Author Archives: cmt5586

To work or not to work

I feel like I’ve always had some sort of job. Since the summer when I was 15, I’ve always been employed in some way. It feels weird to me when I’m not working. However, some days when I’m 3 1/2 hours in to washing your dishes (and trust me, hundreds of college students use a lot of dishes,) I wonder what it would be like if I wasn’t working. Maybe I would spend that time studying, or at the gym (yea right.) Regardless of what I did with the time, it would lower the responsibilities I have a lot, with the only downside being, you know, no money. Now, I never seriously considered quitting, but it got me thinking if having a job was impacting my grades. I mean, I know people who work twice the amount I do, and I’m sometimes overwhelmed, I don’t understand how they do it. When I researched whether having a job affected academic performance, I was a bit surprised.

These three studies all, when mentioning academic performance, cite multiple different studies that state that while working a lot (20 hours+ generally) makes students get worse grades, working less than that actually helps academic performance. What was strange to me is that each site cited independent studies showing this correlation, which leads me to believe it is far less likely to be chance, as the more independent observational studies that have the same conclusion, the less likely it is a fluke. So what this says is that, up to a point, working makes your grades better, but too much work leads to a cliff where your grades are worse than those that do not work.

Find a Job

While I’m not surprised too much work worsens your grades (tiredness, stress, less time to spend studying, etc,) I am surprised that small amounts of work increases your academic performance. While work could lead to more confidence, less concerns about money (less stress) and satisfaction, those are still far-fetched ideas. Perhaps it could be something about the worker. Maybe people who are hard-working but know their limits are the ones working under 20 hours, so they get better grades than those who don’t work but don’t burn themselves out. Obviously this is all speculation, as no study has gone in-depth enough to find the actual answer. In the end, I guess the lesson is: “Work….but not too much!”


Vaccines: Just get them!

It is pretty hard for some people to understand what exactly a vaccine is.

Dating back to the late 18th century, vaccination was first discovered by Edward Jenner, a doctor, noticed a correlation between being infected with cowpox and not being infected with smallpox. He decided to try experimenting by infecting children with small amounts of cowpox, then noted that they were immune to smallpox afterwards (times were different back then.) A century later Louis Pasteur created a second vaccine, one that helped with rabies, and the rest is history. Scientists continued expanding on the vaccines they made until we have what we do today, which helps to save many lives through preventative action.

Vaccines work by injecting the body with a fake disease that’s mimicking the real one, but doesn’t carry real threat. However, the body (and specifically the immune system) responds by creating cells to defend against that specific disease, and even when it deals with the fake disease, it has all the tools and knowledge it needs to beat the real disease if it tries to invade. The vaccine is like a dress rehearsal, so that when the time comes everyone is prepared.

However, no matter how much scientific evidence there is surrounding vaccination, there are still naysayers. Originally started by Andrew Wakefield, a medical researcher who falsified data to claim vaccines cause autism, people today put their children at huge risks off of the basis of data that was known to be falsified. Even prominent politicians subscribe to the lies, which is a worrying trend. Just remember that, like cigarettes causing lung cancer, all scientific evidence points towards vaccines being safe for children.


DNA: Easy Evidence?

One of the biggest misconceptions about police investigations is the idea that DNA evidence is both easy to find and is easy to use. Every television show on the topic has DNA evidence at every scene, and after maybe a day or two, the forensics squad finishes analyzing it and finds who was present at the scene of the crime. However, that isn’t how it works in the actual world.


First of all, it takes more than a few seconds of swabbing to even find DNA evidence that would be passable in court. There can be DNA from anyone who has been near the crime scene tainting any evidence, including police that aren’t careful enough. DNA comes from anywhere, and isn’t always good to analyze. Also, with every cop show on TV using DNA evidence in every episode, criminals are taking more care in modern times to not leave any (a side effect of the genre.)

In addition, it takes more than a few days to process samples. It normally takes a couple of months to finish the DNA testing, can take up to a year and sometimes cases are even resolved before the DNA evidence comes in. I can’t even hope to explain the science behind the testing, but suffice to say it is very complicated, its not as simple as plugging the sample into a computer that will analyze it overnight.

The problem with the public misconception surrounding DNA evidence is that both the public and jurors are biased in their expectancy of DNA evidence. Since it is extremely hard to analyze, when mistakes are made (and they are made,) it is a lot harder to refute. It also makes people more inclined to be cooperative with police with the hopes that DNA evidence will prove them innocent, but in reality the free talking with police only helps to incriminate them more, especially if/when DNA evidence isn’t found, or rarer, there is a mistake and it makes them seem guilty.

Lets give it a try

Hello fellow inmates of SioWfa16! My name is Chris Tarantino and I’ll make my attempt to distract us from our imprisonment…except this class is great so far, very interesting and I’m looking forward to more!

I’m a sophomore here at Penn State, and undecided as of yet (the clock is ticking though.) I’ve always liked science, and growing up my role models were people like Archimedes and Louis Pasteur and Bill Nye (he made science seem so fun.) I wanted to be a scientist because they were cool and discovered awesome things.

This handsome fellow inspired a love of science in children more than anyone else.

This handsome fellow inspired a love of science in children more than anyone else.

Then I started taking science classes and learned that not only was I not very good at it, I also didn’t like it that much. Maybe it was a part of the way it is taught in schools, but I found it both boring and difficult. However I never lost my appreciation for science, and always enjoy hearing about new discoveries, although I might not understand exactly how they came to be.

I took this class both because I need science gen ed credits as well as being interested in the description. It was a science class that looked at science from a non-scientist viewpoint, one I recently started trying to do (and I can still tell people I’m taking a science class.)

Although the topics we (initially) will discuss vary greatly (Where does evil come from? vs. could a zombie virus exist?,) I can’t wait to actually get into this class and learn more from that great accent.

This article is just one of the many ways science benefits the world. A cheaper and more efficient way to get clean water for the poor is another step to making the world a better place, and science is the one taking those steps.