Author Archives: Olivia Helen DeArment

What creates a pet peeve?

If you should know one thing about me, I am queen of pet peeves. I have tens that I could tell you on the top of my head, some you might think are crazy, but what can I say, I can’t help the annoyance it causes me. The typical nails on a chalkboard, chewing with your mouth open, are the ones that arise on most occasions, but everyone has something that unique that gets under their skin, whether it is a sound, a social quirk, or a voice, we all a pet peeve. Although it is obvious there are things we as humans get annoyed at or can’t stand to hear or be around, but my wonder is, what causes this “pet peeve” to emanate, and where did it begin?

I thought up a few questions as I had this topic in my mind:


  1. Why do we have pet peeves?
  2. Why is it that some people have more than others?
  3. Can we get over pet peeves?


A study conducted by the Wellcome Institute and Newcastle University tested pet peeves on subjects brains, but having them listen to a series of sounds, one from a fork/knife scraping glass and one nails scraping a chalkboard. These probably being two of the most know unbearable sounds. The researchers monitored the participants brains while the sounds were playing to test what kind of activity would occur and how the brain would react to the horrible sounds. The amygdala, which is where a lot of negative emotions come from, was seen to be the most affected, and followed by uneasiness with the participants actions and expressions as well. They repeated several sounds and repeated the measuring for each one as well.

Another pet peeve example included was the sound of certain words. For example: moist is one of the most common hated words, tending to make some cringe. Apparently, humans associate gross or unpleasant things with negative or uncomfortable thoughts. Possibly a word a can bring on visions of illusions of disgusting things that deter individuals from using them. Once a word is connected or associates something of disgust, most individuals will always think of that when the word is brought up, thus creating a mental pet peeve. This also goes along with food textures or smells. If one dislikes it the first time and it reminds them of something vulgar or foul, most likely that individual will always associate the food negatively. . A 2005 study showed that even if that item is altered or the packaging varied from the original,the participants still disliked them or associated them negatively.

Humans create these pet peeves from experience or exposure to negative things, or dislikes. Once an experience harms or creates a bad connotation, most individuals store it in their mind as a grievance or pet peeve. It depends on what kind and how much exposure one has, determining how many things can create this deterring mindset. We all have them, some more than others, but once they are there, they are there to stay. It’s a good thing chalk boards have become a thing of the past!

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Do smart parents always create smart kids?

Valedictorians, Salutatorians, the 4.0’s, the 5.0’s, the 2400 SAT’s….the quote on quote “smart kids.” We all know from high school and on. They are the ones who were always the tutors or that were voted most like to succeed by the majority class vote. It is an understood thing that these individuals are talented in the academic world, and are blatantly obvious bright students, but I always wondered where this above average ability originated from? And my biggest question arisen from this topic is whether or not smart kids always come from smart parents.

Every student who were high up on the ranks, usually had parents who were intelligent too or went to prestigious colleges, so I believe it’s a valid question to bring up. My salutatorians parents both went to top tier schools, and my sister’s valedictorians parents attended Harvard. Now I know that obviously hereditary traits aren’t always the reason for the great outcome, but I do wonder if smart parents always, or for the most part at least, create smart kids. I thought of some questions regarding this topic.


  1. Do smart parents usually create smart kids?
  2. Is the outcome of smart kids from smart parents due to chance?
  3. Do confounding variables affect the child’s intelligence more than hereditary influence?

On an article by Damien Gayle, he  brings up this controversial topic and how parent’s intelligence has a influence of their kids’. He speaks about a recent genetic study recently conducted, and that the outcome has revealed that 20-40 percent of a child’s intelligence or IQ, is due to parents, or genetics from family. This argued a very important measure in nature versus nurture. Whether the child was born with the abilities to become a bright student or individual or whether life experiences and exposure in the world had more of an impact. To test that, a professor from the University of Queensland put this to the test.

Him, alongs with other professors conducted an observed study looking for any link between genes/DNA and varied IQ scores of children. The sample was 18,000 children ranging from ages 6-18 in the countries of Austria, UK, and the Netherlands. They would collect samples of DNA and looks at each individual’s IQ score to determine if they correlated. If there was little correlation, it had higher odds of being merely due to chance, or that third variables would be an effect of large intelligence. If it was due to chance, that could also be linked to the nurture point mentioned. Although this is affected by parents influence on children and how their lifestyles are carried out, but that would not be a direct nature finding or backing up that smart parents always give birth to bright kids.

Once all the individuals were measured and results were revealed, the study concluded that a significant gene did correlate with intelligence. The gene is called FNBP1L, a known protein in humans. However, this concluded that up to 80-60 percent of child intelligence is NOT due to genetics, or in this case “parent intelligence.” This is a significantly larger percentage that the percentage that is does have to do with hereditary information. With this said, there is a good possibility that this measure would be due to chance, or most likely confounding variables in the child’s lifestyle. When pertaining to nature versus nurture, for this particular question, they both can influence the measure being observed here. Both have a percentage that influence the child’s level of intelligence, although nature in this case may be overthrown.

Nurture has a higher influence mostly because upbringing and the exposure and experiences children endure while growing up have a huge influence on the children’s future. Additionally, you cannot tell a child’s intelligence until they have reached a certain age anyway, there is no way to possibly find an IQ of an infant! That being said, things like economic status, ethnicity, involvement of parents in the child’s life, or even level of strictness on the child can influence their future of intelligence. And even the myths or hypotheses that children who breast fed through their infant years are more likely to have a higher IQ percentage, children who play an instrument are more likely to score higher, or children who were read to or are taught to read earlier, the list goes on.

Children with intelligent parents, based on the results of the study above surely do have a steady head start to reaching full potential, however, that is not the only measure that influences their smarts. Confounding variables/nurture has a huge impact on the child’s future intelligence. To the Harvard grad parents- your kid has potential, but the genes are all that will get them to the top.

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What causes butterflies in our stomaches???

If anyone shares the same nerves as I do, you know the constant flutter in your stomach, creating an anxious and overwhelmed kind of mood. Whether it arises from nerves for a game or date, or excitement for something about to happen, the feeling rushes immediately, and I could never explain what it is or why it happens. Can we control them? Does everyone get butterflies? Could they be due to reverse causation?

In a recent article written by Kristine Lockwood, she explains the science behind this inevitable flutter of our stomachs. The human body has a special reaction called the fight or flight response which is our body’s reactions to certain stimuli. It is the way we were wired as similar to a defense mechanism or a spark from the Central Nervous System. This reaction can be connected with stress, anxiousness, or just a triggering reaction to something unfamiliar. It usually pairs up with reactions like increased breath rate, higher heart rate, stiffening of the body, and of course, the butterflies.

The nervous system as the master, speaks to the other glands and hormones in the body and causes these immediate physical reactions to arise in the body. During this experience, stomach muscles are weakened and the body is tense, giving some creation to why the stomach flutters like a swarm of butterflies on a flower bush. Additionally, the stomach is a very sensitive organ in the human body, vulnerable to change and external reaction and stimulus, just like our brains. We cannot control the receptivity of these parts of the body, the neurons speak for us. Brain-Gut Axis is a known name of the stomach that contains all this stimulus, so as we feel certain feelings that differ from the norm; nervousness, anxiousness, uneasiness, and fright, the flutter begins.

In serious cases of butterflies, like for example, before I am about to run a track meet, or have an interview, or get that “call me” text from my mom, that when the nerves and butterflies are at their peak. In this case, butterflies create a knot, a ball of nauseous sickness. The arises from adrenaline, which can give one a feeling that everything is unstoppable, however too much of this can actually halt one’s ability to use our digestion system, and can even lead to serious cases of anxiety.

In that case, stating the obvious that we cannot control our neurons and our signals in our stomach or brain, we are unable to control this feeling from rushing through the stomach. Everyone gets this feeling one way or another, in a series of stimuli and reasons.

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The infamous Beer Guts

As college students dive into any parents nightmare–binge drinking– many wonder, “will I gain weight,” “will beer give me a gut?” And I began wondering, is the Dad bod now in style? Of course I am kidding, but realistically how likely is this debacle? How easy is it to be this dreaded beer belly? Thousands of college students each year drink tens and tens of beers weekly, and it may not seem to be detrimental, but from experience watching my older friends come home for breaks, believe me the beer gut is possible and in full effect. This question is burning in my brain, because although I try my best to eat healthy (sometimes) and continuously workout….am I doomed to gain the extra pounds, and the shall not be named beer belly?

“Beer Bellies,” are from intake of too much calories in alcoholic drinks. This can also be attributed to increased intake of food, but your liver, when you consume alcohol, doesn’t burn the fat in your body, but the alcohol first instead. As your metabolism, we get older, drinking and gaining weight becomes a more prominent issue, as our bodies cannot burn it as fast

Although this frequency is most prevalent in men, with no research needed to confirm that notion, it is surely possible for woman to gain the unwanted beer gut as well. However, how worried should we really be as typical college students? What is the actual cause of this drastic change? How likely is it? I thought out some questions regarding this topic:


  1. Are beer guts merely due to chance?
  2. Are some individuals more prone to this outcome?
  3. How much do outside factors relate to this


In an article written by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, on the cross between beer and obesity, aka the infamous beer belly. In this study it used a cross-sectional study in order to explain the correlation between the amount of beer an individual drinks and obesity in the abdominal area. They used measures of Waist to Hip Ratio and BMI determine the interrelation. For the physical study, 1141 men and 1212 woman ranging from 25-64  participated in a survey and an examination of their varied alcohol intake per week. Measurements were taken of each individual, and weight was recorded.

The results of the survey revealed that 73% of men were beer drinkers per week, and 62% of woman. While the other percentages were wine drinkers. Then the correlation with the amount of beer intake these individuals consumed and the body measures were compared drinkers and nondrinkers. Additional outside or confounding variables were measured as well, including the age of the individuals, determining if they smoked, the total cholesterol, and the amount of activity they due on a daily basis; this is included in order to rule out or include third variables as a reason for increased obesity.

For numerical findings, in the week examined the intake was 158g for men and 22g for woman. The average WHR was .93 for men and .81 for women participants, and the BMI was 27.1 for men and 26.6 for women. During the examined week, an average of 3.1 beers were drank weekly for men and .3 for women. However, the measures were not statistically significant since the measures were not directly correlated with increased weights. WHR was the only measure that was associated with this cross, only in men. Woman did not explicit any convincing increasing results, and if there were results they were small, most likely being a result of chance. Many results seem to be from confounding variables and also the difference in drinking frequencies in areas and lifestyles. Some confounding variables like eating habits, metabolism, exercise, etc.

Although there were not any direct correlations between weekly beer intake and increase in obesity, a third variable that was valuable in the findings was that increased smoking seemed to change the amount of beer consumed, which could be another possibly reasoning to why this study was mostly inconclusive.

Regardless, I have seen too many college kids come home with a few extra pounds, and whether is it strictly the beer or confounding variables cursing their abdominal, I don’t want to take any chances. I’ll be at the gym!

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Why are orange juice and toothpaste such a bad mix?

There are a lot of tasty mixes in this world: peanut butter and jelly, chocolate and strawberries, tomato soup and grilled cheese, the list goes on. However, on the other side of the spectrum, there are some distasteful combinations as well. One of the most known mixes to stay away from is the infamous orange juice and toothpaste. As I picked up some orange juice before class and right after brushing my teeth, I instantly regretted taking a sip as a foul taste spread across my taste buds, and wouldn’t dissipate for several hours. The taste is extremely bitter, causing an inevitable sour mouth expression. As I suffered from this fatal mistake, I wondered to myself, what causes such a bitter, awful taste in one’s mouth?

This mix has had caution signs up as long as I can remember. My mom used to tell me to wait at least 15 minutes before drinking my orange juice at breakfast. I was of course always persistent and drank it anyway, soon to be punished by my own mouth’s acidic bitter taste. As I continue to make the same mistake over and over I have decided to do the research. I asked myself questions as I read:


  1. Is it something in our mouths that create the bitterness or just the simple combination of these two opposite substances?
  2. Can it be due to reverse causation? (Bad taste by first drinking orange juice then brushing your teeth with the mint toothpaste)


Based on research done by this article, a finalized conclusion has not been reached on this topic, since taste is so intricate, but just like other science, there is research and observation that take place to gain a close valid conclusion. Our taste is a big unknown, filled with different categories of taste, and not to mention no two person’s taste buds are exactly the same. As the author states, we taste things from the molecules and receptors interaction on the human tongue. Toothpaste is filled with a substances called Sodium Lauryl Sulfate(SLS), which is a additive which creates the foaming and bubbles of the concentrate. Not only does it create this bubbly sensation, but it also reduces the taste of sweetness in the mouth, destroying fatty substances present in one’s taste buds, called phospholipids. Orange juice has a sweetness component in its taste, which would explain why this contradicting would occur. Toothpaste also contains stannous fluoride, a form of medicine or mixture in the dental world that prevents decay, bacteria, and activities in individual. As this toothpaste combines with the acetic acid and sweetness prevalent in orange juice, it leaves a lingering bitter taste on the human tongue.

A particular study, written by author Allison Chambers gives an interactive representation of the flavors and reactions after the use of toothpaste, particularly strongly methylated toothpaste.

In this study, participants a series of food products including orange juice and tested taste and how long it would linger after brushing your teeth in the morning.(anecdotally) Participants used in this experimental procedure brushed their teeth and waited in a series of either 4,12,30, 60 minutes. A more  60 minute interval represented the control trial, waiting this time interval before drink/food consumption.This is to ensure that all particles and residue of the food products. After the individuals brushed their teeth and waited their individuals of time, and the control group waited until after the 60 minute interval, making it a valid comparisons of taste. After the brushing and consumption of juice, and evaluated the tastes, repeating the trial 2-3 times.

This was represented as a correlational study, comparing the effects of substances, in this case orange juice, combined with toothpaste residue. The results concluded that out of a 15 point scale, those who waited longer intervals, had less of a bitter/sour taste of the combination. Waiting 4 minutes was a score of 8.5, 12 minutes was an 8.0, 30 minutes was a 7.5, and 60 minutes was a 7.0. However this does always conclude that this bitter taste combination can linger for over an hour before taste goes back to normal levels. This was also the strongest reaction out of food/beverage products used. However, the result came out as anecdotally for this particular study. Lastly, it would not be due to reverse causation due to the bitter/sour taste arising from the mixture of orange juice after the toothpaste residue was already in the mouth.

Although it is evident that orange juice and toothpaste vividly create a bad taste, this study is done on a strongly methylated toothpaste, not your average Colgate. We cannot assume the study would reach the same conclusions, but based on the average individual’s experience and the study done here, we can conclude the reasoning behind the horrid lingering taste.


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Chapstick- Routine or Solution?

I am very guilty to using chapstick at least 20 times a day, this action becoming more of a routine to me than an actual need. I have lost hundreds of sticks just to go buy more because it’s something I just cannot leave the house without. I will be the first to say; I am hooked. But as I constantly find the need to pull a chapstick out of my pocket, I thought to myself, does it actually work? And is it more of a routine than a useful medication?

I am very guilty to using chapstick at least 20 times a day, this action becoming more of a routine to me than an actual need. I have lost hundreds of sticks just to go buy more because it’s something I just caImage result for eos chapstickn not leave the house without. I will be the first to say; I am hooked. But as I constantly find the need to pull a chapstick out of my pocket, I thought to myself, does it actually work? And is it more of a routine than a useful medication?

This year actually, I pulled out a particular brand of chapstick,“EOS,” and my roommate responds, “those don’t actually work, that company puts chemicals in there that chap your lips more so you buy more.” I was shocked when I heard this, not believing it at first, but willing to dig into the research of it. In a study conducted by the Today Health and Wellness, it explains the outcome of a lawsuit against EOS chapstick, claiming that it actually made consumer’s lips drier than before they started using the chapstick. A woman who had used this brand, and was in on the lawsuit claimed that her lips had rashes and other skin reactions due to some kind of chemical input in EOS. This may have just been her individually, but within a short period of time after using this Image result for chapstick ingredient labelsbrand, her lips not only felt dry, but a practical allergic reaction occurred along with it. Become of this chapstick catastrophe, she had to resort to medical assistance. Although this is on the extreme side, this is not the only case brought to attention that claims chapstick cannot cause issues with skin and lips. Especially when overused, chapsticks can cause negative affects that reverse the intended use of chapstick. Some ingredients including, phenol, camphor, and menthol, can not only irritate, but dry out lips if consumers overuse the product. A Dr. Aleksander Krunic in the article also explains when chapstick should be used versus when it is used too much/what not to use. In moderation, and when needed, like in Image result for chapped lipsthe winter months or when the air is particularly drier than usual, chapstick is a good solution, however, overuse and brands that contain harmful substances should be avoided. Things like parabens and brands with scents and dyes can be detrimental and cancel out the actual moisturizing.

For chapstick in general, I cannot completely doubt its purpose, however, I do agree with the need for moderation and choosing brands wisely. There are several brands that moisturize chapped lips and do their job proficiently. However, certain brands, like EOS, is a living example how individuals must be careful what they trust and the labels included. It is emphasized to me personally how important it is to read labels and to look for certain ingredients that can trick you into a dumb buying decision. As for me, it may still be a routine for me, but I will be sure to get the right kinds, and use when necessary. And for EOS uses out there, watch out, you may be next!


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Why Are We So Ticklish?


I, as I’m sure many other are, am ticklish at the slightest touch, bursting out laughing at one pinch to the side or touch to my toes. As my hall mate scared me half to death last night, jumping out of nowhere and pushing in my side, as I fell on the floor half panicked, half dying of laughter, I wondered to myself, what makes an individual so ticklish?

In a study done by How Science Works, it speaks about why the human reacts in laughter to being “tickled.” Obviously we all have senses, laying in nerves throughout our body, allowing us to response in reaction to interacting with different things like touch. A specific nerve that is responsible forthe ticklish response is called the somatosensory cortex. The simple sensation that brings on the laughter is because this cortex has receptors that sends to the brain that the action is affecting the individual. The cortex sense the touch and creates a response, along with the help of the anterior cingulate cortex. The sense also goes through this passage as these two aspects of the nervous system work together, we all are inevitably on the floor thrashing around in laughter, unable to explain why we can’t breathe after many pinching to the side. Tickling can be either from a light, soft touch, like simply sprinkling fingers over toes, or a strong squeeze to the side- regardless, it can create the same reaction. The most known areas of sensitivity are usually, armpits, sides, neck, etc.

Another scientist and educator, Dr. Emily Grossman investigated information based on this funny phenomenon as well. She gives possible explanations for why exactly individuals have this tticklish sensation. Besides the cerebellum that controls this sensations reaction, she also brings up a statement that being tickled affects other parts of the brain like the Rolandic Operculum and Hypothalamus. These areas stimulate movement that coincides with reactions of being tickled.

Additionally, this also opens up the explanation why we cannot tickle ourselves. These two sections of the brain that are responsible for noticing the sensation are in the cerebellum. Because the tickle is not unexpected from ourselves controlling the sensation, our minds are prepared, and the reaction is not the same. Our mind disregards this “information” since we anticipate the action, it is not a unknown sensation. This is why I believe this particular topic is due to direct causation. There is no third variables no reverse causation that creates the reaction of being “ticklish,” but rather the action of grabbing a side, tickling toes or under the neck that causes the stimulation in the brain, and the reflex of a laugh and squirm.

I still give a major props to those who can keep a straight face when someone tickles them, trying to get a laugh. As for me, I can finally understand the logistics to my sporadic spaz attacks after being tickled. Everyone is different, sensations, brain activity, and reactions to certain stimuli, and the aspect of tickling sure applies.


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Sorority Sickness

2000 girls, 2000 sundresses and wedges, and 2000 moving voices and flying spit as sorority recruitment girls cram into rooms sitting inches from each others faces. As this extensive

process is fun and rewarding to some, this two week girl flirting comes with a few catches…..of a cold; or shall I say the infamous “rushing plague.” As I found myself losing my voice and coughing constantly during my process of rushing, and watching other girls alongside me share the same symptoms, I thought to myself, the myth must be true. We all joke that this sickness is inevitable to those hoping to gain out lifetime “sisters,” but I have decided to dig deeper as I pop a few cough drops in the process.

As most people reference this close proximal sickness to a classroom or a ballgame, it can just as well be relevant in the instance of hundreds girls in the journey to sisterhood as well. Regardless, cramped or crowded areas increase the chance of that one sneeze landing on another individual, spreading the sickness right down the line; it only takes one to pass it to a village. In an article called How Not to Get Sick in a Crowd, author Jaimie Dalessio explains that when germs flow through a rather compacted space, there is almost always an increased chance of sickness within the area, even starting with one individual



l. Some of the most common of the symptoms could be sore throat, colds, coughs, or stuffy noses….similar to the symptoms i have witnessed hundreds of sisters have shown. However, the article also mentioned that the sickness involved could be affected from the where the gathering takes place, or the numbers who gather in the particular area. For me, each about 15×15 room had at least 30 existing members of the sorority participating in rounds, and another 40 recruitment girls alongside them, all practically screaming to be heard in such a cluster of a

Sickness in small areas, like during rush, a cough or sneeze can easily land on another’s cheek in seconds. Once one girl lets out a sneeze, it travels, and as more girls walk in and out of the busy and cramped rooms, then does it become a spread chain, becoming inevitably contagious. This also goes for the objects and surrounding areas of the room. Touching water glasses, shaking every single hand that walks through your door before the crs_560x415-150116103951-560-usc-sorority-jl-011615hats begin, germs on germs on germs, possibly handing it off to the next girl greeting you (no pun intended).  

Another study given by Lynda Moore, speaks about a sickness outbreak at Butler University, as this group of sorority sisters in their close living proximity spread it to additionally dormitories nearby. Dr. Jones, looking into the issue, speaks about how it resembles the types of sicknesses of other areas of large number gatherings like cruises or classrooms. (paragraph 5). The stress for increase of cleanliness and washing hands is crucial. However, does it really make a difference when these girls are in such a shared space constantly? The rushing plague just doesn’t end it seems, as the proximity to hundreds of girls in shared spaces continues to be a routine. It seems that the end of day, we can only hope the “sisterhood” is worth a few shared coughs and sneezes.






Science- not my thing

Hey everyone, my name is Olivia DeArment and I live in a small town called Winchester Virginia, about 45 minutes from DC. I am in Division of Undergraduate studies as of now but i am planning on majoring in Business Marketing in Smeal. I play soccer, love to hike and exercise and I have the best and cutest chocolate lab in the world named Bettis, named after the Steelers player Jerome Bettis.


I took this class honestly originally because an advisor told me this was an intriguing course that I could fill my science Gen-ed requirement with. However, I read the description and I agreed that it looked like a course I could really enjoy. I can’t say I hated science in high school, but it just was not for me. I found myself bored to tears as we reiterated counts of cell, chemistry equations, and uses of the periodic table. What caught my eye about this class was instead of the memorization and straightforward right or wrong answers science courses or rather any course requires, this one allows for discussion, questioning, and to create our own answers. I love critical thinking, discussion, and exploring the wonders of the world. This class seems to do all of the above. I am excited to explore and draw conclusion from the world we live in while exposing myself to science that we can all have an opinion on. Seminars and deep discussions about the unknown has always been a strong interest of mine, and I am ready to dive right into this while learning about the world of science at the same time.

Although science is not my favorite, I am willing to work to enjoy it and hopefully by exploring and participating in this different approach to a science course I can find a new way to enjoy it. I do really enjoy english and I love to read about anything and everything. I think this course can aid me in my writing and critical thinking that pertains to english classes I will take later on. This seems to be a class that can benefit me all across the board.

After reviewing some of the questions that are planned for the class, I came to thinking of my own. I love the idea of coming up with wonders or itching questions and discussing anything from the validity of it or what it means in the world in general. I have always been very intrigued with criminal justice and studying crime and a question that I have always had was: What about an individual’s mind allows them or makes them have the desire to commit crime or murder? I found an article pertaining to this question that I found interesting, hopefully some of you will too!