Author Archives: Sean Kyle Reilly

Chess – A Waste of Time or Brain Booster?

Ever since I was little, I was enamored by the game of chess. From the intricate design of the pieces, to the simplicity and complexity every game can achieve individually, it truly is an interesting activity that I have enjoyed playing for many years. Although they are not video games by any standards, current games of any sort carry a social stigma to them that relates them to being a waste of time, especially in a society that encourages constant communication and being plugged in. Today, I wish to delve further into my love of chess and explore whether or not it is actually a waste of time, or an activity worth pursuing for further bettering over the course of my life.

Multi-level Chess! Source: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-WbMEoG6aQY8/U2-AIUEz5uI/AAAAAAABg30/mzY1boktcIs/s640/12.jpg.

According to the Chess in Schools Organization, one of many inner-city groups that promote the playing of chess within educational communities, two studies conducted in the 1990s point towards the overall benefits that playing chess can have on children. One study measured how the lower and average scoring children who took standardized tests obtained an even higher score after being introduced to and playing chess regularly, as opposed to the unaffected group which score the second time around with little to no actual difference. The other highlighted the significant improvement in the measurement of emotional intelligence children gained as a direct result of playing chess. Since then, cities such as New York and other major metropolitan cities make it a point to integrate children and communities into the chess community.

Bobby Fischer, a Professional Chess Player Planning his Next Crucial Move. Source: http://www.afr.com/content/dam/images/g/j/r/w/1/2/image.related.afrArticleLead.620×350.gjrvu2.png/1442890866194.jpg.

Benjamin Franklin, a well renowned scientist and diplomat back in his day, also enjoyed playing chess in his off time, so much in fact that he wrote an essay about it titled The Morals of Chess, which was published in 1786. Franklin claimed that not only is chess an enjoyable activity, but he also claimed that important qualities in everyday life were exuded and practiced every game that was played on the eight by eight square board. These qualities included foresight, circumspection, and caution namely, along with the practice of respect, patience, and sportsmanship.

Fun Fact: Not only did he enjoy Chess, but Franklin also created the first Volunteer Fire Company, among many other ideas and objects throughout his lifetime! Source: http://a1.files.biography.com/image/upload/c_fit,cs_srgb,dpr_1.0,q_80,w_620/MTE1ODA0OTcxNjMyNzg5MDA1.jpg.

Overall, the idea that chess is attributed by some to be a waste of time is far from true. There are many documented examples of the benefits chess provides, including health benefits like preventing the onset of Alzheimer, according to a meta-analysis in the New England Journal of Medicine. On the other end of the spectrum, there is hardly any evidence or documented cases out there to support the notion that chess is detrimental or negative in any way, shape, or form. Of course, there are the third variables to consider, such as the established condition of a player before they begin playing chess, or even if individuals who already have those traits are allured to chess like a magnet to the refrigerator door. There is also the chance that chess is absolutely detrimental and I am completely off my rocker, but with the large amount of chess-related evidence in support of its benefits, I am hardly dismayed by the notion that it could be due to chance that chess is harmful. In closing, my hypothesis was found to be a null hypothesis given the lack of evidence to support how wasteful chess is, although if there is something more important that needs to be done, players should prioritize completing more important tasks first. Just like with everything, chess is good in moderation, so long as it does not consume someone’s life in a harmful manner.

Thanks for reading this post! Have a comment or question? Want to play a game sometime? Do you disagree with anything I laid out above? Feel free to leave a reply, and have a great day!

Mobile Cancer Devices?

Ever since their introduction into society, cell phones have become a sensation. At first, they were seen as large bricks and people were sort of mocked for them, but in 2016, those without cellular devices are seen as outsiders or oddities. The societal changes brought about by the mobile changes in telecommunication technology has been greatly influential, but with the number of cellphones nearly tripling over the last decade alone, according to the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association, it should come as no surprise that the possible risks behind these devices are being thoroughly examined and studied meticulously. So, in this post, I propose the question of whether or not cell phones cause cancer, and whether or not I should change my mobile lifestyle as a result of my findings.

I would like to see this try and run Angry Birds. Source: https://wiki-land.wikispaces.com/file/view/brick_phone.jpg/37757184/518×629/brick_phone.jpg.

First, how exactly could cancer be even formed as a result of cellular devices? Well, cell phones rely on radio frequency electromagnetic waves (or radio waves) to communicate wirelessly with other satellites and devices. Think of a walkie-talkie, but instead of the signal stopping on one end, it gets passed along the respective towers or satellites necessary in order to spread the latest news about how great a dog looks in a video. Where the controversy comes in is the influence these radio waves could have being in such prolonged and close proximity to our body.

Just look at the excitement! It cannot be contained! Source: https://media.giphy.com/media/xT77XKxcPqxIZqUrwk/giphy.gif.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, they identify the radio waves emitted by cellular devices to be a possible carcinogen, or something that gives off cancer-causing radiation, based off of an increased risk of brain cancer noticed within the new age of the 21st century. Of course, the research does not stop there, and also includes a number of findings by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. In their meta-analysis, the department found that while there is not quite a clear link between cancer and the use of cell phones, they go on to list all the possibilities as to why the results may have turned up the way they have – such as any bias and even the technological capabilities of studies at the time they were conducted.

When the Snapchat is Lit. Source: http://www.welive2care.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/answering-services.jpg.

At this point in time, I can conclude that the current state of studies conducted on cellular devices has led to the conclusion of there being little risk of cancer, thus labeling my hypothesis as a null hypothesis… for now. Risks of obtaining cancer is obviously a subject to be worried about, and the alarming growth of cellular devices within our society could influence more than just how quick communication is held in the long run. Just like with the initial findings of cigarettes being linked to lung cancer, it may take decades before we witness the ultimate repercussions caused by cell phones. There could also be the influence of third variables such as the importance placed on urgency in our society, and the profits being raked in by the telecommunication companies as a direct result of the cellular industries rapid growth. The other option of chance being a factor cannot be directly ruled out as of yet either, and it may play a role in finding out whether or not some individuals in the future are or are not directly impacted by cellular use in the coming decades. Overall, if someone is still worried about the radio waves, the best advice to follow would be that of the Federal Communications Commission, such as using texting over phone calls, or even just not using the devices altogether. Either way, it will be dreadfully exciting to see what future research reveals about our current obsession with these mobile devices.

Hope you enjoyed this post! Have any comments or questions? Disagree with anything I said above? Want to show off your best dog video? Feel free to leave a reply, and have a great day!

 

Born into the Winter Blues?

On a typical day I tend to think of myself as a very outgoing, extroverted, and ultimately happy individual with a pep in my step. To some, this can be seen as an annoyance, especially those who find themselves to be more introverted by nature. However, I have a hypothesis for why this may be – perhaps it is due in part to the time of year we were born, as opposed to anything else. Personally, I was born in the middle of summer, and it would not surprise me if my birth month actually has an effect on health and personality overall.

One key thing to keep in mind is the well-proven belief in the Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, which is a disorder that occurs around the fall and winter months in four-seasoned environments that ultimately leave sufferers having symptoms of low energy, issues sleeping, and even forms of depression, according to the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. This is disorder can also be treated, primarily through the use of drugs or light therapy, to make sure the patient is getting the correct amount of exposure to natural light.

Nicholas Cage as a Natural Source of Sunlight. Source: http://nicolascage.us/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Teletubbies-Sun.jpg.

So already there is the evidence of SAD to back up my claim from a present time perspective how different times of year effect us… but what about the actual time of year our birth takes place? According to some scientists at Colombia University, there may be more of a link to health conditions and months as opposed to just differences in personality. Through the use of data and meta-analysis, they found that there are specific months that can be attributed to an increased risk in obtaining specific types of diseases, such as cardiovascular, respiratory, and more. However, they also claim that there is actually a number of variables that take part in these determinations, so we should not be overly worried by their findings and trying to line up birth months to prevent any type of specific disease.

Even though it is hardly something to change your everyday life over, the results that may be found over the next few years should be kept in mind as we age further into the century. Perhaps more of a correlation will be found between months and diseases or health overall that could be key in preventing further loss of life.

But what about personality? There is of course the inference of the zodiac calendar and horoscopes from astrology – but this is science, not star gazing and palm reading! Plus, astrology has been debunked by a number of studies, such as the one performed by scientists at the Psychology Department at Indiana University. In the study, it was found that astrologers did no better than any non-astrologer at predicting personalities based off the participants birth months alone.

Take that Celestial Sky Beings! Source: http://www.astrologer.com/pics/zod/Zodiac300x300.jpg.

Although the argument can be made and tailored that the health and personality of an individual correlates with the time of year they are born, I would say this kind of argument is currently weak and back by little, if any, supporting evidence. Thus, I deem my hypothesis to be a null hypothesis as a result of the lack of results that turned up during my findings. While disorders such as SAD exist, this tends to be lent in part to some type of third variable, such as not getting enough natural sunlight, and has nothing to do with the actual month of birth. And astrology, while granted being around for thousands of years, is from a scientific standpoint absolute malarkey. I can say that the month of February means that someone is much more compassionate, caring, and honest, and there will be hundreds of thousands of human beings born in that month who fit that personality type. There is always chance to consider when it comes to these topics, and maybe I am completely wrong, but for now I will stick to what the evidence is claiming, and that is everyone has control over their own emotions and health, not just dates on a calendar.

Hope you enjoyed the post! Have any comments or questions? Do you disagree with anything I said above? Feel free to leave a reply!

Water, Fluoride, and You – A Deeper Look Into Fluoride within Water Supplies!

It should come to no surprise that I, just like everyone on this planet, love drinking water and spreading the good word about the benefits this miracle liquid offers to those who drink enough of it daily. Yet, it recently dawned on me that when I am drinking water, most of the time it is straight from the tap. Given a number of controversies with what is found in tap water, it got me thinking about the involvement of fluoride within my everyday life, and just how frequently this chemical seeps its way into my body. So in this post, I wish to propose the question of whether or not tap water with fluoride in it actually has any sort of foreseeable negative side effects, and whether or not I should make the swift switch towards buying bottled water instead of bottling it myself straight from the tap.

A Picture of Me After an Hour Without Water. Source: https://cdn.meme.am/instances/50019299.jpg.

Fluoride has been introduced into the United States’ water supply since 1945 where it has since steadily rose over the course of 60 years to be included in almost all major United States cities as it currently is today. The arguments arose for the inclusion of fluoride into the public supply before the 50s, and it’s introduction is mainly credited to a Dr. H. Trendley Dean, who, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, conducted a large scale study of schoolchildren in Grand Rapids, Michigan by making the city the first in the nation to introduce fluoride into its water supply. As a result of the 30,000 children monitored over the course of a decades long period, tooth decay had declined significantly, about 60%, and since then, fluoride was introduced, and has remained, within our water supply – like two peas in a pod.

If Those Peas were Elementally Treated, of course. Source: http://files.recipetips.com/kitchen/images/refimages/kitchen_advice/fruit_veg/peas/prep%20and%20cook/pod%20peas/sugar%20snap%20cole%20slaw/rinsing.jpg.

Just last year however, the United States government, for the first time since the fluoride measure was introduced, actually lowered the recommended amount of fluoride in our water supply from between 0.7mg/L – 1.2 mg/L to just 0.7mg/L as the highest limit, according to the United States Dept. of Health & Human Services. The government argues that the introduction of various sources of fluoride through the use of mouthwashes, tooth paste, and other drinking sources within the last few decades is actually doing more harm than good for our children, and thus the descaling of the fluoride is necessary for societal health.

Even with all of this influence of fluoride in our everyday lives – is it actually damaging? Not necessarily. Out of numerous studies, which are highlighted in a nice meta-analysis of about 50 total studies done over the past few decades being compiled by the American Cancer Society, hardly any conclude with solid evidence that fluoride within water supplies actually causes cancer, or any other types of bodily damages for that matter. Only in extremely high doses, according to the Cancer Council of Western Australia, is fluoride actually at risk of causing some damage to your bones or teeth over a prolonged period of time.

Fun Fact: Western Australia also gave us the Great Emu War. Thanks, Western Australia. Source: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/running-ponies/files/2014/08/emu-wars-running-ponies.jpg.

So, what have we learned today? Water is of course a fantastic resource responsible for almost all life on Earth, and without it we would surely parish. However, drinking tap water, or even bottled water, which also contains unregulated amounts of fluoride according to the Center for Disease Control, at this time is perfectly safe and not harmful in any way, shape, or form. Thus, the hypothesis that I portrayed above is to be determined as a null hypothesis – meaning that there is no actual relationship between an unhealthy life and the consumption of water containing levels of fluoride. Had there been sufficient enough evidence, or even if stronger evidence somehow arises in the future, then perhaps my current water drinking habits would be likely to change. Based on the evidence I have compiled through the numerous studies done over the past half century, it would be foolish for me to actually stop drinking tap, or even bottled, water at this point in time due to the fact it contains fluoride. Unless I start consuming toothpaste or mouthwash at an alarming rate, or move to an area plagued with high concentrations of fluoride, I should have nothing to worry about for the foreseeable future.

Thanks for reading this post! Have any comments or questions? Disagree with something I said? Want to learn more about the Great Emu War? Feel free to leave a reply!

Cotton Swabs and Our Ears – A Match Made in Heaven?

Back in high school, a teacher of mine took a leave of absence over the course of a few days, and when he returned, came back with a full vengeance and preached about the dangerous use of cotton swabs in our ears. He had to get a surgery as a result of using cotton swabs for decades, which caused a damaging build up of gunk and wax within his ear that needed to be removed. Although this happened many years ago, I still use cotton swabs today in order to clean out my ears, and the idea of going a period of time without giving them a good cleaning turns me squeamish. So the questions I am proposing today is whether or not cotton swabs actually cause ear damage, and whether or not I should continue my use of them in the pursuit of a healthier life? First though, lets take a closer look in our ears, shall we?

If Blue and

“Blue Skidoo, We Can Too!” Sources: http://fridaysunset.net/Pics/Ear.png & http://25.media.tumblr.com/d126eb6a4d30c235ce82d4a3ce20e720/tumblr_mf6rfxxZH61qg9mlno1_500.gif

Earwax, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, is a healthy substance that accumulates within the ear with the purpose of… cleaning and protecting our ears. So if our bodies already create a cleaning solution for my ears, why heck am I spending my hard earned money on cotton swabs?! I could have treated my ears to something nice, like a sweet pair of Ear Buddies! However, according to the AAoO, a build up of wax can actually lead to a number of bad things, such as earaches, hearing loss, and tinnitus, so cleaning them is actually useful if there is a build up of too much ear wax.

“Ears for my ears, the future is now people!” Source: https://shechive.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/a-odd-products-17.jpg?quality=100&strip=info&w=500

So, cleaning our ears is really important under the right circumstances, and besides, millions of people have been, and still are, using cotton swabs to clean their ears, ever since the early 1900s, which is why my questions remain to be answered – do cotton swabs cause ear damage and should I ever use cotton swabs again to clean my ears?

First, we must lay out four causalities which we can observe. Either:

Direct Cause: Using cotton swabs causes ear damage.

Reverse Cause: The ear damage is causing the use of cotton swabs.

Third Variable Cause: Another force or object is causing the ear damage, as opposed to just the interaction of the cotton swabs.

Chance: Anything is susceptible to chance, and thus it cannot be ruled out.

We can already rule out the Reverse Causation, since last time I had any kind of ear damage, my first instinct was not to run for a cotton swab and just start prodding and poking around within my ear. Plus, it is not like my ear can communicate directly with the cotton swabs themselves to come and assist it right away. That would be pretty neat though if my ear had that kind of power.

“When the Cotton Swab Enters Juuuuuust Right.” Source: http://betterhealthkare.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/ear-cleaning.jpg

First, we will tackle the Direct Cause which is that cotton swabs themselves cause ear damage. According to a 2011 study published and funded by the Henry Ford Hospital, cases of ruptured eardrums (or ear damage) and the number of patients who use cotton swabs regularly for cleaning, correlate quite well with one another. When stretched too far into the ear itself, cotton swabs have been found to cause damage within the ears of patients. This study also found that this damage tends to heal quickly over the course of a few weeks at most, and required little to no medical procedures to help repair the ear. The American Academy of Otolaryngology also discuss methods of removing earwax, and mention that cotton swabs should not be used because, in most cases, the wax is just shoved further into the ear. Instead of clearing up the blockage, the blockage is actually being reinforced by our efforts to swab it out, which helped to cause ear damage! So, claiming that a Direct Cause exists between cotton swab usage and ear damage is not far off by any means and cannot be ruled out.

“Produced Cars on a Mass Scale AND Created the First Smoke-Free Hospitals, truly an American looking out for American interests. Henry Ford for President, 2016.” Source: https://centerofthewest.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/PW095_Henry_ford_1919_wikipedia.jpg

What about a Third Variable Cause, such as pressure to use these cotton swabs by other sources, such as doctors, advertisements, etc. Well, according to a survey taken by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 171 of the 325 patients, or 51% of patients, visiting an ear, nose, and throat specialist reported using cotton swabs. When the patients who used cotton swabs were asked why they did, shockingly enough, a majority of patients responded simply by stating that it seemed like a good idea, or that they use them because loved ones use them – but offer no more context than that. Use of the cotton swabs themselves were not due to an official recommendation from a doctor or nurse, but rather just because it felt right, and that is it. As a result, the scientists behind the study called for better warnings on cotton swab packages to better inform consumers of the dangers behind incorrect use.

Reason No. (%)
Advertising 3 (2)
Advised by a doctor 5 (3)
Advised by a nurse 3 (2)
Family and friends use them 42 (25)
Because it seems like a good idea 89 (52)
Not sure 20 (12)
No reply 9 (5)

Source: NCBI

Individuals may also have a more difficult time affording other variations of treatment for a build up of ear wax as well if they are strapped for cash, leading them to follow the lifelong tradition of the generations before them and just settle for the all purpose cotton swabs to get the job done.  According to CostHelper Inc., the average medical treatment without insurance can cost someone $100 or more. Not everybody has proper medical coverage in America, and as a result, the difference between spending a few bucks and a few seconds every morning cleaning your ears for a few months at a clip begins to seem like a much better alternative to taking a half, or even full, day off of work and spending upwards of a few hundred dollars in expenses that could have gone towards food or other necessary bills. These results lead to the fact that Third Variables could be playing a part in ear damage as well.

There is a Chance that all of this is just wrong, and that cotton swabs either do not cause damage or actually prevent damage to the ear itself through prolonged use. However, this Chance seems rather slim, if not virtually non-existent, in my opinion, due to the alarming number of research and survey articles out there about the dangers of using cotton swabs within our ears, as well as the number of warning labels placed on just about every brand of cotton swabs currently on the market.

“Just one example of the warning labels found on nearly every cotton swab brand today.” Source: http://i.thestreet.com/files/tsc/mainstreet-photos/photo-gallery/art-gallery/warnlabel-qtips.jpg

Now it is time to review my findings!

To repeat, the questions were whether or not cotton swabs cause ear damage, and whether or not I should stop my use of cotton swabs to clean my ears. Due to not only my findings through direct, third variable, and even the causation of chance, I concluded that using cotton swabs to clean your ears can cause ear damage, especially over the course of years which could lead to a dangerous build up of earwax, which is exactly what happened with my teacher back in high school. But is the evidence truly compelling enough to get me to stop cleaning my ears with these dastardly weapons? Absolutely! Thinking back on Andrew’s advice back in class, the evidence I have gathered definitely swayed my opinion on the effects using cotton swabs in my ears could have on my health, both in the short and long term. Not only will I try to explore some safer, alternative methods of removing a large build up of wax, such as a light suction tool or the use of certain oils to help break it down, but I will also share my findings with family members and friends who have been using cotton swabs for their entire lives as well.

Thanks again for your time, and I hope you learned something new!

Did you enjoy my post? Have any comments, questions, or concerns? Feel free to leave a reply!

Headaches and Migraines!

We have all been there before. One moment we are making our way down town, walking fast while dorm bound, and all of a sudden we feel a pain in our head start to form – sometimes it is in the front, or the back, maybe even along the sides. Regardless, it is irritating, painful, and cannot be due to anything good. Headaches are one of the most common symptoms individuals experience throughout their lives, and sometimes even amount to severe headaches and migraines, while being a fair warning of a developing disease or disorder encroaching. But what are headaches exactly, and what is the difference between them and a severe headache or migraine?

Headaches

Headaches are pains that originate in the cranium that can be broken down into two general categories: primary and secondary headache disorders. Primary headaches are typically the most common that everyone has typically had at least once (or multiple) times throughout their lives. Typically, regular headaches only last for a few hours at a time, and are associated with some type of anxiety or stress in the individual’s life. Although they do not necessarily warrant medical attention, headaches can be painful enough to take a sick day over and lead to popping a few pills, downing a glass of water, and applying HeadOn directly to the forehead.

HeadOn… Apply Directly to the Forehead… HeadOn… Source: http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/headon_6492.jpg

Migraines

Migraines fall more into the secondary headache disorders category. These are headaches that become frequent as a result of some type of disease or disorder, such as a head injury or withdrawal. Migraines however can be caused by some of the same things as headaches, including hunger and thirst, and lead to even worse symptoms than just a mild head pain for its sufferers. Throbbing sensations can be felt throughout parts of the cranium, while nausea and a keen sensitivity to sources of light are also experienced by individuals suffering from migraines.

Excedrin, a leading migraine medication brand, published a video showing non-migraine sufferers going through a migraine experience through the use of a VR (or Virtual Reality) tool. Although it has been awhile since I personally experienced a headache, I fully recommend everyone check out the video to get a better idea of what suffering through a migraine looks like. Plus, the subjects move around and look like silly robots while using the VR device, which is pretty funny.

Interestingly enough, some types of migraines are also found to be hereditary – meaning that if say a grandparent or parent in a family suffers from migraines, it can easily be passed down to the next generation of kin. Mutations in select genes of the human body causes familial hemiplegic migraines, which are no different from regular migraines in regards to typical symptoms. Numerically speaking, the likelihood of getting this genetic mutation is about 1 out of every 10,000 individuals, and with a roughly 7.3 billion population (on 9/16/2016) count world wide, leads to the possibility of 730,000 individuals having this lineage of genetic mutations.

Fun Fact: The Country of Bhutan has a population of almost 780,000 Individuals. Source(s): http://www.bhutan.gov.bt/foreigner/images/nationalflag%20(1).gif / http://www.nsb.gov.bt/nsbweb/main/main.php#&slider1=4

Women also typically have a worse time than men do when it comes to migraines – having three times the chance of suffering from migraines compared to their male counterparts. Hormonal changes seem to bring an onset of migraines from time to time, including in women who are going through menopause or pregnancy. Oddly enough, some women found that taking contraceptives increase the likelihood of migraines, while others found that contraceptives actually lower, or outright prevent, the frequency of migraine occurrences.

Oh brother! Source: http://mrwgifs.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Meryl-Streep-Facepalm-Of-Disappointment.gif

Prevention Tips

We can all agree that headaches and migraines are at the very least minor inconveniences, and at the worse, a major pain that lasts for days with various symptoms – but what can be done to prevent frequent episodes of headaches/migraines? The Mayo Clinic recommends that sufferers consider looking into a number of drugs, such as antidepressants, cardiovascular pills, simple pain relievers, and even an injection of botox into the forehead and some muscles. England’s National Health Service also recommends looking into changing some things around throughout everyday life in order to reduce stress and tension on the muscles. This could include exercising more or less than before, attending more massage or yoga sessions, and even maintaining a proper posture while sitting down all day at the ol’nine-to-five. So in other words, taking some time to TREAT YO SELF every once in awhile and unwinding could also help in preventing frequent episodes.

Treat Yo Self 2016 – It’s The Best Day of the Year! Source: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/8d/2f/4e/8d2f4e20709bef3bf61f135b07637c00.jpg

Think my fun facts are not fun at all? Did you agree or disagree with anything I posted? Have an interesting story to contribute to the post? Feel free to let me know by leaving any comments or questions here, and I hope you learned something informative from my post!

Caffeine in Our Everyday Lives

Every single student that has ever taken classes has no doubt, knowingly or unknowingly, consumed some form of caffeine. Whether it be through their morning mocha-frappe-electro-turbo grande sized drink from Starbucks for that early jolt of energy, or the more bubbly cola product with the occasional burger, we are all guilty of it.

Even Santa Enjoys a Coca-Cola! Source: http://i2.mirror.co.uk/incoming/article4773905.ece/ALTERNATES/s615b/Coca-Cola-christmas.jpg

But there comes a point where we must ask the hard-hitting questions on this blog, regardless of how much caffeine we may consume. Just how healthy is caffeine for our bodies, and how much caffeine, if such a thing exists, is too much?

Firstly, we must understand what caffeine IS. It is, first and foremost, a drug, and in fact the only drug that we either find naturally in, and physically add into, the drinks and food we consume. These drinks and food include, but are not limited to, coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, ice cream, and candy bars. Consuming caffeine, whether through medication or a substance, also comes with a wide range of side-effects aside from the typical hours-long burst of energy, all ranging from a slight hike in blood pressure to, in some cases, thirst, anxiety, dry mouth, and insomnia. It also does not help drunk college students sober up at all, sorry everyone!

Not Unless Our Course Loads Get to Us First… Source: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/01/3f/92/013f92d57e1a9637a6cfd31863503254.jpg

“But is it healthy, Sean?! Come on already!”

Alright, alright! A good way to imagine caffeine is as a double-edged sword. When consumed in moderation, caffeine-based products can have healthy benefits. These include protection against a number of cancers, lower risks of dementia and Parkinson’s, and even an increase in one’s life span by a few years when consumed daily. But do not rush to your nearest coffee shop just yet! While consuming caffeine may have some positives, it also has the potential to lead to becoming more jittery, having mood swings, an altering of effects from medications being taken, and experiencing cases of insomnia. Most important of all, however, is the possibility of building up an addiction to caffeine as a drug, meaning that unless a cup of joe (or typically more) a day is gulped down, symptoms of caffeine withdrawal will start to kick in, such as anxiety, depression, headaches/migraines, and more!

Cup of Joe? More Like Cup of No. Source: http://www.cfau-pd.net/images/coffee-cup-images/coffee-cup-images-11.jpg

“Okay… but Starbucks’ Teavana® Teas are so good and I really want one. What should I do?”

Luckily, the Teavana® Teas contain very little, if any caffeine (see hyperlink above). However, the recommended caffeine intake of an average adult is about 400mgs, or roughly four cups of coffee, per day. Anything above that, and someone may risk running into some of the negative side effects I mentioned above. This allowable amount also changes depending on age, whether or not someone is pregnant, or their personality, meaning it is possible to ingest more than six cups a day and feel perfectly fine. Keep all of this in mind next time you go to grab that trenta sized iced coffee, which has nearly 300mgs of caffeine in it already!

There is a Reason Starbucks has Used a Siren as Their Logo For Decades. Source: http://www.designboom.com/cms/images/—andy/star3.jpg

As an alternative, perhaps try leaving a cup of water near your bed or in the fridge and drinking it first thing in the morning to help wake you up – after all we can hardly go a few hours without needing a refreshing drink, let alone eight hours. I personally found that the cup of water helps to wake me up and get me moving in the morning much more efficiently than waiting for a cup of coffee or tea to kick in long after drinking it. Another alternative is to try and keep tabs of every day products that you may consume so you do not go overboard on the caffeine!

Fun Fact: 100% of Humans that Drink Water Have Died. Is it just Chance or a Correlation? Source: http://www.cityofbelmont.org/images/CivicAlerts/1/glass-of-water.jpg

So, for those of you who just skipped to the end – caffeine is a drug and can be healthy when consumed in a moderate fashion. Roughly 400mg per day is the recommend amount an adult should consume up to, and anything more than that can lead to some pretty damaging stuff. Try to be mindful of how much caffeine you ingest regularly for a more fulfilling life!

Do you agree or disagree with anything I said in my post? Have something interesting to add? Was I paid by Starbucks to advertise in this space for them? Feel free to leave a reply below, and any feedback is greatly appreciated!

 

 

The New (Vape) Nation and the Dangers Associated with It

In the modern era of stress-relieving products, we have become more technologically advanced as human beings. Long gone are the days of primitive cigarettes and cigars, which left behind disgusting butts and a heavy lingering scent, because now we have the ability to smoke electronic cigarettes!

Instead of carrying around that bulky cigarette pack and a lighter with you everywhere, now you only need one device for all of your convenient smoking needs!

And best of all, it is a healthier alternative to smoking the ‘cancer sticks’ that are cigarettes!

How a Typical E-cigarette Works: http://michiganradio.org/post/snyder-treat-e-cigarettes-tobacco#stream/0

“So… what is there to lose? Why doesn’t everyone just join the ‘Vape Naysh’ and start smoking some electronic cigarettes?” You may be asking.

Well, even though electronic cigarettes may be technically safer than smoking regular cigarettes, there are still great health risks associated with smoking them – for yourself and others around you. They still contain nicotine and a number of other harmful chemicals, some of which line up evenly with cigarette-related products.

“But, what about the nicotine-free vapes? They contain no nicotine… so they are obviously healthier for you!”

Again, not quite.

Judy Zelikoff of the NYU School of Medicine performed an interesting electronic cigarette experiment on mice and the effects adding or subtracting nicotine to the electronic cigarette had on them. (The study was also summarized well by ScienceNews, a magazine for scientific findings, if you would like a shorter version). When exposed to the nicotine vapors, the male mice showed little change in activity, but the female’s activity increased up to around 148 genes in the brain’s frontal cortex. But when both genders were exposed to non-nicotine vapors, the activity of these mice increased up to a whopping 830 or more genes in both genders – nearly six times that of the nicotine-laced vapors! This led to scientists observing actions of hyper activity within the affected mice compared to their non-affected counterparts, and even a sperm concentration decrease by half in young-male mice! Yikes!

But, just like Andrew said in class during our first pop-quiz, we, as humans, are different from animals. Just because we may be different, however, does not mean that a rational decision to avoid these products is automatically out of our reach.

Fun Fact: We Share roughly 98% of our Genes with Mice, which might explain why I love cheese so much. Source: https://www.jax.org/~/media/jaxweb/images/genetics-and-healthcare/mouse-98-percent.png?h=558&w=992&la=en.

As they are marketed today, e-cigarettes are the sleek and new modern cigarettes that look to help ween other people off of their current cigarette addiction while making them look more ‘hip’ and ‘cool’ than ever before. There is a reason why President Nixon signed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act of 1969 – because legislators and doctors alike all knew the psychological effects smoking advertisements pressuring people to be cool and smoke more was having on our American society, let alone the health risks associated with them.

“It’s toasted” for Our Cancer Inhaling Conveniences. Source: http://www.healthcare-administration-degree.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Lead.jpg

The problem is, there is little to no evidence backing up the claims being spread by these companies that e-cigarettes actually help the user past the point of moving them from one bad habit and straight into another bad habit which could be potentially worse for them in the long run. Imagine if you have been struggling with an addiction to cupcakes your entire life. Then one day, the owner of the same bakery comes up to you and offers you a doughnut while telling you that it is healthier than those unhealthy cupcakes you have been eating for years, all while even coming in more flavors for you to enjoy! Both of these foods are unhealthy for you and, when consumed as regularly as someone might take a long drag of their cigarette due to an addiction, will cause inevitable detrimental health issues for you in the future.

My Point Proves Itself Here Quite Well. “‘Take back your freedom,’ from Cupcakes. Switch to Doughnuts today!” Source: http://blogs.bmj.com/tc/files/2013/10/E-Cigarette-Ad.jpg

Although electronic cigarettes may seem like the coolest thing since the Topsy Turvy in regards to modern conveniences – do not be fooled by the thick smoke (or fat vapes) that conceals the truth about electronic cigarettes! They are nearly the same exact product as conventional cigarettes that have been around for decades spreading nasty diseases in the name of alleviating your everyday stresses. So remember, the next time you see someone outside of the HUB smoking from an electronic cigarette or vaping apparatus, treat that slow moving, thick white cloud that escapes from their lips the same way you would if it was from a conventional cigarette – regardless of whether or not the scent of Mountain Dew or Doritos allures you.

I Want to Believe It Isn’t Real. Source: http://mayaecigarette.com/mountain-dew-ifill-electronic-cigarette-e-juice.html

Thank you for reading this post! Do you agree or disagree with anything I said above? Feel free to leave a comment in the reply section below, and any feedback is always greatly appreciated!

 

Introduction to the Vastness of the Cosmos

Hello! My name is Sean Kyle Reilly, a Junior who just transferred into Pennsylvania State University this fall.

Science is by far one of the most important fields of study we pursue as human beings. Although at times controversial, the studies of science give us much needed insight and truths on matters either well known or completely unknown as a whole. It is for this reason that I am taking this course – because I enjoy reading about the latest scientific findings and am excited to see where the fields of science take us over the course of my lifetime. And I also needed one more science class to graduate. But I do deeply enjoy the scientific process of uncovering the unknown and revisiting the previously known. I have, among many people, one man in particular to thank for my interest in science – Carl Sagan.

Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan, Renowned Astronomer and Astrophysicist who inspired many greats, such as Neil deGrasse Tyson.

“But Sean,” you may be asking, “If you enjoy science so much, why don’t you major in it?” Well Reader, When it comes to equations, I am not exactly the fastest at solving them, nor am I the best, and feel as though other people would do a substantially better job than me thriving in those fields. I am currently majoring in History and plan on going into the education field – where I feel as though my talents are much more useful as a whole being a critical and curious individual who loves to speak and share ideas.

With that said, I look forward to giving updates on this blog throughout the year, and will leave everyone with this great video to watch titled “Pale Blue Dot”. The Pale Blue Dot is a reference to a photo taken by the Voyager 1 Spacecraft when it was instructed, by Sagan,  to turn around and try to take a photo of the Earth as it flew in a part of space where we would be minutely visible – if at all. The result inspired Sagan to give multiple speeches, write a book titled Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, and was made reference to in Neil deGrasse Tyson’s revitalization of the Cosmos television series.

“The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena.” – Carl Sagan