Author Archives: Abigail Edwards

Does Modern Technology Have the Ability to Reduce Crime?

Strike one, strike two, strike three and you’re in it for life. This is the ideology that our justice system has for criminals these days. Although, is it possible to predict if strike two or three will happen? Recently new technology has risen to jump start the idea that we can tell if a criminal will commit another crime after being released from prison. First, we will look at the neuroscience behind this belief, then we will look at how this can benefit our society, and lastly we will look at my personal opinion.




Found through research at Duke University, “neuroimaging” is a new break through in the scientific community. Neuroimaging is a noninvasive process that allows for individuals to have better visualization of the brain structure and how it is functioning in each patient. Through this process, medical personnel and scientist are able to predict if a criminal will commit a crime again.

The following studies do not suffer from the file drawer problem; they have been published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”. The first study from the University of New Mexico, included 96 male criminals all between the ages of 20 and 52. All 96 individuals have been released from prison for the past four years. The study used the anterior cingulate cortex (ACA), the part of the brain that is related to impulsiveness and behavior. When this part of the brain is damaged, that particular individual is more likely to commit a criminal act. The study showed that of the 96 males, the ones with low ACA activity are two times more likely to reoffend than the others. With that said, if we can measure the amount of activity in the ACA on an MRI, then we can see who is more likely to reoffend, right?

Of course this hypothesis has many third variables. Some of these can be anything from the fact that these men were locked in prison for so long, as well as the fact that some of these men may not actually want to be civilized, this goes hand and hand with mental health. Matthew Bohrer goes deeper into what these third variables could be here.



How this will benefit our society

This will allow for the justice system to better prevent more crime. The best example of this is with Rodney Alcala. In 1968, Alcala raped and almost succeeded in murdering an eight year old girl in his apartment. He was then released from prison and put on parole less than ten years later in 1974. After being in prison for five shorts years, Alcala was released. Afterwards, Alcala was convicted of killing five known girls. Could this have been prevented?

Crime in America says that of 405,000 prisoners, two-thirds of them were arrested again for a new crime only within three years of their release. Additionally, within five years of being released, three-quarters of criminals were arrested for a re-offense. This is a stomach flipping amount if you ask me.

Additionally, here is a study showing that eight out of ten inmates were arrested again after being released from a year or more in prison. This study was used to evaluate the Delaware Justice system, taking place in the year 2013. The Governor of Delaware stated that they needed to find a new and better way to reduce crime and prevent criminals from re-offending. The development of this neuroimaging technology can be that solution.

My Personal Opinion

Contrary to the null hypothesis, which is that neurological technology won’t be able to tell if a criminal will commit another crime, I believe that it will. Also, I think that this is something that could better our society immensely. If we have the ability to test a criminal before we release them from jail, we could then prepare or potentially avoid the next crime from being committed. The morality behind this argument is a discussion for a different time, but as for what is in this blog post, I believe that it could be beneficial.


Sci Gogo. Will Parker. “Future Criminal Behavior Predicted With Brain Scans”. March 2013. Link

Psycology Today. Joshua Gowin. “Can We Predict Crime Using Brain Scans?” April 2013. Link

ZAP! Struck by Lightening!

Have you ever just looked up in the dark grey skies and watch as the sky lights up with a one-billion-volt electric shock and wonder, how is this possible? What is lighting exactly, and how does it form? According to the National Weather Service, your odds of being struck in your lifetime, based upon the average age of 80, is 1 in 13,000. That being said, are your chances of getting struck by lightening more if you are of a specific gender? My research on this topic are four-fold and through this particular blog post I hope achieve in answering all of the said questions. Personally, my hypothesis is the same as the null hypothesis, that there is no direct correlation to which gender is more susceptible to a lighting strike.


What is lightening?

Now that we know how lightening forms, let us take a look at what lightening is exactly. Is it really God smiting us humans on Earth? Science seems to disprove this theory. Lightening, according to National Geographic, is caused by an imbalance of charged particles within the cloud and has the ability to reach temperatures five times that of the sun’s. It also has the potential to strike Earth and cause many natural phenomena such as; snowstorms, forest fires, and even volcano eruptions! Who would have thought!? Luckily for us, the most common type of lightening doesn’t even hit the Earth. It usually transfers from one cloud to another. However, National Geographic, says that Earth is struck by lightening at least 100 times a day, making it a very common and naturally occurring event.

How is lighting possible?

Before we get into how many individuals get struck by lightening, let us take a look at how it forms. Lightening is much like getting shocked by your door handle when you reach to grab it. It all has to do with the build up of positive and negatively charged atoms. However, instead of building the static up through your feet and through your body, is builds up through the bottom of the cloud to the top. For there to be lighting there must be a thunderstorm. A thunderstorm is the vertical movement of water vapor from the surface to the air. At a certain height above the ground, a cloud will form when the temperature cools to the dew-point temperature. What exactly is the dew-point temperature? It is the temperature at which the air becomes saturated and water vapor condenses back to it’s liquid state. According to, as the cloud builds, the increase in height means a decrease in temperature. This makes the cloud at the top have frozen ice crystals, and the bottom to have rain drops (assuming the base of the cloud is above freezing levels). Due to the upward motion of air and water vapor and the natural down drafts of the thunderstorm, it causes the liquid water and ice crystals to bump into one another creating static electricity. This can be equated to the same as sliding your feet along the rug. Then after all of electricity has been built up within the cloud, the heavier negatively charged particles sink to the bottom of the cloud. While the negatively charged particles sink, the positively charged particles rise to the top because they are lighter, respectively. Then after enough static electricity has been built up, a huge shock – lighting – is created. This is ultimately like touching the door handle after you have rubbed your feet along the carpet.


How many people are struck by lightening?

To my surprise, a large amount of people are struck by lightening each year. Somewhere around 2,000 people are killed worldwide every year. Of the 2,000 people worldwide, 31 are struck and killed in the United States according to the National Weather Service’s 2006-2015 study. May not seem like much, but when they break it down to the odds of it happening to someone you know, it seems more likely. Based on their calculations, those odds are 1/1,300 people.

Just because you are struck by lightening doesn’t mean you will die. Even more people survive lightening strikes then actually die. However, their symptoms may be severe and forever lasting. Some side effects are; memory loss, dizziness, and memory loss. Of course there a number of other possible life threating side effects. With all the above said, are men or women more likely to be the victim of a lightening strike?

Who is at a higher risk for getting struck?

Surprisingly, it seems men are more likely to be struck by lightening than women! According to, 648 people were killed by lightening between the years 1995-2008. Of those 648, 82% of them were men! Crazy, right? Well not really. The answer to this is quite simple, and actually makes a lot of sense. It was thought the cause of this was due to extra iron in the male cranium, or the conductive properties of the male hormone, testosterone. Unfortunately, this wasn’t necessarily the case at all. According to the article on, and a study done by Peter Todd, a behavioral psychologist from Indiana University, it might just have to do with that fact that men are less willing to stop what they are doing for lightening. This being a possible third variable, Todd seems to think that the difference has to do with the natural “risk-vs- reward” process that has been genetically encoded within our biological being for thousands of years. Todd further explains that us women are naturally more inclined to stay back and care for their offspring, or themselves. Where as for men, they seem to have this natural attractions for one upping another male to be the alpha, or to potentially show off their courage to attract a female. This being said, this urge to impress comes with the younger male than their older and wiser male counterparts.


To conclude…

It seems my hypothesis may have been off, but not by much. I was simply researching to see if men or women have something within them that causes one or the other to be more susceptible to a strike (I.e. extra iron in the body, hormones, or bone structure). I was able to conclude that men aren’t necessarily more susceptible, but are more likely to be struck by lightening than a woman, not because of chemical makeup, but because they are less understanding of the consequences that they are facing. In conclusion, men seem to be more likely to be struck by lightening, but are by no means more susceptible than their female counterparts.


Photo one: Link 

Photo two: Link

Photo three: Link

Déjà Vu: Supernatural or Can We Explain the Phenomenon?

While reading through the class blog, trying to decide what post to comment on, I kept getting this weird feeling….. have I read this before? With all the posts about sleep, drugs (marijuana, Adderall, ect.), and mental health, I feel like I’ve seen these topics done one too many times. This feeling is commonly known as déjà vu. Many people are skeptical as to if déjà vu is work of a supernatural power, I personally think this is bogus. In this blog post, I am going to show studies supporting both sides. Therefore, allowing the reader to form their own opinion. Like Andrew has made very clear, science can’t prove anything when it comes to the supernatural, so will we ever truly know? No, probably not, but we can form our own hypothesis! Here we will take a better look at the overlying definition of déjà vu, studies to better expand our understanding scientifically and supernaturally, and the theories as to what I believe it really is.

What is the “definition” of déjà vu?

Well let’s first start off with the literal meaning of the word. In French déjà vu means “already seen”. This allows us to infer what we believe déjà vu to actually be like. Basically, it is a feeling that we sometimes get when we feel like what is happening at the current moment has already happened to us in the past. To better explain, we can use the example that I opened with. I get the feeling of déjà vu when I read a blog post about sleeping because so many other students have written about the same topic, I feel as if I had read that before, even though I may never have.



What is the Null Hypothesis?

I believe that the null hypothesis is that déjà vu is simply just a weird coincidence. There is no actual scientific or supernatural reasoning behind this phenomenon.  With this said, we present the question of “could this all be chance”? Well the answer is yes, it could be but we don’t know that for sure, therefore the studies below can better explain the alternative.

Scientific studies

Study One

Just this past August, a study was done at the University of St. Andrews in the UK. Akira O’Connor conducted a small study of 21 participants, where O’Connor and his team were able to recreate a déjà vu like feeling amongst their control group. This was done with a neuroscience technique that allowed the O’Connor’s team to give the participants “false memories.” To summarize the study, basically what they did was state a list of words to participants; bed, pillow, night, dream, but not sleep. Then when they asked the participants to recite the words, many said “sleep”. Therefore, creating a false memory.

After this was done, the team of scientist repeated this process, but this time while stating the words they asked the participants if they heard a word that starts with “S”. The participants said “no”, then were asked to recite the words once again and this was when the feeling of déjà vu started to set in. The participants knew that they didn’t hear the word sleep, but because of the false memory that was created they had a strong feeling that sleep was said. To better understand this study please take a look at both the article, and for the visual learners, or the lazy ones, here is a short video summarizing the whole thing.



Study two

The second study I would like to look at is one that was done in 2012 by Anne Cleary a cognitive psychologist at Colorado State University. Cleary used virtual reality to experimentally create the feeling of déjà vu. The participants, college students, wore a 3-D virtual-reality head set. They were presented with 128 different scenes, each one paired with another. They weren’t identical but the placement of specific objects in the scenes were in the same spots. Leading the participants to believe that they had seen that place before. This study specifically does not suffer from the File Drawer Problem, Cleary posted the findings in Consciousness and Cognition.

Third Variables?

Also, here is an article of a man who is “Trapped in never ending déjà vu”. This is very interesting because it clearly shows how each person is effected by neurological phenomena differently. This article also presents us with a third variable, which could very well explain the occurrence of déjà vu. This third variable is anxiety. The man in this study has had a history of anxiety and depression, and Dr. Chris Moulin believes that this could have an effect on his amount of déjà vu. With this said, as we learned in class, reverse causation could also be the case here. If the man has déjà vu too often this could then lead to higher levels of anxiety.

Work of the supernatural?

Many theories over time have presented the ideas that déjà vu is a glimpse into a multi-dimension, a past life, or a dream that has been stored away. This article describes the theory of multi-dimensions. Saying that we are looking into a universe that isn’t the same as the one we are currently living in, but it is very similar. Here is a link to an article and video explaining this theory.  The video makes a comparison between the vibrations of radio waves in our world and the vibration of alternative universes. Because our universe and an alternative universe aren’t vibrating in unison we aren’t able to go in and out of these dimensions.

Another supernatural theory is that déjà vu means that we really have experienced these things before, in a past life. Contrary to O’Conner’s studies, this means that instead of “false memories,” they really are memories. Deborah King has a blog where she writes about déjà vu being from a past life, here we can see the theory that is presented.



In Conclusion

I personally believe that déjà vu has a perfectly scientific explanation; could be due to a third variable, reverse causation, or just chance itself. Although, if anyone has other studies or other opinions I would love to hear them in the comments below. According to Scientific American, déjà vu can be as common as 30% to 100% of people. However, realistically we will never truly know because we simply cannot ask every person in the world. We also can’t because each person’s answer will vary based on the definition of déjà vu that is presented to them. So please tell me what you think, but as of right now I believe that déjà vu is not associated with anything supernatural. It is simply seeing one too many SC200 blogs on the same topic!

Tattoos: More Than Meets the Eye

Tattoos, simple right? The needle punctures the skin, the ink is on the needle, and then you have a tattoo. To my surprise marking your skin forever isn’t that simple.

Before starting this post I would like to clarify that this isn’t saying that tattoos are good or bad or anything about the morality of the process, but simply how the process physically goes. It is the research that I did before getting my own tattoo and something that I feel is interesting given how many young adults do already have tattoos or plan to get them one day. With that said, first we will look at how the needle makes the tattoos permanent, along with the benefits and downsides of having a tattoo.


How tattooing works?

First, lets go over the actual needle used for a tattooing, these are not the same as needles used for a shot or an IV. Unlike medical needles, tattooing needles are not injecting the ink into our skin. They are actually more similar to paintbrushes, holding the ink in between each needle. Depending on the look each person is going for, a needle can have 3 to 25 different ends on it, according to Guia Marie Del Prado from Business Insider.

Once the needle is dipped in in ink it is ready to puncture our skin. During this process capillary action is what matters, once the skin is punctured the body goes into repair mode. This means that the body will do what it can to repair the broken skin, therefore fibroblasts, dermal cells, and macrophages will be distributed to heal the wound. The way that tattoos become permanent is due to the macrophages that don’t make it out of the dermis. So basically a tattoo is just a bunch of trapped cells that were invaded by a foreign body, the ink.




Getting tattoos now-a-days are almost a social norm amongst individuals from within our generation and it is a trend becoming more and more accepted in the world. With about 45 million Americans with at least one tattoo, there must be some upsides to having a one, right? Of course! Getting a tattoo can be very addicting! The whole process of getting a tattoo is very exciting as a whole! Everything from picking the artist, color schemes, design, location, and style are just a few things to name that all go into getting a tattoo, and that is even before the inking begins! Once all the above have been decided and settled upon, it is time for the actual tattooing to begin.

As the adrenaline rushes your body just as you hear the intimidating sound of a needle moving up and down at immense rates, you more than likely start to panic a little bit because you have no idea what kind of pain you are about to endure. Each person has a different pain tolerance, therefore tattoos won’t feel the same for everyone. Below is a picture of the sensitivity levels of different parts of the body.  Explained here, we see how adrenaline dulls the pain. This is applicable when getting a tattoo, epinephrine levels are high in our body therefore dulling the pain. Of course this is different for everyone and can change due to third variables. These third variables can be things such as location, pain tolerance, and the amount of fat on the person.



This gives some of us an extraordinary sense of euphoria creating rush in which can be addicting to most. According to, about 32% of people are addicted to getting inked. Not to mention the unbelievable way you feel once the tattoo is complete. Your self image is raised substantially once your tattoo is completed, and this is backed with a stat of almost 31% of people saying they feel sexier after getting it. You become so proud of yourself for going through it all and want nothing more than to show it off so almost everyone can see it, and ask what it means. The science behind this actually makes a lot of since. Tattoo addiction is more psychological than it is physical. Here we see the ways that physiological, psychological, and social attributes contribute to the euphoric feeling after getting a tattoo. Not to mention, it is an unbelievable conversation starter for those who are afraid to talk to that cute guy or girl they have been eye balling at the party. It will get the two of you talking and might give you an idea of who he or she may be!

That leads me into my next pro to getting a tattoo. Many people get tattoos with meaning. Something significant that happened to them, or is a tribute to someone that has made an impact on their life. For example, I have a tattoo of coordinates for Millinocket, Maine because that is where I used to spend majority of my summers as a child. It is also where I shared some of the best times and experiences of my life with some of the best people. Another example is one of my best friend’s tattoos. He has a tattoo of his step father’s name on his forearm with the year of his birth and the year of his death. Obviously, this is an honorable tribute to him and means something to him. The point I am trying to make is that a tattoo can represent more than just art on your body. Most tattoos have a story behind them that mean something to them. It allows for people to properly honor those things that truly matter to them. Others may get tattoos that represent their heritage or their culture. An example of this are the tribal tattoos we see from the islands of the pacific. They usually have a lot of shading and intricate patterns throughout which usually represent something of their family history. This allows for them to bring pride and honor to their family name or tribe.



This may sound crazy, but tattoos actually can have negative effects to them other than the typical “bad boy” reputation. It may be possible for some tattoo ink to contain metal particles, this allows for the tattoo to prevent a person from undergoing a few certain procedures. This study, discusses the possibility of how some inks may cause the tattoo to burn during an MRI. The Smithsonian states that the MRI has a very high output of magnetic energy so the metal in the tattoo can begin with a tingling sensation, then turning into a burn.

The second example is here. Apple has confirmed that the frequencies of the apple watch can be messed with by tattoos on the wrist. The darker the tattoo the more it messed with the signal of the watches. Personally, I find this to be crazy. Who would have thought??

Of course with the use of needles, comes the risk of infection, or transmitted diseases by improper use and technique of the artist. You are essentially scarring your skin and without proper care, it can lead to many unwanted complications. It is important to know and trust your artist otherwise you may end up with a nasty infection! Here is a link to an article on how to properly care for your tattoo and allow it to heal properly without complications.

To Conclude

Tattoos simply are not for everyone. That is fine, they don’t have to be. However, I hope after reading this blog post you can walk away with a better understanding of tattoos and why people who do have them, get them! I also hope I have been adequate in providing the help necessary to those people who may be on the fence about getting one, and helping them in making a definitive decision on whether or not it is right for them. Just remember that tattoos allow for self expression and gives the people around you a little insight on who you might be without even saying a single word! The pain is only temporary, and depending on where you get it, it might not even hurt at all! In the end a little bit of pain may be worth the end result.


Guia Marie Del Prado. Bussiness Insider. “Here’s what’s really happening when you get a tattoo”. June 2015. Link

Rose Eveleth. “Some Tattoo Inks Can Burn You During an MRI”. March 2014. Link

Planet of the…..Chimps…..?

What would happen if humans went extinct? Would another species take over? How can we stop this? These are all questions that I am prepared to answer. Before proceeding with the logistics of the questions proposed, I would like to create my own hypothesis. I personally believe that chimps would be the first species to take over. Due to how similar they are to humans already, they would most likely be the next species to excel the most.

With this being said, we will first look at how intelligence is defined, then what species is most likely to obtain said intelligence. Furthermore, we will look at what species is predicated to take over and how this correlates to my hypothesis.


What is Intelligence?

The human race is not only massive, but also very powerful. The power that humans possess stems from a thing called intelligence. Although many other species are defined as intelligent, it doesn’t quite match up to the same level as human intelligence. Animals clearly live a very different way than humans do, they need to survive given their surroundings. Each individual animal is wired in a different way to accommodate the given climate, location, gene pool, and culture that the animal is living in. Therefore, their brains and instincts are the key tool to their survival.

Different from animals, the average human brain is wired with more logic and individual thought processes. Most humans don’t need to worry about camouflage as protection from other animals or finding food out in the wilderness. Humans also have a better grasp on the use of technology and tools. We use both in our everyday life, animals on the other hand don’t. Although, in 2007, a study found that chimps have been using “spears” as a way of hunting mammals. The chimps would break off a branch, sharpen it using his teeth, and then hunt bush babies with it.

Another thing to differentiate between human intelligence and animal intelligence is language and mathematical understanding. Yes, animals can communicate in many different ways, such as; bee dances, whale songs, and the actions of dogs, but none are considered a language. As for mathematical understanding, humans can claim ownership. To the extent of the human understanding, no animals have been able to compare.

This then proposes the question of, what conditions are necessary for a new species to gain this intelligence? First and foremost, human would need to be clear off the face of the planet. Otherwise, we would never allow this to happen, at least I don’t think.


What species are most likely to obtain any human like intelligence?

Plants may simply have no chance. The most likely candidate is the vertebrate species. Although some are too small to obtain said intelligence, evolution, whether you choose to believe or not, has showed us that it is possible for them to grow to eventually be of the adequate size. The process of this would take millions of years, as animals right now use their brains for two main reasons, to find food and to fight off predators. Once those two things are taken away, they have no capacity for anything else. If the brain is no longer being used for survival, animals won’t bother to provide food or energy to the brain.

Once the food and shelter gets taken away, the animals will be forced to obtain more intelligence as a way of survival, therefore causing the animals to need a more strategic way of thinking.

Overall, the changing factor will be the social aspect. Social interaction can force an animal’s intelligence to expand. For example, doing things in a group can create more safety to allow for a higher success rate. The best way to explain this is with hunting. When animals hunt together they are more likely to be successful. This causes them to use the cooperative part of their brain and the social part is used to allow them to divide up their food later on. This also ties into the social ranking of each pack of animals. A pack is less likely to be attacked by a predator than only a single roaming animal.


What species will take over?

I suppose it depends on what you define as “the end of the world.” The type of scenario I am talking about for my hypothesis is more like Earth being exactly as it is, just without human interference. However, some people could argue that the cockroach will be the only thing left on earth after a nuclear fall out. Some could say a nasty human killing virus is the end of the world, in which cows, crows, and octopi have the means of “taking over” due to their impeccable ability to use tools. Another example, according to “Light Speed Magazine,” is the possible take over of deer. It could be argued that with almost all of their natural predators gone, including us, their population could boom causing them to be in charge of our planet. Any of these animals or insects could potentially be defined as the species that can take over our planet. The type of scenario I am talking about is more like Earth being exactly as it is, just without human interference.

For the most part, any vertebrate land animal has the potential to take over. It will take millions of years, but it is feasible as long as evolution allows for it. Although, animals such as most birds, dolphins, rats, or other insects may be a bit more unrealistic because they don’t have the correct intellectual capacity required for the end of the world scenario I am proposing. These animals aren’t able to use tools and technology in the way that is necessary for world domination!

Here we find that my initial hypothesis is one of the many correct possibilities. With this being said, it is possible that chimps are most likely to take over if humans are to fall. Although chimps would need to undergo vast evolutional changes to obtain this human intelligence, without humans around there is no guarantee that chimps would evolve in a human like way, but it is more likely.

So in the end, I believe that chimps could potentially be the first in line to take our place, but technically any animal with the cognitive sophistication of human intelligence could.


Quora. Johnny Chertouh. April 2016.

National Geographic News. John Roach. February 2007. “Chimps Use “Spears” to Hunt Mammals, Study Says”. Link

Light Speed Magazine. Jeremiah Tolbert. January 2011. Link


The Truth Behind Anencephaly

“Is my baby healthy? Ten fingers? Ten toes?”, these are prime examples of questions that new soon-to-be mommies should be asking. The process of conception, pregnancy, and becoming a mother is supposed to be beautiful and joyous. Imagine if the answerer to these questions wasn’t a positive “yes”; Picture this, your doctor comes walking in and says that the answer is “No, I’m sorry to say but, you’re baby has anencephaly.”

Anencephaly, defined by, is a fetus is born with little to no brain or skull. It is an extremely rare condition, affecting only 3 in 10,000 babies born each year. The reason why this number is so low is because most babies with neurological defects miscarry. Looking at the frequency, process, causes, and what happens to the baby after birth; we will be able to better understand anencephaly.



 Anencephaly occurs because of a thing called Neural Tube Defects (NTD). The opening and closing of the top neural tube is necessary for proper formation of a fetuses’ brain and skull, as the bottom of the neural tube forms the spinal cord and back bones. When the top neural tube does not fully close correctly, parts of the brain and skull aren’t able to develop properly.

These parts consist of the forebrain and the cerebrum. The forebrain and cerebrum, the largest part of the brain, work together simultaneously. This also consist of the four different lobes; frontal, parietal, occipital, and temporal. With that being said all functions produced by these lobes will be non-existent. For example, lack of a frontal lobe means no speech, movement, or emotions. Lack of the Parietal lobe means no recognition or orientation. No Occipital lobe means no visual processing, and no temporal lobe means no memory or perception.

When saying only 3 in 10,000 babies experience anencephaly each year, that doesn’t sound like a lot, but then when I say that the CDC estimates that it is about 1,206 babies each year, it sounds like a more threatening number. Monika Jaquier, from, did a study on 303 pregnancies with anencephaly babies that were carried to term. Jaquier found that 75% of those babies survived birth.



As sad and upsetting as it is, the CDC as stated that the causes of NTD and anencephaly are unknown. Just like many other fetal defects, the mothers’ diet, environment, and partaking in drugs could all affect the baby.

Although it is unknown what causes anencephaly, we do know what conditions could put a pregnancy at risk. The two that we know for sure are, little to no folic acid in early pregnancy. Also, that Hispanic mothers are more likely to have a baby with anencephaly (the explanation has yet to be found). Categorized as vitamin B, folic acid aids the body in making new cells. The best foods to eat to increase folic acid intake are; green vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts, and grain products.

After Birth

 If the baby makes it to term and survives birth they are very unlikely to live more than 6 days. This was made evident by Monika Jaquier’s ongoing study since 2003, her findings are as follows:

“7% died in utero

18% died during birth 

26% lived between 1 and 60 minutes 

27% lived between 1 and 24 hours 

17% lived between 1 and 5 days

5% lived 6 or more days”

The link to her full report is here.

Despite the odds, some cases have shown that babies with anencephaly have lived. The first case we will look at was a baby born in 2014. The parents went against the doctor’s recommendation, to abort at 23 weeks, and gave birth to a living baby boy. In 2015, this same baby boy celebrated his first birthday. His story is here.


The second case we will look at is another little girl who on March, 23 2015, celebrated her first birthday. Sonia and Rony Morales too went against the doctor’s recommendation to abort. They realized this was the right decision when their daughter, Angela, made it to childbirth and turned one, despite having little to no brain. The Morales’s family story is here.

Sadly, the last case we will look at didn’t go as well. Baby Sarah survived childbirth and lived for about a week. The family better elaborates on Sarah’s story here.

Although, we have yet to find a cure, this post is meant to make young individuals aware of this uncommon defect. Many of the links I have posted offer supportive moral advice as well as a better medical explanation as to why this happens.


  • “Anencephaly” Link
  • S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. “Neural Tube Defects”. August 2016. Link
  • “Brain Structures and their Functions”. September 2012. Link
  • “Facts about Anencephaly”. November 2015. Link
  • Jaquier, Monika. “Report about the birth and life of babies with anencephaly”. September 2015. Link
  • Zagoriski, Sarah. “Baby Jaxon, Born with Anencephaly, Defies the Odds, Turns 1 Year Old”. Septemebr 2015. Link
  • Keating, Caitlin. People. “Miracle Baby’ Not Supposed to Live After Childbirth Celebrates Her First Birthday”. April 2015. Link
  • info. “Sarah”. February 2008. Link


  • Antipuesto, Daisy Jane. Nursing Crib. “Anencephaly”. November 2010.
  • Zagorski, Sarah. Life News. “Baby Jaxon, Born with Anencephaly, defies the odds, Turns 1 year old”. September 2015

Can Humans Survive in Space Without a Space Suit?

Yes, it is possible to survive in space without a space suit, for about 10 to 15 seconds that is. Space is such a powerful, uncontrollable, and unexplainable place. With astronomers estimating at least one hundred billion galaxies in the universe and even the closest planet, Venus, being 261 million kilometers from earth, we have no way to fully fathom the vastness of outer space. However, we do know that it can, and someday will, kill us.

If anyone, like myself, has wondered what would happen to a human who is in outer space without a space suit, there are many different possible outcomes. Each one sounding more and more painful and torturous than the last. First, we will look at the three things that would happen to the human body right away. Secondly, we will see what happens to the body after death in space. Lastly, we will review two studies, one done by the Brooks Air Force Base in Texas and the other done by Jim LeBlanc in 1965.


 The Three Forms of Torture

 Explosion? No. Inflation? Yes.

 Contrary to what we were told as children, our bodies would not explode in outer space. Nevertheless, it would inflate. Paul Sutter, Astrophysicist, writes for exactly how this would happen. Sutter talks about nitrogen levels in our bloodstream, the nitrogen will cause our skin to inflate into small bubbles. This is called ebullism.

Ebullism is when bodily fluids form gas bubbles because of reduced pressure. This means that not only would the nitrogen cause our skin to bubble up, but all of our bodily fluids will too. This consist of; tears, saliva, and any liquid found elsewhere in the body. Although, this wouldn’t be the first thing to kill you, this would just make you feel and look like a shaken up bottle of soda.

One exception to this is our blood. Our blood would not boil or bubble, but our blood circulation would be at risk. This could lead to many other risks and problems that are mentioned below. This leads us to question why our blood wouldn’t boil? According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Gooddard Space Flight Center, because our blood is located in our blood vessels the pressure is controlled internally. Therefore, a change in pressure outside of the body wouldn’t affect our blood the way it does our saliva and other bodily fluids.

Lack of Oxygen

 Fifteen seconds. That is it. A human has fifteen seconds worth of oxygen in their body. This means that after the body losses oxygen, you’re likely to lose consciousness. With that being said the WORST thing a human can do in space without a space suit would be to hold their breath. Due to the lack of pressure in space, the oxygen located inside the lungs would expand causing the lungs to rupture inherently causing death.

Sunburn and Frostbite at the same time?

 Another consequence of being in space without a suit is an extreem sunburn, while facing frostbite. Without the protection of the earths atmosphere, the UV rays, X-rays, and gamma rays would not only burn your already bubbling skin, but also damage your DNA. This means that if survival was miraculously achieved you would likely end up with not only cancer but a horrendous sunburn.

 As your body is being burnt to a crisp, it will also freeze to temperatures colder than and ice cube, but not instantly. Despite spaces’ insanely cold temperatures, freezing wouldn’t happen right away. The body would freeze eventually because heat leaves the body slower than oxygen, therefore a person would die before actually freezing.

Do bodies decompose in space?

Hypothetically, if a human were to end up in space without a suit, we need to understand what would happen after death. UCSB ScienceLine says that the three most rapid forms of decomposition of a human body on earth is biological, with the help of scavengers (insects and animals), and heat degradation. After all three, chemical exposures will take care of the remains. Although, this would not happen in space. Oxygen is needed for decomposition, but in space no oxygen is present. Therefore, the outcomes would be either mummification or it would freeze. The only way that mummification would take place would be if the body was near a heat source. The process of natural forms of mummification is explained by Kathryn Meyers Emery here. Additionally, if the body froze, it would take millions of years for decomposition to take place.

On a side note, above is only applicable if a body is in space without a space suit. If an astronaut were to die in space while wearing a space suit, decomposition would happen, because our bodies need oxygen to decompose. The oxygen in the suit would allow for decomposition, but only for the length of time that the oxygen regulates through the suit.

Either way, in a suit or not, the human corpse would be floating around in the universe for possibly millions of years.


Spacesuit Vacuum Test

Due to the fact that a human has never actually been in space without a suit, we must look to the following test to find our information. On December 14, 1966, Jim LeBlanc accidentally became the only human to survive space like conditions. NASA dressed Jim in a “Moon suit” and then put him in a triple-doored vacuum chamber. Little did NASA, or LeBlanc know that the pressurization hose was disconnected, in ten seconds time LeBlanc’s suit would go from 3.8 psi to 0.1 psi. Not only was the hose disconnected, but Michelle Starr with CNET, says that LeBlanc’s suit had a leak. Leblanc states that the saliva on his tongue boiled and then after fourteen seconds LeBlanc became unconscious. However, he survived, it was a very risky experience that could have gone a completely different way. To watch the full test click this link here.


Brooks Air Force Base

*I would like to note that I do not agree with this experiment*

In 1965, the Texas Air Force Base exposed dogs to the vacuum like effects of space. The findings found that when exposed to ninety seconds or less, the dogs would survive; but at two minutes or more, the dogs would always die. Each dog was unconscious and paralyzed while undergoing the study. Anna Gosline, from Scientific American, says that the dogs suffered many side effects while undergoing the study. The side effects were as follows; seizures, simultaneous defecation, vomiting, urination, swelling and ice formed on their tongues. After about ninety seconds, the dogs would be exposed to normal pressures, and the swelling would go down. After fifteen minutes, the dogs were able to walk and breathe again.

Again in 1965 and 1967, NASA did the same study, but this time on Chimpanzees. The findings showed that chimps lasted three and a half minutes in the space like vacuum conditions. To NASA’s surprise, all but one chimp had no cognitive defects.


Yes, A Human can survive in space without a suit

As shown through both experiments, it is possible, although not recommended unless freezing to death, getting a horrific sunburn, feeling your lungs explode, and feeling your bodily fluids bubble sounds appealing. Luckily, we live in a day where space suits have been invented, therefore allowing us to study space. None of our space exploration would have been made possible without the work of some very smart individuals. I feel privileged to live in such a world that we are able to attain this knowledge.


  • “How do we know how many galaxies are in our universe?” Link
  • Williams, Matt. Universe Today. “What Is The Closest Planet To Earth?” May 2016. Link
  • Liqui Search. “What is ebullism?” Link
  • Astrophysicist Team. “How would the unprotected human body react to the vacuum of outer space?” June 1997. Link
  • UCSB ScienceLine. “If an astronaut died in space, would he decompose?” Link
  • Emery, Kathryn Meyers. Bones Don’t Lie. “Preservation: When Bones Don’t Decompose” April 2013. Link
  • Azriel, Merryl. Space Safety Magazine. “Jim LeBlank Survives Early Spacesuit Vacuum Test Gone Wrong”. November 2012. Link
  • Starr, Michelle. CNET. “What happens to the unprotected human body in space?”. July 2014. Link
  • Gosline, Anna. Scientific American. “Survival in Space Unprotected Is Possible – Briefly”. February 2008. Link

Media Citations


  • You Tube. “Space Suit Testing” June 2010. Link
  • You Tube. “How Long Could You Survive In Outer Space?” November 2014. Link


  • Pics about space. Wall 321 Link
  • Rose, Brent. Gizmodo. “Inside the Chamber Where NASA Recreates Space on Earth”. November 2014. Link
  • Clark, Douglas. Weekly Science Quiz. “Dangers of a Vacuum”. February 2013. Link

Is The Tapeworm Diet Safe?

Society today makes it so hard for women, young girls, and even men to be happy with their bodies. Our thighs are too big, our muffin tops hangover every pair of jeans in our closet, and don’t even get me started on our arm flab. The constant criticism and expectations dished out by society lead to limits being tested, and cause some people to take “dieting” way too far.

Turn on the TV right now and I bet you will see an ad for the newest Fad Diet, the doctors will promise its easy, will tell you it works and will trick you into thinking it’s safe. But in reality these things we disguise as pills and injections are actually deadly. The specific Fad Diet we will be looking at here is the “Tape Worm Diet”. We will look at what it is, if it works and if it is safe.


What is it?

Yes, this diet is as gross as it sounds. There are only a few countries to offer and promote such an unsafe, barbaric and atrocious practice, and Mexico is one of them. This diet is done in a five step process, each one being inevitable after jumping in feet first. Mizpah Matus, from explains exactly what these steps are.

Step one: Upon arrival each patient is given a “beef tapeworm cyst”. This is done in one of four ways; by eating a live worm, by eating a tapeworm egg, by swallowing a tapeworm pill, or by slurping up tapeworm soup. (Each tapeworm costing $1500).

Step two: Once the tapeworm settles into its new home, aka the human’s intestines, he hooks himself to the intestinal wall.

Step three: Once stationary the tapeworm starts to eat half of the calories consumed each day. This is where the weight loss starts to happen. The tapeworm eats half of what the human has eaten, so not only does he steal the hosts food, but also all the nutrients and vitamins that each piece of food contains.

Step four: Once the host is at their ideal weight they consult a new doctor and are prescribed a “deworming agent” which will kill the tapeworm.

Step five: Once the tapeworm is dead his corps will be expelled from the host body via bowl movements.


Does it work?

Now that we know exactly what it is, we need to question if it is actually effective in removing unwanted weight. Very few reviews have stated that this was actually the case, whether this is due to the fact that it doesn’t work, or the mounds of humiliation one must feel after realizing how idiotic this was in the first place, I’m not sure. Nadia-Elysse Harris, for Medical Daily, writes an article on Dr. Michael Mosley; a man who infected himself with the tapeworm specifically to see if this diet works. After 6 weeks of living with a tape worm, Dr. Mosley realized that he was eating carbohydrates and sugars more commonly, resulting in gained weight, two pounds to be exact. Although this diet didn’t work for Mosley, through history some rumors have gone around that its worked for others. One prime example is the opera singer, Maria Callas. According to, Callas reportedly lost 80 pounds. Rumor or truth we may never know, but it’s always a possibility. Another thing to consider while questioning its effectiveness is that each person will most likely put the weight back on once the tape worm is removed.


Is it safe?

Effective or not, one needs to look at the risk before committing to house a worm. By practicing the tapeworm diet, one’s safety is definitely at risk. The side effects are:

  • Bloating
  • Malnutrition
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Intestinal Blockages
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea

Amongst the side effects listed above, death is a possibility. Consuming a tapeworm could be deadly, not only if not done irresponsibly, but also because the human body will not be getting the nutrients it requires. In 2009, Tyra Banks did a segment on her show talking about the Tapeworm Diet. Banks proceeded to highlight all the negatives of this deadly practice, and even hosted a parasitologists, who supported Banks in the statement that this diet is unsafe.

In conclusion, the Tapeworm Diet is unsafe and ineffective. Is losing a few pounds worth becoming the home to a parasite that can be up to 20 to 30 feet long? The safest and smartest way to go about losing weight is to eat healthy and exercise regularly.  As a college freshman currently fighting off the freshman fifteen, I know how hard it can be to stick to a healthy lifestyle. Contrary to what some may say, it is possible and it can be done without having to go to Mexico, or ordering a tapeworm off the internet.


  • Golden, Janet. “Still can’t lose weight? There’s always the tapeworm diet”. The Inquirer Daily News. March 2014. Link
  • Harris, Nadia-Elysse. “Does The Tapworm Diet work? Dr. Michael Mosley Infects Himself, Gains Weight”. Medical Daily. February 2014. Link
  • Matus, Mizpah. “Tapeworm Diet: History, Methods, and Dangers”. Diet Blog. Link

Video Citations

  • Schuler, Brian. “Tyra Banks – Tapeworms”. You tube. October 2012. Link
  • Buford, George. “Tapeworm Diet Plan”. You tube. July 2009. Link

Photo Citations

  1. Matsui, Christ. Fusion Trained. “The Evolution of Weight loss Diets”. September 2014. Link
  2. Lewis, Philip. Science.Mic. “The Tapeworm Diet Is an Actual Thing and Here’s Why You Should Never Do It”. February 2016. Link
  3. Harris, Nadia-Elysse. “Does The Tapworm Diet work? Dr. Michael Mosley Infects Himself, Gains Weight”. Medical Daily. February 2014. Link

Science is Known for Crushing Hopes and Dreams

Hello everyone. My name is Abigail Edwards, and I am from Las Vegas, Nevada. I chose to attend Penn State because I love the campus and I was captivated by the amount of school spirt. I am currently a freshman and I am undecided, but I am interested in International Political Economics. In high school I was a cheerleader, on the swim team, and on the debate team. Although I will not be continuing cheer or swim here at PSU, I would love to continue debating. I was a part of Lincoln-Douglas debate and I wrote and performed a speech called an Oratory. Here you will find two links, one to an example of an Oratory Here and the other to an example of a LD debate Here.

I am taking Science 200 because science has never been my thing. I always did well but I hated every second of it. I have always been a hard worker but when my chemistry class was the first B I received in my life, I got a little discouraged in the world of science. Not to mention my teacher of this chemistry class told me that “Chemistry was known for crushing hopes and dreams”, if that doesn’t put a damper on your day I don’t know what will. So my sophomore self then decided that science was not for me.

Although Science will be the death of me, this course looked less painful. The topics we are studying are interesting topics, for example are drugs better than teachers, are animals gay, and where does evil come from. These are only three of the many topics that will actually keep my attention. I have very high expectations for my performance in this class.