Author Archives: Ryan Madore

Can Animals Feel Pain?

Have you ever wondered, do animals feel pain? Having had a dog, I have often wondered whether or not it could feel physical and even emotional pain. This question is one that is hard to resolve because everyone and everything feels pain differently, so is there any way to prove that animals do or do not feel the pain that we do?

An article from Lynne Sneddon of the Wellcome Trust suggests that they can seeing that they “share similar mechanisms of pain detection, have similar areas of the brain involved in processing pain and show similar pain behaviors…” However, the article also notes that it is “notoriously difficult to assess how animals actually experience pain” (Sneddon). It is important to add that pain is extremely important as it causes whatever has been injured to be more cautious of that area, preventing further damage. Sneddon’s article also mentions nociceptive nerves that can differentiate damage from pain (Sneddon). These are found in vertebrates and invertebrates, although invertebrates are “capable only of stimulus-response reactions and lack the necessary brain system that vertebrates have to process pain” (Sneddon). So do all vertebrates then feel pain?

Invertebrates, like this snail, lack the brain function to process pain. (picture from

The information from these nerves are then transferred from the brain “down the nervous system to alter the intensity of pain” (Sneddon). Sneddon’s article also states that “all vertebrates possess the primitive areas of the brain to process nociceptive information, namely the medulla, thalamus and limbic system.” This makes it entirely possibly that animals and humans could feel pain alike. However, the article goes on to say that humans have a larger cortex than other mammals, which is a crucial area of the brain for detecting pain (Sneddon). Behavioral changes also suggest that animals can feel physical pain as we do. An article from Andrea Nolan for Independent Digital News refers to birds who, when injured, “will choose to eat food containing pain-killing drugs (analgesics) over untreated food, and by measures of behavior, they will improve.” In fact, as the article shows, many domestic animals showed positive behavioral signs after taking medication. Animals who had surgery yet remained in pain showed “behaviors reflective of pain which [were] alleviated when they [were] treated with analgesics such as morphine” (Nolan).

The brain sends signals indicating pain (via

It can be rather difficult to notice when an animal is in pain however, because behavior changes may be very subtle. Familiarity with the animal can help determine whether or not it is in pain by distinguishing odd behavior from what is normal of the animal. Stanley Coren of Psychology Today may just be able to explain why. His article focused on dog’s perception of pain compared to humans. Coren believes that “canines have inherited an instinct to hide any pain that is caused by injuries or infirmity.” They do this in attempt to not display their weaknesses, the article says, which would make them appear “vulnerable to attack, and there is a survival advantage to act like nothing is wrong even when something most definitely is” (Coren). Coren says that “they suppress many of the more obvious signals of pain and injury to protect themselves and their social standing in their pack.”


Research is seemingly split on the issue, with “many veterinarians [having] accepted the idea that dogs have a low sensitivity to pain…” (Coren). Information has shown that dogs specifically, may be ignoring pain as they used to in order to protect themselves from possible predators. Other sources show that all vertebrates possess the necessary brain function to feel pain, while behavioral patterns seemingly confirm this. Although, the largest opposing argument is that we cannot possibly know without communication.


Works Cited

Coren, Stanley. “Do Dogs Feel Pain the Same Way That Humans Do?” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC, 20 Sept. 2011. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.

Nolan, Andrea. “Do Animals Feel Pain in the Same Way as Humans Do?” The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 7 July 2015. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.

Sneddon, Lynne U. “Can Animals Feel Pain?” Pain. The Wellcome Trust, n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.


The Healing Power of H2O

If you had a childhood anything like mine, then I’m sure you remember well the black bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide your mom would bring out every time you had a cut. But have you ever thought, does this really work? Is it worth it? If you were anything like me, you assumed that since the application of this substance caused sharp, stinging pain, it was doing its job. However, recent research may show otherwise, arguing that Hydrogen Peroxide is not the best way to treat a wound to keep it from infection, and even that it may cause some harm.

A black bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide (via

Research now shows that water is the best treatment. While the bubbling and stinging of Hydrogen Peroxide may feel as if it is working, it is actually detrimental to your skin in various ways. The concentration of the Hydrogen Peroxide determines just how harmful the product will be individually, with the higher percentages being most dangerous. There is minimum risk involved with regular 3% Hydrogen Peroxide, when it is used occasionally (Missimer, Rick). According to Rick Missimer, author of a Health Guidance article on using Hydrogen Peroxide to treat cuts, “anything higher than that should be avoided.” It has been found that Hydrogen Peroxide is potentially harmful when “absorbed through the skin”, making it harmful to treat open wounds with (Missimer, Rick). Why is this? Well according to a WebMD article, “this product works by releasing oxygen when it is applied to the affected area. The release of oxygen causes foaming, which helps to remove dead skin and clean the area.” Hydrogen Peroxide (H2-O2) “may contain too much oxygen for the blood leading to potential issues” (Missimer, Rick). Missimer’s article later states that “it is also a potential carcinogen and the oxidative stress on the skin cells might (very mildly) increase the chances of developing cancer.” However, you may be wondering how effective it is in treating the actual wound.


Hydrogen Peroxide is notorious for its ability to kill germs; however recent data shows that “it can also actually slow down the healing of wounds by damaging the white blood cells which are required for skin repair. At the same time, it can actually damage the skin around the wound” (Missimer, Rick). The use of Hydrogen Peroxide on the skin can result in “redness, stinging or irritation”, according the WebMD. So how can we treat our wounds to prevent from infection. The answer is, water. Most are likely unaware that water is extremely important when it comes to healing. An article from Advanced Tissue shows that “water is the primary way that oxygen and nutrients are delivered directly to the wound bed…” Without these nutrients and proper hydration, the healing process can be greatly stalled (Advanced Tissue). The article then states that “if an injury doesn’t maintain proper moisture, epithelial cells that work to migrate over repaired tissue will not be able to cover the wound at a normal pace, leaving it more susceptible to open air and infection” (Advanced Tissue). So by washing your wounds with water and making sure you are hydrated, you can most effectively prevent yourself from getting infected. Although using Hydrogen Peroxide lightly causes little chance of the harmful effects it can produce, it doesn’t make sense to incur these risks when something as simple as water is the answer.

Water is essential to the healing process (picture from Journal

Works Cited

“How Hydration Impacts Wound Healing.” Advanced Tissue. Advanced Tissue, 27 June 2014. Web. 01 Dec. 2015.

“Hydrogen Peroxide.” WebMD. WebMD, LLC., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2015.

Missimer, Rick. “Should You Use Hydrogen Peroxide to Clean a Cut?” Health Guidance., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2015.


Self-Driving Cars: Now a Reality

In this era of advanced technology, we have seen countless inventions aimed at improving life as we know it, and now you can add to that list self-driving cars. That’s right, we are extremely close to the age of self-driving vehicles, although there are a few setbacks. The leader in making these cars is none other than tech-giant Google. According to an article for Car Magazine written by Tim Pollard, Google worked with other car companies like Lexus and Prius on their current models, but as of May 2014 they officially announced that designed their own vehicle (the likes of which are shown below). Pollard says in the article that the “technology company will start competing with traditional car makers within the next 12 months.” So maybe we are a lot closer to driverless vehicles than you may have previously thought. Either way there are definite challenges and drawbacks to self-driving cars, making the development and integration of these cars in the future extremely difficult. Let’s take a look at some of these difficulties.

First off its worth noting that author Adrienne Lafrance of the Atlantic states that in the six years Google has been working on the cars (since 2009) it has only been involved in 12 minor accidents, in none of which the car was to blame. Its true, every accident the cars have been in have been at the fault of human. In an accident in 2011, a Google employee had “borrowed the car to run a quick errand and ended up rear-ending another car” (Lafrance, Adrianne). So it is shown that up to this point, the Google car has an impeccable driving record. Why then is it not yet out on the roads? Oddly enough the car’s biggest problem is interacting with human drivers. As a New York Times article written by Matt Richtel and Conor Dougherty puts it, “one of the biggest challenges facing autonomous cars is blending them into a world in which humans don’t behave by the book.” The article goes on to cite Donald Norman, director of the Design Lab at the University of California, saying “the real problem is that the car is too safe.” What does this mean exactly? Well take a test Google ran in 2009 for example. The car “couldn’t get through a four-way stop because its sensors kept waiting for other (human) drivers to stop completely and let it go. The human drivers kept inching forward, looking for the advantage-paralyzing Google’s robot” (Richtel and Dougherty).  It is extremely difficult for the car to function the way it was programmed to, by following the law perfectly, when human drivers all around are not doing the same. Donald Norman was also quoted saying “they have to learn to be aggressive in the right amount, and the right amount depends on the culture” (Richter and Dougherty).

Here’s exactly what the Google vehicle sees, using its various lasers and detection systems. (Via

Other problems may include hackers, weather and other challenges like “when an autonomous car breaks down on the highway” (Richter and Dougherty). According to Lafrance’s article in the Atlantic, most accidents are happening in intersections and are caused by human negligence. People are driving distracted far too much, with the article quoting Google saying, “our safety drivers routinely see people weaving in and out of their lanes…we’ve spotted people reading books, and even one playing a trumpet.” Now it is easily seen that most of these accidents fault humans, but to reinforce this the New York Times article cites Bill Windsor, a safety expert with Nationwide Insurance, as saying “the technology, like Google’s car, drives by the book. It leaves what is considered the safe distance between itself and the car ahead. This also happens to be enough space for a car in an adjoining lane to squeeze into, and they often tried.” Dmitri Dolgov, head of software for Google’s Self-Driving Car, possible sums these issues up best by saying, “human drivers need to be less idiotic” (Richter and Dougherty).

The design of Google’s self-driving car. (via Google)

The design of the car also deserves attention. The article written by Tim Pollard of Car Magazine states that “Google says its self-driving car will have a stop-go button, but no steering wheel, accelerator or brake pedal.” To me this is concerning as it offers the human inside the car no chance to take over for the car if he/she feels the need to. The article does say that there will be a emergency button that stops the car if whoever is inside doesn’t feel safe. Although the costs of these cars is not yet known since they have yet to be commercialized, I would imagine them being quite expensive. This would create a mixture of human drivers (those who could not afford the Google car) and autonomous cars (those who could afford them) which we have previously determined was an extremely dangerous mixture and one of the car’s biggest issues. The car also has a top speed of just 25 miles-per-hour (Pollard). Not only this, but the car has only enough room for two passengers. This design will not appeal to many, as the cost will most likely make this lack of space unworthy of purchase. However, despite all these issues, “Google has confirmed its intention to launch the first autonomous car in 2015” (Pollard). So when it comes to the Google self-driving car, I guess we’re just going to have to wait and see…


Here’s a video of Google’s car, via ABC News:

Works Cited

LaFrance, Adrienne. “When Google Self-Driving Cars Are in Accidents, Humans Are to Blame.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 08 June 2015. Web. 24 Nov. 2015.

Pollard, Tim. “10 Things You Might Not Know about Google’s Driverless Car.” CAR Magazine. Bauer Consumer Media Ltd, 29 May 2014. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

Richtel, Matt, and Conor Dougherty. “Google’s Driverless Cars Run Into Problem: Cars With Drivers.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 01 Sept. 2015. Web. 25 Nov. 2015.

The Benefits of Dark Chocolate

When it comes to eating chocolate, dark is going to be the best option based on its many health benefits. Although many aren’t fond of its bitter taste, dark chocolate has been identified as having various upsides for personal health. When compared to white and milk chocolate, dark chocolate emerged the healthiest option, although it was noted that all chocolate is obviously high in fat. According to a WebMD article on dark chocolate, findings from a report done by Mauro Serafini, PhD, for an issue of Nature, said “milk may interfere with the absorption of antioxidants from chocolate…and may therefore negate the potential health benefits that can be derived from eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate.” Therefore, milk chocolate would not be a healthy option. Now let’s focus on dark chocolate specifically, and discuss just what it can do for you.

Dark Chocolate has proven to be much healthier than Milk Chocolate (picture via

One of the biggest benefits of dark chocolate is that its rich in antioxidants. As stated in a article, “antioxidants help free your body of free radicals, which cause oxidative damage to cells.” The article also notes that these free radicals play a part in aging and have even been attributed as a cause of cancer. Therefore, eating dark chocolate can help to prevent various types of cancer and also ease the process of aging. Daniel DeNoon, author of the WebMD article on dark chocolate’s benefits, also mentions free radicals, saying “antioxidants gobble up free radicals, destructive molecules that are implicated in heart disease and other ailments.” This study went on to state that benefits showed only when consumption was moderate. An article by Kris Gunnars, BSc, for Authority Nutrition, talks about a measure called ORAC, (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) testing the antioxidant activity of foods.  The article summed up this testing process by saying “researchers pit a bunch of free radicals against a sample of food and see how well the antioxidants in the food can “disarm” them.” Unprocessed cocoa beans were among the highest scoring foods tested according to Gunnars article. Later this article stated “one study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate contained more antioxidant activity, polyphenols and flavanols than other fruits they tested, which include blueberries and Acai berries.” Polyphenols and flavanols are organic compounds that function as antioxidants according to the Authority Nutrition article. This article lists seven benefits of eating dark chocolate with moderation, so what are the others?

Not only can dark chocolate help cancer and aging prevention, but it can also help lower blood pressure. The flavanols mentioned earlier “stimulate endothelium, the lining of the arteries to produce Nitric Oxide (NO), which is a gas” (Gunners). This gas then sends signals to the bodies’ arteries telling them to relax, thus lowering blood pressure. However, according to Gunners, despite “several controlled trials showing that cocoa and dark chocolate can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure”, there is also a study showing these had no effect. The article gave instruction on how to use dark chocolate to reduce blood pressure, saying “studies show that eating a small amount of dark chocolate two or three times each week can help lower your blood pressure.” In this same article it is also shown that dark chocolate is beneficial for the brain, because it also allows for better blood flow to the brain. The article says that it can “improve cognitive function” and that it can “also reduce your risk of stroke.” Additionally, “in a control trial, cocoa powder was found to significantly decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol in men” (Authority Nutrition). This oxidized LDL (or bad cholesterol) can react with free radicals, enabling itself to cause damage to tissue, “such as the lining of the arteries in your heart” (Authority Nutrition). Lowering total LDL thus reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. The Authority Nutrition article further proves this impact by saying “it contains an abundance of powerful antioxidants that do make it into the bloodstream and protect lipoproteins against oxidative damage.”

Cocoa Powder (source of photo : Aayushman Chemicals)

Lastly, this article shows how the consumption of dark chocolate can provide skin protection against the sun’s harmful rays. The flavanols in dark chocolate mentioned earlier “can protect against sun-induced damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration” (Authority Nutrition). In order for the sun’s rays to cause redness in skin, the minimal amount of UVB rays is recorded as (MED) minimal erythmal dose. The article cites a study ran, testing the effectiveness of skin protection from dark chocolate, which showed that “in one study of 30 people, the MED more than doubled after consuming dark chocolate high in flavanols for 12 weeks.”

So as you can see, there is reasonable information showing that consuming dark chocolate has various health benefits. In each of the articles, it was stressed that to receive these benefits, one must consume the dark chocolate in moderation. Although this research may seem conclusive that dark chocolate is beneficial there are studies that dispute some of the benefits. Personally, I eat dark chocolate every day or two when I have some, although I was unaware of all of these benefits.

Here is a YouTube video explaining some of the health benefits listed in my blog, as well as a few others:

Works Cited

Denoon, Daniel J. “Dark Chocolate Is Healthy Chocolate.” WebMD. WebMD, LLC., 27 Aug. 2003. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

Gunnars, Kris. “7 Proven Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate (No. 5 Is Best).” Authority Nutrition. Authority Nutrition, 05 June 2013. Web. 29 Nov. 2015.

“Six Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate / Nutrition / Healthy Eating.” Fit Day. Internet Brands, Inc., n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2015.

The Mongoose

The Mongoose

               Mongooses, yes the plural is mongooses and not mongeese, are primarily located in Africa according to a National Geographic article. However, the article continues on to state that “some species occupy parts of Southern Asia and the Iberian Peninsula.” Most species of this mammal live solely on land, although there are few species that are semi-aquatic, mentions an article from Encyclopedia Britannica written by author Serge Lariviere. Looking at the mongoose you may find it seems familiar. Often it is associated with the weasel, however, according to Animal Facts Encyclopedia, it is actually a member of the family of “cat-like carnivores”, with weasels being placed in the family of “dog-like carnivores.” This actually places the mongoose in the same superfamily as the hyena and leopard (Animal Facts Encyclopedia). Anyways, that’s just the basics of the mongoose. Let’s get down to what makes it interesting…some species kill the King Cobra. How? Let’s find out.

A Mongoose sits in the sand (via Visits to the Park)

Mongooses are starting to gain recognition for their intelligence. They have been witnessed “displaying simple tool use (Animal Facts Encyclopedia)”, seen finding advanced ways to crack eggs or creatures with a hard shell. Often times they have been seen throwing these shelled objects “between [their] legs and against the rock until the shell is broken (Lariviere)”. Obviously, when it comes to the intense battle between the mongoose and the King Cobra, these practices are obsolete. The mongoose then relies on “speed and agility, darting at the head of the snake and cracking the skull with a powerful bite” says Larivier. The mongoose has an extremely helpful tool that makes it one of the few predators of the King Cobra. In fact, the article from Animal Facts Encyclopedia says the deadly Cobra will avoid confrontation with the mongoose until it is absolutely necessary. This is because the mongoose “possesses something called acetylcholine receptors, which make it, not fully immune, but relatively tolerant of cobra venom” (Animal Facts Encyclopedia). This is important to note because popular belief is that the mongoose is 100% immune to the Cobra’s deadly venom, when in reality it can only handle a certain dose which is still very impressive considering just how powerful the venom is. This venom is not poison as stated by the article from Animal Facts Encyclopedia, “it is modified saliva that must be injected into the victim in order to be lethal.” This allows the mongoose to eat the whole snake if it is able to defeat the mighty Cobra.

A Mongoose and a Cobra prepare to fight (via

Statistics say that the mongoose wins around 80% of these confrontations, as stated by Animal Facts Encyclopedia. But just how often does this legendary battle occur? Well, more often than you’d probably think. As this same article puts it, it “is not an everyday event, but it is not uncommon either” (Animal Facts Encyclopedia). This may be because the mongoose usually lives in a group of up to 40. Also it is noted that the chances of an encounter are sizable because of the similarity in each’s habitat, thus causing the two to cross paths a fair amount.

When it comes to who wins the fight we need to analyze the weapons each have. A mongoose has non-retractable claws and most have five toes per foot, according to author Serge Lariviere. According to the National Geographic article, mongooses range in size from “the 7-inch-long dwarf mongoose to the 2-foot-long Egyptian mongoose”.  Lastly, the mongoose has resistance to the Cobra’s venom, which forces the Cobra to bite the mongoose more than once (Animal Facts Encyclopedia). Now to the infamous King Cobra. According to an article written by National Geographic, the King Cobra can grow to 18 feet in length, “making them the longest of all venomous snakes”. When opposed, these snakes can raise an amazing “one-third of their bodies straight off the ground and still move forward to attack” (National Geographic). They are extremely well known because they “flare their iconic hoods and emit a bone-chilling hiss that almost sounds like a growling dog”, according to sources at National Geographic. Although their venom isn’t as poisonous as it comes, it is still extremely dangerous. National Geographic notes that it is actually strong enough to kill an elephant. Something they are unrivaled in is how they build nests for their eggs, unlike any other snake in the world. They will guard this nest “ferociously until the hatchlings emerge” (National Geographic).

So as you can see, this sets the stage for an epic battle. Check out who wins in the video below:

A Mongoose fights a Black Mamba, via Smithsonian Channel.


Works Cited

“King Cobra.” National Geographic. National Geographic Society. Web. 28 Oct. 2015.

Lariviere, Serge. “Mongoose.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 16 May 2015. Web. 28 Oct. 2015.

“Mongoose.” National Geographic. National Geographic Society. Web. 28 Oct. 2015.

“Mongoose Facts.” Animal Facts Encyclopedia. Animal Facts Web. 28 Oct. 2015.

The Golf Ball

When it comes to choosing a golf ball, the decision is often divided into two categories, distance versus spin. Distance is more critical off the tee, getting you to the green quicker than a ball aimed for spin will. However, the latter will result in increased control over the ball, which will be particularly useful on shots around the greens, designed to set up shorter putts. Therefore the question for golfers has always been which to choose, one that offers more control, or more distance? To help answer this question, let’s analyze the engineering that goes into the golf ball.

First its important to note that the type of ball a golfer will choose varies by each player, depending on the golfer’s style of play. That being said golfers looking for more distance off the tee will prefer a harder ball, CNN’s Peter Sorel-Cameron notes. Whys this? Dr. Martin Strangwood, a member of the International Sports Engineering Association, is cited in the same article explaining that, “If you deform a rubber and then release it — so as it’s hit by the club head it compresses down and then it leaves the face, and so it returns to a spherical face — that loses energy. The more you deform it, the more energy you lose.” The rubber being referenced here is the material core of a golf ball, a Golf Galaxy states, adding that the larger the core of the ball, the more power and speed is generated, resulting in more distance. At Srixon, a leading golf brand, they report that “all shots have backspin [and] backspin is certainly helpful around the green for added control, but too much spin can reduce distance.” Due to this insight, a harder ball will benefit this type of golfer more than a softer ball, as it offers more distance but less control. Another noteworthy component of the golf ball is its trademark dimples that give it its distinct look. These serve great purpose, also helping the ball to travel further. How’s this? Well its quite obvious that anything flying through the air is fighting against wind resistance, this is where the dimples come in handy. As Cameron writes, “the dimples reduce the drag the air has on the ball, and gives even the shots played with major backspin a much truer trajectory.” Srixon agrees, stating, “…Drag is the force that opposes the golf ball’s motion.” Thus eliminating drag, and adding to the lift of the ball will give it more distance when hit. Lastly, the cover of the ball plays an important role in its flight. Referencing the Golf Galaxy article, “The cover is often made of Surlyn or urethane. Surlyn is durable and enhances distance and spin. Urethane is softer and offers better feel and control.” All these components work together to make the golf ball work as efficiently as possible for the desired play.

So to summarize, the golf ball is much more complex than most assume. And to answer the question which type of ball is best, well I really can’t. Ultimately it is up to the golfer as to what kind of ball he wants to use, depending on their skill set. There are many elements in each ball that allow it to work better for specific approaches, and its important to note just how huge of a role modern technology has on the sport, as seen through the engineering of the golf ball.

Here is a video explaining some of the science behind a golf ball’s motion.

Works Cited

“Ball Technology.” Performance – Srixon. Srixon Sports Europe Ltd. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.

“Golf Ball Buying Guide.” Golf Ball Comparison Chart. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.

Sorel-Cameron, Peter. “The Science of a Golf Ball.” CNN. Cable News Network. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.



First Post

I decided to take this class because it looked like an easy way to fill the Gen-Ed requirements for science, which I really did not enjoy in high school. I think I would be better suited for a business major, specifically Management, due to my people skills. I am from Pittsburgh and am a huge Pirates baseball fan. Hoping they can take the division.

PNC PARK, Pittsburgh Pirates

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