Author Archives: Patrick Ryan

Animal Communication

Communication is a vital part of survival for animals. Like humans, it’s the ability to send, receive, and respond to different signals. Animals communicate in many different ways with each other. This includes communicating by visual, auditory, tactile, and chemical. The idea of animals communicating is not to basically talk to each other but they attract mates, warn off predators, mark their territory, and identify themselves.

Visual communication is divided into two groups, badges and displays. Badges are the color and pictures_of_lions_free1shape of the animal and displays are the things the animals do to communicate. For example, according to a nature works article, when a sage grouse, a type of bird, opens its tail feathers and walks around, it is trying top attract a female. Auditory communication is most common when you think animals are trying to talk. Many animals will create loud noises to alert others that a predator is coming. Tactile communication establishes dominance and comfort between different bonds. A good example of this is whenever your dog offers his paw or if your cat rubs against you, they are trying to communicate with you. A female tiger will lick and nuzzle its babies to establish comfort, allowing the babies to feel safe with its mother. Finally, chemical communication is when animals are trying to mark their territory or attract a mate. A skunk will leave its scent to let others know that it is his territory.

It’s interesting to see the different types of communication animals have with each other, but what is more intriguing is a human’s communication with an animal. The best example of this is a pet dog and its owner and the relationship that they form. For humans to understand their 123553318-talk-to-your-dog-632x475dogs, it’s easy to see what the dog’s body language is. We can understand their expressions, body posture, and different movements allowing us to give the dog what he or she wants. On the other end dogs surprisingly understand humans more than we thought. According to a study, performed by researchers at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary, 13 dogs and with their owners were tested on their brains ability to recognize human language. The 13 dogs were tested through a fMRI, measuring brain activity, where they would be tested on two different phrases, common phrases their owner would speak to the dogs and another phrase having no meaning. Looking at the fMRI results, the left hemisphere of the dog’s brain lit up when listening to common phrases. This area of the brain for humans is connected to the process of language so the study’s results show that dogs have a great idea of distinguishing the meaning of different words. It’s hard to say, based on this single study, that dogs understand the meaning of all familiar words. Overall animals communicate in many ways for many different reasons. We now know that dogs understand us more that we previously thought and in the future, we hope to find out more information between the communication of us and our pets.

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Throughout many action movies, you’ve seen biometrics everywhere. It can range from machines scanning your iris, listening to your voice, reading your finger print, or even facial recognition. All of these have one thing in common, a way to identify a single person. Biometrics biometric-capabilityis a type of security that focuses on one single person rather than other security processes, for example typing in a password or a pin number. Biometrics uses software to identify the person’s DNA, which is different for every person so it would be impossible to break into anything without that DNA. Biometrics sounds like it is a new concept, however police officers have been using fingerprints to identify people for over a hundred years now, but now with incorporating technology, security is stronger but there may be future problems.

You probably use a type of biometrics every day in your life. If you have an iPhone, then you probably use the finger print authentication system which recognizes only your fingerprint to unlock your phone. In addition, it’s located mainly everywhere we travel to including grocery stores, hospitals, airports, hotels, and many other places.

Biometrics uses two different characteristics, physical and behavioral. For physical characteristics, examples like facial recognition, fingerprints, iris recognition, DNA identification, and facial recognition are labeled as those. For behavioral types of biometrics some examples are voice identification, typing recognition, and hand geometry.  First the biometrics system that is being used will enroll the basic information of an identified trait. Next the system analyzes that trait and creates a specific code for it. Finally, once that is done and stored away in its software, the next time you try to use the security, it will cross reference the old and stored away trait to the new one that is being presented where it will either accept or reject it.

With biometrics, there are some positives and negatives coming with it. A look at the positives it obviously is a good way to keep things safe. In addition, a study was done using biometrics to track inmates in jail by using a system called Biometric Inmate Tracking System or (BITS). According to the National Institute of Justice, this system transformed its previous basic security system into a biometric one. Iris, facial, retinal, hand and finger geometry, voice and fingerprint, were all tested over a three-year period which would make it an observational study. The results showed that the facial recognition was considered false positives because it was used too often and slowed down the process. With the iris recognition, it seemed to work the best and voice recognition showed it was the least effective. Fingerprint and hand geometry were the best overall because it provided the most accurate results and worked the most quickly and hand_2493035f-636x445effectively. This seems to be accurate with the world today because of how often we use fingerprint scanners on a daily basis. The purpose of this experiment was to see how well these biometric securities tracked the inmates. They were used to identify the prisoner to make sure they were going to the right place and if they didn’t an alarm would sound. The overall goal is to have this type of security in all prisons in the future and this experiment showed what flaws were needed to be corrected.

The future of biometrics doesn’t settle well with many people because of privacy. Biometrics is an easy way to find out who you are and what you are doing at a current time. But it seems companies are leaning towards the inclusion of biometrics. For example, according to April Glaser’s article Biometrics Are Coming, with Some Security Concerns, companies like google are going to monitor your speech patterns and how you walk and type in order to confirm it is actually you on the other side of your smartphone. MasterCard is looking to identify your own heartbeat to validate transactions. Plus, many other apps look to verify a person’s eye pattern to identify who you are. If you like it or not, it seems society is moving in a different direction coming to security and these changes may not appeal to everyone.

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Pet Allergies

Growing up I was always jealous that most of my friends had dogs because I really wanted one. My dad is allergic to both cats and dogs and whenever he is around one, he begins to sneeze a lot. Seeing my dad be allergic to pets like that, I am fortunate that I don’t have the same or any allergies at all. However, I always wanted to know why he developed certain allergies for pets and I was the lucky one being allergic to nothing.

allergic-to-dogsSome of the most common allergies come from pets and food, especially dairy products and nuts. Developing allergies can be different for everybody. Maybe you were born with it and later in your life your body outgrows the allergy. On the other hand, its possible to develop an allergy when you are older, which unfortunately is unlikely to go away. What happens is your body’s immune system comes in contact with a certain particle, for example outdoor allergies, and thinks it’s harmful. In the articleWhen Allergies Suddenly Develop, Jennifer Scott explains that your body then produces antibodies called Immunoglobulin E, where they attach themselves to cells releasing a chemical called Histamine. From the website WebMd, histamine gets rid of whatever that allergy is, which can be through sneezing, coughing, itchy or teary eyes. To stop these symptoms, its common to take an anti-histamine. So overall, common allergies are found to be an overreaction of your body’s immune system, believing something that is harmful when it’s actually safe.

It’s hard to know if and when you will have an allergy since they can appear at any time. However, there has been some controversy over if you can protect yourself from allergies at a young age. Scientists claim that if infants, under the age of one, are under the same roof as dogs, they are more likely to be protected from that allergen when they are older. To prove this,t1larg-baby-dog-gi a longitudinal study was performed where scientists tracked people for 18 years to see their outcomes. According to the article, Baby’s First Year Important for Pet Allergies, author Joe Brownstein says the scientists studied 565 children from birth until they were 18 years old. They used interviews to research the amount of exposure their children got from cats and dogs. At the age of 18, the scientists would take a blood sample to identify different immune-system proteins, which are like antibodies, that fight away any dog or cat allergen.  The study found that most children exposed to pets under the age of one, wound up having a 50% lower risk of getting a pet allergy later in their life.

This study has some interesting results, however after looking more into it, it seems there have been some conflicting results. Recently, Dr. Tolly G. Epstein an assistant professor at Ohio’s University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, believes the previous situation mentioned remains in a grey area and he believes that parents shouldn’t listen to those results just yet. Overall, its seems that more studies are needed to be conducted in order to find the validity of all of these results, but it makes sense that building up your child’s immune system could potentially protect them later in life. If the case is that infants living with pets under the age of one decreases the chance of obtaining that allergy, then it’s possible in the future people can take advantage and try to lower the risk of their kid’s allergies.

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Chameleon’s Color Change

Many animals depend on camouflage to either hunt their prey or even hide from their predators for example, many types of frogs, butterflies, and owls are a small portion of the total number of animals that use camouflage. They most likely have evolved over time to help increase survival and reproduction rates. It’s interesting to see how their camouflage works, but I am focused on one animal in particular, the Chameleon. The chameleon is a special case because instead of having one color, their body changes color based on something else. Now that I mention that, do you wonder why they do and how?

After doing some research, chameleons skin color change is in fact not for camouflage, but to regulate their body temperature and to communicate with others. Mary Bates, author of the chameleonarticle How Do Chameleons Change Color? explains that chameleons actually can’t generate their own body heat. Changing their skin to a dark color allows the chameleon to warm up by absorbing the sun’s heat and with the opposite they can change to a light color to simply reflect the light to cool off. In addition to heat change, male chameleons can change their color to a dark bold color to show they are aggressive or to a bright color to assert their dominance.

So how does this actually happen? In the same article, Mary Bates writes that the outer layer of skin on the chameleon is transparent plus they have multiple layers of skin like humans. Beneath those layers are special cells called chromatophores. At each level of skin, these chromatophores contain small sacs of different kinds of pigments, which is basically the coloring matter for the animal’s skin. Now at the deepest level of skin, there are melanophores, which are star shaped cells that extend towards the surface of the skin. These melanophores are filled with brown melanin, similar to humans. Mary Bates says that on top of2-1-howdochamele the skin are different types of cells correlating to different colors. For example, on the skin of the chameleon, there are cells called iridophores which reflects blue and white lights. In addition, other cells like xanthophores and erythrophores contain pigments like red and yellow which are then reflected off of the chameleon’s skin.

Now to change its color, the chameleon’s nervous system would take over and based on the chameleon’s behavior, certain chromatophores would begin to expand or contract allowing the change of color you would see in its skin. Overall, chameleons are not the only animal where this color change happens, in fact it happens to many others for similar reasons.

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3D Printing

Back in high school, I took an elective course called 3d printing. What I basically got to do was learn how to use a certain program, create whatever I wanted, and transfer the file to a 3d printer and print my project. For example, one product I created was a toy train. After saving it img_2481on a USB, I plugged it into a 3d printer and let it go to work. 3d printers work by the machine heats up to a certain degree then begins to lay a synthetic plastic down onto a flat surface and layer by layer it creates the object I want. Here is a close-up video on how the printer works. To the right is the train I printed in high school.

I bring up 3d printers because they have a huge impact on technology today and for the future. In manufacturing, today, 3d printers bring the consumer into its own process at home, offices, industries, and hospitals. 3d printers don’t not strictly print with plastic but in fact there is a wide range of material that can be used including different metals, gold, silver, platinum, sandstone, wax, and other types of plastic. This shows how wide ranged 3d printers can be used and you really can use them for basically anything.

It’s amazing to see how 3d printers have already changed and affected the world. Innovations have changed the way people at NASA, those in any type of medical or science field, manufactures, and many types of other professions, use 3d printers to their advantage to make life easier yet more effective for themselves others.

On July 12, 2016, up at the international space station, crew members began to re-install their 3d printer to continue their research of how these printers can work in a zero-gravity environment. According to the article Research of 3D Printing on the Space Station, author Sarah Loff explains that the crew members are going to begin printing a variety of tools and various parts so they can be sent back to earth to be compared to actual parts. This will give a good idea on how these printers work in space and if scientists need to adjust anything. It will be a huge advantage to have 3d printers work in space. Crew members depend on resupply missions which could take weeks or even months to gain simple tools for their work. With the ability to print in space, Sarah Loff stresses that there will be a dramatic decrease in time to obtain parts and it will ensure greater safety for different space missions.

Another way 3d printers have changed the world is through the medical field. One great advancement that was printed to change the medical field is a cast. Millions of people suffer from broken bones and doctors set them up in either a fiberglass or plaster type of cast. According to Jake Evill’s article about the Cortex Exoskeleton Cast, he writes that the older types of casts tend to be heavy, non-water resistant, smelly, and low tech. However, with the creation of the Cortex Exoskeleton Cast, people can experience a cast that is anatomically fitted, water-proof, light weight, cheap, hygienic, and actually pleasing to look at it. These casts work by patients undergoing an x-ray and a 3d scan of their arm to locate the fracture. Computer software then generates an accurate set up of a cast to support the fracture the patient has. Aimagesfter that, it is simply printed which takes only a few hours. These casts are much better to support the patients fracture than previous types of casts and they are very affordable so they are affordable for many people.

A large problem we have today is people having organ or tissue failure. The way this is treated is usually through an organ transplant coming from a living or deceased person. Many people are in need of one and are put on a list, however it’s very hard to treat everyone in need since the limited number of organs. After reading C. Lee Ventola’s article on Medical Applications for 3D Printing, she also describes that a second problem is that it’s hard to match the tissue with the person and the donated organ. The creation of 3d bio-printing takes advantage of a common 3D printer and uses that type of technology to create cells and bio-materials. Ventola says this is done by a layer by layer technique that prints out droplets of human cells. This can lead to many things including the creation of knee meniscus, heart valve, spinal disk, other types of cartilage and bone, and an artificial ear.

It’s easy to see how amazing 3D printers can be and this is only the beginning. There are endless possibilities in which 3D printers can change any type of field of work, increase safety for others, and reduce health risks. In the future, we hope bio-printing can increase its technology, change roles in personal medication, and a whole wide range of other possibilities. It’s exciting to see what we can do with this technology today, but it will soon get even better.

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Why do we age?

A question that has probably popped into everyone’s head at some point is, when will I die?Although asking this question to yourself kind of sucks, it’s an interesting question to ask because we all die at different times. But why does our body say it’s time to go at one point in the future and how come it varies? I actually wouldn’t want to know the specific date that I die because then I feel like it’s just a countdown to death. However, I do want to figure out why our bodies actually age and can anything be done with it.

agingApparently, this question of how we age is quite controversial among scientists. There are a few different theories coming from scientists and I’ll do my best to explain them.

Overall, scientists agree that in our body it’s the wear and tear of our cells that when they break down, so does our body. Through the first theory cross link hypothesis, scientists believe that our structural molecules, for example our DNA and proteins, develop certain attractions that aren’t good with each other. With these unnecessary bonds, our proteins and other molecules now lose elasticity. This means proteins lose the ability to move back into its original shape and position. According to the articleWhy and How Do We Age, author and PhD Steven Austad explains that since these proteins are now damaged and can’t return to normal, they begin to break down by enzymes called proteases and stick around. With them sticking around Steven Austad says this can cause many problems in the body.

Another theory concerning the question why we age is called The Replicative Senescence Hypothesis. We see that cells have a limit of reproducing themselves when dividing and to determine this, scientists look at the length of cells’ telomere. Telomeres are the structure at the end of the chromosome. Author Steven Austad says that every time a chromosome reproduces itself, it will lose a part of the telomere. Austad talks about how this can be a problem because once it reaches a certain short length, the cells can no longer replicate its chromosome. Overall, scientists believed that this theory explained a sort of clock that cells had which leads to the reason why overtime we age and eventually die. However, this theory is not very popular among scientists who study this question.

A Longitudinal Study performed by Baltimore’s Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA), they began to observe people with no health issues over a long period of time compared to those with 1_cellular_pathwayshearing loss and other hearing problems in order to figure out how their brains compare. The BLSA took brain scans of the two groups and found out that those who keep a healthy lifestyle with no problems lose the same amount of brain volume during aging, compared to those who have already had health problems. Other ways scientists look for answers of why we age, they look for certain mechanisms that also lead to aging, an example being one’s fitness or metabolism.

There are many factors that can change when a person might die, but scientists still argue over the exact reason why our bodies age and turn old, eventually leading to death. A lot of the theories can get confusing, but I did my best to explain a couple for you.

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Walking on Water

Have you ever seen those bugs that just run across the water and you’re like…what the heck, how did they just do that? Well I have no idea, but that’s a question I decided to research and find the answer to. One of the most popular insects to walk on water are called Gerridaes, also water-striderknown as water striders. Apparently, scientists have struggled to figure out how these insects really walk on water, however they have an idea to explain this…

Before we look at what the insect is doing, we have to see how the water acts. Water is different at its surface than what is below. A term called surface tension plays a role because water molecules are attracted to each other. The water molecules have no other like molecules on all sides allowing them to cohere even stronger, creating tension, which is why when you see the water strider’s leg hit the surface, it doesn’t go into the water.

Now looking at the insect itself, the National Wildlife Federation describes water striders as about a half inch long with a thin body and three sets of legs. The most important feature to look at is their legs. The NWF explains that on their legs are tiny hairs that repel the water they walk on and capture air instead. By doing this, water striders have the ability to move quickly on the surface of water.

Scientists believe that when the tiny hairs on the legs repel the water, it should equal the flotation force. The flotation force goes back to Archimedes principal of buoyancy, commonly buoyancyseen in boats and why they can float. It basically says that any object that is partially or all the way in water is buoyed up by a force that’s equal to the weight of fluid displaced by the object.  According to the articleHow Do Insects Walk on Water? Shadows Reveal Their Secret, author Brooks Hays explains that a group of scientists at Tsinghua University tested their ideas by looking at the shadows created by the water strider’s legs. An experiment was done where they placed a white sheet of paper at the bottom of a water tank and added a light source above. Brooks Hays says that the curvature of the expelled water caused the leg shadows to be rounded. This is important because it allows the scientist to measure the amount of expelled water, which tells them the upward flotation force.

Overall these scientists found out what was happening with their legs and the water and about the different forces involved. This experiment’s results can now lead to an improvement in technology where, from the article Shadow Method Reveals Locomotion Secrets of Water Striders, the possibility to see advanced bionic robots based on these small insect principles can be created in the near future.

To me it’s interesting how simple research of insects could lead to the idea of new technology. Ways like this can be done through many different experiences so who knows what else we may be able to create out of these results.

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Colonizing Mars

I’m always fascinated by space and anything about space. So many questions run through my head, one being will we ever become muliplanetary meaning living on multiple planets. I hope it comes true through my lifetime because well…that would be so cool. With this question in mind, I decided to see which planet we would try to colonize first. Answer…Mars. Apparently Obama announced that its planned by the mid 2030’s, NASA’s plan is set to send humans to Mars. Its all fun in talk but is it actually going to happen…humans colonizing and living on Mars? This is something I decided to find out.

Manned_mission_to_Mars_(artist's_concept)The first step to be able to colonize Mars is getting there first. Getting to Mars isn’t like getting to the moon, it’s a lot farther away. This will require bigger spacecrafts in order to get there because you still have the trip back to Earth to think about. Reading the article Sending Humans to Mars, author Tia Ghose writes that you can either create one large spacecraft or develop a smaller one that would have modules that could be launched into orbit allowing the spacecraft to be assembled in space. With larger spacecraft means larger rockets. Tia Ghose actually reports that NASA will be conducting a second test of the world’s largest rocket, part of the SLS, in 2021.

The second step will be landing in Mars. If all goes well in the process of step one, then landing comes next. A problem is coming up with a way to stop such a larger spacecraft. SpaceX saysspacex-rocket that high speed crafts should be able to decelerate with a term called retro-propulsion, basically saying firing engines while attempting to land. Since it takes about six to nine months to get out to Mars, there is likely a plan set up for long term habitation. Finally, start building. Being on the Martian surface, people can’t live in their space suits the whole time. A type of livable habitat will need to be put in place.

Obviously this isn’t that easy. Many problems will arise, the first being money. Billions and billions and billions of dollars would have to be poured in to first get this to work. Now with actual problems come with the design of the rockets. It will take many years to test rockets and their landing techniques to ensure a safe trip to the Red Planet. Going to and being on Mars, the people will have to deal with different types of radiation. The first radiation is solar proton events, aka solar flares, and the next is galactic cosmic radiation. (A great article about this radiation can be found here)

I know its not that easy to get to Mars. After reading all different types of articles, it does seem like it is possible with the technology we have to get and stay there for a little bit. This is something that I really hope happens in my lifetime because it will easily be the best achievement anyone has ever made. It will lead to many discoveries that will explain Mars and even Earth a little bit better.

Check out this cool video about the SpaceX exploration to Mars.

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Start School Later?

One of the worst things I have to do during the week is wake up early. I’ve always hated waking up early since the first day of high school. Like everyone else I had my routine in the morning, and the worst part was trying to get out of bedearly-school-start at 6:30 in the morning to get ready to go to school. I know I am not the only one like this. I used to wish high school started a few hours later and I always wonder if that would change my opinion about school. Trying to get through the first few periods of high school was impossible because I just thought about sleep the whole time. Recently I came to the question if I was actually awake for my first few classes, would my overall performance in school be better?

My hypothesis would be if school starts a few hours later, then my overall performance in high school would have been better than when it starts at its original time. Those that believe school should start early say this because they believe teenagers go to sleep too late and because of this they do not get enough sleep to function properly in the morning. However, these people do not look at people’s circadian rhythm which I basically our 24-hour internal clock. According to the article Early School Start Times Hurt Students, Hinder Performance written by Dian Shaffhauser, she explains that around the age of 10 our biological wake time is about 6:30, meaning that school should start around 8 o’clock or so. Around the age of 16, the biological wake time is 8 o’clock, so school should start around 10. And at 18 years old the biological wake time is about 9 o’clock so classes should begin between 11 and 11:30. Dian Shaffhauser also writes that back in 1997, a school in Minneapolis shifted its high school start time from 7 to 8:40. With results collected from about 50,000 students from before and after the start time was change, they found that attendance, achievement, mood and behavior all improved. This means when they synchronized the start of school with the student’s biological clock improved their performance. Although today it’s hard to push back the start of high school times because of outside activities like sports, it’s something to think about possibly when scheduling classes for college.

larks-and-owlsAnother way to look at this is when people learn the best. There are different types called morning people, or larks, and evening people, called night owls. Larks tend to be up bright and early in the morning but only about 10% of people are truly larks according to Dr. Michael J Breus in the article Night Owls and Early Risers Have Different Brain Structures. Another reason it may be hard for some of us to get up for school or class is because we aren’t larks, we are night owls. Colleen Oakley in the article Why You’re an Early Bird or a Night Owl, states that when you have a slightly longer circadian rhythm then you are more likely to be a night owl and tend to sleep longer in the morning.

So now I know that I am definitely a night owl since I have always loved sleeping in during the morning. Now that I am in college, I will continue to schedule my classes for later in the day if possible because it will have an effect on my overall performance. I do wish that back in high school the start time was somewhat later so I wasn’t asleep for the first few classes and based on these facts it could help out a lot more people than just myself.

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Notes by Hand or Laptop?

One of the most obvious changes and transitions we see today is in technology. Technology can be related to many things especially to school. In college, almost everybody here has a laptop to do their work on. Every class that I am in now (except Andrew’s) I see the majority of people are on their computers taking notes instead of the traditional way of writing notes down by hand. Overall technology is supposed to make things easier for us and to make what we do in life more efficient and time saving. However, is there actually a difference if we right the same notes down on either paper or our laptop?

A way to look at this is the Pros and Cons of taking notes by Laptop…hand-write-or-type

Pro – Laptops are mainly useful for quick note taking. It is so much easier to type everything up on the presentation instead of hand writing the notes and having the possibility of falling behind.

Con – One word. Distractions. There are distractions that are only a few clicks away from popping up on your screen for you and other people around you to see.

An advantage to hand writing notes is your brain learns more of what you are writing instead of when you are typing. When typing, people usually try to put down as much as they can instead of understanding what they are actually writing. This is thought to be true because of the encoding hypothesis. According to Joanna Penn from the article The pen is mightier than the keyboard, she describes the encoding process basically as the process of taking notes allows your brain to improve in learning and retention, increasing a greater level of cognitive process. Although you are able to get more information down while typing, I believe the most negative idea of typing notes is having the possibly of distraction where once you click to go on twitter or Facebook, you lose all focus on what you are learning and were previously typing down.

Study – A recent study performed by Wood et al. (2012), was designed to understand how, in a real university setting, the impact of technology like laptops would affect real time learning in lectures. This is an experimental study and is set up with 4 different groups either texting using a cell-phone, emailing, MSN messaging or Facebook, being compared to three control groups of hand writing notes, word-processing note taking, and note by laptop. Students were also given quizzes in order to check their comprehension of the information throughout the three lectures. Overall the results came out to be that the actual hand writing of notes outperformed those of the multitasking participants. In addition, those who were considered to be a non-multitasker overall did better on the quizzes than all of the multitasking participants. This shows no matter what the effect of multitasking, it’s better to not do it in order to perform better in class.

Mylivescribe personal preference is to hand write notes so I may be a little biased with this. However, I know it’s hard to persuade people to hand write notes instead of using laptops since today all we see is improvements in technology which leads people further and further away from hand writing. Instead, maybe we can look at this from a different point and incorporate handwriting into our technology. For example, a product called Livescribe, a smart pen that transfers the notes you write down on paper back onto your laptop. It also records everything allowing you to go back and replay it again in case you missed anything else important. More products like this can keep the idea of hand writing notes the same but connect the use of technology to make it even easier for you as well as help your performance in class.

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Pitching: Magnus Effect

Growing up my favorite sport was always baseball. I grew up being a pitcher and continued through high school. Along the way I learned how to throw a variety of pitches including a fastball, curveball, cutter, and change up. All these pitches have a different way of being thrown and the results should be different too. One thing they all have in common is that they are all affected by the Magnus Effect. The Magnus Effect is basically how the ball flies through the air while being affected by its spin due to high and low pressures. I decided to check out how each pitch I used to throw was affected by this effect.magnus-effect

A fastball is the pitch one would throw in order for the ball to have its highest velocity and the straightest path to your target. It is thrown with a lots of backspin which creates the Magnus Effect to point up, opposite of gravity, creating lift on the ball. You can technically get the baseball to rise but nobody really throws a ball that fast. Throwing a change-up can be done in different ways, but I find that the circle-change is most popular. The flight of the ball acts just like a fastball, but its velocity out of the hand is much slower which deceives the batter.

A curveball is a little bit more complicated because of the different direction of its spin. Throwing a curveball, you snap your wrist to get a different type of spin on the ball.  In the article “The Magnus Effect”, the author explains how the curveball has neither a rise or drop, but instead in has sideways lift. The amount of break the curveball has is dependent on how much rotation the pitcher can put on the ball. Usually you get more rotation in your pitch if you put more pressure on your outside finger on the grip.animatedcurveball-jpg

Finally, for a cutter, the last pitch I used to throw, it is almost the same grip but you shift your fingers down the seams and add a different amount of pressure on your fingertips which allows the ball to have run on it for its flight in the air to the catcher. When I say run, I mean at the last split second the ball is traveling in the air, it moves laterally a few inches. If thrown perfectly, it can be a devastating pitch for batters because coming out of the pitchers hand the batter will think a fastball is coming until he notices his bat is broken. One of the most famous pitchers, Mariano Rivera, perfected the cutter and became a legend because of it.

For me, I always knew how to throw these different pitches but it was interesting to learn why they acted differently because of physics. I had no idea there was so much to it and I am sure I missed a bunch other factors that add to pitching. A website that describes this with a multiple animations can be found here.


What’s Behind Your Nightmares?

Every night we dream and usually these dreams are random events put into story mode by your brain. However, some nights people experience scary dreams called nightmares. You definitely know when you’ve had a nightmare because you will wake up in a state of fear, trying to figure out what your mind just processed. From experience, nightmares seem to be very realistic and whenever you wake up your heart is beating way too fast. According to an article through medical daily written by Lizette Borelli, between 10% to 50% of nightmares occur to young children around the ages 5 to 12 compared to less than 7% for adults. Both adults and kids get nightmares but the reasons behind them may vary.nightmare

Nightmares occur during your REM sleep, your rapid eye movement, in which all of your dreams occur. From Lizette Borelli’s article, when a nightmare occurs during REM, we are trying thinking about stressful issues that are happening in our life at the moment. Without dealing with them when we are awake, our unconscious mind takes over while we sleep and is basically forced to deal with our issues. Usually for kids, nightmares occur when throughout their day they experience something scary, maybe on tv, from a movie, or listening to a scary story. When adults experience a nightmare, in most cases it is due to stress or possibly a death in their life.

Nightmares can also be associated with trauma. Whether it’s a horrific accident or PTSD, a person can have the same reoccurring nightmare. According to “Nightmares and the Brain” written by Scott Edwards, the part of the brain in charge of nightmares is the amygdala. Usually in the case of people with PTSD, the amygdala can nightmare2be very sensitive and overactive, the reason their nightmares occur so much. Is there anything these people can treat reoccurring nightmares like this? Well, to start there are many different therapeutic treatments. For example, Edwards describes an image rehearsal therapy where people are asked to write their nightmare but with a positive ending, hoping to reduce their nightmare frequency.

So overall, I was really interested in dreams, but I wanted to narrow down my topic to nightmares and to see why they exist. My first thoughts were that your brain just decided to put together a story that made you scared, but in reality you basically control your own nightmares.




Multitasking: You’re Wrong

The other day in my criminology class, somebody answered a question saying it is impossible to multitask and that your brain actually switches back and forth between tasks really fast. That got me thinking, so I decided to look it up and he seems to be correct. Today you see pretty much everyone that is walking is on their phone. Whether it is at school, going to class, or just walking on the street, multitasking has increased greatly because of the new technology we have. It now annoys me when my roommate puts the tv on while I am doing homework.

People think that they are such great multitaskers that they can do it in any situation that they want. For example, for some reason drivers think they can use their phone while on the road. According to the website, the minimum amount of time of attention while you look at your phone while driving is 5 seconds. Even though it doesn’t sound like a lot of time, it is equal to driving the length of a football field if you are driving about 55 mph. The point here is that your brain can’t do two things at the same time and there are certain situations where trying to multitask will give you negative results.


Multitasking is impossible because if you are trying to focus on two tasks at the same time, your brain will just rapidly switch between each task. What really is happening, is your attention from your first task is now being switched over to your second task and the same thing when you go back to task number 1. Your brain will have activity in an area for one task and it takes time to switch over to another part of your brain for a second task, therefore you can’t do it at the same time. People believe that multitasking will help them, when in fact you are probably going to see lower results in your performance and quality. In an article written by Travis Bradberry, he writes about a recent study by Stanford University researchers found that those claimed to be the best multitaskers actually came out to be the worst in the experiment. This is because throughout the experiment, they had trouble managing their task, making them to take more time and complete it slower than the others. distracteddriver

I now understand why my dad would always tell me to turn off the tv while I was doing homework during high school. My brain can’t focus on a few minutes of studying, then after a little bit, look up and see what is happening on tv. Even having my phone near me or if I am listening to music while working I know I will get distracted and take a longer time do finish my work.  Hopefully now I’ll tell my roommate to turn the tv off in our room while we work.




Science: Interesting…but not good at it

Hey everyone my name is Patrick Ryan and I am a freshman from Monroe, CT. I am currently in the division of undergraduate studies, but I am leaning towards going into something with business. I am a big sports fan, my favorite being baseball. I hope I can combine sports and business into my future job.

I’ve always thought science was interesting, but I was never really all that good at it. Realizing that I was only average at science in high school, I decided to schedule my courses this year towards business. My initial thought was just to find a science class that filled in my gen-ed requirement, but after listening to Andrew talk about the class this past week, I am actually excited to learn more about these future topics we’ll cover.

I love and hate letting my mind run on the topic of space and all about it. I have so many questions about it, but I know they most likely will not be answered during my time. Questions like…Are we alone?…Whats outside of space?…Does space just keep going?…How many dimensions actually are there?…always drive me crazy because we may never know the answers.


Here is a site that I found of an article that explains the age, structure, shape, and expansion that many people wonder about.