’s defective mitochondria in her eggs. A mother that suffers from this rare condition will have a hard time carrying a child to full term and if she does, the child will be born with potentially life-threatening damage done to its organs including heart, kidney, and liver failure as well as muscular dystrophy. They will most likely not survive into adulthood.

This new process, like all, faces both supporters who see the legalization as a way for mother’s to birth a healthy child genetically related to them, regardless of the defective mitochondria. Others believe it is an unethical trial foreshadowing the future in which parents choose particular traits they want their child to possess, even if it means mixing other couple’s genes with their own, which has keyed the term “designer babies.” However Professor Doug Turnbull of Newcastle University “estimated that the technique could reduce the risk of mitochondrial disease transmission for around 2,500 women in the UK, potentially saving 150 babies from such diseases each year.” For those who fear the consequences resulting from a third women’s DNA consisting in the makeup of a child, babies will only have 0.1% genetic makeup from the second woman. An article from The Washington Post also touches on the fact that many people around the world are already exposed to genetic material from more than two people. The U.S. produced around 100 babies in the nineties due to a similar technique and those who have endured transplants, such as bone marrow, will have DNA from a third person in their bodies.

Those against the newly legalized procedure are skeptical over the possibility that genetic changes that may arise in a child not born yet and does not have a voice in whether or not they are conceived through this method. A second point made that steers away from using three separate genes to create a child is the fact that it is uncertain whether mitochondria has any role in determining the child’s personality. “Mitochondrial manipulation” or “three-parent IVF” could also have negative affects for the mothers involved. Extracting the eggs requires surgery and hormone injections, which is a risk for any person. A religious standpoint on the matter looks at the destruction of a newly conceived life during the second possible method as murder and they take a pro-life ground, which was stated in an article from The Washington Post.

Society as a whole will never see eye-to-eye on a single issue and will continue to debate their separate beliefs, but for right now the UK is continuing in the process of getting their new procedure approved and creating the first child through three-parent IVF. Only time will tell if and how this procedure will expand.

How does birth order affect personality?

Parent’s shape the person we all become. They instill within us their expectations, values, beliefs, and character traits they want us to uphold. Some parents may live vicariously through their children, encouraging actions they wish they would’ve had the opportunity of pursuing when they were our age. Another way parents influence our personalities, which is out of their control, is through the order in which they give birth to their children.


Firstborn children are the parents so-called trial and error. They have never had a child before nor created a routine of doing things and must figure it out along the way. They find what works and what doesn’t work to be better prepared for the children to come after. While a parent may feel it is best to follow by the “book” when it comes to parenting, the child may pick up on the perfectionist attitude and try to please the parents over the years. Parents oftentimes place higher expectations on the first-born child and therefore first-borns will be perfectionists and have the constant desire for control. Older children will tend to enjoy being responsible, making those around them happy, highly motivated to succeed, but may also struggle with jealousy.

Eldest children do not only strive to succeed and act as perfectionists, but they have the outcomes to match. New York Times reported on a study that confirmed the possibility that IQ scores are on average three points higher for first born children than the other siblings in the family. While three points could be credited to chance, scientists provided an explanation to the possibility. The first child to new parents gets all of their attention and are raised mostly in the presence of adults, rather than younger siblings that are always around their older or younger brother or sister. The researchers conducting the study have clarified that the results are not “biological factors,” or as a consequence of the mother’s actions while the child was in utero. The article also mentioned on the fact that more firstborns have earned Nobel Prizes than others lower in the birth order. While oldest children in the family get their parent’s attention and must try to meet expectations placed on them, middle children tend to get lost in the shuffle.

Middle Child

The second born or middle child in a family is not raised in their parent’s undivided attention as their older sibling had been, but must share. Middle children will pick up the peacemaker role in the family, concerned with fairness and holding understanding traits. From experiences with older siblings, the middle child will gain negotiation and social skills. A lot of times these children will create a circle of close friends in order to make up for the attention they are not getting from their family at home. Parents will tend to compare the middle child to the eldest, which is a lot of pressure and they will begin to rebel. Middle children go the opposite direction as their older sibling. If the eldest honors the role as a caretaker in the family, the middle child may be the comedian, if the eldest excels academically, the middle child may turn towards sports, instead.

The middle child stereotypes typically tend to be negative, being referred to as “middle child syndrome.” It was found that middle children lack direction, but leave the house before their siblings. They choose an “unconventional” appearance to stand out for their parents. Middle children are also more susceptible to peer pressure. A study found that only 7% of mothers identified with their middle child compared to 39% that identify with the eldest. It can be hard for the middle child to find a place in the family and oftentimes complain of feeling misunderstood or ignored.

Last Born

Youngest children born are unique in the sense that they never have to experience a younger sibling coming along and stealing some of the spotlight as they had done to their other siblings. Family members swoon over the newest addition and the older siblings will help take care of the youngest, therefore they are oftentimes spoiled and pampered, having less responsibility than their brother or sister and they develop charm to keep it that way. Youngest children typically have more freedom than other siblings and become independent sooner, yet parents still baby the the last born into adulthood. The freedom from expectations and parents’ watchful eyes allows the youngest child to explore what interests them, typically leading to a creative career such as writing drawing, etc.

“A child’s position in the family impacts his personality, his behavior, his learning and ultimately his earning power,” states Michael Grose, author of ‘Why First Born Rule the World and Last Borns Want to Change It.’ “Most people have an intuitive knowledge that birth order somehow has an impact on development, but they underestimate how far-reaching and just how significant that impact really is.”

It is not the sequence of births that shaped the children’s individual personalities, but rather the evolution of parenting styles through the years. Children being raised alongside other siblings have multiple other factors that contributes to their personality and ultimate success in the future. Birth-order theory, along with family circumstances, sibling age gap, and the parenting style.

Tears of mystery

You watch a movie where a dog dies and shed some tears. You yawn after pulling an all-nighter and shed some tears. You chop an onion, are denied access to the car for the night, or reunite with a friend you haven’t seen in five years and shed some tears. You laugh at a friend’s joke and tears fall uncontrollably. Tears come billowing out of your eyes at varying times and during different situations. We may try to hold them in, but there is no stopping the steady stream. We never stop and think in our moment of sadness what exactly these wet droplets are and why we create them.

Everyone is born crying and so to fill the basic needs early in their lives and we all have our times over the years of breaking down and letting the droplets cover our faces. While male and females may cry the same amount of times up until puberty, the Journal of Research in Personality found that on average women cry more than men from adolescence on. It was found that men cry one time per month, compared to women’s five times. Women’s tear ducts were also found to be smaller than men’s, which could contribute to the fact that women cry more than men on average. Regardless of who sheds more tears, we all produce ten ounces of tears per day because tears do not only appear when one experiences new emotions, but rather are there for protection of the eye.

There are three types of tears that are produced during varying situations. Basal tears are in our eyes constantly, ensuring that the cornea is well-nourished, since it does not have its own oxygen supply. It creates a layer over the eye that produces a smooth surface to allow one’s vision to be improved. Another duty the basal tears are responsible for is washing away and killing harmful bacteria and protecting the eye from friction.

Reflex tears are prompted to protect the eye from harsh chemicals, such as the exposure to onion juice, smoke, or dust. The tears wash away the irritants that are affecting one’s cornea.

The tears most recognize are emotional tears, or those droplets that appear after an emotional feeling. It can come from anger, happiness, grief, among many more feelings one may experience day-to-day. The cerebrum, which registers sadness in the brain, sends hormones to be released. Researchers have found crying allows the individual to rid toxins built up from stress, therefore feel better after shedding emotional tears.

Although basal, reflex, and emotional all appear and feel the same, studies have found that each tear has a different make-up. Reflex and emotional tears were tested for the content in the water. Reflex tears were 98% of water, but emotional tears had prolactin, a protein, adrenocorticotropic hormones, an indicator of stress, and an “endorphin that reduces pain and works to improve the mood,” leucine-enkephalin. The results from this study support the belief that crying may act as a way of letting go of the toxic chemicals and calm down your emotions following the cry session.

In our society, crying is oftentimes looked at as a weakness or vulnerability, when in fact crying can make one feel stronger. The University of Tillburg performed a study in which they asked 60 individuals to watch two sad movies, 28 cried and 32 did not. The participants rated their moods immediately following the end of the movie, 20 minutes after, and then 90 minutes. Those who did not cry marked that they had unchanged feelings at each of the intervals, while those who did cry felt sad after the movie, back to normal at 20 minutes, and better than before the movie started at 90 minutes. An event that strikes tears may ruin one’s mood immediately following the end of crying, but within time the individual’s mood will be improved and even better than before the tears

Next time you feel the tears coming, don’t blink them away, but rather let it all out. You will release stress hormones during the cry and boost you mood following the tears. Don’t take those little wet droplets for granted as they are the ultimate protection of your eyes and mood boosters.

Did I write this post before?

Deja vu: the illusion of remembering scenes and events when experienced for the first time or a feeling that one has seen or heard something before. We have all experienced it at one point in our lives. The teacher mentions a novel’s plot and suddenly we feel we have read that book before or we step into a restaurant and remember the same scene visibly happening in the past. We then start to second guess everything in our lives up to that point. Am I a psychic who can predict the future in my dreams such as Raven Symoné had done in That’s So Raven. Am I remembering past memories from a lifetime ago? Was I sent on a mission to solve a reoccurring problem and must experience the same events until I successfully complete my goal? It is the question of what makes someone experience deja vu that I set out to answer.

It is reported that 60-80% of people experience a sense of deja vu, and all of these people can not possibly be psychic, can they? Deja vu has sparked interest within scientists and those who experience the familiar feelings over the years, but since there is never a warning of when one may experience deja vu, it has proved hard to test. Scientists have discovered that the medial temporal lobes located in one’s brain is responsible for long-term memories, but certain regions can detect familiarity rather than details from past events. Familiarity and recollection are two different forms of memory. The rhinal cortex has particularly been linked to deja vu.

Psychologist Dr. Akira O’Connor from the
University of St. Andrews explains deja vu as false connections in the brain do to misfiring of neurons. He explains how his theory correlates with the found evidence that deja vu is linked with epilepsy patients, giving them that familiar feeling before they have a seizure. During a seizure, signals cross and send wrong messages to different parts of the body. But a person does not have to be epileptic or have a seizure in order for their brain to send wrong signals and create the feeling of familiarity when it shouldn’t be there. It is still unknown while the brain’s memory may get confused with past events and hypothetical situations.

Cognitive psychology professor at Colorado State University, Anne Clearly developed the theory that a detail about a new situation activates similar details from past experiences, but the part of our brain fails to recognize that the two scenarios are different. Clearly used the life simulation game The Sims to test her theory. She created two rooms; a courtyard and a museum. In the center of the courtyard was a plant and the center of the museum held a statue, the walls of the courtyard were adorned with hanging baskets and the museum walls displayed candle holders, plants were set around the courtyard grounds and rugs were carefully placed in the museum. The individuals involved with the testing got the familiarity feeling after exploring both rooms but did not link it back to the common theme of both settings.

Arthur Funkhouser, another to work towards developing a better understanding of deja vu, divided deja vu into three categories to clarify how there are varying scenarios people can face. Deja vecu, or already experience, deja senti, already felt, and deja viste, already visited are the three categories he has assigned. Deja vecu is the phenomenon most people are familiar with. It is the feeling that one has had the same experience prior to it happening now. Deja vu does not only need to occur through seeing, it can arise through any of the senses. Deja senti, unlike deja vecu, will most likely not be remembered following the happening. It is oftentimes confused with deja vecu, but it is better described as the “satisfaction at having retrieved a memory.” The final scenario Funkhouser classifies deja vu as is deja visite, which is best explained as the experience in which is seems a person has previously visited a specific location. They can navigate around the new area. This scenario has two explanations; an out-of-body experience allowing the individual to travel to a new location, without their body or a person read on the location but did not remember.

Deja vu is a feeling one gets and is left unexplained. The only way people can describe it as is “wow, deja vu.” Now, although slim, the research gathered can help a little to declare that no you are not a psychic, you can not predict the future in your dreams, and you will not be the next Raven Symoné. The feeling is so prominent, forcing you to believe that you have experienced a similar situation previously when in fact it is all brand new. Next time you get that familiar feeling, just be assured that you are not suffering from a rare phenomena or was birthed with a special power. Enjoy the feeling
while it lasts and move on the create real memories.

Are you being hovered by helicopter parents?

Your parents unload you into your new college dorm room. You say your goodbyes, anxious to start this new chapter of your life and watch as your parents pull out of the parking lot, your mom wiping away tears and your dad waving goodbye one last time. *Sigh of relief* No longer than twenty minutes go by and your mom is calling your phone to see what exciting things you have done since she has been gone and so it begins. Your mom suffers from a common phenomena known as helicopter parenting.

Your parents have been your primary caregivers since the moment you were born; kissing your scrapes, ensuring you finished your fruit and vegetables, and arguing with teachers for any “unreasonable” grade you earned. Now it is time for you to make your own decisions and guide your life how you see fit, but they can not seem to let go. Helicopter parents first became recognized in Dr. Haim Ginott’s book Parents and Teenagers, released in 1969. Parents would hover over their children, hence the term helicopter, and take responsibility for all of their children’s success and failures, feeling the need to be in complete control.

While parents can easily give teenagers roam to breathe and create a healthier relationship, they may feel the need to hover for a number of reasons including overcompensation from their neglected childhood, anxiety about the direction of the future, peer pressure from other parents, and the fear of negative consequences that can be resolved with their actions. Parents may believe their parenting style is the best for their child, but studies have found that children of helicopter parents have struggled to deal with stress and anxiety, and have been more prone to a narcissist attitude. Children who were raised by overprotective parents may feel unworthy and lack self-confidenc
e and in return pick up unhealthy habits such as smoking and binge drinking. Although hovering over a child is unhealthy for their development and may lead to an unhappy future, parents do need to have a role in their child’s life. Instead of taking control of their child’s life, they can guide them with their own experiences and advice, but ultimately leaving the decisions up to the child.

A helicopter parent needs to first identify their problem and the negative affects it may have on the child and their relationship. Once a parent understands the risks, they can start to give the child more independence. They should let the child work out his own problems and not intervene unless it becomes dangerous. The child may fail at landing that job or passing a class, but the parents should just encourage him to start again rather than try to solve the mistake themselves.

Provide support and reassurance that he is capable of succeeding without the help of a parent. Avoid using excuses to justify your child’s actions and give them more responsibilities, that if not met they are disciplined. It may be hard for a helicopter parent to relinquish all control, but with some time it is possible and will lead to both the child and parents happiness. 

Everyone is aware of the essentials a plant needs to continue to grow rather than die off, which includes an adequate supply of water, plenty of sunlight, and healthy soil. Even with all of those ingredients, some people suffer from having a “black thumb,” or the inability to keep a plant alive. It has been said that singing to a plant will ensure that it will live to its full potential and continue to bear more leaves, but can it be proven that a few verses from Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star or Let It Go is the answer to whether or not a plant will thrive?

The Myth Busters from Discovery Channel decided to take this logic into their own hands to discover whether singing to a garden will have a positive impact on the plants or just make one appear crazy to the neighbors. The Myth Busters divided 60 pea plants amongst three greenhouses, one playing positive, praise music, the second playing harsh insults, and the third and final greenhouse silent from any music. Researchers recorded the growth of the plants following 60 days and noticed the greenhouse plants had the worst progress, while the other two greenhouse plants were relatively the same in quality and productivity, proving plant’s cannot absorb what is being spoken to them. A separate study found that young corn stalks would grow leaning towards the source of the constant music and showed different progress depending on the song choice and level of frequencies.

The idea that music could stimulate a plant’s growth originated in 1848 when Gustav Theodor Fechner declared pl
ants had souls and similar to humans, plants possessed a hierarchy of minds. He was determined to prove there was a connection between sensation and stimulus or the measurement of noticeable differences, the actual weight versus the perceived weight. While Fechner’s work is rarely regarded in the modern day and plants do not have souls, scientists have discovered a probable reasoning for the benefits of music.

It is obvious that plants have the ability to sense what is going on around them from reacting to the change in temperature, weather, and possible prey through vibrations. vibrations. Music that plays around a plant emits sound waves which may stimulate the root systems or cause a reaction to promote rapid growth. An article posted on Penn State News reports on a South Korean study on this topic, pointing out that South Korea’s National Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology speculates that  either genes Ald or rbcS, responsible for a plant’s reaction to light can be credited with the change from 70 decibel sound waves. It has not been proven yet, but a probable way for sound waves to get detected is through the proteins present in plant’s leaves that can respond to pressure in the cell membranes. A plant uses this to respond to possible threats such as weather and animals and absorb the necessary amount of light.

The next time the dead plants in the garden, unable to survive the harsh treatment of one’s black thumb, appear past revival, try subjecting the plants to some classical tunes or even heavy metal. The sound waves will stimulate the responses the plant uses to protect itself for survival and will in turn simulate growth and advance flowering. A simple change in routine, adding a stereo to a greenhouse, could mean either life or death for a plant.

Although I was the first born, I was never an only child as my twin brother joined me in this world eight minutes later. Growing up, my twin brother and I would always have to answer the same two questions; one, are we identical, (which the answer was obviously no as we were opposite genders), and two, can we read each other’s mind or feel the pain that they feel? While my brother and I never looked at ourselves from being much different than everyone else nor do we have anything in common besides our parents and a birthdate, twin telepathy does not fail to come up at least once during a conversation. This question has got me thinking, even though my brother and I are not on the same wave length, can other twins share that ability?

There has not been many studies either proving or disproving the theory of twin telepathy, defined as “the alleged communication of thought from one person to another by means other than the physical senses.” With that being said, the University of Indiana has conducted a study that found the later the fertilized egg split following conception, the higher the chances the identical twins would form a close bond as they aged. That above study may n
ot have explained twin telepathy, it has given a potential reasoning on why some twins may claim to have that power and others do not. There have been some experiments on the subject in the past, but most are not well-respected nor frequently published so evidence relies on anecdotes or personal accounts from twins claiming to have the ability.
An account depicted on describes the story of a twin who awoke in the middle of the night and foresaw a scene of her twin brother lying in a pool of blood with a hole in his side due to an object falling from the sky piercing him. Her vision was clearly depicted and appeared to play
the scene on her bedroom wall. In the morning, she received a telegram confirming that her twin brother was struck with a bomb in  his side while in battle during the night in Germany and was injured from the hit. He recovered but the details in her nightmare matched up with reality. Her twin brother confirmed this story on the site as well as adding that as child
ren, him and his sister would lie in bed and create stories from a painting that hung in their bedroom. At the end of the story, they would greet their loved ones that passed at a made-up pond. This was the same wall where his sister watched the vision of his injury unfold.

While one, or two, people’s accounts can not be credited proof that something does or does not exist, there are countless similar stories in which the twins either feel the same pain as their twin without knowing or hear a voice in their head that urges them to check on their sibling. The twin research unit at King’s College in London polled 9,000 sets of twins on the register whether they have ever had the ability to know what was happening to their twin. Out of the 5,513 responses, 54% responded either yes or declaring it was a reasonable possibility. The
poll prompted more research on the topic, which is when a controlled experiment was conducted at the University of Copenhagen. A pair of twins were arranged in two rooms, the one with a polygrapher present, the other without. The twin in the room opposite of the polygrapher was exposed to different scenarios such as an electric shock, ice water, and shattering dishes. The polygrapher was assigned to mark when there was an unusual pattern on the polygraph test that the first twin was hooked up to. The results found that the spots were picked around the accurate times.

The results discovered in the above experiment coincides with the conclusion formed from two ophthalmologists in 1963 when they found the, “alpha brain rhythm was artificially induced in one twin, the brainwave chart (EEG) of the other one showed the same rhythm
t exactly the same time.” A team from Rockland State Hospital received the same results, but the experiment measured blood volume, instead. While the work that has been done has displayed some sort of proof that twin telepathy may be a possibility, there is not enough evidence nor are personal accounts counted as evidence to conclude that it does exist. More time and research could say otherwise, however.

Twins have been subjected to various experiments throughout the years, being looked at as abnormalities in the past yet studies on twin telepathy is very limited and relies on personal accounts rather than scientific evidence. While many will dismiss twin telepathy simply out of  an unknown mechanism or doubt that it is possible to  hear, see, or physically feel scenarios the opposite twin takes part in, but there have been some experiments in the past that support the theory. It is hard to understand how one may communicate with another miles apart and while majority of twins do not possess that power, there is no reason to dispose of the concept, but rather fund more research on the topic. There was a time, at one point in history, when society believed the earth to be flat and the continents to not hold the
ability to move. It was with years of research that those beliefs were proven wrong. As they say, anything is possible.


Time Travel; a Possibility?


Through the years, millions of individuals have been subjected to television shows and movies that present time-travel as a real possibility, ranging from the popular science-fiction series Doctor Who to the Back to the Future films first released in 1985 amongst many others. The frequent presentation of the relatively easy switch between current and future life with a simply designed time travel machine allows audience members to wonder if one day they may be able to attend their wedding while still enrolled in high school. Though time travel may not happen as it is portrayed on the big screens, the method to fast forward time is relatively easy and may not be too far ahead in the future.

Albert Einstein studied the possibility of time travel during 1905 before it became an exciting topic for movies and shows to focus the plot-line on. During his studies, Einstein developed the Special Theory of Relativity and General Theory of Relativity where he acknowledged that the rate of time differs for each person, but the theory becomes more apparent as speed increases and nears the speed of light. This theory can be related to the Twins Paradox theory, which is easily explained in the case that if one identical twin travelled to space at a speed close to the speed of light it may take a few years on board before returning to Earth. Upon the twin’s arrival, the other twin, which remained on Earth for many more years has aged more so than the traveling twin. While there is no sound evidence of a time traveller making the journey to the future, and any time travelers walking around amongst us have not been found yet, Carol Allie proved the theories on a minuscule level, synchronizing two clocks, one of which travelled airborne and left Earth for several hours and the other remaining on the land. When the airborne clock returned, Allie recognized that the time on the clock that remained on Earth moved slightly faster than the airborne clock. Years of more studies and research as well as a planned trip into the future are still required to prove time travel is a possible phenomena, but Einstein’s work and the data gained from scientists brings us closer everyday.

While it may be an exciting thought to imagine a life where one may fast forward or rewind time as they please, there is no current evidence that going back in time may be a possibility.
Watching the egyptians construct the pyramids and witnessing the arrival of the Mayflower would be awesome sights to see, but scientists lack an explanation on how one would travel to the past. Another issue that arises when contemplating traveling back in time is the grandfather paradox. The grandfather paradox is the scenario in which a person were to travel back in time and kill their grandfather before he conceived their parents. The child who traveled back in time would have never been born, therefore never been given the chance to travel back in time to kill the grandfather, but in that case the child could still ha
ve been born and traveled back in time and the circle continues infinitely. A theory similar to the grandfather paradox that also dismisses the idea that reverse time-travel is a possibility is the Temporal Theory, which suggests the possibility that time travelers would be able to kill themselves, therefore never having the opportunity to travel back in time or kill themselves and so on, so forth. While some might counter that argument with the possibility of Multiverse, a universe where each person has an infinite number of themselves with the chance to do an infinite number of things at the same time, that is not very probable. With Albert Einstein’s theory and the work constructed my physicists today, there is a better understanding of how to travel into the future rather than the past, but it is not yet completely off the tables.

As a society, we walk around everyday unaware of what our future holds and making decisions that ultimately alter the turn out of our life. While many of us may only experience time-travel through the big screen, fantasizing about a world where it is possible, and unaware that with a theory constructed by Einstein, it may be possible. If a person was able to approach the speed of light, they would be able to return to Earth having spent less years in the aircraft than the time that passed on the planet. While traveling into the future is a possibility, going back to the past is proving more difficult to find a solution to. Theories suggest reverse time travel to be impossible but there is still not enough evidence or tests done to prove it impossible. Before long, time travelers may be walking amongst us in the streets.

Initial Blog Post

Hey guys! My name is Aubree Rader and I am from the small town of Bangor, PA, which is near the Poconos. I am enrolled in the College of Communications as a freshman print/digital journalism major and I am planning on double majoring in political science as well. I became a part of staff for my middle school newspaper and I have not looked back since. I have spent many hours in my high school newsroom as the editor-in-chief of the newspaper working to meet the print date and that is where I realized my love for journalism. The time I spent on the school newspaper has allowed me to build strong relationships with people who have the same interests as me as well as create work that I am proud to call my own. I cannot wait to see where the future takes me as I pursue my passion.

Check out The Daily Collegian here

Since I have always excelled at english and history, I have never enjoyed math or science nor have they been my strong subjects. My academic advisor recommended this course to me since it is not a traditional science course, but rather caters to the students who struggle to understand math and science. While words come easy to me, numbers do not but I am excited to discuss the topics on the syllabus and see what new direction science will take us.