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Spinal Cords Are So Last Season

The nervous system is the messenger of the body. It takes signals from the brain and translates them into electrical impulses that in turn allows the organism to breathe, eat, move, and complete all the other functions necessary for survival. The central nervous system is comprised of the brain and spinal cord, and is a long bundle of tissues that extend the length of most of the spinal column, and covers the entire body. This system very sensitive and easily damaged, and damage can result in permanent damage to body functions. However, there is new hope for those suffering from nervous system damage.

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How Does Your Mind ‘See’?

Imagine this: a pink elephant riding a unicycle in a round room while narrating the Gettysburg Address. Now, I can say two things—one, you probably just saw an image of a pink elephant doing these things in your head, even though you’ve never seen anything like it before (if you have, I’m sorry, replace ‘elephant’ with ‘unicorn’); two, if you did not see anything in your mind, there is a likely reason behind it. The word ‘imagine’ itself comes from the Latin word imago, which means ‘image’. Usually when you imagine things, you see an image forming in your head; yet, these images do not come from your eyes, but somewhere within your mind. How does this work?

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Getting Gassy is Classy

 Getting Gassy is Classy
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Now we all know that passing gas isn’t the most pleasant thing to do or smell, but it’s actually a natural process of your body and life. I’ll be honest: I have those embarrassing moments where I accidentally let one slip. Flatulence has always seen as a negative – it’s gross, it smells, and it’s socially awkward when you let them fly. Be that as it may, must we really need to hide what naturally comes out of our body? In fact, farting, as it is most commonly known, probably means you’ve got a healthy gut working!

Farting is healthy! It basically means that microbes, digestive machines that break down food we ingest
into nutrients so that we can gain as much of it as possible, are working like crazy. All of the foods that haven’t been broken down from the stomach get digested in the intestines, which is where the gas starts to store and build up. According to Purna Kashyap from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minn, as we eat more food, we basically feed our microbes so that they can live and stay active. More breaking down of foods and absorbing nutrients means more farting and getting healthy!

So what’s really the whole process of flatulence? Basically, it is caused by gas that has started settling in your bowel. Usually, we generally have about 500 to 2000 milliliters of gas that gets passed out at certain intervals every day, around 14-20 times a day. And how do we get that gas? We get gas because of the certain types of foods we eat, digestion, irritable bowel syndrome, and, get this: swallowing air! You can actually swallow air from a lot of daily habits such as eating or drinking too fast, smoking, chewing gum, sucking on candy, drinking those Cokes and Sprites (and maybe Dr. Pepper too), and even from wearing dentures! Foods that really cause the gas are ones that have a lot of carbohydrates like beans (oh, the beans!), veggies like broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, onions, mushrooms, and Brussels sprouts, fruits, whole grains, dairy products, and sugar free candy! Basically, no matter what we eat, we’re going to start passing gas at some point!

What’s really crazy is that most of the gas that out microbes make is actually odorless. The gas is really just carbon dioxide, hydrogen, or methane. However, according to Kashyap, out toots really start to smell when sulfur tries to slip in, though that sulfur is not the villain in this situation! Certain forms of these smelly gases such as the sulfur compound sulfuraphane are actually associated with reducing the risk of cancer (especially for the colon). That being said, don’t try to avoid making your farts less smelly. Eating foods high in fiber is a great way to feed those microbes as well as benefit from the nutrients they get to extract out. It’s all for your own good, really! They get that boost to work harder, making you healthier.

So what if you want to get a little less gassy? The solution is swallowing less air. Try eating slowly during meals, quitting smoking, cutting back on sweets, avoiding those fizzy drinks, and avoiding high carb foods! It’s all about getting a balanced diet; don’t eat too many Brussels sprouts at one time (because we know that’s your favorite)! Just be sure to let your gut have some nutrients, and when you pass the gas, you’ll know the deed has been done!

You may be thinking in order to be less gassy, you just need to hold it in, right? WRONG! Holding in your gas is like asking for a death wish. According to UC Berkeley Wellness, holding in gas causes bloating, indigestion, heartburn, and lots and lots of pain. It can also increase your heart rate and, eventually, your blood pressure. There’s always that urge to release the gas, but you hold it in. This causes a lot of stress on your body, and it’s really not necessary. According to their advice, let it go (cue Frozen music)!

The classy way to go up against gas is to just fart. It will make you feel better, your body will feel better and look better, and it will give you peace of mind. And if you are really scared that someone may hear or smell your flatulence, just quickly run to a safe place, and let ‘er blow!

 Getting Gassy is Classy
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Citations:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/04/28/306544406/got-gas-it-could-mean-you-ve-got-healthy-gut-microbes

http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Flatulence

http://www.livestrong.com/article/410238-is-passing-gas-healthy/

http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/digestive-diseases-gas

http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gas_ez/

http://www.berkeleywellness.com/self-care/over-counter-products/article/holding-intestinal-gas

journal.pmed.1001685.g001

On the PATH to a New Malaria Vaccine

It really hit me how hard summer has been when I started playing connect the dots in the shower. Mosquitos have bitten me everywhere from my shaggy head to my musky toes. Sure, some mosquitos leave behind annoying pricks on your skin, but their African cousins can leave you feeling worse than getting food poisoning from P.F. Chang’s. In reality, however, the latter of the two mosquitos might leave you with a different kind of P.F: Plasmodium falciparum – the prevailing cause of malaria in the world. Continue reading

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Real Life Iron Man Suits?

Untitled4 150x150 Real Life Iron Man Suits?
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In past articles, I’ve talked about everything ranging from the propulsion of the Iron Man suit to the supercomputer, J.A.R.V.I.S., that runs it. However, I’ve never talked about the suit as a whole. What is it that makes an Iron Man suit an Iron Man suit? There are some real-world exosuits being developed that are similar to the suit used in the Marvel films, but none come anywhere close to being as awe-inspiring as Tony Stark’s. First, it would probably make sense to mention a real-world analog to the Iron Man series of suits. Continue reading

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The Cure to High Blood Pressure, Obesity, and Eating Disorders?

Fruits and vegetables. Not everyone’s favorite foods,  but they provide significant health benefits and we are conditioned from a young age to eat them. Recently, I decided to conduct an experiment on myself: does eating fruits and veggies instead of meat and fish really help your health all that much?

So, this whole idea started on July 27th, when I woke up in the middle of the night feeling like I really needed to change my diet. I decided that I was follow a (mostly) vegan diet because that seems like the best option (really, it can’t be too bad - you’re eating fruits and veggies). I downloaded an app on my phone that allows me to track my heart rate for about 10 seconds at a time to get an accurate reading and I have been tracking what I eat and the amount I've eaten.

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The Quest for Immortality

book of immortality jacket.jpg.size .xxlarge.letterbox 300x200 The Quest for Immortality
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Immortality: this simple concept seems to have haunted humanity for millennia. From the emperors of China to the famed tales of King Arthur to the searches for the Fountain of Youth, immortality seems to be the prize that kings have gone after for generations. Is it possible? If so, how do we go about it? Continue reading

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How did the Elements Get Their Names? Part I

So, how do the elements get their names? I can assure you that each and every one has its own unique story, but unfortunately I can’t fit all of the stories of the elements into a single article so here are the stories of some of the places with elements named after them.

 

Awesome Bismuth 228x300 How did the Elements Get Their Names? Part I
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Think for a moment. What person, place, or thing has the most elements named after it. Believe it or not, four elements draw their name from the small town of Ytterby, Sweden. Now what could be so important about Ytterby that four elements would be named after it? As it turns out, this small mining town was the site where seven different elements were discovered. Sometime in the late 18th century, an ore called Yttria (also named after the city) was mined, and over the period of about one hundred years four new elements (Yttrium, Terbium, Erbium, and Ytterbium) were isolated from it. The elements Holmium (named after Stockholm), Thulium (named after the mythical land of Thule), and Gadolinium (named after John Gadolin) were also discovered at the mine, but it might have been overkill to name them for the town too. It seems a bit weird that so many undiscovered elements would end up in the same place, but there is an explanation. Many of these elements are members of the Lanthanide family (atomic numbers 57-70), and Lanthanides tend to clump together in the earth’s crust, so there are large clumps of them in certain places, such as Sweden.

 

The next place on our elemental roadmap is the state of California. California is actually one of the greatest places on the planet for scientific research, seeing that it contains numerous national labs and universities. It’s then no surprise that there are so many elements named after the state and facilities within it. To begin there is one element named after the state itself (Californium). Then, there are two named after the Lawrence National Labs in California (Berkelium and Livermorium for Berkeley and Livermore). These two labs have contributed a great amount of work towards the discovery of new elements. Also, Livermorium was named just in 2012 (just goes to show how the search for new elements is ongoing).

 

Awesome Gallium 300x225 How did the Elements Get Their Names? Part I
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The final element I will talk about is Polonium. Polonium was discovered by Marie Curie (a Polish Chemist), and was named after Poland, which was actually not a country at the time. Poland resides between some of the historical superpowers and often found itself annexed by one of them. This was an especially unfortunate time as it was under Russian, German, and Austro-Hungarian partition. The naming of this element was intended to raise awareness about Poland’s lack of independence. It turned out that Polonium was one of the most toxic elements and can be incredibly lethal in doses as small as 10 micrograms. Accordingly, the “Save Poland” campaign was not incredibly successful.

 

There are certainly more elements named after places but this is an article, not a book. The elements take their names from all people, places, and things. Those were merely a few.

 

Sources

 

http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/ytterby-mine

“The Disappearing Spoon” by Sam Kean

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebola_virus

What You Need To Know About Ebola

Ebola virus 2 300x300 What You Need To Know About Ebola
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebola_virus

Let’s start with a simple question: What is Ebola? When we say Ebola, we are often referring to Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever caused by the Ebola virus. There are five known Ebola virus species; four of these can cause Ebola in humans. The most deadly and the most widely spread species out of these four is called Zaire Ebolavirus, which is also the most likely possible culprit for the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak. [1][2] So how deadly is it exactly? There have been cases in which up to 90% of the infected people in an Ebola outbreak were killed. [3] Okay, now it sounds serious. Let’s find out how this devil spreads.

Ebola 2014 Graph 300x170 What You Need To Know About Ebola
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Well, it’s not entirely clear how Ebola spreads right now. Some researchers believe that Ebola was first introduced to humans through close contact with an infected animal’s bodily fluids, such as blood, secretions, organs, and so. However, we can be sure that human-to-human transmission occurs through similar actions by directly contacting bodily fluids of infected people or being exposed to surfaces contaminated with infected secretions. [3][4] Thankfully, there is no evidence so far to prove that Ebola is airborne, which means that we most likely won’t get infected by breathing the same air as an infected patient. Although Ebola isn’t capable of airborne transmission, a recent study has shown that the ebolavirus can travel from pigs to non-human primates without any contact. [5] Once a person gets infected, he will show flu-like symptoms in 2 to 21 days, followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash and impaired kidney and liver function. Some people will also experience internal and external bleeding. Death usually occurs within 7 to 16 days after the first symptoms due to multiple organ failures if a patient doesn’t recover quickly. [5]

Symptoms of ebola 297x300 What You Need To Know About Ebola
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Good news has come back from the Emory University hospital since these patients have arrived, with the hospital reporting that the patients’ conditions are getting better with the new treatment drug, ZMapp. However, this drug is still in an experimental stage. So the definitive treatment for this deadly disease may not have been found yet, but nonetheless, we shouldn’t panic over keeping Ebola patients in the US. For more information, check out Why Ebola Won’t Kill Us All? (http://thewannabescientist.com/why-ebola-wont-kill-us-all/ )

Citations:

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebolavirus

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_West_Africa_Ebola_virus_outbreak#Virology

[3] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/

[4] http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/transmission/index.html

[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebola_virus_disease

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I Scream For Ice Cream! But they are screams of agony because brain freezes hurt…

You’re sitting by the pool on a hot summer’s day with all of your friends. The sun is shining and that Popsicle in your hand is just what you need to cool off before jumping back into the water. It’s your favorite flavor, and you can’t help but eat it way too fast. Suddenly your perfect day transforms into a dark, panic-inducing nightmare. You feel the cold spread from your mouth up into your head as the dark clouds obscure the sun. It’s too late to stop it. The brain freeze is here. Dum. Dum. DUM…

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Arches National Park

Nature Did It Better Than The Romans

Arches National Park 300x200 Nature Did It Better Than The Romans

(Musings from my summer earth studies trip with geologist and teacher John Schafer.)

Arches National Park is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It certainly tops my list. It gets its name from the natural arches that formed there… in the middle of the Southern Utah desert. When I say arches, I mean giant geologic features that span hundreds of feet across and stand as high as buildings. So, what carved these arches out of solid rock and what does it have to do with ancient Rome? Continue reading

We're not just basic.