Author Archives: Nathan O'brien

Challenge Question: Question Everything

To be honest, I almost dropped SC200 before I even stepped foot in the classroom. Although I was scared during the first three weeks, keeping this course on my schedule was the best college decision I have ever made. Let me explain.

It made me question everything


The one and only Mike Mann! Photo Courtesy of Andrew Read

It wasn’t until about halfway through SC200 that I realized I had been what I call a “follower” my entire life. I was so easily swayed by people’s ideas, especially when they used statistics. I never turned around and asked my mother why I needed a coat when it was cold outside. I never stopped in the middle of a news article to say “Hey wait a minute!” For my entire life I have been following, taking people’s word for subjects in fields where I was uneducated. I am not entirely sure if Andrew’s main goal was to make us question things, but that is definitely the number one thing I got out of the course. Obviously it’s not good to question every single little thing in life, but it’s important to analyze situations and try to understand the “why” behind so many happenings in life.

This is probably considered weird in today’s day and age, but I actually read the newspaper every day. Since this course has begun I have literally found myself laughing out loud over certain articles. I pick them apart, look for possible errors or flawed reasoning. But then suddenly I stop laughing and become filled with disappointment and sometimes even anger. How could such poorly designed studies be published by national news companies? 

Andrew Read’s class was certainly the most practical class I have ever taken. Some of my classes that I currently take involve brute memorization but do not promote any type of critical thinking.  As I write this, I am filled with a feeling of joy. The best part is that the skills and materials I learned in Andrew’s class will carry on throughout my entire life. It won’t matter if the year is 2100 and 101 years old! I will always think in a different manner because of this course. And that’s what I really applaud Andrew for, he taught me something that very few are capable of doing, and he did it by changing the way I think. Not many people have done that in my life. I want to close this by saying thank you to Andrew. Thank you for teaching me practical knowledge that I will be certain to use in my everyday life. Thank you for making me question things that would have never occurred to me if I had not taken SC200. Thank you for being my teacher.

Does Rheumatiod Arthritis Create An Additional Risk of Cardiovascular Death?


Photo courtesy of Healthline

If you know anyone with Rheumatoid arthritis then you know how grueling the disease can be on the human body. More than 1.5 million Americans have rheumatoid arthritis at any given time ( To clear up any confusion, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can bring stiffness, swelling, and pain to the joints (WebMD). There is no known cure for the disease, although there are some steps that can be taken to hinder some of the symptoms. I personally know some people who suffer with RA and I wanted to study whether RA could lead to early death, specifically cardiovascular death. Over time I have heard different opinions on the long term effects of RA on the human body. Does rheumatoid arthritis lead to early cardiovascular death, and if so, how much does it differ from the average person?

In first tackling this issue I observed two studies. The first journal, published by the American College of Rheumatology was a population-based study that ran from 1987 to 2001 (Wiley Online Library). This study would be considered a longitudinal study, since it ran for 14 years and collected data from over a span of 46 years. The x variable in the case of this study would most likely be the actual disease rheumatoid arthritis, while the y (response) variable would be the risk of cardiovascular death. The null hypothesis is that RA does not have any effect on the risk of cardiovascular death. The alternative hypothesis we are testing is that RA does have an impact on the risk of cardiovascular death.

To conclude, there does seem to be a positive correlation between RA and an increased risk of cardiovascular death. The study found a correlation with a P-value of less than .01, giving reason to deem the conclusion as statistically significant. Could this conclusion be a false positive? It could be, however we have enough reason to believe that it is likely not a false positive.


Photo courtesy of Earth Times

Something that should be noted is the use of corticosteroids, DMARDS, and NSAIDs  were used by most patients. One thought is that the medicine used to lessen the symptoms of RA such as the ones listed above could actually be confounding variables that could lead to higher cardiovascular death rates. The reason why this limitation could not be accounted for is due to ethical reasons. It would have been unethical for the researchers to have half of the study group not use medicine commonly prescribed to RA patients.

Unfortunately there is not a more accurate method to determining whether RA leads to higher risks of cardiovascular death. The ACR study did a decent job in deciphering whether the correlation is causal. As research on RA and drugs progresses, we will hopefully establish a better understanding on not only RA, but the drugs that are used to treat RA. There is a noticeable correlation between RA and the risk of cardiovascular health. The solution I have come to is that the correlation is causal. Rheumatoid arthritis is known to become progressively worse over time. The mechanism for how RA could increase cardiovascular death risks is still unknown. The disease is known to affect joints so how could it lead to heart failure? At this point we are not sure.


Works Cited:

“Cardiovascular death in rheumatoid arthritis: A population-based study.” American College of Rheumatology. Wiley Online Library,

“What Are the Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis?” Web MD, Accessed 18 Oct. 2016.

“What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?” Arthritis Foundation, Accessed 19 Oct. 2016.

Does Multi-tasking Affect Our Acedemic Performance?


Photo Courtesy of Brigham Young University

In class Andrew discussed some possible methods for preventing phone use in classrooms. Most people can agree that using phones and technology in the classroom might bring on some distractions. People just cannot wait to see why their phone vibrated and who just posted something on social media. I am no exception to this habit. Some students call themselves “multitasking masters”. They claim the ability to multitask by doing schoolwork and using technology to socialize with friends all while efficiently completing their work. My friends constantly boast about their multitasking abilities so I wanted to find out whether they could be justified in their remarks. The first study on the topic I considered was published by Elsevier with ScienceDirect. The main goal of the study was to examine the relationship between multitasking and academic performance, particularly in terms of GPA. I know that I personally am not as efficient while multitasking, however it would be an anecdote to simply say that since I cannot do it, other people must not be capable of doing it either.

The methods for the study involved a sample size of more than 3800 U.S. college students. The students were asked numerous questions regarding their study habits as well as use of technology in the past two days. They were also asked how much time the student uses ICT while doing schoolwork at the same time. The study accounted for a huge number of third variables including ones such as gender, ethnicity, parents education, and much more. The student’s high school GPA was used as a control variable in this case.

The study found a linear regression that using technology for social media and unrelated topics have a negative effect on a student’s GPA. The proposed mechanism for why multitasking with technology and schoolwork is not effective makes a lot of sense. The study brings up the point that because the human brain cannot focus on two things at once, it will take you more time to get the same amount of studying done if you are getting distracted by technology and social media. When students try to multitask they end up not processing their schoolwork which is likely why there is a negative correlation between “multitasking” and a student’s overall GPA.


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Neuroscientist Earl Miller explains that it is truly impossible to multitask (NPR). However, even though we can’t multitask we can still switch tasks at an astonishing speed.

While this study does seem to be rather convincing, there are some concerns that might arise from the results. First of all, using student’s high school GPA’s as a control variable could lead to incorrect conclusions. In my opinion, you should not compare high school and college GPA’s to make conclusions about one’s multitasking abilities. Another possible confounding variable is the method in which students multitask. Some students might check their phone every 15 minutes, while others are constantly looking at their phone or other technology. The most serious limitation to this study is that it cannot accurately rule out third variables and failed to rule out reverse causation. Is multitasking causing a lower GPA or is a lower GPA causing multitasking, or maybe it is a third variable that causes both.

Even with the many flaws, the study was able to provide some key data that helps to configure a conclusion on this topic. Other studies provide evidence that multitasking while doing schoolwork is not as efficient than if a person was not attempting to multitask. Although you still may think you can multitask while doing schoolwork, it’s probably a good idea to put your phone away and log off of facebook so that you do not get distracted. When I do work I have to turn off my phone to avoid getting distracted. I find myself much more focussed and efficient without the distractions.

Works Cited:

Hamilton, Jon. “Think You’re Multitasking? Think Again.” NPR Research News, National Public Radio, 2 Oct. 2008, Accessed 19 Oct. 2016.

“The relationship between multitasking and academic performance.” Elsevier, vol. 2, no. 52, Sept. 2012, Accessed 18 Oct. 2016.

Weimer, Maryellen. “Students Think They Can Multitask. Here’s Proof They Can’t.” Colorado State University,—Here’s-Proof-They-Can’t.aspx.


Does Fish Oil Cause Prostate Cancer?


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Every morning I wake up and take two 1250mg Omega-3 fish oil pills. It is a habit that was formed through the insistence by my mother, who deeply cares about my well being. Consuming fish oil is commonly seen as a positive action and is thought to benefit one’s health in a number of ways including lowering triglyceride levels, decreasing heart disease risk, and easing symptoms of other various disorders and diseases (Web MD).  Whenever I take any supplement to my diet I want to be sure that it is beneficial to my health. There has been some confusion recently over some possible negative health effects that fish oil supplements could impose upon the body. I wanted to look at some of those ideas and hopefully debunk these possibilities. One possible health effect being studied is the potential positive correlation between Omega-3 fatty acids, and an increased risk of prostate cancer in men. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish oil capsules. The Journal of the National Cancer Institute, a subdivision of the Oxford University Press conducted a study observing plasma phospholipid fatty acid intake and prostate cancer risk.

When thinking about causality, we assume that fish oil capsules could be increasing someone’s risk of developing cancer, but is there a possibility that the risk of cancer is causing someone to take fish oil capsules? What if people susceptible to prostate cancer take fish oil because they think it will decrease their risks of developing the disease? Because of this, it does not appear that we can rule out reverse causality. The study accounted for a handful of possible confounding variables including age, race, education, BMI, smoking status, alcohol consumption, etc.. Hopefully by accounting for those variables, the study has more accurate results.


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The conclusion of the study found that there is a link between high blood concentrations of  LCω3PUFA (ω3 polyunsaturated fatty acid) and increased risk of prostate cancer.The P-value was less than .05, so the results of the study were deemed statistically significant. Now we need to decide whether this study has discovered something or if it is simply a Type 1 error. We have a five percent chance that the conclusion reached is a Type 1 error (false positive).

The group of researchers at the Journal of the National Cancer Institute did not clearly present a mechanism for the possibility that fish oil causes prostate cancer. However, mechanisms do not always need to be known to prove that a correlation is causal.

It is evident that more research needs to be done to draw a stronger inference on whether this supplement could cause prostate cancer. If future studies find similar results, the likelihood of correlation between the two will increase exponentially.

For myself, I will most likely continue to take fish oil capsules daily due to the many benefits I believe it has for my health. If you do take fish oil capsules, I recommend you keep your eyes open for new studies that are likely to emerge in the future. If you are a male with a known family history of prostate cancer, you might want to cut back on fish oil consumption until we understand its effects better.

Works Cited:

“Fish Oil Uses and Side Effects.” Web MD,

“Plasma Phospholipid Fatty Acids and Prostate Cancer Risk in the SELECT Trial.” Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2013. SIRS Discoverer, Accessed 14 Oct. 2016.

Can Coffee Consumption Affect Coronary Heart Disease Risk?


Constantly I hear people telling me about the dangers of coffee, only to turn around and discuss the benefits that coffee has on our bodies. I have heard conflicting views from multiple people regarding whether coffee is healthy for one’s heart or not. Trying to figure out whether coffee can have any possible negative effects on one’s health would call for an extended synopsis on the topic that would involve a lot of moving parts and different possibilities. In the case of this blog, it is more practical to study one possible effect of coffee rather than attempt to decipher whether the beverage is beneficial to one’s health overall. I wanted to look at the relationship between coffee, caffeine, and coronary heart disease, since that seems to be the most disputed topic in this case. I wanted to look at multiple studies and, in the case that they do not concur, I wanted to attempt to figure out why.


While searching through multiple databases, I came upon a study conducted by the American Heart Association (AHA). The study, which ran for a span of twenty years and included more than 44,000 women and 84,000 men seems to be one of the most extensive studies in the field (American Heart Association).  The goals of the study were to decipher whether or not coffee consumption could have an effect on coronary heart disease in men and women. Confounding variables such as age, BMI, smoking status, alcohol consumption, physical activity, history with type II diabetes, and many more were taken into consideration (pg. 2046).  One thing that should be noted about this study is that it measures a wide variety of possible outcomes of coffee consumption. With this being the case, one should always be aware of what is commonly known as the Texas sharpshooter problem. Looking at the published study, there are dozens of P-values for different instances. There is no proof that the Texas sharpshooter problem exists in this study, however it’s always important to keep it in mind. Regardless of whether an individual consumed caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee, the study found no link between the drink and the risk of coronary heart disease. In the conclusion of the study, a meta-analysis with the similar results was referenced to prove the point of the AHA study.

A meta-analysis on the topic published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) came to a similar conclusion as the American Heart Association. There seems to be very little if any relationship between coffee consumption and coronary heart disease. The researchers at BMJ included 15 cohort studies and eight case-control studies in their evaluation.

The results of these two studies fail to reject the null hypothesis which is that there is no substantial correlation between coffee and CHD. If the conclusion was in fact a false negative, we would not know the true probability of it being a false negative. For myself, these studies are reassuring considering that I am an avid coffee drinker. Although there does not seem to be a correlation between coffee consumption and CHD, I still recommend that you drink coffee in moderation. Like many other foods, excessive coffee consumption could possibly lead to both short and long term issues.

Works Cited:

“Coffee Consumption and Coronary Heart Disease in Men and Women A Prospective Cohort Study.” American Heart Association.Esther Lopez-Garcia, Rob M. van Dam, Walter C. Willett, Eric B. Rimm, JoAnn E. Manson, Meir J. Stampfer, Kathryn M. Rexrode and Frank B. Hu  American Heart Association,

“Does coffee drinking increase the risk of coronary heart disease? Results from a meta-analysis.”  Ichiro Kawachi, Graham A Colditz, Catherine B StoneBritish Medical Journal. SIRS Discoverer, Accessed 13 Oct. 2016.

Is Sitting the New Smoking?

Think about how much time you sit during your day. If you are like the average college student, you are likely sitting for long periods of time sitting in classes, studying for tests, and writing blogs. A friend of mine was recently expressing his opinion to me that sitting is like the new smoking. As a curious (and worrisome) individual, I wanted to see for myself whether sitting for long periods of time can have a negative effect on our health. I wondered, is there a correlation between sitting too much and negative health effects such as early death? And if so, could the correlation be causal or is it due to chance?

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First, I needed to find a non-biased, recent study that could at least give me a better understanding to what we are looking at. I first looked at the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey that studied people’s actions throughout their day using accelerometers. According to this study, U.S. adult citizens spend on average more than half of their day in a sedimentary position.  Below is a chart depicting the average time one spends in a sedimentary position.2222Figure 2:

Next I looked at a study conducted by Canadian researchers studying the link between sitting time and mortality rates. The study accounted for multiple possible confounding variables such as physical activity, body mass index, smoking status, and alcohol consumption. As seen in figure 3, the results show a particularly strong correlation between time spent sitting and survival rate over a span of 14 years.

The P-value in this particular case was determined to be less than 0.0001. This study makes a strong inference that the link between sitting for too long and early death is causal because it studied a large group of people (17,013 Canadians), accounted for multiple potential confounding variables, and has a considerably low P-value.

Although the researchers have conducted what seems to be a thorough and convincing study, more studies should be taken into consideration in case of the extremely small possibility that the correlation between sedimentary position and higher mortality rate are due to chance.

I do not have the time nor the resources available to me to conduct a thorough meta-analysis. However with that being said, meta-analyses can be very helpful in proving correlation between two possible occurrences. Australian researchers included six studies ranging from 1989-2013 in a thorough meta-analysis. In total, more than 595,000 people were involved with the studies, accumulating more than 3,500,000 person-years of data (Chau). The study concluded that it is very likely that sitting too much decreases one’s life-span. However, it should be noted that no P-value was made evident.3333Figure 3:

Though the mechanism is not clear, some scientists believe that when muscles are not used frequently, lipoprotein lipase activity, an essential process of the human body becomes suppressed (Dunstan).

Although the effects may not be immediate, there seems to be a positive correlation between sitting and negative health effects. The more time spent sitting per day generally associates you with a higher likelihood of developing serious health issues and earlier mortality. After looking into this myself, I will attempt to stand up and move around to break up my studying. So next time you are cramming for a test or trying to write 5 blogs the day before the deadline, make it a point to move around.

Works Cited:

Dunstan, David W. “Too much sitting – A health hazard.” Elsevier, vol. 97, Sept. 2012. Science Direct, Accessed 13 Oct. 2016.

Katzmarzyk, Peter T. “Sitting Time and Mortality from all Causes, Cardiovascular disease, and cancer.” . Google Scholar,

Chau JY, Grunseit AC, Chey T, Stamatakis E, Brown WJ, Matthews CE, et al. (2013) Daily Sitting Time and All-Cause Mortality: A Meta-Analysis. PLoS ONE 8(11): e80000. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080000

Think Twice About Using Adderall

Think about how many times you’ve heard the word “adderall” flying around campus. Whether you hear it as you walk through a crowd or maybe a close friend has used it. Actually, chances are you probably know someone who has taken this “study drug”. For those who are unaware, adderall is an amphetamine that is commonly prescribed to people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) ( Not only can adderall be harmful to your health, it’s flat out cheating and it agitates me when I hear about students using it for their classes. The use of adderall on college campuses is a topic that makes me AdderallXR8mad, however I will try not to express my emotions in this post as I’m sure there are a handful of people in this class who have used adderall. One more thing, I fully acknowledge and support anyone who actually has a prescription for the drug as I understand ADHD can be difficult to deal with. My issue is with the people who illegally obtain the drug explicitly for studying and have no legitimate need for the drug.


In order to understand the negatives of the drug, we must first understand how it affects the human body and brain. Adderall increases dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain which essentially what allows someone to study harder, longer, and more focused (Plenke). According to doctor Clifford Segil, adderall affects the neurotransmitters in the prefrontal cortex of the brain which is why you can focus much better while on the drug (Plenke). While the drug may improve focus and overall cognitive performance, it can have some very serious consequences that be be as serious as death, especially when mixed with alcohol. Coming off of the drug typically brings on fatigue, inability to concentrate, headaches, and possibly depression. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported 31,244 ADHD drug related emergency room cases in 2010, up from just 13,379 in 2005 (SAMSHA). It is important to note that adderall can be highly addictive and can often be difficult and outright frightening to halt using the drug immediately. Once people become dependent on the drug, they feel as though they need the drug to function. In severe cases, people are willing to put themselves into serious danger just to get their hands on the drug (

According to a U.S. government study from 2007, 6.4% of college students have taken adderall not prescribed to them in the past 12 months. However, it’s important to note that Penn State is not the average. We may have rates that are higher or lower than the national average of 6.4%. But for this example let’s just assume that 6.4% of SC200 students have used adderall in the past year. With 357 students in the class, that would mean that about 23 students in the class have taken the drug without it actually being prescribed to them. Don’t forget, this is a very rough estimate. There could be nobody in the class who has done this drug.  I find it extremely sad that some people resort to this method for achieving a college degree. There are instances where the student cannot be entirely blamed for their choices. For example there could be outside pressure from parents or the potential of losing a scholarship if one does not perform well enough in school. If anyone feels they might be addicted to any type of drug, whether it be related to “study drugs” or not, I highly urge you to contact the Centre County Drug and Alcohol Intervention board at (814) 355-6786 or visit their website at

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Do Cell Phones Cause Cancer?

Have you ever encountered someone who is afraid to talk on the phone because they think they will get brain cancer? It happens to me every time I try to call my grandmother. She has been warning me for years about talking on the phone for too long. I decided to finally find out for myself whether talking on your cellphone could impact your chance of developing cancer in the future. So, can cellphones increase your chances of developing cancer?

In order to understand the hypotheses that cell phones could cause cancer, you should first understand some of the main concerns people might have about cell phones. Some people fear that tissue around a cellphone will absorb the radiation that it emits (National Cancer Institute). It also scares some people that since cell phones are relatively new technology, we might not know their long term effects. I hate hearing contradictory things from everyone about cell phones and cancer so I wanted to find out the truth.cell-phone-radiation

During my search for an answer, I found it necessary to take multiple studies into consideration, as many of them conflicted with each other. One such study came up repeatedly during my searches. The study was conducted by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) and saw more than $25 million in funding from the United States federal government and other sources (Knutson). It was a multi-year study conducted on rats which found a slight correlation between radio waves emitted by cell phones, and brain tumors. Ron Melnick, a major contributor to the study, remarked that it will be difficult for people to continue to say that cell phones have absolutely no link to cancer  after this study (Knutson).

On the contrary, I have found multiple studies that reveal no correlation whatsoever between cellphone use and cancer. A study, conducted by Australian researchers found zero correlation between cancer and cell phone use since they were first introduced in the country in 1987 (Chapman). The author of the article, Professor Simon Chapman says that the radiation emitted by cell phones is only enough to heat the tissue around the head and has no long term effect on the body. The researchers claim that there has been no significant increase in brain cancer in the past 30 years, which should debunk the idea that cell phones could play a role in developing cancer. The study seems to be reputable as it was conducted through the University of Sydney and studied more than 34,000 Australians between 1982-2012 (Chapman).

The debate over whether cellphones could be linked to cancer is ongoing. What became an issue in answering this question is the vast number of contradictory studies that have been published. I believe some of the inconsistencies between the studies can be attributed to errors in the studies. Issues such as recall and participation bias, inaccurate reporting, and changes in technology that can affect the results could have occurred in any of the studies (National Cancer Institute).cell-phone-pic

So the overall consensus, can cellphones increase your chances of developing cancer? The answer is possibly. There seems to be no evidence that shows a significant causal link between cellphone use and cancer. This question is difficult to answer, considering that cell phones have only been around for about 40 years (Cheng). However with that being said, I recommend that you be aware of your cellphone use. If you are on the phone for long periods of time you might want to consider purchasing a bluetooth earpiece. This is a question that we will only be able to answer in the decades to come after longer exposure to cell phones and better technology to better understand the causes of cancer. For more information check out the National Cancer Institute’s website, they have some great information regarding the possible causes of cancer.

National Cancer Institute –

NTP Study on Rats –

Australian Study ––.html

History of Cell Phones –

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The Use of Mercury in Peruvian Gold Mines


Humans have always had an extraordinary interest in gold. For thousands of years, we have mined the earth for this precious metal, yet with all gold in the world combined, we would not even be capable of filling three and a half olympic sized swimming pools of the precious metal (Agustino Fontevecchia). Currently gold prices are at high levels, which has caused the practice of gold mining to become more viable in recent years. One place in particular has seen such a dramatic increase in gold mining in the country, Peru. The country that used to be known as the cocaine capital of the world is quickly transferring its efforts away from the cocaine industry and towards the increasingly lucrative gold mining industry (Jimenez). While gold mining may seem like a fun adventure full of surprises, it can have some potentially very serious negative health and environmental effects on our society.environmental-assessment-in-two-small-scale-gold-mining-areas-in-indonesia-biogeochemical-aspects-28_3

The biggest issue that arises with small scale mining operations in Peru is the use of Mercury to aid in extracting gold from the raw materials. To those who are unaware, the element mercury is a toxic substance that poses a serious danger to human health when exposed to it for extended periods of time or in large amounts (World Health Organization).  Miners, typically from underdeveloped parts of the world, add mercury to the dirt they collected. In the process, the gold is dissolved into the mercury, forming an amalgam. Once the mercury bonds with the gold, it is then placed under extremely high temperatures where the mercury evaporates into the atmosphere, leaving only the gold behind.

One study, conducted by professors from the University of Duke set out to find the true effects of mercury released from gold mines in Peru. What may be a surprise to many, is that small-scale mining operations that use mercury can have environmental and health effects on places 350+ miles away (Hsu-Kim, Pan, Diringer). The researchers measured mercury concentrations in the water, sediment from river beds, and in fish from 62 different sites over 350 miles of the Madre de Dios River. It was found that nearly all of the fish in the zone hmncgmfudownriver from the mining operations contained mercury levels that exceeded WHO’s recommendations for safe consumption of fish. The major concern of the researchers is the likely effect that high mercury levels will have on children. According to researchers at the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology, mercury can cause severe cardiovascular and central nervous system issues, especially when it comes to children. In May, the government of Peru issued a state of emergency due to the exceedingly high levels of mercury contamination found in the rivers (Chow). It will be interesting to see whether Peruvian miners will acknowledge the damage they are causing to not only themselves, but to their communities and planet as a whole.

Sadly, the mercury method for mining gold is the simplest, easiest, and most economical method for many miners in Peru. Although not all of the negative health and environmental effects of the gold boom will be seen immediately, the citizens of Peru and neighboring countries will experience the consequences at some point. We need to continue to educate people about the dangers of mercury so that all people will have the right to a clean environment.

-Nathan O’Brien

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Science May Not Be My Favorite Topic

Hello Everyone, my name is Nathan O’Brien and I am from Allentown, Pennsylvania. I am a freshman living in East Halls so this is one of the first college classes I am taking! I actually started off as an Agri-Business management major, but quickly transferred to the Division of Undergraduate studies once I was accepted to the university. My goal is to graduate with a Finance degree from the Smeal College of Business, although there is room for change if I decide finance is not for me. What is interesting is that my entire family LOVES science. Both of my parents are chemists, my brother is a chemical engineer, and my sister is majoring in Biology. Maybe it was the extremely long and boring conversations about polyatomic ions at the dinner table that caused my loathing for science. Every time I would try to bring up a new topic, somehow my family members would tie it back to science and then ramble on about stuff I really don’t care about.

When I arrived for NSO I explained my hatred for science to my advisor and she told me I had to take this class! I have to admit that I am actually looking forward to learning a lot in this class. I have a passion for learning, and I have to say that all of the topics on the class schedule seem very interesting! Another thing that compelled me to take this course was the controversy part of the course. Maybe it’s because I love politics, but I truly love arguing against others, even if I know they are probably right. I question everything just to make people really think about what they are actually saying. One of the topics I am most interested in is the future of our energy supply and our dependence on oil.

It’s not that I’m bad at science, I just find it to be much less interesting than other topics such as business, politics, and history. I am not planning on being a science major primarily because it does not interest me. I believe I can accomplish more if I major in a degScience_348921_2788478ree that I am passionate about such as business. A career in the field of science would most likely make me miserable and nobody wants to be miserable! I am extremely glad to be a part of this class as I will get to learn science in a different manner instead of simply memorizing definitions and formulas.

-Nathan O’Brien