Author Archives: Dominic DeCinque

Concussions and the NFL

What exactly is a concussion? According to the CDC, a concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a hit or blow to the head or body that causes the brain to move rapidly back and forth. This movement can stretch and severely damage brain cells causing chemical changes in the brain. In the National Football League, concussions happen all the time. Most fans of football are aware of the correlation between NFL players who have sustained multiple, untreated concussions and the neurologic problems that follow. Concussions have been one of the biggest problems the NFL has faced. We hear about it all the time in the news how poorly the NFL handles concussions.  In the 2015 football season, diagnosed concussions rose by nearly 32 percent according to ESPN writer Kevin Selfert. In the year 2015, the total number of concussions was 271 while in 2014 there was only 206 instances. Of the 271 instances, majority of them were caused by contact with another helmet, contact with the playing surface, or contact with a shoulder. Even though the NFL’s concussion policy makes teams more cautious of concussion like symptoms, it is still struggling to reduce the problem  of concussions that occur in the league today. So what does the NFL need to do to increase concussion safety?

To start, concussions will always be a problem in the sport of football. In my opinion, it is almost impossible to completely get rid of concussions because the game is built around contact. One move that the NFL has recently done to try and decrease concussions is the new touchback rule on kickoffs. If the returning team does not run the ball out of the end zone, the team will start now on the 25 yard line instead of the 20 yard line. The goal of this rule is to discourage teams from returning the ball out of the end zone, which will cut down on players running and getting destroyed by the opposing team. Kick returns account for 23.4 percent of concussions during games even though it only represents 5.8 percent of overall plays, according to USA Today. People around the country will see at the end of the season if the NFL was successful in their new

Another way to reduce concussions in football starts at the basic level of the game. Coaches and leagues all over the United States must properly teach kids how to tackle. Recently, the NFL has created Heads Up Football, a series of in person and online courses for coaches to learn the best ways to tackle and new safety procedures to limit head injuries. The NFL has sold thousands of Heads Up Football programs to parents all over the country and reported that the program has done well in limiting concussions. The report that was released by the NFL was false which was debunked by The New York Times.  Heads Up Football showed no effect on concussions during studies.

No protective gear can completely eliminate the risk of a concussion in football, but improvements in equipment could easily reduce concussions. The NFL has made a deal with a company called Vicis who debuted a new helmet that the NFL hopes can help with the problems of concussions. According to Digital Trends, the new helmet is a multilayered that is adept at diminishing rotational and linear impact forces. Each layer has its own job in helping reduce the impact given to the head. Vicis plans on testing the high tech helmet out with Virginia Tech, even though it acknowledges the fact that their unique helmet cannot totally eliminate head injuries. Here is a video that shows off the new helmet.


It's time to finally get rid of the most dangerous play in football


Building Blocks of the Brain

When I was younger, I absolutely loved Legos. It was one of my favorite things to do. In kindergarten, my brother and me would always play games like Legos, Mega Blocks and Lincoln Logs. We would build forts on days when we could not go outside and play then take pictures of the great things we would build. We would love construction fun. Every Christmas we asked for a different Lego set. Sometimes it would be the Batman set, but our favorite was by far the Star Wars Legos we would get. We would build ships and big play sets.  Obviously, one of the benefits of kids playing with legos is enjoyment, but does playing with Legos help develop young children and their brains?

kid_legos1One of the most sought after talents is being creative. Creativity is vital to long term health of whatever career a person pursues. The components that a child needs to make cool designs with legos are highly applicable to a grown up’s life. Designing, working together, building, wrecking the final product, and trying a different one. Using Legos let kids free style, build something creative that they like, and enjoy it with other kids. According to Parenting Science, the more time kids spend playing with blocks and puzzles, the better they perform on IQ tests of spacial ability.Legos don’t just help with developing a child’s creativity, it develops many other skills that they must develop to grow up. Even the muscle movements that are required to put the Legos together develops moves and muscles that help with skills with scissors and pens or pencils. According to Dr. Maryhan Baker, these movements are called Fine Motor Skills, which helps handwriting, independent dressing and promote coordination.

According to a recent American survey, high achieving college graduates in the science, technology, or engineering fields were more likely to have hands on extensive experience with hands-on activities according to Parenting Science.  Like we learned in class, correlation does not prove causation. Just because people under those fields played with toys like Legos or Lincoln Logs does not mean that those toys caused intellectual or academic progression or improvements.  Legos also help develop problem solving skills. Children realize that when the blue one does not fit in the yellow, they must find a building piece that does. They map out what they want to build before they build or, or free plan using solely their own creativity. They use imagination to create their scenarios and works of art. Learning how each piece fits together and seeing what they can make with these pieces is a valuable challenge to the mind. Here is a link to why people are so drawn to legos.



I Hate the Dentist

Not many things make me upset anymore. I am over my fear of the dark. I have never been afraid of heights or horror movies. I am not afraid of snakes, spiders, or insects. The one thing I am truly petrified of is going to the dentist. I absolutely hate the dentist. When my mom tells me I have a dentist appointment in a couple days, my stomach drops. It has not stopped since I was a little boy either. As I continued to get older, I began to hate the check ups more and more. The day of an appointment I will wake up with a sick feeling in my stomach and will act like a little girl once I get there. A particular bad memory is when the assistant was digging in the back of my mouth, and after I told her to take a break, I vomited all over her. It was a truly traumatic experience. So the question is… why is it that going to the dentist is so commonly hated amongst people around the world? The people are all nice, and they do try and treat their patients with care so why do they receive so much hate?

Personally, I am the only one in my family that has trouble with the dentist. According to Jelly Share, many reasons why people hate the dentist is due to the anxiety of maybe having a cavity, or having to get a tooth pulled. Some other reasons are fear of needles and drills. Dental care related fear is very common, affecting 10 to 20 percent of adults in the United States, causing sometimes complete avoidance of dental care in general.

Recently researchers have hypothesized that the reason why children have fear and anxiety over the dentist is mostly due to their parents. It is an obvious fact that a child is going to be influenced by their parents behavior. My dad is not afraid of the dentist, and whenever he would bring me for my appointment, I would feel much more comfortable knowing that he was only right outside. My mom on the other hand was totally different. Like myself, she despises the dentist and gets nervous when she gets there. This could be where my fear comes from.



According to the article on Science Daily, psychology researchers at the University of West Virginia found that part of the reason that there is anxiety due to dental care is because of genetic influences inherited from parents. This is the first study that could suggest that fear of the dentist could be due to genetic factors. Cameron Randall and Daniel McNiel later in the article reported that the genes that influence for of pain likely also influence fear caused by going to the dentist. This finding is important to better understand what the causes dental fear and phobia. Clearly, the anxiety that goes along with going to the dentist affects many people from all ages. The more studies and research that is done concerning this issue, the more we can learn what the best way is to make people like me not fear the dentist anymore.



Should I Start Drinking Coffee?

Before I was able to drive, my Dad would always take me to school. I never took the bus in the morning, or carpooled with anyone else. I would estimate that up until the time I finally got my license, my dad dropped me off every single morning, and we both loved it. Some mornings, my dad would decide to stop at Starbucks, and send me in to get it for him, and I still remember his order today. A grande, non-fat, no whip moca. He would always say it was necessary for him to wake up and have a productive morning and day. Now that I am a freshman at Penn State, I notice how many people drink coffee. I did not know coffee was so crucial to so many people being productive.  The line outside the HUB is always incredibly long, and every dorm on my floor expect for one has a Keurig, or a coffee maker.

Personally, I have not hopped on the daily routine of drinking coffee in the morning. No matter how hard my room mate tries, I always deny the energy and plan on dragging that out for as long as I possibly can. As I was trying to brainstorm blog topics, I saw my room mate drinking coffee at 10 o’clock at night while doing homework. It made me wonder if drinking coffee daily could help or harm a person’s daily life.

We all knew that coffee is addictive, and can be unhealthy if consumed multiple times a day, but would it help me do better on Andrew’s tests? According to Harvard School of Public Health, 54 percent of Americans over the age of 18 drink on average 3.1 cups a day, and spend $2.45 per cup. Jen Saunders, a writer for Our Everyday Life, writes that a study was published in the Nutrition Journal saying 51 percent of 496 college students used coffee or other beverages containing caffeine to help them study for last minute test preparation. John Wiley and Sons came to the conclusion that coffee gave the students increased alertness and improved cognitive responses. 19268-students-computer-coffee-1-940x501

Of course, coffee is not all good for you. Without knowing your limits, coffee can also have adverse affects on daily performance or health. A student or person may have an extreme sense of alertness or focus after drinking coffee, but this feeling does not last. The brain and body can only function at a higher level for a certain amount of time. After this rush is over, a student can feel tired or have a lack of motivation to do anything.

In my opinion there are clear positives and negatives to coffee. The only way to keep it beneficial to a person’s daily life is with clear understanding of one’s limitations. Over consumption of coffee clearly leads to addiction or a  drop in motivation to get work done. If used correctly, coffee could be a great way to jump start my morning and help me battle through tough tests. This is a link as to why college students need coffee to survive.


Coffee by the Numbers


Why Do Some People Get Migraines and Others Don’t?

Over the weekend I was talking to one of my best friends from back home who is currently going to school at Temple. During our conversation, he brought up how he was having severe headaches, or migraines earlier that day.  This was not his first run in having these horrible headaches, as I remember throughout high school he had to leave school early some days because certain headaches were just too much for him to handle. He really struggled with migraines since we were kids, and just had to fight through them until they went away. I began thinking of how my mom used to get them when I was younger, and how much pain she would be in. Overtime, my mom began to research how to fight migraines. She learned that not only did she need to take medication, but she also needed to improve her sleeping habits, change her diet, and work on her stress management. I started wondering on the phone why my mom experienced migraines but I never did.  The only time I ever had a headache was if I got car sick, but I had never dealt with one so severe. I have never had to deal with headaches much, but it still made me wonder why do certain people get migraines and others do not?

For people who do not know, a migraine is much worse than a headache. According to Health Line. Net, headaches are unpleasant that can cause pressure and aching, while a migraine is much more severe pain with symptoms such as nausea, blurred vision, and vomiting just to  name a few. My friend would experience tingling in his finger tips when he got migraines at random points in the day. According to Medical News Today, 36 million Americans are affected by migraines, so why do these people get it and not me? migraine-e1454316241611

According to newly found research, people who experience harsh migraines have structurally different areas in or around the brain. People who experience migraines have a more complicated brain than people that do not.  According to Amy Norton, writer for, people who experience migraines showed to have had a thinner and smaller cortex compared to headache-free people shown in MRI scans done by the researchers. Norton later in the article talks about how one of the researchers explains that migraines can alter the thickness of the brains cortex, the outer layer, which changes throughout the life of a human.  Here is a video that shows the medical animation of a migraine attack.



Blue Sky

If anyone has watched the show Breaking Bad, they will know exactly what the title means. For anyone who has not seen or know of the plot, Breaking Bad follows a man named Walter White as he gets diagnosed with Stage III cancer. With only a little time left in his life, he realizes that he is leaving his family with a shaky future. Walt is a chemistry genius, and uses his talents to become a drug kingpin to save his family’s financial future. Walt makes and sells methamphetamine, in particular blue sky, which is 99.1% pure crystal meth, which makes it the best in the world. Walt’s blue sky is immediately sought after not only in the Southwestern United States  What exactly is crystal meth, and why did it turn Walter White into a millionaire?


Meth is an illegal drug that is extremely addictive and very similar to cocaine.  According to Medical News Today, meth gives the user a long lasting joy ride of excitement that can last around 12 hours, which is significantly longer than most drugs. The reason why crystal meth is so addictive is because people grow tolerance for it. After frequent use, it takes larger doses of meth to reach the extreme euphoria that it gives.  Meth can give users extreme hallucinations, psychotic episodes, or depression. Crystal meth in particular affects the release of a brain chemical called dopamine. Medical News today said that dopamine is a chemical that affects your emotions, your motivation, and sensations of pleasure and pain.  Taking lots of crystal meth creates a build up of dopamine in your brain, similar to cocaine.  Not only does crystal meth build up dopamine, it also Meth also destroys your body too.  One common side effect of crystal meth is “meth mouth” according to Methamphetamine Addiction. Meth mouth is rapid tooth decay after taking crystal meth. Another side effect is crank bugs, which is a hallucination where meth uses think they have bugs crawling under their skin.

Crystal meth is created in meth labs all around the country. In the show, Walt is shown making the crystal meth with classic laboratory tools. Currently in the United States, meth labs are everywhere. According to Methamphetamine Addiction, in 2004, the Drug Enforcement Agency seized 23,829 meth labs across the country. This number has actually decreased because as law enforcement find ways to sniff out the labs, the criminals find ways to avoid being caught. In the three years after 2004, the numbers declined, and in 2012, only 11,000 labs were seized according to Methamphetamine Addiction.  These meth labs could be anything from a small, secret shack in the woods, to a normal suburban house. In Breaking Bad, Walt is shown cooking his blue sky with normal lab tools in a small RV in the desert. All the tools that are needed to make the crystal meth are readily available to anyone including flasks, funnels, filters, and hot plates. Crystal methamphetamine is extremely dangerous because of how easy it is to make with such basic tools. Here is a link that talks more about what a super lab is like.




Pokemon NO

On the first day of classes, Andrew told us that he thinks that cellphones are very useful, but dangerous. He went onto say that the second you go to check a text, you miss out on what could be a very important fact or concept that Andrew is explaining. Last week, Apple released its new iPhone 7 that caused an uproar all over both adults and kids. Apple has gotten rid of the head phone jack all together, increased battery life, and has made the new iPhone water resistant.  Seeing the new iPhone reminded me of what it was like when the first iPhone released in 2007. I begged my dad for it, knowing that I was never realistically going to get one.  Today, kids everywhere are walking around with an iPhone, and iPad, or anything in between. For example, when my ten year old cousin is bored at Thanksgiving dinner, she runs into her moms bag and slyly slips out her Amazon tablet and plays Candy Crush. Do not get me wrong, I think technology has a ton of perks, but a part of me does worry. Can these new amazing technologies be a detriment to our lives?


At the beginning and end of every class, I look around me and see people on their phones. I for one am completely guilty of this. People are locked in on their phones, scrolling through Instagram and Twitter, or answering texts continuously throughout the day. So much information is at our fingertips. Not just information about what our friends are doing, but information that has to do with the world.  I am sure that everyone can agree that the temptation that comes after your phone buzzes in your pocket is unreal. In short, we are all addicted to the little rectangular device in our pockets.

According to British psychologist Dr. Richard House, teenagers ceck their phones an average of 85 times a day, and majority of those times are for 30 seconds or less of activity. I am personally not worried for our generation, but for the up and coming generations. One thing that must be addressed is making sure kids go outside.

Over the summer, I would see tons of kids walking around, fixed on their phones pointing it wildly around. It turned out to be the app Pokemon Go. This app may have gotten kids to go outside and walk around, but it is sad that an app had to get kids to move outside. Technology can be a detriment to exercise. People could be completely okay with sitting in their house playing a game on their phone or scrolling through social media to pass time.  Kids become obsessed with an app or game and don’t go outside and play or use their imagination. Technology clearly has many positives, but I believe that the negatives cannot go unseen.

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A little under a year ago, I went to the movies with my Dad to see the highly anticipated movie called The Martian. If you do not know, The Martian follows Matt Damon as he becomes stranded on the planet and must survive until NASA figures out a way to rescue him. I will not ruin the ending in case someone plans on watching but it is a great movie that I highly recommend watching. The movie did prove that it is possible for a single human… but is it possible for us to colonize Mars? What future plans do we have for Mars? In my personal opinion, I think it would be incredibly difficult to get a large population there, much less set up show and call it our new home, and I am going to tell you why.



First we must talk about the time it takes to travel to Mars.Going to or from Mars takes approximately eight months. With the current technology, the travel time will stay eight months until a new discovery in space travel happens. Another challenge humans face is creating a rocket or vessel large enough to fit multiple people into, instead of small six person manned missions. Getting to Mars is very hard with current technology. The conditions on Mars are rough to stay the least Mars’ atmosphere is deadly. According to Cool Cosmos, Mars’ atmosphere is approximately “100 times thinner than Earth’s.” In the movie The Martian, every time Matt Damon walked outside, he had to wear a special suit with his own supply of oxygen. On top of the air, the weather conditions are also unfriendly.  According to Tim Sharp, a write for, the average temperature is minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit and could drop all the way down to minus 195 degrees Fahrenheit. Not only is the temperature difficult to deal with, there are also multiple types of dust tornadoes that happen periodically that can be harmful to standing objects. Another aspect that must be talked about with colonizing Mars is the logistics that come with our everyday life. Think about all the different types of tools or “things” that you use in a day. Toothbrush, shoes, different types of technology ,etc. Now multiply all of those things by thousands and thousands of people. It is already incredibly difficult to just travel to Mars, now imagine all of the supplies we would need to sustain everyday life!

Obviously, there are firm believers that think it is very possible to take a large population to Mars and live normal lives there. One person that is a strong advocator for the colonization of Mars is famous inventor and scientist Elon Musk. Musk is the creator of multiple companies, but most notably Tesla and SpaceX. Musk is extremely ambitious and almost obsessed with Mars.  According to Robin Seemangal, writer for, SpaceX, Musk’s company, plans on sending its Dragon V2 rocket to Mars in 2018. Right now, Musk is focusing on reusable rocket booster engines, but he plans to soon reveal his plan on building a city on Mars.He plans to have people traveling to Mars by 2024.  Here is ten facts about Musk’s SpaceX that you might want to learn more about.




Hello everyone.

My name is Dominic DeCinque, and I am from Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, a small town around 30 minutes away from Philadelphia. I went to La Salle College High School and am currently a freshman in the Division of Undergraduate Studies. I hope to become a student at the Smeal College of Business, but am not exactly sure about the specific major I will graduate with. I am passionate about all Philly sports, but especially my Sixers. I believed in the science of analytics right when the Sixers brought in General Manager Sam Hinkie to turn the franchise around. “Trust the Process” became a saying I believed in, and my  dream finally came true when the Sixers selected Ben Simmons with the first overall pick. Simmons is the future of the league and I cannot wait to see where he takes them and am excited for the future.  The reason I decided to take this class is because when I was scheduling my classes at NSO, all the science classes that were available were not to my liking. I made it clear I wanted nothing to do with biology, chemistry, or physics. After hearing this, my advisor told me to check if SC200 was still available and explained to me that it was a class based on critical thinking of questions and topics that the general public have thought about, but have not been able to answer. I quickly scheduled it and became intrigued during our first class last week.

When I was in grade school, I loved science. Learning about planets and animals was so interesting to me that going to my science class everyday was something I looked forward to. As I got older and started taking true science classes such as my worst enemy biology and chemistry, I realized that science was not my cup of tea. I despised having to memorize the curriculum that I did not want to learn about.  I hated having to conduct labs and writing reports on our discoveries. The only science class I somewhat enjoyed in high school was physics, because that was mostly math driven so it was easy for me to catch onto the material being taught in class. Yes, I love the show Breaking Bad, and Interstellar is one of my favorite movies of all time, but I could never see myself doing the actual science that took place on the TV every night.  In physics class, we learned about a man named Elon Musk, the inventor of Tesla cars.  Here is an article talking about Musk’s plan to send an unmanned spacecraft called SpaceX to Mars as early as 2018.