Daily Archives: September 14, 2016

Pre-Workout—Helpful or Harmful?

Over the past two years or so, I’ve been hearing a lot about this thing called “pre-workout.” My guy friends from back at home are always asking each other “What pre-workout do you use?” or “How much pre-workout do you take?”. When I asked what exactly pre-workout was, they would always just say it helps you during a workout session, but I wanted to know how.

According to Livestrong.com, a partner of the Livestrong Foundation, pre-workout is a drink laced with anywhere from 100 to 300 mg of caffeine that is supposed to give you a boost of energy and increase your blood flow in order to have a more productive workout. They also state that the amount of caffeine in pre-workout is sometimes triple the amount in a single cup of coffee. Other ingredients that they have listed are arginine and dimethylamylamine, which speeds up a person’s heart rate. These ingredients may be helpful for a workout, but do they really seem like they’re healthy for your body overall?


Picture: http://www.gnc.com/graphics/product_images/pGNC1-20170892dt.jpg 

Swimswam.com says that the pros of pre-workout are that it increases focus, energy, and strength, which then increases fat burning and weight loss. They also say, though, that the cons consist of high blood pressure, adrenal fatigue, heart racing, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. Aside from the bodily side effects it has, they also add that it sometimes causes people to fail drug tests, which could put their work life in jeopardy.


Picture: https://legionsupplements-legionathletics.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/top-pre-workout-supplements.jpg

As you can see, there are positives and negatives to the use of pre-workout, but does one outweigh the other? It may enable you to get a better, more productive workout in, but is it worth having all those unnatural and unhealthy side effects? Is a cut and chiseled figure worth potentially harming your body on the inside? That’s up to each individual to decide on their own, but I can definitely say that there are healthier and more natural ways to get in shape such as eating clean, drinking water, and maintaining a HEALTHY workout plan!




E-Cigarettes; Tomorrow’s yesterday or Yesterday’s tomorrow?


What are you talking about? is probably what you are thinking right now but clearly the most controversial topic I would argue today is whether or not E-Cigarettes are actually more beneficial than tobacco cigarettes. While most studies take years to complete and we need more time to fully understand what the true effects. But the short term studies are quite invigorating and very shocking. First off let me concede that both articles concede that if using an E-Cigarette to quit smoking tobacco then it is indeed very effective however both articles reveal that E-Cigarettes actually are on the same page as Cigarettes with regards to heart diseases and the deteriorating of your Lungs. From Science News we see that E-Cigarettes might not have the same problem as traditional cigarettes such as Lung Cancer or increased plague in your heart valves and arteries but rather that the E-Cigarettes could affect anywhere from 53-164 genes in our bodies and those genes specifically tend to deal with the strength of our immune system and our lungs capability to filter out the bad things we generally inhale on a daily basis. So from this we can deduce many things, coming from both studies, that although we might not face the same issues that involve traditional cigarettes we open up to many new issues we have never conceived with cigarettes such as that with our weakened immune systems we open up to many colds, pneumonia, and the Flu. So while E-Cigarettes may be useful for getting people to quit cigarettes long-term use, that we can tell for now as Andrew has said many times nothing is proven, we learn that there is definitely a give and take relationship between E-Cigarettes and Cigarettes.

Let me know what y’all think!

We love to Procrastinate

Procrastinating will never be your best option, yet is often the way everyone tends to go.  We all like to make excuses for ourselves saying ” oh it’s fine, I’ll just take a nap today and do it tomorrow” or ” A week is so far away! I’ll start in a couple of days” and eventually you always end up restless and with a cup of coffee in your hand at 3 am. trying to finish a maxresdefaulthomework/project.

Some people may procrastinate because they can, they are simply those types of people who don’t need to put too much time into work. Others may do it because they lack time management, and although they know that, they just keep putting off. And other may just think they can accomplish the impossible in the last couple of minutes.

However, according to Amy spencer, it is only because there is a battlefield going on in your brain, since the limbic system and your frontal cortex are basically polar opposites. Basically, if your limbic system  gets the best of you, being that it is a powerful part of your brain, then you’ll most likely end up doing something you like rather than finishing your english paper. This part of the brain is also automatic; therefore you act before you think. Meanwhile the frontal cortex is not automatic, and while it does its job, you actually have to think about it.

Moreover, according to Hara Estroff Marano, procrastinating isn’t healthy. Procrastinating actually weakens your immune system making you more prone to getting sick. So don’t procrastinate guys, so you don’t get others sick too!635970210566267158-1954724013_635960866973182424545359638_5482e60fb338e_-_mcx-penny-big-bang-theory-article-de








Diet vs. Non-Diet Soda? Or any Soda?

Have you ever wondered if drinking diet soda is actually better for you than drinking regular soda? I can’t even remember how many times I have heard mixed opinions and views on this topic.  Sometimes I will hear, “Drink regular soda, diet soda makes your bones weak.”  Is this actually true?  We as humans have the tendency to just believe what we hear just because something sounds convincing.  I think I finally have the answer to my long-awaiting question; is it better to drink diet soda or non-diet soda and what’s the difference?



So I go to sit down at a restaurant and I ask for a Sprite while my father asks for a diet coke.  Is it better for adults to drink diet soda?  It has been observed that there is a correlation between the exposure to artificial sweeteners and weight gain. My father has been drinking diet soda his whole life and this long-term consumption of artificial sweeteners can be somewhat harmless.  According to the research at Swither’s lab the body processes artificial sugar differently, thus, developing a different reaction to the body’s metabolism.  However, as Andrew discusses in class, just because some research may show a correlation, this does not at all imply causation.  There could be third party candidates, or confounding variables affecting the body’s metabolism such as exercise.

swetener1There are also other factors that may be the reason why some people infer that diet soda is worse for you.  Some believe that artificial sweeteners leave plaque on their teeth, causing cavities and an ugly looking appearance to a nice smile.  Personally, if I’m having a conversation with a good-looking woman and she makes me laugh or smile, I do not want her to turn the other way or be grossed out by the appearance of my teeth.  My parents spent good money on my beautiful smile!  All jokes aside diet soda contains acid that may mold the gums and leave the mouth exposed to cavities.


The reason people drink diet soda is because they are turned on by the fact that there are zero calories.  The word “diet” is a very deceiving word.  People diet to lose weight and stay healthy.  Sure, diet soda has no calories, however it can still be somewhat perilous to one’s health.  Dietatian Marissa Puleo believes that the artificial sweeteners in diet soda causes demand for food due to an increased need for glucose.  Therefore, consuming a diet beverage may lead to a want/need for junky food, ultimately leading to weight gain.  Now, let’s look at an even more concerning statistic of the consumption of diet soda.  The University of Miami conducted a study in which participants documented how frequently they consumed a diet beverage.  After following the participants for nine years, it was concluded that these people were 48% more likely to have a heart attack.  This is an extremely concerning statistic (Dana Dovey).

Personally, I love going to the gym and getting a nice pump.  When I drink soda of any kind, diet or regular, it appears to me that my workouts are not as rewarding.  I will wake up the next morning looking smaller and feeling weaker.  Some of you may think this sounds crazy and might be thinking I am overly paranoid, but I affirm this to be true.  For those of you out there that are gym fanatics like me, my recommendation is for you to stay away from any kind of soda as a whole.

The next time I go to a restaurant and my Dad orders his diet soda, I will stay away from soda in general.  The risks seem too high and I am trying to live a long life.  Will it KILL you if you have a can of soda in moderation?  Absolutely not, and I do not think that the consumption of any soda alone has solely lead to death, however, some statistics show that serious health problems may occur with an excess consumption.  So here’s my advice; just stay away from it.

Burned officer

I currently work for the Penn State Police as an Auxiliary Officer. I had the chance to work for the season opening game for Penn State football against Kent State university. Whenever there is an even on campus we are present at these events. For the most part for football weekends we are out in different locations of campus or you can be directing traffic but one thing for sure is that you will be out in a sun for long periods of time. I wasn’t aware of how long we would be out in the sun and being that my skin color is dark and I wanted to test my luck and didn’t believe I would need any sun screen for the day or wear any protective gear. For the beginning of the shift I was fine because early in the morning the sun isn’t very potent so I wasn’t worried. As the hours went by and the sun’s rays started getting stronger and I still didn’t apply any sun screen or use and shades. At the end of my shift I was burned I was darker than when I started the shift.

According to this awesome article from 10 in the morning through 4 in the afternoon that is the time when the sun’s rays are strongest and can do a lot of harm if you aren’t well protected. It is important to wear protective wear if your going to be out in the sun for a long period of time. The articles says that a persons skin can start to burn after 20 minutes of being out in the sun without any protection. Something that really caught my attention towards the end of the article is that everyone should use sun screen; even if you are of a dark skin complexion. It is essential that we use sun screen that has preferably SPF 15 because it will keep our skin protected and avoid any skin diseases.

Although being out in the sun can have its negative effects it also has benefits. It is important that we are out and be in the sun for a little because the sun provides vitamin D.  According to healthyeating.sfgate.com it says that for us youngsters being out in the sun a couple of times a week we absorb the Vitamin D that our skin needs.

What I got out all of this is that It that we aren’t super human. It is truly important that we protect our skin. We must use sun screen if we will be outside and exposing our skin to sun for a long period of time. There isn’t one type of skin color that isn’t prone to getting sun burn. So we must stay protected from the sun at all times.






6 or 8 hours’ sleep?

6 or 8 hours’ sleep is always a controversial topic these years. According to a report on Daily Mail, Sarah Chalmers, who is 46 years old attended a sleeping experiment. The following photos show the contrast of her face when she sleeps for 6 and 8 hours.


It’s not hard to see that when Sarah sleeps for 8 hours, she is in fine fettle. While the right side picture, which shows her face after 6 hours’ sleep looks like she is listless and obviously needs more sleep. This photo encourages people have 8 hours’ of sleep for health. We hear an old saying all the time that people spend about 1/3 of their life for sleeping. Based on this saying, it may seem better that if we have 8 hours for sleep (24/3=8). More people suggest 8 hours’ sleep because less sleep may cause cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, further threatens people’s health.


But is that true? 8 is better than 6?


A report called ‘Forget eight hours of sleep a night-we only actually need SIX, scientists declare’ is also posted on Daily mail. This report, rather than the previous one, suggests that people should have 6 or 7 hours’ sleep instead of 8 based on the study on hunter-gatherers. These hunter-gatherers in tribes sleep for 6 or 7 hours but they’re in better health condition than normal people. But draw a crude and rush conclusion just based on merely one study? I really hold my doubt. Because there may be third effect (confounding variables) affects the experiment result like hunter-gatherers innately have better health than normal people as they exercise a lot or the high-nutrition food they eat.


We still can’t tell 6 or 8 hours for sleep, which one is better. However, choosing a healthy lifestyle such as not stay up too late or combine exertion and rest is quite essential for college students. Remember that health is wealth.

Picture Resource: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjQnprDrJDPAhWM7yYKHSZIBlgQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fnextshark.com%2Fsleep-study-shows-the-visibly-dramatic-difference-between-six-and-eight-hours-of-sleep%2Fsarah-chalmers-lard-as-moisturiser-john-godwin%2F&psig=AFQjCNEdzmCZtBsHlnGp1yAjwCJx5sy1kw&ust=1473993682662741

Resource: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3274428/Forget-eight-hours-sleep-night-actually-need-SIX-scientists-declare.html


Is Big Brother Hiding Cancer Cures?

When I was 5 years old, my baby cousin Kyle was diagnosed with Leukemia, a cancer in which cancerous blood cells overtake the bone marrow. Here a picture to give you a visual of Leukemia…


Photo: http://www.beveite.com/?p=198

I won’t get too much into the details of Leukemia because that’s beside the point I’m looking to make right now. When my cousin was diagnosed, it was a stressful and sad time for our family as we had never experienced something like this before. We all became very educated on the topic and looked immediately to support groups and organizations. Two years later he was cancer free, and he his now 15 years old and healthier than ever.

However, three years ago, my uncle was also diagnosed with Leukemia. He battled for two years, and last June, he passed away. It was the first family death I had experienced in my lifetime. Now it seems like our family is plagued by this cancer, and you could imagine that I’m extremely passionate about finding cures for all types of cancer. Ever since my cousin Kyle was diagnosed with cancer as a baby, my entire family has been involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society which raises money for cancer research. When recently I came across a conspiracy article claiming that the government and drug companies might be preventing cancer treatments, I was filled with anger.  The reason for this, Camille Bautista states in the article, would be to protect the success of drug companies that significantly affect our economy. While this conspiracy did catch my eye and anger me, I knew it couldn’t be true.

Within seconds after reading the ridiculous conspiracy article, I found a Credible Hulk article that offered a very sensible disproval. Credible Hulk’s first note that caught my eye was that medical researchers, as well as government officials, can easily develop cancers as well. These people are just like us, susceptible to all diseases we are. How could they knowingly prevent cancer cures if them or a loved one had cancer? While this alone was enough for me to forget about the conspiracy, I kept reading. Another point The Credible Hulk made was that most researchers would be far more interested in the fame of finding a cure than the money protected by hiding it. Not to mention, the fame of finding a cure would come along with quite a lot of money; enough money that even a CEO would jump on the opportunity to expose the cures. Many scientists usually become scientists to find that one breakthrough idea that makes them famous. As I kept reading the article, I found one perfect point that sealed the deal for me. They mentioned that there is no possible way that this “hidden cure” could take place all across the world. Their explanation for this is because many countries, 32 to be exact, have universal healthcare paid for by the government. This would mean that drug companies would have no benefit of treating patients and hiding cures. In fact, these governments would push harder for cancer cures as it would open up space in the budget by reducing healthcare costs.

The final debunking factor that was mentioned in this article explained that hiding the cure would , without a doubt, be the more expensive root for companies. When it comes to money, companies looking for profit will ALWAYS take the cheapest route. In order for companies or the governments to keep scientists quiet, they would have to pay off every single one of them. Naturally, scientists would demand more and more money to keep secrets, and eventually it would become unimaginably expensive to keep these secrets.

This one article alone took that mind boggling conspiracy and nearly completely disproved it in the first few points. While technically this conspiracy can’t be 100% disproved, this article provided some serious evidence against the idea. While this conspiracy may be a load of garbage, always remember, big brother is watching….


Photo: http://reno-rambler.blogspot.com/2014/02/big-brother-is-watching-you-ride.html




You must have read this title and thought “Wow, that’s absurd”, but hear me out on this one. One night my two friends and I were outside and we were looking around at the stars and all the plants around us and suddenly my one friend Rachel piped up and proposed the question of if plants can feel pain.  My other friend immediately started laughing and joking, but I thought maybe that is not as crazy of a question as it sounds.  After all, plants are living beings.

scared-treeimage from here

Okay, so maybe plants do not necessarily feel pain the way that humans do, but scientist Kevin Pollan suggests they are more intelligent than the human species has ever considered.  According to Pollan, although plants do not feel pain the way a human would if you were to pinch them or something, they do react to threats and anesthetics. In the article, Pollan even goes as far as revealing that plants actually posses senses such as touch, taste, hearing, and even some sense that we as humans do not posses.  Which is absolutely insane to think about considering how lowly we as a society view plants on the intelligence scale.

Most people’s first thought would be how is that even possible plants do not have a brain or anything in which they can process thoughts or emotions?  Some of the earliest and one of the few success stories when it comes to experiments regarding plants emotions were performed by a man named Cleve Backster. According to Pollan, after accidentally realizing the plant Cleve had in his office reacted to stimuli of threat, he and his fellow scientists decided to run some experiments on a variety of different plants to see if he was indeed onto something huge in the botany field.  They used a polygraph machine which is the machine with all the lines that are used on lie detector tests to detect stress and or lying.  Therefore, they would be able to tell if the plants became stressed or disturbed when presented with certain scenarios. The results came back to basically say that the plant did not necessarily feel pain but it did secrete a certain substance that indicated it was stressed by threatening scenarios such as having a caterpillar on its leaves or having a shrimp cooked in front of it.  It was a brilliant idea really, but also I think it could be borderline inaccurate because often times polygraphs are inaccurate when it comes to lie detector tests.  With that being said, I think it that there is evidence that plants may have more emotions or thoughts than we have ever thought, but I also do not think this experiment itself PROVES beyond a shadow of doubt that plants feel pain.  The results may very well be due to chance considering the unreliability of polygraphs or some third variable such as what type of plant it is or that the plant is just simply reacting to having something stuck to its leaves and automatically retreats or sends distress signals to remove it like it is a parasite or something. It even could be that the presence of humans in such a close proximity to the plant could be what is causing it to be stressed, not the actions they are proposing in front of it.  The plants themselves may view humans as predators of some sort and automatically release stress and or defensive hormones to help ward off danger.  The best way to provide the truth behind this hypothesis would be to run more experiments obviously but maybe try the experiment on a wider variety of plants like trees or bushes for example because if all types of plants or at least a majority of a large sample or the plants show the same signs than that would provide more accurate evidence.  I would also try to find a way to remove humans from the situation completely as their presence may be a confounding third variable causing misleading evidence.  Either way one thing is clear, plants are definitely more intelligent than we ever realized.  Even if it is not pain they are feeling, they are feeling some kind of emotion in order to be able to secrete defensive/stress hormones in order to keep themselves out of harms way.

Who knows, maybe people who sing and talk to their plants aren’t so strange after all.

cartoon_flower_st7image found here

Target Knew Before Her Father Did

Imagine this, you are a father of a high school-aged daughter.  One day when checking through the mail you find a Target promotional flyer, addressed to your daughter congratulating her on her first child.  However, she has not mentioned anything about a pregnancy to you.  This is exactly how a man was feeling as he barged into a local Target in the Minneapolis area demanding an explanation.  He was appalled that they would be sending such coupons to his household as almost to encourage his daughter to get pregnant while still in high school.  After the initial shock and anger had diminished he contacted his daughter and it turns out there are somethings that she had in fact been hiding from him.  So how is it that Target knew his daughter was pregnant before he did?


In this article posted by the New York Times, they explain that Target is a very fond user of big data.   Employer Andrew Pool was brought into Target for the purpose of analyzing consumer behavior including shopping cycles and figure out how the company can exploit them.  The initial target was promoting featured toys to families with children around Christmas time through the use of promotional catalogs or coupons.  However this project was overshadowed by his new task of identifying the impacts that important milestones in consumers’ lives such as college graduation, relocating, and pregnancy have on consumer purchasing patterns.  It turns out that with the occurrence of a momentous event actually creates a newfound flexibility in purchase behavior leading to the experimentation of buying new brands.

One of the largest milestones in life is the addition of a baby to the family.  However, the article states the identifying pregnant consumers solely from the shopping patterns proved more difficult than they anticipated.  Pole began by analyzing the effects that their approaching due date had on their purchasing habits by looking at their shower registry’s.  Patterns began to emerge.  For example while in the first 5 months of the pregnancy women typically stock up on supplements such as calcium, zinc, etc.  After countless tests Pole was able to identify a total of 25 products that when compiled together could predict the probability of that consumer being pregnant.  Here is the scary part.  With that data Target could even predict how far along in the pregnancy the customer was, therefore being able to correctly predict the baby’s due date with a small margin of error.


Now while this may fascinate some, most people feel this is an invasion of privacy.  There has to be a balance of pulling data from their customers and discovering life-changing news before they even know themselves.  This lesson was brought to the forefront on that fateful day when Target discovered a man’s daughter was pregnant before he even knew himself.  Moving forward, they wished not to scare aware their customers with their high precise and invasive data. So while they can still utilize the patterns they discover Target is now doing a better job of disguising them.  So if that man’s daughter were to receive a promotion flyer now it would still posses coupons for pregnancy related items while also containing promotions for non-related items such as grill accessories.  I found this article to be fascinating that companies have the ability to pull mass amounts of information to go as far as be able to predict a women’s due date.

Picture sources:



Is Procrastination Helping or Hurting You?

For as long as I can remember, I have been a procrastinator.  I procrastinated on assignments in middle school, and especially in high school.  I realize that my procrastinaprocrasttion habits are usually detrimental in some way, yet I continue to procrastinate.  However, with the beginning of my collegiate career, I am attempting to change my procrastination habits.  I do wonder if it is possible to abandon procrastination completely, but I figure that it is at least worth a shot.  After all, only good things can come from getting assignments done ahead of time. (Image)


According to Eric Jaffe, procrastination is when you willingly put off a task that needs completed, even though you know that there will be negative consequences because of your decision.  You decide for yourself when you will complete certain tasks, and the act of postponing them illustrates poor self-control, which is a key component of procrastination.  We often put a task off temporarily in order to participate in a more exciting or interesting activity.  For example, you may put off studying for a test that’s a few days away in order to be able to attend a concert.  However, research suggests that people are aware that the consequences of choosing the more entertaining activity are bad in the long run, but choose to participate in it anyway. 

Studies dating back to the 1990s suggest that procrastinators almost always perform more poorly than students who do not procrastinate. Psychological Science researches Dianne Tice and Roy Baumeister found interesting results from a study performed on college students.  At first, the researchers found that there was a benefit to procrastination and the time-crunch that it forced students to work within.  However, by the time the two finished the study they were able to conclude that the few advantages of procrastination were far outweighed by the plentiful disadvantages.  The researchers concluded that the students who procrastinated received lower grades for their work.  In addition to worse grades than those who did not procrastinate, those who did found themselves feeling much more stressed as a result of their procrastination (Tice, D. M., & Baumeister, R. F. 1997).

So, what can I do to help fight my procrastination?  While not all of these strategies used to lessen the likelihood of procrastination will work for everyone, hopefully you will find at least one that works for you.  One possible way to eliminate procrastination from your life is to take assignments/ tasks and break them down into smaller sections.  By doing so, each small section will feel less intimidating than the overall assignment and can be completed in more effective, short bursts.  Researchers Dan Airely and Klaus Wertenbroch suggest setting your own individual deadlines before an actual due date.  The two researchers say that if people who usually procrastinate try setting their own personal deadlines, they may evoke more meaning from the deadlines, and are then more likely to meet the deadlines (Ariely, D., & Wertenbroch, K. 2002).  Rewarding yourself after completing a task or meeting a deadline is also found to be more effective than beating yourself down after procrastinating.

I took courses over the summer here at Penn State, and I did manage to reduce the amount that I procrastinate by a decent amount.  The strategy that I find to be the most helpful is setting my own individual deadlines.  If I meet my deadlines, I then reward myself.  I have found the combination of those two strategies work the best for me.  Procrastination will definitely hurt you more than it will ever help you, but if you put in enough effort it can be avoided.

Your Grandparents did not Eat the Same Bananas…

We all know and love that oddly shaped yellow fruit.  The banana has a special place in the fruit department, definitely distinguishing itself as one of the more unique choices in taste and in look.  Bananas have always been a highly valued product to societies all over the world, and a popular trade item.  According to Megan Ware, they are highly consumed (more than apples and oranges combined by Americans), produced in over 100 countries, and are extremely rich in nutrients to fight off sickness and to make you healthier.  The potassium, fiber, and vitamins in these yellow guys are shown to help asthma, heart health, and diabetes.

Banana imports to the U.S and Europe are very dependent on two specific parts of the world: Central/South America and the Caribbean.  India and parts of Africa are also a very large producers but keeps most of their crops for themselves.  According to Jacopo Prisco, the Gros Michel Banana was the main crop up until 1965; it was THE banana.  For some reason, the banana exporters choose to only use a single type of banana probably for ease and price of production.  They still do today.  The fruit is a monoculture.  This means the mass producers use one type to farm and export, the same genetic makeup.  There are other different variants of bananas however they are much less common and harder to come by.  The Gros Michel was an apparently more tasty, wider, and had less shelf life.  This fruit was on the shelves in Europe and America for almost 60 years, after banana sales boomed.  Since every banana was in term a clone of the same type, if a disease or fungus affected the crops, it would take out all of them.  This is exactly what happened. The Panama Disease destroyed banana plantations around the globe.  Monoculture in the production of the fruits is definitely the causation that led to a dingle strand of fungus taking out the entire banana population.


The Gros Michel Banana

Since the disease nearly took out the banana trade in the mid 1900s, farmers began to use a new type resistant to the fungus.  This is what we all enjoy today known as the Cavendish banana.  Even though this type is resistant to the Panama disease, the mass produced and exported fruit are all still based on the same genes meaning a situation like this could definitely happen again.  A new plague similar to the Panama disease arose in Malaysia in 1990.(Panamadisease.org)  So far it has not completely decimated banana crop, only in certain areas of the world.  Who knows… if this new disease spreads we could be eating a whole new type of banana in the near future.


 Tropical Race 4 (similar to the Panama Disease) damage to banana crop

Gros Michel Taste Test




Medical News Today




The Truth About Vitamin C

As a kid whenever I started to get sick my mom would immediately have me start to take vitamin C pills.  This blog post is about how vitamin C affects us and if it actually helps shorten a cold.  I can say I do think that vitamin C helped me, however; I’m not sure if it is actually do to the medicine or something known as the placebo effect.  Image result for vitamin c pillsThe placebo effect means the drug is not helping the patient but just the fact that the patient thinks they are receiving treatment they get better.  I am not sure exactly how long I would have a cold for but on Wikipedia it says the average length of a cold is between 7 to 10 days.  In order for vitamin C to have a positive effect it would need to cut down this time significantly.

Vitamin C is found in many fruits like oranges, lemons, and bananas.  According to Author James Shulze Vitamin C was first discovered in 1795 by a British naval surgeon.  The Surgeon’s name was James Lind and he had all the men on British ships drink lime juice.  During this time scurvy was a big problem  on long sea voyages and no one knew what was causing it.  Scurvy James Lindis a disease of malnutrition specifically the lack of vitamin
C and can often cause death.  James Lind did not know why having the sailors drink lime juice was solving this problem all he knew was that it worked (asg.org).  Here is a situation that Andrew was talking about in class where a problem was solved but no one knew what solved it.  They saw the realization that giving the sailors lime juice helped with scurvy they just didn’t know why this happened.

According to Anna Almendrala we now know that vitamin C does many things for our body including help strengthen our immune system, help absorb iron, and regenerate antioxidants. (Huffington Post).  A study was done to truly see the benefits of Vitamin C.  The study included over 11,000 participants.  These were not participants of average people but of people who were exposed to extreme weather for a long period of time. The participants were given doses of vitamin C everyday from 250 milligrams to 1,000 milligrams.  At the conclusion of this study 50% of people experienced less colds.  This study was done with people in extreme conditions and had major affects; vitamin C for normal people did not have as great as an affect.  The results found that for an average person taking vitamin C everyday did not reduce the number of colds that person experienced.  It did however shorten the length of the cold that they experienced.  One important fact from this study was that it only reduced the cold if you were taking it before the cold started not during.  My mom had the right idea in having me take vitamin C but just had me taking it too late.

Picture Sources






Will drinking soda actually make my teeth fall out?

Leaving home and coming to college again always changes my routine and diet. I eat less often and drink more water – contrary to the usual Diet Cokes I had practically daily when I was back with my friends in New Jersey. We drank Diet Coke so often we felt like we were suffering from deprivation headaches when we skipped out on it. Of course, it never left my mind how my mom used to tell me all my teeth were going to fall out if I continued drinking soda. So, now I question, does drinking soft drinks ultimately lead to damage of your teeth?

In a study by the Academy of General Dentistry, published in their journal General Dentistry, they decided to test how the acidic component of common soft drinks actually impacts tooth enamel. They experimented with the different types of soda products, conclusively reporting that those containing citric or phosphoric acid – or even both – do indeed damage human teeth.

This introduces evidence that is consistent with my question. The procedure of the experiment began with placing pieces of the enamel from teeth into twenty different sodas, including Diet Coke, for two days. The largest weight loss measured from the teeth, or how much enamel was lost, was more than 5%, and regular Coca-Cola, as Kenton Ross from the Academy of General Dentistry stated, was the most acidic with a pH of 2.387 (0 is completely acidic on the pH scale). It was established from the research that colas were higher on the acidic side than other sodas, but regular Coca-Cola, Cherry Coke, and Coke went to the extent of having practically the same pH as battery acid, which is kind of disturbing. Of course, although many soft drinks appear to be unhealthy towards dental hygiene, it cannot be proven as the only accountable cause for tooth erosion.




Image source from UberTopic



Confounding variables are not ruled out for other things leading to the decay of teeth. First, there are differences among people’s habits in their environments. People eat a variety of foods and also do not drink the same amount of soda – not everyone relies on Diet Coke like my friends and I do. Based on the actual soft drink content, cases of tooth erosion vary based on how much calcium is in it and whether citric acid, found to be the worse kind, or another acid exists in the drink.

Since the study was experimental, the researchers were able to provide evidence of a correlation between soda consumption and enamel loss. However, this information may not be the most realistic in society because when people drink a beverage, they do not hold it in their mouth for two days. The same results should appear eventually, but much more slowly than the study portrayed. In class we talked about how the effects of smoking took almost twenty years to show up as lung cancer in smokers. Perhaps this could be a possibility in this situation, meaning that the evidence of damaged teeth from soda may not show up until a later age – something that would probably have to be looked at in a longitudinal study.

Therefore, it is easy to be weary of accepting this as a proven hypothesis, but it might be worth trying to decrease the amount of soda in your diet in order to save your teeth – something it looks like I will have be telling my friends. If that fails, a substitute could be root beer, which was found to contain the least amount of acid compared to the other drinks.

If anyone is interested in seeing the effects of a tooth sitting in a soft drink for just twenty-four hours on video, click here to see some concerning results.


So I have a huge passion for motivation. I love the idea and topic of it. And overall I just feel like motivation is the key to success in anything a person wants to achieve. There are a lot of tips and tricks… but I decided to research the science behind it. Dopamine Levels are usually fired due to a traumatic experience, but now it is said to be linked with motivation. It is interesting because motivation is really a hard thing to feel. Sometimes we feel it, sometimes we just get lazy. So what is the science behind motivation?


In the article, it has been said that a neuroscientist has seen that rats that had lower levels of dopamine were less motivated to climb over a fence to get their food. The rats with a high dopamine level ended up getting the food.


From “The Science Behind Motivation” article by Sujan Patel, it is stated that the ““go-getters” had higher levels of dopamine in the reward and motivation portions of the brain – the striatum and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. The “slackers,” on the other hand, had a higher level of dopamine in the area of the brain associated with emotion and risk – the anterior insula”

We can all get motivation but when do we stop working? Achieving things is an overlapping of “motivation and willpower”.

It has been discovered that “willpower is a finite resource” said by Sujan Patel in the Forbes article.

willpower come into play?

When we make decisions throughout the day, we tend to use up that willpower. This starts to go down because of our brain making so many decisions throughout the day. This is called decision fatigueless.

To prevent getting so fatigued during the day,

There are some tips to help.

  1. Do the most important tasks at the start of your day
  2. Make a good routine so you don’t waste time
  3. Say no to some things, and focus on what needs to get done.


science behind motivation


Pokemon NO

On the first day of classes, Andrew told us that he thinks that cellphones are very useful, but dangerous. He went onto say that the second you go to check a text, you miss out on what could be a very important fact or concept that Andrew is explaining. Last week, Apple released its new iPhone 7 that caused an uproar all over both adults and kids. Apple has gotten rid of the head phone jack all together, increased battery life, and has made the new iPhone water resistant.  Seeing the new iPhone reminded me of what it was like when the first iPhone released in 2007. I begged my dad for it, knowing that I was never realistically going to get one.  Today, kids everywhere are walking around with an iPhone, and iPad, or anything in between. For example, when my ten year old cousin is bored at Thanksgiving dinner, she runs into her moms bag and slyly slips out her Amazon tablet and plays Candy Crush. Do not get me wrong, I think technology has a ton of perks, but a part of me does worry. Can these new amazing technologies be a detriment to our lives?


At the beginning and end of every class, I look around me and see people on their phones. I for one am completely guilty of this. People are locked in on their phones, scrolling through Instagram and Twitter, or answering texts continuously throughout the day. So much information is at our fingertips. Not just information about what our friends are doing, but information that has to do with the world.  I am sure that everyone can agree that the temptation that comes after your phone buzzes in your pocket is unreal. In short, we are all addicted to the little rectangular device in our pockets.

According to British psychologist Dr. Richard House, teenagers ceck their phones an average of 85 times a day, and majority of those times are for 30 seconds or less of activity. I am personally not worried for our generation, but for the up and coming generations. One thing that must be addressed is making sure kids go outside.

Over the summer, I would see tons of kids walking around, fixed on their phones pointing it wildly around. It turned out to be the app Pokemon Go. This app may have gotten kids to go outside and walk around, but it is sad that an app had to get kids to move outside. Technology can be a detriment to exercise. People could be completely okay with sitting in their house playing a game on their phone or scrolling through social media to pass time.  Kids become obsessed with an app or game and don’t go outside and play or use their imagination. Technology clearly has many positives, but I believe that the negatives cannot go unseen.

Source for image : https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwisoryDs5DPAhXMSyYKHb5JCGEQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.healthychild.org%2Fthe-faqs-about-kids-and-electronics%2F&psig=AFQjCNEu5VfnhuBHRd-VkDHmTgGHEYbDtg&ust=1473995433932692

Sources: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/smartphone-usage-estimates_us_5637687de4b063179912dc96

The Binge-Watching Phenomenon

We have all fallen victim to binge watching at one point or another. You’re chilling in your room, procrastinating your homework, and you try to resist the “continue watching” but are suddenly 5 hours deep into Grey’s Anatomy. This is a college students both best friend and worst enemy.

What can’t you stop?

Times have definitely changed from when we were growing up or how our parents grew up. It used to be that you had to be in front of the television at a certain time to watch your favorite movie or show. There wasn’t any $8 a month streaming service that you could get hundreds of television shows or movies at your disposal. This article has some interesting statistics about binge watching. Kali Holloway, the author of the article, talks about the intrinsic motivation we have to continue watching. She relates it to the concept of eating potato chips where you can’t have just one. Having it so easily accessible makes us so much more susceptible to keep going because there is literally nothing to stop you. Here is an article that goes into more detail about the science of why we always continue watching. Author, Jordan Gaines Lewis, talks about how humans are naturally empathetic and we want to relate and connect emotionally with people, even if it is through a television screen.


What is this doing to us? 

It is no secret that watching six hours of our favorite Netflix shows is bad for us, but exactly how bad is it? This article give insight to a few problems one could encounter when indulging in another episode. Writer Chelsea Stone points out the potential health effects as well as social problems this might cause. It makes sense how one’s health and social status’s could be effected from laying in bed for multiple hours a day watching “Breaking Bad”. Stone points out how the lack of movement and exercise can put one more at risk for diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. HERE shows an interesting study where a 25 year old man went on a monitored 94 hour binge watch. The man, AJ Fragoso, had a check up before and after his binge watch. Dr. Robert Glatter found that Fragoso’s heart rate had increased and how doing this for extended periods of time can lead to weight gain. The effect that is more prevalent to us college students’ is the decrease in productivity that any study in the world could prove.









Cheating: An Epidemic

After Andrew’s lecture on plagiarism I found myself wondering why people cheat. At a world renowned university, filled with some of the greatest young minds the world has to offer, why would it be necessary to inform students about cheating? Well as it turns out, academic dishonestly is somewhat of an epidemic at schools across America.



According to David Jaffe of Stanford, 78% to 98% percent of high school and college aged students have admitted to cheating at some point throughout their academic career. Whether it be sneaking an answer off of your neighbor’s exam or something as blatant as plagiarism, cheating occurs everywhere. Even more shocking, Jaffe reported that in a poll of the best high school students in America, over 80% of participants admitted to cheating. Jaffe claims that the most likely to cheat are Business and Engineering students, Fraternity or Sorority members, and younger students. Given the composition of our class, I’d say that at least half of us are prone to cheat. But why do people cheat?

It turns out that Matthew Williams, a graduate student at the University of British Columbia decided to ask the same question. Williams conducted a three stage study, in which several factors were measured. In the first study Williams measure cheating susceptibility based off of the dark triad, being Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy. Machiavellianism is effectively the manipulation and use of others for one’s own gain. Narcissism is characterized by self obsession and entitlement. Psychopathy being antisocial behavior with little or no regard to others well-being. In his study of over 200 students, he found that over 73 percent had admitted to cheating at some point. In observation Williams found that those with possessing traits were the most likely to cheat, with those possessing Machiavellian traits to be the second most likely.



In his next study Williams measured plagiarism rates among paper submissions from students using an online plagiarism database called turn-it-in. Williams found that of the over 200 students surveyed fifteen percent had plagiarized. Williams then attempted to determine the cause of this. He looked at a lack of intelligence and again psychopathy. Again Williams found that psychopathy was a key factor in the cheating among the students.

The results of the study are quite revealing. Williams seems to have found a correlation between psychopathy and a student’s propensity to cheat. Just because certain students possessed traits of psychopathy did not necessarily indicate that they were going to cheat. Rather these results revealed that they were more likely to cheat. This is fitting as people who are psychopathic possess little to no remorse, signifying their lack of regret and regard for cheating.

Overall, cheating is something that should be rebuked and avoided entirely. As students at one of the nation’s top universities we should pride ourselves on getting a degree in the fairest, most true way possible. Integrity and honesty are values that a Penn Stater must possess, so before you copy and paste, or share answers with a friend think twice.

The spread of Ebola

It may seem like it was ages ago since the Ebola scare took the world by storm, but it was actually only two years ago. At the beginning of the outbreak, no one could pin down the cause of the virus and how it was being spread, it got to the point where anyone who showed symptoms of the virus were forced into quarantine. But after about a year, scientists think that they have been able to pin-point how exactly the virus initially began to spread throughout Africa. From several studies, they found that there have been mutations of the virus, leaving the less communicable diseases to die off.


The dying off of certain strands of the virus is a great example of the scientific principle of survival of the fittest. The original virus was found in wild animals and was then spread to humans, so it had to mutate in order to spread to humans and mutate further in order to spread more easily from person to person. This shows the survival of the fittest because it forces the virus to mutate or it will die off because it is not transmitted.

These mutations were originally found through the study of the human genome. They brought in blood samples from over 400 samples in order to compare their blood types in order to observe the affects the Ebola has on a person. A genome is the code that is made up of DNA that can be found in a persons 23 pairs of chromosomes. It is essentially the basis of how we are who we are individually. So because they were able to research the genomes of the four hundred patients, they were able to see what the viruses was attacking in the body. And when they found how the virus was affecting the genome, they were able to conclude how it was being spread.


Further studies showed that the second wave of the virus was much larger than the original introduction to humans. It was originally thought to be because there was a lot of passing the virus between Sierra Leone and Guinea, due to the fact that the first cases had sprung up in Guinea and then showed up in Sierra Leone. They then stated that the virus began to spread throughout the rest of the region without many influence from outside sources, but it was later hypothesized that the original Guinea strand was not fully treated and had slowly been spreading throughout the capital. This is a great example of what Andrew always emphasizes, that in science, you gain more knowledge because people question others’ work which creates more research and analysis.





Will Mt. Rainier destroy Seattle?

I’m an outdoorsy kind of guy so when Andrew said we could blog about anything science related this idea popped into my head right away. I used to live in Washington state and I was lucky enough to hike Mt. Rainier. Being from the east coast I had never seen a mountain that went above the tree line, let alone one that is over 14,000 feet above sea level! Mt. Rainier is still considered an active volcano which got me thinking, how much destruction will it cause when it erupts?

Mt. Rainier is part of the Cascade mountain range that begins in northern California and ends in Canada. In the Cascades there are 18 volcano’s in the United States alone. Of those 18 Mt. Rainier is the only one considered a decade volcano. The title of a “decade volcano” is only given to volcano’s that have the capability of being very destructive. There are only 16 decade volcano’s in the world, and they are generally located near densely populated areas. What makes Mt. Rainier a decade volcano is its close proximity to the Puget Sound which is a very populated area. Mt. Rainier is also only 54 miles away from Seattle. There are roughly 3.7 million people living in or just outside of the city. The large amount of glacial ice on the mountain is another dangerous factor that makes it a decade volcano. When a volcano releases hot gasses or pyroclastic flows that mix with ice it forms what is called a “lahar.” A lahar is formed when ice and pyroclastic flows mix and flow down the side of a mountain. Lahars can be thought of as a giant blob that generally grow in size the further they travel, picking up anything in its way. The speed that a lahar will travel depends on how large it is, and the slope of the hill it travels down. There are roughly 80,000 people who live close enough to be affected by these dangerous flows. Lahars have been documented traveling up to 10 miles from Mount Rainier, posing no risk to anyone in Seattle.

Although lahars cannot travel far enough to reach Seattle, there is a chance volcanic ash could. In 1980 scientists calculated that when volcanic ash (tephra) from the  Mt. St. Helens eruption traveled over 100,000ft up into the sky. Mt. Rainier would be able to produce the same if not more tephra. The largest threat tephra imposes is the potential to contaminate Seattle’s drinking water, and maybe cave in a few roofs.  Mt Rainier has the potential to inflict some serious damage but Seattle may be just far enough from its reach.


First picture: http://cdn.aarp.net/content/dam/travel/destination-images/mount-rainier/2014-01/1400-mount-rainier-wa-flowers.imgcache.rev1409258920002.web.jpg

Second picture: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/269441990177933343/





Does Using Your Phone At Night Affect Sleep

When I go to bed at night, the last thing I check is my phone and vice versa when I wake up in the morning. My mom would always tell me to “put my phone away an hour before bed” because it negatively affected my sleep. Although I never really listened to her, I can feel the affects weighing on the amount of sleep I get now. The reasons behind this is because the light reflected from the screen negatively impacts our internal clocks causing our sleep patterns to scatter.

An article posted by BusinessInsider.com explained to me how the lights reflected from the I-phone are blue and white lights. This leads to the prevention of melatonin being released from our brain which is a vital hormone that informs our body that it is time to sleep. When melatonin is not released right at bed time it makes falling asleep a much more difficult task. Experts suggest that turning your phone off an hour before bed time could lead to a much deeper and faster sleep.

study was conducted and the researchers found out that a double expresso coffee does not negatively affect your sleep as bad as your cell phone does. The blue light is so strong that when our brain receives the light it comes off as a sun glare, which results in our sleep time being pushed back as well as our melatonin not being released from our brain. The light reflected from your phone is basically telling your brain not to sleep. All in all, put your phone away about an hour before you go to bed and watch your sleep increase dramatically.




Exercise is the Key to a Healthy Life

For thousands of years, doctors have promoted diet and exercise as the keys to a healthy life. However, in the early 1900s, doctors began to emphasize treating diseases rather than preventing them, due to the availability of drugs and surgery, diminishing the importance of exercise in the process. While most Americans are aware of the benefits of exercise, only 20 percent engage in the recommended amount of physical activity, which is 150 minutes per week of aerobics and at least two days of strength training. Amazingly, over 80 millions Americans and over half of baby boomers, who range in age from 52 through 70, are not active at all. Aerobic activity like running, biking,Marathon, black silhouettes of runners on the sunset or walking increases your heart rate, breathing and flow of oxygen. Strength training, which helps increase muscle and bone mass, can include weight lifting, using your own body as a weight with push-ups and sit-ups, and yoga.  

Many doctors consider exercise to be one of the most effective medicines or forms of therapy, including for individuals with genetic diseases. While it has always been known to provide many benefits, research has begun to provide insight into the positive impact it has on areas such as the brain. Exercise increases the flow of blood to the brain, leading to growth of new blood vessels and neurons, while also preventing the degeneration of brain cells.  It also improves mood (reduces anxiety and depression), energy, focus, sleep, memory, and learning.  Aerobic exercise can increase the size of regions of the brain that are responsible for memory, such as the hippocampus. Physical activity reduces the aging of cells and allows one to live a longer life. Exercise is considered the best method to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and stroke, which are some of the leading causes of death. Studies of mice show that exercise can reduce the effects of aging among those with a condition that caused them to age faster, appearing the same as healthy mice. As we discussed in class, the question is whether outcomes like these are generalizable to others, including humans.


Getting into an exercise routine requires a large amount of motivation and commitment. It is easier to avoid doing it now, but it has many long-term benefits. It lays the groundwork for living a healthy and active lifestyle, which can carry over into the decisions one makes about eating and drinking. I have found that participating in organized sports like soccer and track help make exercise a key part of my daily life. It is important for individuals to realize that they can get all the health benefits of exercise without any equipment, and in fact, a number of everyday activities like using the stairs instead of an elevator, gardening or mowing the lawn, and doing work around the house like cleaning and cooking are all forms of exercise. Additionally, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) has been found to provide the same health benefits in a shorter period of time, such as 10 minutes, as a longer workout lasting 50 minutes, which can be beneficial to people who do not feel they have the time for extended exercise sessions.

Most research on exercise has focused on improving the performance of athletes, but that is beginning to change. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will soon be conducting a study of nearly 3,000 sedentary individuals, collecting samples of blood, muscle, fat, the brain and lungs, from human and animal participants, to examine the benefits of exercise on the body. The hope is that in the future, doctors will be able to prescribe exercise instead of medicine, with each individual given a personalized workout plan to help them maximize their well-being.

  • Oaklander, Mandy. “The New Science of Exercise.” TIME. Sept. 2016. Web.  <http://time.com/4475628/the-new-science-of-exercise/>
  • http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/21/upshot/why-you-should-exercise-no-not-to-lose-weight.html
  • https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/
  • http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110
  • https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6317a1.htm
  • http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/02/can-exercise-keep-you-young/
  • http://www.nytimes.com/well/guides/really-really-short-workouts
  • http://www.romquickgym.com/assets/gibala_currsportsmedrep-6_2007.pdf
  • Running Picture: http://www.expertrain.com/SiteAssets/Images/bestfriend.jpg
  • Brain Picture: http://live2100.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/exercise_brain.jpg


Video games are… Bad??


As someone who plays video games quite frequently, whether I am playing Battlefield 4 or hitting the links with my friends I play video games. This got me to thinking about one thing does video games actually harm growth in children, so I did a little bit of research from a Vanderbilt study, a study by the ACSD or the Association of Christians in Childhood Development, and a similar study by the Dana Foundation. Three different studies which have differing views on the effects of video games on children’s growth and how it’s changing in school. However each different source also gave unique insights into video games and their use today. First off I will speak of Vanderbilt’s study, in Vandy’s study they first discussed the history of video games, such as their large and sudden rise in the market from 100 million dollars in 1985 to a whopping 4 billion dollars by 1990. That is a substantial growth in a period of 5 years and even from there the video game market has exploded onto the scene of Americans and as of today the video game market is currently valued at 93.6 Billion dollars. From something that came from Pong to the current bestsellers such as The Witcher 3, we can see how much the world as accepted this video game culture, our video games have evolved so much in regards to length of the campaign, the graphics alone could have a blog post unto itself, and the multiplayer ability across the internet. From there Vandy delves into the how many people actually play video games during the information era, 8-12 year olds are playing about 13 hours a week and 13-18 year olds are playing about 14 hours a week so we can see that video games have easily become a facet of our society as much as cellphones have. Next Vandy delved into the pros and cons that are consistent with video games, for the negatives we have the usual reports that most kids tend to spend way too much time with video games rather than playing outside and making personal connections with more people and the fact that violent video games actually do tend to increase the violence in kids that are younger so the 8-12 year old range is more affected by video game violence than the older generations also there is the increase in weight . For the positives there are actually quite a few affects people do not take into account, first being the fact that while kids are not playing outside they are also making friends online which is a nice counteractive point, secondly there is the fact that they learn to follow rules and guidelines on which to follow while playing video games, and most importantly there is the fact that there is so much to learn from video games for people. Games now today have puzzles that need to be solved, there are multitasking aspects to video games, there are strategy games that require deep thinking and actual use of strategy to beat your opponents, kids today have such a wide variety of games to pick from and essentially learn from. Both the DANA foundation and ACSD found similar results however the ACSD was skewed more towards the fact that too much video games can be very detrimental to our children and their growth which is very valid point and many people concede that fact.

So at the end of the day we all realize that the video game topic is very controversial I have friends who do not and have never played video games and I have friends who live off of video games and copious amounts of mountain dew, but from reading the facts and the evidence there is clearly no winner here for both sides but still the debate lives on. At the end of the day the decision is up to you.

Works Cited




Does your cell phone cause depression?

Andrew’s first pop-quiz about the brightness of TV’s possibly being linked to depression left a great impression on me. As somebody who watches sporting events until very late, I sometimes fall asleep with the television on. I did some research on the internet and found that another troubling piece of technology might be causing us harm. This technology is cell phones.

According to Carolyn Gregoire, phones are a possible cause of depression. The article sites research from Baylor University, where 346 college students were asked to fill out an online survey that covered different personality traits. They found that introversion and emotional instability correlated with cell phone use. Carolyn Gregoire’s article also referenced another study. This study from China gathered 414 students and did a similar experiment to the Baylor article listed above. The study found that the most common reason for smart-phone addiction was loneliness.

The first thing that sticks out to me from these researches is that they are both observational studies. As we all know observational studies are not as conclusive as experimental experiments. If I were doing this experiment I would perform a double blinded study. I would have somebody else assign all students to a computer and have them fill out the information. The students would not know what the test would be about. I would not be asserting my own assumptions or feelings into the study and the study would be totally in the hands of the students, making this a double blinded study.

There does not seem to be a placebo in either of these studies. Placebos are often very helpful in weaving out partially, the possibility of chance, although that will never stop being a possibility in pretty much any experiment. I would add fake questions to this survey as a placebo. These questions would not be about personality.

One problem I think this research has is the fact that it does not take into account a third variable. It is totally possible that these students who took the surveys were tired. Maybe the length of the survey changed their usual mood? If the survey was too long, or not broke into parts, the students could have clicked answers without really thinking about the answers they responded with. This is certainly an interesting confounding variable to consider.

Personally I would not take this study too seriously. Firstly, there was no control group. There must be some form of comparison in this experiment. Secondly, as I said before, there was no placebo group. There can also be a third confounding variable. Lastly, two studies just is not enough. There has to be years and years of study before actually coming to a conclusion that cell phones can cause depression. Not only is there a lack of studies, there is a lack of people. I would like to see these studies include at least a thousand people to limit the threat of chance more.


Now should a reasonable person stop using their phone because of this article’s claim that it may cause depression? Like I said, I would not stop using my phone, but it depends how important your phone is to you. And in this day and age, where teenagers and even adults can’t get through a family dinner without checking their phone, I would say the chances that these people stop using their phones due to this research is very low.

Can CBD help against NFL players suffering from brain damage?

I often wonder about what NFL players will do once they retire. The injuries they take are so gruesome that there has to be some kind of problems with their health after they retire. According to BU, CTE can be defined as “a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as subconcussive hits to the head that do not cause symptoms” (Boston University). One sport that is prone to repetitive brain trauma? You guessed it! The National Football League. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or as it is commonly known, CTE, is without a doubt the biggest obstacle in the path of the longevity of the NFL. This article does not intend to promote the use of marijuana among individual, however it does hope to show how cannabidiol, which is found in THC, may help NFL players against CTE.

Josh Keefe wrote about Leonard Marshall, a former NFL player, who was told in 2013 he showed signs of CTE. Because of this, he turned to cannabis (Keefe 2016). Marshall believes cannabidiol, which is also known as CBD, is essential to NFL players (Keefe 2016). However CBD products have THC, which is not quite legal in some states (Keefe 2016).

According to Josh Keefe, there are two huge benefits to THC. The first being is it a hugely effective pain reliever (Keefe 2016). Many NFL players get hooked on to pain killers (Keefe 2016). Pain killer are greatly addictive, so a non-addictive pain relieving solution would be a huge feat for current and former NFL players (Keefe 2016). In a study using nabilone, which has THC, 82 cancer patients were given nabilone and said they felt improvements in their pain. Those not given the drug did not feel improvement (Russo 2008). However, there are problems with this study. Seventeen patients dropped out of the experiment (Russo 2008). Additionally, the experiment was not randomized nor was it controlled (Russo 2008). As we learned in class, you need a control group for comparison. Because of this it may be hard to use this study as concrete proof THC helps with pain relief.

However, moving further down the study,  Sativex, a cannabis spray, was used in many studies and greatly reduced pain. According to the study, 160 subjects were used in a Phase III double-blind RCT SAFEX study. These subjects had symptoms of MS (Russo 2008). 137 patients continued their use of Sativex, and these patients received a huge decline in pain in the first twelve weeks. They also had improvements, albeit slower, for longer than a year. This study certainly shows that Sativex is a solution to pain relief.


Another reason why the NFL should look to expand the use of CBD among players is because it protects the brain from injury (Keefe 2016). Newborn pigs were used in an experiment to show the benefits of CBD.  While pigs or rats may not be enough to pursued somebody to the benefits of CBD, a study using children might. The previously mentioned article from Josh Keefe highlights Charlotte Figi, a child with an uncommon form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome, was cured with large amount of CBD, and a low amount of THC in the form of medical marijuana (Keefe 2016). Another child named Ziki Jackson suffered over 500,000 seizures in his life by the age of five (Keefe 2016). He was given the same CBD as Figi and Jackson no longer had seizures (Keefe 2016). CBD helped these children, and while these anecdotal tales are promising they are only a start. The only way to tell the full extent of CBD is to continue to test. But the biggest takeaway that one can make from this article is that CBD may indeed be what keeps the NFL from extinction by being able to protect their players from painkillers and brain injuries. I believe this could prolong the lives of all NFL players. The NFL must do more research on this issue instead of sweeping it under the rug like they have been rumored to do

Are we meant to play sports?

We as a society love sports. Football, basketball, and baseball are huge parts of our culture here in the United States. But even abroad, sports are popular as well. Soccer is incredibly popular overseas. What do these sports have in common? Running. According to this article from John Hopkins Medicine, basketball, baseball and softball, bicycling, football, and soccer have the most injuries in children aged 5-14. The injuries children may receive in activities like ice hockey, in-line and roller skating, skateboarding, sledding and toboggan, snow skiing and snowboarding, and trampolines all pale in comparison to sports that require running, with bicycling being the only outlier (John Hopkins Medicine).

Now just because there is a correlation between sports that require more running and the amount injuries that occur from these sports does not mean there is a direct correlation between the two. There could easily be a confounding, or third variable that effects this relationship, the obvious ones being the size of the players, or the physicality of the sport. This study also does not say what kind of injuries these children are suffering from. So rather than focusing on that study, which deals with children, it would be easier to look at this article, which deals with professional athletes.


According to Tarek O. Souryal, an M.D. who has worked for the Dallas Mavericks, a professional basketball team in the NBA, the ACL helps with making quick cuts which is commonplace in sports such as basketball, football, and even soccer. ACL injuries according to this article are pretty much exclusive to athletes, happening over 250,000 times a year to them.

With athletes receiving ACL injuries at that clip compared to ordinary people, the prospect of chance being the reason for the correlation between people tearing their ACL who play sports involving running and people who don’t is highly unlikely. However, maybe there is a third variable that impacts why these athletes tearing the ACL? Maybe athletes’ bodies have something, perhaps bone structure, that causes more injuries? Luckily this article also takes a look at that!

Souryal noticed a confounding variable which found that some people in the world have different bone structures and these structures do indeed make them more prone to these ACL injuries. Souryal said that if the area where your ACL and PCL are located is small, the ACL has less room to make these cutting movements, you are more likely to tear you ACL. As a matter of fact, you are 26 times more likely to do so.


Additionally the article states that in 1992, Souryal took the knee X-Rays of 1,000 different high school athletes. The athletes who were selected were monitored for two years. By looking at their notch, they found that the ones with a narrow notch were the ones tearing their ACL. The article said the results were so overwhelming that Souryal no longer continued the study. This study helps to show that bone structure is indeed the third variable between athletes tearing their ACL, however there must be more studies done. 1,000 people is a lot of people to study, however, even more can be used in the study. If I was the person doing the experiment, I would separate athletes with narrow regions where their ACL and PCL are located to those with wide regions and see who tears there ACL more. Because this is an observational study, this evidence is not concrete as much as an experimental would be. The reason it can’t be experimental is because it would be unethical to make it so people would tear their ACL. This would help prove or disprove the notion that bone structure is indeed a third variable, although it would not be as effective as an experimental study. 

Are we are not supposed to be playing sports that require such cutting movements with our legs? Maybe our society has glorified activities that we were not born to play. There is certainly evidence that supports the correlation between the number of ACL tears and those who are athletes. However, maybe it is because of these athlete’s bone structure and not because they are athletes. More research and better technology will certainly help us find this out. Judging from the research, I would say that humans are not supposed to play sports, especially those with bone structures that make them prone to ACL injuries. The cutting required to play soccer, basketball, and football at a high level is just too hard for the human body to handle.