Author Archives: Patrick James Mcgovern

Why Are My Ears Red and Hot?

Have you ever had your ears heat up and turn red out of nowhere? It’s a pretty common and annoying occurrence that the body picks up and lets pass unexpectedly. Although it is usually harmless and minor, there are many causes and influencing factors of red ears that you should know. I was glad to learn that these cases are diverse and benign, after sitting around and finally realizing it is something that always bugged me and went unexplained.


Image: discusses this symptom and its potential sources by going over weather exposure, emotions, and hormonal changes (Source 1). Cold and hot weather can cause your face to show a red color after exposure for a long time, your ears can blush and react emotionally similarly to your face, and hormonal changes and hot flashes can cause the flares of red to start in men and women (Source 1).

In another article, from, hot ears are addressed with similar causes on top of Red Ear Syndrome. This causes frequent red ears, pain, and itching that can overlap and be influenced by separate forces. Migraines, joint disorders, and spine disorders can all take part in red ear syndrome amongst many adults (Source 2). This came as another reminder to me that the body is connected and complex in so many different ways, and treating issues correctly does not always depend on knowledge of the obvious or damaged parts, but total knowledge of all associated areas and their relationship with it all.

I am both confused and interested by the unique degree that red and hot ears have when present in life today. It is something that has such an ambiguous and vague feeling, but it is still incredibly bothersome. And still, it is so harmless and safe to the point where we tolerate it while addressing its causes. Few ailments and occurrences on the body have such a classification and nature. Now every time I feel my ears and their burning warm weight, I will know it is okay and I am a living, functioning organism with many moving parts.


Why Does Rain Make Some People Happy?

Does rain outside in the morning motivate, excite, and please you all at the same time? If it does, you are a lot like me. For some, rain is a direct association to its common theme of gloom and sadness, but a lot of people are immediately happier and can completely alter their mood for the rest of the day. I wanted to go further into the reasons behind this difference and see how the mind has been discovered alongside the world’s fickle weather patterns.



In an article by Sarah Knapton for Telegraph UK, the work of Professor Paul Dolan from the London School of Economics is summarized and analyzed. The Professor of Behavioral Science believes weather to have no true and substantial effect on mood, but when we think about the weather and its implications, we can become “miserable” (Source 1). This separation of conscience and emotion is fascinating to me, as the entire concept and role of weather is getting in our heads, and making us think what we don’t need to think. Dolan details this opinion by underlining an experiment done with subjects in California and the North West. The differences in levels of happiness were nonexistent, revealing the previously mentioned issue of dwelling mentally on the weather.

This article and Dolan relate this idea to human life in everyday settings. Dolan himself states that “most of our anxieties come from what might be,” and “things are never as bad as you imagine them being” (Source 1). I enjoyed this approach and its comforting but honest wording, all at once showing how weather patterns concern us more when hypothetical instead of real.



In my opinion, there are too many variables at play. People all over the world are of course going to have different opinions on different kinds of weather. What about people who constantly live in rain? Most would probably enjoy seeing a sunny day, while some might prefer what they are used to. It is really hard to iron out all of these separating variables and influences. But I think one standard can be highlighted: no matter where you are, you have weather. In places with very consistent climates, there are people who would enjoy rainy days.

In general, rain can be connected to one’s memory, mood and behavior with its presence and reputation. It is something that affects your world completely when it’s happening, and when emotions of the human mind are subjected to it nothing can be predicted. I think we should be grateful that such a powerful force of nature is not more commonly destructive. At the end of the day, humans enjoy what distract them. While weather can often get in our way, it helps us to remember the importance of shelter and take our minds off of stressful situations. Water is something that will forever be connected to human beings in ways we can never fully understand.


When Should I Worry About A Shark?

Every summer I have the same thought going out into the water at the beach, at least once: what if there actually is a shark in this area? Growing up it was a natural cause for concern that movies, television, and older siblings did not help, but even now I wonder in which places and times sharks are a threat. I was always fascinated by their intimidating nature, and now I am eager to be exploring the actual scientific reasons behind their attacks.



According to an article from, over half of the world’s shark attacks occur in Florida, and the odds of being killed in America by a shark are one in 400 million (Source 1). Some say that you are more likely to drown, some say you are more likely to be killed by a cow. What’s certain is that attacks are extremely rare and although certain factors have been identified, it is still an unlikely and spread out occurrence with no structured fix. The world of beach security, surfers, and scientists is mostly united around the fact that attacks happen in Florida, Australia, and South Africa. It is common for these to peak in September for Florida, while sharks follow warm water and usually feed at dusk and dawn. As someone who mostly swims in New Jersey at the shore in the summer, I cannot say I have experienced a shark nearby more than once. Someone fifty feet from me did have a medium sized shark flip onto his board, and everyone was evacuated from the water for the rest of the day. It’s fascinating to have such an immediately recognizable and feared organism that is bound to its environment in a terrifying way. Another location of common attacks is North Carolina, where last summer seven people were attacked in less than a month, according to a New York Times article by Christine Hauser (Source 2). This is due to the shark populations chasing warm water.



Being able to identify areas and commonalities is one thing, but in 2016 we have access to a thorough and stable tracking database in, a website dedicated to showing you exact locations of sharks in the oceans. I personally think it’s a bit unethical considering what must be done in order to have them tracked, but it is still an incredibly fascinating and beneficial tool.

Ultimately, I am confident in the most current and common opinion that sharks should not be a concern during your typical beach vacation, unless that consists of surfing in Florida at midnight. Since shark populations should be protected and preserved like any species in its natural environment, we should be concerned with staying away from them rather than hurting them. However, it is stressed that in the case of a shark attack, one must try to scrape and grab at the eyes and gills. This is because most would think punching its nose is best, but in the water that can be more difficult (Source 1).

The most basic and obvious precautions should clearly be embraced in any water excursion that could potentially involve animals. Above all, I think humans need to remember that another being’s home is our recreation.


The Mozart Effect

Music is one of the most integral and yet beloved aspects of the imaginative human. It is a universal language, a gorgeous world of math, and responsible for a plethora of powerful industries. As developed individuals, we understand music to be an extremely normal and celebrated aspect of life in itself, but a newborn’s path to this notion is structured in a very specific way. Babies are born with literally billions of neurons, and over time these neurons make connections in the brain. These connections are directly related to different kinds of music that they are exposed to in their development. For example, we all know that lullabies are a fundamental characteristic of a child’s early life and introduction to music. This type is of course generally a sleep encouraging tactic used by parents, resulting in a capacity to be soothed and calmed later on, in a familiar sense. But what other kinds of traditional music have effects on our infants’ minds and brainpower?



It is common for people to think classical music makes babies smarter. Many started to embrace this concept due to its exciting and fascinating opinions. Actually one year in Georgia the governor decided to have CD’s donated to families with newborns at hospitals, containing select pieces. It is much more commonly supported and understood that not just with children but with anyone, classical music can improve spatial reasoning, such as efficiency in a jigsaw puzzle. However, this effect is very temporary and can be thought of as a way to “prime the brain for certain kinds of thinking.” (Source 1) This is because the pathways in our brains related to spatial reasoning are similar to those triggered for listening to classical music.

Research at Appalachian State University debunked the spotty belief that classical music played for babies makes them smarter students. They tested this “Mozart effect” and revealed that classical music does not directly correlate with test scores or any kind of intellectual performance.

What’s interesting is the relationship between musical instruments and extended improvement in spatial reasoning. It is believed that children who start lessons in a musical instrument develop a much larger capacity for spatial skills that stem from the patience and intensive detail of training muscles and memory at the same time. This is a very interesting concept that not only strengthens the world of music in its support and importance but in its outreach and applications.

I am a firm believer in the emotional and mental benefits of music, like most people, but I also believe that it can be a sad and often lonely plunge into a more intellectual adventure of the human mind and the way it is supposed to feel. Now I know that yes, music is a helpful and stimulating experience for all people, but the young audiences of certain mathematically sound and thought out pieces take away tools for their minds.

I play guitar, drums, and some piano, but I obviously cannot feel their effects working in the lobes of my brain. But I do know that music has been there for me when I need nothing else, and supplying it, working on it, and perfecting it is the only way I know of giving back.

No, the works of Mozart and Bach will not allow your babies to pick their college of choice, but they will tap into very useful and powerful abilities that help day to day motives become more efficient. And who knows, maybe consistently tapping into those parts of the brain, in a way, truly does make us smarter.


Our Afternoon Cycle


I have adopted the absolute worst schedule for my sleep and eating habits, and arriving at college has of course, naturally, taken this concept to a whole new level. What I have always been fascinated with is how this aspect of daily routines changes regular and continual states of the body. However, something I never considered is an already present and natural cause for changes in appetite and energy. I decided to explore this further when I remembered something I saw a few weeks ago about naturally occurring cannabinoids in the human body. A cannabinoid is a class of chemical compounds that interacts with the brain and is structurally related to THC, which is the main active component of marijuana.

Since this is a very new and unexpected idea for me, I had to really give it some thought in relation to its legitimacy and cause. I was aware of the many benefits to health concerns that cannabis, THC, and cannabinoids may have, so I started to believe that since physical ailments can respond well to these substances, perhaps it is because these are found naturally within the body.



A recent article from Inside Science discusses exactly this and promoted a more specific corner of this notion that I began reading more on: We are hungrier, sleepier, and less concentrated around 3 PM. This is due to the natural production of endocannabinoids, which come from cell membranes in the brain, and this cycle peaks around this time of day (Source 1).

The endocannabinoid system changes the physiological processes associated with “mood, memory, appetite and pain-management.”

Another page I read on this topic at Natural News’ website goes further into the fundamental development of children and their mothers, stating that breast milk contains many of the same cannabinoids found in marijuana. This is an introduction to hunger and the importance of eating for children, and otherwise, babies would become malnourished and can even die (Source 2).

This information made it easier for me to acknowledge different contributing factors of my energy and appetite. It’s amazing to break down not only the patterns of the grown body but also why those are directly related to clearly illustrated beginnings with human babies. This is a very odd fact that I had a hard time believing at first, and I now believe I know much less about the human body than I thought, although I have learned something new about it. It makes sense and I also believe that yes, our bodies produce natural effects of a cannabinoid “high.”


I Missed the Plagiarism Test. A Supplement: Summary of Articles

First:  Cheating Lessons, Part 1

In this work bMay 28, 2013, first, the opinions and research of Duke professor Dan Ariely are discussed and examined to show their importance and genius. The piece starts by introducing him and his ideas. A series of math problems given to random subjects who could complete them for small sums of money is then described. Those who were allowed to grade them on their own and shred the answer sheet ended up, of course, showing higher results. Next, the common, most popular methods and examinations of cheating are looked into. This means race, gender, fraternity vs. non-fraternity members, online vs. traditional students, etc. However, the opinion of Ariely, his colleagues, and his research outlines a different method and ultimate goal: to break down student environments when tasks are at hand. They state that “the amount of cheating in which human beings are willing to engage depends on the structure of our daily environment.” This is to suggest that characteristics of a student’s surroundings are the most important aspect of fighting academic dishonesty. Next, Lang goes into the fascinatingly odd “Princess Alice” experiment completed by three British researchers years ago. This experiment involved videotaping three groups of children all aged five to nine, who were told to stand six feet from a velcro target and throw a ball facing away from the target with their nondominant hand. Those who hit the target were promised a prize. For one group, a female adult observer sat in the corner and acted friendly. The next had no one else present in the room, and the last group of children was told there was an invisible observer in the room named “Princess Alice.” The Princess Alice group was questioned before and after the experiment, on whether or not they believed she was really there. So, the researchers were able to have four total groups: one unsupervised, one supervised, one with children who were uncertain or confident that they were supervised, and one with children that did not believe in the princess. Naturally, the rate of cheating was higher for those unsupervised compared to those supervised. Only one of the eleven children in the uncertain or confident on princess Alice group cheated, showing an interesting relationship with the presence of her and ethically completing the task. However, five of the seven who did not believe in Princess Alice cheated entirely. Lang closes by stating that these cheating-inducing conditions created by Ariely and others can actually be found in similar ways on our campuses. The next two pieces explore what these are and how to fix them. 

Second: Cheating Lessons, Part 2

Lang goes further into his exploration of academic dishonesty and how to solve it by describing yet another test. Psychologist George M. Diekhoff and a group of researchers in the United States and Japan surveyed students in both countries, America first and Japan a year later. They collected data from around 700 students, providing a solid basis and group to make conclusions from. The information was a question-based survey asking for responses on how and if students cheated. This is a common practice among universities across the world and served as a normal way for this test to be completed. The initial belief was that the American students would have a higher percentage of cheating based on the fact that younger students are more likely to be academically dishonest. Surprisingly, the data showed that 26% of American students claimed to have cheated in some way or another on their assessments, while 55% of Japanese students did the same. While Lang acknowledges that societal and cultural differences may be at play with these numbers, he points out a major influence on them that is foreshadowed and highlighted in part one of this three-part article. The environment of students and their tasks is the most relative and important factor when considering their honesty. Therefore the Diekhoff test uncovered that the Japanese students had been receiving a small number of exams and assessments worth large amounts, spread over time. On the other hand, the American students went through more tests, closer together, worth less. This is an extremely important part of the data received and in knowing it the truest conclusion was drawn. Obviously, more students are inclined to cheat and cheat frequently when the stakes are higher and the pressure greater. This is why it is commonly embraced to consistently test and monitor students with work. The researching world of cheaters is quite familiar and versed in the historical presence of the Chinese civil-service exams. These exams are a long and arduous process structured to achieve successful career opportunities in government. Those tests were infrequently offered and worked as a process of levels. This resulted in not only a typical presence of cheating and cheating methods but also intense policing and management of such cases. Sometimes lethal measures were taken. This incredibly backwards and senseless structure of testing is exactly what research and student performance is screaming not to do. Lang hints at his final part’s message and the ultimate message of his article: the same actions to reduce cheating produced from research are the same actions described by cognitive theorists to increase learning.

Third: Cheating Lessons, Part 3

The final part of Lang’s closer look at cheating in today’s schools and how to fix it opens up with another brief account on a test completed in the United States in 1963. Sociology student William J. Bowers sent one hundred institutions surveys to be taken by students.  Lang states that anyone grumbling over the declining morals of today’s students and growing more worried of that front should look at Bowers’ results. Roughly 75% of the students surveyed stated that they had been academically dishonest. Researcher Donald L. McCabe looked into this issue with colleagues from 2002 to 2010, collecting data produced from self-reported instances of students cheating. The results showed that 60-70% cheated, but of course, as McCabe has pointed out, the information is gathered much differently than in 1963. Therefore the numbers are mostly the same but still very troubling. Here Lang reiterates his parts one and two, in saying that the environment and setup of a class is everything, and tests should be low-stakes, spread out occurrences. While again making it clear that this is his opinion and nothing else, he transitions to the point hinted at towards the end of part two: this class style does not only decrease cheating but increases learning. What could be more ideal? While it is easily embraced by most that cheating is something to reduce and combat, the influences and contributing aspects are important to analyze more closely. Again Lang references an experiment, conducted by Henry L. Roediger III and Jeffrey D. Karpicke for Science magazine. Four groups were assembled and had study sessions to learn 40 pairs of English-Swahili words. One group had a usual test after each study session and then a final exam at the end for long term retention. Another group had the same tests but correctly stated pairs were removed from future tests. Both groups performed the same, and to the researchers proved that repeated testing, not repeated studying is the key to learning. This takeaway is Lang’s final point and ultimate opinion when tackling cheaters, but it is also a much more beneficial approach to the frequent testing method. Learning is the most important part of education. Students learn from not cheating, but more so from not even being tempted in the first place.

Science From A Different Angle

I have always known that science is something I enjoy. I admire it particularly for its importance, and moreover the unrelenting momentum it has in answering the literal biggest questions in the universe. I signed up for Science in Our World because of this appreciation and curiosity I have, and to further my understanding of scientific principles and topics. Relating to the second topic of this blog, I would say I signed up because I am not a science major. What I mean is that I did not want my schedule and collection of information this semester to have a dearth of fascinating and deliberately special lessons.

However, I myself am not one to enter into my college career with a schedule centered around a topic I am not appropriately versed in. So what enticed me is the imaginative and important style of the material presented that we have yet to explore, but I still am not one to major in science at this point in my understanding of it. Keeping some of it alive in my education was a priority.

I am extremely moved by the immensity and confusion of space. Among other large topics in science, space is something that continues to be a focus that has so much left to uncover. I hope that I cannot only learn more about this incredible portion of science, but that I can branch out to different subjects and topics that pique my interest just as much. This representation of the scale of the universe is exactly the mind of thing I am attracted to in science. I hope anyone that checks it out agrees that it is not only relative to the initial theme of the class but incredible on its own. Another topic I am very curious about is the natural progression and evolution of evil capacity in the human mind. How soon will terrorism be twice as likely? This is an imperative topic and can definitely be addressed in a scientific form that speaks to the depth of the issue. Data-and-World-Map-on-Global-Terrorism-2002-2011-The-Economist