Author Archives: Matthew Edward Simco

Does 5 Hour Energy Actually Work?

In college, it is very typical for a student to stay up late doing school work.  With the mixture of being tired and not being motivated to do work, students often rely on some sort of other mechanism to keep them awake.  Some people do something as simple as listening to music while others use Adderall.  Another substance some students use is 5 hour energy.  Unlike Adderall, 5 hour energy is very easy to get your hands on, as it is sold at almost any convenience store, including the ones in the Commons.  I have never taken 5 hour energy before, and I am curious to see if it actually works or if it is just a marketing lie.  To start off, we will say that the null hypothesis is that 5 hour energy is not effective and the alternative hypothesis is that 5 hour energy is effective.  To start off, we will say that the null hypothesis is that 5 hour energy is not effective and the alternative hypothesis is that 5 hour energy is effective.


5 hour energy is usually presented in a 2 ounce small bottle.  What makes these so appealing to consumers it the minuscule amount of calories.  If one were to consume a Red Bull or any other form of energy drink, they would be taking in over 100 calories.  A 2 ounce 5 hour energy shot only contains four calories.  The catch, though, is the amount of caffeine.  The same amount of caffeine in an energy or soda is compacted into the tiny 5 hour energy container.  This large amount of caffeine is what the company uses to make its product effective.  Company’s such as 5 hour energy are legally allowed to hide the amount of caffeine they put into the container of energy drink.  Scientists who are aware of the unhealthy amount of caffeine are working to make the FDA make 5 hour energy have to tell its consumers exactly how much caffeine is in each 2 ounce shot.


What makes 5 hour energy so enticing is the simplicity to take it, yet the strong affect you will get from it.  Chugging a 2 ounce shot is very simple to do, and once you do it you will receive instant energy for a duration of five hours.  No other product on the market has such an effective energy booster, which is why 5 hour energy is so popular.  People were asked if 5 hour energy is effective and what makes it so great, and one individual said that it does work and that it helps get them through their work day.  According to that person, what makes 5 hour energy so great is that, once the product wears out, you do not get negative, tired effects like most energy drinks give you.  Another thing that makes it so great is that it uses natural products and not unhealthy, gross chemicals.

A study of 14 men and women between the ages of 18 and 29 was done to determine the effect of 5 hour energy.  The sample was divided into 3 groups, one that gave the subjects 5 hour energy, one that gave them a placebo, and one that gave them nothing.  For the next six hours, the subjects gave feedback to the researchers describing how they felt.  The individuals who consumed the five hour energy had greater energy and less fatigue when compared to the individuals who consumed either a placebo or nothing.


After doing research on the effectiveness of 5 hour energy, I have learned that it is indeed very effective and a very good way to get an extra boost of energy.  Not only is it better for you than most energy products, but it uses natural resources and it is very cheap.  Because I have come to the conclusion that 5 hour energy is effective, I will reject the null hypothesis.  I may potentially invest in 5 hour energy in the future if I am in need of energy.

Does Everybody See Colors the Same Way?

One science question I have always wondered is do all human beings see colors in the same exact way.  This question is mind boggling to me, because there is no real way to figure out the truth about it.  What if what I think is blue, somebody else thinks is red.  All people who can see in color can agree that the ocean, blueberries, and the Argentinian flag are all “blue”, but what they see as blue could be a different color for me.  We both call it the same color, but may not see it the same way.  I am really intrigued by this question, and really want to figure out if humans see all colors the same.


For the longest time, scientists thought that humans typically see colors the same way, as there is a default way that humans process light, but this theory has been challenged and now scientists think otherwise.  One specific scientist at the University of California Santa Barbara said not only is it possible that humans can perceive colors differently, but it is very likely, if not definite.  The science behind this is the idea that for every person, they see the color photoreceptors at a different point in the wavelength.  My blue photoreceptors may be more sensitive to wavelengths at a different point than somebody else.  Even if I am sensitive to the wavelength 5 nanometers from somebody else, this could be the difference between the colors blue and green.

Prime evidence that proves that people perceive colors differently is color blindness.  Some people are not able to distinguish between two colors.  For example, somebody unable to tell the difference between red and orange either think of both colors as red or orange.  Say they see both red and orange as red, that would mean them and I see the color orange differently.  The see it is what I think is red, and I see it as what I think is orange.  While some people can see less colors than the average human, others can actually see more.  When staring at a rainbow, there are people who can see colors beyond the red section of the rainbow, which is called the ultra red.  This color is not visible to the majority of people.  As said earlier, people view colors through their photoreceptors.  The average human has three photoreceptors, but it is possible for someone to have four.  This fourth photoreceptor allows the individual to see a lot more and specific colors.


For the longest time, scientists believed that all human beings saw the shortest wavelengths as blue and the longest as red, but they aren’t so certain that this is the case anymore. Scientists even believe that thoughts, mood, feelings, and memories can play a role in the way we see colors.  They say that two people could stare at the exact same wavelength, but see different colors based off of the way they were feelings.

To conclude: yes, it is very possible and very likely that humans see colors differently than other people.  At the same time, I do not believe it is the way some people think of it.  I do not think someone can see what I see as red as the color blue.  That seems to extreme, and some scientists agree with that.  I do believe, though, that humans see different shades of colors differently from others.  So what I see as a regular blue, another person may see as a little bit lighter or little bit darker blue. So yes, I, along with almost every scientist, believe that everybody sees colors in their own unique way.

Can Two People in the World be Identical?

There are a lot of people who live in this world; 6,987,000,000 to be exact (as of 2011).  Seven billion is a huge, huge number, and I was wondering if two people out of that seven billion could be genetically identical.  I understand that not every single person has a doppelgänger, but I want to know if there is just a single pair of people who are identical.  With 7 billion people, I think there has to be at least one pair.  This is a very interesting topic to me, because I really wonder if there is another me walking around planet Earth.  Throughout my blog, I will determine if there has ever been two identical people, and if it is even genetically possible for that to happen.


There is a common saying that there are seven people on planet Earth that look exactly like you.  This, I find very hard to believe.  I’m sure there are several people who resemble me, but to say there are seven who look exactly like me is just blasphemous.  Each human being is separated by 6.4 million base pairs.  This means that the chance that two people are genetically identical is 1/(2^6,400,000), such a small number that it is essentially zero.  Think about it this way: the chance of two people being genetically identical is the same chance of getting heads 6.4 million straight tosses of a fair coin.

Another researcher talks about how it is very possible for two strangers to look practically identical.  A team of friends started the Twin Strangers Project, which is a mission to find two strangers who look identical in appearance.  Throughout this project, the group of friends found some extremely similar looking people (pictured below).  Human’s share 99.5 percent of the same DNA, so the only thing that separates human beings is .5 percent, which still makes up for many million different base pairs of DNA.  It is a known fact that you are more likely to look more similar to a relative than to a complete stranger.  Of the .5 percent of DNA where humans defer, identical twins share nearly all of that.  Siblings share half of that 5 percent, meaning they defer by only .25 percent of their DNA.  Cousins share some of that .5 percent, but not nearly as much as siblings.  Arthur Beaded, a geneticist for the University of Baylor, says that people who live in the same region or area are more likely to look the same than people who live further away from each other.  The reason behind this is because people who live closer to each other are more likely to be distant relatives, and we know that relatives are more likely to look the same than strangers.  Dr. Beaded believes that there is a good chance that we have seven people who look exactly like us, and possibly more if we live in a highly populated area.


Twins are a very interesting subject.  Identical twins are thought of by people as being literally identical, but this is not the case.  For the longest time, people believed that the only thing that made identical twins different was environmental conditions, but this theory has recently been challenged.  One main component that scientists have used to determine that identical twins could indeed be genetically different is genetic diseases.  Schizophrenia is a disease that is passed through by genetics.  If one twin had Schizophrenia, and twins shared the same DNA, it would mean that the other would have to have it as well.  This is not the case.  It is very common for one twin to have a genetic disease while the other does not.  19 identical twins were studied, and in every case, one twin’s DNA was different than the others at a specific point of the genome.

Yes, it is very likely that two human can look very similar, possibly even identical, but they will never be genetically identical.  The odds of this happening are so as close to zero as you can get.  Yes, it is possible for two humans to be genetically identical, but so slim that our world may never see.

Does Sleep Directly Affect Academic Performance?

College is by far the busiest time of my life so far.  With classes, homework, studying, maintaining a good social life, staying in shape, I often find myself having very little free time. During the day I am usually very busy, and at nights I am often up late doing work.  With everything going on, I often do not have much time to actually sleep.  I have spent many, many nights up past 2 am, and do not find myself getting close to the amount of sleep I would like.  This leads me to a question: Does sleep directly affect academic performance?  I have been doing pretty well in my courses, despite lacking quality sleep.  I want to know if this is just a fluke, or if I could be doing even better with a full nights sleep every night.


Dr. Philip Alapat, a medical director at the University of Baylor, suggested that students should attempt to get at least eight hours of sleep a night.  As a student, I feel like this is almost impossible.  I have 9 ams, meaning I wake up at 8, and the idea of me going to sleep before midnight just does not seem plausible.  Dr Alapat, along with many other experts, say that it is much, much easier to recall memory and stay focused when fully rested.  Aside from your memory and focus, lack of sleep drastically reduces ones energy and tends to put people in a poorer mood.  All of these factors negatively impact the way a student achieves in the classroom.  Aside from sleep, Dr. Alapat suggests that students should study between the hours of 6-8, which are statistically the brain’s most alert time period.  He says to avoid studying in the early afternoons, as this time period is the brain’s least optimal and least alert time period.


One survey studied volunteer college student’s sleep habits and their academic performance.  In this survey, the average sleep time for students was between 4-6 hours a night.  In this study, it was concluded that 80% of the volunteers suffered from sleep deprivation, while only 20% of students slept for 8 hours or more.  The students who did not get enough sleep had an average GPA of under 3.5 while the students who did get enough sleep had an average GPA of above 3.5.

Various studies were done tackling the idea of sleep on academic performance.  In these studies, the researchers examined students of different ages to see if lack of sleep hurts students of some ages more than others.  14 college students were studied over a 28 hour period of wakefulness.  At the beginning and the end of this time period, the students were given a cognitive performance test.  To the surprise of the researchers, the cognitive performance of these students do not change much, even after being awake for 28 straight hours.

A longitudinal study was done on middle school students, testing the question.  Middle school students, when lacking sleep, showed a large change in self esteem and grades.  For these younger students, sleep plays a large role in how they act and perform academically.

A final study was done 75 healthy children falling between the ages of seven and eleven.  For five straight nights, scientists monitored the children’s sleep, then averaged the five nights to get the students average sleep time.  The children who had less amount of sleep exhibited poor moods, less consciousness, and less energy.  The study says that quality sleep in young children strongly helps them retain information in math and languages.

After researching information to see if sleep affects academic performance, I have come to the conclusion that it definitely does.  Getting a quality sleep helps humans in so many ways.  It helps their alertness, gives them energy, and naturally puts them in a better mood.  All of these factors impact academic performance as well.  I believe that sleep and academic performance are strongly related, but most related in children middle school and below.


Can People Become Addicted to Food?

As I was brainstorming what topic to write my blog post about, I thought one thing: Wow, I am hungry.  As I was thinking about which place to order food from, my immediate first thought was Wings Over.  I eat Wings Over far to often, and would almost consider myself addicted to it.  That’s when this idea came into my head.  There have been several moments in my life where I have joked about being addicted to a certain food, but I now want to know if people could actually become addicted to certain kinds of food.


It is well known that humans can be addicted to certain things.  Typically, when you hear of an addiction you think of drugs and alcohol, but that is far from the extent of it.  Scientists used to not believe in the idea that people can become addicted to food, but have changed their minds.  A study of rats, which are very closely related to humans in terms of eating habits, shows that rats could and do become addicted to certain foods.  Rats show the same distinct behaviors with food that humans show when exposed to drugs.  When observing brain activity, the rat’s brain (when exposed to food) shows very similar signs as the human brain (when exposed to drugs).  The definition of the word “addiction” has recently been changed.  The new meaning of the word is a lot more broad, and states that addiction does not even have to refer to a substance; it can refer to an action such as gambling, sex, and shopping.  Anything that stimulates a desired response in the brain’s hypothalamus is considered an addiction.  Many eating disorders involve some kind of addiction.  Binge eating can be considered an addiction because people who experience it need to eat a lot, and cannot function without doing so.  This need to eat stimulates the brain’s hypothalamus, classifying binge eating as an addiction.


A Yale University study looked into this topic, and decided to use chocolate as its food of choice.  Generally, humans are addicted to foods which contain a large amount of sugar and fat.  In this specific study, an observational study, the researchers observed the brains of the volunteers when exposed to chocolate via sight, smell, and taste.  The volunteers were presented a chocolate milkshake to see, then were able to smell the milkshake, then finally able to drink it.  The volunteers who were labeled as the most addictive showed tremendously high activity in the Hypothalamus when they were just able to see and smell the milkshake.  Once actually able to drink it, the brain activity reduced drastically.  This brain activity when shown the milkshake compared to when actually able to consume it is very similar to the brain activity of humans when presented with drugs.


Addiction, in general, is a problem that involves both nature and nurture.  A human does not come out of the womb as crack addict.  They first have to be exposed to the stimuli to be addicted to it.  It is impossible to be addicted to something you have never tried before.  At the same time, though, addiction has genetic ties.  Someone who’s parents are both crack addicts is much more likely to be addicted to crack once exposed to it.  If a parent is addicted to a certain kind of junk food, it is best to not expose their child to that as they have a much larger chance of being addicted to the same substance.

A confounding variable associated with food and addiction is stress.  When somebody goes on a diet, they are working to fight their addiction.  Typically, when a person goes on a diet, they completely eliminate extremely fatty and sugary substances.  This is what makes dieting so difficult.  We learned earlier that these fatty and sugary substances are what humans are most commonly addicted to, so having a diet without these substances can provide a very difficult challenge.  When working to eliminate an addiction, or when the addiction is already gone, one thing causes people to go back to it more than anything else; stress.  When people are stressed, they often do not often think about their well being, and work simply to make themselves happier and stress-free.  Someone who has gotten over a drug addition will often start doing that drug again when stressed, because they seek the same happiness they experienced with the drug.  The same goes for food.  Someone extremely stressed who, say, once had a chocolate addiction, may start consuming large amounts of chocolate again to cope with their stress.

After researching this topic, I have learned a lot about addiction in general and addiction specified to food.  Addiction is a very broad term, meaning that humans can become addicted to almost anything.  It is very possible for a human to become addicted to a certain kind of food.

Do pitchers perform better after Tommy John Surgery?

The worst thing you want to see from a pitcher is them holding their elbow after a pitch.  Whenever you see it, you gasp.  If this happens to a player on your favorite team, and they have to get an MRI, you pray you don’t hear three words: Tommy John Surgery.  If a player has to get Tommy John Surgery, they have to sit out for the remainder of the season.  Losing one of your best players to Tommy John Surgery is heartbreaking for a fan.  Usually, after serious surgeries, players never come back the same.  Many believe that Tommy John Surgery is different.  A lot of people believe that pitchers actually play better after the surgery.  I want to know if this is true. Could pitchers actually perform better after Tommy John Surgery, and why?


In 2011, my favorite pitcher, Stephen Strasburg, on my favorite team, the Washington Nationals, tore a ligament in his elbow which needed Tommy John.  I was heartbroken after this news, but everybody kept saying “He will come back better than ever”.  A study done in 2014 showed statistics from 1986-2012 about pitchers in the MLB who have undergone Tommy John Surgery.  The results from this study show an increase in pitching performance after the surgery.  Pitchers actually walked less batters, allowed less hits, won more games, and had a lower ERA (earned runs against).  According to, 83% of pitchers returned to pitching after Tommy John Surgery.

Another study shows statistics done in a similar time period. This one observed pitchers between the years of 1982-2010.  After observing 168 major league pitchers, the results found were quite different than the one from the first study.  In this study, according to, pitchers experienced a rise in ERA from 4.15-4.74, an increase in WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) from 1.40-1.48, and a decrease in innings pitched from 59 to 50.

Another study tested whether pitchers lost velocity after Tommy John Surgery. Between 2008-2010, 28 pitchers returned to the MLB after having Tommy John Surgery.  When pitching velocity was recorded before and after surgery, researchers found no statistical difference.  Also, the researchers showed that pitchers showed no difference in walks, strikeouts, ERA, and other statistics that correlate with performance.  This study concludes that velocity and performance after Tommy John Surgery is no different than before the surgery.

A fourth study tested the same idea as the last study, but this study had a lot larger population.  This study tested 105 pitchers who pitched at least a year prior to and after Tommy John Surgery.  Of these 105 pitchers, the average ERA dropped from 4.22-4.66.  Batting average of hitters faced went up from .249-.258.  Average fastball speed also decreased from 91.2-90.8.  This study concludes that performance decreases after Tommy John Surgery.


There is no saying whether Tommy John Surgery increases or decreases pitching performance.  There are statistics which both go for it and against it.  I don’t think it helps pitches, but I think that pitchers can get back to normal after it.  I believe that the reason statistics get better after surgery is simply because the player improves, not because of the surgery.


Why do humans love music so much?

As I logged onto my computer and opened up the “add new” section of this website to create a new blog, I had no idea what I was going to write about.  While brainstorming ideas, I realized something; I forgot to put music on.  As soon as this thought entered my brain, I instantly knew what I was going to write about.  Music is such an interesting thing, really.  I’m not sure why humans are so intrigued by a combination of instruments and singing, but music is one of the most universal things on the planet.  I don’t know where I would be without music.  As cheesy as it sounds, music is always there for me.  No matter what mood I am in, there is a song that goes with it.  Whether you I am upset and looking to brighten up or trying to get myself pumped up for a big game, I am always able to find a song that does the job.  Throughout this article, I want to figure out just why humans love music so much.


The idea of music makes no sense to me.  When you think about it, all music is is people talking in an aesthetically pleasing way, yet I cannot go without it.  Unlike things like food, sex, and water, music is not technically a necessity for life, but it has been a vital part of people’s lives for thousands and thousands of years.  Valerie Salimpoor did a study in 2009 where she hooked up patients to an fMRI. While under the fMRI, the patients listened to one of their favorite songs.  Salimpoor realized that, after listening to the emotional moments in the song, the patients actually released dopamine in their brain.  For those of you who do not know, Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls the pleasure and reward center in the human brain.  Dopamine is released whenever somebody “rewards the brain” or feels happy.  For example, dopamine is released during sex, when you eat, engage in powerful drugs, etc.  Figuring out that music causes a release of dopamine is very interesting, but makes perfectly good sense.  When dopamine is released, the brain is often addicted to whatever caused the dopamine to release, which is why sex and drugs are so addicting to humans.  Music has the same effect.  Although most people would not admit it, the majority of people, myself included, are actually addicted to music.


What makes it so addictive, though?  Why does it cause dopamine to be realized?  The answer to this question will be different depending on who you ask.  I’m sure all people can agree on these few things, though, that make music so great.

There are so many different genres and songs

There is truly a different song or type of music for every mood you can feel.  Music has the ability to make you feel every kind of emotion.  The reason people never get tired of listening to music is because you can listen for days without listening to the same song.  There is so much music out there, and every person on planet Earth has a slightly different style of it.

Music can be so deep and meaningful

Have you ever listened to a song, and been absolutely speechless after because of how powerful the song was?  I know I have.  There are times I listen to a song and realize that the lyrics being sang portray a similar experience that I am going through, which makes me feel like I am not alone.  People do not create music just to please people’s ears, they create it to convey a message.  Music is how people express themselves. Everybody has a way of expressing themselves and sending a message, and musicians do it through their songs.

Music can be an escape from the real world

There are times when I am very stressed out and low on life, and only one thing can snap me out of it: music.  When you are listening to music, it is as if you are escaping reality.  For the time being, all of your stress and problems in life go away.  Music is so important, and keeps me sane at times.

Conclusion: Music is far more than just a pleasant sound to the ear.  It is loved by people all across the world of different cultures, languages, and lifestyles.  The scientific reason why people love music so much is because it causes dopamine to be released from the brain.  The humanistic reasons why people love music so much go on and on, but a few reasons are because it can be so diverse, so meaningful, and such a great escape from the real world.


Does playing sports as a child help you become successful in life?

All throughout my childhood, I played sports.  I played baseball, football, and basketball, which meant that I was busy with sports year round.  No matter which sport it was, parents and coaches always said the same thing.  I have heard countless amounts of times that practicing and playing sports not only helps kids on the field, but also off the field in life.  I am interested in finding out if playing sports as a child is actually associated with success in the child’s future.  And if proven that there is strong correlation, I am interested in finding out why this is true.


The obvious and most stated reason why playing sports helps you in life is because of leadership and teamwork.  As cliche and overused as this reasoning is, it is incredibly true.  As a member of a team, you are forced to work with the people around you.  Playing on a team gives a child the opportunity to become a leader, and good leadership is a very valuable characteristic in life.  The majority of jobs involve working with other people.  If a child develops good teamwork and leadership skills early on in life, he/she will be better off later in life when it matters most.

Another reason why playing sports early in life helps children become successful is because it teaches them how to live a healthy lifestyle.  Although there are obvious exceptions, good health correlates strongly with success in jobs.  Reasons for this are because if you are in good shape, you feel good about yourself, and confidence is crucial.  Those who are confident in themselves perform much great than those who are not.  It is proven that physical exercise puts people in better moods, and allows them to get more sleep.  Getting a good amount of sleep and being in a good mood will help you in your workplace.  Playing sports as a child puts them on the right track.  If they are active and in good shape early in in life, they are more likely to continue this.  According to, the obesity rate for children in the United States is 30%.  If a child is overweight/obese, they are much more likely to continue this into adulthood.

A third reason why children involved in sports have more success in life is because sports teach them how to manage their time.  Time management is key, and that alone can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful person.  A person could be brilliant, but if they do not know how to manage their time, intelligence often does not matter.  Children have a lot less responsibilities than teenagers and adults (obviously), so they have less to do.  Children involved in sports usually have three main responsibilities; school, sports, and family (chores).  If a child has good time management, they ill know  when they  should study, when they should practice sports, and when they should do chores.  Managing your time as a child is quite different than managing your time as an adult, but if a child is able to manage their time with few responsibilities, they are better preparing themselves for the future when they have more to do.


In 2014, Rene Piche concluded that children engaged in athletic activity are better off in the classroom, having better grades and standardized tests than children who do not play sports.  This shows that not only does playing sports positively affect children’s future success, but also current success in the classroom.  In 2014, 400 corporate executives were interviewed, and it was discovered that 94% of them played a sport at one point.  61% of them said that playing the sport had a positive impact on their success.  A survey performed by the National Household Survey of Drug Abuse, children involved in sports are far less likely to smoke cigarettes and engage in other drugs than children who do not play sports.  Vice presidents of 75 fortune 500 companies were surveyed, and it was found that 95% of them were involved in a high school sport.  Now, I know that for many of these stats, you could testify that correlation does not equal causation, which is obviously true. Just because 95% of vice presidents played high school sports, it doesn’t mean that this is why they are successful.  I believe, though, that they are definitely related.  While playing sports does not cause success, it can definitely help someone in becoming successful.

After doing research, I think it is very obvious that playing sports as a child has a strong, positive impact on success both as a child and as an adult.  There are so many different statistics and surveys that back this opinion up.  Playing sports teaches children so many valuable skills that help them far beyond the playing field.


Is hitting a baseball the hardest thing to do in sports?

Before I learned how to walk, I was swinging a baseball bat.  My dad made up his mind that I would play baseball, and I never had a choice but to play it and love playing it.  As a child up to a teenager, baseball was my life.  I played in two leagues as a child, so my whole life were devoted to baseball, where I would have a game on Saturday and two games on Sunday, and practices multiple days a week.  Once I got to high school, practices/games were every day of the week.  Despite countless hours of practice, I can easily say that hitting a baseball is by far the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but is it the hardest task to do in all of sports?


Just merely making contact with a baseball is extremely difficult on its own, but contact itself is not always good.  The point in baseball is to hit it where the fielders are not.  Making solid contact with a ball gives you a much greater chance of getting a hit.  Lets start of by looking at some basic statistics.  The diameter of a baseball is 3 inches long.  The sweet spot (area on the bat where you will hit the ball the hardest) is 2.75 inches, less than the diameter of the baseball.  Home plate has a width of 17 inches and an average height of 36 inches.  The area of home plate is roughly 612 square inches, while the area of the ball is just over 7 square inches.  This means that the ball, which you have to hit, takes up less than 2% of all the area which is a strike.

The average major league fastball sits at 95 miles per hour, but can reach speeds over 100 mph.  Over the course of a major league fastball’s trip to home plate, the ball drops at an overage of 1.3 inches.  When facing a 95 mph fastball, a hitter has just .43 seconds to decide if they want to swing or not.  This means that in less than a half of a second, the batter has to identify that it is a fastball, determine where the pitch will end up, and figure out if they want to swing.

Next we have the changeup.  A changeup averages 85 miles per hour, with an average vertical drop of 2.1 inches and a reaction time of .48 seconds.  The purpose of a changeup is to deceive the batter in thinking that it is a fastball.  The ball is thrown with the same arm speed as a fastball and when the pitch is coming, it has the allusion of a fastball.  The hitter, thinking it is a fastball, will often swing early, causing them to miss the ball or make weak contact.

The next pitch is the curveball, which comes in at about 77 miles per hour, giving the hitter a reaction time of .53 seconds.  What makes this pitch so difficult to hit is the movement of the ball.  This pitch drops at an average of 14.1 inches, meaning that from the time the ball is released from the pitchers hand to the time it reaches the batter, it drops over a foot.  Not only does it move vertically, but horizontally as well.  A curveball has the ability to start on one side of the plate, and move over to the other side.  Hitting any of these pitches when knowing what is coming is a challenging task, but when the pitcher mixes what pitches they throw and where they throw it in no particular order, hitting a baseball becomes nearly impossible.


I understand that there are many other extremely difficult things to do in sports.  Boxing is known to be the hardest pound by pound sport in the world. In boxing, you have to be able to throw punches, dodge punches, and take punches.  Boxing is very hard and both physically and mentally exhausting to the body.  Ice hockey is also a very challenging sport.  Being a very good skater on its own is extremely difficult, but to be able to pass the puck, hit the opponent, and shoot the puck, while skating, takes serious talent.  According to ESPN, Boxing and Ice hockey are rated as the two hardest sports in the world.   I’m not saying baseball in general is harder than any of those two sports, as defense is a lot easier than offense, but to me, specifically hitting a baseball is harder than any specific task in any sport.  There is no true way to prove if hitting a baseball is the hardest task in sports, though, because the word “hardest” is just a a matter of opinion.

Is Home Field Advantage really an advantage?

Sports are a very large part of my life.  As great as it is to play sports, there is no greater feeling than a team you are a fan of doing well.  As a fan of a team in the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, NCAA basketball, and NCAA football, I am watching sports year round.  Whenever your team is playing a home game, you feel a lot better about your chances.  I’ve always wondered why this is, though. Whether your team is home or away, it is still the same game, played the exact same way.  The field/court’s have the exact same dimensions.  The same amount of people are playing on both teams.  The only difference is who the crowd is rooting for.  This leads me to the question, “Is home field advantage really an advantage”.  I am also interested in finding out why (if proven that it is an advantage) and which of the major sports home field advantage is most apparent.


First we will look the the National Football League (NFL) from 1978-2013 (8,472 games).  On average, the home team scores 22.26 points per game, while the visiting team scores 19.52 points per game, which shows that the home team outscores the road team by an average of 2,74 points per game.  In this span of games, the home team has won roughly 57% of all games.  When looking back to the past in the four major sports (football, baseball, basketball, and hockey), we observe every league’s winning percentage of home games.  Going back to 1903, home teams in the MLB have won 53.9% of all games played.  In the NHL, home teams have won 55.7 of their games.  In the NFL, 57.3% of all games were won by the home team.  In the NBA, the home team won 60.5% of all games played.  All of these sports, some more than others, show an advantage of playing on home soil.  Now let’s look at a different statistic. formulated a statistic showing the additional percentage of games a team could have won if every game they played was a home game.  The NBA leads all of the major sports, with a percentage of 10.11.  The next closest is the NFL, where they would have won 6.1% of extra games had they all been at home.  Following the NFL is the MLB at 5.46, which is then followed by the NHL at 5.22.  All of these percentages are positive, meaning that every team would have won more games had they played all of their games on their home field.


As much of an impact as home field advantage has on pro sports, the impact it has on college sports are even more.  In NCAA basketball, the median winning percentage for teams at home is a staggering 67.62%.  This means that half of the 351 college basketball teams had a win percentage higher than this value, and half had a win percentage lower than this value.  When we look at the 2010 and 2011 college football seasons, we see that home teams won 62.8% of their games.  College football and college basketball are the two main NCAA sports watched by fans across the country, and both of these sports have higher win percentages at home than any pro sports.


So, after reviewing statistics of six major US sports leagues, it is evident that home field advantage is, in fact, a legitimate thing.  In every league, the win percentage at home is above .500, while the winning percentage on the road is below 500.

Why is home field advantage real, though?

There are many reasons why home field advantage is though of as being a real advantage. The obvious reason is the fan support.  When playing at home, you have an entire stadium cheering for you.  This provides a lot of confidence for the home team, and a lot of nerves for the away team.  Look at Penn State football for an example.  When we host Ohio State this weekend, the stadium will be filled with 107,000 people, all wearing white supporting penn state.  As a visiting team, winning in an environment like this is not an easy thing to do.  When the stadium is roaring, the visiting team can often not hear each other talk, which hurts their ability to call plays.  There are many other effects off the field that help out a team’s performance.  One is just the comfort of your own home.  When you are playing at home, you live in your own house, with your family, and get to sleep in your own bed.  On the road, you have to stay in a hotel.  Also, road teams often have to fly to the game which tires them out, while the home team does not have to go anywhere.  The last major advantage of home field is the officiating.  Although this is not supposed to happen, there is often a home field bias.  If the referee has a difficult decision to make, they will often make it where it benefits the home team.


Hey everybody.  My name is Matt Simco.  I am from Centreville, Virginia, which is about 25 miles west of Washington DC.  I am a freshman here at Penn State.   I am currently in the Division of Undergraduate Studies, but I look to transfer to the Smeal College of Business.  Sports are a large part of my life, and i actively watch and play sports, specifically football, baseball, and basketball.

The reason I took this class was because I need nine credits of natural sciences to graduate, and I thought I should get one out of the way in my first semester. After browsing all of the general education sciences courses, this one seemed the most interesting.  What drew me in was that this class was aimed at making non-scientists more aware of science that occurs everyday.  I think the sciences classes that I took in high school such as biology, chemistry, and physics are extremely boring, and I am hoping this class teaches me about the more interesting aspects of science.

I am not planning to be a science major simply I am not good at science, and because I find it very boring.  I struggled through science in high school, specifically the hard sciences such as biology, chemistry, and physics.   Those three classes were my worst three grades in all of high school.  There are only three areas of sciences that I find interesting. The first two are astronomy and extreme weather.  The other is Sports Science, which is a series on ESPN that explores the science of athletic endeavors.  You can find a clip here.  You are supposed to major in a field that you enjoy and are good at, and that is most certainty not science for me.

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