Author Archives: Victor William Gregory

Vitamins: Fact or Fiction

While sitting at my desk I watched my roommate struggle to take vitamins out of a bottle. I asked him why he was taking them. He said it was because he needed to fill the dietary gaps in his diet. This made me wonder whether or not we reaped the benefits of dietary supplements. When looking into this I found a study done by Harvard that discussed the reality of whether vitamin supplements were good or bad for you.

In these studies, the Null Hypothesis would be that dietary supplements do nothing, whereas the Alternative Hypothesis would be that Vitamins have a positive impact on personal health. Although certain health and wellness magazines swear by vitamins and endorse them as being a daily essential, the article explains that the studies used to justify their claims are faulty. These studies are not experimental, rather observational. This means that they did not test the vitamin against a placebo control group, so there is no real evidence that the supplement does any good at all. Certain vitamins that were observed and were thought to have been beneficial to those with heart conditions actually went on to cause bleeding strokes. In fact, most vitamin supplements are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

I also found an article on WebMD that discussed the findings in three separate studies that were conducted to assess the validity of vitamin supplements. After comparing the results from the placebo administered and the vitamin, they found that there was little to no health benefit from consuming the dietary supplement. From this we can assume that we are agreeing with the Null Hypothesis that the dietary supplements do not have an effect on personal health. Does this mean that Vitamins are bad for us? No absolutely not. However, this does tell us that we shouldn’t merely replace a major portion of our diet with a vitamin.


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Does Classroom Temp. Effect Student Performance?

The other evening, I came back into my dorm room to find my roommate sitting at his desk wearing a PSU beanie and a black leather coat. To clarify this is very out of the norm for him. I asked why he was all bundled up and he said that our room was too cold for him to focus. The temperature of the room felt like a crisp 68 degrees which is the perfect temperature for me to do my work. This caused me to consider what effect temperature had on a student’s performance and so I looked further into the concept.

I found a study that was conducted on rats to assess the affect that temperature changes on their memory. The experiment observed the speed at which rats were able to react to a slight shock and find a smaller compartment in which the electrical current was not present. The study showed that at higher temperatures, the rats reaction times were slower, whereas in the cooler temperatures there was no difference in reaction time to the subject’s baseline reaction time. Learning that it did in fact have an effect on rats made me even more curious as to whether or not it had an effect on humans. I was fortunate enough to find a study done by a school in Oregon in which students performance was observed in different temperatures.

Each student that participated was randomly chosen. The test administered to the students was composed of basic shape memorization, colors, and basic math equations. The classrooms were adjusted to three temperatures:  61 degrees F, 72 Degrees F, and 81 Degrees F. The students were put in the room for 10 minutes before the test in order to acclimate to the temperature. After the experiment was complete, the data showed that students in the warmest room, 81 Degrees F, did the poorest on the test with an average of 72%. Those in the cooler room were more likely to score higher by 4% or more. The students who performed the best were those in the 70 Degree F range

This study demonstrated that students are likely to perform better academically when the temperature is cooler rather than hot. That being said they will do their best when the temperature in the room is more neutral than not. Although this experiment rules out reverse causation, it still has several flaws such as the fact that the students in each classroom were taking different tests. All in all, these studies show that it’s better to work in a place that is cold rather than a place that is hot. The next time you study or work somewhere that’s hotter than normal, think about how that might affect your productivity. I guess since we do better academically in the cold, it’s a good thing that we all chose to attend school in State College.



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The Slower You Eat, the Less You Eat

While eating dinner in the West Commons I looked at all the other students sitting around me. I noticed that all the smaller students were eating significantly slower than those who were larger. Could the speed they eat at be connected to their weight? I decided to look into this and what I came upon made me slightly alter my question. Does eating slower decrease the amount of food you eat causing you to lose weight? I found an article that discusses how it takes your body twenty minutes to know whether it’s full or not. It goes on to talk about how there are ways of going about this, if you have a difficult time slowing yourself down. Two examples of this are gastric-bypass and a retainer designed by dentists that is put on while eating as to reduce mouth space and decrease your food intake.

I also found an observational experiment, in which participant’s food consumption was tracked and sometimes controlled. Is the connection between weight and rate of food intake directly correlated? Or could the connection be explained by reverse correlation? The volunteers for the study had to meet specific criteria in order to participate. All third party influences that could affect appetite were excluded from the study. None of the 48 participants smoked, had a preexisting medical issue, nor did they take any medications that would have an effect on appetite.

Each participant had a baseline meal in which their average consumption rate of food was tracked. The next time they came for the meal, they were told they would be prompted to eat. Every time they were given an auditory prompt, they were told to eat a piece of the popcorn chicken provided. In this initial observation, they were prompted to eat at the same rate they had eaten the chicken the prior day. This was to get the participant acclimated to the study. The next time they were observed, they were given an audible prompt at a much slower rate than the participant was used to. In the third observation they were prompted at their normal speed and then half way through, at the reduced speed. This displayed a curve in the consumption and was meant to affect the participants hunger. During each of these meals, the participants were told to inform the experimenter when they were full or finished eating.


At the conclusion of the study, the data showed a definitive change caused by the deceleration of the participant’s consumption. The experiment showed that, in both men and women, the desire to eat and the hunger of the participants had decreased. However, it did so more in women than in men. The instructed consumption of the chicken directly affected how hungry they were, and how much they were able to eat before feeling full.

So if eating more slowly causes us to want to eat less, does that mean we’ll lose weight? From this study alone it’s difficult to say. However, it isn’t unreasonable to give it a shot. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t at least have some effect on your weight. We eat every day. Many of us tend to eat much too fast. We always look for round about ways of changing our diets but we never stop and think that maybe the easiest thing to do is just to slow down. What can you take away from all of this? First, if you eat your meals a little slower than usual, you’ll feel less hungry sooner. This will cause you to consume less food each meal. Second, if you eat less food at a slower rate then you’re less likely to feel hungry as the day goes on. Finally, your newly controlled eating habits could have a positive effect on your weight and overall health.



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Cookie Dough: The Truth Behind the Batter

While making cookies with my family I was wondering about what the real reason is that we shouldn’t eat raw cookie dough. Most people usually assume that you shouldn’t eat raw cookie dough because you run the risk of getting salmonella from the raw egg. But what if I told you that wasn’t the only reason? Studies show that it is not only is raw egg, but also flour that is making people sick. A recent report says that General Mills flour has sickened 45 people and has made a recall of 45 million pounds of its product. But why? What could be affecting flour in a way that its making people sick? Officials from the Food and Drug Administration analyzed samples of the flour and found that it was contaminated with two separate strands of E-Coli. Investigations have led to the disease being present in other sprout based food sources, but never flour.

So how did the E-Coli get into the flour? Because wheat is not usually treated to kill bacteria, the product is more susceptible to pick up the disease. If livestock defecate in the field, then it increases the likelihood that the grain will pick up the bacteria that’s been causing so much illness. So what is the disease doing? The disease has been causing diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Some symptoms last longer than a week and persist such as Kidney failure. The disease has spread across 21 states. The FDA is aiding GM in the process of eliminating the disease in their products.

When eating raw cookie dough, you should always be cautious. First and foremost, the consumption of raw egg is unhealthy. Furthermore, General Mills recent recall makes the decision even riskier. But what if you’re like me and you enjoy raw cookie dough and kind of don’t care? Just wait a while…..In the not too distant future, GM’s recall should be over and the flour they produce should be E-Coli free once more.

So what can be taken away from all of this? First, if you have any General Mills products containing flour, you best throw them away. Second, avoid consuming any products containing raw flour. And Finally, eating raw egg is never a good idea. So the next time you’re making Chocolate chip cookies, think about what ingredients you used before you take a bite of the raw dough.




Does drinking water before an exam help you do better?


Sitting at my desk I looked at the multitudes of empty plastic water bottles that I was waiting to recycle. I noticed that I had consumed more water than usual, and that I also had a great week academically. Could the two be connected? I found an interesting article that answered that question. It discussed the possibility that drinking water before an exam could make you a better student. Is this true? Could doing such a simple task actually improve my grades? After watching the people around me and realizing the number of students with and without bottles of water on campus, I decided to dig deeper. Is there another combination of events that causes this? It could be that a third variable is increasing the scores of those students whom are drinking water before an exam.

This possible third variable could be anything from prior experience with exams, students being more physically active and therefore are thirstier, or it could be that smarter students in general tend to be healthier and drink more water than the average student. That being said, we can safely rule out reverse correlation, because receiving a higher grade cannot cause you to go back in time to drink water before the exam.

A study conducted by the universities of East London and Westminster, examined the testing scores of 447 students. Only 25% of the students had a bottle of water with them during the exam. The researchers accounted for the students’ previous academic ability, and found that who drink water before an exam could expect 10% higher scores than those who do not. The study also showed that students who drink water before an exam are likely to have less test-anxiety. The action of drinking water briefly distracts the student and can alleviate stress and anxiety which can positively affect exam scores.

Water is necessary for our everyday life. Every part of our body utilizes water, including our brains. Water has been proven to aid certain processes such as absorbing metabolic heat. It has also been noted that water not only aids in the transportation and distribution of nutrients, but also helps us maintain blood volume. A recent study said that dehydration can negatively influence our cognitive functioning, specifically our short-term memory and our mathematic ability. In the experiment, participants were dehydrated up to 2.8% by physical exercise, or exposure to high temperatures. They were later given a series of test for memory, visual perception, and psychomotor skills. The study proved that dehydration negatively affected the participant’s cognitive ability.

So what can you take away from all of this? First, drinking water aids a number of bodily functions including cognitive function. Second, drinking water can reduce your test-anxiety. And third, student who consume 8 ounces or more of water before an exam are 10% more likely to receive a higher grade than those whom do not. Because a lack of water is proven to negatively affect cognitive ability, we can say with certainty that the consumption of water, and performance on an exam are directly related. Although we cannot completely rule out a third variable, it is unlikely the cause. These articles have shown that drinking water before an exam does positively influence your score and can ultimately improve your grades making you a better student. I because this is such an easy task, I can’t think of a reason why any reasonable person wouldn’t at least give it a shot. I know that I certainly will be drinking a bottle of water before Andrew’s next exam.






Dogs v. Rats: The Fight For Our Affection

In science 200 today we heard about how one of the ways that we discovered the connection between lung cancer and smoking cigarettes. Myself as well as many of my classmates were horrified to hear that beagles were forced to inhale smoke in order for scientists to examine the effects of tire nicotine on the lungs. In many class discussions Andrew will refer to an experiment in which rats were used. In fact, prior to hearing about the Beagle study, Andrew discussed at the class the study in which tarr was applied to the back of rats. The study showed that when applied at often the tarr caused cancerous tests. So why is it that we get upset when dogs are used in experiments but not when rats are?


Depending on where you are from, you view animals differently. In North America we cherish dogs and cats as domesticated members of our family.  In places such as the Middle East and certain Asian countries dogs are viewed as unclean in the way that we’ve used rats and mice in the United States.  Most households in United States have at least one pet.  The most common pets in United States are as follows:  dog, cat, fish, birds, horses. Some people have pets to control test environment while others have pets as companions. It is proven that certain interactions between humans and dogs can release a hormone called oxytocin to the brain. This has been demonstrated with cats and dogs but not mice and rats. This release of hormones explains the inevitable connection that we feel with dogs, which also explains why we do not feel this Strong connection to rats and mice. This lack of endorphins accounts for our indifference towards the use of rats in scientific experiments and studies.




Leaves or Latte’s?

Throughout the year the seasons transition and each is marked by the changing of weather, holidays, changes in nature, and even by seasonal drinks. But being in SC 200 today made me question that thought. We discussed both direct, and reverse correlations. So, is it the season that denotes the change? Or is it the change that denotes the season? Many times throughout the year we qualify the start of a season when there is a dramatic change in weather such as the first snow storm of winter, however this ideal is shifting.

In the case of Autumn, we have no longer declared the start of fall by the first leaf to drop, no, but rather the first Pumpkin Spice Latte sold. The day café’s and coffee shops begin to sell these sought after seasonal drinks, is the day society declares the start of Fall. In 2003 Starbucks introduced this fall favorite between September until mid-November, and the results were staggering. Having known their seasonal holiday drinks were successful, they decided to broaden their spectrum to cover fall flavors. Not expecting their limited offer to be as successful as it was, they chose to make it one of their seasonal drinks.

But why? What third entity has caused society to alter its view of the start of a season? There are multiple possible correlations that could explain why so many people buy this drink; the first and foremost being that it is a, “social Norm,” to enjoy these drinks. As the season progresses the number of latte’s purchased increases. This correlation could be a result of a change in climate or could very well be a result of the popular fad. What do you think? Is there a second entity influencing the purchase of these drinks?

All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth

Sitting in SC 200 the other day, the topic of flossing and brushing came up. I decided I wanted to write a blog about dentistry, but I wanted to do it in a way that made a connection between it and genetics. I realized that I had something to write about that I can personally relate to. After all my baby teeth fell out, I was told by my dentist that I had, what was referred to as, congenitally missing lateral incisors. For those who don’t know, your incisors are the teeth on either side of your canine teeth. I wanted to know why I didn’t have these teeth. I asked my dentist and after some researching, I found some answers.

A majority of people have thirty-two teeth. If any of these do not develop, they are referred to congenitally missing. This is also occasionally referred to as hypodontia. Ninety percent of people are born with all of their teeth, whereas the other twenty percent are missing at least one tooth. The most common teeth to be missing are your wisdom teeth. After that it’s your Premolars and then your upper and lower lateral incisors. Genetically, females are more prone to be affected by this than males. In the entire world, only about one percent of people are missing their lateral incisors. It is more common for a person to be missing both incisors, rather than only one. The failure for these to develop is referred to as agenesis which is defined as the failure of an organ to develop during embryonic growth and development.

So why does this happen? Most cases are a direct correlation from a lack of development of tissue known as dental lamina, underneath the gums. Because the tooth requires this to form, it will not do so if the dental lamina fails to develop. This can be caused by three genes that play a role in tooth development. If there is a mutation in any one of these, a tooth may not form. Although these mutations are most often associated with syndromes, congenitally missing teeth can also be genetic. Some dentists believe that we are currently in the intermediate stage of an evolutionary change in the number of teeth that humans have and that future members of the human race will only have somewhere around 20 teeth instead of 32.

So what can be done? Merely missing these teeth do not pose a medical issue however, there are ways to solve the problem to make your smile more aesthetically pleasing. If you’re missing your Wisdom teeth, then congratulations. Most people have to have theirs surgically removed. But if you’re missing your incisors, there are three methods used to solve the issue.

The first is an implant which is a metal root that integrates with your jawbone that has a crown in the top to resemble a natural tooth. This method is more complex and also requires that the patient have had reached peak oral maturity. For most men, this is around age twenty-five. This just means that if your teeth are going to shift around, they’ve stopped by this point. The second method is a bridge. For this, striations are made on the two adjacent teeth. The bridge is placed onto those two teeth and is bonded with sealant. The third option is a partial denture. This is an appliance that you can take in and out of your mouth as it rests on your natural teeth and gums.

So history shows that soon this genetic mutation will affect the whole world decreasing our total number of teeth on average. It’s interesting to be a part of the slow evolutional change. What do you think?





Two Roads Diverged In a Wood, and I Took the One Without Science

Hi all, my name is Victor Gregory. I’m a Freshman currently in D.U.S. but planning to major in Global Studies or Security Risk Analysis. Before i chose Penn State I made a list of all the things that I might like to do with my life. Nothing on that list had to do with science. It included things like: law, Policy, Business. Throughout my years of Catholic School, I never consistently had a science teacher that made me feel interested or engaged in the topic. It is for this reason that I currently do not feel inclined to become a science major. Although I do not feel inclined to study the field I still find it compelling and I can appreciate the importance of it 

That being said, while reading the course summary i thought that I may finally find an opportunity to enjoy science as the basis of the class required critical thinking and analysis. I chose this course because it seems like it will be a good opportunity to develop my critical thinking, as well as give me a chance to look at the world in a whole new light. I have attached a link here to an article about the possible discovery of a second layer ocean under the surface.