Author Archives: Emma Gaetana Lepore

The Most Special Science Behind Creativity

Personal Allegory:

My whole life I lived directly across the street from two boys (fake names for privacy reasons of course), Rick and Matt. Our moms are best friends so they are basically my brothers. The younger of the two, Matt, is 15 and Rick is turning 18 on Halloween! Growing up, the two of them never failed to impress me. Even as a little twerp Matt was advanced in any sport you could think of. He was on every club sports team in the neighborhood and was one of those kids that you had to drag by the hoodie to get him to ditch his basketball and come inside for a 20 minute dinner. He was also one of those rare sporty tween boys that amazed you with his kindness, responsibility, honesty, and willingness to kiss his mother on the cheek in front of the whole baseball team! You don’t find those kids often. As big of a place in my heart that I have for Matt, Rick is outrageously special to me. This boy writes screenplays, builds lego castles, designs video games on computerized softwares, films clay stop motion short films, photographs landscapes and nature, writes original lyrics, can recite every single line from any Drake & Josh episode, knows the title and artist of every top hit song on the radio, makes perfectly timed witty jokes, and the list goes on and on. There’s one thing, however, that I forgot to mention, Rick is diagnosed with Autism.

Possible Correlation:

I know this intro is lengthy, but this topic means a lot to me and connecting this to something personal makes it much more comprehensive. I don’t need a scientific publication to tell me that Rick is one of a kind. Matt is above average in regards to athletic talent for his age, but he does not have a diagnosis of Autism. Rick is  above average in creativity and artistic talent, not necessarily for his age, but for having special needs. Both of these boys excel as individuals, but are there different causes behind their abilities? Fortunately, I found an article that links Autism to creativity.



Suggestive Correlations:

  1. Autism → Creativity (direct causality)….what is believed to be happening
  2. Autism ← Creativity (reverse causality)….this is definitely ruled out….creativity cannot make someone Autistic
  3. Autism ← Z → Creativity (Confounding/3rd variable)……because Rick is significantly less social than most kids his age, he spends a lot of time by himself…..his frequent alone time is usually when his creative antics take place; thus, it could be possible that Z= lack of social skills because that goes hand-in-hand with a common Autistic lifestyle and more time to be creative.
  4. Chance……can always be a possibility….Rick could be creative just like everybody else

The Study:

According to the University of Stirling and the University of East Anglia’s team of psychologists, when Autistically diagnosed individuals were asked questions that have no definite answer, their responses were thoroughly more imaginative and unique than those without a diagnosis. Rick exemplified this claim all the time. When we were much younger and the seasons would change from fall to winter, Rick and I used to try and catch the leaves. When I asked him why the leaves fall from the trees he replied that the weather gods are having a celebration for another successful autumn. Not only is that absolutely heart-warming, but it’s pure originality that not just anyone can have. The founded evidence of this was that people with autism tend to think more cognitively. This would mean that the more typical answer would be their first thought, but they would trail off into a sequence of word associations. For example in my previous leave-catching story, Rick may have thought to think of the answer in an order such as: wind, sky, clouds, heaven, god, christmas, celebration.


My Thoughts:

Considering the unique method of their thinking process, their abstract way of calculating an answer is evidence that people with Autism have an open highway to creativity when it comes to thought and imagination. For myself or others without a diagnosis, our minds are more likely to respond with a quicker and more logical answer that sounds common and rational….ugh boring.



Overindulging in chocolate can be……good for you????

The Shocking Claim:

So I have this friend Lonni that I have known since way back in Kindergarten. Growing up, Lonni was literally obsessed with chocolate. In seventh grade, her Bat Mitzvah was a chocolate extravaganza, “Lonni’s Chocolate World”. Up for grabs she had every chocolatey candy that you could think of. All the kids went home with a hardy goody bag of chocolates to take home and indulge in IN ADDITION to all of the chocolate that they probably ate during the party. What if I told you that all of those little chocoholics were aiding their hearts in preventing a deadly disease? Do you know how happy Lonni would be if i told her that eating lots of chocolate just might be beneficial for her health? Well, there is a chance that it might just be her lucky day! I came across an article that argues that eating an abundant amount of chocolate may decrease one’s risk of heart disease.

Dark chocolate candy with heart and stethoscope (6297)

Suggestive Correlations:

  1. Chocolate Consumption → Lower Risk of Heart Disease (direct causality)……what is believed to be happening
  2. Chocolate Consumption ← Lower Risk of Heart Disease (reverse causality)….this is ruled out… having a lower risk of heart disease likely does not cause heavy chocolate consumption
  3. Chocolate Consumption ← Z → Lower risk of Heart Disease (Confounding/3rd Variable)…. I cannot think of possible z-variable that would lead to both chocolate consumption and a lowered risk of heart disease because frankly, I’m no doctor…. There would need to be more published studies for me to have a possibility (accepting of any suggestions!)
  4. Chance…always can be a possibility

The Study:

As proclaimed by authors of the British Medical Journal, chocolate contains antioxidants and functions that relieve swelling, lower blood pressure, and level out insulin rates. I don’t know about you, but this sounds a little too good to be true. In fact, Dr. Oscar Franco, and his fellow scientists at the University of Cambridge had the same skepticism and did further analyzations on this claim. Their observations included seven large studies that showcased various levels of chocolate intake in relation to patients suffering with and without heart disease. After comparing the people with the lowest amount of chocolate eaten and the highest amount of chocolate eaten, they determined which of those same people were patients with heart diseases and calculated any reduction. 


5/7 studies → supported evidence that chocolate consumption decreases heart disease risks

Eats a lot of chocolate → 37% less heart disease, 29% less stroke

My Thoughts:

Although those are some whopping reduction percentages, and I’m no doctor to voice an educated opinion, I’m not sure how reliable I find this meta-analysis. Like I said previously: 1. I’m not a doctor and 2. Because I’m not a doctor, I don’t know any possible confounding variables off of the top of my head. However, I am led to believe that there is some sort of mechanism behind a 3rd variable linking the relationship between heavy chocolate consumption and lowered risk of heart disease (I’m quite flabbergasted by the results if you couldn’t tell). 


Advice and More Thoughts:

Cardiovascular diseases do not mess around, and I personally do not trust the supporting evidence enough to essentially use chocolate as a form of preventive medicine. I don’t even think Lonni would fall for such a risky thing (no matter how bad she wants to). The thing that worries me that was not taken into consideration in any of the studies that they analyzed is that although chocolate may potentially benefit specific heart health, the treat does not have a squeaky clean history. It’s no secret that if not eaten in moderation chocolate can lead to diabetes, high cholesterol, weight gain, cavities, etc. This confuses me even more because  the saturated fat in chocolate causes a build up in the blood stream and/or arteries, and high cholesterol can lead to heart disease….so it’s essentially a chain reaction that does exactly the opposite of benefiting. That would mean that an overindulgence in chocolate would actually cause the heart disease rather than diminish it. I AM CONFUSED. These supposedly professional level doctors are actually supporting a claim that promotes an abundant consumption of chocolate– a sweet that we were raised being told not to eat too much of. If you’re basing your opinion off the numbers, then yeah sure, go crazy– take a visit to Lonni’s Chocolate World. However if you know what is good for you, you would realize that there just isn’t enough supporting evidence behind this hypothesis and although the numbers are convincing, chance will always still be a possible causation. The deadly danger of heart disease is just not something that you mess with chance for. Sorry, Lon, not today. Moderation is key.

P.S. It’d be one thing if the studies were addressing pure dark chocolate…maybe I would be a bit more understanding (I would never eat dark chocolate in bulk. Bleh!)… but the BMJ article even clarifies that the studies are not narrowed to a specific kind of chocolate or sweetness.





Music and Teamwork

The Claim:

Music is a universal form of communication and expression that plays a huge part in culture, religion, entertainment, and the world as a whole. People listen to music to get their energy up at the gym. Dancers rely on music to keep a steady beat and inspire choreography. Some students find listening to music positively effective when studying. Warm-up songs are played at sporting events to prepare the players and rile up the crowd. Without music, a jack-in-the-box wouldn’t know when to come out of the box! There is a theme that I am getting at: music seemingly helps with focus and fluidity. So what if we took this magical thing called music and put it in a group setting? Would it cause the same focus and fluidity among a team? I came across a study that claims that in a work environment, teamwork within a group is heightened when music is being played.


Suggestive Correlations:

  1. Music → Teamwork (direct causality)…..what is believed to be happening
  2. Music ← Teamwork (reverse causality)….in this case reverse causality would be ruled out because teamwork would not cause music to be played
  3. Music ← Z → Teamwork (confounding/3rd variable)….this may be a stretch but I feel like this could only really make sense if the z variable were something related to a type of work such as a dance team, a choir, musical theater, etc…. But since this study is generalized…I would probably rule this one out
  4. Chance… always can be a possibility

The Experiment:

Researchers at Cornell University conducted two studies on how music can influence teamwork in employees. Split into groups of 3, the volunteers were given tokens that they could either keep for their own collective benefit OR put them towards the good of the group as a whole.

Study #1:

The first study tested two different types of music. As the participants worked in their groups, background music was played in an alternation between happy/cheery/familiar songs and sad/dark/unfamiliar songs.

The Results:

Positive music→ more likely to give tokens to the group   (by approx ⅓ more)

Negative music→ more likely to hold on to their tokens

Study #2:

The second study had a control group and an experimental group. This time, as the participants worked in their groups, there was an alternation between happy/cheerful/familiar songs and no music at all.

The Results:  (same as first study)

Positive music→ more likely to give tokens to the group  (by approx ⅓ more)

Negative music→ more likely to hold on to their tokens

Suggested Improvement:

In conclusion of this experiment, evidence supported that, yes, music did influence the participants to contribute more for the good of the group. However, the results showed that playing distasteful music in a work setting strengthened teamwork just as much as playing no music at all. Thus, the leading claim that music increases cooperation is not necessarily completely correct. The hypothesis that evidence actually supported was that if you play cheerful music in a collaborative group setting, teamwork progresses among workers.

Turn it up:

Although there is no clear mechanism proven as to why positive music amplifies teamwork, it is safe to say that joyful music can unite a group of colleagues at work. Knowing this, would I play Justin Bieber’s new song “Let me Love you” during my next group project collaboration? Oh yes.






Does a selfie a day keep sadness away?

The Claim:

*Unlocks cellular device*                                         

fast7        *Opens camera*

             *Turns the camera facing self*                                


                       *Captures image*

                            *Happily ever after*

Ah, yes, the art of selfie taking. Considering that everyone and their mother is aware of this decade’s “selfie movement”, I’m sure you followed my take on the sequential actions  that result in a selfie. Everyone has taken one at least once in their life (if not on a regular basis). Don’t lie. We know you have. However, you may have been stumped by the final asterisks: “Happily ever after”.  Sure, taking selfies is fun, especially with friends, but happily ever after is a little extreme, no? I chose to use those words because they imply happiness as a hard end point, or a response variable that matters to us. Why? Because interestingly enough, I came across an article that claims that studies show that selfies cause happiness in persistent selfie-takers. So… let’s find out… will regularly taking selfies make us happier as individuals??

Suggestive Correlations:

  1. Selfies → Happiness (direct causality)….what is thought to be happening
  2. Selfies ← Happiness (reverse causality)….. Cannot be ruled out in this case because being happy could very well make someone want to take a selfie
  3. Selfies ← Z → Happiness (confounding/3rd variable)… anything that could cause selfie taking and happiness ….. Z= confidence, compliments, makeup, etc.
  4. Chance…. Always can be a possibility

The Study:

According to computer scientists at the University of California, if one takes at least a single selfie per day, they will experience more positive feelings and emotions. An author at the university, Yu Chen, led a randomized control experiment where she and her colleagues set up an app that 41 participating college students recorded their emotions in three times a day. They also set up another app where they would document daily photographs. The participants were split up into 3 groups based off of what they are supposed to photograph: smiling selfie, something that would make someone else smile, and something that makes themself smile. Conclusively, the moods of the different categorized participants wound up all being positive throughout the trial. So what this is saying is that, yes, selfies do spark happiness, but apparently happiness is not limited to just selfies in the photographic realm. Each type of photograph brought on different kinds of happiness:

The Results:

Smiling selfies→ confidence & self-security

Making someone else smile → stress relief & calmness

Makes self smile → grateful & eye-opening

How I feel:

It turned out that just positive images in general come with positive emotions.The claim in the headline is that studies link selfies and happiness, but it left out a very important detail: the type of selfie. Personally, I think this study would be a lot more interesting and informational if it stuck to the specific of selfies. I would change the hypothesis to: If you take a SMILING selfie of yourself everyday, your positivity will increase. If I could conduct this differently I would take 50 males/females total and randomly sort them into two groups. The control group would take a smiling selfie every hour on the hour from 10 AM to 9 PM for 3 weeks and record their current mood in the app. The experimental group would take a frowning selfie and document the same times/way that the control group did. I feel like this would give a more clear answer as to if regularly capturing positive selfies causes positive emotions. 

Also, I feel as if this experiment left so much room for error. There are tons of things that could alter the mood of a person and there is no way to manage factoring in ALL of the possible interruptions. Anything from good/bad weather outside to a good/bad grade on a test can significantly sway someone’s emotional status in either direction.  This experiment did provide evidence that persistent happy selfies made people happier, but the vagueness of the study made it hard to find a clean cut mechanism behind the apparent causation. If it’s true that taking a lot of smiley selfies makes you happy, is there parallelism with frowning selfies? If I take a sad selfie everyday will I get sadder??? 


Smile for the camera:

Seems to me that engaging in daily “selfie-ing” is totally worth the shot…just don’t forget to smile! But if you’re having a bad hair day or you’re broken out and just not feeling yourself, HAVE NO FEAR!! Evidence showed that there is a correlation between positive images and positive feelings, not just positive selfies. If puppies make you happy, photograph a puppy. If your friend likes cupcakes, send her a picture of a cupcake! And if you look good and you know it….selfie away!






Why does eating bread make me hiccup???


Does anyone else feel like everytime they eat bread they get a horrid case of the hiccups???!!! I try and enjoy a slice of bread, biscuit, roll, certain cakes, etc, and BAM…..hiccups. This happens to me all the time, and I just can’t seem to figure out why. Is it that I am eating it too fast? Am I eating too much of it at once? Texture? Consistency? Ingredients? Am I allergic? What is going on?!!! Is there something personally wrong with me? It very well might be due to chance, but I know that there has to be a correlation between my consumption of bready carbs and my hiccup attacks… or maybe, not?



If you think I’m crazy and are reading this like “What is this girl talking about? I’ve never heard of getting hiccups from bread”, well, I’m not alone. Check out this link to read about some other pissed bread eaters:

This proves no evidence or support to a causation, but shows that this is a legit question that other people are asking too.

Suggestive Correlations:

  1. Bread → hiccups (direct causality) …..what i believe is happening
  2. Bread ← hiccups (reverse causality)…. Not what i believe is happening… having the hiccups does not make me eat bread…… this causation is ruled out…. I am simply mentioning it to narrow it down
  3. Bread ← Z → Hiccups (Confounding)…. Anything that could cause hiccups and bread consumption…(examples listed below)
  4. Chance….always can be a possibility

What’s going on:

I think a lot of the reason that I am so confused as to why I get these sudden hiccups is because I am not all that educated on what a hiccup actually is. So, I did some research. According to a medical professor at the University of Calgary, William A. Whitelaw, there are various happenings in the body that cause them. He claims that the leading cause is initiated by the stomach expanding and sending its’ acids up through the throat. This allegedly causes the diaphragm to have a spasm and quickly contract along with multiple other muscles in the throat including the vocal cords. This sudden action causes the sound of a hiccup, and the rush of air up the esophagus causes an additional “burp-like” experience. Ok, so now I know how a hiccup is formed, great, but this still does not answer why on earth bread seemingly makes this phenomenon happen in my body.

So I dug a little deeper……. Confounding Variables:

Along the way in my research, I discovered some more specific causes of the hiccup process– ones that may narrow down why bread in particular does this to me. According to a popsugar fitness blog, other causes include consumption of spicy foods, carbonation, alcohol, tobacco, and air. Maybe some of these could even be possible 3rd variables. Maybe i tend to eat more bread when I’m eating spicy foods to lessen the extreme flavors. Alcohol or carbonated drinks like soda could also be confounding variables because often soda or alcohol is a preferable beverage choice to pair with bread. The article also suggests that speedy eating and overeating can cause hiccups, but there is no scientific evidence to declare a mechanism.

Another interesting correlation is stated in Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen’s  article regarding Celiac disease. In simple terms they defined the disease as a destruction of a lining in the intestines that prevents the ability for nutrients to flow through the body. Because of the damage, the stomach’s of Celiac disease patients have trouble accepting gluten in any form. In result, hiccup outbursts may occur. From this information, it could be suggested that gluten could be a possible cause for hiccups, but the person eating the bread has to be a Celiac patient… or do they? There is no published evidence.

Experimentation….or lack there of:

From the looks of my research, it seems most probable that the correlation between bread and hiccups is caused by a 3rd variable. However, since there is no previous or published control experiments for this hypothesis, I cannot state a conclusion that has sufficient evidence. If I were to create an experiment to test this question, I would do a control experimental trial. The participants would be split accordingly into two groups with an equal number of males and females in each group. The people in the control group would be Celiac-free and would each quickly eat 3 slices of white bread. The experimental group would be Celiac patients and would quickly eat 3 pieces of white bread. If the results showed that within 5 minutes after the bread consumption only one of the groups got hiccups, then the evidence could support that either the gluten or the fast-eating caused the hiccups. I would then do the exact same trial but have the bread be eaten slowly.  If the original results showed that within 5 minutes after the bread consumption both groups got hiccups, then I would run another trial. This trial would be exactly the same, but I would switch the y-variable from white bread to gluten free bread and do the same post procedure as the first trial.

Is bread guilty?

It turns out that the correlation between bread and hiccups is far more complicated than I had thought. I apologize to bread for pointing the finger. It is not fair for me to blame bread for my hiccups. However, due to the lack of experimentation and evidence, I am still skeptical of bread.

But since I do not have Celiac disease, and there are so many possible z-variables that could cause my hiccups,  I’m going to say “the heck with it!” and keep eating bread.

Article Sources:

Can I Use Turkey As Nyquil?

I don’t know how your family goes about Thanksgiving, but mine goes above and beyond. The day consists of hours upon hours spent cooking dozens of dishes, setting long decorative tables, and giving many thanks. There is no doubt that at the end of the night, we are all ready for a long night’s sleep. I personally always thought we were just so tired from all of the effort we put into the holiday with all the traveling and preparation, but my Granddad insists otherwise. For years he has been telling me that the thanksgiving turkey is what makes us sleepy. I’m like, “….yeah. We just cooked it for 8 hours..duh”, but that is not what he means. He claims that it is an ingredient in the turkey that makes the brain groggy.

I decided to write this blog about this topic so I can do a little bit of research to confirm or deny this because for years I have just trusted his elder knowledge. This secret ingredient that my old pop speaks of is L-Tryptophan. You cannot find this amino acid naturally in the body, it can only be ingested with certain foods that have it, and yes, turkey does contain it. This holiday bird is no Nyquil!!! In fact, it’s much more complicated than it seems. According to Lisa Zamosky, L-Tryptophan sparks a chain reaction of chemical reactions in the body. The amino acid allows the body to create the chemical Serotonin in the brain which then is used to create the hormone Melatonin which initiates sleep and awakening. As Zamosky states, Turkey is just one of many poultries that contains L-Tryptophan, and it isn’t even the leading bird with the most of it. Chicken and fish are actually two foods with the highest amount of the amino acid.

So, due to this explanation, are us turkey eaters allowed to sit here and tell the “non-thanksgiving-turkey-eaters” that they’re not tired because they didn’t eat any turkey? Of course not. Like we talked about in class, just because something is evidence toward a conclusion, it doesn’t mean that there can’t be other causations toward the dependent variable. So yes, working hard cooking, alcohol, organizing, traveling, talking, preparing, or just overeating in general could all be plausible causations of a sleepy Thanksgiving celebrator!


Are We Positive about Negative Calories?: Celery Edition

Back in my middle school class, there was this know-it-all, Alexis. I always thought she was a little wack and high maintenance, but even so we were associates at the same lunch table. Every day for lunch, Alexis would pack a sandwich and a big Zip-Loc bag completely filled with celery. Now, I am not questioning her choice of vegetable at all; however, I was sceptic of her reasoning behind the snack. She claimed that when you eat celery you are actually burning calories because of all the chewing that you have to do. This was my first time hearing of this ridiculous hypothesis, so I was initially certain that she was full of it. Despite my suspicions, I decided to do some research because frankly, it was pretty interesting.


So, basically, Alexis’ hypothesis was that if you chew celery, then you are burning more calories than you are eating. According to Stuart Farrimond, the digestion process does in fact burn calories, but only as much as 200 per day. If each celery stick is equivalent to 6 calories, and the tough flesh of celery calls for excessive digestion, then sure, it is simple to assume that you are going to put in more energy processing this food than you are going to obtain by eating it. Calories are a release of heat or energy into the body, and this release is referred to as the Thermic Effect. The outcome of how much energy is left in the body after a full process of digestion depends on what kind of food you eat. It is a common fact that celery for example mainly consists of water and fiber, and the body does not have to work that hard to digest either of those. Fiber is like a digestion inducer, so it easily passes through the body and out the other end. Water is similar, for it is simply swallowed and eliminated through urination. Because it is so simple for the body to rid itself of this waste, celery does in fact not have a strong enough Thermic Effect to entirely break down all of its calories plus additional calories.

In conclusion, it is needless to say that yes, celery is significantly better for you than fattier foods that may take more time and energy to break down, but can be hundreds of times the amount of calories as a stalk of celery. This brings into play however, the nutritional suggestion that “too much of anything is never good for you”. For say, if you were to eat 42 stalks of celery, and each stalk were 6 calories, you would be consuming roughly 250 calories, that of which is equivalent to most small candy bars. Although, the contents of the celery are better for you in whole, energy is energy. Your body is not going to burn over 250 calories digesting 42 stalks of pure fiber and water….Sorry, Alexis.

Does eating Celery burn calories? The Science about ‘Negative Calorie’ diets (finally).


Hello SC200 friends! My name is Emma Lepore and I am a freshman living in the damp halls of East. I came from a small town about 20 minutes outside of Philadelphia called Lafayette Hill. I am in the College of Communications on track to be an Advertising major, but I have to keep a 3.5 gpa to actually declare the major after sophomore year. The reason I chose this course was honestly because I wasn’t trying to take the other gen ed class about bees. However, now that I actually saw the syllabus and have a better idea what this class is about, I’m super interested and kinda excited. It’s not that I don’t like science; I actually love it. I just happen to not be all that good at it. Yes science is all about asking questions, but I tend to lack the ability to wrap my head around certain concepts. I usually wind up asking too many questions to the point where I hardly actually learn anything because I am too busy questioning it. However, I find science super intriguing and grew up super exposed to it. Both of my parents are doctors and as a kid they always took me to the Franklin Institute in Philly. If you don’t know what the F.I is, it’s legit the coolest science museum in my opinion. Check out this link because it is worth a visit: