Author Archives: Johann Michael Kok

Will Carrots Actually Improve Your Eyesight?

I’m sure growing up everyone of us has heard the famous saying at the dinner table that goes something along the lines of, “Eat your carrots and you’ll see better!”  But does eating carrots actually improve your eyesight? I’ve wondered about this old wives tale for a while now and I finally decided to figure out the answer.

Sadly, eating all the carrots in the world won’t improve your eyesight. So is that it? Does that mean that are parents were just lying to us to convince us to eat our vegetables? Maybe not. Although our parents were most likely just say this phrase to get us to eat vegetables there is some truth to it.

Carrots cannot improve your eyesight; but they can improve your overall eye health! Carrots are loaded with beta-carotene, a very important precursor to vitamin A. A lack of vitamin A could be very detrimental to your eyes and if extreme enough can even lead to blindness.  Deficiencies in vitamin A can also lead to cataracts and other eye related diseases.


Along with beta-carotene, carrots also contain the very important antioxidant lutein. In side your eyeball there is an oval-shaped yellow thing in the middle of the retina. This is called the macula and lutein can benefit the macula by increasing the density of the pigment. This increase of the pigment in the macula in turn increases the protection of the retina which proves to be beneficial for preventing macular degeneration decreases which you can probably tell is not good for your eyes.

So, carrots don’t actually improve your eyesight; but before you go and confront your parents about lying to you for all those years, remember all the benefits that were talked about in this blog.  Maybe thank them for helping you prevent serious eye diseases and maybe even blindness.

Is the Five Second Rule True?

Mostly everyone has heard of the famous “five second rule”, wherein, if a piece of food falls on the floor and you pick it up within 5 seconds it is still good to eat. I’ve used this “rule” pretty much throughout my whole life along with a lot of other people, about 70% of women and 56% of men according to Jillian Clarke’s survey, and we deserve to know if this “rule” is indeed true.


Jillian Clarke went on to study whether or not the “five second rule” was true or not, a study which earned her an Ig Nobel Prize at Harvard University in 2004.  In this study Clarke sterilized tile plates and then loaded them with E. coli.  After this she placed cookies on the tiles for five seconds. The results are not what i wanted to hear but i can’t say i didn’t expect it. In all of the trials that she did the cookies picked up the E. coli within the five seconds. All of the followers of this sacred “rule”, myself included, have been living a lie our whole lives.


So if the “five second rule” isn’t true, how long does it actually take for food to be infected after falling on the floor? Well the answer, explained by Michael from Vsauce, is immediately. He says another study found that bacteria will stick to the dropped food immediately. But this doesn’t mean that the time spent on the floor doesn’t matter; a study found that after five seconds of the food being on the ground it picks around 150 to 8000 bacteria and if left longer than that, the number will only just increase. He goes on to explain that for some strains of salmonella it only takes 10 bacteria to actually infect you. This means the Five second rule is definitely false.

Is Marijuana Good for You?

In recent years, the United States has seen more and more states legalize the use of marijuana whether for medical reasons or for recreational use.  Despite this, many people have views that marijuana is horrible and are completely against the use of the drug.  But if this substance was so bad why would so many states be passing laws that allow people to use it? I decided to research this topic to find out the negative and positive effects of marijuana.


Positive effects:

Marijuana can be used to treat a number of different disease. One of theses diseases is glaucoma. Glaucoma affects the eyes of a person by causing an increased pressure in the eyeballs which causes problems and can leave a person blind. A study in the 1970s found that marijuana actually decreased to pressure in peoples eyes after being smoked.  This helps people with glaucoma greatly and may help them prevent blindness.

People have also found that marijuana can inhibit cancer cells from spreading. In 2007 the California Pacific Medical center found that cannabidiol, a compound found in the marijuana plant, can help stop the spreading of cancer by shutting off the gene called Id-1.  The Id-1 gene usually aggressively spreads through breast cancer and researchers found that after being treated with marijuana the genes were less prevalent and did not spread as aggressively as before treatment.

Negative effects:

One of the negative effects that i found in my research was impaired or loss of memory. One study in 2011 found that people who use marijuana perform worse on memory tests than people who do not. They recorded the results of 181 people aged 16-20 who took a test called the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning test and found that the people who used marijuana did worse than the people who did not.

Another negative effect is lung problems. This is a quite obvious problem if the consumption of marijuana is done through smoking. When marijuana is done through smoking, the smoke that enters the lungs of a person can lead to problems like bronchitis, coughing, and wheezing.


Although there are some negative effects with marijuana, in my research I found that the good effects very greatly outweigh the negative effects.  Also, don’t most medicines have side effects also? Many of the pharmaceutical medicines that are prescribed these days have side effects a lot worse than the negative effects of marijuana.

So is marijuana good for you? The answer is yes and no, just like most things in the world it has good effects and bad effects but in my opinion, the good effects outweigh the bad effects by a huge margin.

Why is yawning contagious?


Did this picture cause you to yawn? Upon seeing someone yawn, many people have the urge to yawn also. Why is this? why could yawning be “contagious”? Its not a disease so how can we “catch” a yawn from someone else doing it? These questions have bothered me for sometime and I have finally found out the answer!

If that picture did make you yawn that might mean you are more empathetic than the people who did not yawn while looking at it. That’s right, studies show that contagious yawning may be linked with how empathetic you are. A study done at Leeds University in England went like this;  researchers chose 40 psychology students, whose many focus is to observe others, and 40 engineering students, who don’t focus on others for their profession. Each student sat in a waiting room with one single other person who was placed there by the researcher and told to yawn ten times throughout the time they were waiting. After this they were giving a test to measure how much empathy they showed toward others.


The results of this test were that the students who yawned more frequently, also scored higher on the empathy test. The psychology students were showed more empathy with an average score of 28 out of 40 compared to 25.5 out of 40 for the engineering students.  The psychology students also yawned 5.5 times on average compared to the engineering students average of 1.5 times. These results are also consistent with the information that neurologists found. They found that contagious yawning and empathy are controlled by the same parts of the brain.

How many times did you yawn while reading this post? It may tell a lot about you!

Is Drinking in Moderation Good for You?

Like most other colleges, Penn State has a highly prominent drinking culture.  The problem with this is a lot of people consume alcohol in a very unsafe and unhealthy manner called binge drinking, where a person is excessively drinking alcohol in a short period of time.  This method of drinking proves to be an extremely dangerous and unhealthy way of drinking. Now you may think, Isn’t any method of alcohol consumption unhealthy? One study on published on CNN says otherwise.


The study, that was done by researchers at Harvard University, began following about 14,000 white women in 1976.  It examined women, aged in their 50s, who drank moderately throughout the week,these women being the control group and the drinking being the independent variable, compared to women who did not consume any alcohol whatsoever, the control group.  The study found that women who were drinking a moderate amount of alcohol per week had about a 28% higher chance of not contracting any chronic illness, physical disabilities or mental illness by the time they were 70 years old.

Using the data from this study you can only say that drinking in moderation is good for middle aged white women, and that’s one of the main problems with this study. To make this study more credible, they should have followed the results of men and women of all different races.  Also, this study was observational. To make the study more accurate and controlled they could have made it an experimental study, making the amount of drinks per week constant throughout each group the are testing. Doing that, however, might be problematic because it doesn’t seem morally right to have someone consistently drink alcohol every week.

So, is drinking in moderation good for you? Maybe. But, as Qi Sun, M.D. mentions, that doesn’t mean that every nondrinker should start having a couple drinks per week.  Healthy eating habits and daily exercise will keep you a lot healthier than drinking in moderation.


Hello SC 200! My name is Joe Kok (last name pronounced like coke) and I am currently a sophomore here at Penn State.  The reason I am taking this course is because i needed another Gen Ed class to finish off my schedule.  While I was browsing all of the available classes I came across this one and it seemed interesting.  What stuck out to me was that in the course description it could be for students with even a loathing for science.  Now I don’t hate science that much but I thought, any science class that could be meant for people who even hate science must be pretty interesting.  So I went ahead and scheduled the class.


I am not planning to be a science major because a lot of science doesn’t really interest me.  My major is called Energy, Business, and Finance.  Some of you may argue that the Energy part of my major counts as science and I wouldn’t really disagree with you but because I don’t have to take chemistry or biology I’m just going to say it doesn’t count.  If you want to learn more about the person I am click here and follow me on twitter.