Monthly Archives: November 2016

God’s Water and Satan’s Golf Balls (Iced Tea and Kidney Stones)

As a child with severe ear problems the carbonation in soda always gave me a rough time, so I moved away from Coke and Pepsi and discovered all of the delicious ways one can drink iced tea. Lets just say that I should probably be in the Guinness Book of World Records for amount of peach tea I have consumed. All of the fellow tea drinkers in this class will have heard the warnings from just about everyone about the danger of the ever painful kidney stones. According to This Article the primary cause of Kidney Stones is dehydration. The same article brings up the fact that some ingredients that go into making iced tea are the same chemicals that lead to formation of kidney stone development. Also, iced tea makes you more susceptible for kidney stones than hot tea just for the fact that people drink more iced tea than hot tea. So I decide to put together a little mechanism for a possible study that can be conducted.

Alternate Hypothesis: Drinking excessive amounts of iced tea leads to the formation of kidney stones.

Null Hypothesis: Drinking excessive amounts of iced tea does not lead to the formation of kidney stones.

Dependent Variable: The Formation of Kidney Stones

Independent Variable: Amount of Iced Tea consumed

Possible confounding variables: gender, age, and possible diets aligned with tea drinkers

When it comes to possible reverse causation one can argue that people who are susceptible to kidney stones drink more iced tea. Also chance is always a possibility.

Some other possible causes for the kidney stones are the type of sweetener used in the beverages that can possibly cause the stone development. This study concluded that sugar sweetened beverages may be more of a risk than the specific beverage. So multiple studies have been conducted and scientists can not strongly conclude what is causing the rise in kidney stones. So In reality just remember that everything in moderation is okay, just remember to drink a lot of water and you will be a lower risk of getting kidney stones. So my personal conclusion is that it doesn’t matter what beverage you drink when it comes to kidney stones.the-rock

 

Multitasking Is a Myth

At some point or another in our lives, we have all had an overwhelming number of tasks to get done in a seemingly minimal window of time. To solve this, we attempt to multitask. I for one try to multitask quite frequently, albeit with things that have varying levels of importance. I try to lock in and focus on my work but a lot of the time, text messages and snapchat enter the fold. Sometimes, I feel compelled to throw in headphones or answer a facetime call. Maybe my fantasy football roster could use an overhaul prior to the games on Sunday. Meanwhile, I somehow manage to get my work done well and on time. Seemingly, multitasking is a real thing then, right?

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Well, the answer is no; what society in general understands to be multitasking isn’t even real. It’s actually a great method of becoming inefficient and can be very distracting, such as the example from the source in the previous sentence: using your eyes to attempt to text and to drive at the same time. A less-deadly example that I’ve actually attempted was to watch television while I was running on a treadmill and hydrate with some Gatorade while still on the treadmill. I was able to watch television and run on the treadmill simultaneously (I’ll explain how in the next paragraph) but I was not able to take a drink. I had to slow down my speed to make sure I could actually grab my drink and had to look down to make sure I didn’t fly off the treadmill.

Now, how come I was able to run while I was watching television? Every single thing that you do is processed by some part of your brain. If you try to complete multiple tasks at the same time and those tasks involve different parts of the brain, it is possible to do multiple things at once. This exception has very clear and specific parameters: if one of the two actions is basically mastered, such as walking, running, eating, and the like, another action using a different part of the brain can be done. Since watching television and running are two actions that don’t involve the same part of the brain, I was able to do them together. However, adding my sip of Gatorade into the equation was not good, as I was moving my legs and arms in different directions to do two different things. How could that part of my brain focus on either one of them?                                                                                        photo 2

What actually happens when people think they are multitasking, as described here and in the same link from the paragraph above, is called serial tasking. Your brain shifts focus from one task to another pretty quickly but it doesn’t do multiple tasks at the same time. So, going back to the opening paragraph when I was discussing my attempts of multitasking work with various things on the outside, I was actually shifting my focus from my work to texting, snapchat, music or a call. I wasn’t actually doing any of those things at the same time because each activity needs to be focused on to be completed. If I’m going to send a text, I cannot type on my laptop and my phone at the same time. If I’m going take a picture on snapchat, I have to divert my attention from my textbook to my phone briefly. The list goes on and on. What shouldn’t go on anymore is the belief that the human brain can do multiple tasks, what we all thought was multitasking, because the brain cannot do that.

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Sports Drinks or Water?

If you’ve ever been to the gym or watched a sporting event, you’ve seen plenty of sweaty people sipping on sports drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade. People drink them after working out, playing a sport or in daily life just because they like the flavor. The popularity of these sports drinks has somehow made water the forgotten drink for athletes. Personal preference in daily life is one thing but athletes need to recover from physical exertion and to recover effectively, they need the best option. The question is, what is the better option in terms of hydration?                                                                                                      photo 1

Patrick J. Skerrett’s blog post in Harvard Health points out that overhydration has become an issue because of this debate. A key point Skerrett makes in that argument is that no marathon runner has ever died from dehydration but sixteen marathon runners have died, along with well over a thousand becoming very sick, as a result of overhydration and hyponatremia. Athletes are overhydrating because they fear that they need to put a ton of fluid, especially sports drinks, in their bodies when they exert themselves like crazy. For some reason, they fear that they are losing so many electrolytes that they have to down a few Gatorades to replenish them. However, this is not the case. This article informs us that the energy your body needs, without the added sugars, can be found in the foods we eat. Also, there aren’t enough electrolytes in any sports drink to adequately restore electrolytes after extensive physical activity anyway. Eating well will give the body everything it needs to function well, as sports drinks are not even remotely considered useful unless they are used by people who push the human body to extreme limits. Even then, sports drinks shouldn’t be downed as if it was water.

Sports drinks don’t really have a use for anyone, let alone people who aren’t crazy athletes. No teenager who hits the gym for an hour should be guzzling a sports drink. Athletes rarely have any reason to grab anything other than water, as it takes a ton of physical exertion for someone to need the sugar and emergency electrolytes that a sports drink offers. Water is what your body craves, whether you are exerting yourself or not. There’s nothing bad in purified water for you. It is understandable for someone to grab a sports drink, a soda, an iced tea or some other sweet confection every so often but not when your body needs to recover from physical activity go with water.

photo 2           

In summary, unless you are a world class athlete who does anything short of climbing Everest or swimming across the English Channel, (in other words, pushes their body to its absolute physical limits) you shouldn’t be counting on sports drinks for hydration. Reinforcing earlier points, this source concludes that our bodies need the fluid that is natural on this Earth, in our bodies when we are born and gives us everything we need to properly hydrate after physical activity: water. Why wouldn’t you drink water over anything to hydrate?

Animals in Experimental Research

In our lovely SC200 class, we talk about a lot of new and current research. Of course, I am able to appreciate the fact that sometimes testing on animals is the most beneficial thing for us to do as humans who want to constantly expand our knowledge and improve on what we know, but it has never sat right with me. I will admit, there are many things we know today that we definitely wouldn’t had we not been able to use animals to test on. With them, scientists are able to perform experiments that just wouldn’t be ethical to do on humans such as changing their DNA and genetically modifying species. Take a look back in our class notes if you need examples. All of the times that animal testing has been brought into class has sparked an interest for me to want to understand just how frequently animals are tested on and how people negatively form opinions on it.

Excluding agricultural experiments, one million animals are used in animal testing. This number doesn’t include mice or rats… that’s another 100 million. In other countries such as Canada and the united Kingdom, these numbers are significantly higher. PETA (people for the ethical treatment of animals) feel that animals that are tested on are treated as disposable lab material. To me, the most convincing evidence was produced by The Journal of the American Medical Association and it discusses the fact that some research simply doesn’t translate to humans, and that is something that makes sense to me and I can stand behind. Diseases among animals tend to me different than they are to humans. When it comes to living creatures, little things matter. I agree with animal testing if we are helping ourself as a human population, but if it is nothing that we can relate to ourselves, then that is wasteful in my book. An example of an experiment that fails to produce any progress in what it set out to do was HIV testing on monkeys. In this study, a vaccine was proven to help monkeys fight against HIV/AIDS. However, it did absolutely nothing for humans and some even reported that this treatment made them more susceptible to the deadly disease.

boo

This shows that the 50% of people who oppose animal testing have some real credible reasons behind their opinions. Controversial topics like this are what keep our class going, so it is imperative that everyone takes an effort and is sympathetic to the views and feelings of those that may be different from yours.

For more information on this topic with a more in-depth and specific discussion, visit the PETA website.

Food Comas Are Real!

We’ve all eaten much more than our stomachs have room for at some time or another. Maybe you managed to clean two full plates of turkey on Thanksgiving last week. Maybe you can’t wait to pig out on more wings than you can count during the Super Bowl (I do). Whatever your cause for devouring way too much food than you should, you will likely want sleep like a baby soon after your king-sized meal, which is commonly called a food coma.

Now, people question whether or not a food coma is actually a real thing. The answer to that is yes. Postprandial somnolence, the formal name for a food coma, is no myth. Whenever you eat a ton of food, your body actually does experience a food coma, which is not to be mistaken for a coma. However, unlike a coma, the human body doesn’t shut down due to some sort of ailment when you decide to channel your inner cookie monster.

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Postprandial somnolence is caused by two things. The first cause is a diversion of blood and energy towards digesting the obscenely large amount of food in your stomach, which makes your energy level quite low. The extra energy that is diverted towards digestion is taken away from exertion, which is why you can’t really do much once you get up from the table. The second cause is the entrance of a lot of glucose into the bloodstream, causing drowsiness and makes you want to crash pretty soon after your feast.

Knowing what is behind a food coma, we are left with a very important choice. Anyone who feels like they want to avoid food comas should avoid overeating, especially overeating meals that are full of sugar (glucose). And for everyone else who loves the feeling of a food coma after eating far more than you should, especially sugary treats such as chocolate or a sugary drink accompanying a huge meal, keep on pigging out on holidays when it’s socially acceptable. After all, football is on all day during Thanksgiving because nobody has the energy to do anything other than plop on the couch and watch it.

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Why do people have ADHD?

Over the past years I have felt like ADHD has been diagnosed to many people that I know. Do all these people have the same reason that they need it in common? I wonder what the science is behind why people have ADHD. I also feel like many people believe they have ADHD when they in fact do not have it, would there be a way to prove someone has ADHD?

adhd-chalk-board

 

(link to above image)

 

ADHD

I would say that most everyone knows what ADHD is, to put simply it is a condition that causes people to have consistent trouble paying attention and causes hyperactivity and sometimes impulsivity. There are 3 forms of ADHD. The different forms are differentiated by their symptoms; hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inability to pay attention. ADHD is more common in boys and in the source I found the rest of this background information it mentions that ADHD seems to run in families. It says that statistically when a family member is diagnosed with ADHD theres a 25%-35% chance another member of that family is also diagnosed. This article also touches on my statement I made about how I think recently a lot of cases of ADHD have been increasing in the past years. The article recognizes that the diagnoses of this condition have increased but scientists cannot prove if ADHD is actually more common today or if the increased diagnoses are due to other factors. Other factors including larger awareness of the symptoms of ADHD and the widening of the criteria for what is considered ADHD.

Science of ADHD

The exact causes of this disorder are not known by scientists. In the article I read titled, “The Science of ADHD” Heredity is found to be the main factor that determines if you’ll have ADHD. According to this same source there was a study done 10 years ago conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health that made the discovery that the brains of people with ADHD are actually 3-4% smaller than that of brains of people without the disorder. There is more research being done on the brains of these ADHD patients and I think in the future scientists will figure out much more about the detailed difference between a brain of someone with ADHD and someone without. This same article also reports that the majority of the symptoms of ADHD are  executive function impairments. These are central control processes within the brain that are in control of managing other jobs within the brain. So, the symptoms of patients with ADHD are because their executive functions of their brain are damaged. This makes a lot of sense as to why they would struggle with things like paying attention, being able to control what you say, taking charge in starting their work and many others. People with ADHD really do have something different about their brains. Hopefully in the future scientists will know more about the extent of these differences.

 

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(link to image above)

 

Bibliography

ADHD Definition, What ADHD Stands For, Statistics and More.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

CHADD – The National Resource on ADHD. “The Science of ADHD.” The Science of ADHD | CHADD. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

“Common Pesticide May Increase Risk of ADHD.” Common Pesticide May Increase Risk of ADHD | Media Relations. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

ADHD: A Growing Concern for Youth and Adults [INFOGRAPHIC].” Rawhide ADHD A Growing Concern for Youth and Adults INFOGRAPHIC Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

 

An Apple a Day Really Does Keep the Doctor Away

                                  photo 1

We’ve all heard the adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Turns out, that’s not just a rhyme to make kids eat some fruit; it’s a fact. You could make apple pie, apple crumb, applesauce, apple juice, and more out of this small ball that grows on trees. As fruits, apples were already considered to be healthy things to eat. What you more than likely were not aware of was that it isn’t just the classification of ‘fruit’ that makes them healthy.

There are chemicals in the apples, called phytonutrients, that defend the apple from bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Two studies done by Cornell University discovered that quercetin and phenolic compounds, which are phytonutrients in apples, were effective in protecting the brain cells of rats from oxidative stress. Granted, since the laboratory tests were done on rats and not humans, the results should not make people eat ten apples a day under the assumption that they’ll be totally protected from neurodegenerative diseases and oxidative stress.

What would be interesting to see is if someone could try injecting quercetin and phenolic compounds into some other food. Maybe they could be injected into other fruits and vegetables missing those phytonutrients that could further confirm or refute the findings from these studies by adding to what may become a strong meta-analysis of this phenomenon. Maybe they could be injected into red meat and see if the phytonutrients could fend off bacteria and make meat safer for consumption by reducing the likelihood of deadly illnesses such as Salmonella.                                                                                  photo 2

These studies revealed that the phytonutrients in apples are better at preventing cancer than vitamin C is, as well as stronger anti-oxidant protective effects than vitamin C. On top of that, the phytonutrients are also associated with reducing the risks of other diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. From what scientists are uncovering about these phytonutrients, it sounds as if apples are a panacea. However, to confirm these findings, scientists would have to carry out a study involving human subjects, not just rats. More work needs to be done to figure out whether these phytonutrients are just as effective at preventing disease in humans as they are in rats. Medicine could be revolutionized if they are effective at preventing diseases in humans, as daily vitamins may end up with quercetin as an ingredient sooner rather than later.

What is Marijuana doing to you?

As a freshman in college, I have heard many contradicting opinions on whether marijuana is good or bad for you. Of course there are pros and cons of everything. Some positives that I have been told have included anxiety relief, pain relief, increasing levels of creativity, and minimizing nightmares. Some cons include impairing your memory, negatvely affecting your respiratory system, and becoming a gateway substance into other more serious drugs or habits such as alcohol abuse. (For more pros and cons, see this link.)

mary-jaaane

I found this image online and thought it was extremely interesting. It is often hard to analyze risk depending on what you’re comparing it to. With marijuana, we aren’t as concerned with death as we are the ways it can affect your everyday life.

Picture found here

It seems to differ among people. However, there comes a point where you can’t argue against science (as long as you account for chance, and have a well-designed study). Personally, I feel that the most important thing to consider as college students when we are making decisions are how they will affect our success as students. College is such an investment, and while I am 100% for trying new things and making the most of your independence and college experience, I think making the most of our investment academically should always be the priority.  Two recent studies (Fergusson DM, Boden JM. Cannabis use and later life outcomes. Addict Abingdon Engl. 2008;103(6):969-976; discussion 977-978. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2008.02221.x.
Brook JS, Lee JY, Finch SJ, Seltzer N, Brook DW. Adult work commitment, financial stability, and social environment as related to trajectories of marijuana use beginning in adolescence. Subst Abuse. 2013;34(3):298-305. doi:10.1080/08897077.2013.775092.) linked the heavy usage of marijuana to many negative habits and outcomes after college including lower income, heavier criminal activity, and even worse, lower satisfaction in life overall. It is very plausible that there were confounding variables in these studies such as family environment and life experiences that could change the way a person made their decisions, habits, and priority choices. However, knowing how serious some of the downsides of becoming addicted to this drug can get, would you really consider the few possible pros worth it? Is it worth risking your future and how you live out the rest of your life?

In our lectures, this is something we have considered a lot. Whether or not something is immediately bad for you is one thing, but the possible risks, although not always extremely likely, sometimes aren’t even worth taking the chance.

The idea of this blog post caught my attention because it is something a lot of college students can relate to. Whether you smoke marijuana yourself or if you know someone who does, as long as you are aware of the risks then don’t stress too much about anything. What is important is that you take responsibility for your actions and understand what you could be getting yourself into.

source

Expected to Perform

Introduction

We’ve all heard a variation of the phrase “If you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way to get it”.  But is there any truth to this statement, does having high expectations for yourself actually translate into a tangible level of higher success?  Having pressure to live up to expectations is something that I’m sure many of us experience, but does it actually cause us to do any better?  If we look at this as a study, the null hypothesis would be that expectations don’t change performance, and the alternative would be that they do.

Background

In order to help eliminate confounding variables, I first wanted to get an idea of the general expectations that parents of different ethnicities have for their children.  I found this study by Christopher Spera that examined what sort of education parents of different ethnicities expected for their kids and what they were hoping for them to accomplish with those educations.  What they found was that parents of ethnic minorities have much higher aspirations for their childrens education, but caucasian parents had the same leevels of expectations for their children outside of academics.  They also studied how expectations affected the perception of success and found that parents who felt their children were doing well in school had higher goals for them in life.  This was also related to many other things like parents education levels, socio-economic status, and others.

Parental Education vs Expectation for Childrens Performance

Parental Education vs Expectation for Childrens Performance Source

Studies

For the purpose of this write-up, I am correlating self esteem with expectations because they have been found to be closely related.  In a study conducted regarding self esteem and performance, they found that having good school performance boosts your self esteem, which in turn boosted peoples expectations for themselves.  They believed that their opinions were more valuable and were more willing to make major decisions in their lives.  I interpret this data as students doing well causes them to put higher pressure on themselves to do even better, because they like the feeling of success. A study titled Cause or Effect? A Longitudinal Study of Immigrant Latino Parents’ Aspirations and Expectations, and Their Children’s School Performance ” showed that in general, parents with no expectations for their children forced them to work less hard an in turn their children performed worse.  However, they also discovered that this pressure doesn’t just have to come from a parent, it could come from a teacher, coach, or any authoritative figure in the students life.

Conclusion

I think from this data it’s safe to say that there is a correlation between expectations and performance, thus confirming the null hyphothesis.  However, I don’t think the definition of “expectation” is very clear cut.  This could be what your parents want from you, what you want from yourself, or what any figure of authority assumes you to be capable of.  I think this aligns with what I’ve experienced in my own life, up until 11th grade my parents always pushed me hard to do well in school, and then they stopped doing so and I noticed my performance starting to slip.  I think that without a push from someone else, or even yourself, to perform then you will have a tougher time doing so.

Can People Become Addicted to Food?

As I was brainstorming what topic to write my blog post about, I thought one thing: Wow, I am hungry.  As I was thinking about which place to order food from, my immediate first thought was Wings Over.  I eat Wings Over far to often, and would almost consider myself addicted to it.  That’s when this idea came into my head.  There have been several moments in my life where I have joked about being addicted to a certain food, but I now want to know if people could actually become addicted to certain kinds of food.

wings-over

It is well known that humans can be addicted to certain things.  Typically, when you hear of an addiction you think of drugs and alcohol, but that is far from the extent of it.  Scientists used to not believe in the idea that people can become addicted to food, but have changed their minds.  A study of rats, which are very closely related to humans in terms of eating habits, shows that rats could and do become addicted to certain foods.  Rats show the same distinct behaviors with food that humans show when exposed to drugs.  When observing brain activity, the rat’s brain (when exposed to food) shows very similar signs as the human brain (when exposed to drugs).  The definition of the word “addiction” has recently been changed.  The new meaning of the word is a lot more broad, and states that addiction does not even have to refer to a substance; it can refer to an action such as gambling, sex, and shopping.  Anything that stimulates a desired response in the brain’s hypothalamus is considered an addiction.  Many eating disorders involve some kind of addiction.  Binge eating can be considered an addiction because people who experience it need to eat a lot, and cannot function without doing so.  This need to eat stimulates the brain’s hypothalamus, classifying binge eating as an addiction.

addiction

A Yale University study looked into this topic, and decided to use chocolate as its food of choice.  Generally, humans are addicted to foods which contain a large amount of sugar and fat.  In this specific study, an observational study, the researchers observed the brains of the volunteers when exposed to chocolate via sight, smell, and taste.  The volunteers were presented a chocolate milkshake to see, then were able to smell the milkshake, then finally able to drink it.  The volunteers who were labeled as the most addictive showed tremendously high activity in the Hypothalamus when they were just able to see and smell the milkshake.  Once actually able to drink it, the brain activity reduced drastically.  This brain activity when shown the milkshake compared to when actually able to consume it is very similar to the brain activity of humans when presented with drugs.

chocolate

Addiction, in general, is a problem that involves both nature and nurture.  A human does not come out of the womb as crack addict.  They first have to be exposed to the stimuli to be addicted to it.  It is impossible to be addicted to something you have never tried before.  At the same time, though, addiction has genetic ties.  Someone who’s parents are both crack addicts is much more likely to be addicted to crack once exposed to it.  If a parent is addicted to a certain kind of junk food, it is best to not expose their child to that as they have a much larger chance of being addicted to the same substance.

A confounding variable associated with food and addiction is stress.  When somebody goes on a diet, they are working to fight their addiction.  Typically, when a person goes on a diet, they completely eliminate extremely fatty and sugary substances.  This is what makes dieting so difficult.  We learned earlier that these fatty and sugary substances are what humans are most commonly addicted to, so having a diet without these substances can provide a very difficult challenge.  When working to eliminate an addiction, or when the addiction is already gone, one thing causes people to go back to it more than anything else; stress.  When people are stressed, they often do not often think about their well being, and work simply to make themselves happier and stress-free.  Someone who has gotten over a drug addition will often start doing that drug again when stressed, because they seek the same happiness they experienced with the drug.  The same goes for food.  Someone extremely stressed who, say, once had a chocolate addiction, may start consuming large amounts of chocolate again to cope with their stress.

After researching this topic, I have learned a lot about addiction in general and addiction specified to food.  Addiction is a very broad term, meaning that humans can become addicted to almost anything.  It is very possible for a human to become addicted to a certain kind of food.

These Fires are Wild

Something that has been all over the news for the last year is the massive surge in wild fires that we have experienced in America and all across the world.  Just the other day there was a massive wildfire in Tennessee that has, at this point, left 7 dead and 53 injured (source).  So why are these infernos becoming more common, more destructive, and ultimately causing more deaths?  There’s a lot of reasons we understand and many more that aren’t fully mapped out yet.  Below I am going to map out the major reasons for this change, and what we can do to stop it.

Climate Change

The largest reason that we are seeing wildfires continue to burn is the effects that climate change is having on forests.  With hotter and dryer conditions, small flames can quickly grow and spread across dry forests.  According to ClimateCentral, Spring and Summer are the two most common times for wildfires, and we have seen a  2.1°F raise in the last century.  One place that has been devastated by these conditions is Alaska, where melting snow is leaving less land properly hydrated, causing massive death in their forests.  In 2015, around 6 Million acres of woodlands burned down in Alaska, making it one of the worst years on record.  That trend has continued in 2016, with continually rising temperatures causing more and more brush to light on fire, and because the forests are dried out the fire is being quickly spread by wind.

Drought

Much of the Western United States is currently being decimated by one of the worst droughts in history, specifically California.  They have been in a drought for 6 years now, and 2015 was oficially their hottest year on record. (source)  Because their land isn’t being properly irrigated, plants are dying, leading to dry brush that is easily combustible.  There has been a noted issue with arsons setting fire to trees and campers making fires over night only for it to catch the forest on fire. (Arsonist charged for starting forest fire) Alabama, also facing a draught, has taken matters into their own hands with their governor outlawing all types of outdoor fires unti lthe drought is declared over. (source)  This is obviously an extreme step, but it’s also a very serious situation.  Also, there is less rainfall to naturally put out any small fires, so unless a fire crew can get a helicopter with water to the effected area within an immediate time frame, the fire will spread.

Tennessee Wild Fire

Tennessee Wild Fire Source

More Fuel

As growing seasons continue to get longer because of diversified crop lineups, there will be more fuel for these fires to continue burning.  Additionally, the firefighting efforts in the past allowed some of the underbrush to burn in order to save the forest as a whole.  But now, this vegetation has grown back more plentiful then it was before and has not been addressed.  Many climate scientists believe that because we never addressed this issue, the wildfires won’t stop until the forest self regulates it’s vegetation growth.  Another large contributor to increased burning material is civilization existing near the border of these forests.  National Geographic published an article in 2013 before this major batch of wildfires started happening explaining that eventually the fires would reach these towns and burn even hotter then they would in a natural setting.  Because of this, firefighters are unable to get into these towns safely to extinguish the fires and they will continue to burn.

Conclusion

Aside from trying to stop people from leaving exposed fires in nature and getting to the fires quick enough before they spread, there isn’t much we can do to stop these fires from raging on.  If we are to believe some of the climate scientists, it will naturally sort itself out once enough of the brush that has grown in the last couple decades has burned away.  But many other scientists argue that climate will only continue to get hotter and drier and that fires will continue to burn if we don’t take major steps towards changing that.  Overall, I think either way is a scary prospect that this is a natural cycle or that it’s unavoidable and is our new reality.  I think more in depth educational programs into having exposed fires in nature would be beneficial, and there needs to be more extreme laws and fines so that people are very cautious about doing it.

 

I wish my hair grew fast

I have always wondered, why is it that when I cut my hair, it takes a long time to grow back. A pretty long time if I do say so myself. I personally don’t look good with a short haircut so I always have to worry about that awkward faze if I want to shave my head. I would see some of my friends who get haircuts and in a week their hair will grow back substantially. It’s crazy. Is there something wrong with my head? I would find myself jokingly thinking about this but then I actually became curious. This fueled my research on the topic and this blog post.

hair-anatomy-diagram

http://images.wisegeek.com/hair-anatomy-diagram.jpg

From what I know about hair already, it is not very complicated. I know this because my moms best friend was a hair dresser and unfortunately I had to listen to her talk about hair all the time. As I did more research, I found that even though it is simple, it serves many functions. According to an article published in WebMD, hair is actually a protein called keratin. This protein (hair) is held down by a follicle. At the bottom of the follicle, there is a hair bulb that forms around it and this is how blood vessels supply the hair with what it needs to be healthy. One of the processes the hair bulb does is that it sends hormones to the hair that control its growth. After reading about this much, I wondered if it was a hormone deficiency that kept my hair from growing? or some other reason I was not aware of? I continued with my research.

I found a study that was experimenting with mouse and human hair. What they were doing By using experimental drugs to infiltrate a family of enzymes causing rapid hair growth. The drug is actually blocking the enzymes. I also found other information on hair growth, but it wasn’t very promising. I came across an article at first that talked about taking care of your hair correctly. It didn’t provide the information I was truly looking for. Then I came across a more scientific article that broke down hair growth more in depth. The article states that hair growth is actually a continuous cycle. There is the growing phase of hair and this is when the follicle is producing the hair and it starts to come in. Once it reaches a stable point, it gets into a resting phase where the old hair stopped growing and the new hair begins to come in. I compared this scientific article to information that I also found on WebMD, and it all matched up except there was one difference. In the WebMD article, they wrote about a transitional phase between the growth and resting phase. The transitional phase is when your hair growth slows down and the follicle actually starts to shrink. It seems to me that the rate of hair growth is situational. Some people grow hair at a faster rate than others. On average, hair grows half an inch per month.

Overall, I don’t think there is anything wrong with my head now. I think that just like my blog about sweat, just how some people sweat more than others, some people grow hair faster than others. Its a natural process. Maintaining your hair healthy will help it grow faster and healthier as well. This last article talked about taking care of your hair and making sure your maintain its health.

http://www.healthy.net/scr/column.aspx?Id=1293

http://physrev.physiology.org/content/34/1/113.short

http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/picture-of-the-hair#1

http://newsroom.cumc.columbia.edu/blog/2015/10/23/blocking-enzymes-in-hair-follicles-promotes-hair-growth/

 

 

Great Minds Think Alike?

I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase “great minds think alike”. I’ve said this many times before, usually when my friends and I have similar ideas. But recently in class, we’ve had several guest speakers who advocate for the type of thinking that isn’t necessarily conventional. In fact, in our “How to win a Nobel Prize” lecture, we were told that we should be constantly testing and challenging concrete ideas. This got me thinking: does collaboration in the job environment hinder progress?

If one were to look at that question just based off of the last few lectures we had before break, they might think that the answer is obvious. We were shown several cases in which previously concrete ideas that were accepted and followed were suddenly destroyed thanks to new thinking.

In today’s day and age, writes Susan Cain, employees are hired based off of things like people skills, and offices often don’t even have walls. The idea of individuals working on their own in solidarity is dying out. And that might not necessarily be a good thing. For one, collaboration rewards and even demands like-minded thinking. When working in a group, there are several confounding variables to worry about that could potentially hinder progress. For example, a group member may be hesitant to share ideas out of fear of ridicule or embarrassment. Or, one member might rely on another to come up with the ideas or do the work- I know most of us can relate to that one. But on a more advanced level, Susan Cain cites the ideas of Hans Eysenck, emphasizing the fact that group work and collaboration are harmful towards innovation. This is because working with others has potential negative externalities such as wasted energy on social cues that limit and reduce focus. In addition to this, Cain also talks about many major innovative geniuses such as Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs and others, all of whom share introverted tendencies. Vivian Giang of Business Insider writes about multiple ways that collaboration in companies can be unsuccessful. She mentions problems such as group competitiveness, failed recognition of individual achievement, and bias disguised as loyalty to any specific group.

sc200-collaboration

In her article, Susan Cain cites a study called the Coding War Games, in which programmers from ninety-two separate companies were looked at. In the study, it was shown that workers in the same company performed at the same level, but there was a big difference between different companies in terms of production. 62% of the programmers in the top companies reported that their workspace was private for the most part, whereas only 19% of programmers in the worse companies reported the same thing. She continues after reporting this study, saying that brainstorming sessions are for the most part extremely unsuccessful, and that quality of group work decreases as the size of the group increases.

There are no current studies found being done on this topic, and it is unlikely that this topic could suffer from the file drawer problem. Also, sample size does not seem to matter when it comes to this topic, since many studies and anecdotes have been recorded, whether formal or informal.

To conclude, it is reasonable to say that collaboration in the job environment does, in many instances, hinder or slow progress. Different people succeed in different ways, but it can be said that working in self-controlled isolation is the best way for the average worker to develop stronger product and better ideas.

Why does glue start white and then dries clear?

The smiley face on the top half of the image is wet glue– All white. Whereas on the bottom half of the image you can see it gradually turning clear in the thinner parts first, where the water is evaporating.

As a kid, arts and crafts were one of my favorite hobbies, and still is now. Most craft glue, Elmer’s brand especially, comes in a thick white color, and if you have never used glue before you would think it would dry the same color. BUT NO! Glue has properties in it that make it dry clear, so crafts and other projects don’t seem messy. This is great an all, but HOW does this color transformation happen? Craft and school glue are essentially made of Polyvinyl acetate (PVA), a powdery substance that doesn’t mix well with water, which turns into other stages, forming the hardened and fastened glue.

This glue dries colorless

A science blogger, “John The Math Guy” explains the breakdown of wet glue and why it forms to the clearer hard state to hold objects together. The reason glue looks milky, as he puts it, is because the PVA is mixed with water which causes it to be wet. Since the water is the part that is wet and therefore will dry, that causes the PVA to turn clear, since it has nothing keeping it wet anymore. The water evaporates, which leaves only PVA plastic leftover, which is clear.

So it isn’t as complicated as I thought- It just has to do with water evaporating and leaving behind the clear PVA particles.

The Truth About Cracking Knuckles

Personally, i’m addicted to cracking all the joints in my body. Fingers, spine, neck, wrists, ankles, I can even crack my elbows which people find completely disturbing but I just think the feeling of cracking feels so good.

I’m sure we have all heard that cracking the bones in your body will cause pain when you’re older or cause you to get arthritis. My mother is always yelling at me for this telling me it can’t be good for my body, but I started to think, what is so bad about it? What even is the noise that we hear when we “crack” the bones in our body.

I found that the cracking sound is not what most people would think it would be. I myself figured that the cracking noise was the sound of the joint popping out. But in my research I found that the sound was actually a cavity opening when you pull or bend the body part. For example, when you pull at one of your fingers, like your index finger, a space opens between the phalanges and the metacarpus which causes the sound.

hand

Picture

Now what is up for debate is is this harmful for your body? In a study conducted of 215 people, it was found that cracking your knuckles did not lead to arthritis. The type of study that was conducted was a case control study. A case control study evaluates two groups and compares their results. In this study the null hypothesis was that cracking knuckles does not cause arthritis. And the alternative hypothesis was that there is a relationship between cracking knuckles and arthritis. 215 people participated in this study, 135 of them partook in the study and 80 were used as controls. A control is a group of experimental units that does not receive treatment in an experiment. In this experiment the control group were participants who did not crack their knuckles. The findings were that the both the experimental group and the control group had findings that were very similar. The experimental group had a 18.1% of having arthritis and the control group had a 21.5%. The study also revealed that the P-value was .548. Therefore, because alpha was greater than 5%, we accept the null hypothesis. Again, the null hypothesis was that there is no relationship between cracking knuckles and arthritis. 

The research I did on cracking knuckles was only in relationship to arthritis, but it would be interesting to see if cracking knuckles was hazardous in any other ways. As for now, I and all other rational people now have no reason to worry about cracking my knuckles.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21383216

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4398549/

http://visual.merriam-webster.com/human-being/anatomy/skeleton/hand.php

Are We the Only Ones Having Sex For Fun?

As we learned in class humans are not the only animals to participate in homosexual sex. Clearly this tells us that not all sexual encounters in the animal kingdom are for reproduction and evolution. While in class we though about different reasons why animals might be having gay sex which can not result in pregnancy, one idea we did not really look at was that of animals having sex for pleasure.

Obviously humans have sex for pleasure and not just for procreation. In fact, there are multi-billion dollar companies that exist purely to prevent pregnancy but allow us still to have sex worry free. While I have often heard people say that dolphins and humans are the only animals that have sex for fun I decided to see if pleasure might be a factor in other animals sex lives, specifically those animals closest to us in design, and a possible cause for their homosexual behavior.

During my research I found many examples of animals participating in either homosexual behavior, or heterosexual behavior that could not end in reproduction. While male-male sex can possibly be explained with the examples given in class, like just tiring out a competitor, behaviors such as heterosexual sex with no chance of procreation and oral sex cannot.

While we can not exactly just ask the animals the purpose of their behavior, we can observe their reactions. One way to see if animals are deriving pleasure from sex that won’t end in pregnancy is to attempt gauging whether or not they, particularly females, are able to orgasm.

One team who tried to tackle this question was the pairing of Alfonso Triosi and Monica Carosi. The two observed Japanese Macaques sexual behaviors for 238 hours and recorded 240 mating, 80 of which ended in the female primate exhibiting signs of orgasm similar to those exhibited by human females. The 1/3 of sexual encounters that ended this way all were of longer duration than the ones not ending in orgasm and suggests that like in humans the females are reacting to a certain higher more intense amount of stimulation. As previously stated we cannot of course ask the animals if sex has to do with pleasure but as evidence suggests from the Japanese Macaques and other studies involving primates, it seems as though they may be deriving pleasure and even reaching orgasm.

 

 

 

 

Using Cell Phones Before Bed

Personally no matter how much I sleep, I always find myself super exhausted when I wake up in the morning. I tried to do some research to make sure I take full advantage of my sleep.

I’ve gotten into this bad habit of falling asleep while using my phone in bed and waking up with my phone right by my pillow. My mother always told me this was bad for me and I always acknowledged, but never really considered why. After lots of research I am very surprised with what I found.

In a study conducted it was found that people who use their phones after they turn the lights off, are significantly more tired and have side effects.

The null hypothesis in this study is that there is no relationship between using your phone past the time you turn your lights our and how tired you are. The alternative hypothesis is that there is a relationship between how tired you are and if you used your phone after the lights are out.

young cell phone addict man awake at night in bed using smartphone for chatting flirting and sending text message in internet addiction and mobile abuse concept

 

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This experiment consisted of 258 students to do a stratified random sample. The participants had a mix of males and females of different marital statuses, occupations and ages. The people were prompted to answers questions about who they slept and felt. The results were amazing!

The relationship between cell phone use after lights out and how tired a person was resulted in p-value of .04.

The relationship between cell phone use after lights out and stress, the quality of sleep resulted in a p-value of .001

In both of these cases, you would reject the null, and accept the alternative hypothesis which was that there is a relationship between how tired you are and if you used your phone after the lights were out.

It is important to note that the file drawer problem can be ruled out because there was a finding that resulted in a p-value of 0.23. This finding was the relationship between using cell phones after lights out and sleep quality. In this case you would accept the null hypothesis which goes against the other results, and rules out bias findings.

A logical person from these finding can take steps to better their sleep. One way you could better the way you sleep is by not going into your bedroom until you are completely done using your phone, or not turning off the lights until you are completely done using your device. Another way to help you sleep better is to turn your phone off completely when going to bed, put it on airplane mode, or consider charging it on the other side of the room.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4733306/

http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/how-smartphone-light-affects-your-brain-and-body/

The Dangers Of Energy Drinks

Finals week is approaching, which means for many increased levels in caffeine, but more specifically increases in energy drinks for those long nights in the library.

“The number of annual hospital visits involving energy drinks doubled from 2007 to 2011, including 18 deaths” according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the FDA. It is clear that illnesses and deaths from energy drinks are becoming more and more prominent, and it is a serious problem. All brands of energy drinks, such as Red Bull, Monster, All Star, Five Hour Energy, and more, are sold at grocery stores, gas stations, convenient stores, and vending machines. The more we learn about these deadly drinks the more worried we should be about the effects that they have on people’s health.

According to Medical Journal Pediatrics, energy drinks are consumed by 30% to 50% of adolescents and young adults, and they contain high levels of ingredients that are dangerous to our health. Drinking too much of them can lead to kidney damage, seizure and stroke, high blood pressure, heart and brain malfunctions, and more.

Royal Adelaide University Cardiovascular Research Center in Australia performed a study involving 50 participants. The null hypothesis in this study would be that there is no relationship between energy drinks and blood clotting. The alternative hypothesis would be that energy drinks resulted in increased blood clotting. The study’s findings were that within sixty minutes of drinking an energy drink, there was an increase for the possibility of a blood clot. In this situation one would reject the null hypothesis and accept the alternative hypothesis.

Also, According to Donald Hensrud, M.D, Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D., and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. of the Mayo Clinic staff, the average soft drink contains 70 mg of caffeine. It is recommended that teens should only have about 100 mg of caffeine per day, and most energy drinks have far more than 100 mg. One can of Monster contains 160 mg of caffeine, and one Five Hour Energy contains 200 mg of caffeine. Too much caffeine can lead to anxiety, insomnia, heart palpitations, altered consciousness, hallucinations, seizures and even death.

monster_energy_drink_feature

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It is easy to say energy drinks are a fast and convenient way to get energy, which in fact is somewhat true. However, most people choose to overlook or ignore the health facts and ingredients that are necessary to know. Energy drinks are becoming more popular, and therefore more of a problem, because we live in a fast-paced society where people are always out and about and trying to get things done. It is more convenient to drink an energy drink and get fast results than to have to drink multiple cups of coffee just to get a small splurge of energy. They may be a more convenient solution, but there are absolutely no health benefits from consuming these drinks.

red-bull

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If someone just wants an alternative solution to drinking energy drinks after they are informed of the risks, drinking orange juice, eating small snacks, eating more protein, getting more sleep, drinking more water, and exercising more are all ways to boost their energy. If you do drink energy drinks on a regular basis, try one of these alternatives. Put down the drink for a week or two, and try something new to boost your energy: instead of reaching for a Red Bull, have a banana with some nuts and water. These alternative solutions have been proven to boost energy. Energy drinks aren’t the answer. Why should we put ourselves in danger when there are other easy, accessible, and healthy ways to get through the day?

http://archive.samhsa.gov/data/2k13/DAWN126/sr126-energy-drinks-use.pdf

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2011/02/14/peds.2009-3592

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2010/02/02/2808053.htm

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/energy-drinks/faq-20058349

http://deniseleeyohn.com/bites/red-bull-loves-haters/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monster_Energy

 

 

Link

I don’t know about you, but personally my favorite part of Monday’s are being able to read my horoscope on the cosmopolitan snapchat. My friends think I am completely bizarre for believing what this author has to say. I am a total believer in horoscopes and base my weeks around what my horoscope says. But lately I have started to question how accurate these are.

horoscope

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For starters, I am a leo, which means I was born between July 22nd and August 22nd. According to my research, leos are pretty dominant, but also care a lot about other people. I was able to find one of my horoscopes from the week of October 23rd, It stated:

“Your creativity and your love life are on fire right now! You are getting in touch with your emotions, thanks to verbal Mercury’s movement into your zone of home and family. But the trick is to be clear and consistent with your vision and leadership. You dislike letting people down, but with harmony-seeking Venus making a slew of strong aspects this week, you will have to toe a hard line in terms of managing expectations and being clear about what you want. That goes for your romance as well, so speak up. If you are still single, Saturday is a dream date night to meet someone who satisfies both your fun- loving and practical side. But don’t be too reckless since tensions are running high.”

It seemed to share a lot of the same characteristics from my research such as being warm-hearted and not wanting to let people down and also being passionate and emotional.

But how could the stars really be able to tell that much about me? Isn’t your personality more dictated by how you are raised and what you end up enjoying in life?

My null hypothesis in my research is that there is no relationship between how you are and your zodiac sign. And the alternative hypothesis is that there is indeed a relationship between how you are and your zodiac sign.

In my studies, I found that horoscopes seem to have a lot of general ideas that could apply to basically anyone. For example, my friend who is a virgo could read the sentence “Your creativity and your love life are on fire right now!” from my horoscope as a leo, and shape it around her daily life because it is so vague.

I was also able to find a summary, of Dr. Geoffery Dean’s research that evaluated people who were twins and born closely within each other. According to astrology, these two people would have the same zodiac sign, so technically their traits and characteristics should be very similar. However, the study showed that these people were not very similar. They tested for traits and variables such as jobs and social skills. On page 187-188 of Dean’s study it says that he did an experiment consisting of 128 people who were born closely in time. The chart (see below) on page 188 shows that less between 1.4% and 4.1% of the twins resembled similar traits.   It is very important to note that Dean’s studies could suffer from the file drawer problem and be bias to what his beliefs were. However, the results support the null hypothesis that there is no relationship between your zodiac sign and your personality.

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-4-04-38-pm

After reading about astrology and the accuracy of zodiac signs I will be more cautious and not trust what I read so easily.

http://www.astrology-zodiac-signs.com/zodiac-signs/leo/

http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/astrology_checklist

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2003/aug/17/20030817-105449-9384r/

http://www.imprint.co.uk/pdf/Dean.pdf

https://www.theodysseyonline.com/12-signs-that-you-are-addicted-to-horoscopes

http://www.cosmopolitan.com/lifestyle/a7026752/your-horoscopes-for-the-week-of-october-23/

 

 

 

 

What is so great about Turkey on Thanksgiving?

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwisg7GMsNHQAhXm7IMKHVdBCKwQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.hot1055fm.com%2Finside.asp%3Fmn%3D2%26cc%3D2%26id%3D574&psig=AFQjCNGXe068Ky_R5rL-dJjTXBNHw7cVdw&ust=1480626072749202

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwisg7GMsNHQAhXm7IMKHVdBCKwQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.hot1055fm.com%2Finside.asp%3Fmn%3D2%26cc%3D2%26id%3D574&psig=AFQjCNGXe068Ky_R5rL-dJjTXBNHw7cVdw&ust=1480626072749202

Last Thursday on November 24th we celebrated Thanking, because that is what we do on the last Thursday of November. As I was sitting at the dinner table with my meal in front of me, I noticed the pile of Turkey in front of me. I have always wondered what the big deal was with turkey during Thanksgiving, I wanted to find out more about it. I enjoy eating turkey very much so on Thanksgiving day, so does the rest of the United States. In fact 88 percent of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving. So this blog post will attack why we choose to eat this special kind of bird on this special day as well as some information to go along with it.

            As I decided to attack this turkey research, I found out there is more than one type of turkey that people consume on Thanksgiving day. The most popular turkey is a frozen turkey. But do not get discouraged by the name “frozen”. Turkeys that are chilled below 0* Fahrenheit must have the frozen label on the package. The biggest benefit of a frozen turkey is that it can be frozen and kept in one’s freezer for months before the big day when it is needed. Frozen turkeys can sometimes be fresher than “fresh turkeys” because fresh turkeys often sit around I the store for days and they are not frozen. Now on to fresh turkeys. For a turkey to be labeled fresh, it must never have been chilled below 26* Fahrenheit. Interestingly enough, a frozen turkey freezes at 26* Fahrenheit, not 32*Fahrenheit. The next type of turkey is the free range turkey, which means that the turkey is permitted to range over common ground for minutes in a day. What caught my attention was that not every turkey has to go outside to be considered a free range turkey, they are grouped by the flock. The danger to a free range turkey is the disease and insects that it can bring back into the coop.  All these distinct turkey types are intriguing but why do we eat turkeys on Thanksgiving though?

The next question that I was pondering and decided to research was the reason for consuming turkey on the holiday. I found various articles and studies describing many different scenarios about the reasoning behind it. It all started with the first Thanksgiving. Beef and some unknown fowl was consumed by the pilgrims. A famous pilgrim by the name of Edward Winslow wrote about hunting turkeys prior to that day. One other famous idea as to why we eat turkey on Thanksgiving comes from Queen Elizabeth eating goose and inspiring pilgrims to roast a turkey.  Believe it or not, Benjamin Franklin was a major advocate of turkeys; he even tried changing the nations national bird from an eagle to a turkey. The most logical reason that I coincided during this research is that the turkey is a native of North America, and that is why the real we consume it on Thanksgiving.

As I was going shopping over break I noticed that the price of a turkey actually decreases. It does not increase, which shocked me greatly. Was it due to Black Friday ? Turkeys are discounted at several stores during the Thanksgiving time, this is due to inflation. In fact in November of 2014 there were more sales than in March of 2014. One would think that there would be a rise in price because the demand is so high, but that is not the case at all. When the prices drop, both the demand and the supply will go up.

 https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/livestock-meat-domestic-data.aspx

https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/livestock-meat-domestic-data.aspx

After doing all of this research I learned many fascinating things about America’s favorite bird. The conclusion that I have come to during all of this is that the turkey is very essential to a thanksgiving meal and we may never actually know where the turkey idea came from on Thanksgiving.

 

Sources
https://whatscookingamerica.net/Poultry/TurkeyTypes.htm

http://extension.illinois.edu/turkey/turkey_facts.cfmhttp://wonderopolis.org/wonder/why-do-we-eat-turkey-on-thanksgiving

http://theconversation.com/explainer-why-does-the-price-for-turkeys-fall-just-before-thanksgiving-51120

Are Children Really Scientists?

 

Are Children Really Scientists?

Group of children (9-12) watching experiment in school laboratory

 

Photo found here

Scientists conduct experiments, study patters, and learn from what they observe in studies. Recent studies from the MIT news site have shown that children learn in similar ways compared to scientists. Deborah Halber talks about how preschoolers don’t conduct experiments or understand statistics but they are unknowingly grasping patterns. They are using the observations they see to problem solve. Toddlers are starting to make causal inferences around them. Moreover, they think in a cause and effect relationship. They don’t believe something magical or spontaneous will occur; they need to know the reason why, the need to see the evidence.

Schulz and colleague Jessica Sommerville of University of Washington conducted a study on whether children would accept that the cause might work some of the time. This study consisted of 144 preschoolers.

 

Hypothesis: To test whether kids believe if the cause will always produce some type of effect.

Null Hypothesis: Kids will not believe that the cause will produce some type of effect.

Alternative Hypothesis: Kids will believe that the cause of something will produce some type of effect.

The study: The experimenters showed the kids that by turning a switch, the toy with a metal ring would light up. One-half of the group saw the metal switch work all the time. The other half saw the switch light up the toy some of the time. Removing the ring also stopped the toy from lighting up. Experimenters had control of the switch, and gave the toddlers the toy. They asked the children to stop the toy from lighting up.

With the switch that worked, the ring was removed. If the switch worked sometimes, the children didn’t remove the ring. They assumed that the experimenters had a sneaky way of ending the effect. They surprisingly took a small keychain flashlight, hidden in the experimenter’s hand and tried to turn off the light using that. The toddlers didn’t accept that it might work sometimes, they tried to look for an explanation. In this study the null hypothesis would be rejected because the kids believe that there was a cause to why the light wouldn’t always turn on. They could not accept it.

 

x-variables- the light switch working (that is what we’re manipulating)

y-variable- belief in some type of effect

confounding variables-(?)

chance- could be possible

 

It is interesting. I read this article and 2 other articles on the same subject and each study they used was about this same one. It seems like this was probably one of the only studies done on the topic of this. Of course there could be more, but most of the studies did just talk about this experiment. Maybe we could be dealing with the fil drawer problem in this situation.  This study would most definitely need to be replicated. We would need to see if the new study’s data correlates to what this experiment’s data suggests. There would also need to be meta-analysis done. There aren’t that many studies done on this topic. And after all that, this would need to be peer-reviewed by other scientists to really pick out any errors, or misjudgments in the study. I definitely feel like this study does have a sharpshooter problem. It seems like they just studied the toddlers, noticed something, and went with it. Also the biggest thing I realized was that they never said how many kids took that keychain, they just kept it vague. This study definitely needs a lot more done, so people can really start to take out the confounding variable and see what’s really going on.

If I were to do a study on this, I would have 100 toddlers. They would be randomized and they would be split up into two groups. 50 and 50. In the experiment, the control group of 50 kids would see that if they press a button, a ball goes into the air (this would be elevated by a string). The other 50 would see something a bit different. They are going to press a button that might or might not make the ball go into the air. I want to test whether toddlers will look for an explanation as to why the ball does not go into the air while the button is being pressed.

Hypothesis: When the button stops working, the kids will look for some type of explanation.

Alternative Hypothesis: When the button stop working the toddlers won’t look for any type of explanation.

Null Hypothesis: When the button stops working, the toddlers will look for some type of explanation

X-variable-button working or not

Y-variable-kids looking for some type of explanation as to why the ball isn’t moving up

Confounding Variable-maybe how much sleep the baby got.

Chance- always a possibility.

I really think we could learn a lot from replicating this study and seeing what data we find. If we could somehow cultivate this curiosity throughout the children’s lives, we could change people’s perspectives on science. It really is good to be curious instead of taking this world for granted. What do you guys think about the study? Do you think we could find the same data with a replication?

 

Halber, D. (2006) Scientists show that children think like scientists. MIT News.

http://news.mit.edu/2006/children

 

 

Does Turkey make you tired?

People are always talking about how turkey comas or post-Thanksgiving meal naps, and only recently did I hear that it was somewhat common knowledge that it’s the turkey that specifically makes you tired. I had always assumed it was just due to the sheer amount of food you’re consuming at Thanksgiving dinner that made you sleepy later that evening. So, of course, I questioned this idea that turkey is actually making us tired. If turkey has something weird in it that’s affecting our level of sleepiness, why would we continue to eat it?

turkey-dinner

This can’t be a situation of reverse causation- the time frame rules out that your tiredness could cause you to eat more turkey, since you’re getting tired after you eat the turkey. There’s also always the possibility of chance. And of course, maybe I should be listening to everyone else talking about this turkey tiredness because they could all be correct, but I went into the research for this blog post with a sneaking suspicion that it was due to a third confounding variable. So, let me tell you what I now know, and what you should pass on to your uncle who won’t stop making excuses for why he has to nap on your couch after dinner.

Homemade Turkey Thanksgiving Dinner with Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing, and Corn

The reason people have it in their minds that turkey has us all napping after Thanksgiving dinner is that turkey has an amino acid in it called tryptophan. Within the body, tryptophan is used to make the neurotransmitter serotonin, which has connections to our sleep. If this amino acid was by itself in our foods, it could make us more tired, but, it’s never on its own and therefore is not going to increase your serotonin. There’s this idea that turkey has more tryptophan in it than other foods that you eat on more of a daily basis, but that isn’t true. In fact, some nuts and cheeses are filled with more tryptophan than turkey. All poultry has this amino acid at just about the same amount as turkey and, according to a professor from Texas A&M University, you can find tryptophan in pretty much every protein.

Tryptophan

So if turkey isn’t making us tired, why do so many people feel the need to nap after dinner? LiveScience mentions that some experts in this field say that it’s more likely because of the amount of carbohydrates you’re eating and alcohol you’re drinking. Maybe next year at Thanksgiving, consider going easy on the cheese plate, mashed potatoes, and champagne if you don’t want to sleep after your meal, and stop blaming turkey and tryptophan for how carbs and alcohol are making you feel!

 

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Turkey

Thanksgiving dishes

Tryptophan

Butter or Margarine?

Many people, especially us Americans, like to use either butter or margarine to cook with, bake with, or as a spread. As a child, I was told by my parents that we carry margarine in our fridge because it is a healthy option opposed to butter. When I would ask why, I would get the “it just is” response. Now that I am older and not under the same roof, I would like to know if margarine truly is a healthier option than regular butter.

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The first area I would like to examine, are the effects that each has on our cardiovascular system. I think this important because, as we all have been told over and over, heart disease is currently killing more Americans than anything else. According to an article I found posted on Mayo clinic, butter has more saturated fat than margarine because it is made from the fat of animals. An article on the American Heart Association’s website tells us that our blood cholesterol will rise if we continue to consume foods with high saturated fat content. It also stated that raising blood cholesterol levels will increase the chances of obtaining heart disease. Margarine, as registered dietitian Katherine Zeratsky explains, isn’t always created by using the exact same products. She explains that margarine can contain trans fat. Fat that can also negatively impact cholesterol levels and lead to heart disease. She also states that margarine that comes in the form of a stick, will carry more trans fat opposed to margarine that comes from a tub. Her suggestion is for consumers to read nutritional facts and to go for a spread margarine that contains no trans fat and the lowest possible amount of saturated fat.

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Another aspect of health that I believe should be taken into account to make the determination is the effects on our mental health. I have to admit, I had some difficulty finding credible sources for mental health benefits in regards to butter consumption. But what I did find, is that there is a possible correlation between saturated fat consumption and impairment of cognitive function. According to Lizette Borreli of Medical Daily, saturated fats effect the brain by slowing down the abilities of your dopamine reward system. According to Wikipedia, the dopamine reward system, or just referred to as the reward system, is responsible for how much you will enjoy something. She also states that by hindering the abilities of your dopamine reward system, you will experience an increase of dependency for more foods that contain saturated fat. I noticed that there could be a possible reverse causation in regards to what she stated. So not only by consuming butter (saturated fats) are you increasing the chances of gradually delaying your dopamine reward system, but as your consumption habits cause more negative effects on your dopamine reward system, you will experience and adapt to an increased craving for butter and other saturated fats. It seems to almost have an addicting or full circle effect because your crave will increase while your consumption satisfaction will continue to decrease. Margarine, opposed to butter, may come with even greater mental health risks. Sodium benzoate, a chemical product that is used to help preserve margarine can potentially cause negative side effects in regards to mental health. I found in this article, that sodium benzoate can be directly linked to ADHD symptoms like hyperactivity. An investigation I found outlines a method involving college students consumption of sodium benzoate beverages and their conclusion that sodium benzoate consumption can lead to ADHD symptoms. The study, admittedly, says that this is an issue that should require more investigation.

The third and last factor I would like to look at is the relation or possible correlations of these two products to cancer. The outcomes for both products were not very positive. Let’s start with butter again. Evaluating another blog that I found online, I was able to learn that saturated fat, as mentioned, a key ingredient in butter, is linked especially to both prostate and breast cancer. I found this blog very helpful because it directed me to links were I can find correlation between these cancers and saturated fat consumption. According to the prostate link, people who consumed at least three dairy products with considerable amounts of saturated fat, had a 76% increased risk of general death. Even more interesting is the fact it showed that people would increase their risk of dying due to prostate cancer by 141%. The study was between groups that consumed at least 3 servings of dairy products with saturated fats to those who only consumed 1 serving per day.  As for the breast cancer study, saturated fat was linked to breast cancer through high cholesterol. Like butter, foods that can result in high levels of cholesterol increased the chances of breast cancer development by 18% for women in general and a 21% increase for women who were postmenopausal, according to the study. As far as margarine goes, I did not find any studies that contain proven evidence that can directly link margarine and cancer. The only link I could find was not direct and more of an assumption. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, trans fats which are found in margarine, can lead to serious weight gain which can lead to obesity. As it also states that obesity can now increase the risks of at least 10 different cancers.

After doing my research on if margarine is truly a healthier alternative than butter, I have come to find that I cannot answer this question with complete confidence. If I’m being honest with myself, after doing this research, I have come to find that both butter and margarine have negatives effects on your health. When it comes to cardiovascular health, I give as Katherine Zeratsky suggests, go with a margarine that is spreadable and does not have any trans fats. Now mental health, is a different story. I give a slight edge to butter because I would rather exhibit more self control and not consume a large amount of butter, rather than taking the risk of consuming margarine that contains sodium benzoate. Cancer is also a tough analysis because there is simply no proof of how much that margarine is or is not related to cancer. Consuming both can lead to weight gain and obesity which can be linked to cancers. So, to answer my question, I cannot fully say that margarine is a healthier option than butter.

……Go with olive oil!!!!

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Effects of Adderall on non-prescribed user

Growing up with a brother who has ADHD, adderall was always in the medicine cabinet. Until college I have always heard that adderall really helps you focus and get a ton of work done but have never gave it a try. Also I heard that there were many effects of adderall towards people who were especially not prescribed such as headaches and heart contusions since it speeds up the heart. College is exactly what I expected; a ton of work and a lot of late nights of studying. So, one night I knew I had a 5 page paper to write and 2 exams the following day and I was already exhausted so I gave adderall a chance and let me just say WOW, I was never so into writing an essay and studying till 6 in the morning with having no intentions on stopping.

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Adderall and what it does?

Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant that usually is prescribed to people who have ADHD(Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). The main use of adderall is to increase concentration and decrease impulsiveness. I have tried adderall like I said and I am not prescribed it sure does increase concentration but does entail a few hazardous side affects. According to Dr. Pino (toxicologist at a medical school in NYC) adderall increases the dopamine by blocking out the absorption of the neurotransmitter, mainly stimulating the nervous system. Also according to Drugs.com and Livestrong.com since adderall contains amphetamines; to people who are not prescribed it is highly addictive with serious side affects, Dr. Ogbru claims some side effects include seizure, and irregular heart beats. While using adderall there are instant changes to your body as soon as you swallow the pill like increase in heart rate and very high blood pressure.

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Above is a bar graph that hold data of a young girl taking adderall, if you look closely there was 3 different tests done on her the first was without an dose, the second was with 10mg, and the last was done with 20mg, the higher dosage of adderall take by this girl has a direct correlation with the better results.

Adderall Epidemic

Unprescribed use of adderall is becoming a very big problem across the united state with adults and with college students, it continues to increase on an annual rate. Doctors are working to find better alternative for the drug but haven’t had a breakthrough yet, hopefully in the near future we will see this innovation come to fruition.

To go along with what I was saying about this highly addictive drug here is a video of Dr. Fruitman explaining what adderall does to our brain.

Conclusion

A rational Penn State student, after reading this blog and recognizing all of the health scares and side affects would very likely not take adderall. The question “Does adderall have any negative affect on someone who is not prescribed” the null hypothesis would be rejected. Adderall is a very dangerous as well as very addictive drug that I would say people should stay away from unless advised by a doctor or physician.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/234805-what-does-adderall-do-for-people-that-do-not-have-adhd/

http://www.livescience.com/41013-adderall.html

http://www.recovery.org/topics/adderall-facts/

http://www.rxlist.com/adderall-side-effects-drug-center.htm

Do cell phones cause cancer?

I sleep with my phone right next to me and keep my cell phone in my pocket at all times of the day. I have always heard people say that the radiation from cell phones causes cancer but never really took any initiative into being that rational teenager and changing the way I go about my everyday life with my cell phone. It was my freshman year biology teacher that always kept his cell phone in his back pocket specifically because he believed that the phone does has some affect on the body; this was the first time I really recognized that this could be an issue and gave me the idea to someday look into this topic.

A look inside the cellular device …

As we know pretty much everyone has a cell phones and the question that many of those cell phone owners are curious about is whether or not they are safe. According to the Cancer Research Institute they believe there are a few reasons we should be concerned about cell phones causing cancer; phones do emit a radiation referred to as radio-frequency energy which is a form of electromagnetic radiation. Radio-frequency energy is high frequency and high energy. Another crucial part of cell phones is that the type of radiation it gives off, it is an ionized radiation which is the same category of radiation that x-rays are in.

Here is a YouTube video about the risk of cell phones and interview with Dr. Leonard Coldwell explaining his views on the major concern of cell phones causing cancer.

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Experiments

According to Scientific America‘s cell phone radiation study there seems to be significant evidence once again. This 25 million dollar animal testing study revealed that rodents that were affected with a life long of radiation developed rare types of heart and brain cancer. Another thing founds from this stud was that the more and more exposure of RF radiation to the rats had a direct correlation with the amount that got the cancer, not to mention all of the control rats apart of the study did not get cancer.

Conclusion

As we always talk about in class; what would a rational Penn State student do after knowing about this?? I would say that A rational student would definitely make some changes to there everyday life because a lot of the evidence stated in my blog is accurate and consistent with one another. Not sleeping next to you phone at night, not keeping your phone in your pocket, and just not using the device so much would all be simple changes people can make in order to be safer. Cell phones are still a new technology advancement, they have only been around for about 10 years and already 90% of adults in our country have them. In 20 years from not we could see a crazy breakout of cancer that would catch many by surprise because we are the first generation to ever use cell phones; so we need to take precaution while we still can.

https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/radiation/cell-phones-fact-sheet

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/major-cell-phone-radiation-study-reignites-cancer-questions/