Author Archives: Dean Giammarco

Does color matter?

Color is everywhere and it subconsciously affects all of us. Magazines, billboards, and TV commercials used great methods to make you feel the way the marketers want you to feel.  Leslie Harrington, executive director of The Color Association of The United States explains, “We react on multiple levels of association with colors — there are social or culture levels as well as personal relationships with particular colors,” A social and cultural example is when you see the color red your heart races a little bit and you feel anxious. This is due to fire trucks, ambulances, and sirens to all produces that red association into your mind.

But other then social and cultural explanations there is a great deal of science behind it. Going back to the red example it scientifically stimulates us because red is the longest wavelength. It isn’t the most visible color in the spectrum but it has the property of appearing to be nearer than it is and therefore it grabs our attention first. This is why we use red in traffic lights. Red is a more physical reaction. On the other hand blue reds arch rival is less dominant when introduced with other colors unlike red. It soothes us and calms us. It resembles intelligence and sometime sadness. A surprise to me is how yellow makes us feel. Yellow is sense of confidence and optimism. This is due to the long wavelength and just as red does it stimulates us. But in this case the stimulus is emotional. White and black also interest me. They are very bland but powerful colors.  Black is  an absence of light. No wavelengths are reflected off it. This causes back to be feared and is a large reason why people are scared of the dark. With that being said white is the opposite. It brings a sense of reflection and clarity to people. It resembles cleanliness which is why white issued in most beauty products.

All colors subconsciously control how we feel and act. Next time you watch an advertisement look for any color queues; you may find more then you would think.  

Does exercise help stress?

When it comes to stress it is insanely difficult for anyone to find time to exercise whether it be cardio or even yoga. With main causes of stress being either financial pressures, job security, and the overall economy why w2011-01-stress-causes-chart_tcm7-105112ould anyone have time to manage their stress with more strenuous activity like exercise.

This isn’t the best way to look at it. In fact according to the mayo clinic exercise increases endorphins; your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. Exercise is a known distraction from the daly irritations that create stress. After a long mind clearing run or a couple laps in the pool all the days stresses seem to dissipate for that short time of activity. A small but crucial mental rest from stress is vital to the importance of keeping a healthy mind and body; thus reducing overall stress levels.

A great resource provided by the American Psychological Association  are the most common physical symptoms of stress. These symptoms include irritability or anger, fatigue, and lack of motivation. In correlation to these symptoms you can find that exercise actually helps curb these physical stresses. As said earlier in the post other than the release of endorphins and other chemicals like serotonin in the brain to increase a more positive uplifted mood, exercise also creates a sense of accomplisheffects-excercise-social-anxietyment giving the individual a boost of motivation. If exercise didn’t sell you yet, it is proven that exercise helps not only your mental health but also your bones, complexion, muscles, and even brain power!

So next time you are feeling a bit overwhelmed and stressed out throw on some running shoes or go to a yoga class and you may just find yourself feeling better than ever!

Myth busting the Mountain Dew Mystery

A good old urban legend that I still remember to this day is that the soft drink Mountain Dew kills sperm and reduces their overall sperm count. This has been, at least for me, something I’ve heard since the playground days during grade school. And at the time it made sense, its the only green soft drink and its very acidic and sweet. It fit the profile and at 13 or so years old I wasn’t gonna question it. But now that I have explored science through this class it’s time for me to actually find the answer.

We first need to start out with how did this myth start or more or less what about mountain dew created this bizarre accusation but left Sprite, Pepsi, and Coke aside from this. Mountain dew has a great amount of ingredients but the two that stick out the most in this myth are caffeine and Yellow dye #5, also known as Tartrazine. If you break down this two ingredients we can see that something isn’t adding up. Mountain dew contains 54mg of caffeine in a 12 oz can.  That might seem like a lot since coke has 34mg per 12 ounces, Dr. Pepper has 41, and Pepsi has 38. If we had to count on caffeine to be the reason for the reduction of sperm then we need to look at other high caffeine drinks and see how they compare. The average cup of coffee has 217mg per 12 ounces, about 4 times more than the Mountain Dew! So for comparison’s sake, Mountain Dew doesn’t contain very much caffeine, compared to other things many commonly drink. With even more proof “The Chemical Health Hazard Assessment Division of the Canadian Bureau of Chemical Safety reviewed all the current studies on the subject and found that they showed that if a man drank one or two
cups of coffee per day, he would have an increase in his sperms motility and density.” So at this point caffeine if anything is doing the exact opposite and actually increase the quality of sperm.

But we aren’t done yet. We still have yellow dye #5 or Tartrazine. Tartrazine can be found in anything and everything ranging from ice cream to your favorite bag of chips to chewing gum. Tartrazine is very water soluble so most of Tartrazine you put in your body will run right through kidney and come out in your urine. Very little is actually metabolized by our bodies. The European Food Safety Authority re-evaluated the effects of Tartrazine in 2009.  “There ar
e no adverse effects on reproduction or development from consuming Tartazine.” They even tested people at a rate of 1225 mg/kg and still found no adverse effects. Sperm affects aside, the FDA does recommend that we should only ingest 5 milligrams per kilogram per day of Yellow dye #5. But all of this has to do strictly for allergenic reasons not reproductive reasons. But this is only due to the fact that there are only a very small percentage of people who are allergic to it. (1/1000) 

So there you have it. Myth busted! Mountain Dew’s long lasting accusation of reducing sperm count has been proved wrong. Caffeine and yellow dye #5 the main ingredients that fueled the myth actually have zero effect on reproduction of sperm and at the end of the day all men can rest easy now and sit back and enjoy Mountain Dew. 

The right temperature to study

As I sit here and think about my next blog post topic I break out into a sweat just wondering about everything that can be put into this text box. It then hit me, I spent more time in the past 10 minutes focuses on how hot the room I am in then actually doing the work. This sparked at great idea! What is the effect temperature has on studying or any academic performance for that matter?

A study was done on temperature effect on academic performance at Westview High School in Portland, Oregon.  The researchers conducted aptitude tests on 9th graders in classrooms with varying temperatures and analyzed the results. These tests included memorization between shapes and colors and basic math equations. A great part about this study is that it lays out the control variability to strengthen the results and accuracy of the study. Here were some of the key points.

  • “The groups tested were the same age, so they would have the same opportunity to take the test.
  • Six different classes were tested, so students didn’t have any prior knowledge about the content of the test.
  • Teachers offered an incentive, so they would do their best in the test.
  • The groups and the time of the day were picked randomly.
  • All the rooms used were science rooms, which are prior to testing similar.
  • The group stayed in the classroom at least 10 minutes, so the student’s would have time to acclimate to the room’s temperature.”

This study was going strong until the results of the first test came out. There were a couple issues that the team noticed. First, the temperatures were not varying enough making it inefficient to tell whether there was much of an effect or not. A large obstacle facing the team was the test it self. it was a very simple test not really testing the attention span or academic performance of the students as well as a hard test wold of conducted. The team went back to drawing board and increased the temperature differences and strengthen the test to increase the effort the students needed to produce to complete the test. The second test was greatly different and you can actually see the effect of temperature on performance.  When the students were exposed to drastic temperatures of being cold or hot their performance ranged in the 70s. But in the control group we can see an average of 90. This is significant data to show that temperature does correlate with student performance.

But with all studies we can find some negatives of the study. To begin this is merely correlational and many factors can contribute to the bulk of these scores. This can range from different light in the different rooms, the test administrators, other students in the class could of distracted one another. There are plenty of cofounding variables but this does show great results on temperature effect and it is highly unlikely that any of the cofounding variables would bring out these results. Another issue I came across the study is that it has potential to tell us more information. The data isn’t strong enough to exactly tell the amount of effect that temperature variation has on performance.

However a second study caught my attention, but this time it was to find the temperature that creates the bets performance. In this meta-analysis study Helsinki University of Technology, Laboratory for Heating Ventilating and Air-conditioning has “focused on the effects of temperature on performance at office work.” The performance variable used to calculate work efficiency was text processing, simple calculations (addition, multiplication), length of telephone customer service time, and total handling time per customer for call-center workers. The team calculated from all studies the percentage of performance change per degree increase in temperature and analyzed measured work performance with temperature. Within this study we are not only branching out of the objective of the study but also out of the classroom and into a work environment. Here are the studies that were calculated into the meta-analysis.

Outcome or tasks and weighting factor of the outcome in the analysis ( )

Author and year of the study

Environment of the study

Objectively reported work performance (1)

Federspiel et al. 2004, Heschong 2003, Korhonen et al. 2003, Niemelä et al. 2001, Niemelä et al. 2002, Tham 2004, Tham &Willem 2004

Office environment

Complex tasks (0.5)

Chao et al. 2003, Heschong 2003
Link and Pepler 1970

Office environment Field laboratory Apparel factory

Simple tasks, visual tasks (0.25)

Berglud 1990, Fang 2004, Hedge 2004, Langkilde 1978, Langkilde et al. 1979, Löfberg et al. 1975, Wyon 1996


Vigilance task or manual tasks related to office work (0.15)

Meese et al. 1982
Mortagy and Ramsay 1973; Wyon et al. 1996

Field laboratory Laboratory

Learning (0.15)

Allen et al. 1978, Holmberg and Wyon 1969, Johansson 1975, Pepler and Warner 1968,

 class room

The results show that performance increases with temperature up to 21-22 degrees and decreases with temperature above 23-24 degrees. The highest productivity is at temperature of around 22 degrees. Findings such as these can help businesses redirect their work in a more efficient and helpful way. Comparing these two studies we have learned a couple of things. We learned that increasingly tho and increasingly cold temperatures negatively effects performance but with the meta-analysis we have strict data to confirm that within the control group that performed the best in the first study we can assume maximized performance peaked when the room was around 22 degrees.

Taxi or Uber?

This is a struggling discussion among many college students and those who live in taxi prevalent cities. Uber is a new transportation method sweeping across the nation. Any user who downloads the free app can request a pick up from a local driver who is employed by uber. The drivers get their own hours, use their own cars, and are tracked using the mobile app. This is an easy method for many who don’t want to go through the trouble of hailing a cab. Before you even leave your room you can have a driver set up with a pick up location and know their name, car type, and their face! It is an excellent method to travel. Or is it? I was a heavy uber user especially during the time where I had an internship in State College outside of the campus. It was difficult to get to without a car and no buses made the trip. It was working great and it seemed as if ubers were running the campus. Recently however I have seen a shift. It was difficult to find uber drivers and fairs skyrocketed. I found myself using taxis at more than half the price of an uber and just as reliable. I decided to take a look into a major city where this problem is displayed on a larger scale and see if there are any studies based on these largely competitive companies.

New York City, a prevailing leader in the taxi cab industry. Recognized around the world is the New York City yellow taxi. They flood the streets of the concrete jungle. Uber and NYC taxi are at the break of war as uber has taken a large portion of the market. There is ample circumstantial evidence of the damage Uber has brought on New York’s yellow cab industry. It came to the point where “earlier this year city officials tried to come to traditional taxis’ aid, by threatening to cap the growth of “for-hire” cars (the category that includes Uber vehicles) on the grounds that they were exacerbating congestion—though the government temporarily backed down after Uber launched an aggressive public-relations campaign against it, and agreed to delay the proposed limits until the completion of a traffic study in November.” These are bold moves by both competitors. To continue the demolition of uber’s reputation, on August 5th the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), the industry’s regulator, released figures on every NYC taxi journey from 2014 to June 2015. This graph is the proof both sides needed to understand whether uber was taking business from the taxi services or if it was just filling in the already empty gap that other public services have taken away from the taxis already. Overall we can see there were 333,000 Uber rides in June 2013. With 14.4m taxi trips that month we see a total of 14.7m. According to the economist “by the same month of this year, the combined sum for Uber plus traditional taxis was 15.8m. This 7.5% increase in two years makes clear that the market is not zero-sum, and that the benefits enjoyed by Uber and its customers and drivers have not come entirely at yellow cabs’ expense.” This is avid proof of users impact on the taxi companies. But we can’t stop there, we still see some fishy evidence. While Uber expanded “approximately tenfold over the past two years,” from a couple hundred thousand rides to a couple million rides. On the other hand taxis fell by 2.1m during the same period. Over all we see that, “35% of the growth in Uber rides during this 24-month period has been in addition to the preexisting market demand, leaving 65% that has replaced trips that would otherwise have gone to taxis.”

That does put some damage on users reputation to hurting the beloved taxis. But if we put the numbers away and stick to the basics of tastes we can see proof in this graph. During late night hours uber tends to rise. This is based on the principle of passengers  value Uber’s advantages in convenience and comfort. “Taxi rides between 11pm to 5am have fallen by 22% since June 2013, whereas trips at all other times are only off by 12%.” Ubers from personal experience are cleaner, nicer, and you don’t have to sit in the very old gross cab millions have sat in and stare at a dirty bullet proof window. The backseat looks like the back of a cop car. Overall uber’s are more of a pleasing ride. But if you are looking for the comfort and style uber offers you maybe you are one of many who is willing to pay. But with the finances of a college student sometimes the cheaper option is just the best option.  We can see some of users impact on taxis but is uber all to blame?

Within the last couple years citi bike stations have poped up all across New York City. Citi bike is a public bike service where a simple use of a touchscreen monitor and swipe of credit card you can be on your way with a bike for close and efficient transportation. This is also a cofounding variable hidden in the shadows of uber’s spotlight. We can also contribute other variables of transportation to buses, trains, and subway systems but there is little to no evidence to support this. These are all other modes of transportation that could contribute to the downfall of the taxi. As of now we are in a very large correlational stage of this debate and depending on whether the city puts ordinances on uber we may say good bye to the taxi and hello to the uber! 


How much, how often and what of?

Music is a universal language used and shared across the world. With todays apps, radios, podcasts, cell phones, and tablets you can access and share with anyone anywhere with a touch of button. But I was curious of how much we actually listen to and how do we listen to it. I didn’t think this would blow up as much as it did when I did a quick Google search. I hopped into the immense amount of knowledge from statistics, surveys, and scientific studies of actually how much audio we listen to a day and how we listen to it. Not only does this help the scientific community but also the technology community. Knowing and estimating how people listen to music can bring new and improved audio technology and advertising ideas to the table. This simple question of how much do we listen to opens up a large range of opportunities across many spectrums of our society.

According to an article done by Spin they found an Edison research study that states most U.S. residents listen to roughly four hours and five minutes of audio each day. That’s divided between broadcast radio (52 percent), owned music such as downloads, vinyl, CDs, and tapes (20 percent), streaming services such as Beats Music, Spotify, and Pandora 140619-share-of-ear-listening[1](12 percent), satellite radio (8 percent), podcasts (2 percent), and the  “other” category, like audiobooks (2 percent). This findings were very surprising to me. I would of put my money on that internet radio and other applications such as Pandora and spotify would dominate the music listening to industry. But taking a look into a deeper understanding is that my demographic of being a 19 year old college student appeals to that community and I just figured that was everyone. If I think of my parents they listen to CDs and the radio much of this split on the chart makes sense. Overall this study is pretty weak in the sense of giving me more information about how the study was actually conducted. I don’t know who the study was based on, and how they obtained the information.

I dug deeper and found a study done by Nielsen, a statistical marketing company aimed to, “study consumers in more than 100 countries to give you the most complete view of trends and habits worldwide.” Extremely trusted and a large company I was confident that their study would be noteworthy for this post. According to Nielsen’s Music 360 2014 study, “93% of the U.S. population listens to music, spending more than 25 hours each week jamming out to their favorite tunes.” 25 hours per week listening is slightly under he recorded amount in the Edison research study. But four hours with this type of study in which each individual studied can generally shift those numbers isn’t a bad range to get an idea of the time we listen to music. Personally speaking I may listen to about 3 hours a day listening to music. At the end of the week I am at 21 hours slightly under the recorded amount but I can make the statement that am not the biggest music listener for prolonged periods of time.  A fun fact I found in this study is when we listen to music which is something I didn’t consider when looking into this subject but according to this study; ” 75% of Americans say they actively choose to listen to music, which is more than they claim to actively choose to watch TV (73%). Whether in the car (25%), at work (15%) or while doing chores (15%), we spend big chunks of our time listening to music.” These are reasonable statics as these are the exact times when I listen to the most music. To get down to the meat of the study lets actually look at how we listen to music. When it comes down to it the story is largely a digital one. “Americans streamed 164 billion on-demand tracks across audio and video platforms in 2014, up from 106 billion in 2013.” Not only did the number of streams in 2014 surge past the number a year earlier, but thow-we-spend-money-on-music-final11111111111he pace of weekly streams hit new heights. In any given week across America, 67% of music fans stream music. These are great numbers and very different from the Edison study, both done in the same year. Interestingly CDs and cassettes declined, while vinyl reported its ninth consecutive year of sales growth. With 9.2 million units sold in 2014, vinyl sales roared past the 6.1 million units sold in 2013 by nearly 52%. Vinyl now accounts for 6% of physical album sales. This is unexplained but largely are caused but pop culture trends leaning towards a more vinyl era. from personal experience many of my friends and peers do buy vinyl, I personally haven’t but this odd statistic is represented in personal experience. On average In the U.S and individuals have reported spending around $109 on music. The pie graph gives an in depth look at what they spend it on.

All in all, these two studies do defer and I consider the Nielsen study to be more of a reliable source when it comes to this information. This is a hard concept to study. Age, gender, location, and many variables reflect this extremely and it is so individualized it can be difficult to get a accurate reading. But Nielsen is a large company operating all over the world and this seems to be the best statistic to get on this topic.


Does cell phone use outside of the classroom effect your overall grade?

I am an avid cell phone user, especially during the dry moments in class and at 19 years old there sure a lot of them. It has been told to many students numerous of times that repeated cell phone use in class can destroy your overall grade. This has been proven time and time again. But today is no ordinary day. My goal is to analyze whether or not cell phone use outside of the classroom may effect the overall grade or gpa.

To answer this question I turned to a study conducted at Kent State University in Ohio. The objective of this study by the Health and human services researchers at the University surveyed about 500 undergraduate majors across a range of majors. In addition to tracking their daily cellphone use, they also measured their happiness their grade-point averages. In order to calculate results of the participants the the survey given was constructed of four sections: demographic information, the Satisfaction with Life Scale, questions about cell phone and texting use. Just to step back and analyze how this study is being conducted so far I see nothing wrong. We have great use of representative sample which helps create a good representation of a large population. Secondly, the survey is pretty self explanatory and displays all the information needed to conduct the study to find out the results in a fair way. To measure academic progress through the study, the students signed off to let their official academic records be seen by the researchers.

The results are honestly shocking when I read them. Especially being a huge cell phone user myself. Students with more cellphone use had lower grades. Students with more cellphone use had higher anxiety and students with more cellphone use were less happy. A couple of things to note. There are a ton of cofounding variables still left unknown. Every individual taking this survey has their own backround and their own circumstances thatchy are in which can easily effect their happiness and grades. So yes the findings to point out some interesting facts and most students should probably consider but nothing is 100 percent definite. Correlation doesn’t equal causation.

To relook at the situation to get a better handle of how cell phone use effects performance I found a study from The Centre of Economic Performance. We jump from college to high school for this study. Although this is a bit of difference in schooling high school is actually a greta setting for studies such as this because the students are contain
ed within the school grounds under school rules. You can kinda look at this as a lab experiment. In many different schooling districts researchers at the University of Texas and Louisiana State University surveyed cell phone policies across schools in four English cities since 2001, studying how exam scores changed before and after the districts banned cell phones in their schools. The researchers found “We found the impact of banning phones for these students equivalent to an additional hour a week in school, or to increasing the school year by five days.” The study concluded that test scores increased by 6%. That is a decent number for just banning cell phone use.

With these two studies we can conclude there is defiantly some evidence that cell phone use does disrupt students grades and may somewhat effect their emotional health. But nothing is concrete yet until more studies are taken. For now i would suggest that some students take up the challenge and put your phone away some times and see if
it does actually help. I know I will.

Birthday suit over pajamas?

Lying in bed thinking about my next blog post just like every science 200 student should be doing I came up with a weird question. It is two in the morning and I just can’t seem to go to sleep. I thought of many different ideas of what may help me sleep better and one came to mind; sleeping naked. Although I can say I didn’t try it that night as I have a roommate but still a great blog post question.

First I wanted to get some background information on the subject. Who exactly sleeps naked and is it more common then what I would think? But according to a national survey “about sleep revealed that only eight percent of Americans sleep naked.” That is a small percentage of people that sleep naked. Hopefully after this post it will increase that amount ever so slightly.

According to The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, your body temperature naturally declines as a part of your Circadian Rhythm as you sleep deeply. Your Circadian Rhythm is pretty much your body clock. The circadian rhythm is a 24 hour cycle that tells our bodies when to sleep and other psychological behaviors. This internal body clock is affected by environmental cues, like light and temperature.  In the study done by the School of Social Sciences at he Flinders University of South Australia. Eight adult subjects, five males and 3 females, who have reportedly are in good health and good sleepers had their rectal temperatures recorded for 24 hours in each of two laboratory conditions, sleeping at night and not sleeping at night to test body temperature in the circadian rhythm. According to the conclusion of the study, “Following sleep onset, body temperature dropped more rapidly and remained lower than when wakefulness continued over the same time, resulting in a mean sleep-evoked decrease of 0.31 ± 0.09°C. Fourier regression analysis showed a significant 24-hour (circadian) temperature rhythm, together with a 12-hour harmonic rhythm, in each condition.” So in short wearing those fuzzy pajamas that are so near and dear to your heart can disrupt this natural drop in body temperature and can cause restlessness and that dreadful tossing and turning at night. Although this study was on a small scale it was conducted well and proved some great things.

So maybe regulating your body temperature isn’t selling you on the idea of sleeping naked but after more research there a lot more other positives on doing so. How about athletic ability, and reduced belly fat. All of these are in result to sleeping better due to body temperature while sleeping.  As body temperature drops, growth hormone is released. In a study published by Stanford researcher named Cheri Mah showed that you can get safe doses of growth hormone and even improve athletic performance just by getting a good deep sleep. From seasons from 2005 to 2008 the scientists looked at 11 Stanford basketball players. For two to four weeks. Then for five to seven weeks, The researchers watched everything from what they ate, drank, and slept. The goal was to take naps and get to around 10 hours of sleep a night. Two hours more then the recommended amount. Here is what the study concluded, “After increasing their daily rest, the players sprinted faster and said they felt better in practices and games. Their aim got better too: Their three-point shooting jumped 9.2 percentage points, and their free throw percentage increased by nine points.” Yes this does seem a little out of the park to sleeping naked but if sleeping naked and body temperature go hand in hand to make you sleep better, longer, and deeper then it isn’t so far from Cheri Mah’s idea of sleep and athletic performance.

In the terms of body fat sleep is a huge regulator of hormones especially such that deal with metabolism and morning hunger. So as your body cools down during sleep hormones such as cortisol will decrease with healthy sleep patterns. Dr. Doni, author of The Stress Remedy explains cortisol levels in our bodies. “Cortisol cues our body to hold onto body fat, so it plays a huge role in weight gain.  It is a major contributor to anxiety and depression.  When our cortisol levels are optimal, we feel mentally sharp, clear, and motivated.  When our cortisol levels are off, we tend to feel foggy, listless, and fatigued.  Cortisol also affects our blood pressure and circulation; our lungs, muscles, and bones; and even our skin and hair.” On the nights that you do not sleep enough, you will wake with a level of cortisol that is abnormally high. This is the cause of the morning hunger and aids our body to overeat. This increases tension and anxiety and fuels belly fat.

Most of this is strictly thin correlations to sleeping naked but with something as easy as taking your cloths off and going straight to sleep in order to get a better nights sleep which is directly related to many of the positives variables that can happen with a good nights sleep may just be worth it. Try it out for a couple of weeks, I know I will and maybe we can join the thin and healthy community of the eight percent who already do sleep naked.



How loud is too loud?

College campuses everywhere almost every other person has headphones hanging down from their ears. At some point you can even hear the music they are listening too while they pass. I for one am guilty of this. I love music and I blast it in my headphones. But recently I went to the Zedd True Colors Concert at the Bryce Jordan Center and after hours of insanely loud but great music I could barley even hear coming out of the BJC. After this experience I can only imagine the long term effects of what loud music can do and for this post I am going to find out.

To begin I had to find out some sort of evidence that this noise issue is an actual concern. After the concert I experienced Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and it occurs when tiny sensory hair cells in our inner ears are damaged by noises that are too loud and that last for too long. After two minutes of a Google search I came across the American Osteopathic Associations website on this exact issue. They quoted, “Today, 1 in 5 teens has some form of hearing loss – a rate about 30% higher than it was in the 1980s and 1990s – which many experts believe is due, in part, to the increased use of headphones.” Now that is some serious data. One in five teens is a substantial number. But with one and five teens how serious can this be? According to James E. Foy, DO, an osteopathic pediatrician from Vallejo, Calif., “listening through headphones at a high volume for extended periods of time can result in lifelong hearing loss for children and teens,”  Which leads to problems with comprehension and speech. With many teens advancing into highly academic parts in their lives this isn’t an issue that anyone would like to encounter.

In order to be aware and not only help my self but my friends I found what volume is actually too loud. Sound is measured in units called decibels. Decibel levels begin at zero which equal to about total silence. According to the National Institute of Health a whisper is 30 decibels and a normal conversation is 60 decibels. Any increase by decimals of ten is the equivalent of ten times the previous amount. For instance the sound of an ambulance siren at 120 decibels is about 1 trillion times more intense than the weakest sound our ears can hear. Sounds that reach 120 decibels are painful to our ears at close distances. So in relation to NIHL, the damage done to your ears has three variables, time exposed, how high in decibels the sound you are being exposed to is, and distance from source.  Level of decibels and time exposed for hearing loss to occur are shown in the inserted picture.  decibel_exposure_chartOnce you reach around 100 or so dB the amount of time you should be prolonged to the sound rapidly decreases. This is highly concerning numbers as most mp3 players can reach up to 120 dB. This is extremely dangerous for prolonged exposure. With this information being know a great tip from the AOA is that you should only use MP3 devices at levels up to 60% of maximum volume for a total of 60 minutes a day. But as you increase the volume remember to just shorten the amount of exposure time and you should be fine.

Touch some money everyday and it may just keep the doctor away.

Money can buy you a nice house, a fast car, and it may just be able to buy you some good health. In fact a new study has just been done saying touching, thinking, or earning money can make us feel better. But I am going to dig deep into this study and see if that is truly the case.

In a paper published in the journal Psychological Science researchers have conducted many experiments to prove that touching money can not only reduce stress but also reduce pain. The first study involved 84 volunteers divided into two groups. One group counted out eighty $100 bills, while the second group counted paper. Next, they played a computer game called Cyberball in which four players passed a ball back and forth. The volunteers thought they were playing with three humans, but a computer actually simulated the other players. In half the games, all the players got the ball an equal number of times while the other games were rigged and excluded the players after 10 passes. Those who played the version of the game where they were excluded after ten passes said they felt cheated. According to he article, “on average, all the volunteers who handled the bills before playing reported a lower level of social distress than those who counted paper.” Overall this small experiment is telling us that after they played this rigged computer game those who handled the money were less stressed out when the game cheated them while those who did not count cash but counted the regular paper were more stressed out. This is pretty decent evidence but this study didn’t stop here

The next test was to test money and the effect it has on physical pain. 96 recruits were split into two groups and counted money or paper. Then an assistant strapped down their left hands and dipped their fingers in hot water with a temperature of 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius). The experiment concluded those who counted money rated their pain lower than those who counted paper. Being a well conducted experiment the researches found that maybe a cofounding bearable was the fact that the money laying on the table would of distracted the participants from the pain. This being said they repeated the experiment but this time without the bills. Instead, they asked half of the participants to write about their expenses in the past month and the other half wrote about the weather. Then they either played Cyberball or dipped their fingers in hot water. The participants reported that simply the idea of talking about there expenses and caused social distress. And it intensified the pain of the hot water and the anger that came from the cheated game.

According to University of Minnesota marketing professor and study co-author Kathleen Vohs,”These effects speak to the power of money, even as a symbol, to change perceptions of very real feelings. “People are constantly bombarded with the power of money and how wonderful your life can be if you have money, and how having it can change your life,” she says. Behind this theory that explains the benefits of touching money is that endorphins are released when associated with cash. Another idea behind this theory from behavioral psychologist Matt Wallaert, lead scientist at the free personal finance management site Thrive. “Money is not obscure when you are interacting with it; it feels very concrete,” he says. “When other things in your life feel out of control, and you go into a store and hand over money and they hand you something back, it makes people feel better.” This makes complete sense in my eyes. My sister has this exact issue. When she is down or just gets a bad grade on a test she hits the mall and buys something for herself. It makes her feel better and I am sure this goes for many people.

As for now this is the latest study conducted on this topic and it stands to show that there is a correlation between money and emotional and physical pain. Until more studies come out this is pretty concrete data. So next time you are feeling down open up your wallet and just count your bills, maybe you’ll feel better.

Too much TV…. Are you sure?

Remember when you were a kid and you would watch cartoons hours upon hours after school and your mom would barge into the living room and yell, “Your watching too much TV, You are going to go blind!” If not, I do. My grandma especially would emphasize the casualties of watching too much TV. Here I am in science 200 and it is time to find out if that is actually the case.

We first need to analyze how much TV do we really watch. According to Nielsen Holdings N.V. ,an American global information and measurement company, the average American watches 34 hours a week give or take a couple hours watching recorded television. These calculates to around 5 hours a day of television which makes sense because I can knock out an easy 3 to 5 hours of House of Cards on Netflix a day if I tried. But we are all guilty of our favorite shows or a Netflix binge watch series. But is it worth it?

Here to help this difficult question is a study published by US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. It’s a mouthful but according to the study the method they used was, “a life table model that incorporates a previously reported mortality risk associated with TV time. Data were from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study, a national population-based observational survey that started in 1999-2000. The authors modeled impacts of changes in population average TV viewing time on life expectancy at birth.” After reading this I am bit concerned at the study and its certainty. But I didn’t give up yet. I analyzed the results and found this. The amount of TV viewed in Australia in 2008 reduced life expectancy at birth by 1.8 years for men and 1.5 years for women. These aren’t large staggering numbers but it is a loss of years off your life. But in order to see how effective this truly is to the people who watch an average amount of TV we have to look at the people who watched a lot of TV. Those who spend a lifetime average of 6 hours a day watching TV can expect to live 4.8 years less. On average, every single hour of TV viewed after the age of 25 reduces the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 min. According to the study the uncertainty interval is 95% and I see a little correlation but nothing strong. The theory is backed up with the idea that watching a lot of TV recues physical exercise and social engagement which takes time off your life but there is still a lot of third party variables involved in this.

This being said I sought out a new study to help put together some missing pieces.  After doing so I stumbled across something interesting. We have been looking at physical abnormalities with health and life expectancy but what if TV does more damage to worst; such as your emotional well being. One study published onto science daily. This question is addressed by a new 30-year analysis of US national data of nearly 30,000 adults by John Robinson and Steven Martin from the University of Maryland in the US. Examining the activity patterns of happy and less happy people in the General Social Survey (GSS) between 1975 and 2006. In short the researchers found that the people researched who surveyed to be happier were more socially active, voted more, and read the newspaper. That makes complete sense in my mind. But in order for the study to be relevant they compared these people with avid television watchers. In the same study the categorized unhappy people watched more television. “These conflicting data suggest that TV may provide viewers with short-run pleasure, but at the expense of long-term malaise,” said Professor Robinson. Avid TV Viewers do not have to expend their energy when choosing to watch TV rather then go out, join an organization, or become physically active. You don’t need to plan anything, you can do it by yourself, and you can practically do nothing but press a button.  This becomes an unbeatable combination when combined an enjoyable short run experience. It entirely explains why TV takes up half of American’s free time. Unfortunately this isn’t hard evidence what so ever. It is a correlation but it can defiantly be reverse correlation. People who aren’t active may watch TV more and people ho are active may just not have time to watch as much TV.

Unfortunately we are at a stand still. There are many cofounding variables that still remain. We do see a sense that TV may take some time off your life and it may make you unhappy but these studies shouldn’t change anything except the fact that everything in moderation is good. We may not have found strong evidence but I personally can suggest get out there join a club, go for a walk, and experience real life. That has more benefits than sitting and watching hours of TV. But for now we must wait for more evidence to come out.



First Post!!

Hey all. My name is Dean and I’m from central Jersey. I went to summer session and I love it here at Penn State and summer made it an even easier transition and gave me a great taste of college. I am in the college of communications and it is absolutely the perfect college for me and everything they do for the comm students is really incredible. I love technology, media and how important they are in our everyday life and that is why I am a comm student and not a science major.

I am taking this science class because I am not the best science student, never was, and it seemed to be a pretty unique and interesting. After looking at the syllabus and schedule I can defiantly see my self enjoying this class and taking a lot out of it.

And check out this funny youtube video I just fond!!