Author Archives: Alexander Mark Schaefer

The Benefits of Exercising with Your Significant Other

As I scroll through various social media, this is the biggest that has stood out to me by far. I always see either pictures or videos of couples lifting and working out together. I started to wonder if it could actually have helpful benefits to one’s health. I’ve found countless articles as to why and why not you should take your significant other to the gym, but it seems the positives outweigh the negatives. I’ve had difficulty finding actual studies that relate to this topic, however I did find one article that was very promising.

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The purpose of the study was a controlled experiment to see whether or not joining an exercise with a spouse would cause an individual to stick to their program. The hypothesis of the study was that those who attended their exercise program with a spouse would adhere more to it than those who attended the exercise program alone (Research gate Wallace). It concluded that those who attended the program with a spouse had a much higher attendance rate than those who attended alone.

These results I believe are widely due to the assumption the spouses attending the program held each other accountable to actually get up and go to the gym. From the articles I’ve read, there are benefits other than adherence. Other than being able to lift more, there are psychological advantages. I could not find an actual study to help me explain this, although two articles were very helpful. The first article is from psychology today. The information derived from this post is from various conducted studies. It describes how working out with your significant other can increase happiness in your relationship, improve efficiency in your workout, make your partner fall in love with you, and achieve your fitness goals ( DiDanato 2014). The other article is from the Huffington post. It describes how working out with your significant helps to burn more calories during a workout, release stress, sharpen your mind, and become synchronized with one another.

I don’t believe there are many variables that can affect one’s workout, but this is the most interesting to me. There are many other things that can improves one’s workout, such as creatine, supplements, stretching etc, though this is substantially different than taking a powder. I really enjoyed researching this hypothesis. So will you make a change to your workout?

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How Beneficial Is Drinking Coffee In the Morning?

It doesn’t matter if I got a good nights sleep or went to bed at three am, when I wake up I have to have my cup of coffee. Now throughout high school a lot of my friends would tease me because every morning before classes would start I would show up with my 32 ounce Tervis full of coffee. They’d often say I’m dependent on it. I started to question the benefits of coffee, and if I’d be worse of without it. Well like many other questions that have resonated within me, I believe science has already answered this.

After reading this page, I learned a lot about what is actually in coffee. I never took a second to realize that this wonderful cup of liquid was made out of anything else but happiness. A regular eight ounce cup of coffee has up to five calories, no fat or carbs, .2 milligrams of vitamin B2 roboflavin ( living organisms get most of their energy from reactions with this vitamin (cite). Coffee also has .6 milligrams of pantothenic acid, which is used for a variety of things, mainly pairing with other B Vitamins to prevent illness. There are 116 milligrams of potassium in coffee, we all know this is helpful in preventing cramps. Finally, in an eight ounce cup of coffee, there are about 95 Milligrams of caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant drug, which means it increases alertness, attention, and most of all energy.

The following abstract describes how coffee is beneficial to an individual. Not only does coffee provide a boost of energy, it increases dopamine in the brain. So, scientifically speaking, coffee has the ability to bring happiness. The vitamin in coffee called niacin can also treat the niacin deficiency known as pellagra disease. A study could easily be conducted providing information supporting that coffee improves health. It would be an experimental double blind placebo trial tested on college students. The control group would not drink coffee at all. The first experimental group would drink one cup of coffee daily, while the second group would drink two or more cups daily.  I’m having trouble thinking of how health may be measured in the average college student. Perhaps academic performance can provide an explanation. I believe those who drink coffee in moderation would have a better academic performance, and that drinking coffee would be beneficial to health.

Can The State of Nature Be Tested?

Throughout middle and high school I always found the concept of the state of nature fascinating. The state of nature is a concept used in various topics such as religion and philosophy used to try to explain how life would’ve been before society. I support the theory that humans are naturally evil, and every action is only to benefit themselves. Since I started taking this class, I wondered if there is a scientific way to actually prove the state of nature.  I’ve researched and have found no studies conducted to actually test the hypothesis of humans are naturally evil or not. Maybe it is not possible for science to explain an idea such as this. The idea has been around for centuries, I find it very surprising that there is no scientific material brushing this question.

I hope the following information helps you understand more of the subject. Above depicts Thomas Hobbs (left) and John Locke (right). According to this chart, Thomas Hobbs believed that men were evil. He believed that men needed a monarchy so that law and order may be kept. He also believed that men could not be trusted to rule themselves, and needed a monarch to protect every man from themselves. john Locke’s ideas were on the opposite end of the spectrum. he believed that all men were good, and they could learn from their experience. He believed the government existed to protect an individuals rights and liberties. He also believed that people could be trusted to govern themselves, and revolt against the government if it was unjust.

An experiment conducted on this topic would be extremely difficult, and would have to be repeated many times to actually provide evidence that humans were naturally evil. Actually now that i think about it. it’d be next to impossible to recreate the world before civilization occurred. Perhaps it would have to be a much smaller scale experiment. It would be experimental, because the independent variable would be manipulated.The study would have two classrooms with the same amount of students. One classroom would have a teacher and the other would not. The independent variable would be the teacher being present to maintain order. The dependent variable would be the children’s behavior, with or without the teacher. I’m aware this idea is very crude, however from what I’ve learned in class, science can explain anything.

The idea of the state of nature intrigues me very much. I hope I raised some eyebrows by introducing this idea, and I’d really appreciate feedback from my fellow classmates and what their ideas are for the state of nature.

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Hobbes vs Locke: State of Nature

Wrestling: Is There a Science to Cutting Weight?

Anyone who has any familiarity with wrestling knows two things. Wrestlers are hard workers and they’re known to cut weight. I wrestled at the weight class 126 for my first three years in high school and my senior year I wrestled at 132. My freshman year I never had to cut weight and my sophomore year it was about four to five pounds every week. This is very minimal. The big jump was my junior year, where I started out weighing about 150 and had to descend to 126. I knew nothing about cutting weight and I Yo-yo’d every week . “Yo-yoing” means making your weight and then you eat/drink so much your weight shoots up to it’s natural weight. I was miserable and didn’t know how to get the weight down in a healthy way so I could compete at my best.

Over the off season between my junior and senior year in high school I began experimenting  I had gained quite a bit of weight (155) and began to worry. I decided I was going to wrestle 132, so I was a little relieved I didn’t have more to cut than what I was doing previously. Throughout the summer I learned a lot about what foods to eat and not eat and broke it down to a science. Six small meals a day with 34 ounces of water daily. Here’s a sample day for meals. 1)  Low fat  oz Muscle Milk and half an apple 2) Cliff bar 3) half a ham sandwich on whole wheat bread, 7 almonds, 8 oz water 4) Low fat 8 oz Muscle Milk 5) Half an apple, 7 almonds, 8 oz water 6) Small salad, 6 oz chicken breast, 17 oz water. This doesn’t seem like much, but with discipline it makes a difference. I went from not eating two days before a meet to having a full meal the night before weigh ins. The following article is part of one of many websites that taught me how to cut weight healthily

I’ve looked for a study specific to this topic ,however I couldn’t find something close to it. I believe it could be easily conducted. It would be an experimental study, because you’re manipulating the independent variable, which would be the method of cutting weight.  The dependent variable would be performance on the mat. The data could be recorded simply win and loss or by how many points scored, pins, etc. The control group would be wrestling who do not have to cut weight. There would be two experimental groups. The first would be wrestlers who cut weight by yo-yoing and eating responsibly and the second would be wrestlers restricted to a diet of six small,healthy meals a day. I believe that the wrestlers put on a restricted diet would have the best results.

This topic may seem foreign to many people, however to wrestlers it’s very important. Cutting weight the wrong way may have impacts on other things on a day to day basis such as sleep, grades, and interaction with family and friends. I hope there are a few of you who can relate to this and those completely new I’d like to read feedback.


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Is Pre-Workout a Placebo?

I’m pretty sure everyone who has taken pre-workout asks themselves “Is this doing anything?”.  Pre-workout is a dietary supplement that claims to increase performance in the weight room. I’ve taken it for about two years now and I feel like it doesn’t do jack or shit other than make my body tingle and itch.I believe pre-workout is nothing but a placebo. I’ve asked various people, such as my room mates and team mates who take the supplement, if pre-workout does anything for them and there were many mixed feelings for the supplement. I have a few friends that swear by it and take it religiously and others say that it doesn’t do anything and is a waste of money.

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C4 is a very popular brand of pre-workout. Let’s break down its components. The blend contains the following: Vitamin C, Niacin, Folate, Vitamin B12, Beta Alanine, Creatine Nitrate, Arginine AKG, and an “explosive energy blend” of vitamin C, Caffeine, Vitamin B12, and Folate. ( Supplement Facts)  Vitamin C and Vitamin B12 are daily recommended vitamins. Creatine Nitrate is a component in Creatine, which helps muscles retain more water and recover faster. Argenine AKG is a component of amino acids, which helps proteins to build faster. Niacin is used to lower cholesterol. Beta Alanine is a supplement which increases acid in muscle groups, also it is the culprit of the itchy, tingly feeling one feels after taking the supplement. There is very minimal amount of these supplements aside from the large quantities of Beta Alanine and Caffeine in the blend. I feel like there’s so much caffeine in the supplement that the effects that an individual feels are that of a caffeine rush. Honestly I don’t feel it at all. Perhaps this is due to a confounding variable such as how many cups of coffee someone who takes pre- workout consumes in the morning.

An experiment can be constructed in order to see if pre workout is indeed a placebo. I believe a double blind placebo experiment would accurately prove my hypothesis, if conducted enough times.  The control group would take no supplement. The placebo group will be given a sugar drink mix, but would be told its pre workout. Finally the experimental group would take one dose of pre-workout before exercising.  The independent variable would be those who consume pre workout, and the dependent variable would be gym performance. This is just a short summary if the experiment would be conducted, The following scientific journal conducted an observational study of twenty four athletes who took a pre-workout supplement and exercised vigorously for three weeks. However these exercises were strictly running based. The results that performance and times did increase, but i’m still curious as to whether it benefits those who lift weights.

I am still biased to the idea that pre-workout is a placebo. Perhaps a repeated studies conducted on weightlifters would change my mind. The only thing I feel from taking this supplement is being itchy and tingly. I don’t feel any more motivation than that of my own. I’m sure this will raise some controversy and I’d love to hear other ideas about the supplement and my classmates experience with it.

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Can Hypnic Jerks be Detrimental to Academic Performance.

Have you ever laid down after a long day, and suddenly as you’re dozing off you feel as if you’re falling and your body jerks? This is a benign sleep movement called a hypnic jerk. The causes of this movement are anxiety, stress, alcohol, caffeine, and being very tired or fatigued. (Green 2015) I feel that students may be the most susceptible to this condition. Even though they are said to be physically harmless. Every time I have experienced this I have been kept up for the rest of the night. A lack of sleep can result in many outcomes, especially in students’ academic performance. Lack of sleep has the potential to cause many things that can hurt ones grades.  I don’t see how this is possibly harmless.

The following observational article describes what part of the brain controls these outbursts and suggests that these phenomena are attributed to other factors in sleep that are unstable. College students on average get approximately six hours of sleep per night, while we all know the recommended suggestion is eight hours per night. This lack of sleep may attribute to more hypnic jerks in college students. There are many variables that may attribute to hypnic jerks in one’s sleep, so it is difficult to pinpoint the phenomena. Perhaps the variables are so confounded it’s impossible to tell which affects how many times an individual experiences this. Also if an experimental trial were to take place, what would the placebo be? I feel like it would be difficult to set a placebo, but the two control groups could simply be college students and non-college students.  However, as a college student, I believe we all experience the variables that cause hypnic jerks. I’d love to see an experiment conducted that addresses this.

In the month that we’ve been here at PSU I’ve been woken by hypnic jerks more often than I had been at home. I asked my room  mates about it and they also have admitted to being kept up. It could be very possible that the amount of hypnic jerks a student experiences and GPA is correlated. Now other confounding variables can be attributed to poor academic performance, but this is a possible component of causation in poor academic performance. I’m really excited to hear what my peers have to say about this. This topic has always intrigued me.


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Hypnic Jerks – How To Avoid Waking With A Jolt




What Are GMOs and Are They Helpful?

A GMO is commonly known as a genetically modified organism. The following article talks about the history of GMOs and DNA. I think it’s an absolutely incredible idea. We discovered DNA almost 150 years ago and sometime from 1868 to 1972  someone thought ” Hey , what if we mixed two different strains of DNA to improve plants and crops?”. The method that is used to create new strands of DNA is called gene splicing. According to the article above, gene splicing is the process of cutting and placing specific DNA proteins into other strands of DNA.

Now I know what everyone’s thinking. Who are we to play God and alter the genes of species? There are many positive things GMOs bring to us. Third world countries still are suffering from starvation. What if rice and beans were able to grow in harsh conditions where it normally wouldn’t thrive? Or if they could enhance the size of the rice or add more nutrients into the grain? What if crops were altered to survive in frigid temperatures? The possibilities are endless.

The following article discusses some of the positive effects of GMOs to the global population and environment. One of the most interesting pieces of information that I read from this article was the possibilities of edible vaccines. A crop could be produced on a mass scale in order to prevent anything from malaria to cholera. The article describes a potato plant that has been tested as a pharmaceutical drug that can prevent diarrhea. I’m excited to see what the future holds for this field, I’d love to see what you all have to say.

Studying and Listening to Music, Do They Go Together?

A few nights ago I was studying my Chinese homework at my desk in my dorm, and one of my room mates sat down next to me and opened his textbook. What happened next was absolutely awful. He started blasting music. As I was writing the characters and talking to myself in my head I couldn’t concentrate. All I heard was Lil Uzi bouncing around in my head. I then politely asked him to put his headphones on and began to investigate how some people can study with music and if it actually helps.

I was quite surprised throughout the research I conducted, because every single study I read, the answers were the same. It depends.  This article discusses five different groups that were tested on. Not to my surprise the groups that either listened to music or had randoms digits sounded out in the background had substantially lower scores than the two groups who had a repetitive sound or no sound at all. Even though the three groups who listened to music had lower scores their scores varied, which made me think I just didn’t enjoy the music being played at the time.

After I read that article I then asked my room mate how he could possibly listen to music while he studied and read. His reply was that he never really thought about it, and that it was something he did all through high school. I then asked him what his GPA was about the same as mine. I never listened to music and studied in high school. So I’m going to ask you, my classmates, do you listen to music while you study? Or are you like me and can’t bare sound in your head while you’re trying to retain information? Feedback would be appreciated I’m excited to read what you all have to say.

Staying Active and Out of Depression

I often find myself thinking of ways of fighting depression. I myself am not depressed, however  everyone has low points, and everyone has different ways of coping with them. I always found find my happy place in a wrestling room. Depression is a very treatable disorder. According to this article, depression can be approached and cured as a physical disorder. Think of it as a sickness with parasites, these parasites can be attacked and removed from your body. A good way to help remove these parasites and better your mental shape is to stay physically active. Specifically this article talks about eight ways to actively fight depression. One that stood out most to me was “Don’t isolate yourself”. There are so many things to do at PSU that’d it be hardly possible to be isolated.

When someone is depressed they find themselves not doing things they once enjoyed. Doing less is not the answer. Doing more, even when you don’t feel like it is. A study conducted by Mack McMillen ( reviewed by Louise Chang, MD) allows us to see positive change from being active while being depressed. 30 minutes of moderate exercise can reduce symptoms by half in as little as 12 weeks.

We as students might find ourselves caught in the cycle above. Luckily there are many ways to stay active and involved around campus.  IM and club sports are a great way to stay active and motivated. It is important to stay inclusive, even though we’re adults we don’t have to go through college alone. There are many people to talk and interact with. there’s a lot more to being active than going to get a lift or run in. Staying included will above all prevent depression. I know this is a difficult subject to discuss but I’d love feedback, I’m not the best blogger and it really would help.


Hello everyone, my name is Alex Schaefer. I’m from Fairfax, Virginia which is about half an hour outside of DC. I wrestled and played rugby all throughout high school, and I’m also the oldest of seven. I also plan on majoring in supply chain management and minoring in Chinese. I’m very excited to attend this course with all of you. I chose business over science because it comes to me naturally and interests me more than science at this point.

Science never really was a problem for me, however that is because it was all memorization and no critical thinking. I never had fun learning science, but I can see Andrew is going to change that this year. What stood out to me most during the first two classes is what Andrew said about critical thinking. To me that’s the most interesting way to learn. Rarely have I ever had to apply critical thinking to science, but almost every question I get in my SCM or Econ class I have here to apply critical thinking. I believe this class will open my mind to be scientifically inclined to answer questions. There are so many questions in science to think about, and to be quite honest we barely touched science in high school.

We all know and love Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad. I hope to feel the same way about science as he does in this picture.  A topic that interests me greatly, partly because of the movie Interstellar, is if it is possible to find another planet that has the ability to support human life. I don’t recall the name of the planet that we discussed in class on Thursday, but here is an article in depth on a possibly habitable world about 16 light years away. I hope you all enjoy it!