Daily Archives: September 11, 2016

How Do You Like Your Caffeine?

I intentionally did not bring a coffee maker with me to college.  When I was doing one of my many runs through Target over the summer, I decided that I did not want to come away from college with a diploma and a caffeine addiction, so I went for the hot pot (or hot water heater) just down the isle.

When people have mentioned drinking coffee black, I’ve always shuddered at the thought…until very recently.  About a week ago, someone mentioned to me that they always start their day off with a cup of coffee.  My initial thought was that he was probably a caffeine addict, perhaps from the start of his college career.  However he proceeded to explain that he drank his coffee black.  Now the idea of this was turning me further away, until he mentioned some of the health benefits of drinking one cup of black coffee at the beginning of each day.  I couldn’t leave this conversation unfinished, so I later looked up whether this might in fact be true or if it was all another health scam.

To my amazement, I discovered that coffee may, in fact, have more to offer than the average college student realizes.  That is, if the coffee is served black.  According to an article I found by the American Chemical Society, coffee has proven to be the number one source of antioxidants for most Americans.  And by number one, I actually don’t mean number one.  Dates are packed with the most antioxidants per serving, but because most Americans don’t chose dates as their go-to snack, coffee beats dates in the ranking.  This itself is surprising, because items like tea, milk, chocolate, and cranberries are also commonly known for containing very high levels of antioxidants.

cup of black coffee with beans, spoon, and sugar

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The good news about antioxidants in coffee is that they have been associated with a huge number of likely health benefits.  The American Institute for Cancer Research has found that coffee can, in fact, help protect against cancer–specifically colon cancer and liver cancer.  The American Chemical Society has found that coffee can also protect against type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.  If we know this much, imagine what other health benefits we could continue to find from a simple drink like coffee in the future.

The important piece about coffee consumption is the same for any food or drink: a good thing can soon become bad if not used in moderation.  For coffee–this means that a cup or two can come along with many potential health benefits.  Studies have not yet shown, however, that going for a fourth or fifth cup by the afternoon is still beneficial.  Additionally, these benefits aren’t necessarily going to count if you’re packing your java with creme and sugar.

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I’m not sure if it was the power of suggestion, or a bright new idea of mine to start drinking my coffee black, but to me it made the most sense.  It was strange how I woke up one morning and decided to drink my Trader Joe’s Instant Colombian blend without any add-ins, but I certainly feel as though it’s a better option than with loads of sugar.  I look forward to seeing in the long-run if drinking a moderate amount of coffee served black impacts my health for the better.

Link

I have always know that working out was good for you outside of just the physical reasoning. Every time I am upset and work out I feel better, when I run I become more productive for the rest of the day and I sleep better too. My mom always talked about how the days she did not make it to the gym she felt sad and did not have as much energy. I always knew this had to do with different hormones and chemicals but I wanted to look into the exact science behind why working out improves your psychological health as well as your physical.              As I thought they would my findings coincided with my preconceived notions that the chemicals and hormones released from a good workout were the cause of mental improvements, but I also learned a lot of exercise benefits I had not known about. As I learned from Carson Tate, our productivity is increased post exercise because blood flow throughout our bodies is increased, also increasing brain functionality. This highers glucose and oxygen levels in our body which in turn ups our energy levels helping us to get more done.                               Upon reading the benefits proposed The Huffington Post I learned that exercise does a myriad of improvements for our mental health and that really everyone should try to get a good workout a few times a week. Whenever we workout endorphin’s and dopamine are released which increase our overall happiness and is why many doctors suggest to their patients suffering from depression or anxiety hat they include workouts as a part of their weekly or daily routine. Also, it helps us to deal with stress because it increases the release of a chemical called neorepinephrine which moderates the way our brains deal with stress and stressful situations.                                                                                                                                                As if this weren’t enough reason already, exercise also increases the BDFN, or brain derived protein, in our brains which helps with decision making because it improves our learning and thinking capabilities. Lastly, and my favorite, a major reason to work out is because it helps you sleep better. Daily exercise relaxes you because during the workout your internal body temperature is abnormally raised, so a few hours later when your body returns to its normal temperature it relaxes you because this is signaling your brain you should be going to sleep, all to get you ready for another day of working out and reaping the benefits.

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What’s Your Favorite Color?

“What’s your favorite color?”

 

While this question serves as a cheesy ice breaker on a first date to some, it could actually produce an insightful answer.  Various studies have provided evidence which suggests that the colors we see, from the second we wake up, affect our mood and emotional state.  This phenomenon, referred to as color psychology, is used everyday in media and in advertising to manipulate our subconscious without us even realising it.  Being an Advertising major, this concept has always been of interest to me.  In this post, I will discuss how different colors can subconsciously dictate our mood.

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(photo taken from petrolicious.com)

A study published by the US National Library of Medicine conducted a single blind randomized control experiment that involved giving a group of test subjects one of 49 individually colored anxiety medication pills to measure how different colored drugs would affect people.  The study was conducted on patients with varying diseases.  The results of the study concluded that there was a positive correlation between certain colors and effects.  The colors red, yellow, and orange yielded a stimulatory response from the subjects.  Calmer colors like blue and green gave the patients a more sedative effect.

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Businesses take this phenomenon into serious consideration when developing marketing strategies and brands.  For example, McDonald’s uses yellow and red for its colors because these colors stimulate our brains and make us hungry.  The goal of the golden arches is to subconsciously attract hungry people to their brand and their establishments.

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This is a picture of my car. One of the main reasons I decided to purchase this car over others was the color.  The moment I saw this color in person, I was immediately drawn to it and knew that it was the right color for me.  I have always loved the color blue and especially liked this shade of electric blue.  Ever since I bought it, I started to get much more attention driving around town.  It always puts a smile on somebody’s face whenever they see it parked at a car show or zipping down a street.  I find it to be, at least in my personal opinion, a very visually appealing color that tastefully complements an aggressively styled car. I happen to have a friend with nearly the same car but in black who says that his car doesn’t get nearly as much attention. Although the car is still very attractive, the color black doesn’t generate the same emotional response as the lighter blue color.
In conclusion, different colors affect our mood everyday without us even noticing it.  Luckily we can use this to our advantage in many different ways.  If you suffer from chronic anxiety, you can try to surround yourself with relaxing colors such as blue or green by painting your walls or hanging art.  Highlighters are always bright colors to help stimulate our brains when we are reading or studying.  There are an endless number of ways that color psychology affects our everyday lives.

Sources

Placebo Study

Color Psychology Website

Can Humans Survive in Space Without a Space Suit?

Yes, it is possible to survive in space without a space suit, for about 10 to 15 seconds that is. Space is such a powerful, uncontrollable, and unexplainable place. With astronomers estimating at least one hundred billion galaxies in the universe and even the closest planet, Venus, being 261 million kilometers from earth, we have no way to fully fathom the vastness of outer space. However, we do know that it can, and someday will, kill us.

If anyone, like myself, has wondered what would happen to a human who is in outer space without a space suit, there are many different possible outcomes. Each one sounding more and more painful and torturous than the last. First, we will look at the three things that would happen to the human body right away. Secondly, we will see what happens to the body after death in space. Lastly, we will review two studies, one done by the Brooks Air Force Base in Texas and the other done by Jim LeBlanc in 1965.

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 The Three Forms of Torture

 Explosion? No. Inflation? Yes.

 Contrary to what we were told as children, our bodies would not explode in outer space. Nevertheless, it would inflate. Paul Sutter, Astrophysicist, writes for Space.com exactly how this would happen. Sutter talks about nitrogen levels in our bloodstream, the nitrogen will cause our skin to inflate into small bubbles. This is called ebullism.

Ebullism is when bodily fluids form gas bubbles because of reduced pressure. This means that not only would the nitrogen cause our skin to bubble up, but all of our bodily fluids will too. This consist of; tears, saliva, and any liquid found elsewhere in the body. Although, this wouldn’t be the first thing to kill you, this would just make you feel and look like a shaken up bottle of soda.

One exception to this is our blood. Our blood would not boil or bubble, but our blood circulation would be at risk. This could lead to many other risks and problems that are mentioned below. This leads us to question why our blood wouldn’t boil? According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Gooddard Space Flight Center, because our blood is located in our blood vessels the pressure is controlled internally. Therefore, a change in pressure outside of the body wouldn’t affect our blood the way it does our saliva and other bodily fluids.

Lack of Oxygen

 Fifteen seconds. That is it. A human has fifteen seconds worth of oxygen in their body. This means that after the body losses oxygen, you’re likely to lose consciousness. With that being said the WORST thing a human can do in space without a space suit would be to hold their breath. Due to the lack of pressure in space, the oxygen located inside the lungs would expand causing the lungs to rupture inherently causing death.

Sunburn and Frostbite at the same time?

 Another consequence of being in space without a suit is an extreem sunburn, while facing frostbite. Without the protection of the earths atmosphere, the UV rays, X-rays, and gamma rays would not only burn your already bubbling skin, but also damage your DNA. This means that if survival was miraculously achieved you would likely end up with not only cancer but a horrendous sunburn.

 As your body is being burnt to a crisp, it will also freeze to temperatures colder than and ice cube, but not instantly. Despite spaces’ insanely cold temperatures, freezing wouldn’t happen right away. The body would freeze eventually because heat leaves the body slower than oxygen, therefore a person would die before actually freezing.

Do bodies decompose in space?

Hypothetically, if a human were to end up in space without a suit, we need to understand what would happen after death. UCSB ScienceLine says that the three most rapid forms of decomposition of a human body on earth is biological, with the help of scavengers (insects and animals), and heat degradation. After all three, chemical exposures will take care of the remains. Although, this would not happen in space. Oxygen is needed for decomposition, but in space no oxygen is present. Therefore, the outcomes would be either mummification or it would freeze. The only way that mummification would take place would be if the body was near a heat source. The process of natural forms of mummification is explained by Kathryn Meyers Emery here. Additionally, if the body froze, it would take millions of years for decomposition to take place.

On a side note, above is only applicable if a body is in space without a space suit. If an astronaut were to die in space while wearing a space suit, decomposition would happen, because our bodies need oxygen to decompose. The oxygen in the suit would allow for decomposition, but only for the length of time that the oxygen regulates through the suit.

Either way, in a suit or not, the human corpse would be floating around in the universe for possibly millions of years.

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Spacesuit Vacuum Test

Due to the fact that a human has never actually been in space without a suit, we must look to the following test to find our information. On December 14, 1966, Jim LeBlanc accidentally became the only human to survive space like conditions. NASA dressed Jim in a “Moon suit” and then put him in a triple-doored vacuum chamber. Little did NASA, or LeBlanc know that the pressurization hose was disconnected, in ten seconds time LeBlanc’s suit would go from 3.8 psi to 0.1 psi. Not only was the hose disconnected, but Michelle Starr with CNET, says that LeBlanc’s suit had a leak. Leblanc states that the saliva on his tongue boiled and then after fourteen seconds LeBlanc became unconscious. However, he survived, it was a very risky experience that could have gone a completely different way. To watch the full test click this link here.

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Brooks Air Force Base

*I would like to note that I do not agree with this experiment*

In 1965, the Texas Air Force Base exposed dogs to the vacuum like effects of space. The findings found that when exposed to ninety seconds or less, the dogs would survive; but at two minutes or more, the dogs would always die. Each dog was unconscious and paralyzed while undergoing the study. Anna Gosline, from Scientific American, says that the dogs suffered many side effects while undergoing the study. The side effects were as follows; seizures, simultaneous defecation, vomiting, urination, swelling and ice formed on their tongues. After about ninety seconds, the dogs would be exposed to normal pressures, and the swelling would go down. After fifteen minutes, the dogs were able to walk and breathe again.

Again in 1965 and 1967, NASA did the same study, but this time on Chimpanzees. The findings showed that chimps lasted three and a half minutes in the space like vacuum conditions. To NASA’s surprise, all but one chimp had no cognitive defects.

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Yes, A Human can survive in space without a suit

As shown through both experiments, it is possible, although not recommended unless freezing to death, getting a horrific sunburn, feeling your lungs explode, and feeling your bodily fluids bubble sounds appealing. Luckily, we live in a day where space suits have been invented, therefore allowing us to study space. None of our space exploration would have been made possible without the work of some very smart individuals. I feel privileged to live in such a world that we are able to attain this knowledge.

Citations

  • Physics.org. “How do we know how many galaxies are in our universe?” Link
  • Williams, Matt. Universe Today. “What Is The Closest Planet To Earth?” May 2016. Link
  • Liqui Search. “What is ebullism?” Link
  • Astrophysicist Team. Nasa.gov. “How would the unprotected human body react to the vacuum of outer space?” June 1997. Link
  • UCSB ScienceLine. “If an astronaut died in space, would he decompose?” Link
  • Emery, Kathryn Meyers. Bones Don’t Lie. “Preservation: When Bones Don’t Decompose” April 2013. Link
  • Azriel, Merryl. Space Safety Magazine. “Jim LeBlank Survives Early Spacesuit Vacuum Test Gone Wrong”. November 2012. Link
  • Starr, Michelle. CNET. “What happens to the unprotected human body in space?”. July 2014. Link
  • Gosline, Anna. Scientific American. “Survival in Space Unprotected Is Possible – Briefly”. February 2008. Link

Media Citations

Video

  • You Tube. “Space Suit Testing” June 2010. Link
  • You Tube. “How Long Could You Survive In Outer Space?” November 2014. Link

Photo

  • Pics about space. Wall 321 Link
  • Rose, Brent. Gizmodo. “Inside the Chamber Where NASA Recreates Space on Earth”. November 2014. Link
  • Clark, Douglas. Weekly Science Quiz. “Dangers of a Vacuum”. February 2013. Link

Health Benefits of Playing Rugby

Rugby is one of the most misunderstood sports in the United States. Although the popularity of playing rugby is increasing in the US, the game still remains an enigma to many people. So when I tell people I play Rugby I usually get a lot of questions. The two most common questions I get are “Isn’t Rugby like football without pads?” and “How many injuries and concussions have you gotten”. This blog is mostly going to focus on the latter of the two questions. However, to address the first question briefly, the two games are not similar         except for the fact that there is tackling involved. If you have never seen rugby here is a highlight video.

To answer the second question I would like to start off  by giving you facts about rugby injuries before moving on to the benefits of playing rugby. When most people in America think of Rugby they presume that the concussion level is high, but to the contrary, this data supplied by American Association of Neurological Surgeons reports that number of visits to the emergency room with concussions in 2009 shows that Rugby comes 17th on the list with 5,794, while sports like football reported 47,000 cases which ranked second behind cycling.

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Although injuries are a part of Rugby, like all other sports, what I think sets Rugby apart from other sports are the physical and mental benefits there are to gain from playing. Like all sports there are incredible physical benefits to gain from playing Rugby. Health Fitness Revolution lists off many broad benefits such as increased muscle strength, flexibility, an improved cardiovascular system, increased bone density, and the ability to develop greater speed and endurance. A further in depth study by the Rugby Football Union has shown that playing rugby reduces type 2 diabetes and colon cancer by 50%, heart disease and stroke by 35%, and early death, depression, and dementia by 30%. While all the physical benefits are important I believe that it is the mental development one gains from playing rugby is the most important.

As my coach in high school said to us before every game, Rugby is a thinking man’s game and if you are not prepared to think then you are not prepared to play. I think that this could not be truer. Rugby is a game based on quick thinking and discipline on the field, as well as a game of community and friendship off the field.

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Returning to the study done by Health Fitness Revolution, playing rugby helps to develop increased self-confidence and self-respect, discipline, helps build mental toughness and resilience, and improves the overall mental state through camaraderie and a sense of purpose. While playing on the field each player needs to fight through physical exhaustion to stay disciplined and maintain tactics. Rugby though, does not end after the final whistle, but continues as the tradition is for the home team to host the away team to a meal. This tradition teaches sportsmanship and develops social skills, as well as furthering the sense of camaraderie within the rugby community.

 

 

“‘Rugby Is a Fantastic Sport for Children'” England Rugby. N.p., 02 Mar. 2016. Web. 11 Sept. 2016. <http://www.englandrugby.com/news/why-rugby-good-for-you/>

“The American Association of Neurological Surgeons.” AANS. N.p., Aug. 2014. Web. 11 Sept. 2016. <http://www.aans.org/patient%20information/conditions%20and%20treatments/sports-related%20head%20injury.aspx>

“Top 10 Health Benefits of Rugby • Health Fitness Revolution.” Health Fitness Revolution. N.p., 15 Mar. 2016. Web. 11 Sept. 2016.  <http://www.healthfitnessrevolution.com/top-10-health-benefits-rugby/>

 

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Like to study the night before an exam?

First week of classes are all about learning about the class and how the professors teaches. The number one thing that all professors say is, “Don’t cram for my exams, you won’t pass.” You can usually hear among the college students a small chuckle. As soon as the professor says that it’s immediately like challenge accepted. Am I right?! I am a person who waits to the very last second to sit down and study. It’s a bad habit but I can’t help not too. I know that I am not the only one to do that either. So I am going to explore just how bad cramming a night before an exam really is.

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Image found here.

There are multiple reasons why cramming for a test can be dangerous, according to Andrew J. Fuligni cramming the night before an exam isn’t worth staying up late for because it actually won’t help at all and you actually won’t be helping yourself,  you will be hurting yourself. This article looks at the sleep vs. cramming for high school students but I feel like it is close to the same statistics for college students. Fuligni recommends a schedule that helps a student and doesn’t overbear a student to the point of cramming the night before something is due.

Sukru Burc Eryilmaz states that students attending Ivy League schools have a tendency to cram more to make sure they get better grades and the better grades make them feel like they belong to that school. I completely agree with that because a lot of students here at Penn State feel like if they don’t do well on an exam, it’s the end of the world. Which I know it’s like that everywhere, but people do fail exams. Nobody is perfect. I failed my first exam last semester and I cried for a solid 2 hours and I ended up getting an A in that specific class. So anything is possible here. Personally when I study for an exam and I cram my body tends to shut down. It impacts my body so much and makes me feel awful if I stay up late cramming for an exam. During my freshman year I did that a lot and I had to stop because of health concerns. It was very scary and not worth it.

According to The Hawkeye the number one explanation for waiting the night before an exam to study is because of having no time. There is a simple way to fix that though and it is buying a planner and time management. It’s super easy and it helps students everywhere. From the articles that I have researched and talked about in this blog post, it is safe to say that cramming before an exam is not the way to go. But, let’s be honest.. how can you not cram?!

 

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Image found here.

There are More Than One Type of Giraffe!

This past week has rocked the world of zoology. what we once thought was an unequivocal record of the tallest animal held by the towering creature that is the giraffe has now been proven wrong. There is in fact, a four-way tie for the world’s tallest animal. It turns out that we have been living under false pretenses since the beginning of mankind. A recent study by Dr. Axel Janke, a geneticist at the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, has proven that there are four different species of giraffes instead of the long-established belief that the giraffe was a solitary species.

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According to an article from the BBC commenting on Dr. Janke’s work, these four different species of giraffes have not exchanged genetic material or cross-bred in the last 2 million years. Janke has described the difference between the different groups of Giraffes as the difference between polar bears and brown bears due to the discrepancies in DNA. The four different species of giraffes, the Northern, Southern, Masai giraffe and the Reticulated giraffes, according to Nature,  the differences between them most likely come from geographic separation probably due to rivers and geographic obstacles. This discovery, however exciting it for a record to be disproven is more important for conservational reasons.

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The reason that this is so important is that even though we have known that giraffe populations have dropped in recent time giraffes have not received as much attention as other African Animals such as the elephant and rhinoceros according to McClatchy DC News. This new information will allow conservationists to concentrate their efforts. Before this discovery giraffes were listed as of least concern by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. This discovery will allow researchers to see how each species is fairing to help set up conservation strategies.

 

Fennessy, J. & Brown, D. 2010. Giraffa camelopardalis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T9194A12968471. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2010-2.RLTS.T9194A12968471.en. Downloaded on 12 September 2016.

Gill, Victoria. “Giraffe Genetic Secret: Four Species of Tallest Mammal Identified.” BBC News. N.p., 8 Sept. 2016. Web. 11 Sept. 2016. <http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-37311716>

Welshtwelsh@mcclatchy.com, By Teresa. “Giraffes May Be Endangered, New Discovery Reveals.” Mcclatchydc. N.p., 8 Sept. 2016. Web. 11 Sept. 2016. <http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/world/article100633327.html>

Woolston, Chris. “DNA Reveals That Giraffes Are Four Species — Not One.”Nature.com. Nature Publishing Group, 8 Sept. 2016. Web. 11 Sept. 2016. <http://www.nature.com/news/dna-reveals-that-giraffes-are-four-species-not-one-1.20567>

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How 9/11 Changed Life as We Knew It

15 years later.

On this day, 15 years ago, almost 3,000 people were heinously killed in the terrorist attacks that took down the Twin Towers in New York City. With horrible attacks on our country, however, comes remarkable innovations and changes in the way we live our lives.

Let’s talk about robots. A robot called Packbot was in the middle of laboratory testing when our country was attacked on 9/11. Without hesitiation, the Packbot was sent in to help dig through the rubble to find survivors. Although the Packbot was not invented as a result of 9/11 disasters, its success during the tragedy caused robot technology to grow rapidly. This science is only expected to get stronger and wiser as a result of the tragedy. I find this to be interesting when talking about correlational and causation because, although disasters do not directly cause robot innovation, they cause the strength of the technology to improve; tragedies like 9/11, in my opinion, are correlated with the growth of robot technology in one way or another.

packbotpic found here

The physical breakdown of the Twin Towers led scientists to find better ways to design skyscrapers. For example, the One World Trade Center is designed with steel floor assemblies to prevent a domino effect if one floor fails. Science is also to thank for the invention of elevator lifeboats, or elevator-type vessels that can be used in emergencies such a 9/11 (as explained by the author hyperlinked above.) I think 9/11 is a direct cause of these modernizations considering they are located in the heart of New York in the building that stands to replace the Twin Towers.

Now let’s talk about some effects that aren’t as obvious as security and technology innovation.

This article claims that 9/11 is to blame for thousands of deaths due to car accidents. Because many Americans did not feel safe travelling by plane, they simply drove to their destinations. As logic would suggest, car accidents are already more common than plane accidents because most working Americans drive nearly every day. In the year following the terrorist attacks, air travel dropped by twenty percent; subsequently, according to this source, there were an extra 1,595 deaths by car accidents. In my personal opinion, this could potentially be causation, but one can’t automatically assume that all 1,595 people were choosing to not fly in planes and this was the cause of their deaths. I also think there could be other variables in play. Maybe alcohol prices went down. Maybe gas prices went down. Maybe this was a fluke.

Here’s the strangest thing I found—America got hotter. Why? Bare skies. This article states that, as a security precaution, our government grounded every last plane in the entire nation. The reason our country got hotter is due to something called contrails. Contrails are the trails of vapor that come out of planes; these trails have a hand in offsetting global warming. The author of this article discusses that these vapors acted as mirrors—therefore, when the skies were completely empty, the skies had virtually no defense against heat. As a result, the temperature in the US went up two degrees in three days. This article makes the comparison that global warming usually causes a .5 degree increase every year… that means the temperature increased 400 times the amount it usually increases in an entire year in just two days.

graph found here

I’m going to have to go with direct causation on that one!

Link

espresso

I was never much of a coffee drinker besides the typical iced coffee with cream and sugar from Dunkin Doughnuts or Starbucks every so often. As I approached senior year of high school the caffeination was extremely helpful and it became habit forming to the point where I became a typical “daily coffee drinker”. As many coffee drinkers do know after a while we get immune to the amount we drink a day to the point where it does nothing and you need more. This began happening to me so I tried other things like drinking it black and soon was introduced to espresso shots! At the place I worked at over the summer there was an espresso machine, so this is where I would always drink them. They are extremely bitter and hard to get used to but once you do it is great because you get the energy of drinking coffee in just one sip, which is really convenient. I often wonder why they are so much stronger than a cup of coffee and what would happen if I put them in coffee, so of course, I tried it. It was very strong and gave me almost instant energy. I researched the difference and why one is stronger than the other and it is due to the amount of caffeine in both. As many of you know, caffeine is a compound that activates the central nervous system in the body. High levels will stimulate it more than lower levels, which is why espresso is stronger because there are more milligrams of caffeine in it than in regular coffee.

Coffee itself is not bad for you, although many beg to differ. What is bad for your health is if you have to much because high caffeine levels can cause lots of temporary problems with your body. If you consume more than 250-500 milligrams of caffeine it could lead to symptoms such as restlessness, increase in heartbeat, anxiety, and more depending on how much you have.

Caffeine is not too harmful as long as it is not abused or over used. It is important to realize that the caffeine in coffee and espresso is considered a drug and will give side effects to those who over dose on it. People have different tolerances and it can be built up by having it every day.

Overall, drinking coffee or espresso shots is not a problem and can actually be good for your health for multiple reasons. Caffeine can be dangerous on certain levels but also can be good because it does block Adenosine, a neurotransmitter, allowing the brain to release other neurotransmitters. Here  is a link that explains the process of how caffeine helps the body release these neurotransmitters. It also increases a persons metabolism, which is good to stay away from getting sick easily.

It is easy to get hooked on caffeine because it is much easier to get things done with full energy, and there is nothing wrong with it as long as it is not abused. After every energy high, there will be a crash and its so easy to just get more coffee but important to stay in the recommended daily caffeine level.

Racial Divides: Who actually feels them?

Racial tension is something that has been a prominent topic of discussion, especially with so many black men and women dying at the hands of police. Although these topics can be debated until the end of time, one fact that does stand is the fact that a lot of African Americans feel racial divides in society today and it is affecting the way they act in different social situations. Although African Americans feel this divide, White people feel not only that there is no divide, my question is why? What do these differences in numbers actually mean?

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In a poll taken of African Americans and Whites, an average of 30% of Whites feel that blacks are treated less fairly when it comes to dealing with police, in the courts, applying for funding through banks, in their jobs, when dining in food establishments, and when voting. This 30% average compared to an average of 63.5% of African Americans that feel Blacks are treated less fairly. The difference is almost double, which is extremely surprising because we are all seeing the same things right? How is it that there are such huge disparities. One big answer is that we actually are not all looking at the same things going on, news outlets are one of the main ways we get our information and different outlets have different interests and report on different things. So one of the most popular outlets, like The Associated Press and The New York Times may focus on other topics than an outlet not as popular, like The Washington Post or TMZ. These outlets are also attempting to appeal to certain audiences and political points of view, so there is definitely a certain bias to keep in mind when watching certain channels.

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I think another aspect as to why these percentages are so different has to do with age. According to this study conducted by the American Press,  of Americans over the age of 60 years old, 93% for them actively keep up with news. Compared to Americans aged 18-29 that are only 59% likely to keep up with the news.  One thing to keep in mind when reading these statistics is the overall age demographic of our country. About 20% of our population is between the ages of 18-29 while only 1.8% are 85 or older, so although the percent of people that watch the news are high, the actual amount is not very big. I think  Media plays such a huge role in the way we send and receive information, so the amount of people that are taking in this information connects to how informed our general population is about these issues.

Looking at the data for topics like this really interest me because I like to think about why the numbers look like this. I think there are so many confounding variables that could come up for a topic like this. Something like financial background, education, and home life are just a few that come up on the top of my head. I think talking about not only these topics but also personal experiences can help us collect more accurate data on the specific topic of racial divides and others.

Sources:

Polls

Influential News Outlets

Demographic Differences

US Demographic Differences

A Beautiful Mind

Last year I watched a movie, A Beautiful Mind. It intrigued me because it was based on this man who is exceedingly brilliant yet he also has this inner struggle he must compensate for.

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For those of you who aren’t familiar with this movie, I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I must disclose some information in order to get my point across. It ends up that the very intelligent main character of this movie has a severe case of schizophrenia which causes him to have many delusions and hallucinations.

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Schizophrenia is a disorder that affects the brain and affects the person’s reality. Schizophrenia can affect people in all different kinds of ways. Most symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, and depression. Schizophrenia has the potential to be dangerous to the person affected as well as others around them. In the movie, some of his hallucinations cause him to come close to harming others even though he has no control over it.

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However, while researching on the internet about schizophrenia and this movie, I came across this article. In this article it states this movie in fact got a major point wrong. It expresses that usually people with a higher IQ are in fact at a lower risk for schizophrenia. However, in this movie it showed how brilliant he was and how his schizophrenia was enhanced when doing intense work. There is a study conducted that is explained in this article and it explains how a lower IQ can be linked with a heightened risk of any mental illness, but they have yet to find a clear link.

I think there is something important to take away here and that is that we shouldn’t just assume that “freakishly” smart people are “crazy” or “mentally ill”. Because this clearly isn’t the case due to the research conducted on high IQ and low risk for mental disease. Hopefully in the future more research and studies can be done in order to find a link or get rid of the notion that there is a link between the two.

Source:

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia/index.shtml

Why Chinese people good at math and science?

Why Chinese people  good at math and science?

First of all, the education system in China is different. In China, everyone has too much pressure. Chinese people usually think going to a good school means get a better education, and Chinese people really care about education for their children. In order to go to a good school, students need to do a lot of homework and practice questions, and teachers always gives a lot of tests and exams to students. Practice makes perfect, so later students begin good at solving math and science questions.

Secondly, Chinese students are two or three years ahead of students in other countries in math and science. In China, students begin to learn physics, chemistry and biology in grade 7. And they keep learning them until grade 12. But in America, students only learn science from grade 9. And each subject they only study for one year. When I came to high school in America, students are still struggling in algebra, while in China students are learning calculus. So when Chinese students come to America, everything become so easy for them.

 

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What makes Chinese good at math

 

The 5 Second Rule is a Sham

We all heard it as kids.

Just as Ring Around the Rosie and Jack and Jill nursery rhymes had secret dark pasts, it turns out the 5 second rule isn’t so innocent either (Wood 2015; Rutgers University 2016). The five second rule, for those who missed out on childhood, is a “rule” that dropped food is safely edible within five seconds of reaching a surface.

According to Rutgers University professor Donald Schaffner, the five second rule is a myth. He and his team experimented on various substrates of stainless steel, ceramic, wood, and carpet with foods, including bread, watermelon, gummy worms and buttered bread. By using different combinations of foods with surfaces, Schaffner could properly determine how different situations affect contamination rates of foods.

The team began by contaminating each surface with Enterobacter aerogenes, a bacteria closely related to Salmonella. Then, after the bacteria dried, they dropped the foods and allowed the surface to food contact to last for varying periods of time. By repeating the experiment 20 times for every combination, the experiment can be considered reliable.

What the researchers found was that even with contact times lasting under a second, bacteria still found its way to some of the food. This successfully debunks the myth of the five second rule. The wetter foods, such as watermelon, created a favorable environment for the bacteria. However, to give the five second rule some credit, they also found that dryer foods and food on carpet, especially with a shorter time window of bacterial contact, did reduce the transfer of bacteria. Still, this does not mean eating dry food from carpet is either healthy or safe.

These findings are important for any adult stuck in a childish mindset–especially if he or she is talking to actual children. Because while you may think you are spreading a fun, idiomatic phrase, you may really just be spreading contaminants to developing immune systems. So, be safe, and don’t eat food that has fallen.

Also…ew?

Addicted to Your Phone?

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My major is RPTM, recreation parks tourism management, and in one of my classes the other day my professor shared a video with us. The main purpose of sharing this video to my class was to demonstrate how different chemicals in our body can make you a better leader. As I was watching the video the speaker was explaining how someone can literally be addicted to physical objects, specifically their cell phone. He mentioned points like if you have to hold your phone as you walk from room to room in your own apartment, you are probably addicted. As he was mentioning examples explaining how a person could be addicted to their phone I sadly realized qualified for a few.

So is it true? Can a person be addicted to their phone? The answer is yes, and more of us are than we even realize! Addiction can be classified as disease that takes over your brain along with a person’s ability to make rational decisions regarding what ever they may be addicted to. Here is a study done by CNN that showed people can truly be addicted to their phone and not even know it. The article explained many scenarios where a person shows traits of addiction, and reading them they sound ridiculous, but most of them I am embarrassingly guilty of. I encourage you to check out the article and see if you fall under any of the categories as well, it can be very eye opening! The main way to scope out if someone is actually addicted to the their phone is to see if they go through any type of withdrawal when they do not have the device in their presence.

Most people would deny the fact they are addicted to their cell phone because in a way it sounds pathetic, but I’ll admit that I am. I even find that being able to to do simple activities is very hard because of my cell phone. For example, as I am writing this blog post I even feel the need to check my phone for no actual important reason. Even if I have not received a text or phone call there is always something else to check, like social media. Every time I open my phone I feel the need to scroll through twitter, just so I don’t miss out on anything. I found a Life Hack website that also acknowledges that people can be addicted to their cell phone and proposed techniques through five simple steps to beat the addiction. 

Cell phone addicts are also known to act very reckless and partake in situations such as texting while driving. As we all know texting and driving is VERY bad, yet we still continue to do it. I try my best to not use my phone while driving, even though sometimes I do, but here is video to help persuade you even more to never use your phone while behind the wheel of a vehicle. Saying you are addicted to your phone will never be a valid argument or excuse to get away with serious matters like texting and driving or many other scenarios!

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After reading up on being addicted to cellphones, I think it is easy to say that we all need a digital detox. It is nothing to be ashamed of if you are addicted to your cell phones since most young people are now a days. Time away from cell phones and technology will only help us in the long run. As mentioned above it will be easier to do simple everyday tasks like studying and more serious tasks like driving. Take the first step today and start attempting to control how much you use your phone for a more focused and productive life!

References

  • Wallace, Kelly. “10 Signs You Might Be Addicted to Your Smartphone.” CNN. Cable News Network, 25 Nov. 2014. Web. 11 Sept. 2016.
  • 99Uvideos. “Simon Sinek: Why Leaders Eat Last.” YouTube. YouTube, 04 Dec. 2013. Web. 11 Sept. 2016.
  • “SoFlo – Timeline | Facebook.” SoFlo – Timeline | Facebook. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2016.
  • “Addiction.” Brainfacts. N.p., n.d. Web <http://www.brainfacts.org/diseasesdisorders/addiction/>.
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Sorority Sickness

2000 girls, 2000 sundresses and wedges, and 2000 moving voices and flying spit as sorority recruitment girls cram into rooms sitting inches from each others faces. As this extensive

process is fun and rewarding to some, this two week girl flirting comes with a few catches…..of a cold; or shall I say the infamous “rushing plague.” As I found myself losing my voice and coughing constantly during my process of rushing, and watching other girls alongside me share the same symptoms, I thought to myself, the myth must be true. We all joke that this sickness is inevitable to those hoping to gain out lifetime “sisters,” but I have decided to dig deeper as I pop a few cough drops in the process.

As most people reference this close proximal sickness to a classroom or a ballgame, it can just as well be relevant in the instance of hundreds girls in the journey to sisterhood as well. Regardless, cramped or crowded areas increase the chance of that one sneeze landing on another individual, spreading the sickness right down the line; it only takes one to pass it to a village. In an article called How Not to Get Sick in a Crowd, author Jaimie Dalessio explains that when germs flow through a rather compacted space, there is almost always an increased chance of sickness within the area, even starting with one individual

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l. Some of the most common of the symptoms could be sore throat, colds, coughs, or stuffy noses….similar to the symptoms i have witnessed hundreds of sisters have shown. However, the article also mentioned that the sickness involved could be affected from the where the gathering takes place, or the numbers who gather in the particular area. For me, each about 15×15 room had at least 30 existing members of the sorority participating in rounds, and another 40 recruitment girls alongside them, all practically screaming to be heard in such a cluster of a room.how-to-sneeze-properly

Sickness in small areas, like during rush, a cough or sneeze can easily land on another’s cheek in seconds. Once one girl lets out a sneeze, it travels, and as more girls walk in and out of the busy and cramped rooms, then does it become a spread chain, becoming inevitably contagious. This also goes for the objects and surrounding areas of the room. Touching water glasses, shaking every single hand that walks through your door before the crs_560x415-150116103951-560-usc-sorority-jl-011615hats begin, germs on germs on germs, possibly handing it off to the next girl greeting you (no pun intended).  

Another study given by Lynda Moore, speaks about a sickness outbreak at Butler University, as this group of sorority sisters in their close living proximity spread it to additionally dormitories nearby. Dr. Jones, looking into the issue, speaks about how it resembles the types of sicknesses of other areas of large number gatherings like cruises or classrooms. (paragraph 5). The stress for increase of cleanliness and washing hands is crucial. However, does it really make a difference when these girls are in such a shared space constantly? The rushing plague just doesn’t end it seems, as the proximity to hundreds of girls in shared spaces continues to be a routine. It seems that the end of day, we can only hope the “sisterhood” is worth a few shared coughs and sneezes.

 

Websites:

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/ColdandFluNews/story?id=5826929&page=1

http://www.wthr.com/article/butler-sorority-sickness-spreads-on-campus

http://www.hercampus.com/school/ohio-u/how-avoid-sickness-sorority-house

 

Images:

Googleimages

Genetically Modified Crops

When I think about genetically modified crops, there are several1412_1_3802 question appearing in my brain. Are they healthy for people to eat? Are some blogs which argue that genetically modified crops are harmful true? Can we eat genetically modified crops every day? Knowing nothing about genetically modified crops make me a little scared about them. So I decide to learn more about them.

After searching I find that, as David H. Freedman said, the large majority of the exploration on genetically modified crops suggests that they are safe to eat and that they have the potential to feed millions of people worldwide who currently go hungry. In order to find the risks and benefits of GM (genetically modified) crops, scientists have to do a set of accurate researches and analysis. The GM food is a high-risk experiment conduct by our scientists; the GM technology may a big break though in scientific world but when it comes to the food safety for human species. The GM crops may not cause some problem right now but in the few hundreds of years once when irreversible recessive mutation massively occur in human DNA; the extinction of human will come in the near future. But, to some extent, only if we handle the GM technology correctly. This technology will lead to another new evolution.

1306146946894Recently most of corn and soybeans grown in U.S. are genetically modified. The benefits of GM crops greatly outweigh the health risks, which maintain theoretically. As David Zilberman who is a U.C. Berkeley agricultural and environmental economist said, the GM crops utilization “has lowered the price of food” and “it has increased farmer safety by allowing them to use less pesticide. It has raised the output of corn, cotton and soy by 20 to 30 percent, allowing some people to survive who would not have without it. If it were more widely adopted around the world, the price [of food] would go lower, and fewer people would die of hunger.” David Schubert, an Alzheimer’s researcher who heads the Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif indicates that there are many different methods for a well-characterized gene to get into the genome of some target plants.

However, it doesn’t mean that GM crops do not have any negative effects. Actually we just don’t have enough evidence of their risks. From SC200, we learn that it is very difficult to prevent from all confounding variables. So if people want to know about the long-term effects of GM foods, they have to avoid many confounding factors such as the underlying genetic variability in foods and the problems in evaluating the influence of foods. What’s more, more recent, more complex GM foods are more difficult to evaluate. And it is hard to predict their spontaneous impacts.

According to The State of Food and Agriculture 2003-2004, the main food safety concerns associated with transgenic products and foods derived from them relate to the possibility of increased allergens, toxins or other harmful compounds; horizontal gene transfer particularly of antibiotic-resistant genes; and other unintended effects. Many of these concerns also apply to crop varieties developed using conventional breeding methods and grown under traditional farming practices. So as a conclusion, scientists still need to assess that whether GM crops have direct and indirect health benefits.

Source:

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Bronzed and also Blonde…but how?

Now that summer is officially wrapping up, all we have left is the faint tans from that beach trip in June, the strips of blonde in our hair hair that we never thought would exist, and lines on our backs from the endless sunburns. However, after meeting so many new people during this first month of school, and them asking if I am “really that tan” and “wow, how did you get such natural looking highlights”, I got to thinking about my summer color a little bit.

How is it that my skin gets to be so dark in the summer, but my hair gets almost entirely blonde? I’m in the same sun everyday and I do’t use any funky products, so how come such opposite affects happen to my body in the Summer?

Stars in the sky:

The Skin Cancer Foundation created this info graphic, comparing the strength of UVA rays to UVB rays against the layers of skin.

Although we see it as a pretty bright white circle in the center of the sky, the sun isn’t as innocent as it looks. For 6 billion years, the sun has been casting its UV A and B rays among the people of earth, including you. The two types of rays, UVA and UVB are very different. UVA rays are longer and are the most persistently active throughout a normal day, especially when tanning. They are less intense than UVB however. UVB rays are shorter rays which also go through the atmosphere an effect our lives. UVB rays are most common when dealing with cancer and burns relating to the sun. The Skin Cancer foundation found all the aforementioned information, as well as a comparison of the 2 different types of UV rays to be true.

How come I get SO tan SO quickly during the summer months?

According to Dr. Andrew Shafer of Stanford University, the reason sun worshipers like you and me get so tan, is because the sun is destroying the melanin that your body already has. Therefore, in order for your skin to protect itself, it creates darker melanin and produces more of it, creating darker skin. What is your skin protecting you from? Well, there are dangerous things out there like Cancers and UV rays, so the tan that your skin creates almost acts as a shield for your body. There are 2 steps to tanning accroding to Dr. Shafer:

  1. Immediate Pigment Darkening: This occurs when your skin first reacts with harsh sunlight. This can happen over the course of a day or even just a few minutes in the sun.
  2. Delayed Tanning: This step begins when there is finally enough damage to your skin cells, that the DNA must begin to craft new skin cells that are all darker, in order to protect you from the sun for a long term period of time.

When you tan so darkly, it is a sign that your body is being beaten down by the sun.

Where’d I get that blonde hair!?

Actually, you now have colorless hair. That’s right. The hot and very bright UV rays of the sun actually stripped the color from your once dark brown hair, and in return you now have lovely free highlights- feel free to skip you trip to the salon this month.

The destruction of melanin in hair that goes on, as well as the production of fibers and other proteins begin to make your summer hair very tangled and knotty, creating thinner and more damaged hair. The only way to let this hair go, is to grow it out or cut it off.

Why do I put myself through this year after year?

So, it’s September again and my tan is fading, but my blonde hair lives on, and all I have left of summer are the memoriess and tan lines. However, doing research for this got me thinking, even though I love the sun and I’m outside everyday of the summer, I never really knew why the body reacted to sun in this way. I always figured it was a complimentary make-over for the start of the new school year (jokes…but seriously I never considered how harmful the sun is to other parts of my body besides the skin). Also, I figured, if I’m not getting burnt, then I must be OK and my skin must be healthy. Wrong. A natural tan is working against UV rays and DNA transformations to ensure healthier skin, but in reality it’s already damaged.

What Makes Cute Animals Cute

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Throughout my whole life, there has never been a time where I see a cute baby animal, and don’t feel the urge to pet or cuddle it. While this has seemed normal and not unusual throughout my life, ever since we talked about mechanism in class, I have thought about the mechanism for why I feel the urge to do this, and why do only specific animals trigger this feeling. Due to these recent questions I have faced, I decided to research more about it.

To begin with why we even find any animal cute at all in the first place, we need to first understand the mechanism as to why we think human babies are cute, and the answer is quite logical. For humans at least, it takes years for us to mature. Since it takes us so long to even walk and talk by ourselves, we as a species need to think babies our cute, so they are taken care of and protected so that the human species is able to maintain its existence (Tyley 2015).

To answer why we find other baby animals cute is due to a few certain characteristics. According to Jodie Tyley, it is due to the baby schema. The baby schema is a group of physical features such as large eyes, large head, and chubbiness, that trigger our feelings to make us think animals with these characteristics are cute. These characteristics are found in human babies, so naturally, when other babies of different species contain these same characteristics, we feel the same overwhelming feeling of cuteness. Evidently, even non-animals that have these features can make us feel the same way. For example, the manufacturers of Mini Coopers designed the car to make us think it’s cute. They did this merely by adding large headlights, and made the car more rounded.

Going along with the fact that many of us feel urges to pet these cute animals, and even squeeze them, there is actually a reason why. This reason is called cute aggression. This aggression stems from the fact that we experience a high reaction when we see these animals, but we aren’t able to do anything about it. Although the science behind this sensation is not clear and definite yet, the main idea of reasoning is that there is a cross-wiring of reactions of cuteness and aggression when the dopamine is released as we see these animals, so we turn this conflicting feelings into mainly aggression (Scott 2015). 

As for what happens in your brain when you see a cute animal, the process occurs in the mesocorticolimbic system, which affects reward and motivation. When you see a cute baby animal, this part of your brain is stimulated, which then causes a release of dopamine, which is  a neurotransmitter that controls pleasure. Therefore, this process is the reason as to why you get a good feeling and feel warm inside when you see baby animals (Tyley 2015).

In conclusion, the next time you see a cute baby animal and feel a sudden urge to pet it, just remember that the reasoning is because we want the human species to survive, and it’s also good for your brain. 

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/why-do-we-find-some-animals-cuter-than-others-a6683076.html

http://www.vice.com/read/why-do-i-want-to-crush-cute-animals

Do Red Heads Feel More Pain?

I have always been fascinated with red heads- I don’t know why, but I think their rareness interests me.

We all have heard at least some form of jokes thrown around about red heads, but who knew there was some truth behind their hair color?

There appears to be some kind of correlation between your hair color and how much pain you feel just by what is being produced and how your body can process things.

The X variable in this experiment is the red hair (MC1R- I’ll explain what this is later) and the Y variable is the amount of pain the person feels.  When the variables are measured you can see in the hypothesis that the sensation of pain is altered.

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Researchers studied the tolerance of pain in redheads and have found that they are more suceptible to pain than other hair colors. In this study you will see how a person’s hair color can have an effect on a person for the rest of his/her life. This experiment is entirely observational and can possibly be a mechanism due to redheads feeling pain.

Oddly enough, researchers have found that redheads need 20% more anesthesia due to their sensitivity to pain. Scientists believe that this is due to a genetic mutation that has to do with the MC1R gene (produces red pigment in hair).

The MC1R is responsible for the red hair and fair skin, but can also do with a lower tolerance to cold weather and pain medication.  Interestingly, redheads will typically avoid dentist appointments because of fear/anxiety- they will receive more tooth aches and a tolerance to novocaine than other hair colors. Dentists and doctors will have to increase the dosage of medication typically in order so redheads do not suffer in pain.

With having paler skin, redheads will typically avoid the sunlight and create a vitamin D deficiency within themselves since they are not getting the proper nutrients.

While certain key vitamins are missing in a mutation- extra vitamins may need to be taken to assure good health for personal reasons. There can be serious health problems like the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer and asthma. It’s important to note that these are effects if the deficiency is not taken care of.

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When the MC1R gene is mutated it produces pheomelanin instead of melanin, (allows you to tan/have darker features) a protein that accounts for red hair, pale skin, and freckles.

When experimenting with redheads researchers found that those effected with the MC1R mutations also had an altered perception of pain and the effectiveness of certain drugs meant to block or numb the sensation of pain did not work right.

Unfortunately there is no way to test redheads in a situation like this, but there seems to be some kind of correlation between redheads and not having melanin. Whether or not pain is different for redheads, it doesn’t seem to be causing an issue in their daily lives.

This experiment rules out reverse causation because you cannot make someone a “real redhead,” yeah- you can dye their hair, but they will never fully be a “real” redhead. This has to be done to an actual, born redhead in order to see results and test their pain.

The article and research concluded that the evidence isn’t clear as to if in fact redheads actually do feel more pain, but there is a clear correlation that the mutation has something to do with redheads having more sensitivity.

The next time you are out- appreciate everyone’s uniqueness because without you and I, we wouldn’t be here.

Mythbusters Video -In this video the Mythbusters test a group of redheads and non-redheads to see who can withstand more pain with their hand in a cold bucket of water. The evidence speaks for itself, take it as you will, but there seems to be something here- whether it has to do with hair color or not.

Our View of Dinosaurs is Changing

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word dinosaur? Some words would most likely be big, strong, and scaly. Well, scaly might not be the right word to describe dinosaurs based on new discoveries .

The Public is Ready to See Dinosaurs with Feathers

image from http://nerdist.com/the-public-is-ready-to-see-dinosaurs-with-feathers/

Image result for jurassic world raptor

image from http://www.idigitaltimes.com/jurassic-world-toys-reveal-raptor-squad-names-and-prove-hasbro-didnt-listen-dr-grant-415646

 

Above is a comparison of a scene from the movie Jurassic World, with the top image being modified to show how these raptors could have looked with feathers (they look pretty cute if you ask me).

Previously, it was only theropod dinosaurs that were considered to have feathers, based on fossils found in China over the past twenty years. However, fossilized feathers were found in Siberia of a dinosaur called Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus (what a mouthful). This dino is not part of the theropod family, causing  Pascal Godefroit, paleontologist, to believe that all families of dinosaurs had feathers (Dan Vergano, National Geographic).

So what does this tell us about dinosaurs? According to  Stephen J. Bodio of Living Bird magazine, dinosaurs and birds are more similar than we thought. Bodio describes the respiratory systems of birds, and compares the similarity to that of dinosaurs. This respiratory system is more effective than mammals and reptiles because it allows the body to get more oxygen. This surely  benefited the dinosaurs that lived in an anoxic atmosphere (Stephen J. Bodio, AllAboutBirds.org).

Not only is this new information really cool for artists and dinosaur enthusiasts, but this helps us to understand the link between birds and dinosaurs and it demonstrates evidence of evolution.

True Love: Reality or Just Pathetic?

Personally, I really hate the connotations that come with love; anyone that I have ever spoken to has always stated that they believe that there is that one person romeo-juliet-deathout there in the universe that was “built just for them.” Disgusting. And how is that possible? Out of the nearly 7 billion people on this Earth, there is only one other person you can fall hopelessly in love with and marry and have babies with and buy a house with and live together with and grow old together with and die together with? I doubt that. But whether I agree with it or not is almost irrelevant since it is just my opinion; the more important question is if there is any scientific reasoning to back up true love, or if it’s simply an ideology a hopeless romantic (I am basically talking about William Shakespeare and his annoying play Romeo and Juliet) invented.

*Before I continue, I hypothesize that there is no such thing as “true love” and that there is nothing out there in the universe that supports it. It is all a figment of our imagination!

What do Most People Consider “Love?”

Have you ever wondered what love actually is? Every time you have asked people, they have most likely all told you different versions of what love actually means to them; whether it is an emotion that you feel for someone else or wanting to share the last slice of pizza with that person, the definition of love ranges between people because everyone is different and has had varying experiences with love in his or her life; however, in this Wikipedia article, love is basically described as a mixture of a group of feelings, attitudes, and attractions towards other people and ideas.

But, as we can all agree, there are different kinds of love; you do not love your spouse in the same way you love your brother or sister. You do not love your dog in the same ways that you love your children (and if you do, that’s a little weird). It is all dependent on the the person being described and the relationship given. Other factors that might play a crucial role include:

  • The amount of years you have known the person(s) in question
  • Certain circumstances or situations you have been through with that person, and whether the relationship grew weaker or stronger as a consequence
  • Previous sexual relations
  • Commonalities between each other, and the ability to respect the differences

Is True Love a Real Thing, Or is it a Concept Created Through Human Perception?

Yes, contrary to what you may believe, there are certain “stages” to falling in love, which is what Maryanne Fisher so expertly describes in her article The Science Behind Falling in Love. According to her research (she has a Ph. D, so she probably knows what she’s talking about!), when someone first begins to fall in love with another human through some type of emotional or physical connection, the first reaction the body has is a release of dopamine, which is abrain-1
chemical in the brain that essentially triggers happiness and sexual desire. So, one can assume that the “puppy love” at the beginning of most relationships is all due to this intense dopamine extrication.

Next, people start to give more attention to the person they are beginning to fall in love with, almost as if they are focused on nobody except them; this is due to the neurotransmitters in the brain that help to divert attention from any distractions and “zero-in” on more specific objects (in this case, the person you are falling in love with).

During the final stages of falling in love, feedback loop systems begin to form which eventually lead to systems that reward the human body for certain stimulations. For example, when certain positive situations or emotions arise, the human body sends chemical messages to different organs throughout the body, which then send other messages back to the brain. When falling in love, however, this system is involved with the stimulation of the genitals; if it feels good and the body enjoys the stimulation, then the body instantly attempts to make note of that and seek the same stimulation from that same person in the future. Thus, the “love connection” grows stronger and stronger.

But is there such thing as having only one “true love?” No! Well, at least not according to Sally Tamarkin and all the research she compiled in her awesome article called Theres No Such Thing as One True Love. And Here’s Why That’s Awesome. In it, Sally proclaims that although people might like to believe that there is only one person out there for them, that just isn’t the case; love is more closely related to a series of scientific processes than it is to an emotion, although in some of the stages, they intermingle. She also explains that there is, however, such thing as “love at first sight,” and that there can be instant connections between people simply through eye contact. I must admit, this shocked me because I thought this was a myth, as well! Then again, Andrew does always tell us to be skeptical about what we know and believe in science!

Experiments and Sample Studies

Using the scientific method that we learned in class, it is not hard to come up with possible experiments to test the boundaries of love; first, a question needs to be proposed, and then, simply, an experiment needs to be done where observable or quantifiable results can be recorded and accurate conclusions can be based. In the video up above, a certain YouTube channel decided to put love to the test; they grabbed two strangers that were willing to participate and made them ask each other a list of questions that would perhaps make them fall in love at the end. Did it work? Watch it and find out!

I decided to create my own plausible experiment, too. Although I did not actually perform it, I came up with a question that might be answered through observations and data: If “true love” illustration-of-a-heart-in-black-and-redactually exists, then why does speed dating often lead to marriages, etc? In my supposed experiment, a group of nearly 50 candidates can together in a room and attempt to speed date; the scientists or person(s) conducting the experiment would observe how the people react to their introductions and any flirting techniques that occur between the pairs. In the end, if many similar flirting tactics arose within certain candidates and other people, that might be cause to assume that they would perhaps date, or be interested in dating, in the future. By extension, one can assume that love might arise from such a relationship.And if love can arise from a speed dating exercise, is it really probable that you found your “one true love”, out of every one in the universe, in that very room on that very day? No! Which probably supports that anyone can fall in love with anyone, so long as a substantial connection is made.

Is There More Than One Person Out There For You?

Since research supports the fact that there is no such concept as “true love,” you should be happy! That means that there are a number of potential partners out there in which you could share the wonderful stages of scientific processes that people call “love.” If you put yourself out there, I am sure you could find someone that is madly in love with you, or at least might be willing to put up with you (LOL). Personally, I cannot say that I have ever truly been in love, although I have been in relationships before in my life. At least it gives me something to look forward to.I leave you with this final thought, fellow college students: Love exists in every corner of life. Don’t seclude yourself to one person because you believe that they are “the one.” After all, I just proved to you that there is no substantial scientific reasoning and research to back up that claim!

Links for Pictures

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwiO24O4nIbPAhXEKCYKHRgVD_gQjRwIBw&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.emaze.com%2F%40AOWROROQ%2FRomeo-and-Juliet-Project&psig=AFQjCNGp-WZbM-bL8R0-uifEzBA4avNnVw&ust=1473645759351492

OCD, Our Brains, and Us

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/308569.php

To Nap or Not to Nap?

As a college student, I see signs of sleep deprivation everywhere: fellow students claiming to have pulled an all-nighter to study or complaining that they haven’t slept at all in three days or, most commonly, bragging about the three hour nap they took after class. I am most guilty of the third thing on this list, and I pride myself on taking long naps. After a tiring day of classes, it is so tempting to just curl up in bed and sleep for a while. But at the end of it, I often find myself waking up groggy and less energetic than when I started. In addition, napping tends to make it harder for me to fall asleep at night. So, what’s the big deal with naps, then? Do naps benefit our sleep or harm it? If there are benefits, how do we nap properly in order to obtain those benefits?napping-memory-test_full_600

I’m here to tell you the good news: there are many benefits to be gained from taking naps. Most of the research I found detailed the positive impacts of taking naps on everything from memory to emotional stability—yes, naps can even help keep you calm. A study done in 2015 found a correlation between napping and the ability to handle frustration. In this study, researchers took 40 subjects and split them into randomized groups of “nappers” and “non-nappers.” After taking just an hour-long nap, those in the “napper” group reported feeling less impulsive and were better able to cope with feelings of frustration. So whenever you’re feeling cranky and unable to handle your negative emotions, a nap may be just the thing you need.

Improvement in memory is another benefit of napping, and one that is well documented. According to this article, multiple studies have shown the different ways that napping improves memory. In this study, participants were asked to partake in a visual test, and researchers found that those who took a 60 to 90 minute nap actually did about the same on the test as those who got a full night of sleep. This could mean that taking a nap may have the same benefits as getting a full night’s sleep before a test (However, I would not recommend sacrificing a good night’s rest before a test in favor of a nap.)

Napping improves other types of memory as well. In another study, researchers gave participants a word recall test that involved both memorizing single words as well as word pairs. Those who had taken a 90-minute nap beforehand were on par with those who didn’t nap for the single word recall, but performed much better when it came to remembering the word pairs. This study indicates that napping can help improve associative memory.

So now that we have established that naps can give us some great benefits, how do we use naps to our advantage? Like I mentioned before, I often find myself groggy and tired after a nap. This is largely due to a phenomenon known as sleep inertia. Sleep inertia is induced when taking a nap longer than around a half hour and can reduce the ability to think upon waking up. This makes the benefits of such longer naps unable to be felt until some time after the nap has ended. To prevent sleep inertia, it is wise to time your naps so that they are less than 30 minutes. This short YouTube video details how to take the perfect nap.01-tricks-taking-nap-alarm-clock

Overall, naps are great—they can help us feel better emotionally and perform better on tests. However, naps can also cause some unwanted side effects if not taken correctly. These side effects can include grogginess and tiredness, which are feelings that people take naps precisely to avoid. So, when it comes to napping, it is best to nap wisely.

Image Sources:

http://nicholasferguson.org/wp-content/uploads/Napping-memory-test_full_600.jpg

http://www.rd.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2016/05/01-tricks-taking-nap-alarm-clock.jpg

 

Science in Finding Dory?

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When I was younger I absolutely adored the Pixar movie Finding Nemo, and I know I am not alone in that statement. Almost all 90’s kids can find a place for Finding Nemo in their heart, so naturally when they announced that they are making a sequel  “Finding Dory” I was beyond ecstatic! Even though I was twenty years old when the movie came out this past summer, I went to see it immediately and LOVED it. It turns out that this animated aquatic sea life movie has   real facts and ideas placed all throughout the film. During the movie one of the sea life characters, a beluga whale (Bailey) voiced by Ty Burell, had the ability to see using just his head and screeches. This idea blew my mind and I had no idea what was going on, so I decided to research this tool the beluga whale apparently has.

The ability to see by using their head and screeching that the beluga whale possessed is called   echolocation. Echolocation is a tool that whales use by sending high frequency noises, such as moans or screeching, far distances causing vibrations to ricochet off other objects and echo back to the whale. Echolocation is more commonly known as “whale songs”, which is when whales sound like they are singing but it is just the high frequency sounds. Apparently not just beluga whales have this handy tool, but other animals and creatures as well. For example, bats rely solely on echolocation as their vision tool because they do not have any sight. With this being said, if bats did not possess echolocation continuing life would be very heard for their species.

In the movie, Bailey the beluga whale, used echolocation as tool to help Dory find her way around the Marine Life Institute. The echolocation allowed her to visualize any predators that may be near Dory to warn her. In real life, a whale or other creatures, would use echolocation primarily for hunting. This handy tool allows whales to locate a food source and head in that direction, just by using their forehead! Also whales use echolocation to help them maneuver with ease around the vast big ocean. This tool allows a creature to see very far or very close depending on their current situations.

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As humans it is hard for us to completely understand echolocation because we do not posses the tool ourselves. Echolocation has been said to be other worldly and allow a different view of the world (ocean) for any creature that has this tool. The term other worldy is meant to be thought of being able to see a three dimensional world. I found this to be very interesting because we are all on the same earth but each creature can have a very different view of the world around us thanks to things like echolocation. You can read more about this topic on sites just like this!

I encourage everyone who has not yet seen Finding Dory to do so. This movie is not only entertaining but educational as well. Hopefully when you watch this film you question some of the ideas just like I did. Overall, I am thrilled that they made a sequel to one of my favorite childhood movies, Finding Nemo, and most importantly the fact that I was able to learn something from it too!

References

  • Altman, By Bridget. “5 Scientifically Accurate Things About Finding Dory.”Marine Science Today. N.p., 22 Aug. 2016. Web. 11 Sept. 2016.
  • “Whales, Dolphins and Sound.” Department of the Environment and Energy. Australian Government, n.d. Web.
  • Family, By. “National Marine Mammal Laboratory.” National Marine Mammal Laboratory. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2016.
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Wow, she’s beautiful

While I was sitting at my desk thinking of what my blog topic should be about, I got bored and checked my phone. I went on instagram and I saw picture of a very attractive woman. I continued to scroll through my feed when I asked myself, why did I find her so attractive? That gave me the idea to research a little more why attraction is instant and why we find others attractive based only upon looks initially.

As I searched all throughout the internet for a reason, I kept running into the term sexual attraction. Although sexual attraction is not my topic, similar parts of the brain are affected. I finally came across a page that gave me answers that I needed. The convincing aspect that came with this page was that it actually used real people in an experiment to prove their point. This study was observational. They noticed that the sight of someone attractive caused a part of the brain to react in a certain way and also the correlation between seeing an attractive person and the brain reacting.

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The study included 78 woman and 73 men, all single and heterosexual. After all the volunteers were found, they were told that they were going to be going on speed dates. Prior to actually going on the dates, 39 people had their brains imaged to see how their brains reacted to seeing pictures of all the people they would encounter at the event. They were allowed to see the pictures briefly and then rate the person based on their physical attraction and whether or not they would date them. Finally, it was time for the dates! The dates were five minutes each and when they were done they would move on to the next person. After all the dates concluded, everyone who participated filled out a form saying who they would want to see again. It was seen that the people that found who they liked by seeing their pictures prior, actually still were attracted to them when they met them in person. At the end of it all, the researchers concluded that people who were compatible ended up exchanging phone numbers and 10-20% of them got in touch with one another. (Pappas, Science Explains Instant Attraction)

The main part of the brain that was affected during this study was the prefrontal cortex. More specifically a part of the medial prefrontal cortex called the paracingulate cortex. Most of the activity found in this part of the brain was when the test subjects saw pictures of people they found to be attractive. The ventromedial prefrontal cortex also had a lot of activity. Although, major activity was found occurring when the test subjects saw an attractive face that multiple other people found to be attractive as well. Yes, everyone has differing opinions in what they like so that is when the rostromedial prefrontal cortex reacts. This part of the brain usually plays a role in social decisions so the possibility is that this part of the brain judges and analyzes more the person you find attractive. It goes deeper than just what can be determined in the first few seconds. (Pappas, Science Explains Instant Attraction)

What I got from this is that attraction at first sight uses more of the brain than I expected. It is a simple concept but it shows how vital the brain is in all aspects of life. Now, that does’t change the fact that these results show how shallow people can be. At least this proves that everyone in the world is shallow to some extent, right?

http://www.livescience.com/24593-brain-love-dating-decisions.html

Time vs. Money

You always hear the famous phrase “Money doesn’t buy happiness” and yet there are still people who like to disagree with this statement. However, with this new study, this statement has been tested.

In this article, the New York Times first proposes the readers with the question of whether they would like to have more time or more money? Which is more of value? Obviously you can measure the value of money, but can you really measure the value of time? The article goes on to tell the story of Professor Hershfield, who faced the issue of working more or spending more time with his new born baby. He mulled over this dilemma because taking the extra work meant extra money which is always a good thing. However, in acquiring more money, he would be giving up the time spent with her newborn baby girl. And so, we come to this question of which opportunity would lead to more happiness; more money or more time with his baby girl?

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Because of this, a study was conducted in order to test this theory of which would lead to more happiness for the person involved; having more time or more money. The study included people of all different backgrounds, races, incomes etc. and it seemed to appear that people valued money over time. However, they then were asked to rate their quality of life and overall happiness. When doing this, it appeared that people were happier when they chose time. After this, the study continued by evaluating the people’s incomes and so on in order to make sure the data was correct, and indeed it proved right.

The article comes to a conclusion by saying that even though we all need money to survive, when people were asked to write down the reasons they wanted more time versus reasons of wanting more money, the people were happier when valuing the more time they would want.

I think this topic is important because too often we fall into the trap of trying to chose what will make us more money rather than focussing on what will make us happier. This study proves that although we need money to survive, it’s important to realize it’s not the only thing and that valuing time more can make you a happier person in the end.

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