Author Archives: Hannah Elizabeth Welty

So God created Mankind in his image…

I bet there is a good bit of you who have that one overly religious family member that has spit the fear of hell into your soul from a young age. If that is the case, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the story of Adam and Eve with the forbidden fruit and the serpent and all that good stuff. I am most definitely one of those kids and what I have always questioned was the depiction of the serpent. Most videos or pictures I had seen had shown the serpent as a snake with a long creeping body however, in a few of the different picture books or CCD worksheets I had used, the serpent appears to walk on legs, a very unexpected mode of transportation for a “snake.” Although many of those stories vary slightly in material as do many biblical stories, I always questioned that very vague difference between the serpents in all the varying versions of Adam and Eve.images

There are a few different evolutional ideas as to why the critters who once walked on all fours now slithers on the ground. Science Mag’s Elizabeth Pennisi’s idea is that the mutation in a gene key concerning limbs and their formation. The study also suggests that even to this day, these snakes who onced walked on all fours, still work with small useless leg bones within them that are not clear to the naked eye.

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This gene key mutated in such a way that it forbids the gene that allows limb formation to proceed. In this study, the causal variable, the gene key is directed correlated with the dependent variable, the growth or, in this case, the prohibition of growth. There is the concern that the evolution of the snake and its lack of legs, could be causing a change in the gene whether or not the gene key actually has an effect on the snake’s body make up in general. In this case, this would be reverse causation which is possible. A third variable to consider is the basic need to evolve and adapt to its ever changing world. Therefore its quite possible that the snake adapted in order to simple create itself into a more conducive creature for its circumstances.

The overall realization within this study is that the snake and other creatures are very interesting and the ability for adaptation is crazy.

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/10/tiny-dna-tweaks-made-snakes-legless

Please make sure you write your last initial!

Think of the most common name in the English language and you’ll probably think of mine: Hannah. There have always been at least one other Hannah at the very minimum. Six on my soccer team, four on my crew team, three in my English class, two on my dorm floor…and the list goes on. In high school people would call me by my last name to help separate all the Hannahs. Coming into college I thought it would be beneficial to have such a common name because its easy to remember: WRONG. Since I have arrived at here I have been called Bridgette and Caroline and I have even been referred to by my Crocs before some people were able to remember my oh-so-common label of “Hannah.”

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I started contemplating what makes people name their babies the way they do. My mom always told me she loved my name because “when I named you Hannah it wasn’t popular yet.” Right.

We see a lot of different trends in baby names, some very unfortunete for the upcoming generations but definitely a lot of trends.  According to babycenter.com, my name has moved from #1 in 2000 as I was growing up (there were no specifics to the year I was actually born) to a whopping #30 now in 2016. There must be some sort of causation for the fluxuation in name popularity.

Popularity in name has been seen simply as trends. On one hand it is, and on the other it isn’t. Names are seen to be most influenced by various casual variables such as: the media, celestial themes, and royal birth announcements as described at colombia.edu. Names can also be influenced by the most obvious causal variable popularity. Therefore, overall, the arguement stands that name choice among parents depends heavily on social influences. In this instance its important to consider the third variables. Soemthing to think about are family traditions. Names chosen could simply be a creation of the past or in other words a personal trend which could overall link back to the social influences that started the trend within the family in the first place.

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Something else to consider is sex/name relationships. Although some parents now see the connection between gender and name as obsolete, most focus on the sex of their baby before putting names to them. There has been a recent spike in gender neutral names but however when looking at sex and names specifically, there is a science behind it. Professors Adam Galinsky and Michael Slepian of Colombia Business School bring forth the idea that the causal variable in the catagorization of names under different sexes are the phonetics behind the names. Therefore, the dependent variable is the name itself. The phonetics of these names themselves, if being looked at as the dependent variable, are caused by the vibration of the vocal cords. The professors suggest that names find their masculinity or femininity through the presence or absense of a vocal cord vibration. Masculine names tend to be pronounced with a strong definition of vocal cord vibration such as Gregory, James, or William. Feminine names such as Heather, Sarah, or Tiffany lack that vibration and help differentiate between the gender specific names.

A good way to look at baby names are simply trends, however it is very interesting how names differ phonetically and bring about different feelings and associations.

http://www.babycenter.com/popularBabyNames.htm?year=2016

https://www8.gsb.columbia.edu/newsroom/newsn/4198/yes-theres-now-science-behind-naming-your-baby

Ow, that smells so bad!!

Have you ever taken a deep breath and pulled in a smell that brought back a passed relative? Or smelled a hoodie of someone you loved and just knew it belonged them? My dad still smells his dad throughout our house on old shirts. Smell is very powerful. My favorite smell is the smell of my grandparents’ house. Every time I enter that house and smell the memories in that house, it changes my whole day.

The olfactory nerve, the nerve that brings smell from your nose to your brain, runs along the same path within your brain as your memories. Therefore, it is very easy for smells to provoke memories. Psychology Today and Penn State’s Dr. Lewis explains how the olfactory bulb is directly associated to both the hippocampus and the amygdala. Both of these are strongly tied to emotion and memory. There is nothing better than running into a great old scent that brings back days worth of great memories. What is not so great is when smells bring back negative memories and emotions for people such as those with PTSD.

Another negative effect of this connection is a new study being done including smell and pain. In online Science Advances, it was seen that mice that slept in the same bedding as those mice that were in pain tended to be more sensitive to pain themselves. Neurologist Andrey Ryabinin had a goal to study through mice, whether pain could be sensed through that same olfactory bulb.  The mice within this study specifically were mice suffering from alcohol withdrawal. These mice in pain had developed a very low pain tolerance and were very sensitive to the touch of an extremely thin fiber. It was very evident within its cagemates that the same mice that were completely comfortable and healthy up until this point became equally as sensitive to the touch of the fiber. Ryabinin and colleagues tested these mice otherwise through several other tests. These showed quick reactions such as pulling thier tails out of hot water and licking thier paws after been given shots.

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Neuroscientist Christian Keysers does a good job at looking at third variables. He states how he believes the data is strong enough to prove that scent can transmit pain, however he also looks at the other senses of the animal noting that sight and sound could very well be the causal variable. While the scent could be bringing the sensitivity, its very possible that the other senses could be working as the causal variable and creating the dependent variable, the sensitivity.

The overall claim however of the study is that the causal variable, scent, is creating a sensitivity to pain that only animals are able to sense. Because humans lack the olfactory skill that animals do, we are unable to experience this for ourselves in order to clarify this study. The dependent variable is seen as the sensitivity or lowered pain tolerance. Its possible that reverse causation could be at work here. In order for reverse causation to be influencing this study, we would have to be able to say that the sensitivity is causing the smell. This is very possible. If the mice feel overly sensitive to pain, this may cause them to feel weaker and to almost wear away. Referring to anything that usually rots or wears, a bad smell may or may not be a part of the outcome. Although this is unlikely, it is a possibility.

As stated above, Keysers does look into possible third variables. There are several different variables that need to be taken into consideration. The simple fact that the mice under test are suffering from alcohol withdrawal is a huge part of the experiment that makes us question the existence of  third variables. Mice that have been under the influence of alcohol, could have aquired some mental difficulties that cause them to be ultra-sensitive to touch or pain and could rule out the scent’s influence. Additionally, we need to look at the type of mouse. Studying with a single breed of mouse makes it hard for scientists to know whether or not the reaction truely was based off the smell or if that specific breed of mouse tends to be sensitive in general.

Another difficulty I see with this study is how they measure the pain of the mice. When they tested the mice by dipping their tails and giving them shots, could the reactions simply be the third variable of a natural reaction? This is something that needs to be addressed. It seems as if correlation does not equal causation when it comes to these mice.

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/mice-smell-share-each-others-pain

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brain-babble/201501/smells-ring-bells-how-smell-triggers-memories-and-emotions

The Hottest Kiss and the Hottest… Cheeseburger?

Any fans of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette probably follow the new spin off of the show, The Bachelor in Paradise. After watching this past season, I am sure of one scene avid watchers could consistantly and unfortunetly replay in their minds: Carly and Evan’s Hot Habenero kiss. In an attempt to break a record and land themselves in the Guiness Book of World Records, the couple spend a minute and half long sloppy kiss regretting their deep bites into the infamous pepper. World record book aside, Carly and Evan left the show with another prize: their relationship. AWWW.

pepper-kiss

I guess we all can’t be that lucky.

That was for certain for a 47 year old competetive eater whose name has remained unknown.

Live Science’s Sara Miller writes of a case where peppers really were too hot to handle. Heat tolerance is no longer a factor when it comes to the Ghost Pepper. The over the top spiciness of this infamous pepper can leave a burn for over 30 minutes, as stated in this man’s medical report.

After finishing off a cheeseburger plus the fixings, pureed ghost pepper and all, this Californian was off to the hospital. The Journal of Emergency Medicine described the man as “violently retching and vomiting.” The vomiting was ongoing and persistant. After the vomiting finally died down, a CT scan revealed a torn esophagus and a collapsed lung which was quickly tended to by medical personnel. Weeks later the man was sent home with a newly inflated lung and a feeding tube to aid in the rest of his newly repaired esophagus.

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The study suggests a succession of violent vomiting worked as a causal variable causing the dependent variable, the torn esophagus and collapsed lung. It seems very likely that the vomiting put a serious strain on the body and is the direct cause of the medical emergency. However, the casual variable in the case where the vomiting is the dependent variable could be up for discussion. Here the pepper is seen for the cause of the vomiting, however, it was reported that after the man finished the burger, he also finished off six tall glasses of water. It is very likely that the excessive water is a third variable in this situation and correlation does not, in this case, equal causation. There are many cases where drinking excessive amounts of water can put you at serious health risks, including violent vomiting which could have been the cause of the torn esophagus and collapsed lung.

As explained by Coco Ballentyne of Scientific American, a Californian woman competing on air of a radio show guzzled 6 liters of water attempting to “hold her wee for a Wii.” After returning home, the woman vomited for hours and passed under what was considered “water intoxication.”

It is quite possible that the third variable, the excessive amounts of water, was the cause of this unfortunate case.

http://www.livescience.com/56532-ghost-pepper-ruptured-esophagus.html

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/strange-but-true-drinking-too-much-water-can-kill/

How Do You Smile In Spanish?

We can all agree that high school, for the most part, blows. It was the people you could relate to that helped each of us make it through high school with little casualty. I tried really hard to relate to everyone, and I mean EVERYONE. I really wanted to be friends with everyone and be the person that they were able to relate to. I used to walk down the history wing every day and admire the beautiful poster that hung outside my favorite teacher’s room that read:

“Everyone smiles in the same language.”

I loved that poster. I was “that girl” that was hopelessly idealistic. Now I hate to give up some of my idealism but we are now finding studies that suggest otherwise. Not necessarily that smiles mean differently across languages, but that other facial expressions including anger, fear, and disgust may be portrayed differently among other cultures. From what I can tell, I can still believe that a smile is universal.

According to an article by Michael Price of sciencemag.org, he suggests that scientists have been trying to crack this code for centuries, however an assumed and practiced methodology thought it put a stop to this ongoing search. Psychologist Paul Ekman was the man to supposedley put an end to the search. He concluded that across the board, that all cultures felt and expressed emotions in virtually the same way.

It wasn’t until 50 years later that scientists began pulling together information for a new hypothesis. The new hypothesis set culture as its independent variable in this observational study.  The dependent variable was the association of each facial expression to an emotion. As scientists began to pick apart old findings it was easy to rule of reverse causation as the association most definitely did not decide their culture or beliefs.

The study follows a group of 72 villagers of different areas of Papua New Guinea. It is quite possible that the sample size of this study is too small. Additionally, these villagers are aged 9-15, therefore, it could be the product of simply age, a third variable.

The studies found that most evidently the faces of anger and fear that we are familiar with resonate very differently with the adolescents of Papua New Guinea. The researchers strongly suggest that it isn’t the reaction to the emotion that is the dependent variable, it is the recognition of the facial expression that is associated with that specific feeling.

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Psychologist Alan Fridlund of UC Santa Barbara suggests some bias in this study. He believed that the overwhelming amount of negative emotions may have been a third variable that caused the Guineans to appear to recognize the photos differently. If the group had seen several positive emotions, they quite possibly could have had conflicting views of each of those emotions as well.

Overall, this study does not give us a straight answer to whether or not emotions are universal. Its obvious what the study wishes to lean towards, but overall we can conclude that there are too many third variables to know exactly whether or not we associate emotions exactly as our neighbor.

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/10/facial-expressions-including-fear-may-not-be-universal-we-thought

Lefty or Righty?

After many difficulties in math classes year after year and even almost creeping over the edge of a failed grade, I knew for a fact I was not strong in math. Just to add to it, a bombed physics class in 11th grade led me to believe that the maths and sciences just were NOT for me. When Andrew had us writing about why we took this course, and as I found out that a lot of people were like me, disasters in everything math and science related, I wondered what the divide was all about. Why most students tend to either be talented in either maths and sciences or english and social studies was beyond me and was a topic I was very interested in looking into.

I have heard many times students refer to themselves as being left brained or right brained, in fact I heard a classmate say it just the other day. I have always the differences and wondered the science all behind it.

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The main component of the left and right brained thinking is the fact that both sides of the brain process information differently. While both sides of the brain are working together at all times, we do have a natural tendency to lean towards one side of thinking. The two hemispheres have two very different jobs, both working equally and contributing equally to everyday. Additionally, the hemispheres control each side of the body, not respectively however. The right side of the body is controlled by the left side of the brain and vice versa. It has been proven by Nobel Prize Winning American psychobiologist Roger W. Sperry that the brain has two different ways of thinking. The brain is broken into two parts; the visual and intuitive right brain and the verbal analytical left brain.

So what does this all mean?

As Kendra Cherry of www.verywell.com states,

THE LEFT BRAIN:

On one side of the brain, the left side, information is processed in pieces and then put together to create the whole. The left brain can be described as the digital brain, known for reading, writing, calculations, and logical thinking.

The left brain is very well known for acknowledging the following:

  • language
  • logic
  • critical thinking
  • numbers
  • reasoning

THE RIGHT BRAIN:

On the other hand, the right side processes information by looking at in the big picture and slowly breaking down the little details. The right brain is known to be best at expressive and creative tasks that allow for a lot more flow and a lot less specifics.

The right brain is specific to the following subjects:

  • recognizing faces
  • expressing/reading emotions
  • music
  • color
  • images
  • intuition
  • creativity

(2016).

Many children at young ages tend to lean towards the right brain and have many creative tendencies. What is unfortunate is the fact that although most young students lean to the right brain, eventually, primary schools most prevalently lean towards a lot of left brained work, leaving the right brained workers to feel left behind. Our school system focuses mainly on left brain strengths, therefore only 10% of  these same creative students will rank highly creative by age 7.

All of this previous information is based solely on a theory. While there is no rock solid evidence, and many have attempted to debunk the information, some still tend to find correlations. Whether or not these correlations are causal or not is up for discussion. (check out that vocab!)

SO…..

If you are someone who still believes that there is some truth to this theory, try it out for yourself! You may end up with an answer you wouldn’t have guessed. The positive to knowing what side of your brain you lean towards, allow you to work on the side you may not have the tendency to use.

CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT WHAT SIDE OF THE BRAIN YOU USE THE MOST!

I’m red with anger!

In 12th grade honors english class, each term had a different topic, and every Tuesday and Thursday rotated through each student. Who ever was up that day had 2 minutes to talk about that topic in whatever way could get them through those 2 hellish minutes. The second round of questions required each student to write a question, as random and ridiculous as possible. After I fought my way through a horrible 2 minutes, my good friend was up and ready…or so she thought…

“Why do you hate the color yellow?”

“……… yellow reminds me of sickness and makes me want to puke.” she responded.

As I reminisced on my last year in high school, my mind came across this entire weird term, as the questions only got more random from there, and decided that although very random, I would look into the effects that colors have on our thinking, moods, and attitudes.

Colour mood chart

Looking into how room color changes mood, how colors effect feelings and how colors effect behavior I have found that this subject although not wildly popular, is actually something people do look into and use regularly.

According to Mihai, room color to begin with can actually give a look into your personality. Although color effects may vary between age, sex, and ethnic background, colors usually spark a pattern in feelings and emotions in different parts of a house. The colors on your walls have three options: they can either be passive, active or neutral. On a more basic level, light colors open a room making it airy and calm, where as dark colors are more sophisticated in a space and create a more intimate feeling.

More specifically colors should be chosen carefully as the following effects have kept a pattern that’s hard to ignore:

Red: a very intense and loud color, red brings up energy in the room and creates a sense of togetherness that easily sparks conversation.

Yellow: yellow is a strong symbol of happiness and is best placed in a kitchen or bathroom where it is welcoming, and in smaller spaces yellow creates a larger more excited feeling.

Blue: blue is perfect and relaxing for bedrooms and bathrooms especially. Light blues are the best for calming where dark blues tend to evoke sadness.

Green: being the most restful color to the eye, green is suited for just about anywhere and allows for a sense of togetherness.

Orange: very energetic and enthusiastic, great for exercise spaces.

Purple: in light shades purple has a similar effect as light blue, whereas in dark shades, purple is the symbol of luxury and sophistication. (2015).

As Mihai points out, some other important color schemes to consider include a green desktop wallpaper to increase productivity and an orange workout room to bring about the passion of red and the joy of yellow. When going on a date, women are encouraged to wear red to display passion, and men are encouraged to wear blue as it is seen as stable and can calm the nerves of both. Black is seen as an aggressive color and especially is seen with sports teams who tend to show more pent up aggression when wearing their black away jerseys. Last and certainly not least, grey should be avoided when getting dressed to head to work and a green and blue workspace should be looked at as desirable.

In a recent study, Gruson (1982) writes of a large group of juvenile detention centers that began placing those who were manic and rowdy in rooms with walls of bubble gum pink. Rather than the long used restraining they once did, the “passive pink” room helped calm the children and eventually put most to sleep. Colors can be used in restaurants as red increases appetites and ultraviolet rays are used in dentist offices to help reduce cavities. Blue has had a huge impact as it was said to have influenced chinchillas to breed more female offspring than males and has even been the color painted on London’s Blackfriars Bridge in order to decrease the number of people who attempt suicide off of it.

Truly amazing, although not 100% guaranteed, colors have the ability to influence simple parts of everyday whether we allow them to or not. Here is an even more specific breakdown of each color and the feelings each one evokes!

Unlocking The Truth

As I have myself with more time on my hands than I know what to do with, I continue to dive deeper and deeper into the world of TV obsessions. After finishing up a favorite, Are You the One, I browsed through the endless number of new shows able to take over my time. I kept on my MTV kick and cracked into a more recent program, Unlocking the Truth. 31 year old Ryan Ferguson is a recent exonerate of 2 years, after he spent nearly 10 years behind bars for a crime he didn’t even know had been committed. Teaming up with Eva Nagao of The Innocence Project, Ferguson works to reopen cases where convictions could easily have been skewed. He makes it clear that they are not working for the convicted or for their families, however they work to “unlock the truth” so to speak in hopes that justice will be served.

This topic caught my attention quickly and sucked me into 4 hours worth of obsessive TV over our long weekend, therefore I decided what better topic to begin my blogs on. mtv-unlocking-the-truth-ryan-ferguson-eva-nagao

I began looking into these convictions and questioning what could possibly put nearly 10,000 people each year wrongfully behind bars. The number one cause of these illegitimate sentences? Eyewitness Misidentification. Seems simple right? A relatively frustrating fact that these unjust convictions could be fixed with a little bit of truth. However, its not simply the untrustworthy words of eyewitnesses that lead up to the unfortunate demise of many each year. There is a science behind it all, and The Innocence Project has done all the research.

The most talked about factor behind the many contributions to wrongful convictions is the fact that the human mind is not a video camera nor is it a tape recorder. The human mind is unable to record events exactly as we see them and not only are there a lot of natural factors there are a lot of environmental factors brought on by safety personnel.

Naturally occurring factors such as the lighting as the crime took place or the distance the witness was from the crime scene are just a few of the factors we may almost prefer to be the case over system variables that could be purposefully brought upon the witnesses. Besides simply an angry vengeful ex turning in an innocent person to the authorities we have those who are behind the scenes who know no other techniques to get the pin down on at least someone. One of the biggest issues is blind administration. The problem here is the fact that although mostly unintentional, an administrator may make gestures or be suggestive as to who the suspect is, creating a bias within the witness’s mind. Additionally, it is crucial the way that mugshots are presented to witnesses as as random colored picture can stand out against a line of several other black and white photos as seen in the case of Marvin Anderson. Witnesses may feel pressured to point out a perpetrator regardless if they see who they are looking for in the lineup, and those given confirmatory feedback were even more certain in who they were putting their bets on. (The Innocence Project 2016).

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According to the Innocence Project, in order to reform the system that needs it more than attention is brought to the table, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is working to run tests and lead research to create more effective ways to interrogate and accomplish what must be accomplished as ethically as possible.  The NAS suggests that administrators should have no information on who the suspect is prior to speaking with the witness. Additionally, those in the line ups should look relatively similar leaving no man or woman as the only suspect of their race, gender, or with their striking characteristics. It is also important that witnesses are aware of the fact that their information is helpful however, the investigation is not over simply because they cannot identify a perpetrator. It was also suggested that not only should documents be signed on account of confidence level but also, investigations should be videotaped. (2016).

The Innocence Project works all around to reform our system. Here is where you can browse their website in its entirety. 

I woke up like this

praiseteamAfter a long well earned Sunday afternoon nap, I decided I felt inspired enough to start out on the first blog of our super fly science course. My name is Hannah Welty and I am undecided in just about everything. The only few things I am entirely sure about are that I am an absolute disaster in everything math and science and the fact that Harambe is innocent. (thank you to the fearless texter that kicked this off day 1 of class last week)

Like I said, I know very little in the fields of math and science. I’ve held on just barely in math classes all through high school as I am sure a lot of people have. However, I am positive that no one experienced a high school science timeline quite like mine.

Ninth grade Bio started out well until my very pregnant teacher (for the 4th time in 4 years) dipped out at least twice a week for her appointments and every test day to spare herself the stress of it all. My tenth grade chemistry class was led by a part jedi-in-training part acting prodigy; I’ll spare you the gorey details on that one. As I moved into eleventh grade physics I worked alongside a teacher that most definitely was the reincarnate of every bad teacher that ever lived. I only seemed to really grasp a science class as a senior in Anatomy and Physiology. I had every intention of joining a class very similar to that of senior year in hopes of a relaxing and fulfilling science class. After putting a million pounds of effort into who seemed to be the most put together 18 year old I’ve ever met, my NSO counselor of the day moved onto me: the most unsure person I have ever met. The only real advice I remember receiving that day was when I brought up that SC200 looked like an interesting class. “Everyone really seems to like this guy…” she explained to me as she formed my schedule with ‘ease’. A good teacher makes a world of a difference and can literally create the whole learning experience. ***Shoutout to Mr. Jon McKay my high school sociology and american survey teacher*** That was plenty to convince me and here we are! I can’t wait to get deeper into this course and begin answering the questions that pop into everyone’s heads late at night or 2 hours into a hot shower. Those are the questions I live for…

Here’s a link to one of my favorite things in the entire world: laughter

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA