Author Archives: Nicholas E Schneider

Does playing violent video games make people violent?


Since around the age of three I’ve always enjoyed playing video games and I definitely still enjoy them today. Something I find interesting is that around the same time I began playing video games, the American media first started reporting a potential correlation between kids playing violent video games and subsequently displaying overtly violent behavior. As time has gone on the link between violence in games and violence in the real world has only become a more prominent topic in the United States… and it’s something I have never quite understood. Yes, I do recognize that there have been a few instances in the past where individuals who committed violent acts also happened to frequent the use of violent games (most notably the school shooters from 1999’s Columbine High School massacre). With this being said, I’ve always felt like violent video games and real life violence were related by pure chance more than anything else. Why do I feel this way? From my experience playing video games, I’ve noticed that the violent, “shooter” style games are simply the most popular and well-liked games regardless of a player’s age or interests. Frankly, almost everyone enjoys playing games of this genre. I’ve personally been immersed in video games that involve guns, shooting, weapons, and violence for probably 15 years, yet I’ve never once acted with aggression because of the influence of a game, nor have I ever felt compelled to commit an act of violence. In my opinion, the sheer amount of people playing these games is the reason for their perceived connection to violence; when millions of people are playing a violent game, or doing any activity for that matter, there are bound to be one or two “bad seeds”. For every one person that commits an act of violence as a result of exposer to a violent game, there are thousands of people who don’t act violently. It’s for these reasons that my null hypothesis supports violent video games having no relation to violent behavior, while the alternative hypothesis would be that playing violent video games does make people act violently.

In a study conducted by researchers from Texas A&M University and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, participants were given the choice to play either a violent or non-violent video game. Neither the male nor female participant’s exposer to video game violence prompted any sort of aggressive or violent behavior. In a second study conducted by the same researchers, the team examined possible links between aggression, family violence, video game violence, and criminal acts. The results of this second study suggested that both trait aggression and family violence have a higher likelihood of prompting criminal acts than expose to video game violence does. I feel that the results of these two studies provide enough information to support the idea that other factors (family violence, trait aggression) play a more influential role in prompting violent behavior than exposure to violent video games does.

As further support for more my null hypothesis, I’d like to reference this article from The article proposes that perhaps some people lack certain cognitive abilities needed to keep their aggression and emotions in check. Should an individual with this lack of mental fortitude react aggressively when exposed to virtual violence, it’s increasingly unlikely that they’d be able to calm themselves, rather, they would continue to act with aggression. Like the other traits mentioned in the paragraph above, I believe that a lack of brain function is significantly more likely to prompt violent behavior than the exposer to video game violence would.

Based on the research studies and news article discussed above in addition to the knowledge and experience I’ve gained through playing video games for many years, I believe that factors other than violence in video games are the source of aggression and violent behavior in individuals perceived to be acting violently because of the video games they play. It is for these reasons that I confidently support my null hypothesis and would be hard pressed to believe that the alternative hypothesis could be correct.

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Is creatine supplementation safe?


Speaking based on personal experience as well as my observation of my peers, it’s very common for young men to develop an interest in healthy and fitness as he enters his teenage years. With the competitiveness of sports as well as the emphasis placed on being in strong physical shape drastically increasing by the time boys reach high school, these teenagers enter the gym for a workout with progressive, sometimes lofty goals in mind. Because of this, the boys that become dedicated to improving their level of fitness are constantly looking for ways to grow physically and mentally, improve their strength while avoiding a plateau, and remain one step ahead of the competition. Of all the nutritional and dietary supplements on the market specifically designed to accelerate mussel growth, perhaps the most common is a supplement called creatine.

According to an article from, creatine increases the body’s rate at which it can produced energy. Because the body is given more energy than typical, those who supplement with creatine can train harder and more often, thus producing faster results. There’s no question that creatine is a supplement that really works, with the potential to yield a dedicated gym-goer rapid results. However, the question many weightlifters (of all ages) have about creatine is, is supplementing with creatine safe? The null hypothesis for my proposed question would be that creatine is totally safe for frequent usage and does not pose any health risks, whereas the alternative hypothesis would be that creatine supplementation puts users at risk and can have dangerous side effects.

In a six-month study analyzing the long-term effects of creatine supplementation, researchers frequently measured the blood and urinary markers (as well as other markers) of 98 Division 1A college football players (half of whom supplemented with creatine for the entire six months, and half of whom did not take creatine) in order to assess their health status. At the close of the six month study, the researchers determined no clear differences in the markers from the athletes who did supplement with creatine compared to those who did not. As a result of their findings, the researchers determined that supplementing with creatine for up to 21 months has no adverse effect on the health of athletes.

In a separate study focusing on creatine supplementation’s effect on the kidneys, researchers measured levels of creatinine, plasma albumin, and urea in the bodies of individuals from both a control group and a group who supplemented with creatine. At the study’s conclusion, researchers were unable to determine any differences in levels tested between the creatine-group and the control group. As a result, the research team ruled out the possibility that creatine supplementation (of any amount of time) can have detrimental effects on a user’s kidneys.

As a result of a multitude of studies ruling out creatine supplementation as a hazardous or potentially harmful practice, and because creatine has become so widely used without any documented adverse health problems, I’ve determined that my null hypothesis is correct. Because I feel that creatine is completely safe for frequent usage and does not pose any health risks, either in the near future or the long term, I’m confident that any alternative hypothesis to creatine being safe is incorrect.

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Does smoking while pregnant significantly impact the baby?


While some people may prefer to ignore the obvious health ramifications that come with being a cigarette smoker, scientific advancements of the last few decades as well as an immense amount of anti-tobacco avocation have made smoking’s deadly consequences common knowledge. If, by 2016, you are not yet aware of the laundry list of dangers that cigarette smoking poses, you are either living under a rock or doing everything in your power to tune out the truth about tobacco. My point is, by now, everyone surely knows the risks, right? As I unfortunately discovered last week, maybe not. As I traveled back to the Philadelphia area for Thanksgiving I was absolutely appalled to see not one, but two soon-to-be mothers smoking cigarettes while carrying a child. Cigarettes are glorified throughout the entertainment industry, but even in movies and television shows you’ll rarely ever see a pregnant woman smoking. So, how is it that these women are in the process of bringing a child into the world and are somehow okay with endangering that life before it even begins? Unable to think of any other explanation, I figured these women simply must not know how much they could be hurting their child. Despite my overwhelming inclination to believe that I’m obviously right and these women are very wrong, I couldn’t help but recognize that I honestly didn’t know much about the hazards of smoking while pregnant. So, I asked myself, does smoking while pregnant actually impact the baby significantly? The null hypothesis in my study would be that smoking does not have a significant impact on the baby, with the alternative hypothesis being that smoking does have a clear and substantial impact on the newborn.

In 2003, a study was published that documented the effects that a woman smoking during pregnancy could have on the neurobehavioral of her newborn. The study compared 27 nicotine exposed and 29 unexposed full term newborns from the same social background, with no known medical problems. The study revealed that the babies who had been exposed to nicotine were excitable and hypertonic (rigid muscle, decreased flexibility/mobility) significantly more often the babies that had not been exposed to nicotine. In addition, the exposed babies were at a higher risk of developing stressed and problematic gastrointestinal and central nervous system, and were born with a legitimate nicotine addiction.

According to Dr. Robert Welch, the chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Southfield, Michigan’s Providence Hospital, smoking cigarettes is most likely the largest cause of unwanted or problematic outcomes for newborn babies. Welch says that in babies born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy, he commonly sees side effects such as premature birth and low birth weight (for which no medication can help), with the most serious side effects being stillbirth and miscarriage. Pregnancy smoking has also been known to lead to learn and behavioral disorders, asthma, and sudden infant death syndrome (death of the newborn that occurs while the baby is asleep.)

As I believed would happen, my research and analysis of the studies/results of pregnancy smoking has enabled me to confirm my alternative hypothesis. It is without question that exposing an unborn baby to nicotine can have a devastating impact on the health and subsequent life of a newborn and can also result in a wide array of birth defects. Simply stated, the only way for an expecting mother to ensure her baby’s immunity from nicotine related issues postpartum is to completely stay away from cigarettes and other tobacco products.

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Does exercise improve brain function?


Athletes, actors, parents and gym teachers alike have, for years, preached the value of starting each day off with a good workout. Not only does a morning run, swim, or trip to the gym get your daily sweat over and done with early in the day, but it’s been said that this exercise can help prevent sickness and disease as well as provide people with lasting energy, an upbeat attitude, and a strong work ethic that carries over into anything a person has on tap for the day. Obviously we are all aware of numerous health benefits and improvements in quality of life that come as a result of daily exercise, however, what many (including myself) are wondering is, can exercise be just as beneficial to the brain as it is to the body? In researching this question, I will seek evidence supporting the idea that exercise can improve brain function (alternative hypothesis) rather than opting to believe the null hypothesis, that exercise does not have any effect on the function of the human brain.

At the onset of my research, I wanted to take a look at how exercise could potentially improve brain function specifically in relation to children and young adults. As it turns out, the cognitive benefits of exercise maybe be evident in young people more so than people of any other age group, and the children who benefit the most as a result of frequent exercise may continue reaping the benefits much later in life. In one study, researchers analyzed (via a series of reaction tests and choice-response tasks) how the brains of children were impacted by 30 minutes of aerobic exercise prior to testing in comparison to children who had not done any physical activity. The results showed that the children who had exercised prior to their task evaluation performed significantly better than the children who had not exercised at all. Interestingly, the cognitive abilities of children and young adults were found to be considerably increased as a result of exercise not just on a day-to-day basis, but for the long-term. In a study published in 2014 that was conducted over a 25-year period, children were asked to run on a treadmill before having a variety of their cognitive abilities tested (including verbal memory, memory capacity, reasoning skills, problem-solving ability, and multitasking ability, amongst others). 25 years later, the same subjects, now adults, returned and were given the same test they had completed as children. As a result of this study, researchers were able to determine that the individuals who exhibited above average cardio-respiratory fitness as kids typically had a higher level of cognitive ability once they reached their 40’s and 50’s. In addition, the subjects who exhibited the least decline in cardio-respiratory fitness over the course of the 25-year period also had a greater level of cognitive functionality than those whose fitness levels decreased over time. Based on these two studies it can be determined that there is, at the very least, significant evidence supporting my alternative hypothesis, that exercise can improve brain function.

After observing how physical activity can be beneficial to the minds of people as young as children and all the way up to middle aged individuals, I wanted to see if these cognitive improvements stemming from exercise could also be made by older subjects.

In a study conducted from 2004-2007, 138 subjects above the age of 50 were randomly placed on an at-home, 24-week fitness regimen. After actively participating in their fitness routine for six months, the cognitive abilities and brain function of each individual were documented for an additional 18 months. At the study’s conclusion, researchers determined that the participants who actively followed their assigned fitness regime provided “modest” cognitive developments and also were less likely to develop dementia.

In summary and based on my findings from the analyzed research studies, I believe that exercise is a valuable tool for sharpening both the human body and the human brain. Because cognitive function and ability can be visibly increased due to physical activity alone, I feel as if there is substantial evidence supporting my alternative hypothesis, that exercise can improve brain function.

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Does listening to music while working affect performance?


Whether I’m driving with the windows down on a summer day, walking through campus on my way to a lecture, or getting some exercise at the gym, it’s a safe assumption that I’m doing so while also listening to music. Music has been a part of my daily life for as long as I can remember and I’ve always felt that nearly every activity can be made more enjoyable if it’s done with some background music; studying for exams is of no exception. However, after reading an article online that listed various “Studying Do’s & Do Not’s” (with music considered a “Do Not”) I wondered, have I been going about my exam preparation all wrong? Because listening to music while doing schoolwork had been a part of my study routine for such a long time, I’d never even considered that the tunes I believed were keeping me engaged were actually distracting me from working diligently, and thus negatively impacting my academic performance. After doing a little more research and finding sources that both advocated for and warned against listening to music while studying, I was determined to find out, does listening to music while working affect performance? In my search for an answer, I considered my null hypothesis to be “Listening to music while working has no impact on task performance”, meaning that my alternative hypothesis would be “Listening to music while working on something does impact how a person performs”.

In 2008, researchers conducted a study in which 32 college students were divided into three groups before being asked to complete an attention test. The first group of students listened to background music for the entirety of their ten minute testing period (Group A). Another group of students took the exam in silence (Group B), while the last group listened to music until ten minutes before beginning their test, and then also tested in silence (Group C). After analyzing the results of each group’s attention tests, the researchers concluded that the students who listened to music prior to starting their exams (Group C) scored higher in attentiveness then those who took the exam in silence, while the scores of individuals who listened to background music throughout the test varied more so than any other group. Although listening to music during the test resulted in Group A’s test scores fluctuating the most from member to member, it should be noted that all three of the tested conditions yielded differing test scores amongst members of the same group. Essentially, the group that was asked to listen to music throughout their testing period was clearly the group that had the hardest time being attentive, but overall each of the 32 subjects reacted differently to the condition they were tested under. These results support the idea that listening to music while working can negatively affect performance, but they also show that everyone is affected differently by each testing condition (some perform better with background music than with silence while others perform in just the opposite manner.)

While the study from above did produce evidence supporting my alternative hypothesis (background music as a [negative] influence on performance), I recognized that the music people would normally listen while working is not predetermined but rather based on personal preference. Because of this, I wondered if certain genres of music could have more of an impactful on performance than other types of music. While searching for an answer to this question, I came across a Taiwanese study from 2009 where 133 university students were each given a reading comprehension test. Similar to the last study I analyzed, some of these students completed their exams in silence, some took the exam with classical music playing in the background and the other students listened to hip hop during the test. The experiment’s results showed that students listening to a higher intensity genre of music (rap, rock n roll, EDM) were distracted much more easily and as a result preformed visibly worse than those who listened to either a softer genre of music or no music at all.

Based on what I have gathered through my research and analyzation of multiple studies, I can confidently say that listening to music while studying does have an impact on performance (essentially confirming my alternative hypothesis and disproving my null hypothesis). With that being said, it’s not a guarantee that this impact on performance has to be negative. The idea that became most clear to me while observing music’s effect on task performance was that everyone reacts differently to the different stimuli the experience whilst working. For some, even gentle background music is enough to completely distract them from the task at hand, while others may even perform better on a job or test with music blaring through a nearby speaker. All in all it’s clear that music can affect an individual’s ability to work, but how a person is affected basically comes down to personal preference.


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Concussions in Football


Much has changed across the landscape of football in the last 20 years. Take a look at the roster for each of the NFL’s 32 teams and you’ll be unable to find a single player drafted before 1995. More than 60% of the leagues teams have moved into new stadiums in that same time frame. Team practice and training facilities, weight rooms, offices, and planes have all gone digital, and even the players’ equipment is drastically more high tech than back in the 90’s. It’s seems that when a college or pro football teams notices something can be improved, whether it be their depth chart, playbook, jumbotron, or uniform color scheme, the upgrade happens quickly no matter the cost. So I ask, when nearly everything in football has been changing rapidly for decades, why are we just beginning to change the way we look at concussions?

In April of 1999, Mike Webster, a then 47 year old who played for 16 seasons in the NFL, claimed in his disability application to the NFL that his football career had caused him dementia. Two and a half years later, the NFL’s Retirement Board ruled that Webster’s football career had in fact caused him permanent brain damage, with Webster’s lawyer arguing that the ruling means the NFL should’ve known there was a clear link between football and brain damage. Just two months later the chairman of the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) committee, Dr. Elliot Pellman, claimed that studies by his committee had shown that brain injuries in the NFL are uncommon and minor. In 2003, the same Dr. Pellman (who also served as the team doctor for the New York Jets) sent a Jets player back into a game minutes after being knocked out cold and even authorized his committee’s publishing of a paper in Neurosurgery where they claimed that NFL players are actually LESS susceptible to brain injury. This pattern of negligence would continue for years (and some would say still continues); it wasn’t until Allegheny (Pa) County medical examiner Dr. Bennet Omalu examined former player Mike Webster’s brain and found a connection between head injuries sustained in football and the development chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) that a potential problem was discovered.

In the years since Dr. Omalu’s discovery of CTE in Mike Webster’s brain, concussions have taken center stage amongst a laundry list of other problems in the NFL. In more than five cases of former NFL players who committed suicide since 2010, CTE was discovered in the brain of ALL of them. According to a September 2015 article published in the Atlantic [ ], researchers at Boston University studied the brains of 165 former football players, with experience ranging from high school, college, and the professional level. Of the studied players, an astounding 79% of them were found to traces of CTE in their brain, with 96% of the 91 former NFL players who were tested testing positive for evidence of CTE.

Despite the small test group from this study, I found it absolutely shocking to read that nearly all of the former NFL players tested had developed signs of CTE. Perhaps even more horrifying is the fact that many of these players, who had only played football up to the high school level, had evidence of CTE in their brain. 20 years ago, the NFL had no idea it had a concussion problem. 10 years later, the league was still trying to deny the same theory. Today, it’s clear that there is a significant link between playing football and developing permanent brain damage, an issue that’s no longer affecting strictly pro players. Yes, the NFL does have a concussion problem, but so does the entire sport of football, a sport that over 1,088,000 high school boys play each fall.




Is Marijuana really as bad as people says it is?

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 19:  Dave Warden, a bud tender at Private Organic Therapy (P.O.T.), a non-profit co-operative medical marijuana dispensary, displays various types of marijuana available to patients on October 19, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Attorney General Eric Holder announced new guidelines today for federal prosecutors in states where the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is allowed under state law. Federal prosecutors will no longer trump the state with raids on the southern California dispensaries as they had been doing, but Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley recently began a crackdown campaign that will include raids against the facilities. Cooley maintains that virtually all marijuana dispensaries are in violation of the law because they profit from their product. The city of LA has been slow to come to agreement on how to regulate its 800 to 1,000 dispensaries. Californians voted to allow sick people with referrals from doctors to consume cannabis with the passage of state ballot Proposition 215 in 1996 and a total of 14 states now allow the medicinal use of marijuana. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

In the 1920’s, Lucky Strike cigarettes were the preferred cigarette of doctors as they were considered “less irritating” on the throat than other cigarette brands. In 1949, Camel cigarettes claimed that “More Doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette.” 15 years later, the United States surgeon general announced that a link had been found between smoking cigarettes and the development of lung cancer, among other diseases. Even still, cigarette advertisements could be found in school magazines until 2005. Similarly, the legal drinking age was lowered to 18 by 30 states in the early 1970’s despite the known negative effects of alcohol.  Although the national drinking age has since been reestablished as 21, advertisements for alcohol can still be found everywhere, from TV and radio commercials to magazines and baseball stadiums. What’s my point? In a country where 16 million people will suffer from cigarette related illnesses and 88,000 people will die alcohol-related deaths this year alone, how are both of these substances perfectly acceptable by most of society’s standards while marijuana remains heavily stigmatized, despite being thousands of times less deadly than cigarettes and alcohol?

Marijuana has received a reputation in the United States as a drug for deadbeats and losers, a substance that opens the doorway for experimentation with hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Personally, this notion falls somewhere between outdated and complete nonsense, but my own beliefs aside, I’m left wondering, is marijuana really as bad as people say it is?

The Journal of Scientific Reports published a study in early 2015 (which is analyzed in this article [ ] in which lethal amounts of various substances/drugs were tested against the amount used by the average user. Of the tested substances (Meth, ecstasy, tobacco, cannabis, heroin, alcohol and cocaine), marijuana ranked dead last in comparative risk, was the only drug analyzed that showed a low mortality rate, and was rated as 114 times less deadly than liquor. Following the study, the authors even released a statement declaring that the federal government should begin to prioritize risk management towards alcohol and tobacco instead of marijuana.

Additionally, in a 2012 study led by University of California, San Francisco epidemiologist Mark Pletcher, Pletcher and his team analyzed the effect that long term, frequent marijuana usage had on the body of the smokers. Pletcher says that most of the study’s participants smoked an average of 2-3 joints each month for 20 years, but even when examining the body of a man who had smoked at least one joint daily for 20 years, Pletcher and his team were unable to find ANY effects of marijuana use.

It’s likely that those who strongly oppose the legalization of marijuana with never stop talking about the drugs *allegedly* negative effects, but I wonder what these same people have to say about the positive effects of marijuana?

What? Positive effects of marijuana? Yes, medical marijuana has undeniably helped hundreds of thousands of people in the United States, the largest group being those suffering from neuropathic due to nerve damage. Also becoming increasingly common is the prescription of medical marijuana for individuals who suffer from severe appetite loss as a result of AIDS or chemotherapy in cancer patients.  In other instances, marijuana and marijuana oils have also been used to aid individuals suffering from conditions such as bipolar disorder, epilepsy, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and multiple sclerosis.

Until very recently, marijuana has been billed as a drug with strictly negative effects that starts users down the path towards drug abuse.  With that being said, Marijuana has been proven exponentially less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco (two legal substances in the U.S.) while it’s also been proven to have health benefits for potentially millions of people across the world who suffer from certain diseases or conditions. So let me ask you, Is Marijuana really as bad as people says it is?






Study or Sleep?


I can remember a week during my junior year of high school when I thought that I’d never again be as busy as I was in those three or four days. I was constantly being reminded that my 11th grade performance would have a huge impact on my college plans, which only increased my stress level as I scrambled to finish essays, study for multiple exams and prepare for the SATs. It seemed as if there were not enough hours in the day to complete all of my assignments, so when the clock struck midnight and I felt I hadn’t prepared enough, I was faced with a dilemma. Do I chug a “5-hour energy” and get ready for an all-night study session, or do I go to bed right away and get at least a few good hours of sleep before resuming my studying in the morning? Personally, I’ve always preferred to go to bed at a reasonable hour and study early the next morning rather than opt for pulling an all-nighter. Some students may have a different mindset than I have when it comes to crunch time studying, but as my college career has advanced and the number of late night/early morning study sessions I’ve had has grown, I still wonder, which is the better study method for testing success?

In a study conducted by researchers from UCLA, 535 LA high schoolers kept a diary for three 14 day periods, once in 9th grade, once in 10th grade, and again during their senior year. For each of the 14 research days students detailed how much time they spent studying, how much sleep they got at night and if they experienced any academic problems (poor grade on an exam, inability to comprehend class material) the following day. As many could’ve guessed, the study found that students who failed to get enough sleep had trouble comprehending class material the next day. In addition, the data showed that students who chose to bypass sleep and cram for their upcoming test tended to do much worse (on the test they spent all night studying for) than students who got an ideal amount of sleep (8.5-9.25 hours according to the National Sleep Foundation) the night before an exam.

In this USA Today article [], which is actually an excerpt from University of Miami professor Patrick O’Brien’s novel Making College Count, O’Brien asks, would a professional athlete deprive him or herself of sleep the night before a game? Would a politician go without sleep prior to an important speech? With the obvious answer being “of course not”, the author questions why a student would choose to do the same the night before a huge exam? Rather than stay up all night to study for a test, an idea O’Brien deems as “nothing short of crazy”, he says students should get a minimum of four hours of shut eye before diligently studying their best notes, not just quickly breezing through all course material. Additionally, O’Brien warns against consuming too much caffeine in an attempt to stay awake as overdoing it with the coffee or sodas can make students antsy and can actually hurt their focus. In one of his final pieces of advice, the author recommends that students look over their class notes in the 3-4 days leading up to an exam so that they can gauge their current understanding of the material and how much information they’ll have to know for the exam, rather than beginning to study the night before the test only to realize they don’t have enough time to cover all the information.

Both O’Brien and the data from UCLA’s research study are consistent with the opinion of Dr. Philip Alapat, an assistant professor for Baylor University’s College of Medicine and the medical director of the Harris Health Sleep Disorders Center in Texas. Alapat feels that students need at least eight hours of sleep the night before a day of testing because sleep deprivation will negatively affect a student’s mood, focus, energy and ability to learn, which can obviously have ill effects on scholastic performance.

It’s no secret that all people learn differently.  For some students, getting out of bed in the early morning to study for an exam may be a next to impossible task. For these people, perhaps all night binge studying is the best study method. However, in my research for this blog I was unable to find a single doctor or scientist personally recommending that students stay up all night studying for an exam rather than getting a good night’s sleep. So, while I understand that this may not hold true for each and every student out there, the consensus is that spending a significant number of hours sleeping the night before an exam is much more conducive to earning an “A” than pulling an all-nighter is.



Technology’s effect on interpersonal relationships

Close your eyes for a second a think back on the fond childhood memories of a summer with no responsibilities.  With a summer job still years away and high school waiting for you down the road, most of your time is spent deciding what to do with all your free time. With unlimited possibilities and all options on the table you opt for the easy, boring and predictable crime show marathon on television.  An unclear amount of time has gone by when you hear your mom come through the door, home after a long day of work. “Have you been watching TV all day?? It’s a beautiful summer day! Go outside and do something with your friends, you’re wasting all your time in front of the TV!” It’s a story every kid knows too well, all you want to do is relax, but mom and dad are convinced you’re slowly wasting away with every hour you spend in front of the TV, video game system, or computer. All these years later and I only have one question, were they right?  Technology has absolutely exploded in the last 20 years, 2016 is America’s most technologically advanced year to date and our country shows no sign of halting advancements.  With that being said, the question is more prevalent today than ever before, is technology hurting interpersonal relationships?

technology-hurting-relationshipsAccording to technology is negatively impacting families more than anyone else.  Children in today’s society are immersed in technology from an extremely young age, plopped in front of the television by a tired parent and showered with gifts like gaming consoles and smartphones once gifted to “kids” ten years their senior.  Children are learning how to behave (both in childhood and adult life) from the example set by sit-coms, reality and animated TV shows, and movies.  One study produced findings that children fully immersed in technology did not greet/notice their parent upon return home from work 50 % of the time, and it’s clear that at the very least a child’s attention is significantly diminished when in the area of a screen, whether that be a phone, laptop, or plasma.  While the explosion of technology currently happening in America is beneficial to all of society for many reasons, is it important that as a country we do not sit idly behind screens and neglect relationships with relatives, friends, neighbors, and colleagues, Instead, it’s important that we use recent advancements in technology to forge a stronger bond with one another, effectively using technology as a medium by which to learn, develop, and grow closer as people.



It is a guarantee that every person is this world has faced some type of writer’s block, mental hardship, or overall brain fatigue at one point or another.  Everyone has struggled to write an essay for a class, given up on studying because of an inability to focus, or failed to meet a deadline because of stress.  An interesting idea commonly thrown around in popular movies and television shows is that humans only use about 10-20% of their brain at any given time.  While I cannot attest to the validity of that percentage, my point is this; is there a substance out there that can enable us access all of our brain? This question came to mind after watching the 2011 thriller “Limitless” starring Bradley Cooper.  In the film, Bradley Cooper plays Eddie Mora, a dead-beat writer with a book deal, a drinking problem, and nothing to write about. For four months Mora attempted to write his novel and had yet to get a word on paper, but things changed when he was given a small, clear tablet of a “wonder drug” called NZT; a pill that lasts all day and enables a person to access 100% of his/her brain.  Mora feels the effects of NZT nearly immediately, no high or wiry feeling, but a clear, focused, determination.  In the span of a few days Mora redesigns his apartment, helps a law student pass key exams with no prior knowledge of politics and finishes his novel. By the end of week two Mora is raking in cash trading stocks and has landed a job as a Wall Street trading consultant.  By movie’s end Mora has grown far smarter than his former Wall Street bosses, found a way to nullify the negative effects of NZT, and has become a member of the United States senate with presidential aspirations.  Obviously I realized after watching “Limitless” that Hollywood undoubtedly dramatized much of the movie, but I wondered if a similar drug actually existed and if the drug could provide any similar effects, even if nowhere near as strong.

As it turns out, Nuvigil (a prescription drug commonly used in the treatment of narcolepsy) is commonly used (abused) by individuals to increase energy, alertness, focus, attention span, and brain activity and has become a popular study/work drug. In the article I read ( the writer takes Nuvigil (essentially the closest readily available relative to a pill like NZT) for five days straight and documents the effects.  Off the bat, the writer notes that Nuvigil is known to have serious side effects, ranging from mouth blisters and vomiting to suicidal thoughts and depression, none of which he experiences personally after taking the pills.  However, while admitting the drug made him “relentlessly focused”, the writer did suffer from unexpected side effects, saying 10 pushups seemed like an impossible task, waiting minutes for an elevator was an easy choice rather than taking the stairs, and he constantly felt as if “nothing was good and nothing was bad.” After analyzing the article “I spent a week on Nuvigil, the drug from ‘Limitless’” in relation to the film “Limitless” I remain firm in the stance I had before reading the article, that a drug at powerful as NZT is nothing but Hollywood movie magic, and that a few cups of coffee and a clear head can provide a person with all he or she needs to power through and complete the task at hand.

Never Been a Science Guy

My name is Nick Schneider and I am currently a Junior Broadcast Journalism major. I grew up in Bucks County, PA, specifically Warrington, and for as long as I can remember I’ve loved sports, the beach, and most notably, not science. It’s not that I don’t find aspects of science interesting, it’s quite the opposite actually, I’ve just never been able to get excited about science because hardly anything taught in middle and high school sciences classes ever peaked my interest. Science in my earlier education was all about lame experiments, measuring liquids in beakers and test tubes, and writing boring hypotheses day in and day out.  While I always did well in these classes, i never cared much for them because i never really cared about any of the material.  However, my opinion on science changed once i started my junior year of high school. Fed up with the usual run of the mill science courses and determined to stay away from my math-science nightmare that was Physics, i elected to take a Forensic Science class. It was there that i realized that science wasn’t just learning about Galileo and chemical reactions, but that science could be applied in an interesting way to almost all aspects of life.  Fast forward three years later; I was planning my schedule for the current semester last winter when I realized that i’d need to take a science class to fulfill my credit needs.  Once again determined to stay away from a science class with even the slightest hint of math involved, i stumbled across SC200 – the perfect science class for non-science majors – what could be more perfect? So, here I am.

I’ve never really considered why science never appealed to me, but here is an interesting article that provided some insight.

If you’ve gotten this far into my entry it’s fairly clear by now that I’m not a fan of traditional science, that is obviously the biggest reason I do not plan to be a science major. Biology, anatomy, chemistry, simply put none of it interests me in the slightest.  Since a young age i’ve always been an outgoing, creative person who enjoys writing and reporting stories, so opting for a career in Broadcast Journalism over a career in the sciences was a pretty easy choice for me.