Daily Archives: September 1, 2016

Study Buddy

Image result for adderall

image via livescience.com

It’s the week of you’re biggest final exam, and if you do not get an A, you will end up failing the course. All week you sit and stare at your notes, feeling like you are accomplishing something but really nothing is happening. Then you remember the dude down the hall has adderall and sells it for just a few bucks a pill. You go and buy some and after taking the pill you become much more focused on studying. Then you begin buying regularly from the dude down the hall until you need to take it every day. When you don’t take it, you feel tired and unfocused. This is the process of your brain developing a dependency on the drug. Up front, I would like to say that this post is neither condoning or promoting the use of non-prescribed adderall.

Adderall’s intended use

image via forbes.com

image via forbes.com

Adderall is a drug that contains a mixture of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine (Dodson). It is used to treat ADHD. ADHD, Attention-Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, is pretty much what it’s name describes it as; affected individuals have trouble keeping their attention focused on one thing and may also be disruptive. It is found in mostly children, only about 5%, and this is when the first diagnosis usually occurs. An individual diagnosed with ADHD will most likely receive a prescription for adderall. At first, the individual may start out on a very small dose but may have to increase dose size if a tolerance builds up. Adderall is a very effective drug when used properly. It contains chemicals to stimulate the brain in a way that replaces the chemicals the brain fails to produce (the lack of these chemicals is what causes ADHD). Use of adderall causes the complications associated with ADHD to be dulled and for the effected individual to function at a normal cognitive level. For this purpose, adderall is a very helpful drug.

Non-Prescribed Uses

Because of adderall’s benefit to bettering focus, many people, who are not prescribed the drug, take it for personal use. Some do so for the high, but most are using adderall to better focus on school work. In fact, A study at the University of Kentucky found 30% of students reported using adderall as a way to study better. While it may be very helpful, it is very illegal for someone to take adderall that is not prescribed it and for someone who is prescribed to distribute it.

Complications with non-prescribed use

People are prescribed adderall because they lack certain chemicals in their brain. The drug is used, in these individuals, to bring the chemicals back to a normal level. An individual who is not diagnosed with ADHD normally has sufficient levels of these chemicals in the brain. When they take an adderall, or when someone prescribed takes more than recommended, the levels of these chemicals in the brain rises above normal. This induces a state of high attention and ability to focus on certain tasks, or just a kick ass high. There is a problem associated with this process. The human body works to regulate chemicals in the body, producing more of something you need and less of things you don’t. When an individual continually uses adderall to boost chemical levels in the brain, the brain will begin to produce less of those chemicals. This process of regulation in the body lowers the amount of chemicals produced because the adderall is acting as a supplement. Therefore, when the individual stops taking the adderall, they may lack the chemicals in the brain that the adderall was boosting, leading them to need more adderall.

Comment opinions/suggestions below.

Sources

https://www.drugs.com/health-guide/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd.html

Long-Term Effects of Heavy Adderall Use

http://www.additudemag.com/adhd-web/article/11070.html

 

 

Danger in Football

concussion movie

http://bunewsservice.com/jo15/6087-2/

As the closing credits scrolled across the screen, all I could think to myself was, how bad, really, is this thing?

I had just finished watching the movie Concussion starring Will Smith. The movie focuses on Dr. Bennet Omalu who through autopsies and research on former NFL football players discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy, commonly referred to as CTE. CTE is a degenerative disease of the brain where protein deposits build up on the brain tissue due to concussive blows to the head. It is essentially scar tissue developing on the brain itself. The dangers of CTE were brought to light by Dr. Omalu when he began investigating former football players who died seemingly strange deaths while in good health at young ages. After further investigation, Dr. Omalu found that all of the players had exhibited strange behavior before their deaths such as memory loss, unusual behavior, poor judgement, and depression. Today these are all known to be prominent symptoms of CTE.

ab concussion

https://usatsteelerswire.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/vontaze-burfict-antonio-brown-hit-steelers-bengals.jpg?w=1000&h=600&crop=1

In a sport where players experience impacts that can deliver similar g-force trauma as that of a serious car accident, head injuries and their repercussions have risen to the top as a major concern. Constant conversation about the issue of concussions, attempts to create new and better technology and significant rule changes have all helped mitigate the damages and help bring greater safety to the sport that America loves, but significant damage has already been done. In fact, the NFL just recently reached a $765 Million settlement with former players in restitution for concession related law-suits. However, the damage does not stop there. Mothers are pulling their sons out of youth football in favor of less risky sports, players like 24 year old San Francisco 49ers Linebacker Chris Borland are retiring early to avoid health concerns later in life, and still every week thousands of youth, college, and professional players continue to be diagnosed with concussions due to the head trauma experienced playing the game of football.

http://www.49ers.com/assets/images/imported/SF/photos/clubimages/2015/02-February/temp_0990_SEA_49ERS_14–nfl_mezz_1280_1024.JPG

As a former High School football player, I wanted to know just how at risk I was to experience any form CTE. While much is still not known about CTE, I have found that even High School football players are exposed to enough head trauma to develop CTE. One recent study found evidence of CTE in 18 year old Eric Perry, the youngest person every to be diagnosed with CTE. CTE essentially develops from repeated trauma to the head, like that football players can face on any given play. In fact, high school football players have been found even more likely to sustain significant head injuries than college football players. Research shows high schoolers suffer more concussions per game than college players. These statistics, in fact may be conservative as many concussion go unreported by youth players who do not want to be pulled out of a game. However, while studies have shown that while more often than not concussion symptoms disappear within two weeks, there are cases where symptoms persist weeks, months, or in rare cases even years. If a player is to go back out onto the playing field while the brain is still trying to heal, the player is much more prone to suffering a more serious concussion and therefore at a greater risk to develop CTE.

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http://usatodayhss.com/2015/iowa-schools-brace-for-impact-of-concussion-lawsuits

CTE is still something very much unknown to us. We are constantly learning and doing research on head injuries and the ramifications of them, but until we shine more light on this problem we cannot completely prevent head injuries from happening in the sport of football. However, ultimately, football is a sport ingrained into American culture and for better or worse will persist in the face of these risks.
http://mmqb.si.com/2013/10/23/price-of-concussions-don-banks
http://www.espn.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/12496480/san-francisco-49ers-linebacker-chris-borland-retires-head-injury-concerns

High School Football Players Face Bigger Concussion Risk


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronic_traumatic_encephalopathy

Eat your greens…eventually

As I sat down to lunch in the Redifer Dining Commons yesterday, I noticed something extremely interesting about my plate. It was piled high with hearty helpings of cauliflower and mixed steamed vegetables including peppers, lima beans, and broccoli. I was pretty impressed, considering 15 year old me would have opted for mashed potatoes and called it the daily veggie serving. This led me to ask myself a question I’ve always wondered about. Why do children resist eating vegetables? Is there scientific reasoning, or does the fault lie in the fact that parents constantly shoved vegetable baby food down their children’s throats? Following the motto of my initial post, I concluded that there has to be a scientific explanation for this stereotype.

And it turns out that I was correct in my assumptions. There is a scientific explanation for child resistance of vegetables, and it known as food neophobia. Simply put, it’s defined as a child’s disinclination to eat food. But food neophobia isn’t the only reason young kids avoid their vegetables. According to this research review from Appetite, food neophobia coupled with picky eating make for the two biggest culprits in the childhood boycott against vegetables. A child’s age, gender, social surroundings, and personality can all affect her level of pickiness; furthermore, variables like pressure, parenting styles and feeding styles have an affect on how long a child experiences food neophobia or fussy eating. Even visual appeal plays a role in a child’s level of food neophobia; the more unfamiliar a food looks, the more likely a child is to reject it.

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image found here

The same excerpt from Appetite also presented an explanation for our growing tolerance of healthy food. When we are toddlers, our decreasing dependency on our parents increases our survival skills, one of which is the resistance of vegetables. Young taste buds are not developed enough to enjoy bitter foods, and instead react negatively towards the foods as a defense mechanism against what they think to be poison. In short, young children NATURALLY spurn bitter foods like vegetables. However, as we grow and our senses develop, we adapt to the bitterness in most vegetables, which justifies why I can now stack my plate with all different shades of green, orange, yellow, and red. It seems as if picky eating and food neophobia are just two more things we can add to the list of “phases” our parents love to discuss.

What I actually found most fascinating about my interest in this particular study was its relevance to our first class discussion with Andrew, that science is anti-authoritarian. No one forced me to research why kids dislike eating vegetables; I went about it on my own terms. I simply had a strong curiosity. The same goes for the scientists who researched food neophobia on their own volition. Like Andrew said, many believe science to be de-humanizing, when in fact it is a topic humans participate in and relate to the most.

The semi-disappointing piece of this puzzle is the fact that there really is no particular way to ensure kids will willingly consume vegetables from their first go at eating solids. Luckily, the Washington Post has provided us all with a short list of ways to get kids to eat their vegetables, so if/when food neophobia strikes our households in the distant future, we have something small to fall back on!

Effects of Secondhand Smoke

Like most people who don’t smoke cigarettes, I don’t especially like the smell of cigarette smoke. I find it hard to breathe when I am around it and hard to stop smelling it when I finally move away from someone who was smoking. Living on campus for the past two weeks has proved to me one thing—LOTS of people smoke on campus, something I wasn’t expecting. What I really wasn’t expecting, though, was smelling it in my dorm room. My room overlooks a loading dock, and while the loading dock technically isn’t a designated smoking area, students utilize it that way. I’m counting down the days until it will be cool enough to keep my window closed and the smell of smoke out, but until then I’ll been concerned about how much secondhand smoke I would actually have to inhale before it caused me any damage.

According to the CDC, second hand smoke is the smoke from a cigarette mixed with the smoke that smokers breathe out. Most people (me included, until now) think that it might not actually cause a problem, but it’s only problematic because of the smell. According to the American Cancer Society, though, smokers and secondhand smokers are inhaling the same chemicals. The most popular places for adults to acquire second hand smoke is at work and in public areas, making Penn State the perfect environment for it.  

secondhand-smoke-small

(BeTobaccoFree)

When secondhand smokers breathe in smoke, they inhale nicotine and other various toxic chemicals like smokers do. The CDC says that second hand smoke contains more that 7,000 chemicals, 70 of which are cancer causing and can also cause asthma attacks, respiratory infections and ear infections, as well as more severe problems such as cardiovascular disease, lung cancer and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). The American Cancer Society says that there are also some cases of secondhand smoke being linked to the throat and voice box, among other illnesses. According to BeTobaccoFree.gov, secondhand smoke has killed approximately 3,000 adults each year because of lung cancer. Second hand smoke can also increase the changes by 20 to 30% of a non smoker getting lung cancer. 

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 4.11.44 PM

(CDC)

It should be noted that the cancer causing chemicals in secondhand smoke is only caused by direct smoke, meaning that any lingering smoke or smell does not have chemicals in it and can therefore not be harmful, according to recent studies by the American Cancer Society. Residual tobacco smoke, or thirdhand smoke, though, could be a larger problem. Thirdhand smoke refers to the smoke particles that settle into dust on surfaces and, when combined with gases, in the air, create chemicals that can cause cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Although it hasn’t been proven yet to actually cause cancer, it can be very harmful for children and babies.

So what can be done about it? Of course, the only thing that can be done to completely eradicate it would be to ban smoking, which won’t happen. There are some immediate fixes, though. According to Live Smoke Free, there are tons of short-term solutions that can be done to stop the spread of smoke. They suggest padding and sealing electrical outlets, light switches and baseboards because smoke can travel through small openings. There are also strips which can be put around windows and doors to keep the smoke out. One of the most important things, and one of the solutions that actually works in my opinion, is to run a fan or an air purifier. An air purifier takes the dust and particles from the air, which could have remnants of cancerous causing chemicals.

Although it’s hard to change the environment around us, being informed about how it affects our health is very important. Learning how to deal with secondhand smoke and stop the spread of it is one of the only ways to keep ourselves healthy against it.

A common controversy in the society today is between people who use tanning beds and those who do not. It is said that tanning beds are bad for the skin and can cause skin cancer, but others argue that the sun gives off just as much harmful rays. I found it fascinating to do some research and look deeper into this topic to see who was actually correct and if tanning beds are actually a major problem compared to being in the natural sunlight too long.

This link TANNING states that any exposure to ultraviolet radiation of any kind can be harmful to the skin cells. Any form of UV radiation also leads to premature skin aging as well as cancer. People who tan too much tend to be wrinkled, have brown spots, and much more. Some more interesting facts about cancer were found here Cancer. This site named two facts that stood out the most to me about skin cancer:

  1. The number of skin cancer cases due to tanning is higher than the number of lung cancer cases due to smoking.
  2. In the United States alone, 419,254 cases of skin cancer can be attributed to indoor tanning. Out of this number, 6,199 are melanoma cases.

tanning.jpg

 

The fascinating question is, if there are so many harmful risks involved with tanning, why do people still insist on tanning? It is possible that because our society values materialistic items and portrays beauty a certain way, that people feel it is necessary that they tan to remain “beautiful.” It is sad to see the world we live in forget about the important things like the environment, politics, life, and more because we are so consumed in how we look and what others think of us. In a world where the amount of followers you have and likes you get on a picture determine your popularity; it is easy to see why the important things in life get thrown to the back of the mind. The irony behind all of this is that as we think we are making ourselves look better and feel more accepted by society, but in actuality we are setting ourselves up to look worse in the future. If the tanning becomes extreme we will then be wrinkly and covered in spots that could potentially be cancerous. All of the sudden the beauty behind it all becomes the beast. It is important as a society to not forget that the small things in life truly matter the most because in the end it is about who you were on the inside and how you impacted the world.

The chemical make ups of our bodies are not there to be messed with. We are made the way we are for a reason and should realize that we are beautiful no matter what our skin color is. We were given certain levels of everything in order to survive, but in this world where bigger is better, we sometimes tend to take things to the extreme. If we are not careful, tanning will soon be one of those things that is taken just a bit too far.

With all of that being said so many more questions arise:

  1. Will humanity destroy itself?
  2. Will vanity cause eventual depression and mental health issues?
  3. Are we so consumed with technological advancements that the technology will soon control us completely?

 

 

 

Photo: http://www.myhousecallmd.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/tanning.jpg

 

 

 

 

Is Astrology a “Real” Science?

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(photo credit: Cosmopolitan magazine)

“What’s your sign?” Based on where your birthday falls in the calendar year, you are considered one of the following twelve signs: Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, or Leo. Within each sign, there are certain characteristics that each one apparently possesses. It seems that the following of horoscopes is becoming more and more popular. Books have and are still being written about this subject, breaking down each sign’s history, love matches, faults, future occupations…the list goes on. Popular newspapers, such as The New York Times, dedicate a small section to monthly horoscopes. Entertainment magazines and clothing stores take social trends and turn them into something (material or otherwise) that they can profit from. That being said, magazines like Cosmopolitan and clothing stores like Urban Outfitters have profited by their zodiac columns and apparel. If there wasn’t a phenomenon surrounding the (maybe) science of astrology, then why are these companies spending money on producing such content/products? What makes this notion so attractive (and believable) to a society? The foundation of the zodiac is based on astrology: the belief that celestial positioning affects human tendencies and natural occurrences. This abstract concept does include scientific elements, such as studying the orbits of planets, stars, the sun, and the moon. But is there any credible backing that solidifies astrology a spot amongst other “actual” sciences like chemistry, biology, and physics?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary the definition of science is basically acquiring knowledge of the various aspects of the world through conducting experiments. Taking this definition and applying it to astrology diminishes its credibility. Yes, astrology aims to explain affairs that occur in the world, but the explanations are usually broad and so could mean that the results of the experiments can be manipulated to prove that is fit the hypothesis or expectation, (Understanding Science). Providing inclusive generalizations as to why people behave in such-and-such a way is hardly reliable. In fact, it comes off more like guess work. From Tuesday’s (August 30th’s) lecture, Andrew talked about what science is. He said that science, broadly, is: a systematic collection of data through observation and experiments, the development of theories to organize and explain all of this, and the use of professional institutions and norms such as peer review to subject claims to scrutiny and thus develop reliable knowledge. Although some astrologists use star charts to validate their advice or readings, there can be no conclusive relationship as to why a positioning of a star or a planet being in retrograde means that a particular zodiac sign will be temperamental, or passive, or intellectual. As far as I’ve researched, there is no university that offers a course studying astrology. It may be incorporated within a myth and mythologies course, but that doesn’t validate astrology as a science. It actually weakens the argument because we know that folktales are not real. There is no hard evidence that myths or astrology is reliable in the information it presents. But living in a world that has long since evolved from believing in myths like those in Homer’s Odyssey, it’s incredible that yet there is still a following for this theoretical concept.

It is universally known that nature (one’s surroundings) and nurture (how one was raised) are the underlying influences of the “why’s” and the “what’s” of one’s life. For example, my sign is a Scorpio, which means, amongst other things, that I’m “obsessive.” Admittedly, I can be obsessive, especially when it comes to my work for my classes. But my two best friends are a Capricorn and Leo and I’ve seen them obsess over their work as well. Anyone can be obsessive over something that they’re passionate about, so to use such words to classify someone seems impractical and not scientific, especially because emotions and moods are relative and based on context. I think what it comes down to is that astrology, for the masses, is a form of entertainment. It’s alluring, not for its scientific backing, but because it’s another way to unofficially classify people; to feel like one is part of a greater group. The columns are entertaining to read, because if by chance the advice or summary is relatable to your life, it’s creepily exciting.

This is a link to a USCI Berkeley page that explains how they came to the conclusion as to why astrology, is in fact, not an actual science. Also, for your enjoyment, here are a few links to some Buzzed quizzes that tell you what movie you should watch or what character you are based on your sign…

For The Game of Thrones fans

For the Halloween enthusiasts 

An excuse to look at attractive pictures of Chris Evans

The Science of Surfing

When most people go to the beach, they see waves rolling onto the shore, and the idea of how these waves actually got to that point never even crosses their mind. For most people, they could care less how those waves actually formed; they just care that they’re there and they can have fun in the ocean. Being a surf instructor who relies on waves everyday to bring in business, I focus much more than the average person on how these waves actually come to be. Now imagine at the next Summer Olympics in Japan, where a director has to pray that there are ridable waves during the olympic timeframe, how much they care about how waves are formed. If you don’t believe me that surfing will be in the next olympics, here is some proof. Now I know that most of you don’t care about surfing and definitely don’t care that it will be an event at our next summer olympics, but I’m going to explain how this could go terribly wrong in 2020.

The basis of all waves start with wind. Whether it be deep sea winds or shoreline winds, wind is the key factor in moving water to produce waves. While water moves throughout the ocean, wind acts against it, pushing the water upwards forming “swells.” Swells are waves that move hundreds of miles across the ocean at a heightened elevation. As wind keeps blowing constantly over these waters, the swells will continue to grow as they travel towards shore. Low pressure systems, which are explained in this article, are known for created the best and biggest waves because they produce the strongest wind. Another way that these swells can grow along the way is by the shape of the ocean floor. If a moving body of water passes over a large bump in the ocean floor, it’s height is going to naturally increase.

These swells are not, however, what surfers ultimately surf; at least not until they reach the shoreline. When these swells finally reach shorelines, the shallow water slows them down, decreasing the wave lengths. As the wave lengths decrease, the swells get steeper, turning into cresting waves that are ridable for surfers. Depending on the shape of the sand bar, reef, or rocks at the shoreline, the wave will have a different shape.

With all of these factors coming into play to make a wave, you begin to realize how much of a miracle it is that waves actually make it to shore. So now, if you are a director of olympic surfing, wouldn’t you be a little nervous that there may not be waves big enough to surf during the two week olympic timeframe? It is very possible that this is what we will see at the 2020 Summer Olympics…

 

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Now, while many of you may still not care about the amazing “wave production” process, it’s important to understand that many people actually rely on these waves to make a living. Here is an example of a professional surf event that was cancelled due to lack of waves. This meant that professional surfers, who get paid to surf in contests, were unable to surf and receive their paychecks. While this isn’t the end of the world, especially since the contest was rescheduled, it is definitely something to think about.

Many people might say, “Why don’t professional surfers just compete in surfing wave pools?,” which is a very valid argument. However, I, along with most surfers, would tell you that a machine produced wave ruins the sport. It takes the nature and fun out of surfing as every single wave is exactly the same. However, I will admit it’s pretty cool

I hope I’ve made you appreciate the production of waves a little more with this post. If not, at least next time you’re at the beach you’ll know exactly how those waves got there, or how they didn’t get there…

So who thinks there won’t be any rideable waves in Japan 2020?

 

Photo Credit: https://www.google.com/search?q=flat+ocean+waves&espv=2&biw=1280&bih=607&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjC2MTTrO3OAhXGNiYKHWGLA4YQ_AUIBigB#imgrc=N4ajAC3zvAgEfM%3A

Sources:

http://www.weatherwizkids.com/weather-forecasting.htm

No Waves Forces Cancellation of Roxy Pro Biarritz

https://www.olympic.org/news/ioc-approves-five-new-sports-for-olympic-games-tokyo-2020