Author Archives: Alexis Paige

A Kiss is Just a Kiss

So much emphasis is placed on kissing. How important is that first kiss? Will the culmination of your first date end with a kiss? Will the kiss be gentle or hungry and passionate? In a blooming relationship, the kiss just may be more celebrated than sex itself. So, what’s really in a kiss? Are there any benefits to kissing? This blog is meant to call attention to the documented, physical benefits of kissing, independent of the (emotional) romantic benefit.


In an article published by Psychology Today, the author explored a study performed at Arizona State University by a professor, Kory Floyd. In this study, they sampled 52 married or cohabiting couples. The researcher assigned approximately 26 couples to the experimental group which were assigned to kiss more frequently and for longer periods of time than usual. The other 26 couples in the control group were given no instructions for kissing, nor did they know the purpose of the experimental (blind control). The lab assistants were also ‘blind’ to which couples were the control participants and which couples were the experimental participants in order to eliminate any possible bias while compiling the data. Therefore it was a double blind experiment.

At the end of the study, the experimental group said they felt less stress and greater contentment in their relationships. Physical lab tests showed a decreased level of (bad) cholesterol then their baseline levels. The control group displayed no such benefit.

According to another article, kissing boosts immunity as well. A Dutch researcher, Remco Kort performed a study on 21 couples. They filled out a questionnaire, provided saliva samples before and after a kiss, and then ate yogurt with markers to count the number of bacteria transferred. They found that couples that kissed frequently shared similar gut bacteria compared to individuals that kissed infrequently or not at all. Kort concluded that it was healthy to kiss because it exposed you to a greater variety of bacteria, which would increase physical resistance. In other words, kissing is similar to taking a probiotic that would boost your immune system.

In conclusion, is kissing good for your health? Well I wouldn’t go around kissing just anybody. After all the threat of communicable disease still looms over you. Also the results seem to revolve around couples, not random hook-ups. Physically, there seem to be many benefits to kissing. So couples keep smooching, just be sure to get a room!

Works Cited

Whitbourne, Susan Krauss, Ph.D. “The Kiss of Health | Psychology Today.” Psychology Today. N.p., 24 July 2012. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.

Lim, Jillian Rose. “The Health Benefits of Kissing – Men’s Journal.” Men’s Journal. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.


Who Needs Drugs When We Have Bacteria?

Growing up with a mother who was a microbiologist, I often heard her say things like, “bacteria gets a bad name,” and “most bacteria is beneficial.” So when I came across this article about the possibility of the intestinal microbes affecting our mood, I could almost hear her voice saying, “I told you!” Probiotics are microorganisms that are introduced into the body for some beneficial use. According to an article published by Scientific American, probiotics may become a treatment for anxiety, depression and other mood disorders. They call this promising class of probiotics, psychobiotics.

Now, there are many who believe probiotics of any kind are just a hoax. And there are still plenty of studies that need to be conducted before we can draw any concrete conclusions, but the data that has already been collected is intriguing.

In another article, published in Science Daily, scientists estimate that our intestines are home to at least 1000 different species of bacteria.

According to the articles above, each person has their own unique population and proportion of various bacteria in their gut. And studies show that when we alter our diets dramatically, it changes this population and proportion of bacteria. The interaction between the gut and the brain occurs through a nerve located in the gut called the vagus nerve. The bacteria in the gut are thought to make substances that can act on our nervous system and brain.

Researchers from Canada transferred bacteria from the guts of mice that were more active and curious to the guts of mice that were timid and found that the timid mice became more active and curious. They also transplanted bacteria from the guts of depressed human patients into mice and found that the mice displayed similar depressive characteristics.

According to an article, an imbalance of harmful bacteria has been linked to anxiety, depression, stress and other neurological disorders. Though most of this information comes from animal experiments, studies of people with depression have shown dysfunctional bacteria in their guts. Some of these patients have been given psychobiotics with some success.

In conclusion, there are correlations between gut bacteria and mood dysfunction. What is left to discover is the mechanics behind the interaction of bacteria and the brain. Once this is revealed, treatment of depression, anxiety and other mind disorders may be treated with a healthy dose of bacteria!

Work Cited

Schmidt, Charles. “Mental Health May Depend on Creatures in the Gut …” Nature America, INC. N.p., 01 Mar. 2015. Web. 20 Oct. 2016. “Do microbes control our mood?.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 October 2016. <>.

Borreli, Lizette. “Food For Thought: Gut Bacteria May Influence How The Mind …” Medical Daily. N.p., 29 Mar. 2016. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.

A Little Weed Won’t Hurt Anyone? Well, Maybe Teenagers!

Twenty-three states have made medicinal marijuana legal and four additional states, as well as Washington DC, have made its recreational use legal in recent years. This blog is not to refute or support these laws, rather to examine a study about the effects of marijuana on the developing brain, in particular, the developing teenage brain.


According to an article published by NPR, a recent survey showed that 60 percent of high school seniors said marijuana was safe and 23 percent admitted to using marijuana in the past 30 days. So what impact does a steady cannabis intake have on the developing, teenage brain?

Krista Lisdahl, director of the brain imaging and neuropsychology lab at University of Wisconsin, explains that the brain is larger during childhood and reduces in size during our teenage years to make our processing faster and more efficient. Lisdahl says that using cannabis as a teenager is actually the worse time because it can disrupt brain development.

Lisdahl cites several studies with somewhat mixed results. In one study, researchers analyzed IQ information from marijuana users in New Zealand (experimental group) and IQ information from nonusers in New Zealand (control group). They tracked the groups from childhood until age 38 and found that the experimental group lost approximately 8 IQ points over that course of time. Those in the experimental group that smoked the most cannabis saw the greatest decrease in IQ. They also performed worse in memory and decision making than the control group.

However, when using human subjects, there is always the dilemma of control factors. For example, how does genetics and diet play a role in the IQ of each individual? The amount, source, potency and frequency of cannabis use are all factors that should remain the same within the experimental group as well. Additionally, does cannabis affect boys and girls differently?

In another article published by the APA (American Psychological Association) , Lisdahl states that most of the studies carried out on the long term effects of cannabis focus on heavy users and it is unclear if there is a safe level of use. A study called the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development is now ongoing and it will follow 10,000 individuals in the United States over a decade, beginning at the ages 9-10, to hopefully arrive at a definitive conclusion.

With the legalization of marijuana across the country, we owe it to ourselves to determine the effects of cannabis, both long and short term, on the developing mind. According to a survey cited in the NPR article, six percent of high school seniors use cannabis daily and today’s cannabis is higher in THC, the main hallucinogen. If further studies uphold the findings in the New Zealand study, measures should be taken to keep cannabis away from teenagers.

In conclusion, you probably shouldn’t do marijuana because it is illegal in most states. However if you choose to do so, maybe wait until more concrete studies are conducted and results come in. In the long run, it could save you some IQ points.

Works Cited


Neighmond, Patti. “Marijuana May Hurt The Developing Teen Brain : Shots …” NPR. N.p., 03 Mar. 2014. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.

Weir, Kirsten. “APA, ” Marijuana and the Developing Brain.” APA. N.p., Nov. 2015. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.

Are GMOs genetic monsters?  

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs for short, have been a hot topic in public health lately. And even though forms of these organisms have been around for decades, the fear surrounding the increased use of GMOs in our food source has garnered great concern for public health and well-being. There are many questions concerning the negative impacts of GMOs in our food source such as: are GMOs toxic to our organs? Will they alter our genes/DNA? Can they adversely affect our offspring? In this blog, we will look at a study from Harvard that addresses the toxicity of GMOs on our bodies based upon its own study AND a compilation of other, independent studies.


There have been over 100 research studies concerning the toxicity of GMOs, many of which are conflicting. So who do we believe? There are strong opposing groups such as the Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT), that emphatically report the GMOs are toxic to all body organs. If you go to their website you can find lists of modified foods to avoid as well as a great many studies that assert the position that GMOs are toxic. Most scientists, however, have not been able to find evidence or duplicate the findings of the studies posted there and assert that GMOs are safe.

Compounding the question of which source to trust, is the fact that there is an endless assortment of genetically modified crops, from corn to potatoes to tomatoes and peppers, in which we can study. Each crop is uniquely different (modified) and therefore operates in a different way within the body.

In a study published by Megan L. Norris, a Ph.D. candidate in the Molecular, Cellular and Organismal Biology Program at Harvard University, a genetically modified potato containing the bar gene is fed to rats. The bar gene is an enzyme that detoxifies herbicides so that the potato crop is protected from herbicide use. Rats were used in the experiment in lieu of humans because a human study would be unethical.

In the study, one group of rats were fed a diet the GMO potatoes while another group of rats were fed a diet of non-GMO potatoes. Each group contained both male and female rats, which were tracked and examined after death. There were no differences in the tissue of reproductive organs, livers, kidneys or spleens between the two groups of rats.

A similar study occurred using GMO tomatoes and GMO sweet peppers. In this study, the rats were fed over 7,000 times the average human consumption for 30 days! Again, there were no differences found in the organs of the GMO fed rats.

In conclusion, are GMO’s as bad as we first thought? Based on the studies I have looked at, they are not toxic to our organs. Even though many believe there is a government conspiracy to hide adverse affects, aka the file drawer problem, data from studies have been collected from many different sources worldwide. Because there is no moral obligation to label GMO’s, they have been in our diets for many decades. It would be extremely difficult to know if you were consuming GMO unless you grew all of your own food, and even then it would be difficult. I am compelled to believe GMO’s are relatively safe if time is any indication. But stay tuned, only time can tell!

Works Cited

“Will GMOs Hurt My Body? The Public’s Concerns and How Scientists Have Addressed Them – Science in the News.” Science in the News. N.p., 2015. Web. 05 Oct. 2016.

By the Third Generation, Most Hamsters Fed GM Soy Were Unable to Have Babies. “Health Risks – Institute for Responsible Technology.” Institute for Responsible Technology. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2016.


Got Milk?

As a child I was always told to drink milk. My babysitter would always make me drink the milk out of my cereal or drink a glass of milk with my bagel. She always said that I needed to drink milk everyday to make my bones strong. Milk is calcium rich but we can get calcium from other food we consume. The real question is: is milk truly important?

If you would search for milk images on the internet, you would probably find a hundred images with seemingly endless celebrities with milk moustaches, known as the “Got Milk?” campaign. It was an ingenious way for the dairy industry to push the importance of milk in our diets. But, is milk a necessary staple in our diet? This blog is not to argue the merits of whole milk versus non-fat milk nor raw milk vs. pasteurized milk. This blog seeks to reveal the true merit of drinking milk, whatever type, at all.


Obviously, milk is essential in the early stages of mammalian growth and development. In fact, the primary characteristic of mammals is the presence of mammary glands to produce milk for their offspring. One important feature of all non-human mammals is that they suckle their young until they are able to become independent (able to eat solid foods). This varies between each mammal with some mammals such as the hooded seal nursing for four short days, while others such as the orangutan may nurse up to seven years! But what does that mean for humans? In the United States, women receive conflicting advice about when to wean their children completely from breastfeeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends one year, while WHO and UNICEF recommend at least two years. No matter the duration, what benefit, if any, is there to consuming milk after the weaning process?


According to the Food Guide Pyramid, published by the USDA, humans should consume 2-3 servings of dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese) every day, as we see in the photo above. Why? The USDA says that milk and milk products are the best source of calcium, which helps build and maintain strong bones, preventing osteoporosis. But if milk is so important in receiving the required quantity of calcium for healthy bones and preventing osteoporosis, why do mammals stop producing milk?

Whenever calcium is lacking in the diet, it is pulled from the bones temporarily, until it can be replaced. But this is not what causes osteoporosis later in life. During the aging process, bone is lost naturally.

However, if calcium is consumed at high rates early in life, the amount of bone density lost as we age is reduced. The uncertainty occurs because studies have not yet determined how much calcium is needed to build optimum bones and teeth.

Long term studies suggest no correlation between high calcium intake and a reduced risk for osteoporosis. In a large Harvard studies of male health professionals and female nurses, individuals who drank one glass of milk (or less) per week were at no greater risk of breaking a hip or forearm than were those who drank two or more glasses per week.

Additionally, when researchers combined the data from the Harvard studies with other studies, no association between calcium intake and fracture risk could be established.  American adults may not need as much calcium as is currently recommended. In countries such as India, Japan, and Peru the incidence of bone fractures is very low despite the fact that they take in less than a third of the U.S. recommended calcium intake (for adults, ages 19 to 50).

According to this Harvard milk study conducted by David Ludwig, a professor and pediatrician, milk is only one of many sources of calcium. Calcium can be found in other food sources such as dark leafy green vegetables and some types of legumes. And though the dairy industry boasts the calcium-rich content of milk, studies show that we may need less calcium in our diets then once thought. And if that is true, the calcium we get from a diet rich in green leafy vegetables and legumes may be adequate.

So is milk truly necessary in your diet? Well in my research I found that it is extremely helpful but maybe not as necessary as we are made to believe. Would I advise one to stop drinking milk based on these findings, no. Milk mustache to your hearts content!


Works Cited

Dettwyler, Katherine A. “A Time to Wean.” La Leche League International. N.p., 14 Oct. 2007. Web. 3 Oct. 2016.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.” The Nutrition Source. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Oct. 2016.

Hulk Image

Servings Image


I absolutely LOATHE being scared. I don’t want scary movies or even suspenseful tv shows by myself. I just refuse to be scared and reason my way out of the feeling with sarcasm and snarky remarks. That being said, I absolutely LOVE Halloween and would consider it to be my favorite holiday. I even go to haunted houses and actually find a TINSY bit of enjoyment from those jump scares. Those sentences were contradicting, but many people feel this way. You don’t like it, but at the same time you love it! Why do humans like to being scared?

Scared boy hiding in bed


What is fear? Fear is your body’s natural response to an identified threat. Fear is a very complex emotion and can often be confused with having anxiety over something. Some fears are something you are born with and others are learned. For example, in the article it states that there are really only two fears that humans and animals have. The fear of falling from great heights and the fear of loud noises are the only two fears that you were truly born with. Another point the article made is that fears we’ve learned, like thunderstorms or bugs, are actually learned from others in our environment. For example if an older sister showed a fear of  thunderstorms, a younger child might develop the same fear as a learned behavior. In the case of more dangerous fears, scientists believe that our ancestors originally feared these things because they were essentially deadly and we have had these fears past down through time.

One way to distinguish fear from anxiety is your fight or flight response. When the body is put in   a dangerous situation, changes happen and this is called fight or flight. One change that happens is that the body releases adrenaline. Adrenaline gets your body ready to either run or fight off the perceived threat. According to the article above, not only does adrenaline get released but also dopamine. Dopamine is our pleasure hormone and that could be one of the reasons we like to be scared. Another reason discussed in the article is that we enjoy being scared in a safe environment. If we know that the  perceived threat isn’t truly going to harm us, we enjoy it more.  So go ahead and enjoy your jump scares, you adrenaline junkie!



The Mystery of the Food Coma

It’s Thanksgiving Day and of course you have to have seconds of everything, maybe even thirds. As a college student you have to cherish every home cooked meal you can get. Only now you kind of resemble the stuffed turkey your family just devoured. Here comes the dreaded “food coma”. Aptly named, a food coma is when you stuff yourself so much that you just HAVE to take a nap. Most people know what a food coma is, but what causes a food coma?



One of the first things people think of is the sleep inducing hormone called melatonin. Your body makes melatonin and distributes it at various hours of the day. For example, in the evening, more melatonin is produced. Also depending on the amount of light your body gets, it may change the times melatonin is made. The food we consume also has melatonin but our body is the main source of melatonin. So if it isn’t the melatonin in our food, what is the true culprit?

One thing that could cause the food coma could be having too much insulin. The insulin converts into melatonin, which increases drowsiness. According to the article above, foods that have a lot of fibre balance insulin and blood pressure. So if you want to stay awake after a big meal, try whole grains! Another possible reason could be that the food you ate was high in tryptophan. Tryptophan is found in high protein foods. The amino acid helps the body make serotonin, which is a sleep inducing hormone, among other things. So blame the turkey this holiday season!



The Science of Sex Appeal?

If you ask many people one simple question, “What makes a person attractive?”, you would end up getting a multitude of answers. Attraction seems objective to the naked eye, but is actually a series of complex elements that humans subconsciously pick up on. Being physically attractive is the fist element people usually think of when asked about attractiveness. For example, having an hourglass figure as a woman or being tall and toned for a man. This is also called static attraction. It is usually something one cannot change about themselves. For example, the symmetry of your face. Finding somebody physically attractive can actually change depending on where you live and what the culture is like there.

science of sex appeal


Physical attraction can also be manipulated. Push up bras, make up, or even going to the gym can be used to make oneself more attractive. While being physically attractive is important, it is not the only factor. Part of finding somebody physically attractive is subjective and that is the second biggest part of attraction. The article linked above proves that point with two different experiments. Although the experiments in the article were conducted differently, the outcomes were very similar. People who were associated with positive traits were rated more attractive while those with negative traits were rated as less attractive. That key element is called dynamic attractiveness. Dynamic attractiveness is basically our body language and personality traits that factor into attraction. For example, traits such as humor, popularity, or even being an animal lover can make a person more attractive.

Hot Guy with Dog


In conclusion, sexual attraction is something very complex. It is objective but at the same time subjective. So next time you daydream about that person in class, think about what actually makes them attractive to you.

Sorry Mom!

Hey everyone! My name is Alexis Paige and I am a freshman. I am taking this class because I thought it would be interesting to learn science as it pertains to me. For example, this article is interesting to me because I can actually see the science happening. Knowing the atomic mass of Argon has never really come up at any point in my life thus far and is not very exciting.

argon pic

I also was excited by the fact that we will be learning about subjects that we choose. So I will have a choice in what I learn which is pretty new for me. Hopefully, taking this class will  make me more educated on some of the more interesting things being done in the world. 

Why am I not a science major? My mother actually attended the Eberly College of Science way back when and, as sad as it made her, I was never very interested in science. The only science I ever found very interesting was biology. The reason I am not a science major is because I would rather look at the big picture rather than investigating every little pixel. I like my life with a little more mystery! I would rather go my life without knowing the sheer vastness of the universe than the slightly discerning feeling of being a tiny, insignificant piece of a world I cannot even begin to comprehend. I would like the unknown to stay unknown for the most part.