Author Archives: Francis John Bassani

Is cloning bad/unethical?

Clones and cloning are one of the most controversial topics in science to this day. The ethics of cloning a human being is constantly being fought over, even though we clone animals quite often. Scientists have successfully grown clones from animals, most famously the sheep Dolly. In the late 90’s Dolly was the first animal to be cloned from an adult sheep cell. Other animals in previous years have been cloned like cows, mice, and frogs. However they were all cloned from the DNA from embryos. Dolly was cloned from a full grown six year old sheep cell. Dolly lived without any debilitating mental problems, she did develop arthritis though like any other sheep. She was also mated with a ram and produced offspring. She died of lung cancer, a common occurrence for sheep who live indoors and Dolly lived indoors.

What does this mean? It shows significant progress. The very fact the clones have no irregular abnormalities means humans can study these identical clones of animals and use them for research and guidelines for future breeding. Countries all over the world are researching clone science and so far most cloned animals can reproduce sexually. The Chinese have reported that they have an 80% success rate for cloning pigs. More pigs means more meat and more selling which can lead to a better economy. Not just pigs either, reports of other mammals successfully cloned are goats, horses, bulls, and even dogs. When you clone something its a common misconception that what you clone will think and act exactly as the host does. That is wrong.

an artists rendition of a human nucleus.

Human cloning has never fully been practiced. We have successfully cloned a human embryo but each time it was done it was not allowed to grow into a full human. We have also cloned organs. It is unethical even though there are no federal laws regarding human cloning. However several states have banned human reproductive cloning. There are two types of cloning therapeutic and reproductive. Therapeutic cloning is not intended to recreate a whole being but to recreate tissue to replace damaged tissue on a living being. The benefits of this means we can replicate tissue and even organs for people in the future. However human reproductive cloning could allow us to recreate an entire human and harvest its organs for the use of the real host. Beneficial yes but extremely unethical because all though the clone wouldn’t be a mental replicate it will have its own consciousness. It is wrong to clone something, have that clone be self conscious, then harvest its organs and ends its life. Even studying it against its will for tests such as we do on animals would be tormenting to the clone.

In the Journal of Evolution and Technology, a peer reviewed journal, an entry by Nestor Morales entitled “Psychological and Ideological aspects of human cloning” talks about the unethical aspects of human cloning and the benefits. The unethical aspect of cloning a human would bring in the question of self identity and individuality of human beings. If you clone a human the clone will be viewed as a scientific product rather than a miracle of nature, and that makes some people uneasy and nervous. Nestor goes on to discuss the psychological life a clone may experience. People may insult or even demean the clone and the clone would intern contemplate its life and existence and this could negatively impact the clones mental state.

So reproductive human cloning is unethical and has no laws surrounding it but only a ban that prohibits the practice of such science. Therapeutic cloning allows us to create tissue from the nucleus of a cell and use its genetic material and information to replicate it. Think about the possibilities cloning could bring. Organs on hand for people who are in need, same with blood, plasma, and skin damage.

Could You Survive?

Its just as apart of nature as humans are. Some argue that its natures way of “cleaning” and some say its the apocalypse. Outbreaks of illnesses are common on planet earth. The Bubonic plague, the Spanish Flu, Yellow Fever, all of these caused wide spread panic and lots of death. Living in the United States right now could we survive an epidemic/pandemic, or Ebola outbreak? The answers may shock some. staff writer Elizabeth Palermo says our chances of survival are better than the residents in Africa had. The mortality rate for the average infected person in Africa in the recent Ebola scare was 50%. That meant 1 out of two people who had it would die. 50% is a number that was discovered based on location and how bad the Ebola strain was. Ebola is a nasty virus that basically makes your body liquefy and you bleed out your eyes, ears, nose, and other places. Now if the Ebola virus was to find itself in America, which is highly unlikely expressed by the CDC, that our chances of survival are greater. The CDC said that because of our amazing healthcare and quality of hospitals, and the readiness of healthcare provided the mortality rate in the U.S. would be less than 50%, even as low as thirty percent.

Now you may feel a little reassured knowing that the healthcare support here in America can heavily increase your chance of survival against nasty diseases but how would the disease spreading affect America. In 2001 the U.S. government simulated a bio terrorist attack on the United States. The name of this simulation was titled Operation “Dark Winter.” The endgame was to exploit any failures in national emergency responses such as border control, airport control, and transportation, food, water, and medicine as well as many other responses needing managed. Researchers at Johns Hopkins and other important bio defense departments headed the simulation. The test was designed so the disease would spread at an accelerated rate, one that America would have major issues maintaining, and what resulted shocked the CDC and other organizations. The rapid deployment and spread of the virus would have overloaded the national emergency response teams and major civilian casualties followed. The test showed and revealed major problems in America’s contingency plans for an outbreak of rapid spread.


In conclusion, the American healthcare support infrastructure is based on quality and results. A disease as deadly as Ebola, which has a 50% chance of killing you based on where you receive treatment, can be treated with the most recent technology and medicine as well as the best general care around that America has to offer. However the problems America was unaware of pre OP “Dark Winter”, if gone unchecked, could have affected our country in ways that would be damaging to us. Without Dark Winter past flu and other major epidemics could have gone another way. Swine flu may have been less deadly than believed to be, the way we studied the simulation allowed us to treat it faster and prevent further spread.

Here is a video showing explaining Dark Winter.

Is lying is physically harmful?

Each and everyday either you or someone else on the planet tells a lie. Lies are tools people have created to hide the truth for a variety of reasons. I am not interested today on why people lie or how lying came to be, but if lying is bad for your health. This question was inspired by the news I heard earlier this year that swearing/cursing reduces risk for heart attack because it relives stress. Then I thought, what other ways can words affect people physically.

When a person lies the body releases chemicals like epinephrine and dopamine. This is a result from the stress induced by you making the conscious decision to go against the social norm of telling the truth. When feeling stressed the body sweats, blood pressure and heart rate increase, and chemicals are being released and causes even more stress. Stress also causes muscles to tense and de-tense, a technique that relieves stress. Doing this for long periods of time can cause stress related disorders such as headaches and migraines. Stress can also compromise your immune system, decreasing white blood cells, which in turn makes fighting off germs, bacteria, and viruses more difficult than it has to be.

So Yes, lying can be physically harmful. But, can not lying be beneficial to your health?

An interesting study done by Anita Kelly, who teaches psychology at Notre Dame University, followed 110 adults for ten weeks. In those ten weeks she tracked their physical and mental health. The study had the 110 people divided into 2 groups. One group was asked not to lie at all for the length of the study while the other half simply had to report how many times they lied in a week for the ten week study. They filled out questionnaires about their lives to gauge physical and mental health. At the end of the study those in the group who were asked not to lie reported their lives were happier than when they began. There were also fewer health complaints, assuming less headaches and general depression. The control group, those asked to live as normal as they can, felt pressured to lie less because of the study and reported that they were generally happier, but not as happy as group one supposedly.

There are a number of explanations for why the group that was told not to lie felt happier. The honesty they were told to express could have affected them positively at work or in their personal lives. They could have felt like a better person for not lying and telling the truth, and was felt as a personal win and a step in the right direction. Without the stress from lying the people in group 1 had less headaches and mental health complaints like depression or feeling guilty. Guilt is another factor taken into account. Guilt can cause people to act poorly like drink and feel majorly depressed. Without stress and guilt weighing you down from fabricating the lie to living with it, its very likely your outlook on life, and view of yourself, will either change for the better or simply progress. All in all, not lying can be beneficial to your health.

Is future healthcare getting less human?

I have been to the hospital many times since I was born. I have bad asthma and a terrible immune system so at least once a year I have been to a hospital for health reasons. Many people don’t like hospitals or are even afraid of them. My father is an OB/GYN, Obstetrics and Gynecology, so I have also been inside hospitals many times without the intent for treatment, just hanging around my father as he did his business. As a result of this I feel comfortable in hospitals even going so far as to say I feel at home in one. However, aside from the time I spent with my father inside hospitals, I feel comfortable in them while there for treatment because of how the staff treats you while your there. Nurses and doctors do their best to make you feel comfortable and at ease while getting exams or treatment. Last year I hurt my leg and I needed surgery. I needed to be put under anesthesia and that made me nervous. The nurses and doctor performing my surgery were being extremely friendly and even telling me jokes to calm my nerves and reassuring me that I will be fine.

My question “Is future healthcare becoming less human?” is inspired by news articles I read every year about the future of healthcare and how robots and robot technology are becoming more popular in the field of medical treatment and study. I have read over and over again how robots are becoming more integrated with the treatment of patients from performing something as simple as drawing blood to something as complex as performing surgery. I ask this question because at the rate of how fast robots are becoming apart of hospitals, will the patient still feel the compassion, dedication, and care that nurses, doctors, and other human staff members often provide for them?

According to, a site and blog run by Doctor Bertalan Mesko PHD, the future of robot healthcare will increase the level of security and care the patients feel and will even be a benefit to the staff as well as the patients. Dr. Mesko says that machines do not need sleep or food which benefits the patient because it is ready to provide care and perform procedures at a moments notice. He also described the machines as the opposite of discriminatory, racist, or prejudice, so the treatment it gives to the patients will never change based on the person and will always be at its best.

As anyone can imagine surgery is never fun and there are risks to having it done but the benefits could potentially out weigh the risks. All you can do is hope your in the most capable hands of a skilled surgeon. Now imagine your surgeon controlling a robot that makes pin point precision cuts and and other delicate tasks like neck and back surgery. However the site and blog also claim that just like most practices in medicine, robotic surgery is not 100% safe. In fact severe injury and even death have occurred because of unskilled robotic technicians/surgeons. Power failure, all though not common, is also a risk factor.

Well as seen from the topic reviewed above, thinking logically, the patient will always have human contact with interjections of robot involvement, some minor and some major. The robotics field shows amazing hope for the future, but progress isn’t without it failures along the way to success.

P.S. Another huge impact on robotics and human health science, ladies and gentlemen, behold the Exoskeleton.

Battle of the Sexes: Video Games. Whose Better?

I ask this question based on my experiences as a gamer. In my experience growing up playing video games, males played more video games than women and were often better at them. I had both male and female friends growing up who played video games and my observation has always been true, that males were better at it and played more often. I decided to do some research on the matter and the results were interesting.

While researching I found an association online called the “Entertainment Software Association”. The ESA conducts consumer and business research regarding video games and gaming as well as representing the video game industry as a whole on state and federal levels. Notable members of the ESA are Disney Interactive Studios, Bethesda Softworks, Microsoft, and Sony, each of which make and release video games yearly. Each year the ESA releases an annual report that shows highlights, surveys, and accomplishments of the past year as well as general information and statistics revolving around video games and the industry. The 2016 essential facts report shows many statistics relating to my question.

I don’t know who personally conducted and collected the information about to be revealed however the resources the ESA uses are most credible as seen of its notable members above. Now as of 2016 the demographic studies show that of men and women, men make up 59% of video game players while women make up 41% in America. Although more men play, the previous years show an uphill trend of the number of women playing. This may suggest that soon the number of men and women playing video games may balance or swing in favor of women. The reason for the bump of women players over the years may be the advancements of the gaming industry as a whole with the release of new games, consoles, and virtual reality.

There is very little to no research regarding which gender holds the champion belt in gaming because of how many different types games there are and what types of platforms to play on. Platform meaning Xbox, PC, Playstation, mobile phones and other devices make it difficult to perform such experiments as well as the types of games. The types of games being first person shooter, strategy, puzzles, exploration, educational, simulation, and many other genres make up the industry. A study done by M. H. Phan, J. R. Jardina, and W. S. Hoyle of the Software Research Laboratory of Wichita State University in 2012 showed a gap in what types of games each gender favors. The study included 341, 252 were male and 89 were female. Roughly 80 % of males played violent video games while 20% of males did not. 46 percent of females played violent games while 54% did not. It is hard to gauge who is better with gaps like this occurring for most genres and platforms.

However I did learn that men spend more time playing video games than women on average. A study that was published as an online article by Springer Science and Business Media revealed that men spend more hours gaming than women. The study is called “Gaming, Gender, and Time: Who Makes Time to Play” by Jillian Winn and Carrie Heeter. They studied 276 undergraduate students composed of 88 males and 188 female. The study showed males played more games because they had more free time than the female. In a single sitting the amount of males who played for less than 1 hour was 23.6% while the amount of men who played for more than an hour was 76.4%. In a single sitting for females revealed that 78.2% played for less than an hour while 21.9% played for more than an hour. The result shows that males player for longer periods of time than females.

From all of the research I found and read through my question was not answered but new information was revealed to me. More men than women play video games on average and men play for longer periods of time. The types of games men and women play ultimately differ coming down to violent and non violent video games. Men favored them more than the women while women favored nonviolent/ social games.


World War Bee.

It never occurred to scientists that bees would savagely attack one another for their hive and resources. It was believed that hornets and wasps would attack them for their resources and and food. However what many people don’t know about these tiny creatures is they wage surprisingly violent and tactical wars against one another.

Image result for bees wage war

For the first time ever scientists observed what they joking referred to as Bee’s playing Game of Thrones. What they are referencing is that bees of different species wage aggressive and lengthy wars on one another to control a hive and replace it with their Queen. Oxford University scientists as well as the Australian University of Queensland discovered two species of sting-less bees fighting for a hive. Usually it was thought bees of different species didn’t attack one another but a study of the aftermath of a bee war showed that the dead bees were comprised of two different species. This may seem like a normal everyday encounter in nature, two creatures fighting for territory or the opposite sex, however this is different. Confrontations in nature rarely end in death. According to a study done posted in the “American Naturalist” animals, over the course of time, have changed their tactics and strategies for dominance so that the encounter doesn’t end fatally, however it has been known to happen. What makes the bees so interesting is they wage a “war of attrition”, which means  they go for casualties only. This results in one colony or the other being completely eradicated.

bee casualties

The photo above is showing bees in two’s entangled with one another dead on the ground. The two bees are separate species and showed scientists that bees wage inter-species wars.

The goal of the attacking colony of bees is to kill the queen of the defending hive, replace her with their queen, and then re-colonize it. In order to accomplish this feat, hordes of drones (worker bees) attack the hive and attempt to kill every defending bee, including the young and their eggs. The attacking colony will try to drag the queen out of the hive and kill her for all to see, indicating they won and will continue to fight the remaining drones. Another interesting factor to note is that the attacking colony will continue to fight for weeks or even months. Not many species on the planet fight for that long, continuously.

Bees are definitely diligent creatures from pollinating plants to constructing amazingly complex hives. They are especially good at coordinating their attacks and sending wave after wave of drones to die for their queen in the overtaking of another hive. Bees attack other hives for their resources and for the ideal placement they are in. One things for sure location, location, location. Bee hives can be well defended if there are limited routes to gain access inside, such as building a hive inside a hollow tree, or even underground. Its pretty amazing to see such small creatures clash in such mighty wars.





Film Major but science is cool…

Hello everyone! I’m Frank Bassani I’m a Junior here at Penn State and I’m a Film Major hoping to become a Director and make either horror films or comedy. I have directed many films with friends and family ever since I was a kid growing up all over the country and developed a passion through the years specifically for the horror genre, however comedy is always a blast to write.

Anyway getting back on track this science class in particular was recommended to me by the sweetest adviser ever, Stephanie. When she discovered I was a film major she asked me if I liked science courses because i still needed one more to take. I said no I usually struggled with science and math related courses like biology, chemistry, physics, algebra, basic addition, you know the hard stuff xD. She then said she had the class for me and told me about all of the students who have been here before in my shoes who have taken this class and said it was a blast. Upon looking at the schedule for this class I knew this was going to be a very interesting and different science class. So far I see no reason why I wont enjoy this class very much.

Anyway the sciencey part of this post I decided to go with would be Stanley Kubrick’s Masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. The movie is very challenging and makes you think about life, morality, as well as science and evolution. My photo is the HAL 9000 with its very horrifying quote.  And here is the films trailer. 2001 TrailerHALquote