Author Archives: James Joseph Burke

Can we really change our DNA?

Fate vs. choice is a concept that has been discussed and argued all over time. As humans we naturally gravitate towards the idea that we are in control and fear the idea that a third variable might be affecting us. Throughout the scientific exploration of human biology, scientists have believed that fate controls our DNA. This means that our height, hair color, eye color, etc. are all out of the hands of scientific control. That is until recently, when geneticist Jennifer Doudna discovered a new technology allowing the alteration of a genetic code. For those who do not know, DNA is the “hereditary” codes within the cells of not only humans but all living organisms. These codes are comprised of four chemical foundations known as bases. The four bases are adenine (or known as A), guanine ( also known as G), cytosine ( C), and thymine (T). The simplest way to put it is the four bases order in our DNA make up who we are as humans. This process is similar to the way order of letters make up words. Until Doudna’s discovery, it was believed that the order of those letters determined you as a person, similar to fate.

Jennifer Doudna’s discovery is nothing short of a scientific miracle. Her technology, known as the CRISPR-Cas9, is able to act like a scissors in the DNA sequences  to cut apart certain sequences. What happens is the sequences of DNA are precisely edited by cutting the double helix strand. The DNA that is then cut in two can have a donor DNA sample inserted into the sequence. Our cells, as well as all living organisms’ cells, have the ability to repair broken DNA. The process that occurs is the broken DNA, with the inserted DNA sample, is then repaired by the cell naturally. A major result of this new technology is its ability to edit and delete genetic diseases. There is a long list of diseases passed down hereditarily such as cystic fibrosis. Cystic fibrosis is a hereditary disease that can affect a person’s lungs, liver, and intestines among other things. The disease occurs “due to a mutation in the CF gene on chromosome 7.” With Doudna’s new machine, CRISPR-Cas9, doctors and geneticists will be able to edit the mutation causing cystic fibrosis and insert a donor DNA sequence. The machine could potentially put an and to genetic diseases.

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Although the machine has shown promising evidence in the field of genetics, there are ethical questions tied in with it. The New York Times published an article discussing the possible obstacles the machine must overcome before becoming fully accepted. One major concern is that the machine could cause scientists to create “designer babies.” This essentially means that the public is afraid this machine will affect the future by creating stronger, better looking, and smarter humans, which is a huge ethical question. For example, scientists in China have already began attempting to alter the human embryo with this machine.

Overall I feel as though this machine is an immensely powerful tool and just as any other tool, it must be used wisely. Jennifer Doudna has discussed and addressed the possible ethical issues that her machine could bring. This is why she as well as her team have called for a hold on any further testing with the machine, until those questions can be addressed. She compared it to the situation in the 1970s in which scientists put on hold the testing for cloning. This technology has the power to incredibly impact a persons life for the better and I feel that that aspect of the machine should not be overlooked. Moving forward I feel the CRISPR-Cas9 should be carefully monitored and studied until scientists can get a better idea of the machine’s place in the science field for the future.

 

Sources:

http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/basics/dna

http://www.medicinenet.com/genetic_disease/article.htm

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/12/science/jennifer-doudna-crispr-cas9-genetic-engineering.html?_r=0

 

The Assassins of Cancer

In almost every person you talk to, someone has a story of a family member or friend that has been affected by cancer. I’ve read a few posts regarding various treatments as well as some discussing the cause behind cancer. However, after researching I found one new field of treatment that is expanding and proving to be incredibly effective in killing cancer. For those who do not know, cancer is the constant replication of cells within our body that push into the surrounding tissue. Our bodies are made up trillions of cells and typically they live and work like humans do. New cells are produced and do their job until they become old and die, which is when a new cell will grow in its place. However, when cancer develops it causes these cells to replicate uncontrollably and end up creating extra tissue, which are called tumors. The issue with cancer cells is that they spread into other areas of the body causing further damage. Scientists have searched for the cure for cancer for years and breakthroughs have brought the world to where it is today. Today the “precision-guided cancer treatment” is proving to be not only effective but also cost efficient.

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The precision-guided cancer treatment acts as a weapon to fight these incessantly growing cancer cells. An article by Men’s Health states that a new pill could be paving the way for future medicine. In many forms of leukemia the growth of the cells is catalyzed by the protein Bruton’s tyrosine kinase, commonly referred to as BTK. For years doctors were unable to find a way to safely stop the cells from growing without damaging the healthy cells. A new drug called Ibrutinib has showed promising results. This summer the New England Journal of Medicine found that the drug successfully treated 71% of the chronic leukemia patients. This major breakthrough is a huge milestone for the fight against cancer. The precision-guided cancer treatments are also becoming more specified in the form of radiation.

In an article published by Bloomberg Business, a man with esophagus cancer that had spread to his lymph nodes had few options to pick from when it came to treatment. That was until Dr. Albert Koong came to the man, offering him to be the first to try a brand new form of radiation. The doctor stated “For the first time in history, we can bomb the equivalent of an outhouse from 30,000 feet with no collateral damage.” The machine Koong was referring to was a recently developed machine, allowing for high X-ray voltage to be shot at the cancer cells using state of the art “imaging gear.” Koong and his team were able to directly kill the cancer cells without causing harm to the surrounding cells. The treatment left the man cancer free in his esophagus and also reduced the amount of side effects that radiation can typically cause.

 

All in all I am very confident that through the progression of the medical field, we will continue to see advances in our weapons used to fight cancer. These new techniques in fighting cancer can also be applied to other diseases that affect the cells. Precision-guided cancer treatments are allowing for a more effective form of killing the cancer while at the same time reducing the negative side effects that often come with radiation such as weight loss and dry mouth.

Sources:

http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/what-is-cancer

http://www.menshealth.com/health/medical-breakthroughs?slide=11

http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/stories/2007-02-11/precision-guided-cancer-weapons

Is leadership inherited or learned?

Throughout history we have seen powerful leaders do unimaginable things. I’ve often wondered what makes these great leaders so great at what they do. With that being said I’ve also wondered what makes weak leaders, so poor at what they do. Growing up we have always been taught to be a leader in any situation. Whether it be in the classroom or on the field, becoming a leader has been engraved into our brains. I’ve always believed that the question comes down to the common concept of nature vs. nurture. Someone can be pushed and bred to lead throughout their life but if their personality or genetics fight this encouragement to lead, is there anything you can do to stop it? Is it possible that there is more to being a leader than just stepping up and acting like one? According to a study published in Leadership Quarterlythere may be something impacting a person’s ability to lead that is beyond their control and that is their genetic sequence.

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In a large study conducted by an international research team consisting of researchers from University College of London, Harvard, New York University, and University of California. The article states that the study has found “a specific DNA sequence associated with the tendency for individuals to occupy a leadership position.” The study was based around a large twin sample in which the genetics, job, and leadership behavior which was calculated by seeing whether or not the individual’s job dealt with leadership roles while working. The DNA sequence, “rs4950” was found to be a linking genotype that proved leadership correlates more with genetics than we had previously thought. Lead author Dr Jan-Emmanuel De Neve stated, “We have identified a genotype, called rs4950, which appears to be associated with the passing of leadership ability down through generations.” This means that despite what we were previously taught growing up, leadership may have more to do with genetics than simply attempting to step up for the role. The study goes onto address the rs4950 genotype’s relationship with leadership by stating, “The results suggest that what determines whether an individual occupies a leadership position is the complex product of genetic and environmental influences; with a particular role for rs4950.” Overall this states that a combination of genetical and environmental factors impact the likelihood of a person to lead.

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There is certainly the possibility of a person without the rs4950 genotype becoming a strong leader though developing leadership skills. However, new research is showing their are more components, genetically, that affect the ability of one to lead. I feel as though the concept of nature vs. nurture goes hand in hand with leadership. A person can develop the skills to lead and become a very good leader. On the other hand a person can develop no skill at all to lead and still become a natural born leader.

Sources:

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/0113/15012013-leadership-genetics

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583370/

Addiction, a bad habit or disease?

Addiction can be found in almost every corner of the world. Many people feel as though addiction strictly relates to something as serious as heroin or cocaine. However, addiction has no limits and covers more than just drugs and alcohol. People are addicted to things as detrimental as heroin and as harmless buying lottery tickets. According to the American Psychiatric Association, addiction must meet one of the following three criteria: tolerance, withdrawal, limited control, negative consequences, neglected or postponed activities, significant time or energy spent, and the desire to cut down. If a person meets three of the previously stated criteria, they are dealing with an problem that can tear someone apart. Everyone knows addiction is everywhere, but just how common is it? Around 10% of population is addicted to drugs or alcohol. That is higher than the rate of diabetes, which only impacts approximately 7% of the population. However, the ultimate question doctors and scientists have been testing is how exactly do we become addicted?

Different-types-of-addiction

One main question that scientists have been trying to figure out is whether or not addiction is caused by genetics. In one study, 861 identical twins and 653 fraternal twins were tested on whether or not genetics had an affect on the chances of addiction. The study found that if one of the identical twins was addicted to alcohol, the other twin had a significantly higher chance of becoming addicted as well. The fraternal twins did not have the same effect. If one of the twins was a addicted to alcohol it did not directly correlate with the other twin being a addicted. The study concluded that 50-60% of addiction relates to genetics. Another important piece of evidence supporting the genetic relation to addiction comes from a study on 231 people who faced drug or alcohol addiction and 61 people who did not have an addiction. The study was based around first degree relatives such as parents. It found that if people who were facing addiction had a first degree relative who dealt with similar problems, they had eight times greater of a chance than those who did not. An important thing to note is that although 50-60% of the chances of addiction are genetic, scientists have found that the remaining chance comes down to coping skills. This is the part where a person can take control and beat the addiction, whether it be genetically driven or not.

Overall, I’ve found that addiction is as similar to diseases such as diabetes and cancer. Both of those two diseases are can be affected by your genetic makeup as well as life style choices. For example in diabetes, genetics is a factor impacting the chances of you getting it. However, healthy diet and exercise can also affect the chances of you getting the disease. The same goes for cancer. Many face inevitable “genetic predisposition” of cancer but we also know that things such as smoking can also contribute to your chances of developing the disease. Addiction is no different. Genetics do make up a portion of the chances of you getting the disease but it also comes down to lifestyle choices. I feel as though instead of treating the disease as a bad habit, we should treat it as a regular disease.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.addictionsandrecovery.org/what-is-addiction.html

http://www.addictionsandrecovery.org/is-addiction-a-disease.htm

What does water on Mars mean for us?

Since the 1960s  scientists all across the globe have sent probes searching for more information about our fellow planet in the solar system, Mars. It wasn’t until 1967 when the Mariner 4 finally reached Mars that we were able to see a close up look at the planet covered in craters and dust. Science since then has progressed immensely and today we have the technology to send more and more probes, satellites and other instruments to find out just what Mars consists of. Today, as many of you may have heard, a new and exciting frontier has shown promising signs of life. Scientists recently have found signs of water on Mars. Everyone across the globe is excited to see where this new discovery could take science over the next few decades. However, first it is important to look at the facts. The size of Mars is much smaller than that of Earth. In fact, Earth’s mass is ten times the size of Mars and it’s radius is twice as big. Overall Mars’ surface area is 28% of the surface area of Earth. With that being said and to put in perspective, that would be around all of the land on earth. Mars has a very dry surface with craters covering the planet. The average temperature of Mars is around -81 degrees fahrenheit with a maximum temperature of  68 degree fahrenheit. At a first glance, it seems life on Mars to be far from possible. However, the signs of water could be crucial in discovering possible life as well as a possible frontier for us to explore.

Despite what many think, the discovery of water on mars does not mean we have found a large lake on the surface or a hidden ocean on the other side. The evidence of water, although strong, does not suggest any large body of water on the planet. In fact, the scientists have no idea where this water is coming from. There are theories that they have such as the possibility of an ice field beneath the surface of Mars. It’s possible that during certain times of the year the surface heats up, melting the ice and bringing it to the surface. However the theory in which most scientists believe to be accurate is that the water comes from Mars’ very thin atmosphere. This creates a problem because of how hard it would be to obtain the water, if we were to ever travel to Mars.

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Elon Musk, known as the real-life Ironman, believes that we should continue our efforts to put humans on the planet of Mars. As you know by now, the characteristics of Mars does not serve as a hospitable place for humans to live. His idea is that we should send nuclear missiles at both of the poles in order to heat up the planet. This would transform the planet from a cold, dry, dusty  surface into an earthlike planet. That being said there are many who refute Musk’s proposal. NASA states, “We are also committed to promoting exploration of the solar system in a way that protects explored environments as they exist in their natural state.” Another scientist, Michael Mann who is the Penn State University director of Earth System Science Center, stated that such a bombing could cause the reverse effect and put Mars into a nuclear winter.

Although there are many obstacles that scientists must overcome before living on Mars becomes a feasible task, possibilities are endless. Everyday there are scientists studying the probe’s photographs and finding new information and clues. The finding of water on Mars is a huge milestone for space exploration. It proves many of scientists theories to be correct and allows for further investigation. However for the time being the planet of Earth will have to suffice.

Sources:

http://history.nasa.gov/marschro.htm

http://www.universetoday.com/14885/mars-surface/

http://marsnews.com/the-planet-mars

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/09/150928-mars-liquid-water-life-space-astronomy/

http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/11/us/elon-musk-mars-nuclear-bomb-colbert-feat/

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Each and every one of us lie every single day whether we are aware of it or not. Many people do not realize the lies because often they are small, harmless ones we say almost unconsciously because it has become such a second nature to us. According to a New York Times article by Edward Rothstein, “Lies, in fact, are so common that even their motives are familiar and legion: self-aggrandizement, greed, self-protection, political ambition, erotic pleasure.” We lie for an assortment of reasons and often it doesn’t matter what the subject is about, our human nature is to lie. Studies show that we begin to lie around the ages or 4 or 5 and it begins when children are able to use language to test their environments. This then transforms into the children’s use of their words to get out of trouble.

During an experiment conducted by Daniel Langleben at the University of Pennsylvania, participants were asked to hold a hand of cards and respond with predetermined answers such as “yes” or “no” when asked questions regarding which cards they had in their hands. Although it didn’t provide an exact portrayal of where the lying takes place there were spikes in brain activity in the prefrontal cortex, which is the area where our reasoning takes place. It also showed an increase in activity in the parietal cortex, which is the area in which controls our stress. This spike in activity in the parietal cortex could prove to be a connection between the polygraph and an actual scientific explanation but as of now it is coincidental. The science is not ready to look past the possible confounding variables affecting the experiment. This is also the reason why polygraphs are not always allowed in a court room. However, this find is incredibly important because of its use in the lie detection field. Everyday law enforcements are searching for new ways to quickly detect lies for reasons that stretch from national security to saving an inmates life before execution.

liar

The Ted Talk “How to Spot a liar” by Pamela Meyer portrays not only just our integral lying is in everyday society, but how to spot a liar. She depicts lying as a two way street. All of us will say that we never want to be lied to. However, it is not that simple thanks to our willingness to accept what we hear. She also gives some interesting statistics about who and what we lie about. She discusses that when we are married we lie to our spouses in one out of every ten interactions we have and when we’re unmarried that number plummets to every three interactions. However tricky liars may be, there are ways to spot them. In fact there are actual people out there trained to spot these lies. Liar spotters are so good at lie spotting that they can detect deception 90% of the time while the average person can only spot it 54% of the time. Meyer states that one of the first signs that the lie spotters look for is language. For example, when someone is telling a lie they will often speak in very formal terms, such as not using contractions. She also state that when we lie we will often distance ourselves from the subject in which we are lying about. An example of this can be seen when we refer to the subject as “that” or “it.”

The inevitable fact that people never want to admit is that lying as embedded into our lives as telling the truth is. With that being said there are things we can do to help us detect these lies. By learning more about the signs and signals people subtly give off during a lie you can better arm yourself against lies. However you don’t want to become to good at it, as Pamela Meyers states it might be hard to find a coffee date if word gets out.

Sources:

http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro06/web1/slandi.html

http://www.ted.com/talks/pamela_meyer_how_to_spot_a_liar?language=en#t-285009

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/08/18/arts/must-people-lie-yes-absolutely-or-is-that-a-lie.html

http://www.today.com/health/why-people-lie-how-tell-if-they-are-2D80554952

http://blogs.findlaw.com/blotter/2013/01/are-lie-detectors-admissible-in-court.html

 

Can there be aliens out there?

The question of aliens has been contemplated by scientists for centuries. The age old idea has had both the public as well as scientists baffled for years. But where does this idea really come from? Thousands of years ago it is believed that extraterrestrial life appeared on earth and helped the beginning civilizations. Caused by both a long string of UFO sightings as well as pop culture beginning to stir the pot for many americans, aliens were popular topic for many. The 2001: A Space Odyssey is an example of a film during the era that supported these ancient-alien theories. Erich von Däniken is considered the father of the ancient-alien theory after he published Chariots of the Gods? which really started the entire ancient-alien theory. So where is the alien theory today? With scientific advances being made all of the time, the idea that there is life on other planets is becoming increasingly realistic.

 

In an article written by Time magazine, the question of when the world will find is brought to the table. The article states, “In 2040, Americans plan to vote in a U.S. presidential election. Japan promises to stop using nuclear power. Britain’s Prince George will turn the ripe age of 27. And, as the interactive above demonstrates, the world is likely to find alien life.” To support such a claim the article turns to astrophysicist Frank Drake. Drake is known in the field of the search for extraterrestrial life for his formula he created back in 1961 called the drake equation. In this equation, you can supposedly find out how out just how many advanced civilizations there are in the Milky Way. The equation deals with probability. For example, if there are 100 billion stars in the Milky Way “20-50% probably harbour planetary-systems” and if even ⅕ of those systems could hold life on it “from 0% to 100% would actually go on to develop life.” Lastly the article makes another point of discussing signals. For instance, the earth has been around for 3.5 billion years yet our ability to use radio waves has been around for only a century. After thousands of years of these radio waves it becomes more likely that the extraterrestrial life form will inevitably see it.

Whether you believe in aliens or think it is a complete waste of time, it is important to keep an open mind. Like discussed in class doing things the same way, such as the field of medicine, can sometimes prove to be ignorant. I personally never have or really do believe in aliens or the idea of life on another planet. However, I do believe that it is necessary to continue to discuss the topic and possibilities of it.

 

http://www.history.com/shows/ancient-aliens/articles/ancient-alien-theory

 

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/547303/NASA-Discovery-Curiosity-Life-Evidence-Mars

 

http://time.com/alien-life/

 

Could Humans Ever Live Forever?

The idea of immortality is something that has been fantasized through novels and movies for generations. Today religions all across the board believe that, although the body itself dies, some form of you will live on in a different world. It is said that Alexander the Great was in search of the fountain of youth in the 3rd century when he came across a land that was always dark. In order to get to the fountain of youth Alexander the Great crossed this dark area. In the 5th century BC Herodotus, a greek historian, spoke of a fountain of youth located in the Macrobia that would prolong people’s lives. Even in Japan there is talk of hot springs that will heal people as well as let them live longer. Rumors, myths, and legends have carried some of these beliefs into modern day medicine. Yes, believe it or not there are doctors and scientists out there that believe, through medicine and more research, they will be able to postpone  or possibly even stop death.

Dr. Aubrey de Grey, a medical gerontologist, believes that he can reverse aging through medicine that “undoes years of molecular and cellular damage to the body.”  According to de Grey, over the past few centuries the reason that people are living to a high age is due to the reduction of “infectious diseases.” Thanks to modern medicine people are now able to get rid of these infectious diseases almost entirely. The main cause of death, de Grey says, is molecular and cellular damage the body endures throughout a lifetime. Inevitably we cause damage to our bodies over the course of our lives but through de Greys research,  there are ways to prevent this from occurring. “New regenerative medicines, including stem cell therapies, gene therapies, drugs and vaccines,” according to the article will prevent these molecular and cellular damage to the body. In fact in another article, the enzyme telomerase “slows the shortening of telomeres – sequences of DNA that grow progressively shorter during cell division until the cell eventually mutates or dies.” The article later reports that trials tried on mice can cause aging to be slowed. There are also drugs that affect these telomeres that have not made it to clinical trials.

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Obviously a good diet and exercise will help your chances at staying healthy. But could scientific and medical advances possibly create a world with prolonged life? Or could this all be a placebo affect on the medications. There are also many other confounding variables that go into analyzing the health of a humans life. For example, when studying if the drug is helping a person live longer, think of the amount of variables that go into a single day of a persons life. What they eat, what they drink,  and if they smoke are all variables that must be monitored and controlled in order for the research to have any validity.

 

Sources:

http://www.geekwire.com/2015/can-humans-live-forever-this-scientist-thinks-its-possible/

http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2014/11/the-quest-for-the-fountain-of-youth/

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/g137/sciences-greatest-unsolved-mysteries-progress-report/?slide=3

http://www.vision.org/visionmedia/religion-and-spirituality-immortal-souls/64176.aspx

What makes us laugh?

We’ve all been in the situation sitting around with a group of friends when, in the middle of a conversation, the person speaking is interrupted with a chuckle that is then followed by an almost synchronized echo of laughter and giggles. Laughter is always something that has interested me. Broadly speaking, laughter seems like a simple topic. For example, you friend tells you a funny story about the weekend prior and you begin to smile which turns into a laugh. However, I find the science behind humor and laughter to be a very interesting field. To begin to study the action of laughter we must take a deeper look into our brains and see what are the triggers that cause us to laugh. Tom Strafford states in an article by BBC that deep in the subcortex of our brain is where laughter is triggered. He goes onto state that in terms of evolution, the subcortex part of our brain has seen little change since archaic times. This means that the part of our brain that produces laughter is the same that the neanderthals, or cavemen had. He also states that the area in which laughter is controlled is much deeper within our brains than the more complex areas that control “language” or “memory.” Strafford explains that this could be why it is so hard to control laughter because the other complex areas are not able to interfere with laughter. 

laughter

With all of this information on how and why the brain functions the way that it does. Scientists cannot figure out what exactly makes a person laugh. With that being said, we are still able to collect a lot of interesting information on the brain and laugher. Sophie Scott, who works at the anechoic chamber of University College London, did multiple studies on people’s laugher. She would call in groups of friends and would conduct studies on the reactions when one of the participants in the group said or did something funny. One example of the study is the connection between two people when one person is laughing. For instance, you are clicking through the internet when you come across a video of a baby crying. A majority of the people watching will instantly start to laugh. This can also be seen through the “Skype laughter chain” that was discussed in the article. The chain consists of a people laughing solely because the person saw someone else laugh. I find this extremely interesting because typically people need to look or hear at something more complex to elicit a laugh. However, as proven by Scott, it truly only takes the connection to another person’s laughter to make someone laugh. Another study done by Scott was based around the word shadenfreude, which means “harm-joy.” This type of humor is the type where you watch someone slip and wipe out, causing you to laugh. That is what Scott did when she showed the video of a man jumping into a pool of ice that did not break, causing the man to wipe.

Laughter can change the darkest mood someone may have and turn it into a bright, cheerful mood in the matter of a second. Science’s improvements in the cognitive field is something I feel is important. Not only is the topic extremely interesting with many unanswered questions, but I thinkThis is because I believe that the more we study what makes us laugh, we’ll be able to find out what makes us happier as a person.

Sources:

http://ideas.ted.com/how-scientists-make-people-laugh-to-study-humor/

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20120601-what-makes-us-laugh

What Does Artificial Intelligence Mean for the Future?

Artificial intelligence is one of the topics that is increasingly being brought up in the science community. Artificial intelligence is the mathematical study of machine learning. Through writing different algorithms, which are essentially written methods to help the machines understand logic, computers are able to become smarter and smarter. John McCarthy, a Stanford researcher, first brought the idea of artificial intelligence to the public eye in a conference known as The Dartmouth Conference in 1956. At the Royal Society in London, an event is held in which computer scientists meet together with participants in a study to see whether humans can tell if they are talking to a computer or a person. At the contest, one participant whose computer “chatbox” that replicated a 13 year old boy took the lead by convincing a greater majority of the people he was real.

The possibilities are endless for artificial intelligence. The Japanese company Hitachi is currently doing studies that will use artificial intelligence to have factories and production lines work more efficiently. In fact, in the factories there is an actual robotic boss who bases all of the decisions off of artificial intelligence. In one of the studies done by Hitachi, they reported an 8% increase in productivity and efficiency when using the artificial intelligence system in a factory setting. This could open numerous doors to potentially extremely positive benefits for companies to reduce the need to outsource and cut back expenses. On the other hand, artificial intelligence could take jobs from the hardworking people both domestically and internationally. With all of these new advances in science, could there potentially be a risk for computers becoming too powerful?

If you’ve seen the movie I, Robot staring Will Smith, then you see a portrayal of what artificial intelligence can lead to. In the movie there are computerized robots that act as humans in jobs throughout society. In the eyes of the public, these robots can do no harm to humans but in the end the robots prove to be immensely dangerous for mankind. Although the movie is obviously fictional, it does pose as an important model for a situation that could evolve if artificial intelligence continues to grow. Inventor Ray Kurzweil speaks on the point in the  technological timeline in which artificial intelligence surpasses human intelligence. Yes, this means that there will be a point where computers will be smarter than humans. Kurzweil calls this point in history the singularity and he believes it could happen as soon as 2043. If humans are not able to outthink robots, who is to say that there won’t be a new predator humans will need to worry about?

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All in all, the possibilities for artificial intelligence are something to be explored at a cautious pace. On one hand, science is inevitably going to evolve as time goes on. Also it would be pretty cool to have a house that would clean and cook for you such as the house in the disney movie Smart House. There will always be the drive to further technology, but in the case of Artificial Intelligence it is important to remember both the pros and cons of creating computers that can think for themselves.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0343818/?ref_=nv_sr_1

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0192618/

http://www.livescience.com/49009-future-of-artificial-intelligence.html

https://www.yahoo.com/tech/meet-the-new-boss-the-worlds-first-128660465704.html

How do dreams affect us?

The study of dreams have elicited research, studies, and experiments from scientists for decades. Studies have shown in depth research regarding the causes and effects of our dreams. The University of California Santa Cruz defines dreams a form of thinking that occurs when there is certain yet minimal brain activity going on, such as when you’re sleeping. Everyone at some point in their life has tried to experience lucid dreaming, or the dreaming in which you are consciously aware that you are in a dreaming state.  Dreams have fascinated people since the beginning of time and the more scientists study dreams, the more information we are able to find out about ourselves and our brains.

Lazy_Is_Sleeping

Scientists state that dreams can affect the behavior and mood for the following day and studies are now showing the dreams can even affect the relationships between partners. A study done by researchers at the University of Maryland has provided evidence showing the connection between dreams and the behavior of the relationships. The relationships in which one of the members dreamed about cheating and lying between the couple had more arguments and fights. The study states that our partners other appears in 20% of our dreams which significantly increases the chances of our brains to dream up improbable, yet believable scenarios. However, could the study show more of a correlation between the relationship’s conflict and dreams rather than causation? It seems possible that the participants of the study could have come across a multitude of confounding variables. For example the participants knowledge of the study itself cause the data to alter, resulting in an inconclusive study.

Dreams not only can affect our relationships, behavior, and moods but they also can serve as a guide to our emotions that sometimes, we can’t even express. Many of us have experienced a dream in which we are in the middle of being chased by Chucky, Michael Myers, or whoever is trying to kill you in your nightmare. Psychotherapist Richard Nicoletti stated that being chased in a dream is a sign that you are avoiding a person or issue in your life. He goes onto state that the context  of the situation and identity of the person is very important in further defining the meaning of the dream. Nicoletti also discusses the embarrassing situation in which you are naked in front of a large group of people. Despite what many think, this has little to do with anything sexual and is in fact deals with the person’s comfortability with themselves. Dreams in which involve water often deal with some sort of change or purification that we need or desire in our lives, says psychotherapist and author Jeffrey Sumber. However, what is most interesting about the dreams involving water is the context of the relationship between the person and the water. If the water is being poured onto the dreamer or the dreamer is relaxing in a pool, it signifies that the water is more of a purification and accepted change. On the other hand, if the dreamer is drowning it could signify that the person is being swallowed up, unwillingly, by change.

Dreams overall can have much more of an impact on our brains than we’d like to believe. Whether it is affecting our moods, relationships, or defining issues and problems in our lives, it is clear that dreams can affect our day-to-day actions without our knowledge. So next time you wake up in the middle of the night due to a crazy man chasing you down the street, remember to define the context of the chase and identify the man pursuing you.

 

http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2009/02/dreaming-behavior.aspx

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/dream-catcher/201105/the-impact-dreams-your-social-life

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/10/dream-study_n_3253968.html

Initial Post

Hey SC 200, my name is Jimmy I am from Bethlehem, PA. I chose SC 200 because although I do not like science, it seemed like it would be an interesting course. I am not going to be a science major because I’ve never been good at it which has led to me not liking it. I do find some sciences interesting but overall, I will never be a science major. I have linked a picture of a small music festival held in Bethlehem as well as a link to the event’s page. http://www.musikfest.org/ MusikfestFireworks_TedColegrove