Author Archives: Allison C Lightner

Nightmares vs. Dreams pt. 2

I previously wrote a blog about Nightmares vs. Dreams Pt. 1, so naturally, there is a part 2 to this little series. As a recap of my last blog, I discussed the different types of nightmares we experience: release nightmares, recurring nightmares, healing nightmares, and the recurring theme/different subject nightmare. Nightmares are generally associated with bad experiences and unhappy memories. There is so much information about this that I find interesting because I have so many dreams that I just wonder why I dreamed that. I’m sure there are others that would like to know why they dream certain things too.

Not all dreams have to be “happy” per se, a lot of them can be really confusing or not make sense. A lot of the time dreams are just made up of our innermost thoughts about the past day or the future. Like nightmares, these dreams are stuff that you worry about, excited about, etc. Except it takes a less disturbing spin.

Another one of our classmates wrote a blog similar to mine about different foods affecting what you will dream about. They stated that a lot of cheeses caused people to have nightmares, as well as dairy products, spicy foods and some sweets. I think that there is a possibility that foods can make you dream different things, but I would have to be fully cognizant of my dreams at the moment. Half the time I do not even remember my dreams, only the bad ones.

Comparing dreams to nightmares, “dreams are to guide you through life, they are like your GPS”(Hammed), when nightmares are negative in many peoples’ minds. The only correlation that they share is that they both hold meaning and may hold some positive aspects, one holding more than the other. ESP dreams alert us when someone or something is in need of help or attention. Alchemy of Dreams. Simon S. Godfrey explains how to understand your dreams. There are three parts to understanding a dream revelation: 1). the identity of the source 2). the identity of the dreamer and 3). the relationship between the dreamer and source. There must be  consistency in the dreams with similar contexts recurring in a dream.

I found an actual case study of this one girl following 4 dreams after breaking up with her ex. All of the dreams have a recurring theme based around her ex.

Dream 1: Girl is walking with lamp to her ex’s work, then switches to them both at home wishing they would have told each other how they felt. Reality: The dreamer wanted her ex to prove how he felt about her. She is at his work so obviously she is formulating a plan to bump into him and see if he misses her, The symbolism is the lamp because it represents how she is in the dark about his feelings.

Dream 2: Is at school, then is transported to the hospital and finds out her friend is dying. Reality: She realizes the relationship is dying and needs to do something about it. Symbols: Hospital- emotional pain she is feeling, School- is learning a harsh lesson in life.

DReam 3: Driving her brother home, then her ex’s brother became her brother and started telling her stuff about her ex and his journal in his bedroom. Reality: Realizes she hasn’t been looking at her ex’s point of view and being way to selfish. Symbols: Brother- her pov Ex’s brother- his pov.

DReam 4: Knocks on the door to talk to ex, his mother opens door and says he isn’t home, but then dreamer says she is lying. Reality: dreamer started writing letter to ex which she she did mail and opened communication. Symbols- house- ex-boyfriend knock on the door- taking action and confronting the situation. Dream Case Study.

In this case study, I do not think that you would need more evidence to be persuaded that dreams do have meaning. In terms of nightmares vs. dreams, dreams seem to be more thought-provoking/ reality check type dreams.

I have never had someone interpret my dreams, but I’m pretty sure that I can decipher them. Last night I had a dream about my family and my pets. My pets ran away and we needed to get them back and my dad and sister were nowhere to be found. I saw a barren forest with nothing it and I instantly became worried. What this means I think is that I care deeply about my family and the barrenness maybe means I feel alone.

    I know that this was pretty heavy stuff, but what I want you to take from my studies of nightmares and dreams is that they do have a purpose no matter how much you may want to avoid it. They are not always going to be positive, but for those small pockets of good dreams enjoy them. I would also encourage you to have a pen and paper next to you when you sleep if you are interested in deciphering your dreams.

Vaccinations and Autism

Flu season is just around the corner and pharmacies are starting to advertise that you get your annual shot to prevent you from getting sick this winter. For many, myself included, we just ignore this psa because we’ve gotten through the last couple years without a shot and without getting sick. There are other reasons why some ignore these suggestions, and they are for more medical reasons. In the past decade, there have been debates about whether vaccines cause Autism in children and that has led to some parents not allowing kids to get vaccinated. Is that healthy, safe or even possible? What we are looking at are vaccines(x-variable), causing Autism(y-variable).

To give a brief background about what is being tested is to see whether vaccines with Thimerosal (ethyl mercury) make children autistic. In 2001, children 6 years and younger were given Thimerosal-free vaccines, but there is still concern that some vaccines still have it in there. I will be looking at several case studies seeing if correlation equals causation between vaccines and autism, or whether it appears not to be the case. The first two studies are the Wakefield and Denmark Case studies.

Wakefield Case Study:

In 1998, the Wakefield study suggested a correlation between vaccinations and autism. This study only had 12 people being tested here, so that is a very small margin of people that could have autism. There was a bias here because the 12 that were chosen had shown autistic signs when given an MMR vaccination(mumps, rubella, German measles, etc.). There were many study flaws with this study in that the amount of people tested was too small, “selection bias, ethical concerns.” The doctors were not able to prove their hypothesis.

Denmark Case Study:

# of Children in Study # of Autism Cases # per 10,000
Total 537,303 316 5-6/10,000
Vaccinated 440,655 263 5-6/10,000
Not Vaccinated 96,648 53 5-6/10,000

This study was much better than the Wakefield study because a larger sample was being observed and tested. In most cases, experimental studies are much better because you can see the outcomes and not just make inferences by what you are observing like in the Wakefield case. Also, in the Denmark study,  there is less bias because this looks like a Randomized control trial. What the results are showing is that there are not that many people reporting autism from getting vaccinated or not. So from this case study, correlation does not equal causation, and there is no correlation. There could be third variables affecting the results of the people that did get autism. What this study didn’t mention was whether those people had autism before the study or whether it was after. Also, there could be a correlation between sexes and autism, what type of environment they live in, genetics and other confounding variables. There are so many things that could be affecting that 5-6/10,000, but vaccines are not part of the problem.

There is one case study I read about in TIME Magazine about a girl that had gotten autistic-like symptoms after receiving 9 vaccinations. The parents said that one day after those shots she started fainting and having trouble communicating, when before the vaccination she was talkative. Doctors also noted that Hannah, happened to have a mitochondrial disorder that could have helped in the autistic symptoms. Another thing that could have led to a negative reaction was giving too many vaccines to a child too soon. What doctors concluded was that there is still not enough evidence to designate vaccinations as the cause of autism. But that there should be more studies and it is possible. In the meantime, children should not be given too many vaccinations because their bodies aren’t mature or strong enough to handle all those drugs in their system.

Hannah’s case was special and should not be seen as proof that vaccinations cause autism. In the TIME article, this was a Texas Sharpshooter case because they thought that because something “positive” with their hypothesis came true. This could be considered a fluke, but obviously there are not enough studies or evidence that it is a causation. All we can do is stay healthy and try to figure out why the autistic children born each year are growing.

Nightmares vs. Dreams pt. 1

You are falling, and falling into nothingness. Absolutely nothing and you have no idea where you are going. Or, you are being chased by your worst nightmare, except you can’t move. Ever heard of these scenarios that you’ve dreamed of? Most likely everyone has experienced a dream or nightmare such as this. What I want to differentiate between are dreams and nightmares, and why exactly we get these images in our heads. What causes them?

What causes what? In many cultures, when asked in a case study by Carey Morewhedge and Michael Norton by WebMD, students were supposed to hear about a recent increase in terrorist attacks on planes, plane crashes and test to see if they would dream about that if they had a flight the next day. Several of the students asked responded with the same level of anxiety when dreaming and hearing about a plane crash. They also stated they would most likely cancel their flight. Norton also found that people most likely attributed their good dreams with pleasant experiences, which makes sense and displeasing experiences with nightmares are more meaningful. I had an awful nightmare that was attacked by Orks from Lord of the Rings when I was about 7 and they has stuck with me because I hated the Orks so much. When dreams hold a specific memory with us, they seem to hold more meaning. Most of the things we dream are held close to ourselves, but then we have those random dreams that are caused a lot by stress and makes us toss and turn a lot. So personal experiences cause nightmares and dreams and I guess there could possibly be a reverse causation, because how you feel during the dream could make you feel the same way if you had to be part of a similar experience.

In the biblical times, many kings would have people come in to tell them what their dreams meant, like when Joseph, of Joseph with the technicolor coat told the king that his dream meant that there was going to be a famine. Some dreams do hold meaning, but I feel that in our day and age, some people do not hold these dreams to have any meaning in their lives. Sometimes I dream things that are happening in the future, like a test that I’m stressed about or a party that I’m looking forward to. One time I dreamed that my sister was going to lose her tooth the next day, and she did. So maybe sometimes our dreams hold a psychic part of ourselves that really do mean something.

Nightmares are categorized into different meanings. The infamous nightmare that you are being chased by a monster is considered a release nightmare in which you are being confronted with a problem head-on and the monster you are running from is yourself. These nightmares tend to be random and jumbled, basically your brain on steroids overthinking and needing to be controlled. There are certain nightmares that are considered to be healing because the neocortex will erase them after you’ve dreamed them and refresh you for a new day, so that is why sometimes you forget some dreams. We also have recurring nightmares that focus on past events that have scarred us, such as people with PTSD or like Katniss Everdeen having the recurring dreams in the arena in Hunger Games. Sometimes people that dream about their deaths means that a time of change or transition is occurring. The final nightmare is one with a recurring theme, but a different subject instead. As noted earlier, these dreams can be due to stress or possibly medications that you are on. If you would like to read more about understanding your nightmares check out The Nightmare Dictionary.

The Lucid Dream Mirror experiment is something worth trying in terms of getting inside possibly your innermost thoughts and worries that you dream about. What you have to do is become lucid and find a mirror to stare at yourself. Look at yourself deeply, what do you see? The author of this article, Rebecca Turner recorded herself saying that she saw herself growing old and her teeth falling out, which meant that she was possibly going through menopause or worried about self-image. Sometimes these lucid dreams can be downright scary. I myself have not tried it, but it is worth trying it.

There is so much information about nightmares and dreams, that I’m going to make a part two about dreams.

While writing this article, I was reminded of the movie Inception, and how they try to get into people’s dreams, so enjoy figuring out how to mess with people’s minds.

PSU Plague: Serious?

You know that loud noise you hear and covers up your teacher’s voice during a lecture? Well, that is called a chain reaction of people coughing because they have what we Penn Staters like to call  the “PSU Plague.” There is not a specific disease that is dubbed as this, but because it seems that everyone in the PSU community has got the bug, it fits the name. Although some people may not think this is a serious sickness, it is because of its repercussions.

With thousands of students touching the same doors, desks, bathroom stalls, etc. it seems pretty clear why students are getting sick. What is the x-variable, independent variable that is causing this? Transmission of bacterial disease and the dependent y-variable is the outcome of the PSU Plague. Possible third variables that could add to the PSU Plague would be sleep, diet and independence. There could be a reverse causation of the PSU Plague causing transmission of bacterial disease to students.

But there are more specific reasons to this sudden outbreak of students getting the “Plague.”  Going to college has its advantages and disadvantages, better classes and most important having more freedom. Although having more freedom might be all fun and games, it isn’t when you get sick and you have to take care of it, instead of your parents. There are so many reasons though why college students seem to get more sick than others. We all know that many students stay up late pulling all-nighters, just for the heck of it or they are sick and can’t get to sleep. Either way, students do not sleep. With the new freedom, we can eat whatever we want and some choose to eat unhealthy food that is not good for the diet and causes them to be more susceptible to illness. Being on a college campus that represents so many cultures is cool because we can learn about different people and they can have more opportunities. But with this increase in different cultures, people are bringing different viruses and sickness that is transmitted between different students. People from all over the place bring different things to the table and one of them unfortunately is disease. Probably something every college kid can relate to is stress. Yep, that lovely thing that makes you feel awful and tired leads to feeling sick. (LiveStrong). So that symphony of coughing occurring in SC200 is the PSU Plague.

So now we know why students get sick or are more apt to catching this disease. But how exactly do students obtain this disease in their immune system? As I mentioned earlier, PSU is a college that houses thousands of students that touch the same things every day and you don’t know who is sick. Of course, we all know that bacteria has to be transmitted between students for an attack on the immune system to happen. The bacteria multiplies when it enters the body and keeps dividing until there are many negative bacteria attacking your immune system.

The PSU Plague is detrimental to a student and is something serious that students should be wary about it because it could affect your grades and physical nature. My three roommates missed a week of class because they had no energy and could not get out of bed. You may be lucky if you have teachers that don’t take attendance or are more understanding about getting sick. But for the unfortunate people that really feel the weight of the plague on them, this sickness stinks. You miss a couple classes, fall behind on work, lose energy/motivation to do work= bad grades and taking the class over again. The PSU Plague needs to be taken seriously and recognized.

A London company decided to conduct a study on how to reduce work absences, which may be helpful in suggestions on how PSU could aid students. The only problem with this study is that it is with 365 workers and PSU has over 40,000 students, so the number gap is huge. But the study the Port of London Authority conducted, was to see how many people got sick and how they could reduce that. They decided that the managers and staff needed to be more involved and immediately go to a on-site doctor which would look at them. Basically people needed to be more involved and aware of the sicknesses. Now teachers and students could have better communication and the students could be more aware of what they are missing. For the most part, teachers are understanding and want you to feel better. So this case study that was conducted is somewhat beneficial but it doesn’t offer up a lot of help in how to reduce sick absences except more involvement between manager and worker.

What students at PSU can be doing to prevent sickness is drinking lots of fluids, staying warm, vitamin C, a healthy diet, sleep and lathering up on soap. The only thing I can offer up as a positive outlook, is that we have 167 days until spring. Good luck with the PSU Plague!

Here’s a recent documentary I made of the PSU Plague:

The Curious Case of Acne

Yet as much as we all hate to admit it, we have searched on Google “ways to get rid of acne fast” or “why do I get acne.” We have all had the wonderful experience of acne during our teenage years and some into their adult years. Having acne can be embarrassing, painful and annoying. You just try to cover it up with whatever makeup you have or using medication. But you still can’t find a treatment that actually gets rid of it. So why is it that some get more acne than others, why do we get acne and what are some methods that you can get rid of acne?

            To begin with, there are two types of acne: the bad kind that leaves scars and are annoying, and the good kind which makes your face look better. Acne affects 80% of the population, so not that many people can hide from the pimply complexion.  Huiying Li of the David Geffen School of Medicine conducted a study on 100 people, half with acne and half clear-skinned. According to Li, there is a certain bacteria called “P. acnes lurks deep in skin pores, sometimes irritating the body’s immune system to cause inflammation and the resulting red bumps we call pimples,”(LiveScience). In the study, researchers found 66 strains in the genome, but narrowed it down to 2 strains that affected ⅕ of every pimpled-person and did not show up as much in the clear-skinned people. But there was one strain most common in the clear-skinned people and not the acne people. Dr. Noah Craft, a dermatologist, deduced that there must be a “natural defense mechanism” that attacks and destroys acne bacteria before it enters the body and causes acne. Scientists think that making more creams that have good P acnes in it will help get rid of acne. But there is yet to be one created. LiveScience. Although there is not specifically clear data to why some people get more acne than others, there are few possibilities. One of the biggest reasons that people get acne is due to hormones called androgens that occur in both sexes during puberty. The androgen produces a lot of oil and sebum which causes more acne. Genetics also plays a small role if your parents had a lot of acne then you are more likely to get acne. People that wear a lot of oil-based makeup can also contract more acne and also some medications can cause more acne.WebMD.

              Now that we know why we get acne, we can figure out how to effectively get rid of it. There are many non-prescription medications that contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide and sulfur. There are also prescription drugs for a stronger reaction which includes benzoyl peroxide, antibiotics, tretinoin, tazarotene, adapalene, dapsone, and azelaic acid. WebMD. There are also non-medicated ways to get rid of acne which are pretty simple. First off, we know that acne is caused by oil and bacteria. So when looking for a face wash, go for a oil-free based face wash and make-up. To avoid using your hands to wash your face, find a facial brush from Olay or L’oreal. Even one of your household items can be used like toothpaste to put on zits. Cosmopolitan. Here are some tips that you can use when preventing acne:

  • Don’t pick at your pimples, they will cause scars.
  • Keep a daily routine for your skin care
  • Don’t sleep with makeup on
  • Wash makeup brushes in soapy water once a week
  • Use salicylic acid based concealers
  • Wash your pillowcases
  • Shower after anything that makes you sweat Prevent Acne

Whether you were born with healthy skin or pimply skin, it is always a good ideas to follow these prevention tips and to stay on top of acne. Good Luck!

An Apple a Day Keeps the Dr. Away?

The catchphrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” has been circulating around for awhile. But why is it that an apple can keep a doctor away? How did this catchphrase come around? And can a banana be healthier than an apple? All of these questions were something I wondered when my roommate and I were enjoying a healthy snack after working out. So what are the answers? You’ll just have to read this blog…

The phrase may seem like it is ancient, but the actual coining of the phrase didn’t evolve until 19th century, specifically 1860’s from Pembrokeshire in Wales. The original phrase was ‘‘Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.” So in this phrase, it is literally saying that eating an apple will make you not go to the doctors as much and the doctor will not make any money. The phrase was reconfigured in the late 19th and early 20th century to “an apple a day, no doctor to pay” and “an apple a days, sends the doctor away.” This was a little bit more to the point, but it wasn’t until 1922 that the phrase we now commonly use was created. “ Ancient Romans and Anglo-Saxons, she said [Taggart], knew about the healthful properties of apples. The fruit also pops up in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, dating back about 1,500 years in southern Asia”(Washington Post). History of the phrase.

But how is an apple able to keep you from having to see the doctor as much? People that say apples keep doctors away have 5 reasons. Apples have quercetin in it which prevents damage to the lining of blood vessels which could lead to cardiovascular disease. Secondly, apples are packed with fiber. A medium apple has about 4 grams of fiber. Thirdly, apples have a low-glycemic level which reduces blood sugar and reduces the chances of getting Type 2 diabetes. Fourthly, “many components of this fruit can help prevent certain cancers: natural pigments called anthocyanins; phenolic acids including ellagic and ferulic acids; the flavonoids quercetin and rutin; and the antioxidant glutathione”(Best Health). The final reason, British doctors found that if you ate 5 apples a week, you would be able to breathe easier, and not have asthma-like symptoms. 5 reasons apples are healthy.

“In 2012, an Ohio State University study found that eating an apple a day helped significantly lower levels of bad cholesterol in middle-aged adults, and in 2011 a Dutch study found that eating apples and pears might help prevent strokes,”(Washington Post).  So the apple is shown to be a healthy option for a snack and prevents many diseases.

As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to know whether the banana or the apple was healthier. So here are the results. In a medium banana, there are 105 calories in it compared to 95 in the apple. Eating an apple will also make you feel more full because it is more dense than the banana. But overall, the two fruit are extremely healthy for you. Differences of the make-up offer different health benefits. Apples have pectin in it, which is a type of soluble fiber. Soluble fibers protect your body from cholesterol and getting  heart disease. Bananas have 422 milligrams of potassium in a medium banana which aids in the control of blood pressure. Both the fruits also have a low-glycemic level which helps in lowering the blood sugar and preventing heart disease and diabetes. Antioxidants are also loaded in both fruits, vitamin A and C are represented in the fruits. The vitamins also prevent the risk of cancers and heart diseases. Apple vs. Banana

All-in-all, the banana isn’t so different from the apple. You could say “a banana a day keeps the doctor away,” because he slipped on the peel. But in all honesty, if you eat fruit, whether an apple or banana everyday you will be better off.


Is it Right or Not to Use Rats for Experiments?

Every single time in SC200 when we need to figure out a way to test whether smoking is bad or whether worms make kids stupid, it is unethical to intentionally put humans’ in harm’s way. But it is ethical to test chemicals and other factors on lab rats. I’m not an animal(aka rat) conservationist, but I find it interesting to what the positives and negatives are of using the lab rats. Why are rats used and not another animal?

Rats are considered to have similar genetic structure and cost-efficient to be used as the guinea pigs, or the lab rats. 95% of all animals used in research are rats because their genetic, biological and behavioral characteristics are so similar to that of humans. Rats are also easy to study because the majority of rats are purebred, containing the same genes, except the sex genes. There is a gene called transgenic mice which contains genes that carry human diseases. One of the greatest things about rats to scientists is that they reproduce in large quantities and their lifespan is so short it doesn’t matter if they die a little bit earlier. But the scientists know that there are always more rats to test. Buying the large quantities of rats also makes the usage of rats inexpensive to the researchers. Because rats are used so often in research, their anatomy is well-known to the scientists and makes it a lot easier to keep using the rats. In the pro-animal experiments’ defense, using the rats is not harming humans and developing huge steps in health, making people much healthier and coming up with cures to diseases. Why Rats are used. Scientists are easily able to mutate or crossbreed diseases in the anatomy of the rat since their genetic makeup is so comparable to the human body. Along with that, rats are the only mammals that can have pre-selected genes to manipulate, called Knockout Mice. Overall, rats seem to be the perfect model organism for research, but there are other methods and reasons why they should not be. Human Genome.       Rat infused with a cow disease grows an ear on back.
Rat infused with a disease grows an ear on back.

People that are against animal experimentation state that it is inhumane and cruel. Also, with our society becoming more technologically advanced, scientists are able to come up with other alternatives to test different diseases and still get the same results without harming animals. PETA cites three different alternatives that are effective: In Vitro testing, computer modeling and human volunteers. Some may say that using human volunteers is unethical, but in this case a method called microdosing allows scientists to see whether a drug is safe or not. In terms of using it on humans, they are only given a small dose of it which does not make it harmful. But even with that small dose, scientists are still able to see its effects. Along with the advancement in technology, scientists have come up with a brain imaging screen that studies the human brain down to a neuron and does not damage their brain at all. The other methods for finding cures is by using the In Vitro testing. This testing uses human cells and tissues to crack down on the disease without actually harming the person directly, but taking a sampling of their cells. The last method uses a computer modeling system which researchers are able to simulate similar human biological structures and progression of human diseases. PETA

All of these methods are ethical, moral and do not use animals.

    What this argument comes down to is how much scientists are willing to spend on experimentation, basic beliefs about using animals for experimentation and whether the methods are useful. I’m not going to tell you what is right, but it is up to you to decide.

How Does Music Affect Your Brain?

On a typical day, I listen to several genres of music, based on the mood I’m in and the activity I’m doing at the time. You could say I have an eclectic taste in music, but I know what genres help me focus and others that entertain me. I normally listen to classical music when studying, epic film scores when writing and pop/rock to let loose. There are so many genres of music for us to choose from, but studies have shown that certain genres affect the brain in a variety of ways.

To fully understand how different genres of music make you feel and how your brain reacts to it, we need to understand what is going on inside your brain. There are four major parts of the lobe of the brain, and each part is engaged when music enters. There is not a set path that music travels in the brain, because in many songs, so many factors are changing all the time, so it is more like a tennis match. The cerebellum and auditory cortex work together at the beginning when music first enters the brain; breaking down the basics; pitch and volume. The amygdala controls the emotions that we feel when we listen to music, causing a reaction. The cerebellum connects the basic information to the amygdala and then that leads to a dopamine rush. The dopamine rush is when we feel pleasure from a song and get chills during a particular section of a song. The caudate, a subregion of the striatum is what controls this emotional response. What your brain’s feeling. Now that you have a basic understanding of what is going on inside your brain, let’s look a little closer a specific genres.

In 1993, a study called the Mozart Effect came to the public, stating that listening to classical music can make a child smarter. Mozart makes babies smarter. The BBC reported on a story about the potential greater intelligence when listening to classical music. In several adults, the study found them to have the “ability to manipulate shapes,” but the benefits were short-lived. BBC study. Back to the dopamine rush in the brain, a Prezi presentation stated that while listening to classical music stress hormones were released because there was a calm

pleasure felt when listening to it. So classical must make people more calm and that is why maybe they are found to be more intelligent. Prezi’s Take.

On a completely different spectrum, pop music gets the blood pumping and makes you less calm. The auditory cortex sends messages to the brain, relaying that the music has rhythmic beat and makes the person want to dance and sing. Therefore being a distraction, and probably not that helpful when studying. Prezi Pop.  Most pop music is repetitive and catchy, making it easier to get in your head and bother you. While on the other hand, classical music is more complex with different sections and coming up with new ideas.

People are different, their brains don’t all work the same way, different music makes people feel different things. I may be able to study with intense film scores in the background and someone may be able to study with Katy Perry on. Everyone is different. So there is a definite correlation between classical music and having a little better grades. But honestly it just comes to the person’s preferences of what they like. BBC. So don’t think that by listening to classical music you will instantly be smarter. Find the music that makes you less distracted and able to concentrate. I have found mine and it is classical, so find yours.

Here are two songs to compare how your brain reacts to each one:

Why the Bug Bites

School’s out, no more tests, summer’s here, swimming, hiking, staying up late, ice cream, fourth of July and…bug bites. This past summer I only got bit maybe three times and they were not that painful or itchy. But this past Monday, I was sitting outside with a couple of my friends and I started feeling extremely itchy. When I got back to my dorm, I noticed that I had three huge bites on my arm and two on my knee; even one on my ear! Bug bites are not pleasant and leave your skin looking blotchy and you feeling distracted because you are constantly scratching. What attracts bugs to bite people, what’s their poison? With this new information, people will have a better understanding to why they are the object of a bug’s attraction, therefore preventing a lot of bites.

To answer this question, we need to know the reasoning behind these unwelcome attacks. From the book Prevention of Bug Bites, Stings and Disease, “bites and stings are sometimes about defense rather than feeding.” Most of the insects that are biting are female and they need blood to nourish the egg when they are impregnated. So in the female insects case, they are defending their nest and need nutrients for their baby. Prevention of Bug bites… It is common knowledge that if a bee is flying around you should not swat at it because then it will be infuriated and sting you. This is true with other bugs. If a person does anything to a bug, they are asking for an attack. Kaufman Field Guide. Bugs are just like humans in that they don’t like people slapping them away or making them angry. Think of it in that perspective. This may make us feel a little better, but we are still a ticked off at the bugs for biting us.

Bugs have antennae that can smell scents from 100 feet away which allows them to determine which smell they are attracted to. According to Mosquitno, there are 5 different smells that they are attracted to, whether it may be a bad or good smell in our opinion. The five smells are carbon dioxide, lactic acid, body odor, secretions and blood type. The Five Scents. The NCBI conducted a study to determine which blood type was more attractive to mosquitoes and the Type O blood was found to be attacked twice more than a person with Type A blood. About 85% of people secrete a chemical which bugs can pick up which blood type they have. When you are working out and start sweating, the bugs around you find that appetizing and that is why sometimes a swarm of bugs follow you when you are sweating.Why bugs bite.

Dr. Logan from Rothamsted Research in the U.K. tested several different cases with people that had a scent on and people that did not to see whether the bugs would attack or retract. What he found was that the bugs went towards those with a more appealing scent, such as the one’s listed above. According to Logan, there are few repellants that actually work, except DEET. Wall Street Journal

The only possible way to keep from being the victim of a miserable summer is to refrain from any of the five scents, not provoke the bugs and have a blood type besides O. So, sorry, but you are still going to get bitten.

The Genetics of Aging




Aging is a part of life that everyone will eventually face, whether in 20 years or 75 years; it is coming. There are many celebrities that we have watched age timelessly like Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Tom Hanks and Helen Mirren. Celebs aged gracefully. The question a majority of people wonder, is whether it is only celebrities and people with wealth that can still look young as they age or if non-celebrities with not as much money can be that way too. What it all comes down to according to the NIH and several scientists, is the genetic makeup of the body and what a person can do to prevent a disease-free, calm aging.

At conception, a person’s dna is configured to his/her own genetics from their parents and ancestors. Trends in the dna, like longevity of the person’s relatives can predict whether they will live longer or shorter. Likewise, with diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimers, etc., doctors are able to find out if you will get that just by looking at the makeup of a person’s dna.The Genetics of age-related health. In terms of aging, the National Institute of Aging has conducted tests to determine whether genetics has a hand in a way a person will age.

‘While it is very difficult to prove that a gene influences aging in humans, a relationship, or ‘association,’ may be inferred based upon whether a genetic variant is found more frequently among successful agers, such as centenarians, compared with groups of people who have an average or short lifespan and health span,”(NIA). Research-based studies on aging have been tested on animals that have relatively similar dna structures to humans. Studies have shown that people that live longer and have a healthier lifestyle contain the same gene. In other studies according to NCBI , a child has more of a certain dna and as they age they lose that certain gene and are more susceptible to contracting a disease. NCBI aging

In our society, there are anti-aging creams and drugs that you can take to prevent aging. But back in the 1950’s, there were no creams, just a healthier lifestyle. Dr. Michael Dasco, a doctor from 1959, had an article in Time magazine that addressed the issue of aging.TIME aging.   In a projection by the U.S. Census Bureau for 2020, 2020 Census pg.2, people aged 55-74 hold a larger chunk in the population, and people aged older are much fewer. This case could possibly be linked to the genetics, but more importantly the lifestyle that a person leads.

“The marks that make up the epigenome are affected by your lifestyle and environment and may change, for example, based on what you eat and drink, if you smoke, what medicines you take, and what pollutants you encounter.  Most epigenetic changes are likely harmless, but some could trigger or exacerbate a disease or condition, such as your risk for age-related diseases,”(NIA).National Institute of Aging. This study by the NIA is a future prediction that has been happening for the past decades, but with a different name. The introduction to this new terminology of epigenetics is described by the NIA as “nature and nurture, or more specifically genetics and the environment.” All of this information makes sense to readers that what they allow to do to their bodies will affect their lifespan and how their body will age. The environment arguably is one of the leading causes of people aging so quickly. People that tan regularly will have wrinkly skin, as well as women that wear makeup that causes damaged skins and toxins. People that smoke will have a higher chance of lung cancer and people that have  an unhealthy diet are more likely to contract diseases.

The bottom line is that people need to be aware of how they are treating their bodies because it could move the aging process along a little faster. Although there is still so much research to be discovered about the connection between aging and genetics, longevity and similarities between different genes does show it being a factor of aging. Aging is not something humans can stop, but we can be aware of how to prevent diseases and stay healthy.

SC200 Post #1

Hi! I’m Allison Lightner, from right here in State College, PA. My major is broadcast journalism and being in that field you need to know a little about everything. So when I read the description of SC200 and the topics we would be covering, this class seemed like a pretty good idea. I know that it will challenge my brain and make me think more. But I have never been in  a class like this before.

Why I am and will never be a science major is because my mind does not think that way and I have always known that I have a gift for writing. I would mess up a chem lab or destroy something most likely. I do find science at times interesting, but pursuing it as a career sounds like a bad decision. I know scientists probably make more money than journalists. But the bottom line when it comes to choosing a career is finding something that you really love and wouldn’t mind spending many years at.

In this picture, you’ll see a piece of my artistic work. In my spare time I like to go shoot nature, people and animals. If broadcast journalism falls through, plan b is to become a professional photographer. The link will show you more examples of my work.


Allison Lightner Photography