Author Archives: cmt5658

My Foot Gets To Sleep More Than I Do

I don’t know about you, but my foot always falls asleep. I even think it gets more sleep than I do. Growing up, I am sure at some point in your life you have experienced the numbness or pins and needles, and said the expression “my foot is asleep,” but what does that personification really mean?


The science behind a body part falling asleep is actually pretty simple. How Stuff Works explains the concept in a very understandable way. Basically, by putting too much pressure on one particular part of the body, such as a foot or an arm, you cut off all pressure from the brain. Therefore, signals cannot be sent to and fro, causing nerve impulses to get all messed up.

Did you know though, that this annoying sensation actually saves you? A 5 minute tingling in your foot will not kill you, but all of this pressure also cuts off pathways from the arteries, causing lack of nutrients . The burning tingling sensations actually save you, because if the “sleeping” was to go on for more than a few minutes, there could be serious nerve damage as a potential threat. images

The technical medical term for a limb falling asleep is “paresthesias.” If this is happening too frequently, there are probably medical concerns around it. A few minutes or even hours won’t cause dramatic harm, but days can cause permeant damage to the nerves. However, the only way this could possibly happen is if one is unaware of the tingling signals. For example, if a person is passed out or under the influence of drug and alcohol for too long of time, they are at risk for permanently cutting off all blood flow to their arm.

Not to scare any fellow college students, but according to this article, one drunk women passed out on both legs and waited too long to get treatment, and ended up losing both bottom calves. Another man, a got permanent nerve damage from passing out over a whole day from heroine.

So lesson learned here, the next time your foot falls asleep, instead of cursing the maxresdefault-1word, be thankful that your body is warning yo and saving you from permanent damage.

Are The Effects of Coffee Just In Your Head

I don’t know about you, but I drink at least 2-3 cups of coffee a day. Especially with meal points, I am one of Starbucks more frequent customers.   images-1

I got this idea from reading another blog post about coffee, and I wondered is that third cup of coffee really necessary? Or is it all in our heads?

A study proves that just thinking your are receiving caffeine, you will feel the effects of it. The University of London tested 88 students ranging from the ages of 18-47 who admitting to drinkunknown at least more than one cup of coffee a day. This was a blind study where only the scientists knew the truth, and were deceived into thinking the study was to test how caffeine affects mood and the brain. Because the participants were being lied to, some may call this unethical. However, if they knew the real reason for the study, that could sway the responses and therefore corrupt the study.

Four groups were created with the participants, each including 11 males and 11 females. Two groups received caffeinated coffee, but one group was told their coffee was decaf.  The other got the placebo of decaf coffee, although one of the 2 decaf groups were under the impression they were drinking caffeinated coffee. They were to drink the coffee for 5 minutes and report their mood 55 minutes.

Interestingly enough, the caffeine drinkers and the people believed to have drank caffeine had very similar results are their mood test, which was sorting cards.

So I was curious if awareness and alertness was just all in our heads, what does caffeine actually do for you?

Nuerons in your brain fire adenosine which continues to be produced why your body stays awake. The nervous system monitors the production of the adenosine, but when the output
reaches a specific level, your body will start settling down into sleep. Caffeine interacts with the adenosine and will start to impersonate it. Your body will see the impersonators as the real adenosine and continue to stay more alert.



The impersonators bind to receptors blocking them from doing their real work, and therefore dopamine and glutamate can act more freely. According to Stephen Braun, from his famous book on how caffeine affects the brains, he used the metaphor of caffeine acting like breaks to stop the normal body processing, rather than it act as a gas to start energizing.

All of this neuroscience is very confusing to me too, but the general concensus is that coffee cannot replace an entire night of sleeping, but it may give you a couple extra hours of tired wakefulness. It also cannot improve skill or work, but possibly only give you a little extra boost to help get the work done.

As for me, I am going to keep drinking coffee. If it’s decaf and I am unaware, if it helps me to stay awake, I am all for it. Maybe instead of so much coffee however, we should all just try getting a good night of sleep. (I know, very funny haha.)



Is Yawning Contagious?

The idea of yawns being contagious is very well believed, so I thought I should research whether or not this phenomenon was real, or just a coincidence. contagious-yawning-chart

Fun fact: humans and chimps (or other types of primates) are the only animals known to yawn!

There are two types of yawning: spontaneous yawning which occurs when on his tired or bored, or contagious yawning when someone yawns after witnessing another individual yawn. Spontaneous yawning is someone one is born doing, while contagious is adapted in early childhood.

A study done at Duke University tested 328 participants. The volunteers had to answer questions concerning their previous energy and empathy yawn1-300x202levels. The participants were to record the amount of times they yawned while watching a three minute movie of other people yawning. Out of the 328 participants, 222 of the volunteers admitted to yawning at least once throughout the video. However, the amount of yawns per person ranged from 0 – 15 times. I watched the video myself ( here it is if you want to test out the experiment) and I yawned twice, but it is also important to note that it is late in the library and I am on very little sleep.

The null hypothesis was that watching someone yawn does not cause the watcher to also yawn. The only slight variable the study was able to find was age, the older the person the less likely they were to yawn. However, that only accounted for a very small percentage of the participants and therefore not a definite cause.

Another interesting aspect to note is that schizophrenics and autistic individuals do not experience contagious yawning. When studying the brain during contagious yawns, mirror neurons  light up in fMRI scans. There are new studies being done to see if mentally ill patients lack or have deficient MNS, which could lead to new research on how to help individuals with these diseases.

Yawning also relates to empathy levels, also known as your ability to feel for others. So if you’re not a contagious yawner, well then you might just be an asshole. A study done in Leeds England tested 80 students, half psych majors and the other half engineering. The students were to sit alone with and undercover assistant who yawned 10 times. They were mts_caramel-721119-emotioneyesswatchthen given a test to record their emotions. The participants were shown 40 different images of eyes and were asked to describe the emotions the eyes showed.

The results of the study were very interesting. The psych majors, who’s futures are most likely going to deal with others feelings, yawned 5.5 times on average while the watching the 10 yawns in comparison to the engineering majors only yawning 1.5 times. In terms of the eyes, the psych majors were able to correctly analyze 28 out of the 40 eye emotions while the engineering majors only got 25 out of the 40. Surprisingly, results did not vary between gender. Brain imaging also highlights that contagious yawns and empathy occurs in the same areas of the brain.

So maybe contagious yawning really is scientific after all. However, much more research still has to be done before there can be and confident claims on the cause. BTW while writing this post, I yawned at least 6 times.



Sites used:



A Good Cry a Day Keeps the Doctor Away?

A good cry a day keeps the doctor away. Wait, I think I got the saying wrong, ,but is crying actually healthy for you? images-1

According to WebMD, crying is actually good for ones health. Some doctors even recommend it. Fun fact: In japan there are even crying clubs because it is believed to be very healthy and refreshing. Why is the science behind on the crying remedies?

Crying acts a stress reliever. Research proves that there are more stress hormones found in emotional tears rather the tears that come from something like dust for example being caught in ones eyes. Crying activates the parasympathetic system which is a part of the autonomic feel-better-after-cryingnervous system and acts as a stress reliever to calm the body down.

Aside from a form of calming however, crying also benefits help in other ways. Tears are actually salt water which contains antibodies, lubricate eyes, and prevent irritants. There are three types of tear produced by humans which are reflex- like when smoke gets in your eye, continuous- produced daily for lubrication, and emotional. According to biochemist Dr. William Frey, while reflex tears are mostly water, emotional tears exert stress hormones. Tears even travel to the nose keeping it clean and moist. Fun fact: Humans are the only species that shed emotional tears, while others only shed reflex.

So what’s is the rumor with girls crying more than boys? And if that’s the case, are women healthier than men?

A study tested if the rumor of women crying more was true, and if so, why? Biologically, testosterone found in men tend to block tears, while the hormone prolactin found in women, tends to encourage it. However, culture also plays a huge role in crying. The study tested over 35 countries. There was significant changes in crying between men and women in countries where social freedom for women was more accepted, such as the U.S, while in more controlled countries like Ghana, there was not a huge difference.

Therefore, while there is no direct causation or correlation between crying and women, many variables such as biology and surrounding environment affect the crying rate. In terms of health however, what does this mean? Men just like women regardless of emotional tears have reflex 595693-34220-46tears, giving them the same health antibody benefits as women. Men tend to be viewed as angrier and more aggressive than women because they do not use the emotional tears to activate their parasympathetic systems. However, because it is now more acceptable in modern society for men to cry, as social norms and gender roles continue to change, men also get the stress relief that come along with all three types of tears.
So to both males and females, the next time you are feeling overwhelmed, or watching a really sad movie, don’t be afraid to cry, because it does in even the smallest ways, benefit your health.





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Are laptops in class detrimental to learning ?

If you walk into a lecture on the majority of college campuses, you will see a large number of students gradually moving from the standard note taking to typing on a laptop. Andrew does not let us use computers in class, so I wanted to research if in fact laptops were actually detrimental to our learning. feb5dd03509cf12b5ebecc21be6522a8

A study done by the Center for Research for Learning and Teaching ( CRLT) at the University of Michigan reported both positive and negative effects of the use of laptops. This study included 18 courses ranging from both grad and undergrad students. Half of the courses were set to use a program known as Lecture Tools, which was designed specifically for in class laptop use. The program allows the ability to take notes right on powerpoint, use clickers to interact and ask questions, record lectures and even rate their understandings at the end of the lectures. The other eight courses were rv-al538_etique_p_20130907000311also given the opportunity to use a laptop in class, but rather than using Lecture Tools, were given free range do whatever they chose online. Out of a total of 595 students participating in the survey, 259 students responded with results from the Lecture Tool classes and 336 responses came from the control group. The participants were given three statements that they had to rank their agreeability on. The three statements included ” “My attentiveness has increased due to laptop use,” “My laptop helped me to be engaged during lecture,” and “I learned more due to the use of a laptop than I would have without it.” (Erring Zhu, Matthew Kaplan, R. Charles Dershimer, Inger Bergom). The conclusion of most of the responses reported that the students using LectureTools had paid more attention and were more engaged in learning than students with free range of their computers. The most significant difference was in the engagement response, with 60 percent of LectureTool students reporting engagement vs only 39 percent of the control group. Though the students using LectureTool reported concentrating better, both groups reported they spent at least 10 minutes of class time on some sort of social media.


(I know this picture is really blurry but if you click on the link to the study the graphs and results are all there)

Another study by  Carrie Fried at Winona State University, focused on how the use of computers effects grades. 137 students from two different sections of the same Psychology Class participated in this survey, with no rules or structure to their in class laptop use. Around 48.7 percent of the students reported using laptops and the average laptop use was 17 minutes out of the 75 minute lecture.despiste-clase However, much of that 17 minutes was used on other internet sources rather that concentrated class material or not taking. Use of laptops causes test scores to decrease, however there was no direct relationships. There were other alternate variables such as class attendance and class preparation. Also self responses are not the best measure for actuate

So if all these studies report so negatively on the effects of laptop use in class, then why do some teachers still allow it? While googling this, my research took me again back to LectureTools. According to a study done on 200 University of Michigan students, the right programs on laptops can help enhance the learning experience. Students reported that while sometimes straying from class topics, the use of the LectureTool helped the students connect more with their teacher throughout the lesson.

So as much as I enjoy having my laptop in class, I will be the first to admit that I most definitely spent class time on unrelated sites, so it makes perfect sense why Andrew does not allow them in class. However, maybe Penn State will soon incorporate and computer learning program like LectureTool to increase the engagement of students.




Why You Should Nap Every Day

Now I don’t know about you, but speaking from personal experience, I take a nap almost every day. These range from 20 minutes to a coupleunknown-1 hours. I have never regret this naps, although some are quickly to look down on nappers. New studies prove however, that naps could be good for ones health. According to an online college blog there are numerous reasons why college students and anyone for that matter should nap! Lets break down the reasons.


The first reason is that napping could potentially make you smarter, or at least help you improve you memory to remember more facts. A study done in California split 39 students into      unknown-4 two groups. Their task was to match faces with names. At 2:00 half of the students took a 90 minute nap. At 6:00 when they were asked to remember which names went with which names, the students who napped remembered more than the students who didn’t. The science behind this is the napping clears one’s short term memory in the Hippocampus, making storage for more.


So now that we know that naps are good for you, how long is the most beneficial nap? The Boston Globe explains what each interval of sleep does to the brain. 20 minute naps, or as other some may call a “catnap” will just awake and alert an individual. sleep-cycleIn fact, because coffee takes around 30 minutes to kick in, many suggest drinking a cup before a quick cat nap, so you can wake up as energized as ever. More intense naps that can range anywhere from 90 minutes to a few hours can usually take one through a whole sleep cycle, which will greatly improve memory. An interesting fact though is that even if you can’t actually fall asleep, laying down for 20 minutes or even up to an hour will relax you and release an immense amount of stress.



For all those freshman out there, heres some advice: to avoid that freshman 15 either get more sleep or take more naps. The American Thoracic Society International Conference concluded thatimages-1 individuals weigh less when there receive more than five hours a sleep and in reverse individuals who receive less than five hours of sleep gain more weight easily. Some scientific reasons behind this are that not sleeping interferes with the carbohydrate cycle and therefore messes up fat storage. Less sleep also decreases leptin levels, which will cause your body to feel the need for more energy. Lastly, not enough sleep can affect proteins that deal with muscle and fat proportions. Therefore more sleep equals less weight.

So the next time you’re feeling tired after your 9 am, don’t let anyone tell you napping is a bad idea. That extra 30 minutes of sleep will help you progress so much further in the day, with more alertness and a better learning capacity. While of course, the obvious healthier option is to just get a good long night of sleep. However, being a fellow college student, I know that is nearly impossible, but now you know that not only is a nap acceptable, it is also another healthy alternative. unknown-2


Do Microwaves Cause Cancer?

We’re college students, and therefore a microwave is our best friend. Half of us don’t even have kittens, and out of those who do, half of them don’t know how to cook. We rely on microwaves more than you think, for that late night easy mac, or left chinese from the night before. So what do we do when we hear rumors about microwaves causing cancer, we’ll we investigate them


The process that most cooking undergoes is known as thermal dynamics, where the food is warmed on the outer layers and cooks within. Microwaves cook the opposite way however, from the inside out. Alternating atoms used in other forms of cooking cannot undertake the power of a microwave, causing all of the molecules to rearrange. Radiolytic compounds are also created in microwavable cooking. These radiolytic compounds When these compounds enter the body, cellular activity is interrupted causing anaerobic energy. Anaerobic energy is the body working without much oxygen, causing much fatigue. These type of energy can also lead to cancer. Cancer called die in oxygen, and therefore prosper in anaerobic environments. Therefore, according to Hans Hertel, a Natural News author, microwaves can indeed cause cancer.

However, if microwaves really are so cancerous, then why are they still so common? This is because there are still many doubts to the cancerous microwave theory. According to Jane Lear, who got her information from the Health Physics Society, no microwaves are not harmful. unknownSure, they give off radiation, but radiation so small it would show no effects on humans or have any detrimental effects on human DNA.  The Food and Drug administration have to approvethe radiations level of the microwave, ensuring it’s safety, before it is sold on the market. All sold microwaves must have two lock systems to prevent the radiation from leaking. To prepare for when the lock systems do not work, and another system known as the monitoring system is put in place to prevent the microwave from being able to open until the radiation is gone. According to Fitness Professional, Nick Tumminello, any actual incidences like burns or serious diseases like cancer need require much more radiation than the approved 5mW microwaves produce.

So don’t worry, to my fellow college students, please continue eating your leftovers for breakfast and those microwave dinners when you are sick of the dining hall food. Because as of today, while there are small concerns, there is no real evidence to prove that microwaves can actually cause cancer to humans.

Cheese, Dreams, and Lots of Memes


Do you ever have those nights where you just have those crazy dreams? You marry your crush, jump off a moving train, or maybe even save the world?  Did you happen to eat cheese right before you had these specific dreams? There is a strange rumor that eating cheese before bed causes you to have more memorable, sweeter dreams. I know this is a famous rumor because of the amount of overused, unfunny memes there are on google images. However, did you ever wonder if this rumor was actually true, and if so how cheese affects your dreams at all?

study done by The British Cheese Board  tests whether or not cheese really does461081 affect one’s dreams. 200 participants were given 2/3 of an ounce of cheese about a half hour before they were to go to sleep.  (Melissa Block) The participants were to keep  a diary recording
their dreams for two weeks. The experiment was successful in that, 3/4 of the participants were not only able to remember their dreams, but all the dreams were pleasant.

That was not the surprising part however. The crazy part was that different types of cheese have different effects. One of the more common cheeses used in the study was cheddar cheese, which caused dreams about celebrities. Blue cheese caused wild explicit dreams, with individuals 497d1c10-0b30-0134-e753-0a315da82319being able to remember every detail. Some examples of these vivid dream are a “vegetarian crocodile who was upset because he couldn’t eat children. And another one dreamed that they had soldiers fighting with each other with kittens instead of guns (Nigel White).” There was also cheshire, which sadly caused a pleasant sleep but no memorable dreams. Because this was a  study done by the British Cheese Company, of course they had to include some British cheeses. Red Leicester caused nostalgic dreams involving a familiar past, and lastly Lancashire caused people to dream about work.

This all sounds very unbelievable and somewhat an old myth, so is there really science behind this? Tryptophan is an amino acid found in dairy products. Tryptophan is known for 48090969regulating sleep and stress patterns. This sounds like a pretty believable theory, an amino acid that affects sleep creates a clear relationship between cheese and dreams. However, while this is
believable, it is not definite. There was a flaw in this study, in that there was no control group. All the participants were given cheese, so no one could say they still had pleasant rememberable dreams without the cheese. I will say though, I did eat pizza last night before bed, and had a very detailed dream about my high school teachers coming to a Penn State game. Hmm, coincidence?

There is another theory of the relationship between cheese and dreams. However, even Dana Smith, the author of Sweet Dreams Are Made of Cheese , admitted was a far stretch. There is a dominate cheese-study-claims-dairy-drug-addiction-but-is-cheesy-goodness-really-like-crack-900x440fungi in cheese that may influence explicit dreams. The fungi contains tryptamine or tyramine which has chemical effects on our brain. Tryptamine affects serotonin and is said to cause hallucinations, which could explain the vivid details in dreams. However, I think it is obvious this chemical is not potent in cheese because, at least unknownfrom personal experience, cheese never made me hallucinate. Locus coreuleous is the part of the brain that controls the sleep-wake cycle. The tyramine affects this area of the brain, which may cause us to sleep and wake without us actually knowing,  therefore causing wild dreams.  (Dana Smith)

You can decide whether or not this is enough evidence for you to believe there is some strange relationship 2df6cc6d0780854bfe9f32510a39abcabetween the cheese you eat before bed and the dream you have afterward. Personally, I’ll use any excuse to eat some late night cheese.

Science Just Isn’t My Thing

Hello all, my name is Chelsea and I do not like science. Science is a broad topic, and I’ll be the first to admit that I do not know nearly even close to everything about science to make such a judgment of not liking the subject. However, from the science I have been taught in my 12 years of school, no I do not like it.  I have always been more of a english kinda person over math and science, you know, the hard subjects. I am a Liberal Arts major, and therefore do not need much science and math. I am majoring in Global and International studies, which I will explain later when I discuss why  I am not majoring in science. Anyway,  somewhere along the lines of learning about global problems I learned much of the world’s conflicts are due to environmental problems, and that is science. Therefore, when having to choose between  a math Gen Ed or a science Gen Ed, I chose a science course. I figured what better way to learn science then to take a class for people who do not like science. This class is the perfect opportunity for me to explore what I want to know about the world, rather than just memorizing the formula for photosynthesis or how to find velocity. I can study random things like the correlation between floss and dental health, or more important topics like solving environmental crises to help global disputes or suffering citizens. To be completely honest, I do not know what to expect out of this class or how this will change my perspective on science, but I am eager to find out.


My science journey started in fourth grade. Although I learned the difference between igneous and sedimentary rocks or watched the Magic School Bus way before fourth grade, this was the moment it all began. I was on the road to being the number 1 scientist of my generation. Or so i thought. We were required to do science fair projects every year, so I chose one which I thought to be “out of the box.” It was call Beautiful in Lead, and I tested lead in lipstick. The project turned out great and at the science fair I won many awards. (On pg 4. of the link includes the article about the science project. Please excuse my awkward fourth grade retainer wearing self –Science Fair Article). Fourth grade me was so excited for a great scientific future ahead of her. After that however, it all just went down hill. Science brought in textbooks crazy formulas paired up with stories of weird 90s kids trying to find the motion of roller coasters. The math got too hard and the content got too boring that my small lead in lipstick achievement seemed like just an insignificant part of my history. And so I began dreading the subject, and telling myself it was unimportant for what I actually cared about. As I stated above my major is Global and International Studies. I love learning about other cultures and religions, and also the hardships that citizens across the world have to face. So I am not a science major, because I would rather study real life problems rather than reading formulas out of a textbook.  I also hope I can use what I learn in this class to put towards my own major.  Besides studying the world, a fun fact about me is in my spare time I love to watch the movie Mean Girls, hence the meme.