Author Archives: Bliss Forest

The Scientific Explanation for Love

Personally, when I think of emotions, science is probably the last word that would comes to mind. I like to think of emotions as one of the things on the planet that can’t be calculated.

The lectures on October 4th and 6th focused on the question, can prayer heal. When I saw this, I immediately tilted my head to the side, trying to understand how prayer can be measured scientifically… Church and science have always found themselves at a strong divide, and this was really unexpected. These are the classes that made me stop, and realize that we not only should, but CAN question anything.

While I usually prefer to stay in headspace I’ve gotten very acquainted with, this class has taught me otherwise. I may have held onto certain beliefs my entire life without ever so much as thinking to challenge them.

I’m aware that emotions like happiness and depression can be broken down into the levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine that are present in the brain.

I started to wonder what emotion would I never think to calculate. Love. My strong belief that love is free from the cold calculation of science, was instantly challenged.

Naturally, dopamine has a role here as well. Dopamine production enhances the release of testosterone. As we know, testosterone greatly influences our sex drive by affecting multiple organs, including those used for reproduction. Testosterone also causes our sweat glands to be more active, and even heightens our senses.

If you recall what I said earlier, dopamine is a major player for our levels of happiness and excitement as well.

Neurotransmitters norepinephrine and phenylethylamine cause a person to focus on the object of their affection. (You know, that obsessive, can’t stop thinking about that person feeling? Yeah, blame these two.) They’re responsible for the feelings of being unable to sleep when consumed with thoughts of that special someone, a sense of euphoria, as well as giddiness.

Remember Pavlov’s experiment with his dogs? Eventually, the dogs would associate the sound of a bell with getting food. Falling in love is kind of like that. With all these chemicals floating around, there starts to be a sense of reward. Sure, initially a lot of this can be sexual. However, this is why when you see someone you’re falling in love with, or they touch your arm, etc. there’s usually a sensation of euphoria that follows.


According to the findings of Helen Fisher et all, the brains of those whom would consider themselves passionately in love, show the reward center in their brain being activated when put through an MRI.

Falling in love is amazing, it’s one of the best feelings in the world in fact. However, now we know that’s it’s not just the work of cupid. There’s a lot of science behind it.

Why Everyone Else Probably Didn’t Get The Same Car Because of Me.

My junior year of high school, I got my first car. A lime green Volkswagen Beetle I had appropriately named Walter.

Friends started coming up to me saying, “Since you got that Beetle, I keep seeing them everywhere.” It’s funny, because I started thinking the same thing as I drove around more.

In class, one of the first lessons we had, was correlation need not equal causation. Even if something lines up with the timing of something else perfectly, that’s not proof they have anything to do with each other.

My sophomore year of college, I wanted a more “grown up” vehicle (which I totally regret.) and I became the new owner of a grey, Mazda 3.

The more I drove around, the more I started to notice how many Mazda 3s were around.

So, there are a few possibilities here.

  1. I got a Mazda 3, so everyone else simply had to go get one as well.
  2. For whatever reason, me, among many other now Mazda owners, got the urge for that car at the same time.
  3. It’s complete coincidence that we all had Mazda 3s. By chance.
  4. There has been no increase in the amount of Mazda 3s on the road, but something is causing me to notice them more. (Y variable)

The easiest conclusion (and also the most ego centric, would be to assume that my purchase of this car, somehow influenced other people.

However, after having the concept of correlation need not equal causation written loudly in my memory now, it’s more likely due to a 3rd variable.

Because a Mazda 3 now has significance to my personal life, I’m bound to notice others more. (I can’t prove this without testing, but it’s the most likely.)

Do Blondes Really Have More Fun?

Whether we know it or not, hair color can tint our personality and the way the world sees us more than we think. As someone who has loved changing my hair color throughout my entire life, I’ve actually noticed this phenomena myself.

My time spent with black hair, people would assume I was a little more poetic, meditative, even mysterious. My time as a brunette, I was noticeably more respected and viewed as someone who was a hard worker. (regardless of the amount of work or effort I would do.) And then my freshman year I spent some time as a blonde. Blondes have more fun. At least that’s the common perception a lot of people have.

According to an article in National Geographic, Hair and skin color only make up 1/3,200,000,000th of your body’s chemistry. In our gene sequences, our hair color is decided from one, very minuscule change. With one pair of letters, (again, out of the 3.2 billion pairs that we have…) one letter will change. This determines, how much melanin a person produces (this is what makes our skin darker or lighter.) It determines our hair color as well.

It’s fascinating to me that we focus so heavily on something like this, because it’s very visible to us. It just so happens that hair is one of the most noticeable things while seeing a person. We can’t see if they have the DNA sequence for Parkinson’s (until it develops), we can’t see if a person will like the taste of coffee or not.

Back to the question of whether or not blondes have more fun.

Blondes are typically used to receiving more attention than other hair colors, due to the fact that their hair is just naturally more eye-catching. It’s very light, which will cause people to be drawn in their direction. As humans, we form stereotypes that really limit our perceptions to the world around us. My personal time spent as a blonde I often found myself teased for being dumb (even if playfully,) or expected to be the one that would want to be out instead of staying in and doing work. As soon as I changed my hair color, that stopped.

Stereotypes are difficult. In class we learned heavily about reverse causation, and I wonder. Do we stereotype blondes because of the way they act, or do they act a certain way due to this stereotype?

Music and Euphoria

As a musician almost my entire life, not a day goes by where I’m not listening to music. It doesn’t feel right. There have been a few times that I’ve been too busy with school and work that by late evening I just noticed myself feeling duller than usual.

It’s not just me that feels that music has the ability to cause feelings of euphoria. In fact, it’s been scientifically proven.

You know that feeling when you’re driving in your car, and your favorite song happens to come on? You may get tingles, goose-bumps, or just in general feel really happy. So why do we have this reaction exactly?

Dopamine is what controls our reward center. Things like food, sex, and chemicals cause our brain to release this neurotransmitter, causing us to get a sense of euphoria. This article talks about a study that was one of the first bits of proof we’ve had that dopamine is responsible for emotional responses to music.

The study involved multiple volunteers that were instructed to bring in one song that had significance to them, and then another would be used as the control. By use of a PET scan, researchers were able to see increased brain activity in the mesolimbic reward center.

Interestingly enough, you would assume that dopamine levels would be highest at the most anticipated parts of songs, however the levels peaked when the subjects were anticipating the high they thought they would feel.

One thing this article says is that music isn’t necessary for survival. I disagree.

You’re five-years-old, the sun is beating down on your skin while you’re sitting outside on the warm summer grass, and your mom hands you a piece of watermelon.

She tells you not to eat the seeds. Being the disobedient little stinker that you are, you swallow one anyway. Your big sister leans over and tells you that a watermelon is going to grow in your stomach, and you instantly begin to cry.

Little blond girl and boy with a piece of watermelon in hands

It’s 15 years down the road since then, did that watermelon ever show up? (Hopefully not.)

Where exactly did this myth come from that if you eat watermelon seeds, your digestive tract suddenly becomes an organic garden?

It’s no surprise that people more commonly opt for a seedless watermelon (who really wants to keep spitting seeds out of their mouth…) However, what a lot of people don’t know, is that watermelon seeds actually carry a lot of nutritional benefits that many people don’t know about.

An article published on talks about five very beneficial perks of swallowing watermelon seeds.

Forget about accidentally swallowing one while you’re eating watermelon, this article actually advises taking them out of the watermelon, roasting them, and then dusting them with olive oil and salt, or cinnamon and sugar. (Yum?)

It’s no surprise that these seeds are very low in calories. This makes them a great alternative to nuts, which have a surprisingly high caloric value.

Not taking your daily vitamins? That’s okay, the seeds are high in magnesium, iron and folate. (If you’re a vegetarian like me, I’m sure you want to take any chance to grab iron that you can.)

Finally, stated that they are comprised of good fatty acids, like monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. (And yes, everyone needs fat in their diet, just make sure it’s the good kind!)

So while I don’t advice going home and eating an entire watermelon, (I tried once, it didn’t workout too well.) I do recommend taking a new perspective on them, and being open to how they can benefit you.


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Cat people vs Dog people

Part of the fascination with society, is all of the different personality types that are present. There’s not just one way to determine personality types either.

Since my pre-school days, I can remember the divide between cat people and dog people, and it seems to never have gone away. As an animal lover, I would always feel the need to say I love both. While this may be true, I’m definitely primarily a cat person.

I’ve always meshed well with cats, and had a natural affinity for them. Dogs, while I love them and get along with them, I just never clicked quite the same.

Cat people continuously have a reputation for introversion, introspection, and intelligence. Where as dog people are known for their more active, outgoing, and personalities that prefer the company of others as opposed to solitude.

An article on Live Science discusses the various possibilities for why people may skew more towards one animal over another.

It could come down to the person’s preferred activities in general. (A dog person will likely want to be outside on a walk, engaging with other people, and bring their dog, where as a cat person may be more comfortable inside reading a book. The cat doesn’t need to go on a walk.

It also discussed the possibility that it could stem from their animal’s favorite qualities. According to the same article, dog lover’s favorite quality was companionship, where as for cat lover’s it was affection.

Another possibility was that people would make their preference based on their own behavior. Cat people tend to be independent, but use caution with other people. So to pick an animal that matches this type of personality can make a really strong connection.

As a cat person often feeling like she’s lost in a sea of dog people, this really all makes sense. (Although one of the traits of a cat person, is non-conforming.)

Something I really love about this class, is that it’s given me the ability to look at almost anything in my life, and seek out the scientific reasoning behind it. Human’s are often searching for answers (even when there are none) but having this type of thinking at our disposal is an extremely valuable tool to get some.