Author Archives: Alexis Herrington

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a killer disease

nn_08ns_brain_130122Within the last few years Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) has become a prominent issue found in National Football League players. This really became of great attention when NFL player, Junior Seau, shot himself in the chest unexpectedly. This behavior was so odd that scientists did research on his brain. This is when they finally came to a better understanding of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Primarily this chronic illness is caused by the intense bashing of heads against one another a repetitive amount of times in sports. Symptoms include blurred vision, memory loss, mood swings, paranoia, and shorter life span. I was talking to a friend about this over dinner and it sparked my interest to research this topic more and write a blog about it. Here is what I found:

small-cte-brain-wordsIn an oxford journal study, scientists performed an observational research study on football players with verified CTE at autopsy who died suddenly in their middle ages. All football players of this study played similar positions (offensive linemen, defensive lineman, and linebacker). The subjects also shared common symptoms including: depression, memory impairment, paranoia, poor impulse control, irritability, apathy, confusion, distraction, dementia, and suicidality. According to another study symptoms of CTE do not become present until years after the disease actually forms, and once the disease is detected, the systems usually have already ended.

In the figures below, you can see the phases a brain with CTE goes through:hoffman_ml_15i-1


Scientists have been trying to come to a conclusion on the mechanism behind CTE for many years now. At first they thought, is this a disease of chance? Most studies generally report the disease to have a correlation with intense contact sport athletes such as football, boxing, hockey, and others due to their high associations with concussions. When figuring out the mechanism, it was difficult at first because they knew it wasn’t caused from excessive concussions and head injuries alone. According to the study, exposure to head trauma, age of first exposure, and genetic predisposition, could be third confounding variables to take into consideration when researching the development of CTE.

Another study confirms that a specific mechanism has yet to be completely distinguished but there is many research suggesting CTE is a product of continuous immunoexcitotoxicity and correlated with massive head injuries. Unfortunately however, there is not yet a direct treatment or no absolute cure for this disease.

So what does this mean for football players? Is there sufficient evidence that will convince football and other harsh contact sports players to stop playing the sport, have more regular brain checks, or encourage safer sports equipment? Probably not. I guess the take away message would be to be more careful in contact sports to avoid concussions, and if you do get a concussion, always get it checked out and taken care of as soon as possible.

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A video game with a positive effect

Since we were kids we have been told that too much screen time with video games is bad for our development and brains. Video games have always been looked at in a negative light not only for their harmful effects but the bad messages they can send to young kids. So this led me to think, is it possible to make video games beneficial in some way? I decided to do some research to see what I could find on this topic. Here is what I found:

A video game called “Re-Mission” was designed by discovery and translational scientific research to ensure that children with cancer can be provided with the opportunity to be involved with their own treatment in a fun and active way. This game is hypothesized to improve the devotion to cancer treatment along with self-worth. Check Re-Mission out hereremissionphoto_1

In one study scientists studied the Re-Mission video game in a randomized control trail that consisted of 375 cancer patients (both children and young adults). The control group received a regular game and the experimental group received the regular game plus the Re-Mission video game. Both groups were told to play the video game for an hour per week for three months. Both groups were also tested on their knowledge on cancer before and after the study. In the end of the three months, test scores showed more improvement in the Re-Mission group, however with a p-value of .04. In conclusion of this study, scientists found two things: 1. that the Re-Mission video game helped cancer patients and 2. that video games in general can be used effectively for health education of any prolonged illness.cancer1n-5-web

To make sure this study didn’t suffer from either the file drawer problem or the Texas sharpshooter problem, I decided to see if I could find other studies done on this game with similar results. I found two other studies with very similar designs. The results of this study were very much alike, showing that the video game has a significant improvement on treatment adherence and self-worth in both kids and young adults in cancer therapy. The findings also, a like the first study, support efforts to develop video game with the purpose of gaining knowledge in chronic illness health education. The other similar study produced data that concluded that cancer themed video games could be useful to improving the understanding and self-care of children and young adult cancer patients.


As I was reading though these studies, I questioned if they were ethical to run or not because not all cancer patients were receiving the new video game therapy. But then I remembered how we learned in class that randomized control trials of new therapies for childhood cancers require that half of the children in the trials do not receive the new therapy since experimental treatments are as effective or worse than standard practice 50% of the time. It wouldn’t be ethical to do something just to figure out if it works and withhold the treatment that might be better than the standard treatment. In this case, although the video game helped more, the difference between the control and experimental group wasn’t that significant where it wouldn’t be ethical. Also, keep in mind that the video game isn’t necessarily a treatment, but more of a therapy technique to help cancer patients.

In my opinion, the take away message I got from this research was that just because something may have a harmful correlation with one thing, does not mean that it cannot be utilized in another way to have a helpful correlation with another.

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Can obesity be treated like an illness?

The population of obesity has become overwhelming, and is continuing to grow in size. Once a obesityperson is technically classified as obese, it’s likely that they’d rather stay in their current state of being overweight rather than exercising and/or dieting to lose the weight. What can obese individuals who want to lose weight but are too obese to find motivation do at this point? Scientists have only made a few drugs available to obese patients seeking and/or in need of help. Interested if obesity can actually be treated with medicine as if it were an illness, I searched studies related to this topic. Here is what I found:

In this 2009 study, scientists conducted a 20-week double-blind placebo trial of 564 obese participants (ages 18-65) to examine the effectiveness of the drug liraglutide (an anti-diabetic medication that can not only be used for diabetes, but for the promotion of weight loss as well) on the weight and tolerance of obese people (without type 2 diabetes). Subjects were either given doses (either 1.2 mg, 1.8 mg, 2.4 mg, or 3.0 mg) of liraglutide or the placebo pill for 20 weeks. The pill was either applied once a day under the skin or taken orally three times a day. Participants were also subject to increase their amount of physical activity and were restricted to a 500 kcal diet per day. These variables were randomized across all groups by averaging/equaling out the aspects of the subjects in order to eliminate bias.

Here is what the double blind placebo experiment and its control arms looked like:


1-s2-0-s0140673609613751-gr2The data at the end of the study found that obese individuals who were given the liraglutide for the 20-week period, lost more weight than those who were given the placebo, concluding that liraglutide is effective for weight loss for obese people. This is supported by p values of p=0.003 (1.2 and 2.4 mg liraglutide) and p<0.0001 (1.8 and 3.0 mg liraglutide). These values suggest that the results are real rather than a product of chance.

Overall, the drug, accompanied by lower food intake and increase of physical activity, resulted in more efficient weight loss than the placebo pill accompanied by lower food intake and increase of exercise, like it was predicted to. This suggests that liraglutide is sufficient for aid in weight loss of obese people

There was also, according to the study, a correlation found between liraglutide and a decrease in blood pressure as well as pre-diabetes. On the downside however, participants given the drug experienced more vomiting and nausea than those who were given the placebo. According to the study, the mechanism explaining weight loss using liraglutide has to do with effects on the gastrointestinal tract and the brain which cause weight loss and reduction in food intake.

Both the results and mechanism of this study can be compared to the results of similar liraglutide studies done on obese mini pigs , obese candy-fed rats, and both obese and normal rats. The results also suggested the same mechanism as the human study did. If the mini pigs and rat studies are generalized, then it would make sense to administer the use of this drug because weight loss to reduce obesity is a good thing (obesity is bad). However, one must consider: How bad is obesity really? Is there is more gain than loss? Do the results of these four studies matter enough to mean this drug should be administered to all obese people? Would this be considered a remedy to reduce or even prevent obesity? I would say, given the results of all the studies, it doesn’t seem like it would hurt to give it a try. However, the only restrictions I would hold against it would be that there hasn’t been enough or large enough of these studies to come to a confident conclusion of those questions. Also, some ideas for future studies include: A study that works toward further eliminating bias within the study, a study that tests the drug on people who are predisposed to obesity to see if the drug is efficient enough to possibly work as an obesity prevention medication, A longitudinal study to test the long term effects (longer than 20 weeks) of the drug on obese people and its efficiency, etc. The experimental design was relatively strong but there is definitely room for improvement.

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Does the font you choose to use matter?

Everyone has a preferred font when typing up an essay, assignment, email, etc. but why is this? Is it the attractiveness? Or is it the fact that certain fonts help us focus and read better than others? The question of focus of this blog post is, does typography affect the way we read? I searched studies of typography and here is what I found:


First, a study interested in the effect of font size and font type examined popular used fonts to find differences between different fonts. They conducted an experimental study testing multiple variable correlated with fonts such as, reading effectiveness and time, font legibility and attractiveness, and the overall preference of the font. The fonts studied were Century Schoolbook, Courier New, Georgia, Times New Roman, Arial, Comic Sans MS, Tahoma, and Verdana. The sizes being studied were 10, 12, and 14. The study included sixty people of both genders, between the ages of 18 and 55, with 20/40 vision or better.

In the end, the study found that font styles at any size had no significant difference in reading efficiency because the differences between the two were not great enough. However, on average, larger sized fonts were found to be more readable as compared to smaller sized fonts. Reading time for each font type gave an average p value of p < .01 and for size, p < .05, meaning, there’s really something going on. Times and Arial were found to be read the fastest of all the fonts, along with 12-point size fonts.

Font legibility showed a relation of p <.01 between font and size. In this trial, Tahoma 10-point, Verdana and Courier 12-point were the most legible. However, the data also showed Arial and Courier as the most legible fonts in any size, and Comic as the most illegible font. Data of this study also supported that increasing text size does not necessarily mean it’ll make a font more legible.

Font type differences for attractiveness resulted in a p value of p < .001. Times, Arial, Georgia were the most attractive fonts according to participants. At the 10-point size, differences in ranking were p < .001. Arial, Courier, Comic, Georgia, and Verdana were most preferred and Times was the least preferred. At the 12-point size, preference differences were p < .01. Arial was the most preferred font and Times was the least preferred font at this size. At the 14-point size, preference differences were p = .064. Comic was the most preferred and Times was the least preferred font at this size. Overall, in this study, all three sizes resulted in a significant difference of p < .001.

Although Times was studied to be one of the most attractive, it surprisingly was also studied to be one of least preferred fonts. Verdana was studied to be the best overall fonts according to participants of this study according to choice. This probably is because it read at the fastest pace and was a very legible font to participants.

Although this study held many different control trials, it was a very small experiment, which is a factor that weakens the reliability and efficiency of the data of this study. So, to make sure this study wasn’t an anecdote or the results came from chance, I looked up two more similar studies on typography.

readbility-3-81e18538cd3698f3574a2e3d733b77beThe second study I found seemed to be very similar to the first study that was conducted. However in this study, there was a smaller amount of participants (27) and were also older (between the ages 62 to 83). Also this study was different because it compared computer screen fonts and print fonts. More importantly, it was similar because the same fonts were studied using the same trials as the first study, and participants also had to have 20/40 vision or better.

The end results of this study generally found no remarkable difference between the computer screen and printed paper fonts. However, since this study primarily focused on elder people, it suggested that 14-pint sized font, either serif fonts (Times New Roman and Georgia) for reading speed, or sans serif fonts (Arial and Verdana) for font preference was found to be the best to use. But yet again, this was a poor study because it didn’t randomize or generalize the participants well due to its small size and close age range.

The third typography study I looked at was also small, comprising of 82 participants. However in this study, the subjects read stories that were typed in a variety of sizes and san serif and serif fonts. The study trialled both reading speed and comprehension. The study found smaller font sizes took longer to read, but not significantly longer. It also found no major differences in the font types, although serif fonts were only read slightly faster.typography-poster-wallpaper-4

The take away from these three studies is font type and size makes a difference, yet not one that is significant enough to actually matter. The experimental design was not big enough to rely on the conclusion of the studies. If this topic was of major concern, it would be suggested a bigger study be performed. However, it is apparent that these three studies all had similar end results, which shows consistency in the data. These studies probably won’t be of great enough significance to alter peoples preferred font. Although the first study showed something going on, according to the p values. However, the hypothesis must be a null hypothesis in this case because the study showed that it doesn’t really matter something was going on because there were no significant differences found within the variables tested in the study, and therefore this means the null hypothesis has been accepted.

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Serif Font vs Sans Serif Font Infographic

Does the vegan diet promote more efficient weight loss than any other dietary plan?

Obesity has emerged into a popular problem within our nation which majority of adults and children take part in. To avoid this issue, many people may try to find different ways to stay healthy and/or lose weight such as exercise or a low-fat dietary plan. Interestingly, it seems as if more and more of our population today is switching over to the vegan diet and not necessarily because of their attitude toward animal consumption, but because of its promise of weight loss. But is this actually a more efficient way of weight loss when both vegetarian and low-fat diets are proficient for weight loss also? This topic sparked my interest so I decided to do some more research. Here is what I found:

In 2007, Gabrielle M. Turner-McGrievy, Neal D. Barnard, and Anthony R. Scialli participated in a two year randomized control trial where researchers conducted an experimental trial by finding 62 overweight postmenopausal woman for the study. The subjects were split into two groups, one following the low-fat vegan diet and the other following the low-fat diet structured by the NCEP (National Cholesterol Education Program). Some subjects in each group went to group support as others did not. Also, both diets were not restricted, the subjects were allowed to eat as they pleased. After 14 weeks into the study, the subjects were all encouraged to exercise, but were not forced. The diet was as follows:


In the end, the results showed that the vegan subjects lost more weight than the subjects following the NECP diet at both the one year and two year marking period, with p-values both < 0.05. The NCEP subjects lost a significant amount of weight in the first year, but not as much was weight was lost in the second year. The study also found that group support was correlated with continual weight loss. With this information, one could make the conclusion that a vegan diet is a more efficient way to lose weight compared to a NCEP diet. The mechanism behind these results is that vegan diets actually reduce dietary energy density because it is low in fat and high in fiber content. The vegan diet was therefore more low fat and higher in fiber intake than the NCEP diet. Meaning, these subjects could eat more food than the other group without taking in extra calories.

To make sure this one study wasn’t neither an anecdote nor an outlier or due to chance, I tried to search more studies. But I could not find another study alike this one with sufficient data so there is a possibility that this could be an anecdote.

However, I did find that Winston J Craig also confirms that Vegans tend to be skinner. He talks about health effects of a vegan diet including a contribution to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. He describes how their diet plan comprises of low fat and high fiber intake which would ultimately make their diet more efficient for weight loss compared to a regular low fat diet. But there was no data attached to these findings of his.

In another study where multiple weight loss diets were compared and scaled by numeral values set by the study, the chart of the study’s results show that the vegan diet did not score the highest, in fact, it had the second lowest total score of 32.


A vegan diet seemed like a productive and healthy way to lose weight in the first study but the second study shows otherwise. With this being said, I’m not sure if there are enough studies with a sufficient amount of data that would make me chose a vegan diet over a low fat diet. According to Authority Nutrition, there are concurring problems with vegan dietary studies.  Because I could not find many other vegan diet studies to compare with, I came to the conclusion that there is possibility that studies like these may suffer from the file drawer problem.

If you are someone looking to lose some weight on a diet plan, I wouldn’t let this one study sway you because, although one study supported the vegan diet, the other did not, making it hard to come to a real conclusion. It is important to realize that the vegan diet is not for everyone and that different diets work better for different people, it’s all about finding what works best for you.

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Why do I own a kitten?

I am a proud new (long distance) owner of a kitten. How this came to happen was, my friend’s cat had a litter. Since this was the cats second litter of the summer, she decided that she wasn’t going to keep the kittens from this litter. At first I joked around saying that this one kitten was going to be mine, always going over to hold, play, and take snapchats with it. One day my friend told me she was thinking about giving the kitten away to another family, and for some reason I started to consider actually making the kitten mine. When going through the process, all I could think about was how weird it was that I was getting a kitten, especially before ever getting my own puppy first! I have always been more of a dog person my whole life and always told myself I would never get my own a cat, but for some reason I just couldn’t resist. So really, how did this come to happen?!

Are we attracted to the cuteness of the animal rather than the animal itself? Can we feel a connection with an animal that makes us want to be the owner?

I think when agreeing to make the kitten mine, I wasn’t thinking about how she’s eventually going to turn into a full grown cat. In the moment, I was focused on her small round body, her soft and fluffy fur, her big white paws, her big bright eyes, her little meows, and her clumsy attempts at walking and playing. I just wanted that cute kitten to be mine. After doing some exploring online, I learned that there’s a scientific reasoning behind why we think the babies of species are so cute and why we feel obligated to care for them.

It just so happens that what we see as cute has to do with traits called kinderschema. Basically, the traits are utilized in our biology when trying to identify if something we see is cute or not. There are certain characteristics this trait looks for when trying to classify something as cute. According to Clark, Irenaus Eibl-Eibesfedlt, founder of the field of human ethology, says the characteristics of cuteness the traits looks for are as follows: a large, round head; big eyes; round, chubby cheeks; round body; and a soft body. Interestingly enough, the kitten happened to have all of these qualities! Why we find these traits cute has to do with our human nature of caring for infants. (Clark 2013) This is why we want to hold, touch, and care for things that remind us of the babies of our species.

To add, studies done by the University of Texas and researcher Denise Guastello show that the type of pet owner you are can say a lot about your personality as well. The studies surveyed a large group of people on the type of animal they prefer to own, their personality traits, and what attracts them to that animal. The results of the studies helped to identify common traits of a dog person, cat person, neither or both.

Both studies typically resulted in finding that dog people are more extroverted, self-disciplined, agreeable, trusting, affectionate, talkative, easy-going and energetic. They found that a typical cat person tends to be more stressed, anxious, curious, creative, independent, conscientious and intelligent. Someone who is neither would possess little or none of these traits, and someone who is both would comprise of a majority of these traits.

Both studies also mentioned how environment may have a possible influence on these personality traits. If you think about it, this makes sense because someone who is more extroverted is going to want to do something with their outgoing and energetic nature such as be outdoors or go out and socialize, like a dog would. As someone who is more introverted is going to want to stay indoors and keep to themselves, like a cat would. Dogs are more social in their play because they always want to run around, go on a walk, or play catch with you. As cats are more commonly known to be indoor animals who like to explore the house, be cautious about what they’re playing with, hide, and rub up against the people they’re comfortable with.

According to both studies, majority of the people that were surveyed classified as being more of a dog person than cat person. But why are dogs more attractive furry friends than cats? According to Rettner, dog people enjoy the companionship that comes with a dog, as cat people are attracted to the clingy affection they get from cats. People find more things to do with dogs over cats, so they see them as not only a cuddle buddy, but a play pal as well. For example, people can’t go on runs or walks with their cat like they can with their dog.

After reading both descriptions of dog and cat people, I would definitely classify myself as both a dog and cat person. I believe my personality traits fall on both sides of the dog/cat spectrum, concluding why I may not mind the fact that I now am an owner of a cute kitten. I actually took a short quiz online (here) to see which category I placed into. Shockingly, the results of that test said I was 52% dog person and 48% cat person, definitely more than I expected for the cat side. The results basically told me that I have the qualities to get along with and love both animals equally. My assumption of being both a dog and cat person was correct, according to this one online survey. What are you? Comment letting me know or go take the quiz to find out!

Here’s a picture of my kitten (:


Parents may be the source of student anxiety

Going into the third week of college, I am sure we can all say we miss our families, friends, homes, beds, cars, and whatever else fulfilled the comforts of our “normal” lives. Myself, missing home a little, recently decided to research why we miss the things we spend so much time with after we begin to spend a great deal of time a part, curious to see if there was any scientific reasoning behind this.

The best answer I kept coming across had to do with symptoms of possible separation anxiety. Separation anxiety can be defined as an extreme distress of physical or emotional detachment from close figures or environments, such as loved ones or home. Some cases are more extreme than others though, and some only develop symptoms rather than the disease in its entirety. The research done by Cade Hulbert in this link, suggests that having symptoms of separation anxiety is not uncommon in first year college students, but only found a small percentage of college students who experience the symptoms of separation anxiety.

Looking at this study you will find that college students from Boise State University, ages 18-60, participated in a survey to determine whether parent involvement during their child’s college experience had any correlation between the student’s separation anxiety while attending college. The survey asked questions regarding how overprotective the parents are, if being away from parents at college gives the student anxiety, and other questions concerning parenting style.

At the end of the research, Hulbert came to the conclusion that certain parenting styles may increase the likelihood of college students developing separation anxiety. In fact, it is seen that students with a more overprotective parenting style are more susceptible to anxiety than students who have a less overprotective parenting style. Symptoms of anxiety were also found more commonly in female students than male students due to parents being more susceptible to intrusiveness with daughters rather than sons. Also, data showed how freshman who did not feel any separation anxiety as a freshman, are more less likely to develop anxiety as a senior or in later years. (Hulbert 2010)

I think this research was good but could have been better in a few ways. First, there was a pretty wide range of ages included in this research. Personally, any age over 23 is irrelevant to the general title of a young adult/college student for this study in particular. Also, although the results of this study were clear, the percent value system in the research write up was hard to follow, hence why I did not include percentages in this blog. The study could have also, surveyed whether or not the student felt like their parent was putting pressure on them, whether the student had any feelings of anxiety prior to college, or if their parents were over protective when they were a child or not. Lastly, the study could have not only surveyed the students but the parents as well, to try and get a greater sense of where the anxiety is truly coming from. All these, in my opinion, could have lead to even more valid reasonings behind this research.

Overall, I think as a first year student, feelings of missing home and loved ones doesn’t mean you are diagnosed with separation anxiety. It just makes you realize how much those things meant to you now that you are without them. Missing these things is going to come natural because of our human nature, no matter the parenting style. The feeling of home is something everyone vales dearly and adapting to a new lifestyle and environment can take time. But what this study made me realize is, that for those who it may concern, it may not be the student who has the symptoms of separation anxiety, but the parents.


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Science is not the truth be told

In class on August 30, I gained a clearer understanding of science and why it’s not what we always thought it to be. Science is not a collection of true factual evidence and theories as we were taught as kids. In reality, science really isn’t the truth at all. There is no way to prove the “truth” behind this universe and how it operates. Things just happen to occur naturally and science was created to try to figure out and explain the puzzling aspects found both within and beyond our world. It is our human nature to have answers to things that puzzle us and science is a way to satisfy that curiosity until a better, more elaborate answer comes along. We either learn someone else’s theory or create our own for others to accept and learn, it’s a never ending cycle and this is why science changes over time.

There have been many incidents in history when a scientist publicizes their empirical theory, making others believe and invest in it, until a later discovery of that topic exploits and disproves it. Meaning, the science that had been followed for all that time had been wrong and, depending on the extremity of the theory, could have even caused damage in some form because of it.

Andrew talked briefly about scientific truths being disproved in class on August 30 and listed just a few examples throughout scientific history. Here is a list of scientific statements I came across (from here and here ) that we were probably told one point in our lives to be true: there’s a great amount of genetic differences between humans; only nine planets exist; earth is the only place where water exists; Pluto is a planet; ulcers are caused by stress; heavy drinking kills brain cells; microwave radiation causes cancer; shaving your hair makes it grow back thicker; lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice; a penny dropped from the empire state building can kill you; blood in your veins are blue; your fingers swell up from water; sunflowers follow the sun across the sky; gum takes 7 years to digest; bats are blind; dogs and cats see in shades of grey; a bulls anger is generated by the color red; seasons are caused by how close we are to the sun; you must drink eight cups of water a day; you must wait 30 minutes after eating to go swimming; a worm cut in half will grow into two worms; humans only have 5 senses; red heads are going extinct; frogs and toads give you warts; sugar makes kids hyper; cracking your knuckles will result in arthritis; stress causes high blood pressure; the earth is flat; animals can’t get cancer; all organic food is pesticide free.

And the list goes on. Although most of these are not completely life changing, it still proves the point that a good amount of scientific truths you’ve been told to believe earlier in your life have come to be disproven now. Were there any on the list that you believed to be factual until now? Let me know in the comment section!


But let’s take a closer look at one of those disproven scientific truths listed above. Assuming we all remember the days when Pluto was talked about as a planet, I think we can all relate to this one scientific truth that changed before all of our eyes and ears, the death of Pluto the planet. I did more exploring of this topic and found two articles to helpful further my understanding of why Pluto is no longer a planet today. Click here and here to view them.

According to both Cain and Rincon, after many years predicting that astronomers would find another plant, Pluto was discovered in the Kuiper Belt in 1930. Measuring small at 2,400 km long (Cain 2015), Pluto was still happily announced to be the ninth member of the solar system family. The small size of Pluto did not worry astronomers at first. However, as time and more research went on, scientists realized that sooner than later, a similar icy object in the Kuiper Belt bigger than Pluto is bound to be discovered. And that is exactly what happened.

In 2005, Scientist Mike Brown and his team founded Eris. Eris was around 2,600 km long and 25% heavier in mass than Pluto. (Cain 2015) This discovery started to shake the 9 planet concept that had been put into place when Pluto was founded. If little Pluto could be considered as a part of our solar system, then why couldn’t Eris and all the other hundreds of similar icy objects orbiting the sun in the Kuiper Belt? According to both Cain and Rincon, this would increase our solar system from 9 to 12 planets, and then 12 planets to who knows how many. Allowing this to happen seemed too messy to accept and share to the world for the scientists and astronauts in the project. This is when they decided that the definition of planet must be changed. Ultimately, after a long voting process, Pluto was removed from our solar system, which definitely disappointed all the kids who had Pluto as their planet project in school.


According to the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union, a planet must be in orbit around the sun, have sufficient energy to pull itself into a spherical shape, and have cleared the neighborhood of its orbit. Pluto and Eris break that last rule on the checklist, classifying them as dwarf planets, and bumping our solar system down to the 8 planets we have today.


Just because a new scientific discovery is made, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to stay around forever. Something as simplistic as a change in definition could alternate the science we are already familiar with. Science is competitive and constantly trying to find improvements to existing experiments and theories, so we as humans, can become that much closer to finding the right answer to this big puzzling universe. Pluto is just one example we have witnessed change ourselves. There are many other examples, along with many more to come.


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Science and I aren’t friends

Hi everyone! My name is Alexis, but usually go by Lexi or Lex, and I am from CT. I am taking this class as a freshman not only to fulfill my science Gen Ed but because, although I am undecided in my major, one thing I know for sure is that I do not want to do anything with science. I hate science and  I’m pretty sure it hates me back because no matter how hard I try to understand it, it always has me like:


I actually used to enjoy science back in middle school when we used to make models of the cell out of cake and candy, color on the daily, and watch Bill Nye and the magic school bus. Then, honors high school science came into my life and let me tell you, those two classes were the worst two years of my life. Not only did I not know what was going on, ever, but I don’t think my teachers did either. After that, I dropped down to college prep level chem because I was tired of the struggle. Best decision ever. But for some reason, the next year I thought, hey, maybe I’ll take 4 credit UCONN physics, I’ll get the credit and never have to take science ever again in college! But guess I was wrong because here I am taking a science Gen Ed. Even though I thought I was done with science, I couldn’t tell you how happy I was when I heard that PSU offered a science class that required no science skill or liking at all. I’m excited to learn science in a new and fun way and also, learn about topics that I’m actually interested in. This really could not have been a more perfect fit, because, science, I am done trying to be friends with you.

I do realize however, that science is going to be a part of my life whether I like it or not. Here is an article I found online about just one of the many examples of how science affects our daily lives.