Daily Archives: November 15, 2016

What Happens After You Die?

Whether you believe in God and an afterlife or not, we all can agree that we all have thought the same thing. What happens to us after we die? Do we cease to exist, our minds and the person who we were in life completely gone forever, or do we go someplace else? Throughout history, we have answered this question with varying degrees. Hindu’s and Buddhists believe in reincarnation, Catholics believe Heaven, and a lot of Greek and Native American had some form of afterlife. Here’s what most major religions believe in when it comes to the afterlife: http://www.religiousmovements.org/views-on-death-according-to-different-religions/. Regardless, we all agree on one thing: at some time in our lives, we all will die.

The thing that makes this topic so interesting is that there is absolutely no way of figuring this out. Much like the topic in class earlier this year asking if prayer heals, we cannot come up with a way to actually determine what happens to us in the afterlife with the certainty we usually can in regards to scientific findings. If you look hard enough, you can find hundreds or even thousands of people online saying they saw many different things after they died and were revived. Seeing all of these “near death experiences”, we would have to scientifically conclude that there might be something in the afterlife. You can argue whether this may file drawer problem, as those who don’t see anything and come back simply may not say anything about it (why would they if they didn’t see anything?). Still, with all of these people seeing things, I want to look at some ways scientists have gone about trying to answer this question in the past. (Note, there will be no way I can answer this question in this blog, nor should I. Take what I say with a grain of salt and know I’m looking at the process, not a solution. You can argue you can’t truly get the full picture without fully dying, but I’m trying to find the best solutions science can come up with).


This should really go without saying, but it’s far easier to die and see what happens in the afterlife than to report it back when you might be brought back to life. If (and that’s a big if) you’re brought back to life, you may have no memory of what you experienced when you died, either forgetting it entirely or just losing good portions of the memory. You can associate that with not remembering what you dreamed about when you woke up.

After looking through the internet for quite some time (there were many articles on the matter, just none very trustworthy), I came across an article issued in November 0f 2006 in New Scientist that looked for the answer to my question. You may need your PSU credentials to see this study, as I did. This study used a variety of different studies, but mostly had three different ways of finding an afterlife. They are as follows:

1.) A researcher creates an unbreakable riddle, one only he/she could solve. After they die, people on Earth find a way to contact them in the afterlife, getting the key to solve said riddle and answering the question. If they can’t find the key, there is no afterlife or no way to contact the dead that we know of yet.

2.) Looking at near death experiences, we can see what the person experienced and base that off of real life events they couldn’t have seen or possibly know when they were alive.

3.) People are weighed before, during, and after their death. If there is a “soul”, then this should be shown with a decrease, however small, in their weight as they die as their soul leaves their body.


Looking at the first way scientists look at how to scientifically prove their’s a life after death, this seems to be the least likely. Not only do we not have any feasible ways of communicating in the dead that is proven, we also don’t know if we remember anything in the afterlife from our previous life. For example, the article focuses mainly on how psychologist Robert Thouless did so in 1984, where he then died. However, no one has been able to crack the code since, even after many have said they contacted Thouless and got the correct key. One person even said they were able to contact him multiple times, but he doesn’t remember the password. You can either say he lied and did not contact Thouless or that Thouless had no reccollection of his previous life. Therefore, we can assert that this isn’t a good strategy for finding life after death.

The second strategy mentioned above is one I mentioned in the opening paragraphs-asking people what they saw when they died and were brought back. Like mentioned above, you can’t ethically kill people and then bring them back, so to combat this they put a TV on the ceiling above an operating room, which changes between images and is not visible to anyone who wouldn’t be looking overhead. The problem with this strategy is that not only do you rely on patients dying, coming back, and remembering this image, you also are relying on the idea that the soul moves upward after death, which may not even be what happens. As this article was posted in 2006, they have yet to find anyone who has been able to identify the images. This may be a great option in the future, but I think a better method needs to be established.

Finally, the third option is where we turn our attention to. Of the three, I think this is the method that is the best rooted in science. In regards to the other two, you can see that there is a lot of things you cannot control, like speaking to the dead or bringing someone who has had their heart stopped back. In this, however, it’s quite simple. You continuously weigh someone as they’re dying, and see if they lose weight after they have died. You can attribute this weight loss to that being your soul, even micro-weight differences. However, this proved to be far harder than it may seem. A man by the name Duncan MacDougall tried this method all the way back in 1901. However, with outside factors he was unable to get a consistent measurement in weight. He concluded the weight of the soul was 20 grams, but this wasn’t supported by more evidence and concluded to be an anecdote. When this study was replicated, they were unable to find a difference in weight. However, this doesn’t prove that there wasn’t a drop in weight after death, the soul could just weigh far less than a scale can measure. Therefore, you would need very expensive technology to truly get an idea of the weight of the soul (if it does exist).

So, in conclusion, we have yet to find a good method for finding if there’s life after death. All of these methods had positives and negatives, and the latter two can be refined and tried again. But something the article does bring up is something that made me think. According to the First Law of Thermodynamics, energy is not lost or gained in the universe. Instead, it simply transfers. So, at the most basic level, there is more for us after death. Whether our energy goes towards a small particle or part of a new animal, we will become something after death. Finally, while we cannot scientifically prove that there is life after death, that doesn’t mean that we have to stop believing in it. And who knows, we may be able to figure this out in the future with new technology or scientific findings!




Americas Fastest Growing Epidemic: Diabetes


The fastest growing American epidemic is diabetes. Each year the number of obese people in America increases, and not in a slight way. Tablets and video games are taking away from the physical play that children need in order to stay healthy. Without the physical activity being prevalent, many children become obese, and in the worst case, it leads to a life-long diseases called diabetes. diabetes-management-training-causes-treatment-prevention-c8

What is Diabetes? 

Diabetes is when an individuals blood sugar, also commonly known as blood glucose, is too high. Glucose is made in our liver and muscles and found in most of the foods we eat. It’s job is to distribute the glucose to each cell to give our bodies energy. Our pancreas is the organ that breaks down the food we eat by releasing a hormone into our bloodstream called insulin. This hormone helps the cells carry the glucose to each cell. If the body doesn’t make enough or work correctly with the insulin the glucose can’t reach the cells. If the levels of glucose are too high, a person gets diagnosed with diabetes.

Some signs and symptoms of diabetes are:

-Being hungry

-losing weight without trying

-Being thirsty

-Dry & itchy skin

-blurry eyesight

Types of Diabetes

There are three types of diabetes, type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. Type 1 is developed usually at a young age. This is when the body cannot make insulin anymore and the immune system attacks the cells that are supposed to make insulin. Treatment includes taking shots of insulin, being physically active, and controlling cholesterol levels.

Type 2 diabetes, also the most commonly diagnosed one, is more common in adults until recently most children have been diagnosed with it. It usually starts when the liver and muscles don’t produce cells to carry the insulin throughout the body. The pancreas cannot keep up with the amount of insulin needed for the high blood sugar in the body and eventually stops making it. This is the type of diabetes that most obese children are experiencing.

Gestational diabetes is more likely to develop in pregnant woman or overweight people. It usually goes away after some extended periods of time.

The Studies
overcoming-laziness-1Now that the background on what diabetes is covered, the question then becomes, why is obesity increasing in america and is it correlated to diabetes? My first answer to this question was because kids are lazy. As Americans, our family traditions drastically differ from other countries. Our traditions have also greatly changed over a short period of time. The common belief that women stay home to be the rock of the household isn’t the norm anymore. Most children are lock-key kids, who let themselves into the house after school, make themselves an unhealthy snack, and wait until their parents get home from work. Looking at this simple change, it’s no surprise that children are becoming lazy, and no surprise again, lazy is the number one cause of obesity.

Dr. Dexter Canoy conducted a systematic review to answer the following questions: What are the effects of lifestyle interventions for the treatment of childhood obesity? What are the effects of surgical interventions for the treatment of childhood obesity? They resulted that obesity is the result of a long-term energy imbalance (laziness).


It can be concluded, the obesity is the cause of most diabetes in children and obesity is caused by laziness. Being lazy causes people to eat bad food. This is both a direct causation and if you read my post backward, it could also be proven that reverse causation could be a possibility. Overall, children need to change their ways, get involved in sports and do something active in order for this epidemic to be fixed.



The Diet Soda Situation

Recently it seems that all I’ve been hearing is people complaining about needing to go on diets and eating healthier. As my friend reaches for a Diet Pepsi I can’t help but wonder if that is a good choice. I mean I’ve always heard people say that diet soda is actually bad for you but I’ve never known for sure. So I figured why not write a blog on it?

Here’s what I do know—or at least have heard:

For those who don’t know, diet sodas contain zero calories which is why people tend to flock to them thinking they are the healthier choice. Yes, this may sound like it is good for you but don’t be fooled. The truth is that they are filled with terrible chemicals used to sweeten the drink (instead of sugar). Some of these include aspartame, sucralose, cyclamate, phosphoric acid—and that’s just to name a few. If you’re reading that past sentence and thinking WTF do any of those words mean, they are artificial sweeteners that can contribute to numerous health risks. But is any of this actually true??



A study was done based on diet soda consumption followed up by examinations to test for type 2 Diabetes and metabolic syndrome. The results of this was that the consumption of diet soda was associated with a 67% greater risk of type 2 Diabetes and 36% greater risk of metabolic syndrome (as opposed to not drinking diet soda). Notice the word “associated” was used!! If there is one thing that stands out that Andrew taught us it’s that correlation does not equal causation. According to the study it turns out that there is not enough data to support that these diet sodas actually cause these health defects.

In addition to this, an article posted from Harvard’s school of public health mentions that in 2011 the American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association were not able to make an exact conclusion on the artificial sweeteners found in diet soda due to an “insufficient” amount of data.

FYI In case you’re like me and don’t know what Metabolic Syndrome is: The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute defines Metabolic Syndrome as factors closely related to obesity or being overweight that put those at risk of heart disease, diabetes and even stroke.


I set out on this blog thinking that I would find tons of evidence highlighting the dangers of diet soda with definite conclusions. Little did I know that, although there are associations, there is no set proof that diet sodas are the cause of health risks like type 2 Diabetes and metabolic syndrome. After some of our pop quizzes Andrew has asked if the studies were convincing enough to have us change the way we do a specific thing in our daily lives. In this case, the research was not enough to make people stop drinking diet soda all together. This case was unable to inspire a definite life change in drinking diet soda but if you are in a similar situation to me with friends trying to diet, maybe try suggesting water, eliminating the choice of soda as a whole, diet or not.









Should I Drink My Urine?

You are lost at sea for days now. You have nothing to do. No where to turn. Nobody to talk to. And you are now facing the effects of dehydration and starvation: scurvy, refeeding syndrome, hallucinations, fevers, etc. What should you do? As a matter of fact, what can you do? Some people argue that there is nothing to do but wait for the inevitable death that is soon to come, but others argue that you can utilize the very processes that we ignore on a day to day basis to survive during these times of need. Thus, some say that the use of the human digestive system can save your life!

Now, you might be asking yourself, “What is he talking about?” Well, my fellow classmates, I am talking about drinking your own pee. It might be easy to knock the idea down since your are not in this position, and most likely never will be, but that does not mean that others who are less fortunate than you might not run into the same problems. As hunger and dehydration begin to dole out its consequences on the human body, drastic measures might have to be taken in order to survive another day. However, the important questions that need to be answered by the scientific community are as follows: How healthy is  drinking one’s own urine? Are any adverse effects imposed on the human body by doing so? Is it recommendable if all other options are exhausted?

According to an article regarding urine therapy (the practice of using urine for multiple positive effects on the human body), urine is made up of a number of nutritional elements that are actually helpful to the human body. As a matter of fact, Dr. A.H. Free’s research explained in that very article showed that the urine expelled from humans contains amino acids, a number of essential vitamins, minerals, hormones, enzymes, creatine, etc. This is because urine is actually just the excess from blood that is not needed; the body is constantly renewing its blood and cleaning it with the kidneys and liver, and any leftover is what eventually gets expelled as pee. More specifically speaking, approximately 95 percent of the pee humans expel is water, while the remaining 5 percent is nutrients and excess vitamins. Thus, urine is actually more sterile than distilled water!

But, did you know that you can do more than just drink your own urine?! As a matter of fact, through something called urine therapy, you can use the urine that the human body expels for more than just drinking; it is effective against acne, allergies, cancer, psoriasis, wrinkles, etc. And urine can be injected, swallowed, lathered, used as eye drops and even ear drops!


Bao Yafu is the older gentleman on the right.

Like Andrew has explained in class, the power of anecdotes are extraordinary, especially in the scientific community, even if those anecdotes have no substantial scientific proof to support it. For example, both the Chinese men Bao Yafu and Yi Dongshan have been drinking their urine for decades, and more specifically, Bao Yafu has been doing so since the year 1972! Now, Mr. Yafu has been head of the China Urine Therapy Association, and organization that is dedicated to people who enjoy drinking their own effluent, since 2008. With nearly 1,000 members, this club has now been officially recognized by the Chinese Ministry of Health! Furthermore, Bao has a number of claims that he believes were only possible becasue of the practices he completes with his own urine samples; he says that the practice has eradicated his canker sores, cured his constipation, and even fixed his baldness!

Photo Credits

However, other than personal anecdotes and the science behind what actually comprises urine, there is no substantial evidence or research that proves that urine has positive effects on the human body; in other words, there have been no controlled studies that have proved the effectiveness of using urine as a medicine. However, by the same token, there is no evidence that has been found supporting negative effects, either. But, it is important to note that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence, much like how we learned during Andrew’s lecture. Simply because studies have not been done proving that urine is bad for you does not necessarily give credit to the fact that it is healthy!


  • If you recognize the fact that the urine expelled from the body is only water and excess nutrients, drink your own urine! It might not be proven that it is healthy for you, but the science behind the fact that urine is comprised of water and numerous minerals and nutrients has defineitly been proven.
  • Do not drink your pee, however, if you have been ill or suffer from certain blood diseases and are taking serious medications; parts of those things will appear in your blood.
  • Some people suggest that benefits arisen from practicing urine therapy have only arisen because of the placebo effect. Thats up for you to decide.
  • So many legal drugs come from components of urine, so it can’t be all bad!

Advice for Drinking Your Urine:

  • If you can’t bring yourself to swallowing your pee (or using it for other medicinal purposes), relax! If need be, mix it with other drinks to start getting used to it first.
  • The healthiest pee is the one expelled in the morning, so be sure to drink that one.
  • When someone is peeing, especially in the morning, the middle portion has the most nutrients and minerals. Thus, pee a little bit in the toilet, then fill your cup, and then finish in the toilet. Bon appetit!

Now the next question the scientific community must answer is whether you should eat your own…never mind!

Secret Benefits of the Sun


Living in this modern society, we have the world at our fingertips. Any questionpositively-smitten or concern could be answered and validated within milliseconds. Contrary to that, the tall tale saying the sun is bad for our skin has been passed down generations by word of mouth. We’ve been told to cover up in the sun at the risk of getting skin cancer without any concrete proof. Now, with multiple experiments and evidence to support this theory, the internet would agree with the statement that the sun is harmful to our skin, but has new evidence about what the sun is doing to the inside of our bodies.

Evidence that Sun is Bad 

To answer the question everyone is probably thinking right about now is yes, the sun is bad for
the skin but only if it’s been over-exposed. It will increase a persons chance of getting skin cancer and leave dark or aging tumblr_lmxnhsvhzh1qcovl2spots on the body. Evidence in this statement is found Sara Gandini’s 2004 study, which was an observational meta-analysis experiment on melanoma. Extreme sunburns and exposure to the sun was proven to be a large factor of getting melanoma, a rare skin cancer whose aspects are poorly understood by most. Although these factors were supported fairly, the participants skin was qualified as sensitive, making the data very controversy. Even with that factor, the conclusion of this study was determined that too much sun exposure will increase the likelihood of getting skin cancer. The key word is too much, being over-exposed to the sun is harmful, but what happens to the body if it gets the correct amount of sunlight?

Evidence that Sun is Good

The correlation between a sunny day and being in a good mood is scientifically undetermined, but I can personally validate that the two are correlated. The sun is a free mood enhancer because of the serotonin that is released in our bodies after. The science behind why  Serotonin is a chemical that is released only when we are satisfied with something. That is why it’s also referred to as the happy chemical. Serotonin levels are higher during the summer because people are exposed to more sunlight so they are usually more content then. Being in the sun is a good way to get these chemical pumping through our bodies so if a person is not exposed to the sun as much as they are needed to, it is possible that they may develop Seasonal Affective Disorder. Also known as SAD, this condition is a mild case of depression. This usually is diagnosed in the winter, when the sun shines for less than half the day. During that time, people amy experience less energy which then leads to having less motivation to do things.

The biggest benefit the sun gives people is the abundance amounts of Vitamin D that it releases. This vitamin is essential for our bone growth which is why it may also be referred to as  the sunshine vitamin. It absorbs calcium and phosphorus which is necessary for our immune system and also fights depression, so overall, its a good vitamin to have lots of. A randomized double-blind, placebo controlled study was conducted to determine if a Vitamin D supplement and fat mass loss in females was correlated. They added a calcium supplement and no statistical significant fat mass loss in the study. When low-calcium supplement was taken, a significant decrease in fat mass was seen. They concluded that the supplement had effect but many other factors were needed for it this theory be considered fully true.


Humans are like plants, they absorb and process the sunlight in order to grow. The suns rays  do have a high risk but the benefits of them outweigh the bad. Some tips to getting only the benefits out of the sun:


-Sit in the sun in intervals (20 minutes of sun, 10 minutes of shade)



Rachel Nall. “What Are the Benefits of Sunlight?” Healthline. N.p., 9 Nov. 2015. Web.