Author Archives: John Michael Federici

Rugby vs. Football

In a previous post, I questioned how effective certain studies were when testing the effectiveness of football helmets protecting against concussions. In a comment, one of my classmates brought up a very interesting point which brought my attention to an on going debate between the safety in football compared to rugby. Both of these sports are high speed and high collision activities, and can easily be categorized as two of the most intense and dangerous games on the planet. But is one really safer than the other?

Diffen article provides a chart which helps separate these two sports. According to the row labeled “average contact per game”, football players will average about 4 tackles per game with 4600 pounds of force, while rugby players will average 16 tackles per game with 1600 pounds of force. While an individual football player will see less tackles per game compared to a rugby player, the force in which each tackle is made is substantially larger in football than it is in ruby. Along these lines, according to The American Association of Neurological Surgeons, in a study that tallied the total number of head injuries treated in hospitals in 2009, football sat near the top of the list with 48,948, while ruby had only 5,919.  Likewise, a Study conducted by USA rugby which compared the reports of 60 different clubs during the years of 2005-2006. It showed that the measure of the injury rate per 1000 players during a gam, rugby recored a score of 22.5, while football recorded a score of 41.4. Now one must take this study with a grain of salt, for it is done by a rugby sponsored association. However, their results are consistent with that of the other studies listed.

From these two articles, it can be clear that when talking about head injuries, football sees more force between individual contact, as well as many more reported and treated concussions when compared to ruby. The question is, with both these sports being as violent as they are, why is football so much more dangerous than rugby?

Some believe that it has to do with the method that football players tackle one another. A Post Game article argues that football players need to learn to not “use the head as a weapon”. In other words, the use of tackling with your head is what leads to the mass amount of head injuries seen. It also goes in to comparing football’s tackling method to that of rugby’s. According to the article, rugby has established rules that emphasis the use of “wrap tackling”, stating the rugby players are not allowed to “just slam into the ballcarrier” (much like football players are allowed to do).  Another Forbes article follows these lines. They claim that in order to reduce concussions, football helmets would have to be banned all together. They state, “it’s the pads and helmets that make football the often gruesomely violent”. This compared to  rugby, who’s “lack of pads and helmets ensure for those who play much greater odds of walking away from the game in sound physical shape”.  Another article by The Guardian also agrees with the claim that football wins in the category of greater concussion risk, however, rugby has to worry about “spinal injuries from scrums” more so than football.

There is truly no doubt in my mind that football is the most dangerous sports in the world. The claim made in the Forbes article has potential to be the most telling study of all when comparing football to rugby. Only in a multi- trial study, in which multiple clubs played a season of football without any protective pads, could show if number of concussions would decrease when taking away helmets and other padding. This would help to show if helmets really were the mechanism that caused such a divide between these two sports and their safety. This however would be an extremely controversial study, one which would likely not have many participants.

Is there a connection between vitamin supplements and Autism?

In class this past Tuesday, Andrew mentioned a story about a former student who claimed to have been cured from Autism through he use of vitamin C treatments. This claim absolutely astounded me for I had never heard of such a treatment for this disease that until this point I thought was incurable. This claim sparked a very passionate search into an answer of whether or not vitamins could in fact treat or even cure this disorder.

It was first important to define this disease before looking into these studies. Autism defines Autism as a “complex disorder of brain development”. This disorder causes those effected to have difficultly is certain social interaction, whether it be verbal or nonverbal. For such a complex disease, according to The Autism Society, while there is no true known cause of this disorder, “it is generally accepted that it is caused by abnormalities in brain structure”.  Web MD shows that Autism can be treated through behavioral management and other therapies which can include “speech, occupational, and physical”. It is import thought to understand the italicized word treatment. Autism can only be medically treated because there is no known scientific confirmed method in which it can be cured. However, while it has not yet been accepted in the world of medicine as a cure, some doctors claim that this disease can be effectively treated (and in some cases) cured through the use of Vitamin therapy.

In a Medscape Article, Doctor Gayle Nicholas Scott of Eastern Virginia medical school discusses certain traits of Autism and its effects on the individual, along with two studies that give light on the issue of vitamin treatment. In the article,  Scott goes into the the common nature and likelihood of the disease in children, claiming it to be a 1 in 68 chance.  She also goes on to rule out specific causes of Autism, such as poor parenting and vaccinations (for anyone in class last Tuesday you’ll know how important this claim is). After setting this stage, she beings to discuss two separate clinical trials, both being double blind placebo controlled. The “pilot study” observed 20 children who were given vitamin supplements.  This initial study “reported better sleep and improved gastrointestinal system”. The second and large study of 141 children and adults were not as optimistic. It showed “no meaningful improvements in autism systems is 3 of 4 assessments”, however, it did find some cases of improved verbal and physical communication.

Another study published in 2004 described a double blind placebo trial which found similar results to Scott’s research. According to Dr. Julius G. Goepp, the trial showed that by “increasing the levels of vitamins B6 and C, children with Autism showed improvements in sleep and bowel patterns.” Along with these results, Goepp also offered somewhat of a mechanism that could explain these results. He explains that children with Autism have low levels of enzymes needed to activate the B6 vitamin, and that the lack of this natural vitamin can lead to the reduction of neurotransmitters essential to language development. By this standing, it makes sense how the artificial replacement of the B6 vitamin can help a child with Autism. It can help replicate what the body needs in order to activate the language center. If this claim is in fact correct, then this is truly a monumental discovery for the treatment and possible cure of this disorder.

While it is easy to get caught up in the awe that these two studies have created, one must take a step back and take a look at the bigger spectrum of the issue. When researching this topic, one will come up with only a handful of actual credible sources that examine a trusted study. Take for instance a specific Vitamin C study. It’s author (who is not specified) claims to have witnessed extreme improvement in “both speech and comprehension”.  The only problem is, this result did not come from a large control trial, but a single case found in a 4 four old child. It is very likely that this could be a result of a fluke discovery. One can also find results from other websites, such as this one titled Healing Autism with Vitamins. This article talks about specific examples of where vitamins have in fact cured Autism altogether. This is a significant discovery until you realize that the websites slogan is “drink your vitamins” (an obvious case of how industry and business are influencing results).

It is difficult not to be fascinated by the results found in the well run placebo trials. These do in fact show drastic improvements in the symptoms Autism patients face. However, it is too early to claim these discoveries as cures. A Interactive Autism network article which discusses  vitamin treatment for Autism truly summarizes it up best, by claiming that “vitamin therapy and nutritional supplements beyond this…are not fully supported and need to be further studied”

Procrastination: A Positive or Negative?

In a previous post, I contradicted an orthodox view of the negative effects of stress and gave specific examples of how stress can actually be a positive towards an individuals life. In this post, I will examine another standard view on a common issue: Procrastination. This is the practice of putting off a specific task (ex. homework or projects) to the “last minute”.  This is a practice that has been advised against in every class students have ever been enrolled in, however, somehow we all seem to suffer from its effects. While most warn against the negative practice procrastination, could it have certain positive impacts that aren’t normally highlighted?

According to buffer social, the biological factors of procrastination are defined as the struggle between our limbic system which includes our “pleasure center” vs. our prefrontal cortex, which is also known as our “internal planner”.  While our limbic system will fight for our current pleasure or wants, our prefrontal cortex will urge us to do what is best in the long run. This creates the internal question of “should I do this now or later”, thus creating a situation where more often than not procrastination is a result. This biological result of procrastination is normally seen as a negative, for it leads to individuals pushing tasks back in their schedules. But is this always a bad thing? A specific blog post says no. In it, author Alex Kjerulf argues that procrastination leads to certain down time in which inspiration can occur. He argues that the period where procrastination occurs can act as a sort of a brain storming period. A time in which inspiration can come to you, thus creating better work while also allowing an individual to limit stress.

The claim that putting off work till later can be associated with better grades is something that contradicts most normal anti- procrastination arguments. Likewise, the introduction of it’s positive nature with regards to mental health is one not normal associated with the orthodox anit-procrastination argument.

Studies have been conducted to see if this very same argument can hold weight. A  Longitudinal Study of Procrastination examined the relation to those who chose to put off their work till later and the effect it had on their grades and their mental health. This study was conducted by examining 44 students with the same due date for a psychology paper. Each student’s paper completion date was recorded and each student was asked to fill out a questionnaire regarding how they felt after the paper was completed. In conclusion, the study found that Kjerulf’s claim of “improved work” from procrastination was a false positive, with the actual result being that “procrastinators received significantly lower scores than non-procrastinators”.  However, the study did find some evidence to support Kjerulf’s second claim. According to the study, “procrastinators experienced significantly less stress and fewer symptoms than non-procrastinators”.  This study highlighted a new claim of a “cost benefit analysis” that could now be associated with choosing to procrastinate.

To argue that procrastination is positive is one of extreme complexity.  In terms of just simply defining procrastination, there is not one clear cut answer. One Study claims that the methods of procrastination can vary between participants, creating a set of traditional “passive procrastinators” and “active procrastinators”  (ones that fit more closing to Kjerulf’s view of procrastination as a practice). In other words, there can be different forms of procrastination for different times and situations. One person may not procrastinate in the same manor as another student with the same assignment.

Another trouble area to this issue is a specific individual’s values. It is clear that studies can be found that support the claim that procrastination does negatively effect grades while positively affecting mental health, but which one is more important? There are some individuals that may find that their mental health needs to be a top priority, while other may think their grades are most important.

In conclusion, the examination of the positive effects of procrastination is one that can vary from person to person, leaving the public with no clear answer to the issue. In order to get an answer, an individual must decide whether or not the negative grades they will receive is worth the saved mental health they will keep when choosing whether or not to procrastinate.



Can Stress Be Healthy?

Many people living today are under the impression that stress is a bad thing. Stress is something that many spend a massive amount of time trying to mitigate. In doing so, we can help lead ourselves to longer happier lives, or so I thought. My initial goal was to blog about the mass negative effects that stress has on a person’s life. However, as I was researching this topic, I found something was rather odd. Instead of a numerous of articles explaining the negative effects of stress, what I found was actually the exact opposite. According to most sub headers found in my initial Google search, the stress we see in our life may actually do more positive than negative.

The first major discovery made in this new search was the importance of differentiating the type of stress an individual is experiencing. A University of Stanford article offers an examination into this difference in their article Good Stress, Bad Stress. In this, Firdaus Dhabhar explains how stress can be broken down into two categories: short term stress, which is “experienced during most day to day living experiences” and long term stress. He argues that short-term stress can be easily dealt with by healthy people just as long as these individuals experience long durations where their body can rest. This short term stress is seen to have little impact on a persons health due to its short duration of actual occurrence, as opposed to heavy stress which is described here to be stress that causes our body to react to stress for months. This article can be seen as helpful because it shows an understanding of the vast nature of stress and how it comes in many different forms. It is this very distinction of “short term stress” which further studies use in order to argue it’s positive nature.

A British publisher, The Telegraph, claims that the perception of stress as not only short term but as a positive can help change what it does for an individual. “The key is changing how we think about it ” argues health physician McGonigal. She claims that once an individual embraces stress as something positive in their life, they will “transform fear into courage” and “suffering into meaning”.  Further, in a study highlighted in this article, a group of Americans were asked whether or not they thought stress had a negative impact on their life. After this, the study then used records to discover who among the group had died. It found that among those who believed stress had a negative effect, 43% had an increase risk of dying. In contrast, those who chose not to worry about the great deal of stress they faced were less likely to die than those who not only believed stress was negative, but also those who experienced little stress. The key difference of this discovery is the sure perception of stress. If a patient  really wanted to decrease their likelihood of death they would have to embrace their stress as something good.

Another study along these same lines inPub offers further explanation on the good of stress on a biological scale. They claim that the importance of stress doesn’t necessary lie with what it does during the initial experience, but how it prepares us for future conflict. It argues that short term stress can “be productive as it prepares the organism to deal with challenges”. A biological review of short term stressed has shown here that short term stress is a misunderstood survival mechanism that can “be clinically harnessed to enhance immunoprotection”, while also enhancing “innate/primary and adaptive immune responses”. The study offers many different biological mechanisms (such as cell trafficking) as to why this may be, but the conclusion remains constant; stress is a biological necessity to the preparation of life struggle.

The process of categorizing stress as either major or minor can be key to the determination of whether or not it will improve your health or hurt it. The major limitations with these discovery of minor stress vs major stress is what we perceived as which. Each individual is very different, and one person might experience a stressful situation differently than another. According to a NBC article, stress is a “matter of perception”. The only way we can begin think of stress as a good is if we can make a baseline for what is “good stress”, which is impossible to say based on different personalities. A key change to certain studies on stress could be what each individual considers moderate stress and what they consider major stress. These individuals can then be separate and later studied to see death rates.

Though there is much to consider, it still is a fair argument to make that the more we look at our stress (any stress) as a good rather than a bad, then we have a major potential to improve our lives.


Are Standard Football Helmet Test Trustworthy?

At the forefront of the concussion debate in football is the safety measures taken to help prevent concussions.  What seems to be the most popular topic when looking into new safety measure for the game is the development of the helmets the players wear. This makes the most sense, being that a concussion is a head injury and a helmet is design “protect” your head. However, the problem with this new development is the nature of study’s being conducted on different brands of helmets, with each study seeming to have several articles associated with contracting their legitimacy. You also have to worry about a certain industrial marketing approach companies will take around these studies.

In researching studies about a specific helmet brand and it’s effectiveness in preventing concussions, one must try their best to look for studies that take marketing out of the equation. The best study that can be done for this issue is one that remains unbiased toward each company. This is exactly what Virginia Tech  has claimed to do.  The university has become famous in the last few years for their studies around new football helmets, giving each helmet a specific rating of their effectiveness against concussions. They claim to do so through the means of “providing unbiased helmet ratings” that are “100% independent of any funding or influence from helmet manufactures”.  An ABC News goes through the process of these test. It consist of first lifting a specific helmet 6 feet into the air, then dropping in onto a hard surface. Each helmet is lined with sensors which measures the impact of the blow between the helmet and the hard surface. From this data collected, researchers will then give a helmet a rating from 1-5, 5 being the most effective. This is about the extent that this article stays relevant to the issue, for it then goes into a marketing spiel around a specific brand.

This method used by Virginia tech is one that many other companies have mimicked, and the rating scales created through test are a very much understood baseline for many minor leagues in picking a helmet brand. However there are also a number of studies that says Virginia Tech is doing it wrong. A Bloomberg Business brings up a very plausible flaw in this Virginia Tech method, in that it is run under the assumption that we know the mechanism which cause concussions. In the Article, Robert Erb of Schutt claims that concussion could be caused by a specific blow to the head, or it could not and that modern science just isn’t sure about that yet. He also claims that the Virginia Tech study may also not be accurate because “concussions are like snowflakes, no two are the same”.  This same argument is present in a Stanford University Article. In it, they do a Meta analysis of the two studies conducted by the university. In this, researches find two very different results from the standard “guillotine” approach with sensors like the VT study, and when the same sensors are used for a player in an actual game or practice. These field test, conducted by Fidel Hernandez of Stanford were able to measure high rotational velocities that have been claimed to relate to concussions. The rotational velocities that can be measured on the feild but not in the lab.

This is just one of many reports in which one side has made a claim and many other have contradicted that same claim. However, it is very interesting that the Bloomberg Business article was published with a Schutt executive as a source to negate the VT study, when the VT study found many of Schutt manufactured helmets not worthy of a 5 star rating.

Other studies such a UCLA search has began to contact experiments with a similar sensor report, while others like have looked into the effect of sound waves on concussions. While there are countless articles that negate these as well. In conclusion, it is clear that the world of Football helmets and safety is a very complex and unclear field because of two main reason. One, that the true cause of concussions is still very much in question, and two, because of the mass market of these items makes it such a economical blow when one article questions the safety of a company, forcing the company to publish an article disregarding the others study all together.

What I have concluded from this is that there will never be one clear cut answer as to what helmet is the best. There are just too many third variables that can relate to the likelihood of a player getting a concussion (ex. size and experience). For me, one thing is for certain, the only fool proof approach to avoiding these head injuries is to simply stop playing football.

How Effective is the Modern Hospital?

A few weeks ago during class, Andrew was discussing the discovery of the effects of cigarette use on the likelihood of lung cancer. In the mist of this lecture, around the time we were examining the hospital practice in legitimizing these drugs, Andrew made a point of how medicine has only really been doing good for society in very recent history. At this point (being that it is a hour and fifteen minute long lecture) my mind began to wonder to one of my favorite shows, Grey’s Anatomy.  I began to think about all the amazing things they do in the show, and how much they help their paients under such harsh work conditions. However, in mist of this day dream, I began to really think about these conditions the characters work under and what really struck out to me was the length of time these doctors were suppose to work. As this thought developed, I began to think about all the mistakes these doctors would make in the show, due to lack of judgment. This though made me begin to wonder if this drama seen in the show was an actual problem in modern medicine?

According to The Harvard Gazette, “more than two thirds of [doctors] reported working shifts longer than 30 consecutive hours”.  These were hours spent directly working with sick or injured patients, hours in which a doctor and or nurse’s lack in judgemnt could mean the difference between a patient living and a patient dying (yes, this is dramatic, but still very plausible).  According to ABC news, “once a doctor worked for more than 17 hours, their performance was effected”.  Along these same lines, a University of Pennsylvania article suggest that “sleep deprivation degrades aspects of neurocognitive performance”.  One could truly spend hours looking up the harms of sleep deprivation and continue to find the same result of how it negatively affects brain function. With this, it can also be a fairly simple assumption that long hours for hospital workers means less sleep , resulting in more errors (exactly what the Harvard Gazette  article was arguing). However, these two arguments can only hold weight if they are combined into one single study.

This is exactly what Health did. This study’s goal was to look at the typical work shift for each nurse, and try to see if there was a correlation between the amount of time each nurse worked and medical errors committed. This study was conducted using a sample size of 396 nurse during 2002, with each of these nurses studied working full time. Each participant of the study had to fill out a journal, recording their work time and sleep patterns, along with breaks and other actions taken through the day.  In concussion, the study found that “data collected on 5,317 work shifts revealed that hospital staff nurses worked longer than scheduled daily, and generally worked more than forty hours per week.” Also, “half shifts worked exceeded ten and a half hours”.  Along with these results, “there were 199 errors and 213 near errors reported during the data gathering”. These errors varied from medication administration to procedural errors to charting errors. While the errors differentiated, the one constant was clear; the longer the shift, the more errors were seen. Another very similar Study showed not only did long hours result in more errors, but also in a greater risk of patient dissatisfaction with their hospital stay.

The conclusion taken from both these study’s supports the claim that long work hours will result in less effective work staff in hospitals. Further study must be conducted in order to eliminate certain third variables, such as the severity of the illness or injury each patient has. This could result in more errors that a more simple diagnosis.

What is clear from these studies is that there is a correlation between sleep/ work hours and errors observed, which might make you want to question your nurse  the next time you find yourself in a hospital.

Is Free Will Possible in the 21st Century?

As humans we like to think that we have complete control over our lives. “Land of the free and the Home of the Brave” are core fundamental values that just about every American has been raised on. This enhancing the idea of a society that is above an authoritarian oppression and one that has free will and range to do what they want.  As we progress further into this new world we live in, the technology that we use in our daily lives also progresses.

The most simple yet complex item that has really made it’s impact on a grand scale in the past ten year to our generation is the cell phone. First introduced on April 3 1973, the cell phone has since stormed onto the market. A 2013 study has shown that in 2013, 91% of Americans owned a cell phone, with 56% owning a smart phone. Since then, that number has grown to “two thirds of American’s” owing a smart phone. The smart phone is really what has made this technology boom what it is. Not only does it give users the ability to text or call anyone in the world, but it allows us to connect to the internet, something we can use to check sports scores, election results, or our social media site (something itself that has made a huge impact in the new technology based world). This ability to communicate with anyone, anyway we want, and at anytime is truly an amazing thing. However, it’s this ability to 24/7 communication that can actually be harmful to a user.

Apples iPhone 6

This ability to alway be connected can cause a addiction affect on the user. Addiction is defined as “a condition that results when a ingest a substance or engages in a activity that can be pleasurable but the continued use/act which becomes compulsive” ( psychology today). Derived from the definition of addiction, this condition of addiction feeds on someones pleasure towards a object or an act. It is not surprising that cell phones (social media) and addition go hand and hand. A Web MD  article published about this very topic shares that “computer technology can be addictive”.  This can be seen with the amount of usage a cell phone gets in a given day. In the same WEB MD article, a study was discussed where ” 70%(of people) said they checked their cell phone within an hour of getting up, 56% said they checked their phone within an hour of going to sleep”. But really the most interesting is the “44% [of cell phone owners who] said they would ‘experience a great deal of anxiety’ if they lost their phone and could replace it for a week”. These people all experience some form or another of cell phone addition (with the extreme being the 44%).

This addiction to their phones can bein to consume the lives of the users. According to the same study, “people aren’t addicted to smartphones themselves as much as they are addicted to “checking habits'”. This is the need to constantly be in touch with what is happening in the little interactive world of the internet. These “checking habits” cause by certain “triggers” (like boredom) can cause an individual to begin to lose touch with the real world around them.

Addiction in life is a very serious problem. But unlike a addiction to a drug or drink, an addiction to ones cell phone is far less exclusive. There is no legal age limit on cell phones, they are not illegal. They are available to all who have the money to afford them. Due to the increasing mass of people who own these little metal addiction boxes, it is only fair to say that the dependance to these phones will also grow. At this point we really need to think and ask, will run our lives in the further or will cell phones?


When it comes to concussions, what is more harmful? The Physical damage or emotional?

Anyone who follows the sport of football has heard about the national phenomenon of concussions. According to Web MD , a concussion is a “type of traumatic brain injury that is caused by a blow to the head or body… that shakes the brain inside the skull.”  These injures can be extremely serious, causing symptoms that can range from “mild to severe”. However, there is something equally as serious as the physical injures a player can receive from concussions. This being emotional stress.

I take expressed interest in this question because of my past history with concussions. In 5 years of playing the sport of football, I reported 6 serious concussions (concussions that made me loss memory) and suffered many more non disclosed head injuries as well. Those five years were filled with head aches, nausha, and memory loss. However, what I really take away from these injuries was not the physical pain that I felt, but the emotional stress I faced every day. This ranging from not wanting to get out of bed in the morning and go to school to not wanting to go to class to see my old teammates. This day to day stress was something more painful than any head ache I could have received.

According to Nationwide Children’s, emotional symptoms of concussions can include irritability, sadness, and nervousness.  Add this to physical symptoms of head aches and nausea and you will start to see a difference in a child’s life. Specifically at school. According to Today, “88 precent of symptomatic students had trouble in school” due to concussions.  Nationwide Children believes that these symptoms “can have a significant impact on classroom learning”.   As for me, I use to take half days at school and do less work than the other students. In theory, this may sound ideal to most children, until they add the factor of physical pain and final grades. Students cannot simply be exempt from these assignments . They will have to make them up some how, usually falling behind in some way. From falling behind, children will become more and more stressed. According to Time Magazine , “77% [of students] said they had trouble taking notes and spent more time competing homework assignments”.  This time missed from school and this extra time needed to complete each assignment will impact grades for the rest of a child’s high school career. Grades in school is an area that can have a lot of emotional effect on any high school student.

High school and grades is just one example of how the emotional stress of concussions can add to the overall stress an average person goes through in their lifetime. This leads to a topic that can be very difficult to talk about, what happens when this emotion stress becomes too much. In a study published in the Washington Post, “36% [of children] experienced a new onset of psychiatric disorders”. Further more, this article also stated that “days, weeks, and months that immediately follow a traumatic brain injury can be crippling”.  This article is very accurate to what many athletes (including myself) will face after a concussion. They will find themselves in moods they normally didn’t see before. They will be more irritable, feeling down most of the time. For some this is more extreme than others, and for some, there can be one thing this emotional damage can lead to. According to, “people who have sustained multiple brain injuries throughout their life were more likely to report suicidal thoughts”. has linked several suicides of former players to concussion’s, showing a true impact of what these inquires can inflict. Even if at the biological level, one cannot ignore the severity of the emotion stress concussions can cause with  links to suicides in not only former NFL players, but also recent college football players and average everyday football players.

A conclusion, though very unpopular in the world of sports, that I have drawn to the question presented in the title can help answer it. To coaches and management (those making money off players), physical effects of a concussion must be a top concern for this is what stops a player from playing  (stops money). But to everyone else, those who actually care about the lives of the athletes, the emotional damage of a concussion must be a top concern, and the question of the legitimacy of football as a practical sport (and all contact sports) but be examined.

Does Muddy Water Make Largemouth Bass Stupid?

In a previous blog post, I reviewed the scientific method bass anglers use in order to catch more fish. One key area to this method discussed was water conditions, specifically being water temperature and pressure in correlation with dissolved oxygen. Along these same lines, this post will look into another area of water conditions that directly effects a bass’ behavior, water clarity. Water clarity impairs the vision of a bass, making it harder to see forage in the water. As the water muddies, a bass will begin to strike very unnatural looking lures, begging a question. As harmful weather moves in and clear water becomes muddy, do the bass also change? Do they become stupid?

According to Ohio State University, lakes and ponds “become muddy on occasion due to inclement weather”, this being that these ponds will “receive runoff water from nearby soil”. This new mud in the water makes visibility difficult not just for humans looking in from the surface, but for the bass in the water. Each lake is different, but muddy water can have a significant effect on a bass’ normal behavior.

In a previous post, lure selection was merely chosen based on the main forage bass would be targeting in a specific lake. While this remains constant with every body of water that holds bass, the actual selection process is much more complex. Lures used muddy water will be much different than those used in clear water. This is really where the intelligence of the bass comes into question.  According This Article found on, when fishing muddy water, “Crank baits in chartreuse and orange colors are effective”.

Chartreuse Crankbait

As seen in the image above, a “Chartreuse Crank bait” is one with a bright -green look. This color will in a sense glow in the muddy water and cause a bass to attack with something known as a “reaction strike”.  While this may seem normal to a non fisher, it is really quite odd once you examine an actually picture of a shad (what a crank bait imitates).

Here is a nature depiction of a shad. The difference between the natural shad and the crank bait above is very clear and obvious. Anyone can observe that when it comes to color, the natural shad and the crank bait are almost exact opposite. So why would a bass attack this bait that is so clearly different than its natural counter part? An article found on Bass may answer this. This article discusses the importance of sight to a bass. In a muddy water situation, these bright colors will help “maximize the profiles visibility”, being that bright colors will help the bass see the bait. This bright colored bait will allow the bass to get a glimpse of the lure, causing it to attack with such an attitude of “strike first, ask questions later”. This bright color, though extremely unnatural in nature, will entrance a fish into attack it, more so than a natural looking lure would. This being based on the merit that you can see one easier than the other.

Yes, a bright lure in water is much easier to see than a more natural lure. Though it is odd how a bass will determine this still unnatural color as legitimate. For instance, when is the last time you ate a neon green pizza at night because you could see it more clearly?

Is 24 hours in a day really enough?

Every single educated person can to relate to one common struggle: Time management. We have all been there, the common struggle of “when am I going to have time to do this?” or “how much time will this assignment take?” During high school, this struggle usually has a simple solution: Your parents tell you what to do. You get up when they say, eat dinner, and for most cases, do homework when instructed. However, as we all get acquainted to college, we find out that Mom and Dad are no longer here to tell us what to do. We begin to make our own schedules and organize ourselves according to our course. The question still stands, however, is this enough?


Here at Penn State, according to the Undergraduate Student Handbook,  students enrolled in more than 12 credits are considered “full time students”. This means that a student in more than 12 credits will be enrolled in about 5 classes a semester respectfully. Each of these classes have their own curriculum and work load associated to their content. In calculating work load, one must first look at the hours they will be in each class. Lets say, for example, you have two classes Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (50 minutes each)  and three on Tuesday and Fridays (75 minutes) (about 16 credits).  This would mean in any given work week, this student will be in class for 750 minutes. In terms of an average day, where a student will be awake for about 16 hours (based on this article that “most healthy adults need between seven and a half to nine hours of sleep per night”) , a student will spend 15.6% of their day in the class room (225 minutes divided by 1440 minutes).

While 15.6% may seem insignificant, you must also look at the course load of each of these classes require outside of the classroom. According to The University of Minnesota, “one credit represents three hours of academic work per week”. With this understanding, say a student is taking a 16 hour credit course load during the week. That student will do 48 hours of homework a week.  Approximately 9.6 hours a day (48 hours divided by 5 days). According to this, about 40% of your 24 hour day will be spent studying and doing homework.


While someone can plan out a course load such as this and make time to fit in your classes, one must also not forget about the other essential necessities every healthy person needs to fit into their schedule; eating, exercise, relaxation, etc. According to the Mayo Clinic, an adult needs to “get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity”.  This is about 1.48% of your given day, or 21.4 minutes a day.  As we begin to divide up the 24 hour day, the time begins to go by very quickly. First the 8 hours of sleep, leaving us with 16 hours. Then class time, for example three classes, or 3.75 hours, leaving us now with 12.75. Now subtracting the 9.6 hours, an average college course load would only leave a student 2.65 hours to eat, sleep, exercise, etc. Not to mention if this student has a job or is involved with a club or Thon.

Though these numbers presented are just national averages and generalizations, it really is eye opening to how much time we commit (or are going to commit) to our education. As this time is quickly taken up, the question beings to be revised from “is 24 hours enough” to “what do we need to give up in order to live a healthy life”.

Then the question is, is this the teachers responsibility to take into action, or the students?

The Science Behind the World of Bass Fishing

The sport of bass fishing lives as a staple and a pastime for many families and communities. According to united states fishing national survey  taken in 2011, up to 33.1 Americans participated in some sort of activity related to fishing. This will range from a father and son fishing in a local pond to a team of professional fishers who’s livelihoods rely on the fish they catch. What sets these people apart is the ability to use science in order to understand the fishes’ habits. A common misconception about fishing is that you can be effective by just throwing a chunk of meat into an area and hoping to get bit. While this will sometimes work, the actual truth is much more complex.

There are many different forms of data that bass anglers will use in order to catch fish, but really the most useful is trial and error. This is used from the very moment you catch your first fish. Imagine you throw a swim bait into an area with rocks and catch a fish, then come back the next time at the same time and same location and catch another fish. You have now just used data to formulate a plan. You now understand that that specific tactic will produce a fish at a certain time of day. This is what bass anglers know as Confidence lures, the ability to throw a specific bait into an area and using previous knowledge and understanding to in terms “guarantee” a bite.  Now, there is really no such thing as a guaranteed bite, however; confidence lures give the impression of a guarantee. For instance, I know that if I throw a craw fish imitation lure into any wood pile on any lake that I can catch a fish. Is this really guaranteed? No. However through trial and error, I have discovered that the likelihood of catching a fish in wood with a jig is much higher than the likelihood of catch a fish on a swim jig.  It differs for every bass fisher, but no matter who you ask, everyone has that confidence lure they can always go to.

ex. Strike king Structure jig in a peanut butter and Jelly color with a rage craw trailer. This is my “confidence lure”


Ex. of a swim jig. This being a Strike king KVD 1.5 square bill crank bait

Another factor anglers use when formulating a plan is the time of year. This is the understanding of weather patterns and how it affects the eating habits of a bass. A common misconception is that bass will act the same way throughout the year. This is very untrue. Even on the smallest of lakes, bass will migrate to different areas of the water trying to locate bait fish to eat. This migration depends on two factors: water temperature and dissolved oxygen.  These factors directly relate to the activity of a fish. The graph seen in this study shows how temperature affects D.O. The colder the water, the less oxygen is available for aquatic life. In terms of bass fishing, the colder the water gets, the less active the fish will be. Because of this, fish will look for warmer water. Bass anglers use this understanding when developing a plan. For example, where during the summer I may throw a jig into deep structure, during the fall I will throw a swim bait into shallow water in order to target fish chasing shad (a common bait fish).  Anglers have to use this cycle in order make a detailed decision for their lure selection. The factors of D.O, time of year, and their own history of confidence lures in order to make the choice of either throwing a jig or a swim bait.

The science in bass fishing is very real. What makes it unique from any other scientific understanding is the ability to personalize discovery. Individuals will use a wide umbrella of facts (ex. weather, D.O., and bait migration) and then use past history to find confident baits. Like anything, chance is a factor. Sometimes you will catch fish, sometimes you won’t. What sets you apart is the ability to learn from these days. Days where you don’t catch fish can be just as important as days you do, for then you can analyze what went wrong and what you need to adjust. This ability to understand this science of fishing is what sets the average apart from the elite. 

Why I’m taking this class

My name is Jack Federici and I am from Fairfax Virginia (which is about 30 minutes outside of Washington DC). I’m am currently undecided and I’m not sure which major i’m going to go with.


I am taking this class in order to once again grow and interest in the world of science, something that I had before I went to high school.  After four years of barely making it through physics or chemistry, I figured that science wasn’t really my thing.

Although I do enjoy and understand basic concepts of chemistry and physics, I struggle with their applications, skills I’m sure you would need for any science major. That is why when choosing my final major I am going to stay away from anything dealing with science. But we all can relate to this Bill Nye