FALL, 2002

Expanding universes, drifting continents, evolution as "getting better" (or not), stress ... and caffeine

Name:  Jen
Subject:  stress
Date:  2002-09-23 10:33:07
Message Id:  2856
I'm trying to catch up with everyone's comments this past week. The stress thing, especially at Bryn Mawr has definately set in for me....I don't really know how it would not have for many girls here. WIth stress, there comes headaches, sickness, and pain. Getting sick in the beginning of the semester is tough--one must take care of herself. Eating right is the first thing along with getting enough sleep these days. What's with this 115 pound nonsense? That's is average weight in the 8th grade...Don't be afraid to eat what's out there. Just get enough of the good stuff-- fruits, veggies, and protein for a balanced meal.
Name:  Anastasia Michals
Username:  amichals
Subject:  Stressed Out
Date:  2002-09-23 10:41:53
Message Id:  2857
I don't understand why everyone gets so stressed out. What is there to get stressed about? You go to class, do work, if you play a sport you have practice... If you do bad on one test what is the big deal? It's not like in ten years when you look back on your college experience you are going to remember that one spanish test that you got a 1.0 on that ruined your life. We are in school to do work, get good grades, and most of all have fun. It is impossible to excell at something you don't like or to excell if you are miserable. The best advice I can give to those that are stressed is to take a step back, take a deep breath, and relax. It is just school. Do your work and you will be fine. Manage your time and don't waste it doing nonsense things. Have FUN!
Name:  Diana La Femina
Subject:  More insainity
Date:  2002-09-23 12:57:35
Message Id:  2859
So, we talked in class about how the continents are drifting apart, in part because of a switch in magnetic attractions. At the same time, the universe is drifting apart also. What if the universe is drifting apart for the same reasons the continents are? What if it's actually a magnetic attraction, or some other attraction, that's either pulling or repelling the galaxies? The one's that are moving away from each other faster are more repelled by whatever this force is. So, the attraction factor may switch at some point in time, and then all the galaxies will start moving towards one another and the universe will condense. Basically, this might continue to happen as a cycle throughout all time, we as humans with our limited time reference just can't comprehend or imagine this. For so many billions of years the universe has had a repelling factor, but in a greater amount of time the universe will become more attracted. This could go on infinitly, the Big Bang could be a constant event, like the pulse on a metronome. In fact, since we can only tell what's happened a few billion years ago in regards to a star's and galaxy's direction and velocity, the universe might have already shifted and could be moving together now and we don't know it.

This sounds like a Twilight Zone or something, doesn't it?

Name:  Chelsea
Subject:  BANG!!! or should I say *pop*
Date:  2002-09-23 13:41:04
Message Id:  2860
If the universe were in a constant cycle of expansion and condension, then that could explain what was before the big bang (a perfectly legitimate quesiton, by the way), except that now I'm wondering when it all started, and why and what was it that made it start "in the beginning", and how did space even get here, and if that's from the big bang too then that takes me back to the orginal question of what was before it and why did it happen and where did space come from again, and it would be like maybe the big bang was a blister that popped on the girl's foot because she was wearing these really cute, but really uncomfortable shoes and that's why we're in a constant state of expansion, because all the fluid from the blister is being pulled by gravity (or it's counterpart in her universe) down and all over her foot and the point is that since it's sticky and messy, she's gonna get a towel sooner of later and wipe us all away and put a bandaid on her foot and that'll be kinda like global (universal?) warming for anything that might be left, so eventual it will all die and everything that we thought was wonderful and good was really painful to this other girl and she'll be thinking badly of our entire existence, but we wouldn't even exist if she hadn't bought those shoes.
Name:  Sarah Frayne
Date:  2002-09-23 17:24:53
Message Id:  2862
So, all these ridiculous questions about where did space come from, etc., are things that frusturate me on a regular basis. I've spent a suprisig amount of time wondering what is beyond space (in a general usage of the word), I go in circles thinking that on one hand existence(or space) could not be infinate, something that stretches forever and has no boundries or limits (patially because this goes against everything I have ever been exposed to, which, noted, is not necissarily a good reason to dismiss something); however, niether could everything just end, beause, well, there would have to be something beyond that (even nothing constitutes something... ). Niether option is comprehensible to me in any sort of sense that isn't completely disorienting. ok, so, the point of my bringing this up is that whenever I attempt to think critically about such daunting quetions, I use logical progressions and 'spiritual' types of ideas to make sense of it all, and i was wondering if that is inherent to the type of question. Is it simply that we have not yet developed the technology to scientifically examine such large issues (and if the everything is infinate, wll we ever be able to know in the scientific sense?), or are there gaps that science (another ideology) does not have the compacity to fill? (Hence the presence of religion-genre beliefs and philosophical endevers) And if so, why does such an ideology have such a dominant role in our society today,are we less concerned with these questions than those in times and place whose dominant ideologies adress such issues?
I hope that was somewhat coherent...I'm not quite sure what I think about it yet... I am still pondering.
Name:  Sarah Tan
Date:  2002-09-23 20:51:11
Message Id:  2863
This isn't so much of a full coherent thought, but I was reading the NY Times while eating lunch in Rhoads and came across this article about why the West Nile virus is concentrated in a particular place in Louisiana. The quote that relates to our class is:

"The universe is lumpy, right?" Dr. Ratard said. "It's the same with Pointe Coupee. Everyone is trying to understand why there's so much virus in this one little place and absolutely nothing 10 miles down the road. We just don't know. That's the way things are."

After all, we've only been talking about how diversity is clumpy and how little we know about life anyway for the past two weeks...

Name:  Laura Bang!
Subject:  infinity ... and beyond?
Date:  2002-09-24 10:52:24
Message Id:  2867
Sarah Frayne brought up a good question about the end(?) of the universe. Is there an "end" to the universe, or is it infinite? I love the night sky and I love learning about space, so this is one of the questions that I think about a lot. If the universe is infinite, where does all that "space" come from? And if the universe if finite, what's on the edge? If there is nothing after the "edge" of the universe, I agree that Nothing constitutes Something. Has anyone ever read/seen "The Neverending Story"? In the movie it's harder to show, but in the book the Nothing is described as this force that eats up land forms and such, but the Nothing is a presence, and it hurts your eyes to look at it because it's simply Nothing. ... So I have to say that I'm leaning toward the universe being infinite. And here comes another analogy with a story I've read (can you tell I love reading?): In "The Library of Babel" by Jorge Luis Borges, the Universe is described as an Infinite Library. But no one who inhabits the Library is sure how it's "infinite" - whether it continues expanding forever, or whether it is cyclical and eventually repeats itself. All the humans who inhabit the Library are constantly searching through the Library's rooms in order to find the Book Which Is God (which they imagine to be a book with a circular spine: never ending and never beginning) or to find out how big the Library is. The Library contains all knowledge in the form of every book that ever has been written and every book that ever will be written in all languages. (Even if one of the Library's books has words that look like "bhjk dser qyoi" they must mean something in some [possible] language.) From time to time there are riots in the Library, during which people get so fed up with not knowing about the true nature of the Library that they begin throwing random books into the infinite abysses that are at the center of each stairway. This quest of the humans in the Library to find out what the "infinite" is reminds me a great deal of our own quest to find out the secrets of the universe and conquer space, as well as our quest to discover God (if there is one). Anyway, "The Neverending Story" by Michael Ende and "The Library of Babel" by Jorge Luis Borges are both really good, so you should read them for yourself.
Name:  Laura Silvius
Subject:  A (in)Finite Universe/stress
Date:  2002-09-24 15:08:13
Message Id:  2881
As long as we're talking about the finitude of the universe, I feel obligated to mention Carl Sagan. This is the man who wrote the book 'Contact' (which, by the way, is infinitely better than the movie, and I thought the movie was pretty good), as well as 'Cosmos' and a whole series of other books that have to do with science vs. religion, the size of the universe, the question of life on other planets, and many more subjects which have puzzled people for years. 'Contact' the book was much more about proving, mathematically, scientifically and logically, that life on other planets was possible, than one would guess from the movie. Moreover, both dealt with the idea of the limits of the universe, or lack thereof, which I think is pretty interesting, esp. since we were talking in class about what the definition of life is. Just some extra reading if anyone is interested, as if you possibly had time for anything other than work already.

And I just have to say that, even though it's only the fourth week of classes, it is VERY easy to feel overwhelmed already. I mean, between all the work we have, all the reading, lab reports, on-campus jobs, off-campus jobs, PE and/or sports and/or gym time AND extra-curriculars (sp?), frankly, the activities of 'eating' and 'sleeping' are becoming more and more foreign to me. I've been to the health center 4 times for blood tests, food poisonning and muscle aches, they know me by name in Canaday and Uncommon Grounds (in the latter, they know my order before I even give it to them) and by Thursday I can't remember what my room looks like. Every week it's a struggle to make it from Monday to Friday. If anyone in the class is feeling like the Bryn Mawr stress seems to have passed over them this semester, I'd be willing to trade on a second's notice - my email is at the top.

Name:  Elizabeth Damore
Subject:  Stress at Bryn Mawr
Date:  2002-09-24 18:29:18
Message Id:  2886
Laura and others are right in mentioning how stressful life can be at Bryn Mawr, especially considering all the tasks we undertake at once. However, I have to agree with Anastasia that enjoying your time in college is more important than doing everything perfectly. One of the tricks to functioning at Bryn Mawr (and as an adult in the "real world") is to learn how to strike a proper balance between what one has to do and what one wants to do. If your "have to" list greatly outweighs your "want to" one, then perhaps lightening up a bit would be helpful.
Name:  rosie
Subject:  stress cont'd
Date:  2002-09-25 19:59:32
Message Id:  2898
so i was reading what was posted on the forum about stress. when i'm stressed its mainly because of workload or my parents or something along those lines- and thats when i drink a lot of coffee. i really really drink A LOT of coffee, and at one point i drank soo much until the caffiene didnt hit me anymore... so i got immuned to caffiene for a while? but once i stopped drinking (after finals) i would drink a cup of coffee and i would be up till 5 not able to sleep. why does that happen? just curious.
Name:  Annie Sullivan
Subject:  progression
Date:  2002-09-26 00:22:43
Message Id:  2904
A very interesting topic was raised in class today. We were talking about evolution and I believe the question which arose was, "So, are things getting better and better?" Although our class seemed to unanimously and whole-heartedly disagree with this assertion, I think many people would instinctively feel otherwise. We tend to associate the word "evolution" with the idea of "progress--" which is a dangerous assumption. Because humans are the most recent development in evolution--the closest thing to an "end product"--it is tempting to see the course of evolution as "progress" rather than simply "change." This narcissistic view is inherent to human nature (dating back to that "ignorant era" when people thought the earth was the center of the universe). Time is commonly viewed as a linear process which improves as it "passes." Wherever we are currently located on this "line" represents the most advanced and accurate moment in history. This view allows people to always be "right." Everything in the past, therefore, is obsolete, out-dated, and irrelevant. Why do we have such disdain for the past? Why do we always look at the past as a more ignorant era--a time of simple thought. It is the same with evolution: it's tempting to look at the earth's life span as a linear progression, seeing human existence as the climax. I thought it was very interesting to learn in class that human existance composes only .001% of the earth's total lifespan thus far. That fact, along with the photos we saw earlier of the earth in relation to the galaxy, really puts human existance in its proper place.
Name:  Bill Nye the Science Guy
Subject:  good better bestest theory
Date:  2002-09-26 02:27:08
Message Id:  2905
I did a bit of thinking about a better organism and evolutionary progress after class today. There are a few points I'd like to make about it.
Primarily, I'd like to respond to Annie's comment about humans being the most recent development in evolution. Humans are just as recent a development, or an end product, as a maple tree, cat, paramecium, or cyanobacteria. We are not any more progressive than the most simple eukaryotic cell. We may be more complex, but not all things are proceeding towards complexity. Therefore we cannot say that one species is the most recent development because evolution is constantly working on all species.
This brings me to my second point. I think if you look at species in a certain context you can say that one species may be better than another. We have to define better as more adapted to the organism's environment. Take humans and bacteria for this example. Bacteria generations can be as brief as a day in the right environment. Rapid reproduction allows for evolution to occur extremely quickly, therefore the organism is quickly adapted to its surroundings. Human generation periods, on the other hand, can be close to 30 years. A period this long means that natural selection weeds out biologically fit genotypes very slowly, and humans will take many years to become a better species within their own environment. Therefore, if there was a sudden change in environment, bacteria with their short generaton period could pass on the surviving traits within a matter of weeks, creating a new breed of bacteria that could thrive in that new environment. However, humans could feasibly die out before any traits were passed on to the next generation. Therefore, I'm willing to throw it out there that organisms with shorter generation periods are better than those with longer ones. I think I'm going to publish this, it's absolutely brilliant.
Name:  Mippi
Subject:  Will's Ramblings and Such
Date:  2002-09-26 13:13:16
Message Id:  2909
I agree to a point. Yes, in that sense bacteria are "better" than humans, but how do we know that this adaptation is the correct definition? Some people could see a more complex society as being better, and the last time I look there wasn't a bacteria metropolis. If I'm wrong, please let me know. I really think I'd like to see that.

On another topic, I've realized that I'm affected by the weather in a different way than most people. Today is very gloomy and rainy. Most people I meet are tired and depressed on days like this, but I get relaxed. I love rainy days, the rainier the better. Why does the weather affect different people in different ways? If people supposedly get depressed on rainy days because they lack sunlight, why are other people more tired in the sun?

Name:  Brie Farley
Subject:  interdisciplinary comments
Date:  2002-09-26 18:58:33
Message Id:  2915
It's interesting to compare the comments posted about the idea that some organisms are better than others. Just this week, we introduced a similar topic in my class, History of Anthropological Theory. We have been discussing the theories of anthropologists who believe that cultures are constantly aspiring to become 'better.' Anthropologists in the early 1900s argued that primitive cultures were less intelligent, that cultural evolution and moral evolution were connected, and that all primitive cultures are progressing towards a common goal; to become as 'advanced' as American and European society. In my anthropology class, we tend to criticize this perspective, and we have deemed it unfair, incorrect, and selfish. We have also related this feeling of superiority to theories such as the bell curve, and race.
The theory that organisms are arranged in a sort of hierarchy is just as brash. In both biology and anthropology, humans who are more technologically advanced have decided that they are the best. Why, then, do we turn to and trust ancient medicinal customs? And why are we deathly afraid of viruses like ebola and HIV?? Actions definitely speak louder than words!
Name:  Brenda Zera
Subject:  Movement of the continents, planets, etc.
Date:  2002-09-26 20:00:12
Message Id:  2916
I read Diana's comment and saw her question about how do the continents move and if this is related to the way that the planets move. From my geology class I think I can try and create a sort of simple answer to this. Geologists can re-create where the continents used to be, based on the orientation of the magnetic dipole of the earth's magnetic fields. From this, scientists can tell where the paleomagnetic poles used to be (they change from time to time). From the changes in the poles location, they can tell where the continents used to be (and if they were connected at any point in time). The "apparent polar wander path" can show where continents used to be and if they were connected (like pangea). The crust of the earth (both continental and oceanic) moves because the mantle of the earth convects (and becomes semi-liquid), so the crust simply floats around on top of it, subducting from time to time (being recycled into the mantle). So, it's a little different than what happens in space. Hope this helps. See Professor Arlo Weil for any more information.
Name:  Huggies
Subject:  The Neverending Story
Date:  2002-09-26 23:31:58
Message Id:  2921
Laura!!! I love that book/movie!!! I used to watch it all the time!! I cry so hard when they go through the swamp and the horse gets sucked under-it's awful! I also used to watch The Last Unicorn, I LOVE that movie!! Anyway, back to something relevant...Neverending Story is really good for illustrating some of the possibilities that we've been talking about- continuity, etc. Let's watch it!!

I also wanted to send a big hug to everyone who is feeling stressed and overwhelmed; fall break is only two weeks away, just keep telling yourself that, and make sure you look out for yourself FIRST and your homework second. If anyone wants/needs a real hug, just ask:)

Name:  Adrienne Wardy
Subject:  A 10-year-old ponders life
Date:  2002-09-27 00:23:46
Message Id:  2924
Today the 10-year-old boy I babysit asked me a really deep question in between telling me about his soccer game and why he's going to get his motorcycle license before his driver's license. (This kid's mind works a mile a minute) He asked, "If the sun is destroyed will we all die?" And I thought, "Wow, that's really relevant to my biology class!" After thinking about it, I said, "well we would probably die eventually because plants need sun to live and we need plants to live." That, of course, made me think of how we are heterotrophic and the chain that creates. What do other people think about this? I did answer him correctly, right?
Name:  kathryn bailey
Date:  2002-09-27 16:26:58
Message Id:  2952
I tend to agree that if the sun was destroyed we would die. As soon as plant life was eliminated, what would sustain heterotrophic life? If humans had access to the deep sea plants that are able to survive without oxygen could we still survive without sunlight? Do fish, crustaceans, etc. need sunlight to live? Even if humans could survive eating fish, what about other organisms? I doubt monkies, birds, bears, snakes, etc, etc, etc would survive eating fish for very long. That means that humans would eventually cease to exist because we live as one part of a complex system which supports and is sustained by all other parts of the system. If the majority of the system were erased the remaining part would collapse too, right?
Username:  Anonymous
Subject:  Caffeine
Date:  2002-09-27 16:52:45
Message Id:  2953
Rosie's comments about stress and caffeine prompted me to do a little bit of reading about the effects of caffeine, as well as building a caffeine tolerance. I read that since caffeine is a stimulant drug, it speeds up your brain and central nervous system. Many people build up a tolerance to caffeine and need to ingest more of it to acquire the same effects, however, I also read, that tolerance to caffeine is often not long-term with humans. This might explain why when Rosie said she cut back on drinking coffee, it didn't take as much the next time to get her really wired. I read that complete tolerance to many effects of caffeine on the central nervous system does not occur, so even if you do drink a lot of tea, coffee, or soda, there's still a chance of being occasionally wired from it. Here are some other factors which affect what caffeine does to your body:
-how much you have
-your height and weight
-your general health
-your mood
-whether you have caffeine often
-whether you have it on its own or with food or drugs
Also, small amounts of caffeine can make you feel more awake, make your heart beat faster, increase your body temperature, make you urinate more, and even make your digestive system produce more acid.
Larger amounts of caffeine can give you headaches, make it difficult to sleep, and even make you feel restless, nervous, or delirious. Caffeine actually makes you sleep for shorter periods of time and decreases the amount of "deep sleep" you get while sleeping.
Often when you have been ingesting caffeine on a regular basis, and miss a day or decide to stop, your body can produce symptoms of withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms can include headaches, being angry or upset, and tiredness.
The NSW Health Board reccomends ingesting no more than 600 mg of caffeine a day. On average, there are between 60-100 mg of caffeine in a cup of instant coffee, and between 80-350 mg per cup of fresh coffee. Tea has an average of 8-90 mg per cup, with most cola drinks about 35mg per 250 ml of soda.
Username:  Diana DiMuro
Subject:  caffeine
Date:  2002-09-27 16:54:58
Message Id:  2954
oops sorry about that, I forgot to fill out the name and email address to my forum entry about about caffeine. hope it helped some of your questions rosie.
Name:  amanda maclay
Subject:  Sunnless planet
Date:  2002-09-27 18:12:50
Message Id:  2956
I just wanted to respond to a comment about a planet with no sun. I believe the question was "would we survive if the sun died?" well, thinking about just plants, plants use the sun as a their source for energy and therefore depend on the sun for life. Animals of course depend on plants for food/energy, oxygen, blah blah. so, of course we would die. seemingly all life depends on teh sun. even so much as our mood depends on the sun, hence the reason for grumpy cloudy days. perhaps this is an innate reaction to our natural need for sunlight. perhaps i am wrong, i am a lover of the bright sunshine, but for the most part, i don't think we could survive as succesfully as we have if the sun did not exist.
Name:  Catherine
Subject:  follow-ups
Date:  2002-09-28 00:41:21
Message Id:  2958
I guess I'll pitch in my two cents' worth...
I have always been extremely addicted to Coke (the drink). When I don't drink it sometimes, I get headaches when I wake up the next morning. A psychology teacher told me it is a caffeine withdrawal symptom; so whoever said that above, is prbably correct.
Also, there may be no humans able to live without sunlight, but what about those deep-sea level life-forms we dicussed in class one day? Those apparently live without sunlight. Also, I am someone who is slightly allergic to sunlight, and I do not enjoy the sunny outdoors much. What about people who are severely allergic? How do you explain their persistence (especially as a minority)?
Name:  Katie
Subject:  Sun Explosion and Evolution
Date:  2002-09-28 12:45:47
Message Id:  2963
So if the sun were to cease existence, wouldn't that just be a change in environment for life evolve into? If it's a matter of "will we survive" as one of my peers suggested before, then that assumes a possibility of evolving so we (or life in more general terms I suppose) could live in such conditions. But I guess, playing devil's advocate, as well as just not knowing enough about the process of evolution and progress, one observation that is involved in the idea of evolution, etc, is that we have experienced all of these changes over a "long period of time." And my theory in the destruction or whatnot of the sun would be that it wouldn't happen over billions of years but rather quickly in the scheme of life on earth...

I guess my forum entry really is non conclusive this week, and rather just a random rambling of questions about the end of the sun. So if anyone can see to the future (not back in time like we talk about doing in class) let me know how quickly our sun will disappear then maybe we can make some hypothesis as to our existence after that...And hopefully our hypothesis will be wrong! Yay!

Name:  Arlo Weil
Subject:  Continental Drift
Date:  2002-09-28 14:57:11
Message Id:  2968
Hello all - I am new to the board and was prompted to participate because of several questions concerning plate tectonics and why continents drift.

First off - I need to correct an earlier statement, which mentioned that the continents drift because of magnetic forces - this is not true. However, it is true that our fundamental understanding of continental drift comes from our knowledge of the Earth's magnetic field. Brenda Zera did a very nice job at explaining how the Earth's magnetic field helps geologists understand how tectonic plates move over the surface of the Earth.

So why do the continents drift? The continents ultimately move due to convection in the Earth's interior (much like a boiling pot of split pea soup causes movement of the top layer of soup - the difference being that the surface (or crust) of the earth is ridged and the mantle convects on very slow timescales - on the order of centimeters per year). Ultimately, the convection itself is driven by radioactive decay of certain isotopes that are present in the Earth's interior - namely Uranium, Thorium and Potassium. These radioactive elements are left over from the earliest stages of solar system evolution some 4.5 billion years ago. Over time these elements slowly release heat as they decay to more stable forms. Eventually the reservoir of radioactive elements will cease to exist, and plate tectonics as we know it will no longer occur creating a dead planet much like the moon and/or mars. Fortunately for us this will not happen for several billion years - likely around the same time our own sun begins to die.

If anyone is interested in more information about continental drift and or Earth history feel free to stop by and talk with me (Park 130), or if your REALLY inspired, come take my introduction to geology class offered every fall!!

A side note about stress - I agree with several of the comments made on this board that balance is the key to happiness. One must learn to balance their work with their play - otherwise what is the point??? College is one of the glorious times in a young persons life, and if you don't enjoy it now you are guaranteed to regret it later in life because you can never get this time back.

Name:  Heidi Adler-Michaelson
Subject:  evolution?
Date:  2002-09-28 23:52:12
Message Id:  2976
I know that we have been talking about drifting continents and caffeine, but i wanted to express my thoughts on friday's class.

In reaction to what Annie posted earlier this week and what we discussed in class, I agree that it is important to put human existence into perspective.
I particularly like what was said about evolution in Friday's class. What is evolution? "Why is it showing progress without betterment" (Prof. Grobsetin). Mar was talking about the concept of a value system in regard to evolution. Must we talk about if organisms improved along the way or restrict the explanation of change to variations and diversity?

We talked about how evolution is possibly the process of exploring possible forms of life that will survive and adapt to any environment. I personally find this definition somewhat shaky. For one, if we look at organisms from billions of years ago compared to humans, can we really adapt better? Of course we have the resources to adapt, but we as organisms are quit vulnerable. Can we go down to Antarctica without clothes or food and survive? Not any more than one-cell prokaryotic organisms that have been around for decades of billions of years and still are. And yet, of these organisms there are fewer kinds of diversity.
Everything that currently lives IS alive and therefore should be equal in their ability to adapt to environments. We all made it this far and if evolution is doing its job, we should be better than past organisms. If we are not equal, then those that have been around much longer should be "better" (using the definition we came up with in class) at adapting...?

Name:  Heather Price
Username:  hprice
Subject:  The choice of the college generation
Date:  2002-09-29 10:07:40
Message Id:  2979
Ah caffiene... The Bryn Mawr drug of choice.

So while continents shifting is all fascinating, I'm going to have to go with caffiene on this forum. This summer, I had some health problems so I had to give up caffiene. I used to drink at least two cups of coffee a day, so when I had to stop it was a huge deal for me. And it was weird because after a few days, I actually went into withdrawl when I wouldn't give my body any caffiene. After I had gone a few weeks though, I was fine. I also felt like I never wanted to have (caffinated) coffe again. However, when I came back to school this fall, I suddenly got these huge cravings for coffee. Why? Is it because it was just more accessible, or maybe because for the past two years, I've looked to coffee as a sort of comfort food when I got stressed?

Name:  ginnie
Subject:  caffeine/caffiene
Date:  2002-09-29 11:04:10
Message Id:  2981
first of all, which spelling is correct? i'm going with #1, the exception to the rule. anyway, all this talk of caffeine interests me because i am very used to people not taking my views on it seriously, and now some of you have gone and used "hard science" to prove me right. finally. see, i am a person who frequently suffers from insomnia, and while its usually mild, it can really get to you in this high stress low sleep environment that we like to call home. so, what to do? well, i've always been advised by doctors to cut caffeine out of my diet, and see if it helped. and to some extent i'm sure it does. but what's really noticeable is, if i'm on my no caffeine diet and i DO choose to ingest some, it affects me VERY strongly - i'm super jittery, i sweat like crazy, i bounce all around, and hten i LITERALLY can't sleep for about one day if it's coke, two or more if it's coffee. and NO ONE believes me when i tell them that i am fairly sensitive to caffeine as i turn down a coffee. they never fail to say, "but it's only four in the afternoon!" or whatever time it is, assuming htat hte only problem lies in drinking caffeine too close to bedtime. well for me, any time within a 24-48 hour period from sleep is too close to bedtime. finally i can prove that there are STUDIES that show that caffeine affects your short and long term sleep cycles, etc... maybe i'll just refer them to the bio 103 forum archive. anyway, i think this kind of ties in too to the person who commented that they have a slight allergy to the sun - i bet she too is used to people not taking this information seriously, much like people dont take my caffeine sensitivity seriously, and it's frustrating. sun girl - i feel yo pain.
Name:  Mer
Subject:  Are fish better than bugs?
Date:  2002-09-29 11:22:18
Message Id:  2982
In response to Hei's comments about a "better" organism, I think that part of the reason that certain organisms have been on the earth for longer, making them "better" at adapting is that thier environment has not changed as much as others.

The Ocean has always been deep and cold. I know that its temperature does fluctuate by a few degress and that this fluctuation can kill off entire species, but what is a few degrees compared to an entire climactic shift? Where there are now deserts, there were once rives, lakes, and even oceans.

Thus those animals found deep in the sea or far underneath the earth's crust may not have needed to pass on variations (like we talked about in class). To say that those animals are "better" at adapting is not correct if they have not adapted much at all.

I think that Hei's points are valid and they did make me think. But nature has no value system, and even on the same planet works at different paces in different areas. All of these factors should be taken into consideration, not only for this class, but for all scientists

Name:  melissaq
Subject:  evolution
Date:  2002-09-29 11:33:47
Message Id:  2983
Okay, "bill nye the science guy" said that we should define "better as more adapted to the environment." I have no problems with that definition. However, I think that we should take into consideration that adaptability goes beyond the physical changes that organisms undergo in order to be more adapted to their environment. Humans have adapted to their environment to a large extent because of their ability to think and act for example, in areas where floods are common people build their houses on stilts but where flooding is not a problem houses are far closer to the ground. So humans have adapted not by any physical change but by their ability to act so that they can adapt. My question is should the ability to actively change one's environment by building etc be considered as adaptation as much as the physical changes for example camels that have long eyelashes to protect against the sand in the desert?
Name:  Kate Amlin
Subject:  ways of seeing in outer space
Date:  2002-09-29 11:43:45
Message Id:  2984
So I think I missed something in class on Friday -- How can we actually know what other planetary systems look like if we always see the past? (That is, assuming that history is never an absolute indicator of the present...) What if there is life out there that we won't be able to see for years? Maybe I've seen "Planet of The Apes" a few too many times, but the TV ray distribution in that movie would make it seem evident that whatever is out there could only see us as we looked in the past too...Maybe that will make me sleep easier at night (or maybe I should just stop that 3 cans of Red Bull a day thing) but I'm still very confused.
Name:  Erin Myers
Username:  emyers
Subject:  re: caffine
Date:  2002-09-29 11:57:38
Message Id:  2985
During the summer I'm a water and gatorade kind of girl (I spent this summer in Phoenix, AZ so rehydration was key). If I want a soda I'll have Fresca, but as soon as I get back to the Mawr I become immediately addicted to caffine a la Diet Coke. I'm more worried about getting MS from the aspartame than the amount of caffine I consume. Caffine seems to calm me down and really helps me concentrate (probably part fo the calming down thing). There are new studies that make me feel better about all of the caffine I consume at school. Some scientist at Rutgers found that caffine may help prevent skin cancer (maybe I should drink more Diet Coke when I'm in AZ) and research has shown caffine to lower blood pressure (which might explain why it takes me so long to give a pint of blood). I think I'll stick to caffine for the rest of the year, especially now that we have yummy coffee in the Dining Halls.
Username:  emyers
Date:  2002-09-29 11:59:05
Message Id:  2986
oops I spelled caffeine wrong a zillion times up there
Name:  Laura Silvius
Subject:  Caffeine
Date:  2002-09-29 18:14:10
Message Id:  2998
Chelsea, I love you! You're wonderful!! You are one of the few people who can always make me feel better, no matter how shitty the day. I'll try to fit 'Contact' into the film series for you.

And please let me say I LOVE CAFFEINE!! I mean, I seriously would get no work done if I didn't have my dear old coffee machine (a high school graduation present), to make coffee and tea with in those wee small hours of the morning. It can sometimes just give you the push you need to stay up an extra hour to finish that damn paper that just won't finish (speaking of papers ...). However, I feel that as long as we're going to be talking about caffeine, we should talk about the opposite side of the scale, that is, sleeping pills. Last week I had a HUGE headache that kept me up until 2:30 am, until I finally took some Nyquil. However, ever since then I've had trouble getting sleep! This is not good ....

Good luck with the paper, everyone!

Name:  Chelsea W. Rosenthal
Subject:  West Nile Spraying
Date:  2002-09-29 19:22:26
Message Id:  3000
Sarah had mentioned something about West Nile virus, and I thought I'd bring up the issue of spraying to kill mosquitos when they think there may West Nile around. In most cases this seems like it may be more dangerous than it can be worth b/c the spraying doesn't just hurt mosquitos -- it can get people seriously ill and harm other animals, water supplies, ecosystems, etc. I've heard of some other more focused methods of trying to reduce the mosquito population though which may be more useful / less harmful than arial spraying.
Name:  Chels
Date:  2002-09-30 02:49:13
Message Id:  3016
ello, squirrels! just reading a few posts, in particular Hei and Mer's...just wanted to add my two cents. I really have to agree with you, Heid, if you stripped humans of all the technology that enables us to survive outside our normal environments, we would not be able to survive...umm, that was really redundant, sorry. What I mean is, that while you can consider human intelligence as a natural tool used to adapt to new environments, human beings just do not have the capacity to use the scraps of nutrients found in places like the anarctic, or a desert if you just plunked them down without warning. The big advantage that prokaryotes and some other organisms (like frickin big cockroaches) have over humans and other animals, is that their generations are shorter, so they are able to pass on the traits better suited to the new environment quickly, and therefore survive. If that in some way can be termed better or worse, than yes, bacteria are better than we are- but success can be termed in so many different ways that it is impossible to say that one thing is truly better than another. For example, do bacteria feel emotions? Do they feel love, contentment, happiness, anger, sadness, depression? Some would say that this ability makes us more advanced, and therefore better than those organisms that do not feel, and some would actually say that it makes us weaker and less advanced. Personally, I see no way of deciding, but that's just me...and either way, I'm pretty fond of having emotions.

Mer? No value system in nature? What about survival of the fittest? Nature placing more value on those individuals best suited to their environment. Or mate selection, isn't that rooted in nature? Even if the system is diffent for different species, or even different organisms within the species (ex: one woman liking bald men, or birthmarks, while another likes men who can do handstands and are really tall) and even if the system makes no sense, isn't it still there? Just playing devil's advocate, what do you think?

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