Daily Archives: September 13, 2016

Foot Fungus? Huh?

Now when I was applying to college and being scared about sharing a bathroom with multiple people, the idea of foot fungus did not even come to mind. I was made aware of this by my mother when she told me I needed shower sandals. Now, I hate sandals. Especially flip flops. I was not fond of the idea at all but after she told me all the nasty experiences she heard about, I was the first one out the door to go buy these shower sandals.

My theory is, people go into the shower naked and dirty and wash that all off. All the dirt accumulated during the day washes away for the most part but some of it stays on the floors of the shower. Maybe if someone had foot fungus already and used the shower, it gave birth to fungus in the shower as well. Now I don’t know much about science, like at all, but I do know that water or something being wet can cause bacteria to grow. So I pretty convinced that fungus in the community showers is an existing issue in colleges everywhere.


Link for the photo

I knew this was a very real issue when I researched the topic and multiple articles popped up. I came across an article that really opened my eyes. The article talked about two possible fungi that you can get from shower floors: athlete’s foot and plantar warts. Athlete’s foot is a fungus that can be very itchy and burn. It can spread all over your foot, especially in between your toes. You can go to a pharmacy and usually you will be prescribed a cream or medicine to put on trouble areas. (Brichford, Protect Your Foot Health at College) According to D.C. Dugdale, fungus prefers dark, moist places. Showers are ideal places for fungus to thrive. The shower door or curtain keeps the individual stalls dark and the floors don’t fully dry throughout the course of the day. Plantar warts are a bit different. Not as much extensive research has been done on warts but studies show that you are more at risk to get plantar warts if you use communal showers. (Brichford, Protect Your Foot Health at College) According to Dugdale, all types of warts are considered viruses. To contract a virus, usually there is physical contact with the infected areas. There may be a correlation between communal showers and getting plantar warts, but there is no mechanism that really proves that communal showers cause plantar warts.

What I noticed about this article was that the true cause foot fungus from communal showers is still unknown. Doctors have hypotheses about what causes this fungi to grow but don’t have sufficient evidence to release an official cause. All I know is that I will definitely continue to wear sandals in the shower because I would rather be safe than sorry.


The Benefits of Chocolate

In my mind, everyone loves chocolate, and when I hear that someone doesn’t, I seriously question how in the world someone could dislike such a sweet treat.  Chocolate is loved all over the world, and I was lucky enough to grow up only a short road trip away from the Hershey chocolate factory.  My whole life, I have assumed that since chocolate is candy, there couldn’t possibly be any benefits to eating it, except for making me happy.  About a week ago, there was a discussion in class on the correlation between the number of nobel prize winner’s in a country and the amount of chocolate eaten per person in the country which made me realize that maybe eating a little bit of chocolate every now and then might have potential benefits for my health.  Although in class we could not find a mechanism for why nobel prize winner’s and chocolate consumed has a strong, positive correlation, my hypothesis is that eating chocolate in moderation could have certain health benefits.

Before getting too far into this debate, let me just clarify: not all chocolate is the same chocolate, meaning that different types of chocolates are made with different ingredients and thus providing different health benefits and problems.  In this article, I will be focusing on dark chocolate because after a little bit of basic research, I have found that dark chocolate has the most health benefits, and it also so happens to be my favorite kind of chocolate.  A] huge point made in a lot of articles that I read, like this one, was that this dark chocolate that you are eating has to have a very high percentage of cocoa in it in order for you to see the most benefits from it, usually recommending at least 70% cocoa.  A lot of people have never tried a chocolate this rich in cocoa, but lucky for me, my Pop-pop makes homemade fudge and always has some laying around! This chocolate is a little bit harder to find in a grocery store because it is not the same dark chocolate taste that you would get from a Hershey’s bar labeled as dark chocolate.  This dark chocolate has a very bitter taste, which also means it has less sugar, another benefit to eating dark chocolate of milk!!

According to this article from CNN Health, dark chocolate has the most flavonoids when compared to milk and white chocolate, which makes it the healthier option.  Flavonoids come from the actual cocoa bean that is used when making chocolate and holds most of the nutrients that you will find in a chocolate bar.  People believe that the antioxidants found in chocolate come from these flavonoids which is why they are so important in chocolate.

After doing a little more research, I found that there really are a lot of health benefits that come from the cocoa bean, which can be found in higher concentrations in dark chocolate.  In this article written by Kris Gunnars, the many benefits are explained like antioxidants, increased brain function, decreased risk in cardiovascular disease, and improved blood flow, but it is also stressed that no one should go out and eat tons and tons of chocolate because it still does carry a lot of unwanted calories and there still is sugar in dark chocolate even though it is significantly less than you would find in a Hershey’s bar.  Gunners suggests eating a tiny bit after a meal will be plenty to see the benefits of the cocoa.

Out of all of the benefits of chocolate that I read, the one that caught my attention the most was the claim that cocoa could possibly increase brain function because I thought maybe, just maybe, that there was a possible mechanism behind the correlation we saw in class between chocolate consumed and noble prizes won.  One reason why Gunnars claimed that it improved brain function was because in some trials it has been shown that eating cocoa can affect the blood flow to the brain and show improvements in cognitive functions, especially in elderly people.  However, after reading this, I decided to do a little bit more research on this particular matter. 

Most of the research I found that discusses if dark chocolate can affect your cognitive functions and make you smarter come across the same problem we did in class.  Although there is correlation between high cognitive function and chocolate intake, it is unclear if chocolate makes people smarter or if smart people just generally like to eat chocolate, and it does not seem that there is an answer for this yet because it would be fairly hard to prove.  In this research, it does say that chocolate could in fact be making people smarter, and they have data from an experiment to support their hypothesis, but they also mention that there are a lot of other factors that could be leading to this increase in intelligence.

All in all, it has not been proven that chocolate makes your smarter, but it is still a serious possibility that scientists are continuously looking at and trying to understand.  Along with this benefit of chocolate, there are also many other health benefits that could make eating a little bit of dark chocolate a day a good idea, given evidence to support my hypothesis! This research will only fuel my love for dark chocolate, but I’m sorry for all of you Hershey lovers out there because the results you will see will not be as great as eating dark chocolate.  The next time you go to eat chocolate, opt for dark chocolate instead and tell yourself that you are just looking out for your own health.  It makes me a lot less guilty about eating this tasty treat!

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College Students and Anxiety

Although college is usually depicted in TV shows and movies as a life full of frat parties and sporting events, the sad truth is that many students, especially freshmen, find themselves suffering from anxiety and depression. Some students find the transition from high school to college to be overwhelming. Many struggle with feelings of homesickness in addition to issues  with classes, roommates, and workload. Although most students now have the freedom that they always desired, they are also pulled away from family and friends, getting inadequate amounts of sleep, and often using illegal substances. Without anyone present to supervise them, some students find this new lifestyle stressful. To make matters worse, they often spend their time watching other kids apparently having the time of their lives on Instagram.  The question becomes, when are these feelings normal, and when do they require intervention?

Mary Commerford, PhD, director of the Furman Counseling Center at Barnard College believes that this type of activity of comparing your college experience to what you believe are other people’s, leads to more anxiety and unhappiness among freshmen.  She counsels students to recognize that it is normal to take some time with making new friends and adjusting to their new living situation.  Unfortunately, some students progress from normal “freshman blues” to serious mental health issues, especially if they experienced them before college.  The director of counseling and psychological services at Appalachian State University notes that anxiety has become typical in today’s college students. A study at our own Penn State showed that more than half of the students who visited the campus clinics stated that anxiety was a health concern for them. In fact, most college clinics have seen a tremendous increase in the number of students visiting campus mental health facilities.  This may be partially due to a decrease in the stigma surrounding mental health diagnoses. Although most counselors see students seeking treatment as a positive change, it has caused tremendous strain for campus mental health centers. These centers can often treat the mild cases of anxiety with several early interventions. But there is always the risk that if a center is at capacity and a student can’t get an appointment for an extended period of time that their condition could worsen. Studies, such as one performed at Ohio State, have shown that students who receive counseling are more likely to stay in school.


mark for Vetta pse jane


A student knows themselves better than anyone else knows them. They need to recognize the symptoms of anxiety and even depression in themselves. Certainly if the symptoms  of sadness, fear, lack of sleep , lack of appetite, or social disinterest are affecting a student’s ability to succeed, then intervention seems necessary. Carrie Landa, the director of Behavioral Medicine at Student Health Services at Boston University simply believes that it is time to seek help if your stress is turning into distress. There is no shame in reaching out for help.  The mental health centers, although busy, will make every effort to assist you.






*sees face start to break out*…..*drinks 200 gallons of water*

It’s the morning of Bid Day. You wake up feeling refreshed, only to look in the mirror and see that you have two zits in the middle of your forehead. You say to yourself, “this cannot be happening; I can’t even right now!” So you do the best thing you can think of and start downing water bottle after water bottle. Okay, so we all know water is somewhat important to our daily lives. The benefits of hydration extend above and beyond what we can ever imagine. Is it possible that there is a correlation between drinking water and clear skin?

There are 78 organs in the human body, and the largest of them all is our skin (Organs of the Body). Everyone has different types of skin, such as oily, dry, or somewhere in between. When we drink water, our skin is the primary organ to first be affected. That is due to the fact that when we are dehydrated, our skin soaks up any moisture we drink like a sponge. When this occurs, the skin begins to be rejuvenated with moisture, and circulation improves. Another significant job the skin undertakes is removing toxins by sweating. The pH of your skin is offset by the toxins being flushed out, and if your skin is slightly dry from lack of moisture, then your pores will become clogged.

Thus, this concludes that there is a correlation between drinking water and clean skin. By drinking water, you are maintaining the balance of your pH. How much water should one drink though? If you are drinking half of your body weight in ounces, you are in the right ball park (Hearn). Staying hydrated is not the only way to prevent acne from invading your pores. Of course it all ties into sleep schedule, eating habits, and composition of your skin. BUT FIRST… before you freak out about your pores clogging up…





I hope you break a sweat


I absolutely hate sweating! I feel like I sweat an abnormal amount. The humidity here is a killer. I absolutely hate feeling of being overheated. Can you even imagine how it would feel to not sweat? You would have no way to cool yourself off. In my Architectural Engineering 211 class, my professor taught us about the different processes that our body goes through when it heats up. The body has certain mechanisms that help regulate the body’s temperature. When the body gets hot, the surface of the skin starts to dilate. The body then starts to sweat to cool down the body through evaporation. If the body can’t handle the heat, the final mechanism is to pass out (Moses AE 211). Sweating is an involuntary act that is a necessity when it comes to prevent heat exhaustion. The body goes through mechanisms to warm up as well. Instead of the skin dilating, the pores start to close, while the veins restrict (Moses AE 211). The involuntary response is shivering. Now if our bodies didn’t sweat, we would always pass out from heat exhaustion.

Anhidrosis means the inability to sweat.

Some people are born without sweat glands, while others have rare diseases that precent them from sweating.

Cystinosis is a disease that affects about 2,000 people and (along with many other complications) takes away their ability to cool themselves off.  You can read more about a girl and her struggles with this disease in the link above. Without the ability to sweat, someone must be limited in how long they can be outside without the risk of passing out. It’s safe to say that even though sweating is gross, it is quite necessary to live an active life in the long summer days.

you can learn more about Cystinosis.

You can also learn about the research that is continuously being done to explain the disease and hopefully find a cure.

This is an example of something in science that can’t really be explained at the moment, but scientists are diligently working to provide explanation.

Is Yawning Contagious?

Not that it would ever happen in Andrew’s Science 200 class, but did you ever notice that yawns sometimes go around the classroom like the wave goes around Beaver Stadium.  It made me wonder about why we yawn at all, and more specifically why we yawn when we see other people yawn.  I decided to look for some answers to those questions , but ultimately I just really ended up with more questions.  It seems that scientists and professors can’t even agree as to why people ( and animals) yawn in the first place. Some researchers believe that by sucking in that oxygen rich air during a yawn, that we supply oxygen to our bloodstream, helping to wake us up.  Others, like Steven Platek, a psychology professor at Georgia Gwinnett College, believe that theory to be a myth that is not supported by scientific proof.  Andrew Gallup, a professor at SUNY Oneonta, believes that yawns serve as a cooling system for the brain. A study involving mice showed that their yawns were often preceded by an increase in brain temperature. A decrease in the brain temperature followed the yawn. Thus, researchers like Platek believe this cooling down of the brain is the reason that we feel refreshed after a good yawn.

So, assuming you buy into the brain cooling theory behind yawns, then why do we tend to find ourselves yawning when we see others yawn?  Not surprisingly, there is no real consensus among scientists and professors on this question either. Before looking into the possibilities of why it happens, you can take a little test to see if it happens to you. Click here to watch the “yawn-o–meter” video to see how susceptible you are to contagious yawning.




How did you do?  The majority of people studied yawned at least once during the video – and some yawned as many as 15 times in three minutes! Platek found that yawning is contagious in about 60 to 70 percent of the population.  Most researchers believe that this is due to mimicry and the social quality of empathy.  He has found that people who score high on tests measuring empathetic understanding tend to be more likely to be susceptible to contagious yawning.  A behavioral study from University of Pisa, Italy, further found that the rate of contagion was also determined by the relationship to the person observed yawning.  It was strongest with kin, then friends, then acquaintances, and least with strangers. Even dogs in a University of London study have been found to be susceptible to contagious yawning.  The dogs not only followed the yawn with a yawn, but also acted relaxed and sleepy after seeing a human yawn.  But Matthew Campbell, a researcher from Emory University, stresses that is has less to do with empathy and more to do with how our bodies and brains function.  A recent Duke study, “Individual Variation in Contagious Yawning Susceptibility is Highly Stable and Largely Unexplained by Empathy or Other Known Factors,”  determined that contagious yawning may not be as closely associated with empathy as previously believed.  They did find that contagious yawning seemed to decrease with a person’s age. But, the bottom line is, they really could not come to an ultimate conclusion about what causes this phenomenon. You may be thinking ,”Who cares?”  But actually, some of the research into this area of science may lead to other valuable studies.  For example, researchers from the University of  Connecticut found that children on the autism spectrum were less likely to yawn contagiously than their normally developing peers.  They also found that the severity of the autism directly corresponded to the amount of contagious yawning.  This has led researchers at Duke University to fund studies to examine the possible genetic influences involved with contagious yawning  as a means to better understand diseases like autism or schizophrenia.

So, next time you look around the room and contagiously yawn, maybe you’re really not tired or bored,  but just a nice, empathetic person! Who knows!






Are there real health benefits from eating placenta?

In today’s society, cultural trends spread fast while publicity figures have become news sources that go relatively undoubted by their followers. Its no surprise now that so many women are defending the presumed health benefits of placenta eating to help alleviate the difficulties of afterbirth. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian as well as Hollywood actors have spoken out in support of placenta eating, making it trend that everyone is willing to follow. Me being very in the know of pop culture, I wanted to look into how legitimate these health benefits are, since so many people follow these media figures for lifestyle tips without looking into scientific reasoning or even checking to see if media figures practice what they preach.

Stated in a Science News article by Laura Sanders, supporters of placenta-eating claim quickened healing in afterbirth, better mood, and helps lactation production, the alleged mechanism being the hormones and vitamins in the placenta. In most articles found, a woman named Jodi Selander was used as a source in discussing the supposed benefits of placenta consumption. Selander has a business based in Nevada in which she dehydrates womens’ placentas and puts them into pills for easier consumption (Sanders). Her website, which has an advertisement for a placenta emporium on its homepage, can be found here.



From researching this, I found in an article by Marla Paul that the lack of scientific support in the benefits of placenta-eating is still an issue, but that an even bigger issue is the newly publicized finding of its possible risks and dangers. Paul, writing an article for Northwestern University’s website, cites a major study published by the Archive of Women’s Mental Health. Researchers gathered information on studies done examining the benefits of placenta-eating and created this overview, which as of June 4th of 2015 seemed to be the only major scientific research looking into this new health-craze. The study found that research into the effects of placenta eating had only been evaluated with animals, which had statistically significant results, but which cannot carry over to human females (Coyle et al.). The study also makes note of the large issue that the placebo effect may have in these perceived benefits of the placenta consumption preventing postpartum depression; animal tests would not be able to validate these variables (Coyle et al.).

This publication prompted articles from Science News (referenced earlier) and NPR, amongst others, warning of the lack of support for the trend’s benefits and introducing the risks of the trend.

In the NPR article written by Tara Haelle, quotes and information are provided by supporter Daniel Benysheck, an anthology professor who has studied the benefits of placenta-eating. In this article written about the publication of the overview of studies, Beysheck stated that he would be wrapping up a random trial experiment in 2016 in which the placebo pills made by Selander would be administered (Haelle).

The experimental trial done by Beysheck was recently published just last month, which itself was originated in a conflict of interest, due to it being a research study done by both the study’s authors and Selander’s placenta pill business (Benyshek et al.). The study analyzed the composition of a daily dose placenta pill from 28 different women’s processed placenta (Benyshek et al.). 14 elements, including vitamins such as zinc and possible toxins such as mercury, were measured by part per million (ppm) in these 28 different women’s processed placenta pills (Benyshek et al.). The results show the amount of healthy vitamins/minerals found present were small percentages under 10% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for lactating women. The toxins measured were seen to have even more minimal amounts in the placenta pills that were nowhere near harmful levels (Benyshek et al.). The only element of the 14 studied found to be higher than 1 PPM was the percentage of iron at just 24% RDA for lactating women. From this scientific study, there is provided evidence that the placenta pills are likely more of a placebo than its current status of an all-healing ailment.


Young, Sharon M., Laura Gryder K., Winnie David B., Yuanxin Teng, Shawn Gerstenberger, and Daniel Benyshek C. “Human Placenta Processed for Encapsulation Contains Modest Concentrations of 14 Trace Minerals and Elements.” Nutrition Research 36.8 (2016): 872-78. Web.

“Should You Eat Your Baby’s Placenta?” by Laura Sanders 


“Placentophagy: therapeutic miracle or myth?” study overview

Is Napping Bad?

I love to sleep. Daytime, nighttime, standing, sitting-you name it; I will pass out if I have the chance. Obviously, I am always a hardworking, ambitious student who does not go to sleep at night until my work is complete. Inevitably, this calls for some (way too many) late nights. Guilty of procrastination, I find way too many things to do besides get into bed and go to sleep. The screeching of my alarm clock in the morning makes my ears bleed (not actually), and my next thought as I unhappily wake up is when I can fit in that afternoon nap. The feeling of getting into bed after some exhausting and boring morning classes is the most satisfying moment ever. I tend to take very long naps; a few hours at the least. When I wake up groggy, and usually unaware of what day it is (do not act like this has not happened to you), I always want to just rest my head back down and fall back asleep. I thought napping was supposed to be rejuvenating, right? Is napping actually good for you after all?

Don’t be bummed! A recent study proves that naps can help improve learning. Alex Mecklinger from the Saarland Neuropsychology Unit conducted an experiment with 41 subjects. He had each of them memorize 90 words and 120 groups of words. Immediately after the memorization, the subjects had to recite as many of the words they could remember. Then, half of the subjects took a nap for 1 hour and 30 minutes, and the rest watched a DVD in the categorized time period. Once 90 minutes had passed, all of the subjects had to recite all of the words they could remember for the second time. The results were outstanding. The participants who took a nap performed increasingly (more than 5x) better than those who watched the DVD. Further, the participants who napped also performed just as exceptionally the second time around as the first. 

The results of this experiment are consistent with the hypothesis that naps are indeed good for you. However, as with most things in life, you should take that with a grain of salt. Many rules and restrictions apply when attempting to take a beneficial nap. Naps can be beneficial to overall personal health and learning if they are under an hour; a thirty minute nap is ideal. Planning a time to nap and wake up can help your body prepare for it. A pre-determined nap time each day will lessen the time it takes to fall asleep at night. Feel free to view this video on how to take a productive nap.

Of course, excessive napping can be a sign of something much more than pulling an all-nighter. Exhaustion and the urge to sleep is on the symptom list of several different medical concerns. The conclusion that napping is neither harmful nor hurtful is in coercion with the hypothesis that naps are beneficial. In the experiment at hand, a quick nap is one of the most significant ways to rejuvenate your body.

Most college students would love nothing more than to lay in bed and sleep all day. Classes are rigorous. Schoolwork is time consuming. Extra curricular activities are fun yet depleting. Benefit yourself. Become a better learner. Take a nap.






How does music affect the way we view the world?

When walking to class, doing schoolwork, or simply hanging out, music works as a mediating background. I realized that on this campus, and probably most other college campuses, everyone is almost always using music to create their own personal buffer to the world. There is approximately an endless number of playlists designed around what you’re feeling and want to feel. Even in movies and tv, music is used as some sort of regulator for mood, used to evoke greater emotion from the audience. I decided I wanted to find out how much music truly impacts human emotion, thus affecting the way in which the world is perceived.



In finding out how perception may be impacted, I found a large overview, or meta-analysis, examining an array of experiments done to study the relationship between (no lyric) music and perception. Differing experiments were discussed, each one having slightly different variables. In most of these experiments, visual stimuli were used in combination with music to help evaluate the ways and situations in which music has an effect on perception (Hanser, Mark 305).

Authors Waldie Hanser and Ruth Mark stated that these experiments involved participants listening to happy or sad music while or before having to rate the emotionality of a picture of a person’s facial expression. The facial expressions were rated on a point scale. It was found in multiple experiments that participants listening to happy music while rating a picture would rate it more highly in mood, while participants listening to sad music while rating a picture would rate it lower in mood (Hanser, Mark).

Additionally, experiments were done in which music was played prior to the presentation of the visual stimuli to be rated by participants. In a specific study by Nidhya Logeswaran and Joydeep Bhattacharya, as explained by Hanser and Mark, a wider range of music was used than just happy and sad, measuring on the music and the person on the variable of arousal. Additionally, they had participants rate neutral visual stimuli (Hanser, Mark 314). In this specific study, the effects of the music seemed to be stronger when the stimuli (such as a picture of a person’s facial expression) was neutral or ambiguous (Hanser, Mark 313). This overview showed that there is a definite correlation between happy and sad music and the way in which people perceive visual stimuli.

Writing for Scientific American, sognitive science professor Mark Changizi has an argument in support of Hanser and Mark’s overview, specifically citing this Logeswaran and Bhattacharya study in discussing how music affects emotion. Changizi explains that the study shows a connection between auditory senses and the evoking of emotion, but clarifies that it is not clear why music has such an effect. In trying to deduce why music is so emotionally provoking, he hypothesizes that this is due to music’s relation to language, making it an abstract form of it (Changizi). Changizi’s other hypothesized reason for music’s emotional effect is its relation to the human movement of dancing, its auditory stimulation helping bringing it to the mind.

All in all, both Hanser and Mark’s meta-analysis and Changizi’s hypothesizing agree on the correlation between music and a person’s emotions and feelings having a possible causation in the auditory stimulation crossing over through the system of senses. While no causation has been established, Hanser and Mark concluded that in future studies there must be experiments in which a more direct relationship can be established (320).


Meta Analysis 2013

“Why Does Music Make Us Feel?” article by Mark Changizi


Spotify Link

Enjoy the Sunshine and Get Healthily!

With the development of internet, more and more people choose to work at home instead of running out under the sunshine. Also, many people are afraid to go under the sun, because the sunlight will hurt our skin and it is hard to get it back. However, whether it is a good choice to avoid meeting with the sun is a question I am researching for this passage.


After reading an article online, I concluded three important benefits of spending time with sunlight. First of all, it can prevent people from short sight. Through the research written from an university department in Australia, it is important to know that the sunshine stimulates the growing of dopamine which can help focalizing the light correctly in eyes. Furthermore, basking can prevent people from sickness or diseases. The sunlight increases the amount of Vitamin D in our body which helps our blood circulation and possess immunity enhancement and then decreases the frequency of sickness. And also this idea is proved by the Yale University. Moreover, the most interesting thing is that basking can help us to extend life-span. Since people choose to exercise under the sunshine instead of working in their office, they get a stronger body to live which prevent most of them from serious disease.

Therefore, sunlight is beneficial to most of people. However, it is also important to know that basking is a way to get healthier but only if you feel comfortable about that. And one more suggestion is that it is important to avoid hanging out around noon during the summer time. Otherwise, you may get sick because of the high temperature. In the end, I’d like to say that winter is almost coming and let us catch the tail of summer. Enjoy the Sunshine and get healthily.

Below is the link I got information from and also you can click it if you want to get more information about benefits of sunshine.What Are the Benefits of Sunlight

The Effects Texting has on Communication

Have you ever sat in a room where every single person is staring at their phone screen, preoccupied by the world of technology? The room is silent. This silence is not on purpose but is rather a result of the lack of conversation. Everyone in that room is too focused on the texts that are on their phone screen, to simply look up at talk to each other. What is the point of them all being together, when they don’t even speak to each other? The answer is that there is no point. This sounds silly and impractical, but this situation happens all of the time. With the recent technology that allows us to send messages to others many miles away in just seconds, we obviously use this to our advantage. This way of communication, called texting, has taken emphasis off of the importance of human interaction, and has glorified interaction by cyber means.

Although texting was created to enable quicker and easier terms of communicating, it has a rather damaging effect on real interaction-face to face- where as within a text message, the emotion and purpose behind what is trying to be said can be misinterpreted. We are slowly lacking the ability and “skill” of human interaction and because of the way texting is valued today, it is hard to see the various disadvantages of it. Consequently, if you look up from your phone screen for even a short while, you will surely see that this is not the most beneficial type of communication to ourselves and society. 

kidstextingfind picture here

The advantages of text messaging are simply outnumbered by the disadvantages of it. It is a problem that a few clicks on a phone screen means more than oral conversations to the majority of our society. Starting with the teenage generation today, people are finding it more and more difficult to speak and carry out conversations. As human beings, we should find it comfortable and normal to speak to other human beings, but the invention of texting has prohibited our natural ability to do so.

According to this article, texting hinders all types of communication including, written, face-to-face, and surface level. It also causes problems with social boundaries and worsens our impatience and need for instant gratification. It states that texting takes away from building social confidence skills and the need for meaningful conversations. It also says that we get so used to writing in “slang”, that it may start to appear in our formal writing. Lastly, the article explains that we we become impatient with texting and break social boundaries. Since texting is such a fast paced thing, we expect an instant answer like we would get with a phone call. This causes us to text people when a phone call would not be appropriate and become upset when we don’t get an instant reply back.

couple-textingfind picture here

Imagine watching a movie where all of the characters sit in one room, not speaking to each other, texting on their phones. This would by far be the most boring, and unnecessary movie of all time. The entire time you would be thinking, “Why don’t they put down their phones and talk to each other?” So why don’t we? Why do we feel the need to be having conversations with people miles away, when there is someone sitting right next to you, across from you, and diagonally from you? Movies need interaction and variation, just like we do.

Although there may not be an immediate solution to this problem, I do encourage that we slowly put down our phones and face real life, and what real life interaction and communication consists of. If we do, we will surely see an increase in our abilities to connect with others and it will leave less room for misinterpretation. If we do not, advancing technology will lead us to further bury ourselves in unrealistic means of communication. This causes us to lose sight of the importance of human relationships, and aid us in letting reality zoom by, because we were too focused on a tiny screen in front of us. If this seems like a scary truth and future, then ask yourself; Why don’t we put down our phones and talk to each other?

Are Humans on the fast track to destroying natural resources?

There are a plethora of different topics that politicians can focus on in 2016. Some of the hot topics that are immigration, entitlement reform, and the economy. However, a topic that may be overlooked could be the preservation of the current wilderness. As an aspiring politician I feel that this is a pressing issue that should be addressed. Without the natural resources that we have today we will not have oxygen, paper, and many other products.

It is more than obvious to most humans that advances in technology and civilization has led to the destruction of many different areas of wildlife. Logging has been one of the major causes of the mass destruction of wilderness. Trees and other plants are used as resources to create many of the products that we use in our everyday lives. However, when should we be concerned about how much wilderness and resources are left? This is a question that has many different answers. One may argue that the human race is using all of our resources is not an issue because there is still a considerable amount. Another may argue that the human race is in grave danger of using all of our resources and once they are gone they are gone. The study I chose to blog about creates a sense of urgency for the preservation of natural resources.



The image above shows how much wilderness has been lost within the last two decades. The destruction of wilderness by humans is not only detrimental to the animals that live there, but this destruction also has harmful effects on humans. One of the major reasons for this is that trees provide oxygen for us to breathe. Obviously without trees and plants to create oxygen, the human race will no longer exist. According to the James Watson, in the last two decades humans have destroyed approximately 1.27 million square miles of wilderness (Watson, 2016). The more staggering statistic with this mass destruction of forests is that humans have destroyed enough forests to make up twice the area of the state of Alaska. Humans cannot keep destroying our natural resources at such a rapid rate if we want to be able to use them for years to come.


The other image inserted above furthermore bolsters the argument that we are destroying our natural resources at an alarming rate. The major takeaway here should be that there needs to be more effort put towards the preservation of these resources so that we do not make an irreversible mistake. Experts believe humans are turning a blind eye to this destruction because humans think that there is an infinite amount of these resources are left. Or even in other instances, many people believe that because that resources will not run out in their lifetime that they are not obligated to help in the preservation of these resources. The second stigma needs to be ended because this selfish attitude is part of the problem. There should be new pieces of legislation passed so that we can combat this real issue that is facing not only Americans, but all members of the human race. By doing this we can preserve wilderness for future generations. By preserving wilderness we will not only save the habitats of many different forms of wildlife. We will also be able to have plenty of resources to use for the future.


Sources And Images:

Source 1

Source 2



Maybe your born with it, maybe it’s adaptation?

One of the first things you learn as a human development major is that we are born with the ability to do or imitate many things. We seem rather helpless as babies, well because in fact, we are. Just because we are, in all reality, helpless doesn’t mean we haven’t developed things to make us seem as though we aren’t. We, as humans, are born with five natural resources, that are used to help us stay alive. One of those five reflexes that proves that babies have adapted things to keep themselves alive once they realize are helpless, is the moro reflex.

Probably the most important of our first five reflexes, the moro reflex is one that allows us to attempt to stop something tragic. The moro reflex, is our reflex to stop us from falling. Now you may be questioning how as an infant (who cant walk) we will be falling, but it actually occurs when an outside force may be to blame. In infants the moro reflex is activated when we feel as though we are being dropped. Whether we would be falling off a changing table or being dropped by our caregiver, the moro reflex works the same. When the moro reflex is triggered we reach out our arms and legs looking for something to hold onto. This is the natural reaction to stop ourselves from falling, even into adulthood.

So why are we born with this reflex? Not much research has been put into how we acquire this reflex in utero, but the research as to why is pretty self explanatory. Studying infants is usually difficult, so researchers study what they can. We’ve adapted to protect ourselves-the first five reflexes we have are for protection. The moro reflex is something so important that a baby is naturally born with it. If infants didn’t have the moro reflex they couldn’t even attempt to catch themselves during a fall. Although unlikely the moro reflex would actually result in a baby catching themselves (or even having to actually be used), it’s the adaptation that matters. We as humans know to protect ourselves. The flight or fight response, reacting to painful stimuli and the moro reflex show that we are born knowing that if we want to protect ourselves, we have to do something about it.


Pinch me! I must be dreaming!

We’ve all been there.  You’re in a dream, loving life, stress free, when suddenly someone pushes you into a pool, or you fall off of the sidewalk, or in extreme cases like my dream last night, you fall out of a window.  Immediately we wake up, sweating, heart pounding, and realize it was all a dream.  Well, what if we knew it was a dream all along.  Then, we wouldn’t wake up in fear because we knew it was fake.  Or, we just wouldn’t let the event occur in the dream in the first place.  This concept of lucid dreaming dates back to Aristotle.  Over the years, many philosophers have contributed their own personal incidents of these dreams.

Let’s get down to how and why this happens to certain people and not others.  The most important part of lucid dreaming is the point when you realize that something in the dream does not match up to real life.  Whether that be the time, date, or any other nuanced detail you can notice.  There are different intensities of this type of dreaming as well.  Some people, once they realize what is happening, can control their dreams and make certain events happen to themselves.  Now to clear things up really quickly.  Lucid dreaming and dream control are not the same.  You can control your dream without knowing, and you can lucid dream and choose not to control things.

According to Ryan Hurd in an article done on this concept, it is extremely important to have an intention of lucid dreaming. It will not happen overnight.  You must become more aware of actual reality each day.  There will also be signs popping up in your dreams that could be indicators to let you know you are in a dream.  Examples of this could be bizarre things you notice about your own appearance.  It is also important to record your dreams.   Whether that be waking up and verbally recalling what happened, or writing it down somewhere. (Hurd 2016)

Another method is to catch yourself while in REM sleep, which stands for rapid eye movement.  This image helps to explain what REM sleep is, and how it cycles.circadian_rhythm_pie_chart_vertical_reduced_260  This is the point when lucid dreams are most likely to occur, so if you can wake up and fall back asleep during this time, you will have a good chance of lucid dreaming.  Also, REM sleep is usually in full swing during naps!

Amongst these methods are many more which are discussed here in this video on lucid dreaming.  Yes, I have tried to make this happen, and I simply can’t.  I would love to know if any of you know how to do this, or have had it happen to you before!


The Science Behind Fitting In

Deciding to join Greek life on campus was a conscious decision I made myself, in an effort to make Penn State’s massive campus a little smaller. Little did I know the last two weeks would be more stressful than I could ever imagine. I spent almost every second of my free time worrying about being accepted into a sorority that I belonged in. Throughout the process, many girls cried, agonizing over sororities that dropped them, but why? We all ended up where we belonged in the end. Do not get me wrong, I enjoyed it very much, and was very happy with the end result as I am now a part of a sorority that I love, but the entire time I was thinking why do we feel the need to fit in? Everyone obviously wants to make friends, and feel accepted by their peers. Some even go to extreme lengths to do so. Although these people, who seek acceptance, may believe they are their own person, it has been researched that often times individuals conform to the beliefs of those by whom they wish to be accepted by. Conformity is basically our natural instinct to relate to others by adopting their interest, opinions, and behaviors. This need to fit in was extremely prevalent among my high school peers, as I’m sure it is among almost all teenagers. Psychologist have been exploring this phenomenon for years. More recently, Lisa Knoll with her colleagues at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience conducted a conformity experiment. They basically were researching to see the extent to which teenagers are influenced by their peers, and adults. Volunteers were selected with ages ranging from eight years old to those in their fifties. All were asked to rate seemingly risky situations, and then they were revealed the ratings of the other volunteers. After they were shown the other ratings, it was noted that teenagers adjusted their initial ratings to be in accordance to their other teenage peers, but not the adults. The younger participants were more influenced by the adults. This experiment shows that teenagers do tend to comply with their peers. As the experiment somewhat mimicked the extent of the influence peer pressure has on teens, serving as a reminder the importance of staying true to yourself. 



picture: http://giphy.com/search/dont-let-the-haters-stop-you-from-doing-your-thang

Freshman 15 Days of Sickness

Image result for sick person

image via http://associationsnow.com

Unfortunately, I have caught the sickness that has been floating around campus. At least half
my floor already has it and the constant coughing in classes assures me that many more people on campus are sick. Starting as just a sore throat, I have developed a very heavy cough that is hard to avoid. Dayquil is helpful and the best solution has been to constantly sip water. Sipping the water keeps my throat from getting dry, which seems to be what causes the coughing. Problem is, I can only drink so much water at a time and the coughing eventually ensues. But this makes me wonder… Is there a correlation when someone is sick between coughing and the throat being dry? and how does coughing effect, if it does at all, a sickness?

Why do we cough?

Image result for person coughing

image via kevinmd.com

Having to cough is probably one of the most annoying things there is, especially in class when you know your loud projections of infected air are distracting everyone in the room. Before this, I had no clue why we cough and usually tried to avoid doing it. This may not be the best thing to do because, according to WebMD, coughing happens to help the body get rid of foreign items such as dirt and mucus. This is among other things that can cause a person to continually cough. Even though coughing is generally intended to remove foreign things from the airways, it can also have negative consequences. A dry cough, among other types of coughing, irritates the lungs. When an individuals lungs become irritated, they cough even more. This creates a cycle where the coughing doesn’t stop and could get worse and worse as the lungs become more irritated. This “dry cough” might be an explanation to why the water helps to soothe the coughing.


Image result for water

image via circuitworksla.com

If any of you have had this dry cough before, you may know that it can lead your throat to
become extremely sore. When you cough for other reasons, it is often because there is something in your throat such as foreign objects or mucus. But if there is nothing in your throat, the air is just pressing along the walls of your throat, irritating it even more. According to eMedicineHealth, as water goes down the throat, it breaks up the mucus that is sitting in the passageway. Since a cough is meant to remove things from the throat…. MUCUS… and the water breaks up that mucus. If the water breaks up that mucus, then you have to cough less. Therefore, water serves a similar purpose as coughing, or at least just assists the coughing. The water breaking up the mucus may help it to be removed from your throat when you cough, but, I often swallow after coughing and I feel like the mucus goes right back into my throat. So I believe the water serves the purpose of lubricating your throat so that the cough is not completely dry.

On a good note, I am starting to feel better- I started this blog 2 days ago. Using a mixture of fluids, sleep, cough drops, DayQuil, NightQuil, Ibuprofen, salt water, and nasal spray, the sickness seems to be almost over. While I do not know if this was the best combination of things, it did the job.

Feel free to comment how you have dealt with your sickness below.




Multitasking: You’re Wrong

The other day in my criminology class, somebody answered a question saying it is impossible to multitask and that your brain actually switches back and forth between tasks really fast. That got me thinking, so I decided to look it up and he seems to be correct. Today you see pretty much everyone that is walking is on their phone. Whether it is at school, going to class, or just walking on the street, multitasking has increased greatly because of the new technology we have. It now annoys me when my roommate puts the tv on while I am doing homework.

People think that they are such great multitaskers that they can do it in any situation that they want. For example, for some reason drivers think they can use their phone while on the road. According to the website http://www.textinganddrivingsafety.com/texting-and-driving-stats, the minimum amount of time of attention while you look at your phone while driving is 5 seconds. Even though it doesn’t sound like a lot of time, it is equal to driving the length of a football field if you are driving about 55 mph. The point here is that your brain can’t do two things at the same time and there are certain situations where trying to multitask will give you negative results.


Multitasking is impossible because if you are trying to focus on two tasks at the same time, your brain will just rapidly switch between each task. What really is happening, is your attention from your first task is now being switched over to your second task and the same thing when you go back to task number 1. Your brain will have activity in an area for one task and it takes time to switch over to another part of your brain for a second task, therefore you can’t do it at the same time. People believe that multitasking will help them, when in fact you are probably going to see lower results in your performance and quality. In an article written by Travis Bradberry, he writes about a recent study by Stanford University researchers found that those claimed to be the best multitaskers actually came out to be the worst in the experiment. This is because throughout the experiment, they had trouble managing their task, making them to take more time and complete it slower than the others. distracteddriver

I now understand why my dad would always tell me to turn off the tv while I was doing homework during high school. My brain can’t focus on a few minutes of studying, then after a little bit, look up and see what is happening on tv. Even having my phone near me or if I am listening to music while working I know I will get distracted and take a longer time do finish my work.  Hopefully now I’ll tell my roommate to turn the tv off in our room while we work.


– https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjHk_vV1Y3PAhXELyYKHRKdCa0QjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.investmentconversations.com%2F%3Fp%3D2007&psig=AFQjCNEMnNQBGwH_ZaE-dabuYaSvYJSSFQ&ust=1473901653673031

– http://ehstoday.com/safety/multitasking-employees-emerge-growing-distracted-driving-demographic

Does exercise really help to lessen Parkinson’s symptoms?

The reason I’m so interested in Parkinson’s Disease is because my mom was diagnosed with it in 2009, when I was just a little pre-teen who really loved One Direction. Throughout the years, I have done my own research and found out more and more about PD and what it entails, but I’ve never really looked into why my mom’s doctor always talks about exercising. Parkinson’s Disease (PD) effects somewhere around one million people here in America and is obviously a very large factor in my life, and yet, some people reading this might still have absolutely no clue what it is. I’ll explain it really quickly for you. Basically, Parkinson’s is when your body kills off the nerve cells in your brain for an unknown reason. One of the most noticeable symptoms of PD is a tremor, or shaking, which is because some of those nerve cells that are killed are this chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is what controls a lot of your movement (maybe all of it, I’m taking all of this from what I’ve learned from my mom so do some of your own research too), so when it’s killed, you could develop a tremor. Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali both have or had Parkinson’s.\

Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)

Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)

In my research online, I discovered that exercise is supposedly supposed to be able to slow down the progression of Parkinson’s as well as help to control some of the symptoms of the disease. The biggest clinical study of PD patients that has ever been done, which included thousands of people with PD in many different countries, found that exercise can help with symptoms such as balance and tremors and that both the level of intensity of the exercise and the length of the exercise (if you do it every day or just once a week) are factors. Researchers from the University of South Carolina also found, in a study on mice, that exercise helped the dopamine in their brains to stay where they needed it for longer due to an increase in the transporter that dopamine uses, and the cells that receive the dopamine had more area for the them to connect to. However, since we cannot look at the exact amount of dopamine in the brain until someone dies, we can’t be sure that this could be beneficial to Parkinson’s patients. If someone has had PD for many years and likely has very few dopamine cells left, no matter how much better they’re being used, it may not be able to do much good.


After looking at this research, it seems that it’s very likely that exercise could be a great way for people in the earlier stages of Parkinson’s Disease to slow down the progression and lessen the symptoms. However, as Andrew always tells us, there’s always a possibility that it could all be due to chance. It’s pretty clear that it wouldn’t be reverse causation and, if this study was done well, there is pretty small chance that it would be caused by a third variable, since the study included so many different kinds of people from different places and living different lifestyles. It’s probably worth it for Parkinson’s patients to at least do a little bit of exercise regularly because it likely would not hurt them as long as they are careful and do not to any activities that they find too strenuous.


Here is where I found the picture of Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali.

Here is where I found that cool mouse getting in his daily run.

Caffeine, good or bad?

I remember the first day I tried a cup of coffee, I made a face of disgust.  I never thought I could drink it at all within my life, but my mom kept telling me to wait- I would be addicted to her one day.  Consequently, she was 100% right.  If I had to endure a day without a cup of coffee, it will most likely be a huge struggle.  When I was in the 6th grade, I recall learning from my drug abuse program that a drug was defined as anything that you could form a dependence on, and caffeine fell under that category.  I finally developed a taste for coffee, and I now crave it at all times. I know I am not alone, and millions of other people around the world share the same addiction.


The effects of coffee definitely have had mostly positive effects on me (from what I know).  It wakes me up in the morning, gives me a wave of energy, and boots my morale. However sometimes it may give me a little “too much” energy.  If coffee is iced, I tend to chug it down fast, and my body shakes.  Sometimes I even get a headache.  Also, If I drink coffee a few hours before I am trying to go to bed, falling asleep can be a challenge.

So should I keep drinking it?

According to a study at Syracuse University, researchers performed an experimental study on a group of people manipulating the amount of caffeine ingested.  Some were given a caffeine drink, while others were given a placebo one.  The people that had the caffeine performed better at the given task, but the group that was given the fake caffeine still reported that they felt the effects. Caffeine definitely has similar effects as other drugs and alcohol on people’s bodies and brains.

According to a researcher at John Hopkins, caffeine can make someone anxious, increase blood sugar levels, and negatively affect the stomach.  This definitely does not sound enjoyable. However, scientists have done studies that provide evidence that coffee can decrease one’s risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

There is no definite answer whether coffee is “good” or “bad” for your health.  There are studies that try to support both sides, but it is really up to each individual person to decide if the pros override the cons, or vice versa. Personally, I will take the risks because I enjoy drinking coffee every day, and the caffiene makes me feel energized.  Everyone’s body and mind are very different, therefore their reactions will be too.





Is Vaping Safer than Smoking Cigarettes?

We should all know about the relatively new trend vaping that has been claimed as the best method for the quitting of cigarettes. We even briefly discussed this topic in class after completing a pop quiz I believe. Even if you didn’t attend class that day I’m sure that you’ve at least seen a few people vaping while walking around campus. Now personally I must say that I would rather smell the different flavors of the vape rather than inhale the nasty scent of cigarettes. What would you prefer? I have friends that smoke and I would urge them to vape rather than whip out a pack of cigarettes. Since I don’t smoke or vape I wouldn’t know from experience however it appears that vaping would be a “healthier” option. What brings me to that assumption are the friends/users who say to me “It’s better than inhaling actual smoke.” Now from the outside looking in that sounds logical but I had to do some research for myself. On the surface vaping appears to be more “friendly” product but it is really?

Image result for smoking vaping

What are some of the key differences between smoking cigarettes and vaping? Well for one the most obvious difference is the inhalation of smoke versus the inhalation of vapor. Cigarette smoke contains tar and carbon monoxide, two very harmful chemicals that are not present in the vapor from the e-cigarette. Users are given the option to choose from liquids with or without nicotine, therefore it is possible to vape without consuming that chemical as well. Even if one were to choose a liquid that contains nicotine, the levels of the chemical are substantially lower than that in a cigarette. Although some liquids may be nicotine-free, according to quitsmokingcommunity.org there are still many chemicals that are present could ultimately be harmful. What are some of the risks when being a regular cigarette smoker? The addiction to nicotine is the most common, considering the number of cigarette smokers that live today. Though every cigarette smoker isn’t dropping dead from cancer (of any form) or high blood pressure, these are extremely serious and very much possible side effects. What some of the side effects of vaping? According to this link there are no known long term effects and any that are possible to occur are thought of as unlikely to happen. Also, no evidence has been shown supporting that claim that secondhand smoke from vaping is harmful.


In conclusion, it is evident that vaping would be a healthier and overall better substitute for the smoking of cigarettes. The inhalation of a vapor as opposed to smoke should be strong enough reason to not continue such a habit. We must still keep in mind though that there are chemicals present in the vapor that may not be the healthiest for us in the long term. In addition, vaping is a smarter financial investment if you choose to continue the habit. Buying multiple packs of cigarettes can get costly depending on frequency of use. Buying a vape and the flavored juices would ultimately be cheaper in the long run. I like how one of my sources (here) put it by using the phrase “lesser of two evils”. Though vaping is a less harmful habit, we cannot neglect the possibility of this new trend coming back to haunt us. For current cigarette smokers, I would certainly recommend switching to vaping. For non-smokers as a whole, you may want stay away from vaping (especially w/ nicotine) as a whole.

Sources: HERE





Millennials+Generation Z= Social Media Addiction?

As a part of the millennial generation, I’ve been immersed in a world that has been dominated by wireless communication. For the past eighteen years, I’ve grown accustomed to being surrounded by social media and thus know nothing different. Social media platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are most likely to be found on anyone’s phone that’s under the age of twenty-five. This especially holds true on our campus. It is impossible to walk around without seeing someone glued to their phone within a few feet radius. I have to admit I am also one of those people too. I can easily spend at least two hours a day on social media and at times for even a longer duration. What exactly draws us to social media though? As our world technologically progresses, so does our desire to keep up. We are also surrounded by an atmosphere where social pressure is rampant. If someone didn’t have any form of social media, my immediate reaction would be that they need to get with the times. It is this exact way of thinking that society has influenced us with. I think that social media can be useful, informative, and fun a lot of the time. I use social media to send funny photos, keep tabs on my friends, stay connected with the news, and spew out my thoughts to the world. By utilizing social media, I have also found it as a great way to avoid potentially awkward situations by perusing through Facebook or another application. What a lot of people have a tendency of overlooking though is that it can also come with severe drawbacks. Social media has become a major addiction for a lot of people. So much so that this addiction can be comparable with the likes of being hooked on crack cocaine. We often forget that our need for connection has made us overly dependent on social media. If social media has this effect, then it has the power to control us. It is truly remarkable in the sense that it can consume our youth. This is because it’s easy to become lost in the allure social media creates. Sometimes, we can even go as far to experience withdrawal symptoms when we’re deprived of social media. According to a study conducted by Cornell University, those who had a perceived addiction to Facebook after going cold turkey were more likely to revert back to their old habits. Social media had become so engrained in these people’s lives to the extent that they would automatically search for social media without even thinking about it. In addition, according to a 2010 study conducted by the Kaiser Foundation young U.S. citizens spend more than 7 ½ hours per day using media. If the youth of today spend this much time using media, then we should reevaluate our focuses and become a more active part of society. As hard as it is to resist social media, the reason behind it may be more simple than we think. In accordance to a study done by UCLA, people desire having mental breaks throughout the day and look towards social interaction in order to do so. Next time you are looking for a nice mental break, lay off the phone and check out something else instead.



(Photos: http://socialmediaisaddictive14.weebly.com/why-is-social-media-addictive.html)

Nature Vs Nurture

The topic of nature vs nurture is as basic as it gets when it comes to studying human development. I specifically remember studying this topic in 8th grade science, it seems almost elementary. My thinking was always that a person is the way they are because of their own personal genetics, right? Why would the fact that I live in a different area than someone else change who I was. I never really gave the topic much thought after that. I was in an environment that i fit in very well with. My community was full of kids that all shared the same interests, passions, and humor as I did. My friends were all very similar to me, we all shared similar taste in music, TV, and sports.
This topic never crossed my mind again until college started. I have two roommates, both of which I have known for a while through mutual friends. My roommates live no more than ten minutes away from my house, and all three of us went to different high schools. We are all very similar, we all played lacrosse, we all love watching sports, we all like rap music, and we all like to socialize. However, the more we got to know each other the more i realized there were differences between us. They prefer more mainstream music while i prefer a “harder” genre of rap. Both of my roommates grew up playing action packed video games while I mainly stuck to football, basketball and baseball games. Even the food that they eat and the clothes they wear differ sightly than what I’m used to. There is a long line of slight differences in our interests, although they aren’t major, they still exist. I began to get curious as to why my group of friends had different preferences than two other very similar groups of kids that lived a township over. The reasoning lies in the argument of nature vs nurture.


A chart from Simply Psychology showing the spectrum of nature vs nurture

According to Explorable.com, Nature vs nurture is a very old debate. Those who side with nature believe that a person’s identity is predetermined in their DNA. They argue that a persons genetic identity doesn’t only determine their height and color, but their interests and personality as well. The nurture siders believe that a persons personality is determined by the environment they grow up in. They argue that life experiences and interactions are what ultimately determine who a person is.

The thought that I am who I am because of where I am from was kind of odd to think about. I knew that this mainly applied to groups of people from different states or countries, but could it apply to groups of kids living only five minutes away? The answer is almost certainly yes. While we were all male athletes living in suburban neighborhoods, our upbringings were different. I had a brother who exposed me to the harder genres of rap, football video games and different styles of clothing. At the same time my family showed me specific types of food, certain etiquettes, etc. In turn, since I was very young I had preferences slightly different than other kids my age. As I began to grow up, these interests passed on to my group of friends and were developed more completely as we became older. They weren’t just interests, they made us who we were. They gave us an identity unique to our environment. In contrast, both of my roommates had friend groups that shared a common interest in a different genre of music, or a different type of video game, or a different style of clothing. These examples are not very significant, but they perfectly illustrate the impact that an environment can have on a person. Now i realize that when my roommates don’t like a song that my friends and I enjoy, it’s not that my music taste is bad. Instead, it’s a matter of our preferences preprogrammed as a result of our upbringings.


Picture source








Teen Smoking

Since I first arrived at State College one thing that surprised me was how many students smoke or use smokeless tobacco products. I’m from a small suburban town so rarely did I ever see individuals casually smoking in large public crowds, especially not teenagers. I have become so used to seeing people smoke cigarettes at State College that I’m starting to become numb to it, almost forgetting that it is an extremely dangerous habit. My whole life I have heard over and over not to smoke, and I’m sure everyone who does can say the same thing. We all know that it is dangerous, but just how dangerous is it for a growing teenager? Also, what other social, financial or psychological effects come along with it?
According to Smoke Free Teen,  teenagers are much more susceptible to nicotine addiction than older individuals. Since the brain is still developing, only small amounts of nicotine are required to produce an addiction. The harsh chemicals contained in cigarettes alter the growth of a teens prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain responsible for critical thinking and decision making. Along with the brain, many other parts of an adolescences’ body are still developing that become affected by cigarette smoking. Nerve damage is extremely common in young smokers which could cause loss of vision or hearing later on in life. Smoking can also lead to increased heart stress, blood clots, inflammation of the lungs, belly fat, erectile disfunction, weakened immune system, and disrupted bone growth. All of these dangers only increase in younger smokers. By picking up this habit at such an early age, the younger generation is setting themselves up for medical complications as they grow older.

It’s no secret that smoking is bad for your health. This is something we have learned our whole lives. However, i started wondering about the financial impact that smoking has on a Penn State student. From walking around town and observing the advertisements for tobacco brands I concluded that the average cost of a pack of cigarettes is around $6. I also think it’s fair to assume that someone who has been smoking for a while probably goes through roughly one pack every two days, or around 10-12 cigarettes a day. Given the average cost per pack and the average purchase rate for a smoker, it is fair to assume that they could end up spending around $1,100 a year on cigarettes. That is an absurd number, one that will only increase the more a person smokes. For someone on a college budget, $1,000 can make a huge difference in their quality of living. That amount of money could pay for someones books, feed them for a few months, or allow them to buy items necessary for a decent lifestyle.

No matter how you look at it smoking is awful for you. The health impacts are devastating. Smoking is constantly one of the main causes of death in the United States. For a college student, smoking at such a young age can have costly impacts on the development of your mind and body. The financial impacts are just as bad, the habit is not only costly for your health but also for your budget. It is shocking that so many students continue to smoke despite the extreme risks. One thing is for sure, the more educated we are as a generation the less lives smoking will claim.


Picture sources



Is the 5 Second Rule True?

The ‘Five Second Rule’ is a rule that many people grew up following. It is the idea that if one drops food on the ground it is still safe to eat if it is picked up within five seconds of dropping it because there would not have been enough time for bacteria to transfer on to the food. Researchers at Rutgers have investigated the validity of this rule.

Should you follow the 5 second rule?

Should you follow the 5 second rule?

The researchers investigated the Five Second Rule by using four types of food (watermelon, bread, bread and butter, and gummy candy) dropped on four different surfaces (stainless steel, tile, wood, and carpet). According to the study, they used the bacteria Enterobacter aerogenes.It does not cause disease but is closely related to Salmonella. The study also varied the amount of time that the food was dropped on the surface. The varied times were one second, five seconds, 30 seconds, and 300 seconds.

Donald Schaffner, the conductor of the experiment, cites moisture as one of the factors that most affected the transfer of bacteria from the different surfaces on to the different foods. This is seen in watermelon, which had the highest amount of bacteria transfer, and gummy candy, which had the lowest amount of bacteria transfer. Why is this? Bacteria move with the help of flagella or pilli. Flagella is a long tail structure that moves around to propel the bacteria and pilli cover the bacteria and pull the bacteria forward. The presence of moisture aids the movement of bacteria. Another factor was the length of contact, the longer the food was left on the surface the more contaminated it was with bacteria. The surface that the food ‘fell’ on in the experiment was another factor that affected amount of bacteria. According to Schaffner, carpet had a lower amount of bacteria transferred then tile and stainless steel, and wood varied.


Flagella, one method that bacteria uses in order to move.

The results of this study are based off of 20 trials of 128 scenarios. In class, we learned that not all data is equal. Data has a stronger inference when it is a properly designed experiment and has an even stronger inference when it is a good experiment with good field observation or evidence of mechanism. This experiment has strong inference because there are multiple trials. Since there are multiple trials, if they all yield similar results this proves the validity of the outcomes. This experiment had 20 trials making the results of the experiment valid as it was a fairly designed experiment. The repeat of trials helps reduce random chance, although it is always still a factor.

I know that I drop food all of the time and then debate whether it is safe to eat or not. This article proves that depending on the food or surface your food may be safe to eat if it is picked up in a short amount of time. However, if your food has moisture and has fallen on carpet or stainless steel- it is safer to not eat the food. If it is a gummy candy falling on a carpet- it is pretty safe to eat. However, this experiment makes me think about the number of bacteria that can be on your food when you drop it. Five second rule or not- its always better to be safe than sorry with food poisoning.

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For more information on how bacteria move click here.

Vacation: Fun and Good for Your Health!

Who doesn’t love vacation? There’s something about going somewhere away from home that  has such an appeal to it. By going on vacation or just taking a small trip, we get to escape the monotonous routine of our everyday lives. We get to go have an adventure, have some relaxation, have a change, and just take some time for ourselves. In addition to these benefits, vacation is actually good for one’s health.

1419787_origOne of the major benefits of vacation is it relieves stress and anxiety. If you are a complete adventurist and your vacations consist of intense and risky activities, then maybe anxiety won’t be relieved. However, if you’re like me and appreciate a nice and relaxing vacation, it will help reduce your levels of stress you’ve been facing throughout your week. Taking vacations can also be good for your heart and decrease your likelihood of getting heart disease. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood institute lead a study that showed how men who took vacation time from work were 32 less likely to develop a heart condition or disease. During time off of work, people are more likely to catch up on sleep which improves health greatly and will alleviate stress. When employees take more vacation time, they are also more productive. It was shown that employees who take at least 10 hours of vacation improved their ratings at the end of the year by at least 8 percent (Daskal). People are also happier and more content at their job after taking some vacation, so they are less likely to leave their firm.


Relationships can also be affected by going on vacations.  By going on vacation with your significant other, you are able to focus on each other without the daily distractions of work, and other obligations at home. Maybe this could contribute to why couples go on honeymoons after they get married. It’s a time when they can spend time and be intimate with each other early in their marriage before they have to continue with their daily routines. I think that when we are on vacation, we are the happiest versions of ourselves and who wouldn’t want that? Going away with family also can improve your relationship with them and can allow you to have a meaningful time with them. Think about your most memorable trips to the beach with extended family you haven’t seen all year, or that time you went to Disney World with your parents and siblings and had the time of your life. Parents take joy in being able to give their children an amazing, once in a life time experience while they too are having a great time. Even if “going on vacation” is just taking time off at work as an adult, it can still be just as beneficial. Personally, when my mom gets to take her week vacation over the summer she is so happy and cheerful because she gets to cook for her family, spend time with us more, and have her work stress go away. Whether it’s going to the beach for a week, traveling across the country for the first time, or just taking some days off work to relax at home, vacation is something everyone needs in their life. Coming back isn’t always the easiest, but it’s important to look out for ourselves and our personal health.