Author Archives: Michael Curran

Would A Soda Ban Like That In New York Backfire?

Over the course of the semester, we have discussed the consumption of sugary drinks, especially in large quantities, and how it is bad for an individual’s health. Previously, in New York City, there was a proposed bill to ban the sales of sugary beverages in cups larger than 16 ounces. So, shouldn’t we, barring any philosophical qualms about freedom of choice, ban large amounts of soda from being sold and consumed?

Not so fast, says one PLOS study; as a matter of fact, the soda ban would lead to a larger consumption of sugary drinks than not having any ban at all, according to Ryan Jaslow in an article he wrote for CBS News. The PLOS study had a randomized trial consisting of 100 participants testing-the null hypothesis that sugary beverage consumption is not going to change with or without the ban, and the alternative hypothesis that the soda ban is going to cause people to consume a different volume of sugary beverages. The PLOV study stated that there would be a greater chance of businesses just offering bundled drinks if they are unable to sell the larger ones. In the experiment conducted, the participants were offered three kinds of soda menus; menu one had three different sized soft drinks: a 16oz for $1.59, a 24oz for $1.79, and a 32oz for $1.99. Menu two had one drink on it – the 16oz soft drink for $1.59. Finally, the third menu had three drinks options on it as well, but none of them exceeded the 16oz limit. The first drink was 16oz for $1.59, the second drink was a set of two 12oz drinks for $1.79, and the third option was a set of two 16oz drinks for $1.99. The researchers at PLOS observed that people had bought more soda from the bundles on the third menu than the individual drinks of equivalent volume and price on the first menu. Ironically enough, David Just, a behavioral economics professor at Cornell, stated that the majority of people usually buy a regular sized soda, but in this experiment, people are buying larger volumes of soda although they are in smaller cups.


After examination, it is at that point to decide to accept or reject the null/alternative hypothesis. At first glance, we should reject the null hypothesis because people drank more sugary beverages from the newest menu option restaurants would have available; however, the sample size was somewhat small, consisting of 100 people. In the end, however, sugary beverages are not good for you, and the chance that the soda ban may in fact have an inverse effect and increase the rate at which people drink sugary drinks is an unnecessary risk to take.

Photo Source

The New York City Soda Ban: Good or Evil?

Works Cited

The New York City Soda Ban: Good or Evil?


Why Are Astronauts Going Blind?

For years, astronauts who had spent long durations of time in outer space had been coming back down to Earth with vision problems, but nobody could figure out why. Mike Wall, a senior writer for, stated that the vision problems experienced by astronauts after a prolonged amount of time in outer space would hinder expeditions to farther reaches of outer space, such as Mars. In a later article on the subject by Ed Susman, which he had written for MedPageToday, stated that nearly two-thirds of long term International Space Station missions resulted in vision problems for the astronauts on them, and that by 2010, people were very concerned. There is a very clear correlation between the amount of time spent in space and the likelihood of developing vision problems.

Astronaut on moon

Dr. Noam Alperin and his team of doctors had decided to try and find out if fluid pressure was the cause for vision problems that the astronauts were experiencing; to do so, they compared MRI scans from seven long duration scans and 9 short duration scans, where, in this scenario, the short duration is the control. Dr. Noam Alperin found that the changes viewed were significant enough in long duration to reject the null hypothesis, that being that it didn’t do anything to fluids, while accepting the alternative hypothesis that fluid was the mechanism.

One clear possible problem with this study is that confounding variables are unlikely, but having a small sample size means that it is possibly due to chance.

Photos Cited

Works Cited

Why Is Weed Getting Better?

Throughout the United States, several states have legalized recreational or medicinal marijuana in the election this November, a development that was overshadowed by Donald Trump’s election, so many weren’t paying attention to it. These results show that the legalization of marijuana is something that nobody can ignore anymore. It is becoming more and more common and widespread, and everyone will be affected by it.


One big argument of those opposing the legalization of marijuana is that this isn’t the same weed people’s hippie grandfathers were smoking in the 1960’s; it’s much stronger. Caleb Hellerman stated in an article he wrote for CNN that in 1972 the average THC was 1%, 3%-4% in the 1990’s, and is 13% today.

So why exactly is weed becoming stronger as time goes on?

This occurs through selective breeding of positive traits in cannabis plants, with the goal in mind to create offspring that would get you more high. The principle behind cross breeding different strains of cannabis to try and optimize the best dominant and recessive traits from the parent strains to create a new strain comes from Gregor Mendel’s cross breeding of pea plants.

So what exactly is the process that Mendel used to make his findings with the pea plants that led to him becoming the father of modern genetics? Well, it’s very similar to what scientists use today.

Focusing on the science behind Mendel, his experiment was to test the ability to cross breed and mix traits from different pea plants. His null hypothesis would have been that the plants could not be cross bred or would not offer any new traits, and his alternative hypothesis would have been that certain characteristics from each parent plant would be given to the offspring.

Photo Cited

Get Ready Florida! Legal Weed Will Be Yours Next Week

Works Cited

Marijuana Grow Guide

Get Ready Florida! Legal Weed Will Be Yours Next Week


In light of recent events surrounding the 2016 American election, Donald Trump is now the President Elect, with his Vice President being Mike Pence. There has been a large amount of uproar about these results coming from the LGBTQ community, and have been one of the largest groups speaking out in protest against Donald Trump’s election. However, this does not make that much sense because Donald Trump claimed to be an ally of the LGBTQ community several times on the campaign trail.


This upset starts to make much more sense when you look at Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, who, according to Liam Stack with the New York Times, has been an opponent of gay rights as Indiana Governor and a congressman, and Pence is associated with supporting conversion therapy. 

Conversion therapy is a form of psychological treatment, targeting members of the LGBTQ community, in an attempt to convert the individual’s sexuality from whichever identity they align with to heterosexual. To believe that this could in fact work, means that anyone supporting conversion therapy believes that being lesbian, gay, or bisexual is suffering from a mental illness to make them that way, and that conversion therapy is a cure. That being said, the question that I want to pose from this is, does conversion therapy work, or is it simply bad science? Building from this question, the null hypothesis is going to be that conversion therapy does nothing and has no positive effect, or the alternative hypothesis being that conversion therapy can have an effect on changing sexuality.

On the website of the American Psychological Association, they have taken the firm stance that homosexuality is not a mental disorder, as well as stated that the majority of the rhetoric of homosexuality being unnatural stems from conservative religious political movements. Alongside this, there are no studies that support or endorse conversion therapy.

In light of these findings, The null hypothesis is accepted and the alternative hypothesis is rejected. Just like it was spoken about in class, there is such a thing as bad science that can hurt people, whether it is this scenario regarding conversion therapy, or the bleeding that killed George Washington.

Photo Cited

Works Cited


Stress Puppies For Finals Week

With finals week coming up, myself, along with many of my peers I’m sure, are feeling the pressure and beginning to stress. Fortunately, Penn State recognizes this, and provides a multitude of services throughout finals week to help us cope and get through it, with one of these services being stress puppies. By doing this, Penn State is making the claim that spending time with dogs will help lessen or remove stress, which is the alternative hypothesis. That being said, the null hypothesis would be that dogs unfortunately do nothing to help with stress.

According to an article on Harvard Health by Christine Junge and Ann MacDonald, not only does being around dogs help with lowering and maintaining stress levels, their presence has also been found aide with an array of health related issues, such as lowering blood pressure, improving recovery time from heart disease, and reduce the effects of asthma and allergies. While looking up whether or not there are mental health benefits to owning or being around dogs, I came across emotional support dogs. The US Dog Registry has stated that dogs can be registered to provide emotional support to their owners or other humans, and help them deal with mental health disorders and diseases such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, fears, phobias, and several other mental health conditions.


After looking a bit further into this, we are to reject the null hypothesis and accept the alternative hypothesis that dogs are able to reduce stress. That being said, it would be a good idea for Penn State to continue this tradition from finals weeks in the past and bring puppies to campus this year to alleviate some of the pressure students face during finals.

Photo Sources

Are Emotional Support Dog Vests Required for ESAs?

Works Cited

Therapy dog offers stress relief at work

Information on Emotional Support Dogs

Why I am in SC200

Hi everyone, I’m Mike. I’m entering my junior year here at PSU, and majoring in business management in Smeal. As far as science goes, I find it very interesting, although it is not my strong suit. A friend of mine recommended this course because they were in the same predicament as me, and said that this class was interesting yet not the typical chem class taken here at Penn State. I’m much happier working with business as a career rather than science, and business just makes sense to me, it naturally clicks. As it turns out, my Myers Briggs personality results are ENTJ, and a suitable career path for me is in business.