Author Archives: Jiamin Shan

Is it better to take notes by hand?

Do you remember that at the very beginning of the semester, probably at the second or third class, when the professor prohibited the use of computers at class, he said that note-taking by hand was more efficient than note-taking on computer? I wonder if what the professor said is true, so I dig into the question, and I found one and only one research about this problem. I do this research not to fight for my right of taking notes with computers, but to find out which is the better way of studying in the future.

PS: Assume if students turn on their laptop on class, taking notes is the only thing they are doing.


The research was conducted by two people from Princeton University and University of California, Los Angeles. In the experiment, sixty-seven students were chosen, thirty male, thirty female, and one unknown (this is what is on the report. I do not know what does “unknown” represents). Five TED Talks were selected with average length of fifteen minutes. The content was interesting but not common knowledge, and the students did not know the information in the TED talks. Students were assigned to take notes with normal laptops and notebooks. After the video, the participants will be asked several questions related to the video. A score will be given based on the accuracy of the answer.

The result shows that students who took notes with laptops had slightly better performance on factual questions, while students who took notes with hand had significantly better performance on conceptual questions. Content vise, students who take notes with laptop has an obvious advantage.


The study could be biased. As I did not see what the questions were, bias could occur during the grading process. If the professor was really against technological use in class, he might manipulate the result. Also, because I failed to find more similar experiment, it is hard to do a meta-analysis to test the accuracy.


The conclusion we can get from the experiment is that although taking notes on computers can record more information, taking notes by hand gives students much better understanding of the information. This conclusion can either be correct or false positive. The result may occur because it is impossible for students to write down everything when taking notes by hand (it is much faster to type), they need to understand the material better so that they can choose the most essential information to write down.

Although failed to find the another experiment, finding out the mechanism for causing the result may be helpful in testing the accuracy of the theory as well. Cognitive psychologist Robert Bjork has a theory that harder learning process can make memorizing easier. This theory can provide a mechanism for why taking notes by hand can help students’ conceptual understanding of the information.


Overall, it seems that taking notes by hand is more helpful to students than taking notes by computer because it makes students understand the material in class better. To this point, I begin to wonder that which will be more efficient, totally focusing on class without taking notes or take some notes by hand. Taking notes will definitely get more information recorded, but will “not taking note” make students understand better? It is a pity that I did not find any experiment on this theory and I can not risk myself to do the experiment. Hopefully someday someone will try to find out the answer to the question.

Works Cited


Are Chinese students smarter?

The topic does not come from nowhere. As a Chinese students, I hear all kinds of stereotypes all the time, and often these stereotypes make me feel extremely surprised and confused. After studying in the US for several years, I found out that these stereotypes are not rare, but fairly common in the US society. The most common stereotype is that Chinese students are smart, at least in the meaning of doing math and finishing homework. Is it true that Chinese students are smarter than students from other places?


First, I have to clarify that I did not make up the stereotype. A study done in Midwest University supports the existence of this stereotype. Midwest University was chosen to take the study because 47% percent of the students in that school were from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, so the American students there had a lot of opportunities of encountering Chinese students. One hundred American students were chosen and asked to describe the Chinese students they saw, and the most frequent impression Chinese students made to Americans is that they were smart. Sixty-seven out of the one hundred students thought Chinese students were smart.


Another test was conducted to further research American’s perception in Chinese students, and the goal of the send test was to find out how many students agreed with the result from test 1. One hundred and forty-six students did an online survey and chose what they thought was true about Chinese students, and the result again, showed that Americans thought Chinese students were smart. (Not that hard-working though)


The result from both tests can be due to chance because the sample size is not really big and is limited in one university. However, because the goal is to find stereotypes, which is very culturally dependent, the result we have now is good enough to be used as a reference, to see how Americans think about Chinese students.

The question that is posted on the introduction paragraph is still not answered: are Chinese students really smart? To find out the answer, the result of PISA test can be used. As the Wikipedia says, “The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a worldwide study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in member and non-member nations of 15-year-old school pupils’ scholastic performance on mathematics, science, and reading.” Because the test in 2015 did not show the total number of students who took the test, I will use the statistics in 2012 instead. In 2012, 510,000 students from 65 countries took the test (about 8000 students per country). Students from Shanghai got the highest score in all three subjects, Math, Science and Reading.


Asian countries showed advantage

Before coming to the conclusion, an assessment on the test should take place. The sample size seems to be large enough to get the result and because the test is worldwide, the only different factor in the whole process should just be the students. However, there are still criticisms that show the flaw of the test. As other countries had students all over the nation taking the test, China just took the students from Shanghai. Shanghai, as the economic center of China, has probably the most developed education resources and system in the country. Also, although the students were “randomly chosen,” it is said that children of outside workers in Shanghai were not chosen in this test. Those critics are basically saying that China chose the best students in the country to take the test, as other countries were randomly choosing.


Even if the test is not quite accurate, Chinese students still show an advantage in their abilities. There is no evidence that China cheated on student selection and there is no evidence that other countries did not cheat on the selection. The test can, in some degree, proves that Chinese students can do better academically than students from other countries. It is not definitely that they are smarter, as smart is hard to measure and define.

The academic achievement can be the result of many things besides intelligence. Chinese schools do have longer sessions, harder curriculum and more rigorous test and homework system. These differences can lead to better academic achievement. There is no clear correlation between academic achievement and IQ, as there are so many “third variables”.


In conclusion, it is hard to say if Chinese students are smarter, in the meaning of having higher IQ. The academic achievement Chinese students have can due to many variables such as past experience, family environment, and even thinking patterns. Besides the “smart” stereotype, there are also “not creative”, “rich”, and many other stereotypes about Chinese students. Are these true? In the end, they are just stereotypes.

Works Cited


Can we tell a lie by micro expression?

How many of you have watched Lie to ME? That is an old TV show but a good one. Professor Lightman, which is the main character in the TV show, is excellent in finding out lies by people’s micro expression. I was fascinated by the TV show and I think what Professor Lightman does is so cool. No one can hide anything in front of him! I wonder if I can tell people’s emotions by their facial expressions, and if I can become an expert on this field.


Micro expression, as the name suggests, is a kind of small expression. “Small” in this context means last for a short time. Because this kind of expression lasts for very little time, it is hard for observers to pick out, and it is hard for people to hide this kind of expression.

The duration of the expression is the key to recognizing micro expressions. An experiment on the relationship between duration of the expression and recognition of the expression was done in Zhejiang University. In the experiment, eleven students with normal vision were chosen. They were asked to match expressions with different emotions including happiness, disgust, anger, fear, sadness and surprise. After they got all the expressions right, the actual experiment will start. One expression would be shown for 40, 120, 200 or 300 ms, and the participant was required to select one of the six emotional labels. Then the neutral expression would be shown for two seconds. Then another expression would be shown for 40, 120, 200, or 300 ms. This process will be repeated for all six emotions.


Graph is from the research above.

The red line is the result of the experiment, which is the METT paradigm. It probably going to get too complicated to explain the difference of BART and METT, so I just take the METT part of the experiment. METT means Microexpression Training Tool, in which a neutral expression will be shown between every expression with emotions.

The result shows that there is a strong correlation between the duration of an expression and the accuracy of recognizing the expression. As the duration gets longer, the accuracy gets higher. It seems that 200 ms is where the accuracy largely increases. It is a critical point as people can better recognize the expression that lasts over 200 ms. Because micro expression lasts from 20 to 300 seconds, so it seems that being about to recognize expression that lasts for over 200 ms is not enough for us.


Another graph showed that it is easy to confuse disgust with Anger, fear with surprise and fear with sadness. If people want to be an expert on finding out what people are thinking, they probably need to extra attention to those emotions.


What if I want to recognize expressions within a shorter time? It seems that training can help with that. Another twelve students are chosen and they were required to do a recognition practice. Then the same test as in experiment one was given to twelve of them, and the result shows an increase in the accuracy under the same time condition.


The study proves that people can recognize expressions within shorter duration if they are trained. The statistics also show that surprise is the easiest to recognize, and the second easiest emotion is happiness. It seems that if we pay really good attention and practice a little, it is not going to be too hard to tell what people are thinking by their micro expressions. Human seems to naturally have the ability of recognizing faces, and the duration of expression seems to be the biggest obstacle that stops us from “reading faces”. Practice shows incredible efficiency in improving people’s ability of recognizing lies.

The small sample size can be a problem in the experiment. However, Francis T. McAndrew also did a similar study and got similar result. By cross referencing the two studies, the result can be more reliable.


Professor Paul Ekman, the founder of the whole theory of reading micro expressions, also introduces an experiment in his journal, which proves that 40 minutes training is enough for people to become better in facial recognition.

Now that we have know the difficulties of recognizing micro expressions, and how to improve our ability in this field, we can start to work towards becoming an expert in reading faces. This ability can help us and help the society in a lot ways. If you can tell one of your friend is hiding his sadness, you can help him better. If you are good enough to tell who is trying to commit a crime, you will be a hero of the country.

If one day you actually become a expert, just remember to use your “superpower” wisely.

LIE TO ME: The Lightman Group returns to expose the truth behind the lies in LIE TO ME airing Monday, June 7 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. Pictured: Tim Roth ©2010 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Patrick Ecclesine/FOX



Works Cited

Do colors affect emotion?

Why are bedrooms usually painted blue or white, but rarely red? Why different people prefer different colors to show their personality? Can color manipulate people’s emotions? These are all questions that I have been concerning and want to find out. The use of color seem to have a lot of potential. Artists can use different colors to express different intentions and businessmen can attract more customers with more proper color design. Back to the question, do colors affect emotions? Does this kind of influence vary from person to person?


An experiment done by Professor Helen H. Epps from The University of Georgia provides some information about the correlation between color and emotion. Ninety-eight volunteered college students were picked out to do the experiment. Several colors were chosen, including red, yellow, green, blue, purple, yellow-red, green-yellow, blue-green, purple blue, red-purple, and some achromatic colors, including white, black and middle grey. Each participant need to answer the same two question when each color is shown to them: “What emotional response do you associate with this color?” and “Why do you feel this way?”. After gathering the answers, the result was that 80% of the response show positive reaction to principal colors (colors that are not white, black and grey), and 68.4% of the response show negative reaction to achromatic colors.


According to the table below, green has the most positive feedbacks, and most principal hues has more positive responses than negative responses. The achromatic colors, especially gray and black, on the other hand, does not have much positive responses.


The conclusion that I can draw from the experiment result is limited because the result is too general. There are many kinds of positive emotions and different positive emotions can have a big difference. For example, green may be the color of being peaceful (not experiment based, just an example), and red may be the color of being zealous. Both of the emotions are positive, but the colors that represent each emotion can not be switched. I want to feel peaceful instead of zealous when I am trying to go to sleep. Positive is a word that is too general and can hardly give me the result that I want.


Despite of the fact that only limited information is shown in the test, hypothesis can still be drawn from the experiment. Firstly, there is definitely a correlation between emotions and colors, because there is an obvious difference in responses to different colors. Principle hues, in this experiment, are considered to show mostly positive responses. Gray, black, and surprisingly green-yellow are considered to show mostly negative responses. These information can be used by designers – if they want to pass a positive emotion, use principle colors, and if they want to pass a negative emotion, use black or grey, and try some green-yellow as well.

The result of the experiment, in fact, can be hardly trusted not only because the sample size is not big enough and the result is not specific enough, but also because there are so many factors that can change the final outcomes. For example, different culture shows different tendencies to different colors. The current emotion of a person can also affect his or her interpretation of a color.

Another research named Analysis of Cross Culture Color Emotion, demonstrated how cultural differences affect the result of color-emotion correlation. They cross examined visual assessment from seven regions across the world, and the result show that people from different cultures have very similar reactions to colors. This experiment is relatively more reliable, because seven separate tests were conducted to find the result.


In conclusion, the experiment that is shown in this article supports the hypothesis that colors affect emotions. I tend to believe in the result because of influence of common sense. Personally I do experience emotion change when seeing different colors. However, the experiment failed to show what emotion each color represents, which is a more specific, probably personally based question.


Works Cited

How to develop a habit?

A lot of times, I think habits are short cuts. Why would I say that? I wish that I have the habit of getting up early so that I do not need to struggle on my bed every morning. I hope I have the habit of reading so that I can be a more studious person. Unfortunately, I do not have any of those habits, and the problem I am facing now seems to be how to develop these habits. The desire of solving this problem leads to this essay about how to develop a habit.


To find out the answer of the problem, I will start with presenting an experiment. The experiment was conducted by University College London. One hundred and one participants attended the experiment that lasted for 12 weeks. In the experiment, participants were asked to choose one activity among eating, drinking and exercise behaviors. They needed to login online to check if they had done that day’s work or not. The scale is determined by the participants’ report, which include “I do automatically”, “I do without thinking” and “I would find hard not to do.” The answers will be analyzed and put into a scale of seven. Also, fifty dollar was given to each participant just to keep them in the research.


The graph is from the experiment report. Somehow I can not make the picture more clear.

This graphs show that different days were spent for different activities. It takes a lot less time for people to develop a habit of walking for 10 minutes after breakfast. It takes after the whole experiment process for participants to develop the habit of doing 50 sit-ups after my coffee. The graph develops a model of habit developing, and 39 out of the eight two people who reported regularly fit the model.


A few hypothesis can be shown from the experiment. Firstly, because not everyone fits the model, there is clearly a difference between every individual in habit developing. Over half of the people failed or did not develop a habit as fast as the others. Secondly, as there is a different model for every habit, different habits are very possibly require different time to develop. The time difference can be caused by the complexity of the activity. In this experiment, walking for 10 minutes after breakfast seems to be more achievable, easier than doing 50 sit-ups after morning coffee. However, it is hard to make a conclusion just based on one experiment, and I failed to find more similar experiments, so the conclusion I make can be either correct false positive.

The common thing that is shown in all graphs is that repetition from day to day is definitely helpful in habit development. I think the fifty dollar reward somehow played a motivation or a role of monitor in the experiment, which can cause inaccurate result.


It seems that the only answer to the question of how to develop a habit is repetitive practice. The time that it takes to develop a habit varies depending on the habit. There is no “common formula“ for all the habits. The formula for developing different habits is different. I believe the result will be different if the test is not done on students in school, but on mid-aged workers and seniors.


Another research on physical exercise habit shows that the habit wears out after entering adolescence, which proves that the time for developing a habit varies and the situation can be much more complicated than expected. Motivation, time limit and even the growth of a person can play a big role in habit developing. A little bit motivation with persistence in repetition seems to be the best solution in developing a habit.

As the picture says, Motivation_Habit_HDIGF1. The only way to develop a habit is through repetition. There is no guarantee about how much time it is going to take to develop a habit. Self-motivation and self-supervision will play an important role in habit development. Also, start with easy habits, then work towards harder ones.


Works Cited


Do left-handed athletes has an advantage?

As a right-handed person, I think it is a talent to be a left-handed person. There are a lot less left-handed people compared to people who are right-handed. Sometimes I wonder if left-handed people have an advantage in sports because there are a lot of talented sports players who are left-handed, and by saying that, I mean the ratio of left-handed player in sports is a lot bigger in the ratio of left-handed people in population. For example, Chris Bosh in NBA and Roger Federer in tennis.


Do left-handed players actually have an advantage in sports? Take tennis as an example again. A test was designed to test if left-handed players had an advantage in tennis games. Fifty-four right-handers and fifty-four left-handers were chosen in the test and were divided into three groups. Each of them has some tennis experience. They watched a video clip of sequences of tennis strokes and they were asked to predict the direction and the depth of the strokes. The strokes were hit by two left-handed players and two right-handed players. They players in the video all had the same experience in tennis and had the same age. The result showed that more prediction errors were made on strokes hit by left-handers. The graph of the result shows that there were more error occurred when predicting balls hit by left-handed player, which means there is an advantage for left-handed tennis players. QQ图片20151014232146

The result can be caused by chance, but the same result showed in all three groups of participants, including novices, intermediates and experts. There are not enough experiments to do meta analysis, but we can test if the theory is correct through other aspects.

In other sports, the “advantage” of left-handed people seems to exist as well. Seven of the best 16 fencers in the world are left-handed. Left-handed people seem to be more successful in boxing as well. A French neuroscientist named Guy Azemar did a research in this phenomenon. His theory was that a right-handed person needed to take 20 or 30 more milliseconds to proceed the action of a left-handed player, and that time can make a difference.images

Another test done on 80 right-handed volunteers and 20 left-handed volunteers showed that left-handed people seem to naturally have a faster reaction. The experiment shows that left-handed people were 43 milliseconds faster at finding out matching letters from two visual fields than right-handed people. I did not find the specific experiment design that gives the result, but several different sources give the same answer: left-handed people reacts faster.

I did not find any sources that introduces the advantage of right-handed players in sports, so it is relatively safe to assume that the hypothesis that left-handed athletes have an advantage in sports is correct.

It seems that there is definitely an advantage for left handed athletes. However, the advantage becomes noticeable because the accumulation of several different aspects. Firstly, the video test shows that people are better predicting right-handed people’s action. I think this is probably because people’s habit. As there are more right-handed people in the world and a lot of things are designed for right-handed people, either left-handed or right handed people are more used to the right handed world. Athletes are also used to right-handed players. Left-handed athletes a lot of times may have different or even totally opposite actions in footing, actions and skill sets. These differences will make left-handed athletes to have a slight advantage in competitive sports such as tennis.

The advantage is slowly disappearing. In tennis, three of the top four players are left-handed in 1998. In 2010, only one of the top four players are left-handed – Roger Federer. The advantage of left-handed athletes are disappearing as more studies are done on them and more strategies are designed to compete with them.


Works Cited

“The Advantage of Being Left-handed in Interactive Sports.” – Springer. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2015.
“Leading With Their Left… the Advantages for Left-handers in Sport.” Left Handers Advantages in Sports. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2015.

Why could Klay Thompson shoot in the dark?

dark shooting

Have you heard that Klay Thompson can make eight out of ten three-pointers, in total darkness? It may sound less surprising if you know that Klay Thompson is one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA league and he must have spent thousands of hours on the court practicing his shooting skills. However, what he did is still amazing.

Why could he do that? One possible answer is the persistence of vision. Although it is still a controversial theory, most people think that this is real. Persistence of vision states that human eye can save the image he just saw for a small period of time, just around 0.04 seconds. In the Klay Thompson shooting video, the time between the lights going out and he shooting the first ball is not long, and persistence of vision may explain why he made the first basket.


However, how did he make the following seven goals? The time he took to make those goals was way longer than just 0.04 seconds. Although people’s muscle can memorize actions, shooting three-points is such a precise work that even the best basketball player cannot shoot without knowing where the basketball is.

Another explanation to how he did this is that, the place cells in his brain was navigating him. Place cell can depicts a map of the location in animal’s brain. By introducing this concept, Thompson’s achievement seems to become explicable. After the brain cell recorded where the hoop was, he started to repeat the action he had done thousands of time before this particular experiment – shooting three points. With the help of the brain cell, he was able to “see” where the hoop was and shot the hoop according to the information provided by his brain.

Still, what place cells did seem to be the easiest part of Thompson achievement. Everyone’s brain has place cells and they all serve the same function – mostly to remember where a person has been to before. The practice Thompson did is the most important part that enabled Thompson to make 8 out of 10 three-pointers in the dark, and become one of the best shooters in the world.




What gives people power to fight pain during sports?

Something weird kept happening during my senior year in high school. In my high school lacrosse season, I had this really bad shin splints that I even had a hard time walking. However, every time the actual game started, the pain disappeared and I could run as fast as I can on the field. After the game the pain would come back again. I thought that this magical situation was caused by the Ibuprofen I took, until the nurse told me it might be the hormone.


What is really working in people’s body during intensive sports activities? The most popular answer will be adrenaline. Adrenaline is a kind of hormone that generates under “fight or take flight” situation. This situation usually refers to chasing by a lion or fighting with a chicken (or with anything else). Intensive sports can be counted as one “fight or take flight” situation as well, and that is when adrenaline starts working. The function of adrenaline includes increasing heart rate and blood pressure, releasing glucose and fats, and increasing alertness. All these actions done by adrenaline can increase body’s ability to act. It seems that adrenaline is the answer to the release of pain.


However, adrenaline does not serve as a natural painkiller. Every athletes know that shin splints are caused by micro tears in muscle tissues, and increasing heart rates and blood flow can not deal with the pain caused by those tears. Under “fight or take flight” situation, a person will have enough energy and excitement coming from the body, and that effect may temporarily, at most, make the person forget about the pain as he focuses on the situation in front of him.

It must be something else that kills the pain during sports. I find another substance in body called endorphin, and endorphin is natural painkiller in human bodies. Endorphin is a kind neurotransmitter. It can be released under a lot of situations, including eating good food, tasting a hot pepper, and exercise. High level of endorphin makes people feel less pain and this effect a lot times is used by runners to prolong their exercise. Endorphin seems to be the thing that I am looking for to solve the myth I encountered during my lacrosse season.


In conclusion, with the combination of adrenaline and endorphin, the pain we are feeling during exercise can be released and we can perform better in sports and other intensive activities. Thanks to our magical body system, we are able to run from bears, fight a dog, and be a good athlete on the field.





Why do people become vegetarians?

I had never seen a vegetarian before coming to the U.S. I am sure there are vegetarians in China, just the number is a lot lower than that in U.S. I did not understand why people become vegetarians – meat is such a delicious thing, then why would anyone give up eating meat? I once asked one of my American friends, and she said that she was raised as a vegetarian. That does not really answer my question: why do people become vegetarians, besides the family reasons?

vegetarian 1

It turns out that people may become vegetarians for multiple reasons such as environment, ethical reasons and food shortage. The environment determines how much land and resources like water can be used in producing food, and cattle usually requires much more resources than just vegetation. Some people do not want to see lives die to become food. The food shortage may restrict people’s resources of meat as well.

However, health is usually what most vegetarians concern. There are researches about the nutritional status of different diets in different periods. There are three phrases in the research: deficiency, optimal and excess. The research shows that in 1960s, people think that vegetarian diet might cause deficiency and meat-based diet was perfectly optimal. Another research in 1970s shows that people began to raise awareness in meat-based diet, as it was considered to have the risk of excess. Nowadays, people started to think that meat-based diet may cause both deficiency and excess, and vegetarian diet is the perfectly optimal one.

This change can be caused by multiple reasons. Firstly, as the technology of transportation and farming grows, people have access to all kinds of fruits and vegetables that contain different kinds of nutritions. Secondly, scientific research has provided evidence that planted foods provide more than just essential nutrients, but also substances like ascorbic acid and fiber. On the other hand, meat-based diet most of the times can not provide enough vitamins nor provide excessive fat.

vegetarian 2

The research done by Adventist Health Study shows the association between consumption of food and cancer. Meat is considered to be hazardous as it increases the risks of colon cancer, bladder cancer, prostate cancer and fatal ischemic heart disease. At the same time, vegetables, fruits and nuts are often considered to be protective to human as they reduces the risks of a lot of types of cancers. This research provides another strong reason why people choose to become vegetarians. No one wants cancer, and staying away from meat can help reduce the probability of getting cancer.
In conclusion, vegetarian can be a healthier way of living. However, for people like me, who can never giving up eating meat, choosing a more appropriate diet seems to be a good option if we want to get enough nutrition and stay away from cancers.



Should we farm vertically?

Everyone must have been to or at least heard of Manhattan, New York. Manhattan is so developed and crowded that it is extremely hard to put any new building into the area. One day, some New Yorkers had this crazy idea: how nice it is going to be if I can buy vegetables that are produced five blocks away. There were only two solutions to this problems: blow up some buildings to make space for the fields, or, to build a vertical farm.VerticalFarm3._V198186395_


What is a vertical farm. Vertical farms are farms that are built in building. It is still a concept, which means there is large scale vertical farm in the world (there are some small ones for experiments). It stays as a concept due to a lot of technological reasons such as how to provide light for the plants inside the building and details about planting and harvesting.

People are trying to achieve vertical farming through different ways, for example, in Sweden, plants travel on lines from the top of the building to the bottom of it, and this design will make the receiving of sunlight and harvesting easier. The one in Sweden is a simple form of vertical farming, but not an actual vertical farm.

Professor Dickson Despommier came up with this idea in 1999. He and his students are studying it to develop sustainable food production and protect the environment. Crops like corns, wheats, bananas, and coconuts are desirable products to be grown in vertical farms. Surprisingly, vegetables are not the only target objects in a vertical garden. Theoretically, poultry, fish, crustacean and molluscs can also be raised in a vertical garden because they only take a small space.

Vertical farms have a lot of advantages that traditional farming does not have. Firstly, by stretching farms vertically, vertical farms can fully use the area in big cities. Secondly, vertical garden can reuse the sewage and other waste in the city as its resources. Thirdly, half a million square miles of new farmland was created during the time period from 1980 to 2000, and that cause a problem to the environment.


So why is this concept not really developed through the years? There are issues behind the idea. First and the most important reason is that vertical farming makes farming more complicated. Another reason is that according to the plan of Dr. Despommier, just a prototype of a vertical farm will cause $20 to $30 million dollars.
I think it is still important to build vertical farms. The most important reason will be to protect the environment as thousands of acres of trees are being destroyed everyday just for farmlands. Also, as the population keeps growing, one day human will need to find a way to provide more food for the bigger population, and when we can not expand horizontally, we expand vertically. The crazy cost of vertical farm seems to be the biggest obstacle for its development and application, but as the technology improves, it is almost for sure that some day vertical farming will become real.

Or, we can just build a small garden on the rooftop of our buildings. That will make everything easy.





Is running harmful to our knees?


I believe that I am not the only one who has a bad knee and thinks that it might be because of running. I used to do X-country in my high school and I did training everyday to improve myself. However, when the season goes, I started to feel pain on my knees and that bothered me a lot. Then I saw articles about how basketball players all had bad knees due to their intensive training, and I started to wonder: was it possible that running was the cause of the pain?

There is actually a word for the problem that I am experiencing: runner’s knee. Runner’s knee can be caused by multiple reasons such as misalignment and overusing of the knee.

A research done in 2003 on recreational runners showed that 844 out of 1020 people in the research process had knee injuries. The percentage was about 82.7%. The knee problems in this research included experiencing pain after exercise and other minor or more serious symptoms. This study clearly showed that running had something to do with knee injuries. Although the cause of the pain can be due to multiple reasons, like the road conditions and weather situations, it is still strongly possible that there is a positive correlation between running and knee injuries. The pressure brought to the knee through intensive exercise may be the cause to multiple knee injuries.

Another research done in 1989 showed that 73 out of 115 people who had a systematic training for marathon had different degrees of knee injuries. The percentage was about 60%. There are several possibilities that may cause the difference in those two researches. Firstly, the sizes of the research were different. One had over a thousand objects and the other only had a little over a hundred. The insufficient number of research objects may cause the result to be accurate. Also, people who trained for marathon might pay more attention to stretching and other recovering exercise that would release the pressure of running, and those exercises might reduce the injuries.

In conclusion, the experiments show a strong correlation between running and knee injuries. There might be outliers like muscle strength, race differences and body structures. However, running is still a possible suspect for all kinds of knee problems. Stretching before and after running can possibly reduce the injuries, and systematic training and recovering can protect the knees from injuries as well.

'Surgery went well, Mr. Moore. I had a lot of fun rebuilding your knee joint.'

‘Surgery went well, Mr. Moore. I had a lot of fun rebuilding your knee joint.’


Initial Blog Post

Hi, everyone.

My name is Jiamin Shan and I am from Nantong, China. I am a freshman at Penn State. I am in Smeal School of Business and I want to major in Finance in the future.

I am doing this course because I am interested in Science, but not specifically in one subject of science such as physics or astronomy. I want to know scientific facts so that I am illiterate in science.

I am not planning to be a science major because my interest in finance overwhelmed my interest in science. My father works in a bank and he definitely has great influence on me.

Being a huge fan of basketball. I love playing it with anyone (I am not afraid of challenge) and I enjoy talking about NBA with anyone. My favorite player in the league is Chris Paul.


I am also learning finger style guitar. I play songs with acoustic guitar. (I did not sing, just play songs.) Here is what finger style guitar playing sounds like. Check it out! It is beautiful (I know how to play this song, but the guy in the video is not me.)