Author Archives: Ahmed Mohamed

Favorite day of class

Jason Wright’s guest lecture was probably my favorite class all semester.  As a philosophy major I enjoy asking difficult questions and searching for answers.  One of those questions is what are some of the things that science will never know.  Jason talked about how the philosopher Comte had the idea that you will never be able to measure the chemical component of things.  But to most non science people, this doesn’t really satisfy our search for what science can’t find out.  

So what is the deal with science?  Taking this class I had hoped to get a better understanding of it.  I’m not a science person and really taking the class as a requirement but the biggest thing I learned is to think through everything.  Science is not meant to give you straight answers all the time but it is meant to allow you to think through it.  You will be able to see what something is as you are exploring it but sometimes you never understand it fully.  All you could do is think through it.  

Don’t worry, you’re not getting Zika

There are two things that we talked about in class that I want to talk about.  The Zika virus and the science not being perfect.  The World Health Organization who announced that Zika had become an epidemic last February just announced that the Zika virus is no longer a public health emergency.  After the rise of the Zika virus it has no lowered to the point where the group that made the declaration is now receding its warning about the virus.  But not everyone agrees with this.

According to the research and data from the World Health Organization, Zika is no longer a problem.  But what happens if their research is incorrect?  After all there was confusion on how the virus spread to begin with, was it sexually transmitted or was it from mosquitoes?  There is a lot that can be said about this but this is a perfect example of what we have discussed in class about science admitting ignorance but working to find the truth.

Work cited

Goldschmidt, Debra. “WHO Ends Zika Public Health Emergency.” CNN. Cable News Network, 18 Nov. 2016. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.

Ahimsa: a self expirement

Ahimsa is the practice of non-harm and non violence which is not exclusive to just yourself.  In fact, that’s not how I used it during these past weeks.  I have always been a non violent person, I don’t like hurting anyone and would rather take a hit then hit.  Which is where my focus ended up being.  Not harm to others but harm to myself, not physically but mentally.  I have always put myself in situations so others wouldn’t have to endure challenges and have neglected myself in the process.  For this blog I wanted to reflect and practice non self harm to myself by taking time for myself, sleeping more, and taking a load off my plate.  It is very unlike me to not always be busy but my goal was to take as much off my schedule as possible so I can enjoy myself, my family, and my friends.  So my independent variable was practicing no self harm and my dependent variable was my well-being.  My hypothesis was pretty straightforward in that practicing no self harm and taking care of myself first would make me happier and be better for me mentally and physically.  

After practicing this for a couple weeks, the journey has been interesting because I don’t feel like I have changed in a way that is recognizable but I feel like I have changed mentally.  My altered variable was to try to create more personal time and not have so much on my plate.  I would make sure to sleep more and not overpack my schedule.  It was extremely difficult as it was against my nature and there lied the difficulty.  Yet I knew this would be difficult, I knew people would ask me if I was ok and I was.  I just shifted my focus on clearing my schedule rather than making sure it was full.  

As for the practice of physical postures, asana provides the opportunity to really tune in to the body and check in.  Although I do believe in the separation of mind and body, there is a small connection and one can effect the other.  The mind can reflect the body and the body can reflect the mind.  Being in a calm physical posture can reflect a calm and relaxed mind.  It has helped me in the goal of taking more time for myself as rather than go out on a friday night to unwind I can use asana to unwind from the week instead.  It provides a physical relaxation as well as a mental one.  Therefore, I do believe they are related because although they are two separate entities they can have positive and also negative effects on each other.

One of the things I’ve learned from this is the idea of doing my own research with me as a subject.  In class, we talked about how science isn’t always right so being the one who was conducting it with myself as the test subject I was able to see first hand if what science or the study of yoga and ahimsa actually worked.  I think any rational person who is interested in seeing things for themselves should use themselves as the manipulated variable (depending on the study) to be able to fully understand why and how things happen.  

Work cited

Farhi, Donna.  “Donna Farhi: Living Principles.” Yoga mind, body & spirit: a return to wholeness, 2000, pp. 1-11.

Forbes, Bo. “Introduction: Yoga’s Role in Emotional Balance.”  Yoga for Emotional Balance, 2011, pp. 1-10.

Does studying abroad provide health benefits?

In reviewing research on student travel one thing is certain, it is a very complex and important topic.  Not only for students who wish to travel but also for the people they will become.  Researchers begin with searching for the motivation to want to travel.  What makes someone want to invest his or her time and money into such a grand adventure?  Only then can researchers begin to understand the effects traveling can have on a person.  Next researchers look at the benefits of traveling to see why someone would follow through with the spark to travel.  There are health benefits, experiential benefits, and developmental opportunities.  

Benefits of traveling

        There has been an increase in focus on this topic as more and more we realize the importance of travel as a global society.  The benefits of tourism and travel reached the interest of scholars in the field of organizational behavior as well as health sciences.  

Mental, emotional, and physical health

        As discussed in the roles of perceived travel benefits, organizational behavior research shows how travel can reduce job or school related stress, reduce burnout, as well as overall performance.  As for health scientist, it’s been shown that taking a vacation of travel can decrease health risks.  In a study of 12,388 people, those who traveled abroad had fewer health risks in a nine-year span (Chen).  Even in tourism literature, you can find benefits of travel.  Research done by Neal, Sirgy, and Uysal show how challenging experiences and perceived control can contribute to mental wellness (Chen).


Developmental benefits

Along with the effects it has on the well being of a person, there are also developmental benefits.  According to (Biniecki), Taylor’s findings suggest that “the learning process of intercultural competencies connects to the development of a worldview.”  It’s a learning process that creates a “cultural disequilibrium [which] consists of periods of incongruence experienced by the participants while attempting to integrate themselves into the host culture.” (Biniecki)  Taylor’s study provided one way to examine the growth of people who had worldly experiences.  But as he continues his research, he suggests that there are multiple ways to gain more perspective with world travel but we will get back to that later in the review.

What I have learned

So would a rational person student abroad?  I would say so.  It makes complete sense to go abroad because of the benefits it brings and besides finances there really isn’t a negative.

Work Cited

Biniecki, Susan and Conceicao, Simone. “How Living or Traveling to Foreign Locations Influences Adults’ Worldviews and Impacts Personal Identity.” New Horizon in Adult Education and Human Resource Development, vol. 26, 2014, pp. 39-53.

Chen, Chun-Chu and Erichson, Elizabeth. “The Roles of Perceived Travel Benefits, Importance, and Constraints in Predicting Travel Behavior” Journal of Travel Research, vol. 55, 2016, pp. 509-522.

Do fitness trackers make you more fit?

Two months ago, my birthday present from my family was an iWatch which its biggest component is a fitness tracker.  So when I stumbled upon the article “Fitness Trackers Might Help Us Live Longer (if Only We Used Them)” I was interested to see what they said as I recently caught the wave of using a fitness tracker.  This article uses two different pieces of research, one by the American Journal of Epidemiology and the other published by The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, to investigate the impacts of fitness trackers and the motivations to use it.  The first journal focuses on the question of if the data from fitness trackers actually correlates with your health.  It uses 4000 people and conducts a quantitative study over a long period of time in order to compare who lived longer; those who used fitness trackers or those who didn’t.  The next journal focuses on the question of motivation to use fitness trackers and was more of a qualitative.  They used three groups, one that was payed, one that was given a donation to their favorite charity, and one that was given nothing. So two experimental and one control group in which they changed variables in the first two.  These groups were compared to see which group would exercise more.  They then took away those benefits and compared the first set of results to the second to see if there was a difference.

First research that the article talks about is a stratified random sample of 4000 middle aged men and women.  Nothing else is known about how they are selected but the data collected from them were on a nominal level with item to total reliability.  The article aimed for prediction validity by attempting to show that those who wore fitness trackers lived longer than those who didn’t.  On the other hand, the second journal was discussed more specifically in the news article.  Using non-probability sampling, it was on a partially volunteer basis of 800 office workers from Singapore.  Regardless of the different methods, I don’t believe that either are very representative samples as one was of only middle aged men and women rather than all ages and the others were office workers in a different country who weren’t regularly active in their day to day lives.

The research itself was done using experimental research as the experimenters manipulated certain variables to see if there was a cause-effect relationship.  This made it easy to see the impact of the research done and provided clear results.  The first journal had a very simple experimental research, it tracked middle aged men and women for ten years and checked to see who had died in those ten years.  It showed that those who wore a fitness tracker were more likely to be alive than those who hadn’t.  The next journal’s research was a little more complex.  It took 800 office workers and had three groups, a control, and two variable manipulations.  Then they got rid of the variable manipulation to see if the manipulation had an impact on the results.  Ultimately, the way the research was conducted was pretty straight forward and was simple to understand logically as the reader.

But I always come back to the question of, would a rational person invest in a fitness tracker?  It wouldn’t hurt.  I wouldn’t run to the store immediately to grab one as it probably won’t make you more fit.  But if you are looking for a way to track your progress this is probably one of the best ways to do it.  

Work cited

Reynolds, Gretchen. “Fitness Trackers Might Help Us Live Longer (if Only We Used Them).” The New York Times. The New York Times, 02 Nov. 2016. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.

Crispr Future?

Ever hear the infamous phrase, “back in my day…”  Yah me too, a MILLION times.  Why do adults keep brining up “their day”, it’s today, that doesn’t make any sense right?  Well for a moment, take some time to think about your parents and your grandparents growing up.  I know, hard to think of them as kids but lets give it a shot.  Think of when someone told them that one day they would be able to pay bills on their phone and facetime with anyone around the world within seconds.  Although it is common knowledge to us and a privilege we are numb to, this was science fiction to our parents and grandparents.  The move Back to the Future was literally science fiction but many of the inventions in the movie are now reality.  It must be really strange for them to adjust to this and for some, they may still be in denial or totally against it.

Now for us, the millennial generation, we are at a similar impasse with genetic modification.  It’s something that I am aware of but don’t really look into because I think of genetic modification as something scientists do in a lab and the affects never really reach me.  But that’s far from the truth.  For all of humanity, we have messed with the genetics with plants and animals but never really understood what we were doing.  Then we identified what we know as DNA and more structured experiments began with different foods and plants.  The first genetically modified food went on shelves in 1994 and was a tomato that had a much longer shelf life.  Ever wonder how surrogate’s work?  Genetic modification.  Ever see featherless chicken, glow in the dark fish, fast growing salmon, or see through frogs?  Genetic modification.  But are these little experiments all we could do with it?


I know I’m not a science personal and I think most people in this class aren’t so I’m going to try to explain this in laymen’s terms.  When you’re body fights infection, there is something called CAS 9 that is like a database for your DNA that cuts out the bad parts of your DNA and copies good parts in it.  There’s a process called CRISPR that can be programmed (genetically modified) to create a continues sweep of any defects in your DNA and can essentially create perfect DNA.  CRISPR has the ability to change DNA and cells for you to modify it as you please.

So what are the possibilities?  Curing cancer, getting rid of disease that runs in the family, enhancing metabolism, extraordinary intelligence, and anything you can think of including aging.  As the possibilities grow with the progression of science and the process, the main point is that this is going to happen.  Whether it is ethical or not shouldn’t be our concern but more so how do we make it ethical.  Is it a free for all or are there regulations put in place?  As a philosophy major, there is a belief that this is a world of opposites.  For everything that exists there is an opposite.  Hot and cold, tall and short, good and bad, etc.  If we are able to create the perfect human, what will be its opposite?  There are a lot of questions and this may be uncomfortable to know.  If we deny this science it will only go underground and into the wrong hands so rather than ignore it, we must get ahead of it.  So in relation to our class discussion on how science makes you think critically and explore option, we are going to need to explore these options.  Only time will tell what will happen.


Here is a link to a video that explains it all in the shortest amount of time possible.  Other videos were hours long so I’ll save you the trouble.

Lily’s Leukemia

Before anyone gets really worried, Lily is a cat and she is doing very well.  Promise.

So a while back, my girlfriend Emily really wanted to adopt a dog.  She was moving into a new apartment that allowed pets and she’s always loved animals and wanted to adopt.  Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to commit to a dog so she decided on a cat.  Emily volunteers at the local animal shelter Paws so she was very close to all the animals.  The hard part was finding the one for her.  So in her search, she didn’t go for the pure breeds or the prettiest looking one, she ended up picking this tiny little cat who was isolated from all the other cats due to her illness.  On the outside, Lily looked fine and acted like any other cat.  It was what was happening on the inside that made her different.

As I sat on the couch playing with Lily and her toys, I always forget that she has an illness.  She plays like every other cat, sleeps like every other cat, and purrs like every other cat.  So this promoted me to look into her illness a little bit more to better understand it.  My initial understanding was that feline leukemia was similar to human leukemia.  Human leukemia starts in bone marrow and results in an abnormally high number of immature white blood cells.  Unfortunately, there is no exact cause for leukemia as there are several kinds and we have yet to find a cure for this deadly disease.

Feline Leukemia on the other hand, depresses the immune system and leads to infections and other disorders.  Similar to human leukemia, the number of white blood cells are either abnormally high or low which leads to disease and tumors.  While I looked into it more, originally doctors thought that feline leukemia was similar to human leukemia but it turns out to be pretty different.  The biggest difference is that feline leukemia is contagious with two potential fatal problems; immune system failure or tumor development.  It is very infectious and hence why Lily was separated from the rest of the cats.   But if you look at the picture below, you couldn’t tell that there was something going on inside.


I had so many questions.  Is it treatable, is it terminal, what things do we have to do to keep her well?  So I wanted to read up on it to learn more.  I knew I had to use hand sanitizer when I walked into my girlfriends apartment but I didn’t know the difference it made.  Turns out, it is very treatable and Lily is going to be just fine.

Some quick facts about feline leukemia to give you a better sense:

  • Kittens under 4 months are usually most susceptible to feline leukemia
  • only about one-third will die from infection
  • kittens can get the virus through their mother or through saliva
  • about 1-2% of the feline population will have leukemia

Moral of the story, make sure you have your cat tested if its under four months for leukemia.


Work Cited

“College of Veterinary Medicine – Cornell University.” Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV). N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2016. <>.

“Feline Leukemia in Cats – 1800PetMeds®.” PetMeds® Pet Education. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2016. <>.



So get this, if someone wants to be a recognized saint by the Vatican one of the requirements is that they have to have two scientifically proven miracles.  Let me repeat that, two scientifically proven miracles… Now as much of an oxymoron that sounds like it actually holds a ton of weight.  But before I get into that I should probably explain why I’m writing about such an odd topic.  I mean, religion and science don’t really see eye to eye most of the time.  Yet, they rely heavily on each other.  It is exactly that reason that I am FACINATED by this conflict.

In class, when it was brought that Mother Teresa was in the process of becoming a saint, I wasn’t too excited about the conversation.  Then the class bursted out laughing when it was said that one of the criteria to become a saint was that you needed two documented miracles.  A little odd, granted but then everything was shaken up when he mentioned that they needed to be scientifically proven.  Me, being the Liberal Arts major who thinks very logically was at a stand still.  I had to hear it again to realize what was said but yes TWO scientifically proven miracles.  So I was perplexed and wanted to know more.  So here I am!

Alright ladies and gents so here’s the full list of requirements needed to become a saint for purpose sake but then we’ll focus in on the miracle.

So I’m going to focus on the last two requirements since those are the ones that are related to science (which is still weird to consider).  According to the church, miracles, or divine events that have no natural or scientific explanation, serve as proof that the person is in heaven and can intercede with God to change the ordinary course of events.  So although the church defines a miracle in part by saying it can’t be explained by science, they still rely on science to prove it.  How could that be?  As I continued to look into it, it wasn’t the science I was expecting.  What the vatican (or the Miracle Commission, no joke that’s what it’s called) uses isn’t science specifically but a scientific process of gathering information.  So how does this scientific process work?  Vatican scientists work to try to prove these miracles and if they are able to prove a miracle then it is then not a Vatican accepted miracle since science can explain it.  If they can not explain it then the miracle counts towards your requirement.

In conclusion, for two entities that differ on many issues, both religion and science still rely on each other.  And like we talked about in class, science tries to sort through options and find causation which is exactly what the committee is testing them to do.  Another connection is when we talked about the importance of science since our intuition is lousy.  I would say claiming miracles is pretty out there and might be considered lousy but that’s where the scientists come in and try to prove.  It’s not easy to become a saint.  So much so that religion uses science to filter out the true saints from the want to be’s. Maybe it’s a little obscure, but maybe its a miracle.


Work Cited

Uhrmacher, Kevin. “So You Want to Be Declared a Saint by Pope Francis? See Your Odds Here.” N.p., 14 Sept. 2015. Web. <>.

Chopra, Deepak. “A Science of Miracles–No Longer Optional?” The Huffington Post., 8 Oct. 2014. Web. 09 Sept. 2016. <>.

Ghose, Tia. “The Science of Miracles: How the Vatican Decides.” N.p., 9 July 2013. Web. <>.

Road to graduation…

Hello everyone!  My name is Ahmed Mohamed and I am a senior studying Philosophy and CAS on a pre-law track.  As my majors kind of show, I’m not a science major nor do I have a passion for it.  In finding a science class to fulfill my general education classes, Science 200 was a class that kept popping up.  My friends really enjoyed the class so I figured I’d give it a shot.  I’m not doing a science major because it isn’t something that I am passionate about but the way Andrew is explaining it, I think I’ll come to enjoy this class. Here’s my live link: Puppies