Daily Archives: November 9, 2016



Me being the type of person who enjoys exercising on my free time, after a while I like to switch up my workout so I began to research equivalent workout plans. Mainly dealing with the cardio portion of the workout I was interested to see the overall difference between running and walking. Typically, you would think you burn the most calories and benefit the best from running since it is by far the most tiring and get the least out of walking since it’s so simple. But it is much more complex than that and has many confounding variables affecting what you get out of each cardiovascular exercise.


This  best explains how overall, running, walking, jogging, and riding a bike are all just ways we transport our bodies from one place to another, but the difference depends on the energy and muscles used. By using more muscles together, this requires more oxygen demanded. When we run we are at a higher speed and more muscles are being used allowing us to feel out of breath and less capable to talk while doing so. When walking we are at a slower pace enabling us to go for a longer distance before reaching an ” out of breath” state. If we were to increase our speed while walking this would lessen our energy level just like it does while jogging.

What confuses many people is how can a speed walk burn just as many calories as a jog?  You can burn the same amount of calories doing all cardio exercises it just depends on the distance. Because running takes so much effort out of us it is done the quickest. To burn the same amount of calories as that run, you would have to walk nearly double that distance, but it certainly can be done. Some confounding variables affecting the total calories being burned consist of temperature, whether you be outdoors or on a treadmill, what type of shoes are worn, and the clothing worn affecting your body temperature (the more you sweat in a workout the more calories will be burned).

After researching the topic I came across this experiment done by a writer from Runner’s World Magazine testing the difference of calories burned between running and walking at a range of different speeds. she first ran with 6 different speeds on a treadmill with a heart monitor, then rested and repeated the test with 6 slower speeds up to 5mph, which is still considered a walk. According the the heart rate monitor, it became harder for her to do the speed walking rather than running. It still created internal friction just like running, making it just as good of an exercise but better on your joints.

So is running or walking necessarily better than the other? Contrary to the hypothesis many believe that by running you will burn more calories than walking, technically that is not true because you can get the exact same benefits from walking a bit longer distance without the every day risks of injuries in the ankle, knee, calf, and joints.

Why do leaves change colors?


As I was walking to class I noticed the leaves have officially changed their colors, and it is fall officially. Fall is such a beautiful time of the year, especially here in State College. The fall is my favorite season of them all, mostly because of thanksgiving and football. After looking at the leaves that have changed colors and fell form the trees, it made me wonder what made them do that exactly. I know that they are dying, but how, is the question. After conducting some research about the topic, I figured out why they change colors exactly. It is  caused by something that is called Chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is what gives the leaves that green color that we all know.




The breakdown of this chlorine pigment , Chlorophyll, is how leaves change colors and die off. The change in temperature as well as the lack of sunlight or decrease. Due to this change, it allows red pigments and purplish pigments shine through. That is why we see alternate colors during the fall. Another change in leave characteristic that we can see change in the fall is that there is a  cell attached to the tree at a center of the leaf. The leaf then begins to tear away the tissue that supports the leaf, while this is happening the leaf falls off of the tree, but it does leave a scar on the tree itself. Not all trees lose their leaves though, the needle- trees stay green all year around.

Leaves fall, in the fall. The main reason that leaves fall off of trees is that the vegetation of trees would freeze if they did not, if this did not happen they wold become dead. Trees also “close of veins” that carry water and nutrients to the new cells ; preserving the trees.




Chlorophyll cannot occur without the incredible process that we know so well, which is photosynthesis.  I am sure that we all know what photosynthesis is, but this quick refresher will help  especially with understanding the relationship between photosynthesis and chlorophyll. Trees take water from the ground through its’ roots, while absorbing carbon dioxide. The trees give off oxygen, which is vitally important to us as humans. After water and Carbon dioxide is transformed into oxygen and glucose, glucose contributes to the energy of the trees. Chlorophyll  makes photosynthesis occur, which gives it the green color.


So the next time you are walking across to campus to your next class and see the leaves laying on the ground, you will know why the fall and change their color. It is because of the chlorine pigment, Chlorophyll. Due to the changes of temperature in the fall as well as decrease in sunlight the leaves lose pigment, and they fell off the tree.





Sound of Silence

I’ve always been very interesting in both rock and roll and the 1960’s in general. Last year, I even wrote a 25-page research paper with the topic of “How did the Beatles evolve from pop music idols into social and political commentators in the 1960’s?”. The other day, I was in the car, and the song “Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel came on. In the song, silence is talked about as if it is a real, tangible thing that can be touched and affected. This got me thinking: what role does silence play in our lives?

From a literal standpoint, silence itself is virtually nowhere. There are very few natural places where there will be an absolute absence of sound. But obviously, there are times and places that allow us to come as close as possible to that silence. Silence allows for people to focus better, it can be soothing, but it can also be harmful in cases such as those involving mental patients. From a more positive point a view, Carolyn Gregoire of the Huffington Post gives several reasons as to why silence is good for the brain. She explains that silence allows for humans to relax and restore mental resources while relieving tension. She also cites environmental psychologist Craig Zimring on his 2004 paper that explains how unnecessary noises can have effects on a persons health as well, leading to higher blood pressure and an increase in heart rate. Lastly, Gregoire explains the concept of the default mode network, or the brain’s ability to tap into deep thought, meditation or even daydreaming. Accessing this network allows for humans to think analytically and creatively. Based on this article, we can assume that silence is very beneficial to the human brain when given the right amount of exposure.


But silence (or isolation) can be used as a weapon. Historically, isolation has been used against prisoners in hopes of reform, and even on prisoners of war by other countries governments. Michael Bond (2014) of BBC writes that in 1951, Donald O. Hebb of McGill University in Montreal decided he would use human patients to see what effect extreme isolation had on the human mind. For his experiment, he had college students spend extended periods of time in silent cubicles with no human interaction or stimulation of any kind. The effects began to take place after only a few hours, with students experiencing anxiety, high emotions, and even intense hallucinations. The study didn’t last longer than a week, and many students had to be taken out after just two days. Sample size in this experiment makes no real difference on outcome, as many other experiments like this have been done before. At the same time, we cannot rule out any confounding variables, as some patients may be more prone to anxiety or mental breakdowns that lead to detrimental effects.

This practice of isolation has in the past been installed for practical and seemingly ethical uses as well, such as with prisoners. Eastern State Penitentiary was built in 1821, and the prison advocated for complete isolation for each prisoner, giving them only a Bible and restricting any communication between prisoners. It wasn’t until 1933, David Kidd (2014) writes, that the penitentiary realized the harm in placing men in an environment with complete isolation and hopelessness. The penitentiary was closed down completely in 1970 because it was viewed as being unfit for human living.

Active studies are not being performed on this topic, and it is pretty clear that isolation has negative effects on the mind in cases including incarceration, whether genuine or mimicked. But, as college students (or non-incarcerated citizens in general), it can be concluded that silence is beneficial and an important part of every day life.

The Benefits of Exercising with Your Significant Other

As I scroll through various social media, this is the biggest that has stood out to me by far. I always see either pictures or videos of couples lifting and working out together. I started to wonder if it could actually have helpful benefits to one’s health. I’ve found countless articles as to why and why not you should take your significant other to the gym, but it seems the positives outweigh the negatives. I’ve had difficulty finding actual studies that relate to this topic, however I did find one article that was very promising.

Image result for working out

The purpose of the study was a controlled experiment to see whether or not joining an exercise with a spouse would cause an individual to stick to their program. The hypothesis of the study was that those who attended their exercise program with a spouse would adhere more to it than those who attended the exercise program alone (Research gate Wallace). It concluded that those who attended the program with a spouse had a much higher attendance rate than those who attended alone.

These results I believe are widely due to the assumption the spouses attending the program held each other accountable to actually get up and go to the gym. From the articles I’ve read, there are benefits other than adherence. Other than being able to lift more, there are psychological advantages. I could not find an actual study to help me explain this, although two articles were very helpful. The first article is from psychology today. The information derived from this post is from various conducted studies. It describes how working out with your significant other can increase happiness in your relationship, improve efficiency in your workout, make your partner fall in love with you, and achieve your fitness goals ( DiDanato 2014). The other article is from the Huffington post. It describes how working out with your significant helps to burn more calories during a workout, release stress, sharpen your mind, and become synchronized with one another.

I don’t believe there are many variables that can affect one’s workout, but this is the most interesting to me. There are many other things that can improves one’s workout, such as creatine, supplements, stretching etc, though this is substantially different than taking a powder. I really enjoyed researching this hypothesis. So will you make a change to your workout?

Works Cited



Black Holes-What Are They?

Yesterday in class, we had a very interesting lecture. Planet hunter Jason Wright came in to speak to us about his work and our universe. The topic of outer space has always interested me greatly, but because I am not much of a science person, I have never dug deeper into my interest. That is why I was very excited when I walked into class and heard about what we would be learning.

Jason gave some very fascinating information about the planet and our galaxy. For example, I never knew that the Milky Way has about 200 billion stars in it- that was shocking to me. I also loved learning that space is actually about 90% made up of dark matter. This is a topic that has always peaked my interest. It is a very mysterious subject and it raises a lot of questions for me. I posted a question to the comment wall black holes, and it never got answered, so I decided to take to upon myself to do some research. So, what are black holes?

According to National Geographic, the creation of black holes all start with a star. Eventually, the star burns out and dies. When that occurs, the outer layers of the star will continue on into space while the core of the star will remain. Eventually, the core gets sucked into a neutron star by gravity. The gravitational pull of these stars are incredible- they suck the core of the star in and crush every part of it. When this happens, a black hole is created.

Illustration of Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy

Many scientists have disputed over the existence of black holes. Even Albert Einstein could not fathom the concept that gravity could be so powerful. However, back in Einstein’s time, they did not have the luxury of having the technology we have now. Since the invention of X-rays, scientists have used them to study space as they give a better picture of light. After studying space using X-Rays, scientists discovered that in the center of most galaxies, black holes did indeed exists. They found clusters of stars and dusts, which fit right in with the definition of black holes being areas that suck in stars and other space debris.  Although the article notes that nobody has actually seen a real black hole, there is enough statistical evidence out there to have scientists confidently say that black holes more than likely exist. As we have learned in this class, scientists can never 100% prove or disprove things, but extensive studies on this subject matter leave scientists confident of black hole’s existence.

Still curious about black holes, I decided to find out what would happen to an object if it happened to get sucked into a black hole. Unfortunately for me, this question cannot be answered. According to this article, it is hard to even tell the scope of a black hole. Simple determining the inside of one from the outside leaves scientists scratching their heads. However, we can deduct a few things about the inside of black holes from what we know. For starters, objects must move incredibly fast in order to escape black holes. One the inside, objects would have to move at impossible speeds to escape the pull of gravity. This is why it is so hard to gather data about the insides of these holes. Any sort of transmission to gather information just gets lost inside of the hole.  For now, we just have to wait for new technology to be developed before we can go exploring the insides of black holes.

Over-all, black holes are extremely interesting and I am so happy that Jason came in to talk to us about black holes among many other things!

Photo Credits

Does listening to music make you smarter?

Music is present in everyone’s life whether you like it or not. Be it at restaurant, at home or even while watching movies, they are always going to be music somewhere. This makes me question whether listening to music actually have beneficial traits especially in terms of cognitive abilities. Thus, I wanted to research on whether listening to music makes us smarter.

What is the impact of music on cognitive performance?

Rauscher, Shaw, and Ky (1993) conducted a study to find out whether listening to Mozart’s music would improve spatial abilities. They recruited 36 undergraduate students and put them into three experimental conditions. One condition had to listened to Mozart, the other stayed in silence and the last one was being intructed on relaxation. However, the article did not mention anything about the relaxation instruction and how it worked. After being in these conditions for around 10 minutes, the researchers gave them an abstract visual reasoning test. They found out that those who listened to Mozart’s composition were performing better than those who did not. However, it should be noted that the enhancement in spatial abilities last for only 10-15 minutes. They called this the “Mozart effect”. 

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I think that the hypothesis of Rauscher et al. (1993) was whether listening to music improves spatial abilities. The null hypothesis would be that listening to music does nothing. Moreover, the design of this study is likely to be a randomized control trials because the participants were being put into different conditions. The independent variable should be listening to music while the dependent variable is the spatial abilities. This should demonstrate that they are trying to find a causal relationship between the variables.

The meta-analysis of Chabris et al. looked at 16 studies that looked at the Mozart effect on the performance of various cognitive task. Chabris had mentioned that one study concerning British schoolchildren that performs better when they listen to popular music for their ages. He came up with an explaination that the Mozart effect works as a means for arousal.  The study defined arousal as a mental and physical activation from hearing what the participants are enjoying, not necessary has to be only Mozart’s music.To put it simply, I would explain this arousal effect by thinking about how our mood follows the flow of the music. 

Schellenberg conducted meta-analysis to further investigated both Rauscher and Chabris’s findings. One of the experiment were Thompson, Schellenberg and Husain (2001), who looked more into this arousal theory. They tested the participants with fast tempo piece by Mozart in a major key and a slow tempo piece by Albinoni in a minor key. The results were that arousal were “higher” with the Mozart piece than in Albinoni, meaning that there is the Mozart effect on the spatial activities while there is none with the Albinoni. Moreover, the arousal level were proportional to the speed of the Mozart piece. These researchers conducted a similar study a year later but change it for non-spatial abilities such as test processing, where they also found similar results as the speed was better with Mozart than Albinoni. 

Schellenberg and Hallam also tested cognitive performance for children who did not have arousal nor mood at their disposal. The participants were 10-11 years old children and they uses pop music and Mozart composition in their controlled conditions. They found out that children performed better at spatial tasks with pop music than Mozart’s composition and this was explain that it is due to their preferences. The article did not give further specification about this experiment, whether they had a silent group or not. 

Moreover, Schellenberg did another study with 5 years old children and looking at their creativity. They have to draw with crayons after listening to either Mozart composition or familiar children’s songs. They also include singing for the children’s song.  They found that children who are either listening or singing their familiar songs are more creative and took more time in drawing than those who listened to Mozart. Listening and singing had little differences between us each other. Schellenberg concluded that music can makes us smarter as it has shown to benefits us in the short term. 

Schellenberg’s meta-analysis seems to have rejected the null hypothesis because all of his experiments seems to find a causal link between listening to music and cognitive performances such as spatial and non-spatial abilities or creativity.


The article also highlighted two more studies that also found no sign of Mozart Effect. The first study was conducted by Stough et al. (1994) who uses the Raven’s Progressive Matrices to test out whether music helps spatial abilities. The Raven’s Progressive Matrices was considered to be an intellectual test that requires visual-spatial skills. This was stated to be similar to the test used by Rauscher et Al. They tested it on 114 college students of age 18 to 51 years with a mean score of 27.3 years old.  The researcher found no mean score differences from the test between those who were exposed to Mozart and the group who did not listen. The other study was conducted by Kenealy and Monseth (1994) who uses similar testing measure for spatial evaluation and controls group with music and none. The partcipants were between 14 to 16 years old. They also found the same results where there is no significant difference between the controlled groups. Thus, this means that these two studies seems to have failed to reject the null hypothesis.

Evaluating of the studies:

I have found two opposing results with the Schellenberg studies, who found that listening to music does benefits our cognitive abilities for a short period of time while the Stough et al. (1994) and Keanealy and Monseth (1994) studies claims to have found nothing about the Mozart effect. However, I think that it is important to bear in mind that the studies conducted by Schellenberg were meta-analysis. This means that the results are unlikely to be a fluke and were guarded against false positives. However, there is a possibility of file drawer problems in a meta-analysis study. This means that the experimenters could have select what data they wanted to published. However, I personally believe that this is unlikely because he did choose to published that the results only last for the short-term.

Also, we should consider that the studies of Stough et al. (1994) and Keanealy and Monseth (1994) have not put to test non-spatial task. Hence, more meta-analysis studies are needed on the non-spatial task to demonstrate whether his findings were a fluke or not. Moreover, the design of all the studies were likely to be randomized control trial because they all have control group of people involving at least two conditions, one being exposed to music and one being in silence. Hence, the design of the studies were experimental which also minimized the possibility of a third confounding variables. The dependent variable all of these studies were soft-endpoint because they are looking at things that are believed to correlated with intelligence such as spatial and non-spatial task or creativity in drawings. Meta-analysis are more generally reliable than studies. Thus, I am more lenient toward the Schellenberg’s meta-analysis conclusion.

If I were to replicate these studies, I would try to put increase controlled group with more variety in the type of music such as pop, rock, jazz etc … because all of these studies seems to focus only on either classical music such as Mozart pieces and a bit of the popular music for the childrens. This is not wide enough compare to the large genres of musics that exist in this world. Therefore, I believed that more studies are needed for stronger evidence that listening to music can improve our cognitive abilities.