Author Archives: Margaret Eppinger

Is Anti-Vaccination Legitimate? Or Just Anti-Common Sense?

When I first heard about the anti-vaccination movement, I was floored. It was stunning to me that people were advocating for something that could be so dangerous to public health and the safety of children. From a young age, I was taught that getting my vaccinations was important, and even though I didn’t like the needles, I complied so that I didn’t get an infectious and dangerous disease. I still believe in vaccines to this day and have many questions about the validity of this anti-vaccine movement. Why do some people choose not to have their children vaccinated? Why are they so opposed to vaccines? And finally, do anti-vaccine proponents have a solid scientific basis for their beliefs? For this post, I decided to do some research and find out.

I decided to start with understanding the other side’s viewpoints, so I could determine whether or not they had any legitimacy to them. For my source of anti-vaccination arguments, I found this pretty thorough blog that didn’t seem all that credible in terms of presenting actual scientific research, but it did highlight all the key arguments of the anti-vaccination viewpoint. Upon clicking on the blog, I was smacked in the face by the first, and one of the most prominent arguments, against vaccines: vaccines cause autism.autism_awareness_ribbon1

The notion that vaccines can cause the development of autism has been around for quite some time and has been hotly debated. This belief originated from a study done in 1998 by British scientist Andrew Wakefield. The study followed twelve children and found a link between the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccinations and the later development of behavioral disorders, most notably autism. Already, the study had a fundamental flaw in that it followed so few children and was absolutely riddled with confounding variables. Scientists picked up on the many flaws in the experiment, and Wakefield was criticized by others who even went so far as to declare fraud. This review of evidence in the field cited multiple studies where a causal link between vaccines and autism was not shown. The analysis then goes on to conclude that there is not enough evidence to declare that the vaccines are setting up children to develop autism. Both of these criticisms are examples of how peer review can stop the spread of false information, as Wakefield’s article has seen been retracted from the journal it was originally published in.

Another argument I found on the anti-vaccine blog was that there are dangerous chemicals found in vaccines that could be harmful, such as carcinogens. This post argued that the government and the media claims these substances are harmless, but that we can’t trust them to be telling the truth about the matter. To me, this sounds a bit too much like a conspiracy theory to be credible. In addition, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention published a pretty thorough article on the ingredients in vaccines and why some that may seem dangerous are actually in small enough doses that it doesn’t harm us. Instead, they enhance the effectiveness. However, this is a government website that supports the use of vaccines, so there is also bias in this report. In the end, though, the government information comes across as more credible than a random blog.

So, anti-vaccination arguments don’t hold up in the face of evidence. As it turns out, neither does the actual practice of not vaccinating your children. In 2014 and early 2015, the United States experienced an outbreak of measles. According to this article, it was a disease thought to be eradicated in the US around the year 2000. However, 2014 saw the most cases of measles since 2000, and according to the same fact sheet, most of the people who get measles are unvaccinated. This outbreak certainly seems to shed a ton of doubt on the legitimacy of the anti-vaccination movement.vaccines-fb

What I found in my research points to one conclusion: an anti-vaccination stance is not a smart one. While believers in the movement may try to prove certain arguments like vaccines cause autism or that they have dangerous chemicals, these ideas are not upheld by the scientific community. In addition, not vaccinating children led to an outbreak of a disease that vaccines helped to minimize entirely. Unfortunately, many of the people in this movement seem to be deniers; no matter how much evidence tears down their arguments, they will still believe what they believe. Taking an optimistic view, hopefully these people can learn to change their mindset, if only for the health of their children.

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Running: the Best Defense Against Mental Illness?

Although it’s been a couple of years since my “glory days” as a JV cross country runner ended, I still love running. It has been difficult for me to find time to run as a stressed out college student. However, whenever I do find the time, I always feel so much better afterwards. The feeling after a good run is like clearing my head of all the garbage that’s filled up in it throughout the day. This got me thinking about the impact running has on mental state, and if it’s something that could be used to help people with mental health issues. In my own life, it’s certainly helped me cope with anxiety and stressful thoughts, so maybe it could do the same for others. Is running, and exercising in general, an effective treatment for mental illnesses? 

It’s difficult to narrow down this question into one specific hypothesis. There are many factors that could contribute to an overall better mental state and help alleviate mental illness symptoms. However, at its base level, there is an x and y variable. The causal (x) variable is the amount of running or exercising—or whether someone even does it at all. The response (y) variable would then be the lessening of mental health symptoms. 

From the research I gathered on the topic, it seems that there are multiple links between running and other factors that could help those suffering from mental illnesses. One of the biggest and most well documented correlations is that between running and mood. While this had previously been considered to be just popular wisdom, there is recent evidence to suggest that there is an actual chemicaarticle-2187068-14801fbb000005dc-788_964x676l change that occurs after physical activity. This article describes a study where scientists performed PET scans on participants two hours before and after a run. What they found was that endorphins were released while running. Endorphins are a chemical that gives signals to the neurons in your brain, so they’re what is known as neurotransmitters. They are associated with boosting mood due to their interactions with the parts of the brain that deal with emotions. According to the New York Times article, the study found that these endorphins produced while running were interacting with the limbic and prefrontal parts of the brain, which are what control our emotions. While boosting mood isn’t enough to completely treat mental illness, it could certainly help alleviate symptoms.

Other studies have tried to look directly at the relationship between exercise and mental health. I was actually able to find several meta-analyses that compare different studies related to mental illness and physical activity and draw conclusions about the relationship between the two. One of these meta-analyses found that a lot of evidence pointed towards a positive and beneficial relationship between running and the mental health of those suffering from depression and anxiety. However, this review also pointed out potential negative effects of exercise. Some studies have been done on the subject of over-exercise, which can become a neurotic behavior that takes priority over other aspects of the sufferer’s life. Overall, though, it seems that this paper concludes that exercise can help relieve symptoms of particular mental illnesses.

Another meta-analysis found a good amount of support for the idea that running and physical exercise can work as an anti-depressant and help lower anxiety. They also noted evidence that linked exercise to improved mood. However, this particular review pointed out some of the flaws they found in research methods within the field. Some studies were not randomized at all, and others had no control group at all. From a credibility standpoint, not having a control group seems suspect to me. How do you conclude that exercise helps mental illness without comparing to a group of people who partook in no physical activity? This hints at some faulty science and could discredit some of the findings on this topic. Thrunningis is also an excellent example of peer review where scientists are pointing out the flaws in others’ research in the hopes of creating better studies and research methods, and in turn, more reliable results.

While some studies on this topic seem to have been faulty and poorly designed, there is still a lot of evidence that lends weight to the proposition that running and exercise helps mental illness. More than one meta-analysis concluded that exercise had positive effects on those with mental illness symptoms, which leads me to believe that my hypothesis is true. In addition, the shown link between running and mood shows how exercise can influence us and alter our emotional state. With the overwhelming good effects that come from exercise, I can feel confident in my decision to keep on running.

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Does Being a Pottymouth Mean You’re Dumber?

Swear words are a part of everyday interactions; while some find them funny, others find them downright offensive. As students on a college campus, cursing is a normal way of communicating (at least, for the majority of us), and even I’ll admit that I tend to curse a lot in conversations with friends. I find it perfectly acceptable if it’s not in a formal setting where respect is necessary. However, not everyone agrees with my philosophy and find swearing to be incredibly rude at any time. Not only that, but some even think that cursing indicates that someone is over a lower intelligence and that they can’t think of any other words to use. I disagree with this idea, since I think of myself as a relatively intelligent person who happens to swear a lot. So, I decided to ask the question: does swearing correlate with a lack of intelligence? Of course, correlation does not equal causation, especially in this scenario. I’m not trying to find out if swearing causes low intelligence, but rather if there’s a link between the two to begin with.swearing3-413871

The notion that the use of curse words indicates a lower intelligence is not a new one. In fact, it has even been suggested that using such profane language can change perceptions of other attributes. In this study published by researchers in Kentucky, it was found that people viewed police officers as less friendly, just, and fair if they swore. The participants in the experiment were shown videos of police officers stopping people for traffic violations. In some of these videos, the police officers used one curse word, while they used none in others. After the videos, participants rated the character of the officers. The scientists saw with these evaluations that police officers were rated more negatively if they swore than if they didn’t. While this study does show that people may view swearing as damaging to someone’s character, it should still be viewed with some skepticism. Even the study itself cites potential sources of error. This includes the fact that they used different swear words depending on the category of profanity (sexual, religious, etc.) and didn’t use the same curse word across all the videos. What this means is that people could see different words as more or less offensive, and thus rate the officer differently. Another confounding variable is that people may hold police officers to a higher standard due to their conceptions of the

So, the evidence against swearing can be viewed with some skepticism, which removes some of its credibility. The idea that people who swear more are dumber can also be viewed in the same light. Studies have shown that this link does not hold up during experiments. In this study, intelligence as it relates to swearing was tested directly by having 46 college students complete both a survey rating their frequency of swearing and an IQ test. The results were not statistically significant enough to state that cursing impacts intelligence in either direction. Therefore, cursing indicates neither high nor low intelligence. Although the study failed to reject the null hypothesis, it did find an interesting link between a higher IQ and a higher desire to increase vocabulary. That intriguing discovery is unfortunately not relevant to the matter at hand, however.

While the previous study showed no relationship at all, another study discovered a more positive link between swearing and intelligence. This experiment asked participants to take a test measuring fluency in words that are considered “taboo,” aka profane language, as well as a test measuring fluency with words in general and in other areas. There was a positive correlation between scoring highly on the taboo test and scoring highly in general fluency and other areas of fluency. This supports the idea that someone who is fluent in swear words and other profane language is likely fluent in other areas of language as well. The conclusion of this study undermines the idea that those who swear and have knowledge of swear words are less intelligent.

Overall, I find myself unable to come to a definite conclusion on either side. Based on the studies and research I found, it seems to be that swearing is not an indicator of level of intelligence, even though people may perceive you more negatively if you do. It certainly appears that those who do swear a lot are not any less intelligent than those who refrain from cursing, and their usage may even be correlated with good language skills in general. While people may perceive others who swear as having less desirable attributes, there seems to be no scientific basis to do so, and I think that I will happily continue to swear if the situation is appropriate.

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The Five-Second Rule?

I’ll admit it; I’m a huge germaphobe. Thinking about germs and sickness freaks me out, and I would never dare to go without washing my hands after using the bathroom. As a result of my aversion to germs, I abide by some personal rules, one of them being that if a piece of food falls to the floor, I don’t eat it. However, popular wisdom has a different approach to this scenario: if a piece of food falls to the floor, a person has exactly five seconds to pick up a piece of food and eat it after it’s made contact with the ground. This is known as the five-second rule, and it supposedly works because the theory is that the bacteria won’t reach the food before that time limit. Naturally, as a self-proclaimed germaphobe, I find this rule to be disgusting and have never followed it myself. But I am interested to know if I am correct in my dismissal of this logic, or if the five-second rule actually works.five_second

On the surface, there is a lot to consider in the five-second rule—time, bacteria, food, and sickness. It can be an overwhelming proposition, leaving people to just assume it’s correct. But the problem can be boiled down into a testable hypothesis: if food dropped on the floor is picked up in five seconds or less, then it will have less bacteria on it. While we are definitely concerned about the sickness that the germs can cause, this is a hard endpoint, and it is pretty difficult to determine whether a sickness would be caused specifically by the food that was dropped on the floor. Testing just for whether or not someone got sick would make for an experiment riddled with confounding variables. It also eliminates the possibility of reverse causation, since it doesn’t make any sense the other way around; food having less bacteria wouldn’t cause someone to pick up food within that time frame. How would the average person know how much bacteria are on a piece of food? If I were to personally perform an experiment, this would be the setup for my hypothesis.icecream

However, I’m not a scientist, so let’s see what kinds of tests have actually been done to test out the so-called “five-second rule.” Does it hold up in practice? In fact, many scientists have actually found it doesn’t, and other factors come into play besides the timing. Time, type of food, and surface material all have an impact as well, according to a study published by researchers at Rutgers. They tested four different types of food, four different surfaces, and four different times for the food to come in contact with the bacteria. To start, the scientists infected an area on each type of surface with a type of bacteria known to cause infections, and then tested each piece of food for each length of time. The researchers concluded that while more bacteria was transferred the longer the food remained on the surface, some of that bacterial transfer happened right away. If bacteria can be found on food right after it’s dropped, this would mean that the five-second rule doesn’t work. The type of surface also made a difference; the transfer rate of bacteria was generally lower when it was on carpet as opposed to tile.

While this was a helpful study to use to see if the five-second rule works or not, it’s also a study that has a lot going on in it. It shows that the amount of time a food makes contact with the floor does play a role, but it’s just one of many confounding variables. The lack of one clear causal variable and one response variable makes it difficult to determine the link between time and bacteria count.

To try to narrow down the issue, I looked at another study. Again, this study tested all three variables: food type, surface type, and contact time. However, the first two variables were reduced in that only two types of food and three types of surfaces were tested. In this experiment, the researchers infected the surfaces with a form of salmonella, and then tested the two types of food over different amounts of time. Once again, it was found that bacterial transfer was significantly greater coming from tile versus carpet. Wood was also found to have a higher transfer rate. The study also drew the same conclusion about contact time and found that bacteria can be transferred to foods right as it hits the ground.

The multiple factors that went into each study make it difficult to answer my initial question, and I think the issue is even more complex than I originally thought. I didn’t even think to consider the type of surface or food in my initial thoughts. These are all confounding variables we have to think about. However, both studies did conclude that bacteria could be transferred to food in less than five seconds, therefore making it likely that the five-second rule is not a good one. So, in the end, I’m going to stick to my germ-fearing ways and steer clear of any food dropped on the Sources:

An Empire State Penny of Mind

When I was ten years old, my family took a trip to New York City where I got to see one of the city’s most famous tourist traps: the Empire State Building. The view at the top of the skyscraper was incredible, spanning lengths of city for miles. I remember thinking that it’d be an awfully long drop from the top of the building to the pavement below. Since that trip, I’ve become aware of the circulated legend that a penny dropped off tho-empire-state-building-facebooke top of the Empire State Building would kill a person if it hit them. It always seemed strange to me that such a tiny object could deliver a killing blow just because it’s dropped from a staggering height. However, I decided to put my intuition to the test and use science to determine whether or not my skepticism was warranted. So, will a penny dropped off the top of Empire State Building kill a person if it hits them?

Now that I had my question, I decided to form a hypothesis: If a penny is dropped off the Empire State Building, it will reach a velocity high enough to kill a person upon impact. This is the alternative hypothesis, while the null hypothesis proposes that nothing is going on, and a penny dropped at the height of the Empire State Building will not reach a velocity high enough to kill someone.

In this case, the causal variable (independent x) is the height at which the penny is dropped. The Empire State Building is 103 stories tall, making it 1,250 feet, or 381 meters in the rest of the world, to the top floor where the penny would be launched. The response variable (dependent y) is the velocity the penny reaches, as the velocity depends on the x variable of height. This makes the y variable a soft endpoint, and it is more easily measured. Ultimately, we are more concerned with the hard endpoint, which would be death if the penny reaches a velocity high enough to kill someone. However, an experiment designed to test the death of a person as the response variable would be pretty unethical, as it would be putting the test subjects at immense risk. Therefore, scientists can really only perform more theoretical tests that look at the physics behind a penny in free fall.

The response variable in this scenario is the basis for how this myth even began. In theory, a penny traveling in free fall from that kind of height would reach a deadly velocity. This is assumed to be because of the force of gravity. A kinematic equation, or an equation measuring the motion of an object, can describe this particular situation:


The equation that applies to this free fall theory is the one on the bottom left, which translates to final velocity = initial velocity + acceleration * time. To solve for this equation, the same site that gave me the formula notes that the initial velocity will be 0 meters per second, 0 m/s, because it is not moving at first. The acceleration of an object in free fall is always, in theory, -9.8 m/s. This accounts for the impact of gravity on the object. According to this article, it would take around 9 seconds for a penny dropped from the Empire State Building to hit the ground. So, according to my calculation using the formula, a penny would reach around 88 m/s, which is about 196 mph. While that is a pretty fast velocity, it’s still not enough to kill someone.

My calculation is also only accurate if we lived in a vacuum and any air resistance was removed. That is obviously not the case, and we must take the impact of drag and air resistance into account. At a certain point, an object reaches its terminal velocity, which occurs when air resistance is equivalent to the force of gravity. At terminal velocity, a penny would reach its maximum velocity, and the velocity would not go any higher. According to this paper compiled by members of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leicester, their calculations indicate that a penny would reach its terminal velocity at 40.1 m/s, which is 89.7 mph. This is significantly lower than the original calculation that only took gravity into account, and this velocity certainly isn’t enough to kill someone.

u-s_penniesAn experiment done by Louis Bloomfield, a physics professor at the University of Virginia, comes to a similar conclusion the theoretical calculations show. In his experiment, Bloomfield used a large weather balloon full of helium to launch pennies from a dispenser at varying heights. In this study, Bloomfield is manipulating the x variable, height, to determine the terminal velocity of a falling penny, which is the y variable. What he found from this study was that despite the balloon being placed at different heights, the pennies reached their full speed around 50 feet, then never got any faster. At that height, the penny reaches its terminal velocity and simply floats to the ground from there.

A famous show on the Discovery Channel, Mythbusters, also conducted an experiment on this topic. The stars of the show, Jamie and Adam, created a gun that would launch a penny at a speed of around 64.4 m/s, which is what some other studies have suggested the terminal velocity of a penny in free fall is; it is a bit high compared to some calculations. Jamie and Adam then tested their penny gun by firing it at a skull made of gel to see if it would have an impact. Even at 64.4 m/s, or 144 mph, the penny broke through the gel layer, but didn’t even make a dent in the actual makeshift skull. This evidence is compelling when considering the possibility of death by penny, and in light of this test, it seems not likely.

Based on my research into this myth, the superstitious can rest easy. While a penny falling from a skyscraper like the Empire State Building would reach a velocity that may be enough to feel painful, it won’t be the cause of your death. Taking air resistance into account, a penny physically cannot reach a high enough velocity to deliver a fatal blow. Even though scientists can’t ethically conduct studies where they drop pennies to see if people die from it, the physics here seems sound enough to allow me to fail to reject my null hypothesis. So next time you walk through New York City, don’t be afraid of falling pennies—they won’t bite.

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Junk DNA: Is Some of Our DNA Actually Useless?

I’ve always been fascinated by genetics. I know some of the basics of how they work—I did, after all, take high school biology. I know about dominant and recessive genes, Punnett squares, and the different bases. Honestly, though, that’s the extent of my knowledge about DNA. So, imagine my surprise when I was talking to my boyfriend, who is majoring in biochemistry, and he mentioned something called “junk DNA” to me. The phrase totally intrigued me, and I decided it would be something interesting to research for this blog. What exactly is “Junk DNA” and how does it affect us?

maxresdefaultTo start, it is helpful to have a clear idea of how DNA works. DNA is a nucleic acid found in the cells, and it makes proteins that establish the traits we will have. Together, all the DNA in an organism forms a genome ( The human genome is large, and the full genome can be found in every single cell of the body, as long as that cell has a nucleus.

According to this article, there are about 20,000 genes in the human genome. It is said that only 2%, or around 3 billion DNA base pairs, makes up our actual genes, and the rest is what’s known as “junk DNA.” This DNA is non-coding and basically does nothing—or at least, that was assumed for many years.

As it turns out, recent research is actually overturning the notion that junk DNA does nothing, and there is a scientific dispute over even the term itself. Research published by the Encyclopedia of DNA Elementsjunkdna, also known as ENCODE, suggests that around 80% of the human genome actually does work. The scientists have found that much of this activity from the formerly known “junk DNA” is regulation, helping the other genes to know when to make protein and keeping everything in order; according to this article, the number of genes regulating is currently estimated to be around 9%. And that’s just a small sample of what they suspect may be happening. This article suggests that number is even higher, at around 18% of genes regulating.

So, what does this mean for us? It is being considered a huge scientific breakthrough in that it could potentially help scientists study diseases in new ways. If a gene fails to regulate in the way it’s supposed to, or something goes wrong, this could lead to diseases like cancer or Crohn’s disease. In the future, this could lead to more comprehensive studies as to what causes certain diseases, and in turn, could lead us to a cure for them. So, it seems that “junk” DNA isn’t so garbage after all.

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When Music Gives You “The Chills”

I love music. I try to spend as much of my day as possible listening to a multitude of artists and bands, singles and full albums. To me, the best feeling in the world is when you’re listening to an amazing song, and then it hits you—the goosebumps. The sensation of getting goosebumps while listening to good music is such a universal phenomenon that it has led scientists to actually research the causes behind it. So, why exactly does good music cause us to feel goosebumps? Are different types of music more likely to induce goosebumps than others?

The word “goosebumps” is actually just a name for the physical reaction to a larger experience. The whole experience is known as frisson, which is a French term that refers to a sudden feeling of excitement. In frisson, the excited feeling produces a shudder in the body, causing goosebumps to occur. According to this article, goosebumps are believed to have been very important to our ancestors, helping to keep heat in a thick layer of fur. However, it is pretty useless for humans today, as we no longer have fur. The same article states that goosebumps are physiological and occur when the hormone adrenaline is released, which happens when we are stressed or feeling particularly strong emotions.

goosebumps-885563_960_720This may indicate why we still get goosebumps today, and why they occur when we listen to music. According to research, music evokes strong emotions in people. In this study, it was found that listening to music releases dopamine, which transmits neurons in the brain when things make us happy. What was unique about this study, however, was that the dopamine released in the same area of the brain where the brain processes rewards. This means that music is quite literally a rewarding activity for us.

So, music clearly has the ability to impact our mood, and when we have a strong, sudden, change in emotions, we get goosebumps. The link seems pretty clear in that regard. However, are there certain types of music that trigger this change in emotions, or “the chills”? Contrary to what you might think, research has shown that it is actually sad music that more commonly causes people to experience goosebumps. According to this article, a study published in a Japanese journal found that sad music causes people to experience more positive emotions. During the study, 44 people were split into two groups: one group listened to a happy song and the other group listened to a sad song. After listening, the participants were asked to report how they felt after the song, and those in the sad song group actually reported feeling both negative and positive emotions, creating a stronger impression overall. If it produces a more powerful feeling, this may explain why sad music would induce goosebumps.

While scientists are not 100% certain what causes goosebumps while listening to music (although we are never completely positive of anything in science), research indicates that there could be a link between unexpected and emotions and the onset of goosebumps. By altering our mood drastically, music triggers that physical response. It certainly is one of the more interesting little phenomena in our world.

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To Nap or Not to Nap?

As a college student, I see signs of sleep deprivation everywhere: fellow students claiming to have pulled an all-nighter to study or complaining that they haven’t slept at all in three days or, most commonly, bragging about the three hour nap they took after class. I am most guilty of the third thing on this list, and I pride myself on taking long naps. After a tiring day of classes, it is so tempting to just curl up in bed and sleep for a while. But at the end of it, I often find myself waking up groggy and less energetic than when I started. In addition, napping tends to make it harder for me to fall asleep at night. So, what’s the big deal with naps, then? Do naps benefit our sleep or harm it? If there are benefits, how do we nap properly in order to obtain those benefits?napping-memory-test_full_600

I’m here to tell you the good news: there are many benefits to be gained from taking naps. Most of the research I found detailed the positive impacts of taking naps on everything from memory to emotional stability—yes, naps can even help keep you calm. A study done in 2015 found a correlation between napping and the ability to handle frustration. In this study, researchers took 40 subjects and split them into randomized groups of “nappers” and “non-nappers.” After taking just an hour-long nap, those in the “napper” group reported feeling less impulsive and were better able to cope with feelings of frustration. So whenever you’re feeling cranky and unable to handle your negative emotions, a nap may be just the thing you need.

Improvement in memory is another benefit of napping, and one that is well documented. According to this article, multiple studies have shown the different ways that napping improves memory. In this study, participants were asked to partake in a visual test, and researchers found that those who took a 60 to 90 minute nap actually did about the same on the test as those who got a full night of sleep. This could mean that taking a nap may have the same benefits as getting a full night’s sleep before a test (However, I would not recommend sacrificing a good night’s rest before a test in favor of a nap.)

Napping improves other types of memory as well. In another study, researchers gave participants a word recall test that involved both memorizing single words as well as word pairs. Those who had taken a 90-minute nap beforehand were on par with those who didn’t nap for the single word recall, but performed much better when it came to remembering the word pairs. This study indicates that napping can help improve associative memory.

So now that we have established that naps can give us some great benefits, how do we use naps to our advantage? Like I mentioned before, I often find myself groggy and tired after a nap. This is largely due to a phenomenon known as sleep inertia. Sleep inertia is induced when taking a nap longer than around a half hour and can reduce the ability to think upon waking up. This makes the benefits of such longer naps unable to be felt until some time after the nap has ended. To prevent sleep inertia, it is wise to time your naps so that they are less than 30 minutes. This short YouTube video details how to take the perfect nap.01-tricks-taking-nap-alarm-clock

Overall, naps are great—they can help us feel better emotionally and perform better on tests. However, naps can also cause some unwanted side effects if not taken correctly. These side effects can include grogginess and tiredness, which are feelings that people take naps precisely to avoid. So, when it comes to napping, it is best to nap wisely.

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The Science Behind Why I Don’t Like Science

My name is Margaret Eppinger, although I typically go by my middle name, Grace, and I’m from King of Prussia, a suburb 30 minutes outside Philadelphia that is best known for having the largest mall in America. I’m a sophomore double majoring in English and History. Clearly, as you can tell from my majors, I am not a science-oriented person. The truth is, I never have been. I love to read and write. I like literature, not solving math equations. I enjoy learning about human conflicts in history, not the parts of the cell. For all of these reasons, and a few more, I am choosing not to pursue a degree in science. The way science is currently taught is not something that appeals to me.

In the past, I have also attributed this disinterest in science and math to me being “right-brain” dominant, an idea in science that has been talked about for some time. The concept behind this theory is that there are two halves of the brain, the left and the right, and that a person can be dominant on one side. The right side of the brain is supposedly in control of more creative processes, while the left side is more analytical. However, a study done in 2013 found no evidence of people having a dominant side of the brain. Here is a link to an article written about the study and where the myth of the left brain, right brain dichotomy came from.

bill-nyeThat leads me to why I decided to take this course. The first reason is pretty simple: I needed a science gen ed. Of all the general education courses to choose from, however, this one stood out to me as being the most interesting. I’ve always disliked the memorization and lack of discussion in science classes, so taking a science class that involved critical thinking and important conversations about the issues that matter in our world really appealed to me. That is probably the biggest reason I signed up for SC200, and I am excited to see what this class has to offer.