Author Archives: Erin Nicole Kemp

Color and Emotion

Different colors are all around us all the time. I know from previous classes that color is an individual experience and what I see may be different from what the next person sees. For example, my mom and I tend to differ or disagree a lot in how we describe certain colors we see. I also know they can have an impact on our mood, or how we feel, but I am not sure exactly how. I have also previously learned that marketing, like for fast food companies, involve meticulous selection of color because on the way it can impact the consumer. I am interested to find out how our brain processes color and how those colors can have an effect on human emotion.



First, let’s find out how the human body sees color. goes through the whole process. It states that when you see color, it is with the help of the retina, a part of the eye. Located within the retina are different parts called rods and cones. At the end of the rods and cones are proteins which help with either seeing at night, or what we are focused on, seeing color. The cones give us color vision. Once the color has stimulated certain rods, then there is a series of brain for the signal to travel through. First the retinal ganglion cells, then the thalamus, and ending in the primary visual cortex. The eye and brain work cohesively to provide the luxury of seeing color.

Colors serve a greater purpose in our minds. Vanessa Van Edwards describes a little bit about these purposes. Green is good for the eye and can be easily viewed for long periods of time. Orange gets more oxygen to your brain and encourages brain activity. Red increases the heart rate. Blue portrays a sense of tranquility. Lastly, grey is a vibe killer of sorts and does not inspire energy. A basic understanding of these purposes for different colors makes me want to see them in action.

One study at the University of Durby focused entirely on color emotion. There were 31 subjects, all of whom had education in the area of color and imaging, and had some color science training. Before the start of the experiment, the subjects were given definitions of the different color emotions to chose from when presented with a color. They were shown an illuminated individual patch of color one at a time in a dark room. A result of the study was that red, orange, and yellow colors are seen as warm while green, blue and purple colors are the opposite, cool. It is cool to see how colors actually affect mood and emotion in real life.

After all that I have learned, I appreciate color more. I know that not all animals and not even all people can see as many colors as I can. Not everyone can have the same emotional experience from color that I can, and I am truly grateful for that.

Bye Bye Taste Buds

Food is one of the greatest pleasures in my life, so naturally I discuss it often. Recently I got into a discussion about how people’s food of choice can change over the years. This conversation led me to think of my older brother, who has been a picky eater all of his life. Lately, he has been very slightly opening up his horizons and starting to eat a couple things that would almost make him throw up in the past. The reverse is also present in my older sister. Foods that use to be her favorite during early childhood now put a look of disgust on her face. All of this changing going on makes me want to know if taste buds change over time.



On the surface, taste seems like a basic concept, but it is a little more complex than meets the eye. According to the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, our sense of taste is combined with what we smell.This is why sometimes being sick suppresses our sense of taste. The whole tasting process starts with sensory cells, of which there are many on each taste bud. Sensory cells have proteins on the end of them that connect to the chemicals in what goes into our taste buds. Then, cranial nerves take what was received to the brain stem where they go on to merge with our sense of smell to give us the delightful experience of taste. These tastes are classified into five possible categories; sweet, savory, salty, bitter, and sour. Also, we taste with multiple areas in and around our mouth, not just the tongue. The basic understanding of taste is important so I can build from here.

Even I do not eat all of the same foods as I did in the past. Amanda Greene cites Dr, Bartoshuck as explaining how long taste buds last. He says they only live for 10-14 days. This means not only do not just change as I had hypothesized, but they actually die and are replaced with entirely new ones. lists a variety of reasons our taste changes over the years. First of all, kids have a stronger sense of smell to go along with their taste as a natural instinct. Our childhood taste is to avoid possibly harmful foods, and get a lot of nutrients. When we age, our taste buds do not reproduce as much and our sense of smell is not as good. Also, overtime we can train ourselves to like or dislike certain foods. Taste is definitely not set in stone.

I now have a better understanding of why food preference is not always the same. Fortunately for picky eaters such as my brother, if some people wait it out, or work to train themselves, more food options can become desirable. Taste is not only different from person to person but from time to time within each person.  The next time I try a new food, I will keep my sense of smell and taste buds in mind.

Singing vs. Speaking

I have recently subscribed to Netflix and ever since I have been addicted to a show called Orange is the New Black. One of the characters on the show never speaks because of a severe speech impediment, but she is a fantastic singer. I am curious about the difference in mechanisms between what it takes to speak, and what it takes to sing. My voice is not particularly unpleasant, but it is a whole different story when I sing. Singing is a skill, while normal speech tends to comes easy, but we the voice for both actions.

The American Academy of Otolaryngology explains well how the voice is produced. To talk, obviously air is needed. During a breath, that air goes through the larynx and makes the vocal folds in the larynx vibrate. Those vibrations make the sound needed for speech, but that is not the only component. Every person has an individual shape of their nose, mouth, and throat, which that changes the sound of our voice. That is why everyone has a different voice. The process for speaking is pretty straight forward.



Singing is not much different. According to The National Center for Voice and Speech (NCVS) there are only two differences. The first one is that more air is needed to sing. You can feel that just from doing each. Before singing, I naturally take a deep breath in, whereas I barely even notice the breaths I take in order to speak. NCVS also says there is more supraglottis space needed to sing. Frank Gaillard says the supraglottis is just another part of the larynx, the same place where those vocal folds are. The same mechanism is used for singing and speaking.

One study at the Institute of Experimental Psychology compared singing and speaking. There were 24 participants and they were between the ages of 21 and 33. First, they were instructed to speak a word with no specific pitch, then they had to match pitch with a note that was played prior to their singing. The pitch of the note was based on the gender on the participant, all of the females had the same frequency and all of the males had the same frequency. In doing this, the researchers excluded gender as a confounding variable by blocking the frequencies. A major finding of the study was that the data showed it takes more control over your voice to sing in comparison to just speaking. Physical structure and experimental data support the fact that singing takes more vocal control than speaking.

My findings have left me a little bit more confused about the character in Orange is the New Black, but I guess that is okay. If more control is needed to sing, I would think that it would be harder to sing with a speech impediment, but that does not prove to be true in the instance of that specific character. On the other hand, I am not totally sure if the character represents an actual person and their situation.



Caffeine Tolerance?

Every Tuesday and Thursday I get my energy booster, coffee, to push me through the long day. Today, my energy buzz did not seem to last as long and I started to wonder whether I am beginning to develop a tolerance for caffeine, or if that is even possible. I notice many other college students consuming the caffeine filled beverage, some using it as a crutch. I already know caffeine is addictive, but I am curious as to how the ingredient interacts with the body or the brain to give the reaction it does. Also, I wonder if there can be a tolerance built up for it.



Neal J. Smatresk explains how caffeine temporarily interferes with natural body chemicals. He says it blocks a neurotransmitter called phosphodiesterase, (PDE for short) which has a very important job. PDE helps get rid of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (also known as cAMP), so caffeine eventually leads to the inhibition of cAMP being disposed in a timely manner. With cAMP lingering, a chain of reactions occur that result in the common hyperactivity experienced during a caffeine buzz. The heart speeds up and goes faster, which also causes there to be more oxygen to be delivered to the brain, and also a higher than normal blood pressure. The chemical processes are not the only effects seen from caffeine.

As I said early, a lot of college students are familiar with the physical experience caffeine gives. I get extra caffeine on Tuesdays and Thursdays to keep me awake and my experience is backed up by data. In a random double blind experiment conducted by Wing Hong Loke, students at the University of Iowa were randomly split into three groups.  Each participant had a capsule given to them with either a placebo with no caffeine, 200 mg of caffeine, or 400 mg of caffeine. Just like when I drink my coffee, the group that had 400 mg of caffeine were less tired. The Alcohol and Drug Foundation list some other common short term effects such as anxiety, alertness, frequent trips to the bathroom, and stomach pain. Especially with finals coming up, I expect more and more students to be taking advantage of these effects to spend long nights studying.

Some people claim to need caffeine to function regularly which is a sign of the tolerance that can be developed from habitual caffeine use. In one study at Vanderbilt Medical Center done on adults of varying ages from 21 to 52, caffeine and a placebo were varied in their meals for 21 days. A tolerance was observed to be developed after 3 days. The blood pressure spike that we’ve learned happens from caffeine did not happen in subjects on the 3rd straight day of caffeine. These results show that tolerance of caffeine can be developed, and my original hypothesis is correct.

I wonder if because I do not have coffee for consecutive days, if my tolerance has taken longer to develop. I know I consume caffeine in a lot of other aspects of my diet, but maybe not as much as the days when I have a coffee. Confounding variables could also be playing a role in my tolerance and the group in the study is slightly different from me. They were on a controlled and monitored diet, and had not had any caffeine in the 3 weeks before the study took place.

I was able to answer my question of how caffeine works internally, and also confirm my hypothesis of a tolerance being developed.

Brown Fruit

From childhood on, professionals and parents encourage kids to include fruit as a part of a healthy diet. I remember being taught the ever changing food table, recommended daily servings, and hearing, ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away.’ In an effort to reach my fruit quota for the day, I would sometimes pack an apple in my lunch for school. If I cut the apple in the morning, by the time I got ready to eat it, it would be all brown. After making observations such as the smell and texture of the fruit, I made the decision that the fruit was still good to eat, despite it’s rotting color. Just as Andrew taught us about risk, I weighed the cost of eating the fruit:

Eating the apple The apple is bad and I get sick. The apple is fine and I get the nutrients from the apple.
Not eating the apple The apple is bad and I avoid getting sick. The apple is fine and I miss out on the nutrients.

I ate the apple because I decided it would be worth the risk. Because science builds upon knowledge that already exists, I also decided to eat the apple because I had seen people eat an apple that turned brown after being cut, and not get sick.



Typically, when naturally bright foods turn brown, it is bad news. Why does this not hold true for apples? According to Lynne McLandsborough, it all has to do with something in apples called o-quinones. Once an apple is cut and interacts with the air, certain enzymes oxidize compound that react with the o-quinones, which cause the brown color.

Another fruit that I notice has a similar reaction is avocado. I had not had much experience with avocados until much later in life compared to apples. I noticed their browning when I opened a container of guacamole that had been made the day before. The top layer of the dish was all brown. In this case, my sister encouraged me it was not bad, but I chose not to eat the brown part. The risk of eating the guacamole seemed bigger to me because I was not as familiar with that food. I could not make any observations that would confirm or deny the quality of the fruit as I did with the apple.



Avocados appear to be a much different fruit compared to apples, but Compound Interest explains how the browning occurs in a similar way. In avocados, the enzyme polyphenol oxidase, once in contact with oxygen, helps quinones form polyphenols. The polyphenols are the mechanism that causes the brown color.

I took the risk and ate the browning fruit, but many other people do not. Anastasia Bodnar  explains how scientists have created modified apples to avoid the browning color. It will be interesting to see how produce may transform in the next few years to get rid of or reduce browning in fruits such as apples despite its harmlessness.

Pretty Skies

I am a sucker for a good sunset. The pretty purple, pink and orange hues of the sky make me feel calm and peaceful. Looking up at dusk gives me a moment to release all negativity, my body relaxes, and I have my very own moment to just appreciate our Earth. How come the sky can change appearance like that? Any other time of the day, it is one solid color, whether that be bright blue or yucky gray. Then, slowly and magnificently I look up and see a blending of spectacular color prepare for the boring, solid colored nightfall.



Stephen Corfidi gets technical to describe how the colors in the sky appear based on light. According to Corfidi, scattering is the name of the process of how light and air work together to make the colors we see. As most people know, light consists of the colors of the rainbow, A.K.A. roygbiv. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Corfidi says that light takes longer to get to where it is going during the sunrise. Wherever you are during a sunset, you are in the same line of light where someone else has daytime. Before the light gets to you, it is giving off the daytime blue color somewhere else. There is not a lot of blue left by the time the light get to where you are, which leaves the beautiful colors we see. (Not that blue is not beautiful)

We have done a lot of harm to our planet in a short period of time, which also affects our sunsets. Our own aerosol pollution changes the way the colors appear at sunset according to Coco Ballantyne. Ballantyne says human pollution makes the sunset more red than it would be otherwise. Certain places have more pollution just based off of population, so that can alter what you see where. It does not matter whether you like red skies or not, we need to take notice how we are changing our environment. Even though the color of the sunset does not seem like a big deal, we need to preserve nature in the way it functions without our interference or else much worse effects will continue to occur.

Clouds are another feature that comes into play with sunsets. In the same article linked above, Corfidi says that high up clouds, cirrus and altocumulus, get the light that still has all of its color. He says those clouds can make amazing colors.

Knowing the science behind sunsets kind of takes the beauty out of it. Sometimes I just like to think beauty is naturally occurring with no explanation. I still will be able to enjoy sunsets, but I think with less fervor because I will just be thinking about the process light takes to make those pretty colors. I hope the awe of the beauty will outweigh the plain guidelines that make the sunsets what they are.

Hold Your Breath

Ever go to get a manicure and walk in to see all the technicians with masks on? This leads me to believe something about the chemicals in nail polish or something must be dangerous to our health. The stench from nail polish and nail polish removal has always worried me. I try to open a window or door when doing my nails because the scent automatically makes me feel like there is something in nail polish I should not inhale too much of. Also, at one point, I read something on a bottle that said to use in a well ventilated area. Why?



Much to my surprise, a big concern is not about the inhalation. Anna Almendrala references a study in which diphenyl phosphate, DHPH, which is a result of the chemical triphenyl phosphate, TPHP, was higher in women who had nail polish put onto their natural nail in somparison with fake nails. Almendrala says this is bad because DHPH could have reproductive issues. Megan Friedman also says TPHP leads to weight gain. If this is the case, the problem is an easy fix. Just getting acrylic nails instead of your natural nails polished should solve all the issues because the chemical will not be absorbed, at least not according to the study Almendrala referenced. This is a good discovery, but I wonder what else there is to it.

There are many other chemicals used in nail polish that potentially have harmful risks. Wellness Mama lists risks from toulene, formaldehyde, and dibutyl phthalate ranging from cancer to reproductive and organ trouble. It is hard to imagine being in a profession that requires being around all of these chemicals on a day to day basis. The United States Department of Labor lists many health risks of acetone exposure, which is the main ingridient of nail polish remover. I have personally got light headed when removing nail polish, but it was a very small effect. Because this is so short term, I do not worry about it. I continue to use nail polish remover, so it obviously has not negatively impacted me on a large scale. Muirwood Adolescent and Family Services points out some kids use nail polish remover to get high. They say that over time, this can actually mess up normal breathing patterns. Clearly acetone can be dangerous if abused, but so can most chemicals.

After learning all this information, I do not think I will change my nail painting patterns. I do not go over board with nail polish, so I do not think I experience enough exposure for adverse side effects to occur in my body. If anyone is concerned about the harmfulness of nail polish and nail polish remover, there is a super easy solution. Thankfully, we can control, in most situations, whether we are exposed to nail polish. Make the choice based on an informed mind.

Fluoride Sucks

This may sound weird, but I have many skepticisms when it comes to the government and public health. After all, more sick people means more money. The healthier everyone is, the less medications need to be bought, and the longer people live, the more social security that has to be given out. A big controversy that I have seen a lot is on our water supply. A lot of people I know turn to distilled water for a lot of reasons and I want to know if chemicals like fluoride that are put into our water have so many benefits that the good outweigh the bad.



Our teeth are the main reason for fluoride. According to Mike Stobe, in 1945 the first city starting adding flouride and had positive results in children. My issue begins here because children and adults are very different. The bones in kids are still developing and growing in a much different way than the bones of adults. A generalization was made because fluoride had such a positive impact in children, it would do the same for adults. Also there have been recent studies that make me question how much science really know about our teeth. For instance, my whole life I’ve been told to floss my teeth and I have just blindly believed because I believe professionals such as my dentist. Christine Birak explains how the government has no real basis for the encouragement of teeth flossing. So is this all a ploy in favor of floss companies? I have learned that science is largely about questioning the work and validity of the work of other people. At least i this case, fluoride does have little positive effect, at least is seems as though it does, on children.

Many factors lead to my questioning the necessity of fluoride in our water. Back to my doubts about the government and our health, I do not really trust the FDA either because the healthier we as a country are, the more money they lose. Even the, in my eyes, corrupt FDA has not backed fluoride supplements according to Dr. Mercola. My mother is a teacher and always brings up the high levels of kids with mental disorders. Sarah Landers says conditions such as ADHD are a side effect of too much flouride. Fluoride is supposed to help our bones, but the American Cancer Society speaks of a study that shows evidence of fluoride being so dangerous cancer in bones can come from it. Most people I know also know someone who has been affected by cancer. We have to start really examining what we are putting into our bodies.

All in all, I believe there is too much evidence against the health of fluoride for it to continue to be pumped into our water. Unfortunately, I would have to take drastic and expensive measures to avoid fluoridated water, but I am aware. I will not have to wonder anymore, but I do not know if that is necessary a good thing because of how scary the truth is.

Crack is not so bad.

Forcefully pushing valuable bones in your body until you hear and feel a ‘pop’ sound does not sound too healthy. Unfortunately, I am a knuckle cracker. Honestly, before I began to type I had to crack my knuckles just from the thought of it. I recently made a knew friend who cracks his knuckles even more than I do, which led me to this topic. Advice and common sense tells me that this is probably a terrible habit to continue, but I still do it every day, several times a day.



Scientific processes within the body lead to the cracking. Tina Saey refers to the process as cavitation, where as Every Day Health call it tribonucleatioin, but the name is not too important for the sake of this argument. According to Saey and Every Day Health, when you make your bones separate, it makes a space and then you hear the crack. I achieve this by sticking my finger out and pushing it towards my wrist until it cracks. I’ve seen people pull their finger straight out, or curl their finger and push down on the joint.

There are many different claims of the long term side effects cracking your knuckles can have. Perhaps the most trivial supposed side effect is enlarging your knuckles leading to an unpleasant appearance of your hands. Allie Firestone references a study that proves this to be true. She says that over time, people who crack their knuckles have a higher chance of having bigger hands. A minor impact cracking knuckles has been proven to have by Jorge Castellanos and David Axelrod is reducing grip strength. A link to the pdf of their full study can be found here . Arthritis is the other claim that is a lot more scary. One study by Kevin DeWeber  surveyed people 50-89 years old and did not find a causal link between cracking knuckles and causing arthritis. Unless this result is a false positive, this is great new for me because I can continue to crack my knuckles without fear of it catching up with me later in life in the form of a painful disease. Cracking my knuckles is not as bad as it seems.

For some people, cracking knuckles may need to be a habit worth kicking. Cracking my knuckles is mentally satisfying, so it is worth the minor risks. Over time, I probably will not even notice if my hands get bigger, and it is not 100% that they will increase in size. I do not think my grip strength needs to be extremely high in everyday life, but of course I would not want to lose it all together. I imagine I will still be able to function perfectly fine with a slightly lower grip strength that I once again, may not even notice. Knuckle cracking is an overall okay habit.

Beware: Plastic

Many chemicals we encounter in everyday life are harmful for us. Within the past couple of years, I have began thinking more about how plastic can deteriorate human health. Especially with encouragement from my mother not to drink from water bottles that have sat in the sun because she heard that can make the water a carcinogen. I’m curious about the validity of her warning, and what other negative effects plastic may have.

If you look around wherever you are right now, I’m sure you’d see some plastic. A lot of plastic is made with a chemical called Bisphenol A or BPA according to the National Institute of Health. BPA is used in plastic and on metal cans because it is durable, and comes off clear according to the American Chemistry Council.



According to Dr. Mercola, many different symptoms have been found to be caused by BPA. First of all, the chemical acts like estrogen in the body. BPA can cause issues in the reproductive system, and pregnancy complications including birth defects. Acting as a hormone may also jump start puberty, and even lead to hyperactivity. Going back to what my mother initially told me about BPA being a carcinogen, she was partially correct. The National Center for Health Research says that fetus’ who have BPA have higher chances for certain cancer types later in life, and also that cancer cells with BPA are not as receptive to treatment.

Topics around public health and products we use scare me. For all we know, plastic could be the next cigarette: widely used in society and seen as safe for decades. Articles such as Why You Don’t Need to Fear BPA by Armi Legge which taunt this idea are insane. Andrew taught us in class that in the mid 1930s, most of society thought of cigarettes as safe, and by the 50s people were dying left and right because of the cigarettes. Looking at history, we could be in the oblivious stage when it comes to plastic and no one has found the mechanism for a disease or illness yet. Even though there have been many animal studies and even some human studies that prove the danger of BPA, we still do not take meaningful action.

One experiment by Barry Delclos gave rats 5 mg/kg of weight BPA through a pump for 7 days a week for 14 weeks and a link to a pdf of the experiment can be found here. The BPA had a bad effect on the girl rats, but not the boy rats. Although relating animal results to human isn’t always accurate, it should still be taken into serious consideration. According to Sabrina Tavernise, the FDA has banned BPA in baby bottles, so the fact that BPA isn’t seen as safe for infants also raises another red flag. Plastics made without BPA often use a different chemical called Bisphenol S, or BPS. Sandee LaMotte says that a UCLA study unfortunately showed that BPS and BPA have comparable effects. This may mean that even those consumers who go out of their way to make sure the plastics they use do not contain BPA may not even be doing any good.

Half Sibling Twins

Eventually, I would love to be a mother, so pregnancy interests me. I often look online to see what I have to look forward to. On my dad’s side, twins run in the family so it is not unlikely I could have twins. What is really crazy is twins can be born with two different fathers according to Evonne Lack. I got in a little debate about this topic once with my own mom because I just did not think that could be possible, but as usual, mom is right. It is medically possible that a woman can get pregnant by two men at the same time.

Despite what some may believe, I find the female body to be insanely wonderful and complex. Lindsey Bever’s Washington Post article breaks it all down. Every time a woman ovulates, she releases an egg, but in these cases, two eggs are released. Sex with one man can fertilize one egg, then if sex with another man happens the same time she ovulated the other egg, boom. Two different fathers. So technically the twins are half siblings. My mind is spinning right now.


(Picture source

In the same article, Bever goes on to explain that there are probably more cases like this than the medical world knows of because obviously that can be a little embarrassing for the mother, or the family doesn’t know.  Rosemary Black tells of a 2009 case in Texas where a woman’s cheating lead to twins with different fathers. This woman is bold for telling her story and not feeling too ashamed, but I guess it is better to embrace and learn from situations like this instead of hiding from it. In Haimy Assefa’s CNN article, a woman learned her twins had different fathers in a DNA test in trying to get child support, but she could only get it for one of her twins. I’m sure there are some children who do look alike but are fathered by different men. I mean it is not unusual for a child to only look like their mother. I can not imagine how much of a whirlwind it would be to go through this process.

The DNA is good data and I do not know that there could be an experiment involving twins with two different fathers for ethical reasons. At least not in humans, and I don’t think animal systems are complex enough to have a strong enough relation to humans when it comes to childbirth. Having a twin as a half sibling would be weird. If you grow up that way your whole life I guess it would feel normal though. As a child, I would probably think it was cool, but as i got older I think I would feel embarrassed to tell people because I would be afraid of judgement for my mother. If nothing else, it is definitely a conversation starter! I wonder if a set of twins with two different fathers has ever met twins with the same case.

Halting Hiccups

Strange happenings in your body that don’t seem to serve a purpose, such as hiccups, have always fascinated me for some odd reason. Hiccups are so uncomfortable and I don’t know why they have to happen. If I get a hiccup attack, I do anything I can to try and stop them; go through a series of repeating the word orange and holding my breath, ask my friends to scare me when I least expect it, and drink some extra water. Although, none of my methods seem to quite get the job done consistently.

According to Dr. Charlotte Grayson, hiccups do not fulfill any need for your body. Just as I suspected, they are simply a nuisance. Hiccups can honestly be embarrassing, depending on what context they happens in. Once, I had the hiccups at work and had to attempt a conversation with a customer through intermittent gasps of air and cut off words. How did this happen? Dr. Rupal Christine Gupta explains the diaphragm is to blame; under the lungs, the diaphragm moves to let air in and out, but sometimes it doesn’t do its job correctly. Hiccups happen when the diaphragm moves abnormally quickly, which makes you inhale a lot of air that makes your vocal chords shut faster than normal. (picture fromhiccups John B. Snow  points out hiccups may be remnant of what “humans” needed to breathe under water in ancient times because tadpoles go through a very similar motion when using their sub-aquatic breathing skills. Just thinking about it, if global warming continues, humans may need to reinstate those breathing skills!

Hiccups should not be taken lightly in every case. The Mayo Clinic Staff suggest going to see your physician if hiccups last for two days, or get so bad they make other bodily processes difficult. Two days seems like a long time to be hiccuping. Dr. George Krucik indicates many chronic reasons hiccups could be occurring. In a lot of cases, hiccups are harmless, but serious hiccuping could be a sign something else is wrong in the body because a confounding variable could be causing hiccups and a disease. Don’t be too alarmed though, because according to Austin Campion, you can’t directly die from the act of hiccuping. That’s a relief, but not really a surprise. I haven’t heard of people dying from hiccuping. Just think about how many people hiccup everyday. Imagine if that caused death! Our population would dwindle very fast.

After my research, I think I can learn to live with hiccups. They are annoying, but since I can’t stop them really and I do not have some chronic disease causing them to happen, I should not be complaining. The next time I get a bout of hiccups, I’ll just blame my diaphragm and remind myself how blessed I am to be healthy. Also, I’ll have some extra information to share with a friend when they start hiccuping. They may not want to hear it, but I’ll feel educated and I hope you now are a little more educated on hiccups as well.

Save Your Eyes and Close Them

Cold season is quickly approaching and many students here at PSU have already got sick. I was sick this past week, and one of the many symptoms I continued to suffer from was sneezing. Sneezing is such a weird function and it’s often provoked thought among my friends and I. Getting over my cold the other day, I noticed a debate on my Twitter timeline of whether it is possible to sneeze with your eyes open. Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard or seen this conversation take place. Once, I even tested the theory myself while I was driving on the highway. My nose was testing me, and I was afraid a single sneeze would force my eyes close for a split second, I’d cause a major explosion from a five car crash, and the whole interstate would get shut down. Despite my irrational fears, there has to be some type of reasoning behind our eyes closing every time we sneeze.

I was successful in my attempt at keeping my eyes open while sneezing because, according to, it is simply a reflex. In the same way I can suppress a natural reaction to blink after a certain amount of time, I can keep my eyes open during a sneeze. In researching, such as Tom Ulrich’s article, I’ve learned there is no known mechanism for why our eyes close when we sneeze. This dilemma is one that has contributed to my general disdain for science; there is no exact answer.

Of, course many people have created theories about the phenomenon. Meghan Holohan wrote on chatter of our bodies closing our eyes to keep all the germs we emit from a sneeze from entering our eyes, but that is only a theory. It makes sense for the most part, but my only question is how the germs could be harmful to you if they came from you in the first place? Could you infect yourself? Because of a lack of ethical integrity, I doubt this experiment could ever occur, but it would be interesting to have a group of people sneeze with their eyes open for a specific period of time and compare their sickness rate with another group of people continuing to close their eyes when they sneeze. The evidence would tell whether there might actually be a correlation between closing your eyes when you sneeze and getting sick. Protecting ourselves from germs may be one reason we close our eyes when sneezing.

I have never heard of this until now, but apparently a lot of people say eyelids keep your eyes from popping out of your head. That is silly and I highly doubt that is legitimate reasoning, plus there is biological evidence to combat that claim. Basically, your eyelids don’t have enough strength and also there is nothing behind your eyes to actually push them out, according to Tom Ulrich. But, science is back at it again without an exact answer because it has happened before. Megan Holohan wrote about a piece of writing from 1882 that claims a woman suffered from severe sneezing and her eye just couldn’t take it, so it popped. It doesn’t say whether her eyes were open or closed, but this makes me want to keep my eyes closed just in case. I am all for avoiding crashes and retaining my eyeballs thank you very much.

Picture from youtube.comsneezing

Erin vs. Science

Hello everybody!

My name is Erin Kemp, I’m a freshman from Columbus, Ohio (Go Bucks!) and I intend to major in Broadcast Journalism.

Scheduling for my first year of college was exciting because it made the whole experience seem real. I had been accepted, I had found a roommate, but nothing compared to picking out the classes that would lay the foundation for my higher education. All through school, science and math were my enemies. Except for the occasional field trip to COSI, (the most lit science venue in Columbus) I didn’t like science and math and based on quiz grades, they didn’t care for me much either. I even opted out of taking a science my senior year of high school because I couldn’t bear the thought of putting myself through the agony of another science class. Majoring in science isn’t even fathomable. At NSO, I did everything I could to avoid science and math classes. Somehow I managed to evade math for my first semester, but being advised that a GN was basically a requirement for first semester communications majors really killed my “Yay college!” vibe. In explaining the relationship science and I have, my advisor suggested I enroll in this course because it is very general and many people in this course don’t enjoy science either. I chose this class in hopes that my nemesis, science, would have a change of heart and be good to me this semester. Let’s see how that works out.